I live just outside of New York City, where driving is a ninja-skill. Crazed commuters on the West Side Highway, distracted moms in mini-vans, stressed- out shoppers in mall parking lots; trust me, this is Driver’s Ed on steroids.
So I take certain steps to ensure that I’m not unneccesarily sideswiped by some idiot in a Hummer (yes, people around here still drive those annoying behemoths).
The first thing I do when I get in my car is to buckle my seat belt, turn on the iPod and then envision a big bubble of white light around the vehicle before I pull out of the garage. Its my own little force field.
I keep a piece of black obsidian in the glove box, as a way to ground the energies of the car and ward off any negative energies from other drivers.
I also have a little Celtic cross hanging from the rearview mirror, but I’ve seen other cars with small dreamcatchers to capture any bad juju wafting from the other guy flipping you off.
Driving isn’t the only challenge around these parts: finding a parking spot has its own skill level requirements. I have circled one particular ginormous mall for 40 minutes (I timed it), seeking a slot. That’s 40 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.
So now, I envision a helpful spirit running ahead of me to my destination and sitting his ass down in a great spot, right near the entrance. Eight out of ten times, it works like a charm. As for those other two times, guess he’s busy returning a pair of shoes at Nordstrom’s.
Here’s another spell to find a spot. It involves invoking the name of “Squat,” the Parking Fairy. Yes, there really is one. Anyway, touch your thumb to your ring finger, and say “Squat, Squat, find me a spot.” Keep doing this until you find your spot, then thank her by saying, “Squat, Squat, thanks a lot.” If there’s no parking meter involved, drop a penny as an offering. This mini ritual is HUGE in New York City!
Speaking of pennies, there’s a tradition around here of tossing some loose change into a new car. The first time someone did it to my little Honda Civic (RIP), I was all like “WTH?” But it brings you luck and safety as you cruise around in your awesome new wheels. Remember to leave the change where it lands.
Granted, these little rituals are no substitute for being a safe driver. Don’t be a jackass (we have enough of those on the road already). But personally, I find them a helpful addition to my AAA membership.
The other night I dreamt I was about to go on stage in front of thousands of people, to play bass with the Stones. Only I don’t know how to play. And unlike flying or breathing underwater, I didn’t know how to do it in the dream, either. Here I was gonna be standing next to Charlie Watts, a frikkin’ awesome drummer and one of my heroes. And I’m clueless. Clue. Less. It still gives me the willies when I recall it.
I know where that particular dream came from: reading an article about the band in Rolling Stone earlier. But there are other dreams that offer up more than just a psychedelic rehash of the day.
Like those wonderful ones where you encounter someone you’ve lost and they look wonderful. They practically shine. And you know – you just know –that they’ve visited you from the Other Side. Or the one where you get a “preview” of something that’s about to happen. This is where dreams serve a really useful purpose, to “download” info from other dimensions. Our conscious brain is in “sleep” mode – literally – so we can access different channels.
You may not think you dream, but you do. It’s a vital physical function; in fact, I think I read somewhere that, when test subjects were prevented from dreaming (as in, being woken up repeatedly), they got really sick. Umm, for the record? I would cut a bitch if someone did that to me. Anyway, the point is you do indeed dream — you just aren’t so hot on remembering them.
Dreaming is where we work stuff out on the physical plane, but more importantly, its where we access higher dimensions. Training yourself to remember what you learn in Dreamland is not as hard as you might think.
First, keep a notebook and pen by your bed. Second, set your intention to start remembering your dreams As you drift off, tell yourself that you WILL recall what you’ve experienced in the dream state. If you wake up in the middle of the night from a dream, jot down what you remember. Do NOT tell yourself that you’ll do it in the morning. Trust me, you probably won’t. So roll over, turn on the light for 10 seconds and scrawl it down. Just like Jerry Seinfeld with his awesome idea for a joke…..which he then couldn’t read.
When you first wake up from a dream, try not to move. This will keep you in that state between the worlds where it will be easier to consciously recall what you’ve experienced. Once you’ve captured a theme, image, whatever jot it in your notebook.
If something really stands out, ask yourself what it means – then go with the first impression or thought that you get. Don’t overthink it. Stay in that muted place where things flow without a lot of intellect behind them. Dreams reach us on a very subtle level; use more of your gut to interpret them, and less your brain.
There are some great dream interpretation books ( I like Mary Summer Rain’s Guide to Dream Symbols) and sites out there, but don’t discount what your own bad self tells you.
Once you’ve built up your recall muscle, you can direct your dreams towards something specific. For example, you can invite a deceased loved one to visit you in the dream state. Don’t force this; they have things going on on the Other Side. They don’t sit around, flipping through Us magazine, waiting for your call. Make the invitation, then let it go. Trying too hard blocks the energy.
You can also ask your Spirit Guides to provide an answer to a question by way of your dreams. Even if you don’t know who your guide(s) is, simply throw up a request for information. You can assign them a name if you want, or just say, “Yo, Guides – I need some help here with (fill in the blank).” They don’t stand on formality. Then see what they send you. And don’t be surprised if the answer/info you get is different than what you expect. Receive it with grace and say “thank you.”
One note – don’t get frustrated if you don’t get anywhere in remembering your dreams. Keep setting the intention, and eventually you will.
There’s an old folk trick to help the dream recall process along. Place a glass of water by your bed. When you first wake up, drink it down to help remember. Or to get the stank morning breath out of your mouth. In the meantime, enjoy a blast from my 80s past. And the exquisite Annie Lennox. In my dreams, I have her voice. In real life, my singing voice is closer to Linda McCartney’s.
I was having breakfast at my local diner yesterday. It’s the kind of place where everyone pretty much knows everyone — and the hostess, “L,” knows I’m an intuitive. So as I worked on a short stack, she sat with me and asked why she’s all of a sudden started seeing the spirits of her dead loved ones.
They’ve been in her kitchen, by her bed at 3 in the morning, even in her car. She’s pretty freaked out, seeing Gramps who died 30 years ago. Yeah, it sounds all cool til its YOUR dead aunt riding shotgun on your way to pick up the dry cleaning. So why is this happening?
Well, L has had a rough couple of years, culminating in some serious surgery a few months back. I suspected her new ability was connected to this time period and she realized that it was. My take on it is that her beloved relatives are letting her know–in no uncertain terms — that they’re supporting her during this phase. Her troubles have made her focus on what’s key in her life, and the rest of the noise has dropped away. I like to think she’s been “cracked open” a little bit, and is now able to physically see who’s always been around her.
Some of you may know from my recent Facebook posts that I was out in Minnesota recently, after my sister entered the hospital. Something similar happened ; the urgency of her illness made me hyper-focused. I wasn’t cluttering my pointed little head with thoughts of cleaning litter boxes or my next deadline. And as I sat in that hospital room, I heard our mother’s voice more than once. Like she was right there (and still telling me to comb my hair off my face).
I think it has something to do with our energy frequency. During a tough moment, our focus is sharpened on the Now. Think about the aftermath of any tragedy, where people describe having seen angels around them, or perhaps deceased loved ones. They’re always there, but because we’re “clear,” we can physically see them, even as they vibrate at higher speeds. These are glimpses into the other dimensions all around us. Beautiful.
Meditation can help to make a space where we can more easily experience these higher-vibration experiences. Know that those we miss are always there, riding shotgun as we go to pick up the drycleaning. And surrounding us with their love.
Quick review: before we incarnate, we make a deal with a fellow spirit. For our part, we agree to take on the hairy experience of human life – which is jampacked with experiences and relationships designed to help our soul evolve. For their part, they stay on the other side, keeping an eye on our progress and helping us stay on track.
Whether we know they’re there or not, they do their best to offer opportunities, new people, coincidences and info that — if we pay attention — can help us keep moving in the right direction. (This is a super-short overview of the subject. A couple of great books on the subject are Ask Your Guides by Sonia Choquette and Spirit Guides by Iris Belhayes and Molly Sullivan). Moving on.
This particular spirit guide is the big kahuna; there will be other guides whom you can call on when you need help with something specific. For example, a “doctor” guide can assist with a health issue, or a “parenting” guide with kids. They come and go, but your main guide is always there.
Of course, the process of working with guides is way easier if we can recognize them and consciously develop a relationship. Here’s a way to meet your guy…or gal.
MEDITATION TO MEET YOUR MAIN SPIRIT GUIDE
Start by placing a notepad nearby to jot down your experience afterwards. Close your eyes and take a few deep centering breaths. Envision yourself surrounded by protective white light. You are completely relaxed and safe in this space.
Now see a beautiful garden path. You’re surrounded by lush greenery and flowers. The path slopes gently downwards into a wood. Walk along this path, enjoying the scenery as you go down, down, down.
You see a cottage in the distance. Continue walking downwards on the path, drawing nearer to it.
You arrive at the cottage. Notice how it looks. Notice the doors and windows. There’s a charming brass knocker on the door. Lift it and hear it fall, announcing your arrival. Now open the door and step inside.
There’s a gentle fire burning in the fireplace. There are two comfy, overstuffed chairs in front of it. One is for you. And the other is for your guide. Who is sitting there? What do they look like? What are they wearing? Keep in mind, they may surprise you. You may expect them to be in long white robes, but be open. I had one guide show himself as a white man wearing buckskin — he had been a woodsman in a previous life, kind of a “Jeremiah Johnson.” The point is to go with what you first see.
Now ask your guide their name. Again, the name may surprise you. When I first did this exercise, my guide said his name was something like “Rael.” Well, that is just waaay too out there for me, so I asked if I could call him “Ray” instead. Now he shows up wearing a pair of sunglasses like Ray Charles. That works with my sense of humor.
OK, so now you’re sitting in your chair with your guide. Ask him if he has a message for you. It may be short. Ask him how he will identify himself in your daily life. With “Ray,” I know he’s around when any Ray Charles music comes up on my iPod. In your case, maybe your guide will let you know they’re there through a symbol, a feeling (like tingles or cold chills) even a smell. Again, stay open and go with the first thing that hits you.
Tell your guide that you appreciate them being there for you and that you want to work more closely with them as you move forward. This cottage will be a place you can meet in future meditations. This is also where you will be introduced by your guide to any other spirit helpers.
Now, its time to leave. Say goodbye to your guide and exit the cottage. The path stretches out before you, sloping gently upwards. Walk along this path, feeling the warmth and love you experienced being with your guide.
Continue walking upwards, gently upwards. You feel yourself coming back to the here and now. When you’re ready, open your eyes and return to the present. Jot down your impressions, messages and insights. And — this is important — stay alert for any sign of your guide in your everyday life, and thank them for their presence.
You don’t have to go into a meditation every time you need help (good if you happen to be driving)– just ask. But it’s a good practice to regularly spend time meditating and building a relationship with your spirit guide. It will make it easier to interact with them, but mostly, it’s just good manners. You know those “friends” who only call when they need something? Don’t be one of them.
To me, spirit guides are a wonderful resource for navigating the ups and downs of life. Like factory air conditioning and OnStar, they come standard with our life. Why not use them to make yours run smoother?
Ever have an encounter with a guide? Spill it in the comments!
During my meditation this morning, I got a message that went something like, “You don’t have to do it all yourself.” This is pretty much spot on, being the perky little control freak that I am. It put me in mind of this card:
When this card comes up in a reading, it indicates someone who’s taking on way too much or doing most of the work in the situation. And you can see that he’s in danger of tripping and dropping his bundle — which means, he has to pick them up again and he’s probably in a hurry and his back is hurting and he’s feeling like he has to do it all and wah wah wah….you get the idea.
The advice behind the 10 of Wands is to share the load — but for control freaks (like me), that can be tough. However, each of us has a team we can call on to help.
They’re always awake (even at 3:20 am). Their phone is always on and never goes to voicemail. They never get tired of hearing your problems. They don’t judge the size of your ass. They are assigned to you from the time you’re born and stay with you until you cross over. They’re not allowed to leave you, no matter how big a pain you may become.
They are your Spirit Team, made up of your spirit guides and a guardian angel. I wrote about spirit guides here –but one of the questions I repeatedly get asked is, “How do I work with them?” It’s really not that complicated: just tell them what you need. That’s it.
I’ll give you a way to meet your guide(s) later — but in the meantime, even if you don’t know their name or anything about them, just reach out. I suggest taking a moment before you go to sleep to send up your message, but you can do it anytime. They don’t stand on ceremony. Something like, “Hi Spirit Team– I could really use your help in knowing how I should handle the situation with Mark. Please send me a sign or some information. Thanks.”
Then keep your radar up. Your Team will always deliver, but it may be subtle and it may not show up the way you expect. The point is to offload some of your burdens on to them. They live for this stuff, so put them to work on your behalf.
There have been a number of great “teams.” Like these guys….
Or this crew, boldly going where no man has gone before….
But YOUR “team” has ’em all licked. And they are at your beck and call, ready to take some of the weight for you. Remember the message I got this morning? “You don’t have to do it all yourself.” You don’t!
Let the late, great Levon Helm and The Band sing us out….
Tom Sawyer wasn’t the only one: dead people like to attend their own funerals. Come on, wouldn’t you? They tend to stand near the end of their coffin, and watch as people pass to pay their respects. They love looking at all the flowers and expressions of sympathy (so make sure you send really nice ones. Just sayin’).
While the deceased enjoy seeing all the old friends and acquaintances, its frustrating for them to see all the sadness, because they know that, “Hey, I’m STILL HERE…”
Grief is a hugely powerful emotion. It can work like a giant anchor around the spirit of a deceased loved one, keeping them (and you) from moving on. They still care deeply about us, so intense levels of sadness make it hard to leave. Kinda like a mom not wanting to leave their crying child (although, there are some crying kids you probably can’t get away from fast enough).
After our mother passed, my sister was desperate to “hear” from her. She wanted a sign,to dream of her – ANYTHING. But that powerful grief actually blocked Mom from coming through. It was like a curtain of white noise that nothing could pierce. Once some time had passed, and the need wasn’t as great, she did indeed have wonderful experiences of Mom’s presence.
Allowing our loved ones to transition is the natural order of things. It’s not easy, but if we keep in mind that they’ve just moved on to another level of existence, one that allows them to stil be with us (albeit in a different form), we’re more likely to experience their presence, either through a medium, dreams, or little “signs.” More importantly, letting them go helps them in their new life. And it allows you to continue on your own path, on this side of the veil.
I know that some cultures “celebrate” death. That’s not exactly my style, but I do try to encourage people to put their grief in perspective, to the extent that they can. You will see them (for real) one day. Trust me on this one…
It was one of those Bucket List things that brought me to Trapeze School in New York City. I figured it would be fun, not to mention a good cocktail party story (assuming that I didn’t end up in the orthopedic wing of the hospital). But I had no idea I’d experience so many “a ha!” moments while flying through the air.
After the instructor tells us how to safely ascend the ladder and what to do when finally flying, its my turn. You climb up a rickety ladder, and there’s no other way down but to jump. So there I am, standing with toes over the edge of the platform, hands on the bar as another instructor grips the back of my safety harness. First command from the ground: “Get ready!” Second command: ’Hep!” (trapeze-speak for “Jump already!”) A nervous gulp and then I’m sailing through open space. And trying not to scream.
It’s an adrenaline rush. It’s terrifying and exciting. After landing in the net and clambering back to the ground, my inner 6 year old wants to do it again; my inner tax-paying citizen needs a stiff drink. The strongest thing they serve is bottled water, so I rally and take several more passes. By the end of the afternoon, I’ve finally mastered the Knee Hang – and even been caught by another instructor, mid-air.
Aside from the incredible memory (and a desire to go out and buy a spangly unitard), I also took away some unexpected spiritual lessons from hanging your ass out in the air, 23 feet up.
LESSON 1: Don’t try to do it all yourself. When you’re hanging off the bar, you’re keenly aware of physics in a way you never experienced in school. Gravity, Force, Momentum [G,F and M] become viscerally real. You have a physical sensation of them as they swirl around your body.
Trapeze “tricks” are more about timing than anything else: the more I try to wrestle my legs over the bar ahead of the right time, the harder it becomes. But when I trust in my invisible friends, G,F and M, the process is almost magical. It’s a reminder that, like with spirit guides and angels, there are plenty of things we can’t see – but they’re there to help us if we just let go a little and allow them.
LESSON 2: Listen. Our instructor was insistent we listen for his cues. He was almost cranky about it (guess he’d seen his share of Cirque du Soleil wannabes). He watched our timing and would tell us what to do, and when. Of course, I jumped the gun more than once and wound up flailing around like a fish on a hook. Not pretty. But when I turned off my own ego and actively listened to the Voice, the one who could see the big picture, it all just kind of happened. Note to self: listen to own Inner Voice more often to prevent unnecessary flailing.
LESSON 3: There’s always a net. The staff of Trapeze School told me that a lot of folks try the trapeze to conquer fears or learn about surrender and trust. Before I successfully got “caught” by my partner, I missed plenty of cues or catches and fell into the net. And I realized that no matter what happens in life, there’s always a net. It might be in the form of friends, helpful strangers or Providence. Screwing up isn’t the end of the world, so you may as well go for it.
So next time you’re standing atop the metaphorical platform, staring out into space, remember that Life is like the trapeze: even if you miss, you’ll bounce back. Literally.
Next Bucket List item: the Hot Dog eating contest at Coney Island.
I remember the first time I learned about Spirit Guides — and how cool I thought it was. Imagine having a whole gang of invisible helpers at your beck and call: would they do the laundry? Give me lottery numbers? Give me the answer’s to the next day’s Physics test? The answer is no, no and HELLL no. Guides have a more specific purpose in our lives.
The subject of spirit guides has filled several books, but here are the basics as I understand them. Before we’re born, we decide what lessons we need to work on when we incarnate: did we finally learn how to be independent in that last life? Did we work out our issues with commitment, hard work or money? Or do we need some remedial help?
There are lots of individual variations in our life lessons, and our guides are there to help us stick to our plan – because, unfortunately, we don’t remember it when we get here.
Call it Spiritual Amnesia. The only hint we have are the things that keep smacking us in the face: the same type of person who keeps showing up in your love life…the same struggles with money or family. The problems that haunt you are the lessons that will get us to finally (hopefully) tick off that goal that we set way back when we were floating on the proverbial cloud.
We each have at least one guide who sticks with us through all the ups and downs of this life. They sort of function as a spiritual GPS, helping us come back to our purpose.
But since this path is ours and ours alone, we have to ask him or her to get us sorted out on the journey. Their help won’t be obvious — it may come in the form of a helpful person showing up, an article, an e-mail. It’s your job to pay attention and act on the help that’s sent.
Besides our main guide who is with us “from womb to tomb” as the Jets said in West Side Story, there are guides who come and go during our life. Doctor Guides help during health issues, Joy Guides come when we need to inject some lightness…there are literally guides for everything (I could’ve used a Plumber Guide when I replaced my faucet….).
Guides have been human at some point, so they know the drill. Some may have lived relatively recently. Then there are others who existed millenia ago and have since spent most of their time evolving on the spirit plane (which explains why one of my guides shows himself looking like some kind of medieval hippie: white robe, sandals, the works. The only thing missing is the psychedelic bus and the contact high).
I’ve been asked if a deceased loved one can be a guide; the answer is no — and yes. They don’t function as guides in the classic sense, because they’ve been with us — or connected to us — here on Earth. BUT those who’ve crossed over are certainly willing to help. In this, they have two advantages: 1) they know us, what we’re dealing with and our particular human weaknesses and 2) now that they’re on the other side, their perspective is wiiiiiide open. So when you’ve hit a rough patch, by all means reach out to them.
As with Spirit Guides, the same rules apply with someone on the other side: you have to ask them for their help. Even if they were huge butt-inskis in life, they’re encouraged to keep their noses out of your life unless you ask them to weigh in.
When it comes to guides, loved ones, angels, whatever, the main thing is to remember that YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO IT ALONE. All of these entities are here specifically to help us in growing and evolving. And when they do, they get points, too. It’s like that saying that goes something like, if you really want to learn something, teach it. They learn from us, we learn from them…and hopefully, our personal evolution helps someone else.
I’ll do another blog shortly describing how you can meet your own guide, but in the meantime, just ask for what you need and know that your spirit helpers hear you. Prick up your ears and see what they send your way!