Gratitude Instead of Grievance

Photograph © 2017 Peggy Kornegger
Celebrate the blessings in your life and let go of the perceived wrongs. At the deepest level, everything is a blessing, and those who challenge your identity or cause you pain play their role in your life too. It’s all a giant improvisational drama, this life on Earth. We came into this world with a soul framework, a few costumes, and a troupe of other players. Together we live the magic of life lessons and evolving epiphanies, which lead us forward on our journey.

In grade school, I had two teachers who each embodied different qualities: one, Mrs. Logan, was pure loving-kindness, and the other, Mrs. Wyman, was filled with anger and a need to control.* Both of them taught me human lessons beyond the classroom and had an effect on my life that I’m beginning to see more clearly now after all these years.

Mrs. Logan was my fourth grade teacher, and she was sweetness personified, always giving us interesting games to play between lessons as well as free time to read on our own (my favorite). She was extremely patient and listened attentively to our day-to-day life stories. She also told us about her own life and her grown daughter. In many ways, she was like a second mother to each of us, and everyone loved her. I cried at the end of the year when I said good-bye and later told my mother, “There will never be another Mrs. Logan.” She was my all-time favorite teacher, and I’ve never forgotten how genuinely loving she was to me.

Mrs. Wyman, on the other hand, scared me to death. When I was a shy first-grader, she grabbed me harshly by the shoulders one day in the lunchroom and hissed, “Next time you throw away the crusts of your sandwich, I’m going to make you take them out of the garbage and eat them.” In sixth grade, when I entered the art room (yes, she was the art teacher) as the bell was ringing, she proclaimed me late and made me stay after school and write “I will never be late again” over and over for an hour. Quiet, good student that I was, those two incidents both frightened and embarrassed me. And at the sixth grade level, it also filled me with outrage at being unjustly accused. (My locker had stuck and I was “late” because of that.)

So, right there, my life path was laid out before me: a peaceful warrior for both justice and love. In my twenties I became first a hippie flower child and then a political activist, later a radical feminist. Love was at the core of everything I believed in, a love that was inclusive of all peoples and the Earth. I had no patience with authority or hierarchy of any kind (what a surprise). Over the years, I watched as the patriarchal paradigm that we all grew up with slowly start to be challenged and disrupted by women and men alike. New options, based in freedom and equality, rose out of the growing awareness of each successive generation.

The old top-down structures still hang on, but something else is being born. Something circular and flowing and filled with life. I see myself in the students now who are standing up against violence and power politics. The heart of love continues in them in spite of the forces waged against it, and the people who have been wounded reach out in compassion to others who are suffering. The deeper truth is that those doing the wounding were also wounded themselves. They too are suffering. It is time for the cycle to be broken.

Looking back I can see the loving-kindness in Mrs. Wyman that she was unable to express because of her own core wounding. I no longer feel anger toward her but only empathy. And also, interestingly, gratitude. She helped me find my voice in the world. She, along with Mrs. Logan, helped me become who I am today. Every single person in our lives plays a role, one taken on before birth. When we can see life the way God sees it, we understand that there is only evolving, expanding awareness, only love. So let go of your grievances, and embrace gratitude instead. That one opening will liberate your soul from the constraints of all your stories about the past.
___________
*Names changed

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Gifts from God

Photograph © 2017 Peggy Kornegger
The people in our lives are gifts from God, not there by happenstance but by design. And not to be taken for granted or overlooked but instead continuously recognized and treasured. In my day-to-day life, my spiritual path repeatedly draws me inward to a profound divine connection. Within that experience, I feel as one with everything in the cosmos. I love those experiences. They teach me again and again why I am here on this planet. Yet, what I forget sometimes is that I am also here to connect with my fellow human beings, to be a part of their lives and have them be a part of mine. Meditation and inner journeys are extraordinary, but this Earth experience when shared at the deepest level with others is equally extraordinary. Without it, your heart can never crack open wide enough to let the divine in—or out.

A few Saturdays ago, I spent the day with two friends, a married couple whom I’ve known for over thirty years. In the morning, my partner Anne and I helped her mulch their garden with several other neighbors and friends, and in the afternoon we visited her husband at a rehab center in Boston, where he was recovering from chemo treatments for cancer. We hadn’t seen him for several months, and our visit was a surprise. The expression of welcoming joy on his face when we walked in was enough to bring tears to all of our eyes. After we hugged and then chatted a bit, we went to nearby Waterfront Park for an impromptu picnic. As we watched the boats and people come and go and basked in the spring sunshine, we told stories and shared experiences, past and present, that brought us all even closer together. Moments of laughter and tears that mean so much when old friends reunite, especially in the midst of life challenges like they have been facing.

And it was precisely that old friendship and those challenges that allowed us to drop everything nonessential from our conversations (and for them, from their lives). At times like these, we remember what is really important: to look in another human being’s eyes and say “I love you.” And we did. Nothing else matters. Nothing. So many times, we get caught up in our own lives and forget that essential truth, that key to all human relationships and to all of life: Love. Openly expressed and shared. We are here for such a relatively short time on this planet. Why waste a single moment in distraction or separation of any kind? We all feel joy, we all feel pain, our hearts encompass every possible human emotion. We are alike, we human souls in physical form—let’s not lose sight of our essential oneness.

When Anne and I came home, we felt we had been blessed with such a sacred experience in that unplanned day with our friends. The laundry undone, the emails unanswered—what did it matter? To-do lists are meant to be tossed aside in favor of spontaneous life moments that God presents us with every day. The people in your life are gifts from God. Their lives are precious, as is yours—don’t chose routine, or even meditation, when a human/divine soul stands before you ready to share their heart with you. That is why you were born, why I was born. Let us remember together the love that links our lives.

Second Sight

Photograph © 2015 Peggy Kornegger
Photograph © 2015 Peggy Kornegger
Intuition and extrasensory perception are sometimes called “second sight.” This refers to knowledge or awareness that comes to individuals from beyond the realm of the mind and the five senses. The translation of the original French clairvoyant captures the essence of second sight: “clear-seeing.” Intuition is a gift we are all born with, and today we are beginning to reclaim that natural ability to see the universe, and all its many layers and dimensions, more clearly. The world is opening up all around us in unusual and extraordinary ways, and synchronicity is showing us the hidden connections that link every single bit of it.

Over the past few months, during which I came to terms with the possibility of future impaired vision, everything associated with my eyesight became extremely precious to me. My acute sensitivity to this particular sense led me on a journey that opened my heart and expanded my awareness in ways I could not have possibly imagined beforehand. And the more I let go and trusted the entire process (including the uncertainty), the greater my own experience of clarity and flow in each moment. I began to see not only with my physical eyes, but with my soul as well.

Two days stand out during this time period. One morning, I was searching online for a particular group whose work I admired, intending to make a donation. In the midst of this process, I remembered another group that I used to give to in the past and went to their website instead: the Seva Foundation. Once there, I realized why I had been “guided” to Seva: their focus is on restoring eyesight and preventing blindness globally. Stunned, I sat and looked at the images of the people in the various countries around the world that Seva serves. With tears in my eyes, I recognized these individuals as “just like me” in what they were facing. As I clicked the Donate button, I felt more than money pass between me and those receiving it. There was a connection at the soul level—oneness. And thankfulness for that profound feeling of oneness.

The next day, I was sitting at my desk writing in my journal and listening to several of my favorite Andrea Bocelli CDs. The fact that I had been led to listen to a blind singer who lives a divinely soul-guided life did not enter my consciousness until after what transpired next. As I immersed myself in the music, I began to cry at the exquisite angelic beauty of his voice. I walked slowly to the window, where I stood almost prayerfully looking out at the spring day. Suddenly my perception shifted dramatically. Everything within my field of vision was moving in perfect synchronicity with the music, and I felt intensely how every single thing was invisibly connected to everything else: the trees swaying in the wind, a man walking by the house, the car pulling out of the neighbor’s driveway. And me standing at the window. All of us part of the same universal dance of energy–a grace-filled choreography of consciousness.

I saw these connections, felt them, with my soul. Second sight. In a split second, my awareness stretched beyond three-dimensional “reality” to something infinitely expansive. I stepped into the magic of perceiving, if only for a moment, the all-encompassing orchestration that aligns even our heartbeats and breath as we live our seemingly separate lives. Blind or sighted, we are all connected. Every one of us on this planet—as well as all the stars and galaxies in the cosmos—lives and vibrates within one cohesive energetic presence that is Spirit manifesting. As we open to it more and more in our lives, second sight allows us to see that. It shows us the miraculous synchronicities at the heart of our world and fills our eyes with tears of gratitude that we are part of it all.

 

Morning Glory

Photograph © 2015 Peggy Kornegger
Photograph © 2015 Peggy Kornegger
“Everything is sacred.”—Panache Desai

The morning glories outside my door have been nearly tropical in their lush profusion this year. Huge heart-shaped leaves and purple flowers cover the porch ironwork in the rising sun. Each morning when I go outside, I feel a sense of awe at this breathtaking beauty coming from a few small seeds planted in the late spring. There are moments when gardeners feel like magicians, making bouquets of flowers appear out of thin air. Of course, the gardener is just the conduit, the helping hand that opens wide enough for living energy to flow through it. Mother Nature is the true magician, the source of glorious life here on Earth. As a gardener, I learn this on a daily basis—the absolutely unparalleled sacredness of everything around me. It is an awareness that keeps arising everywhere in my life, and in so many of our lives, these days. I consider it one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received.

This past July I spent a week at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, taking part in a weeklong workshop/retreat with Panache Desai, whose programs and events I’ve been attending for several years.* This particular week seemed to be an expansion of all that I’ve experienced with him and with the other people who attend, many of whom are good friends now. As a group, we reached a deeper level of oneness and soul connection than ever before. The divine energy moving through all of us was so intense that it could not be contained within time or space. Seeing the sacred everywhere, in every moment, became a constant. Each person’s eyes shone with light and love. Conversations during and between sessions were deeply meaningful, rich with laughter, tears, and heart-full sharing. As I walked down the hill to the dining hall each day, I saw before me a dazzling world: The color spectrum itself seemed to widen to include new shades and hues. At the end of the week, I felt wide open; life flowed through me without impediments—soulfully, sacredly.

A few weeks later, my partner and I took the train to New York to see Fun Home, lesbian cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s tragicomic 2006 memoir turned into an extremely powerful and moving Broadway musical. In it, “Alison” looks back at her complicated relationship with her closeted gay father who committed suicide. Because it was theatre in the round, it was a fairly intimate setting (we were in the first row), and it almost seemed as if we were living the heart-wrenching events along with the characters. At the end, as everyone stood and cheered, and the actors took their bows, the raw emotion we were all feeling was reflected back and forth on the faces, and in the eyes, of actors and audience alike. I couldn’t stop crying, because of the story and because of the people around me, on and off stage. It was a moment of shared humanity and oneness that seemed truly sacred to me.

More and more, we are being moved to embrace all of life in moments like these. A friend or family member will unexpectedly speak their heart’s truth in a sudden rush of vulnerability and honesty. A complete stranger will share a smile or a gesture of generosity. The sun will rise, or set, in stunning pinks and golds. A cat or dog companion will gaze into our eyes with pure love. Someone dear to us may become ill or die. Life will touch us in a thousand different ways, both joyful and painful, during the course of any given day. And at last we are opening to receive the sweetness and power of those moments. We are becoming fully present for life as it moves through us, giving us the greatest show on Earth. Morning glory, evening gratitude. Everything sacred—everywhere, in every moment.

* I’ve written about my experiences with Panache in several other blog posts and in my book Lose Your Mind, Open Your Heart.

Two Teachers, One Spirit

Photograph © Mercedes Longfellow
Photograph © Mercedes Longfellow
Last October, I traveled west of Boston to participate in a traditional sacred fire ceremony with Maya elder Nana Mercedes Longfellow* and a group of 27 others, many of whom have been studying with Nana Mercedes for years. I first met her eleven years ago at Rowe Center in western Massachusetts, where she came to teach with another beloved elder, Gerardo Kanek Barrios (since deceased). A small group of us subsequently traveled to Guatemala with them for ceremonies at sacred Maya sites there. In the years since, various groups have periodically gathered together for fire ceremonies and teachings in both Guatemala and Massachusetts. The teachings, as well as the fire ceremony, are centered around one of the many Maya calendars, the Cholqij, which is a guide to help humans align with the universe’s cycles. Gratitude, humility, and respect for all life are important aspects of the teachings, each one a gateway to inner and outer harmony if practiced with intention and dedication.

Last fall’s gathering was one of the most powerful we’ve had. The level of heart opening was extraordinary, both at the fire ceremony itself and in gratitude exercises we did in pairs later. As everyone shared their experiences, we were all brought to tears again and again by the sheer power of the gratitude in our hearts and the love we felt for one another. Nana Mercedes reminded us that we were experiencing deep divine connection when our hearts opened in that way. These were intensely moving “sacred moments,” as one person called them. It was as if we could all clearly see ourselves evolving, both in those moments and over time. The Maya teachings have that kind of profound emotional and spiritual impact. And, for me, the experience was also very connected to the work I am concurrently doing with Panache Desai.**

Photograph © 2014 Peggy Kornegger
Photograph © 2014 Peggy Kornegger

I have been attending Panache’s programs and events, online and in person, for five years. I first met him at Kripalu Center, in Lenox, Massachusetts, and he has been my primary teacher ever since. More than a teacher, he is a vibrational catalyst: the unconditional love and divine presence that comes through him shifts people into a higher vibration, and they are more aligned with their inner spirit. He has had a tremendous impact on my life, vibrationally, spiritually, and in every other way. Raised in London in an Indian family with strong spiritual traditions, he insists that we are all our own gurus, perfect just as we are in our humanity and divinity. I particularly appreciate his irreverent sense of humor and contemporary paradigm-busting worldview. Some people have asked me if I feel any conflict between his teachings and those of Nana Mercedes, who presents and practices the Maya traditions exactly as they have been passed down for thousands of years. My answer is always no. Though very different from one another, both in tradition and in personality, I find their hearts to be the same—full of love, inclusiveness, and generosity of spirit. To me, their teachings complement and enhance each other.

Nana Mercedes and Panache each embody a beautiful divine connection that shines through their eyes. They both teach that we too are divinely connected and are here on Earth to evolve—through love. Panache speaks of oneness, divine love, gratitude, and making life a “living meditation.” Nana Mercedes speaks of service to life, love of Mother Earth, making gratitude a prayer, and living in the “One Heart.” Vibrationally, they are essentially speaking the same language. As Panache has said, “If God is infinite, then nobody’s wrong.” I find each of them to be inspiring, compassionate, and extremely kind. My greatest transformative shifts in awareness have occurred since knowing Panache and Nana Mercedes, and I feel very grateful to be walking this Earth path with them. I love them both.

*I have written about my experiences with Nana Mercedes and the Maya elders in my blog and in my book Living with Spirit.
**I have written about Panache in blog articles and in my book Lose Your Mind, Open Your Heart.