dendria

Habits of a Lifetime: "For You" VS "In Your Stead"

Being Good to Yourself is Good for All: “For You” VS “In Your Stead”

Maintaining relationships can be a challenge, as can keeping your own mood, needs and desires uninfluenced by your partner’s.  Sometimes it’s hard to recognise where you end and they begin.

© 2005 Leah Cooper

The other day, my boyfriend was syncing his iPhone before going out.  He was about ready to head out the door, and I cold-unplugged the phone and handed it to him as he left the bedroom.  What ensued was a very painful and clear lesson in the virtue of doing something “for” someone and the damage that can be caused by doing something “instead” or “in the stead” of them.  Knowing the difference can help create a stable base from which to interact with those with whom you have close relationships.

How can we stay true to ourselves, to our own dreams and aspirations, to our own well-being and happiness; while simultaneously carrying on a deep and meaningful relationship with another person?  A wife who waits on her husband hand-and-foot and a girlfriend who insists her boyfriend call her whenever he changes locations: you may agree or disagree that these are related behaviours.  It may be argued that either one or both of these behaviours are perfectly fine, natural, even wonderfully caring.  Can it be denied though, that a wife who puts her husband’s needs before her own is putting her own needs to the side, if temporarily; or that a boyfriend who feels obligated to stop and text his girlfriend every time he wants to go somewhere else is “giving in” to the requests of someone who is absent?  How can we truly be who we are and follow our own feelings, staying in our personal natural flow, when we are constantly checking it against the desires or expectations of another, whether they are imagined or not?

It’s quite the dilemma on the surface, but if we look closely at the concept of selfishness we can have it all.  Now, I prefer the term “selfull”, a (granted) made-up word that may or may not be met with chortles or barf sound effects.  

Let’s look at the definition of “selfish”:

1. Devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.

2. Characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself; selfish motives.

I’m not going to argue against the word selfish being negative, the use of “only” in both of these definitions makes it abundantly clear that being selfish is to the detriment or at least exclusion of others.  So, let’s ask ourselves: what if we took out the “onlys”?  Can there be a word for positive selfishness?  Take a moment, go back and reread those two definitions, omitting “only”. 

You back?  All right… so doesn’t it give you the warm fuzzies?  It’s quite an innocuous and extremely empowering concept.  There doesn’t seem to be an adverb with such a meaning, at least in English.  We can’t use the word “selflove” as that’s the new PC term for masturbation, isn’t it?  What if selfish motives were actually a noble and wholly necessary pursuit?  What about being devoted to or caring for <i>yourself</i>… regardless of others?   It sounds wonderful, really.  That’s what “selfull” means.  When I attempt to use selfish in a positive way there are still so many stigmas and remembered reactions, I reject it on some level.  So, I embrace being “selfull”.  Having established that looking out for one’s self is a thumbs up, let’s move on to how we treat each other.

When searching for a relationship, “finding my other half” or “being made whole [by my partner]” are widely accepted as valid priorities.  The apparently harmless and sweet notion of union with another person is one that is still the norm; as are small, innocuous habits, such as telling someone else what food your partner likes or reminding your partner in public of something they said earlier that contradicts their current actions.  These are just natural behaviours of an exclusive intimate partner, correct?  Now codependency, a collection of behaviours initially defined from the habits and interactions of those who are close to an addict, is seen as the opposite of natural.  It is at the other end of the spectrum: controlling, emotionally manipulative, self-abasing and pretty much clinically unhealthy.  Certainly, there are extreme cases, but what about a girlfriend who parrots her boyfriend’s opinion on just about everything?  How about a husband who obsesses constantly over his wife’s woes at work?  Mentioning both of these ideas as related to each other may not connect comfortably, but when each side of this apparent spectrum’s behaviours are closely analysed, it becomes clear that the line between having and holding someone and making a relationship more important to you than you are to yourself is pretty blurry.


© 2003 Leah Cooper

There are many gentle and subtle things we can do in order to keep ourselves in a healthy balance between being a fulfilled individual and being in a satisfying partnership.  The lesson that finally came into focus for me when I “helpfully” messed up my boyfriend’s phone, is that of the difference between doing “for” and “in the stead of”.

When we do something FOR someone, it is a gift, whether it takes physical, emotional or energetic form.  The preposition “for” has many uses, but in the case of doing something for someone what you are doing is temporarily suiting your actions to the purposes or needs of someone else.  You are being of use to them, making their life easier, showing you care, being of help or assistance.  For a moment, you are shifting your attention upon someone apart from yourself and using your energy, time and lifeforce in their interest, not your own.  Motives aside, “for"ing is a temporary state that ends with the task being completed.

In the case of doing something in someone’s stead or instead of someone you are acting on their behalf, as a substitute or replacement for your loved one.  You take on a task they could very well do themselves, such as unplugging a syncing iPhone.  My boyfriend knew the phone was syncing and would have checked to make sure it was done, then hit eject and successfully unplugged a properly synced phone, not one with half the tracks he was planning to listen to grayed out.  There are of course so many times in life when doing something in someone’s stead is more than necessary and even requested; although, as I’m sure is the case with nearly everyone, I hardly ever stopped to determine this before acting.

If I am to be lovely old selfull, and my boyfriend is to be selfull as well, then wouldn’t my making an executive decision about whether or not he does something interfere in his flow?  Being mindful overall is an important part of gratitude and getting in and staying in our own flow of greater good.  The more attention we pay to our own selves, attitudes, emotions and actions, the more we benefit "The One"s in our lives.  It’s a win-win, certainly.

How about this little exercise? :

When you are about to do something for someone you care about, stop for a moment and ask yourself, "Am I doing this FOR my hunnybunny, or INSTEAD OF my sugarbritches?”

If you’re not sure which it is, ask.  I truly believe that we are all one, and I also believe that separated as we are into these single-occupant physical bodies, only we can know our own needs and wants (especially of the moment).  It can seem scary, sad and upsetting to acknowledge our disconnection; but at the same time, isn’t that what makes relationships so amazing?  Life is full of contradictions and dichotomies, all of us being one and separate simultaneously being a good example.  No one who is following their passion in life and flowing in all their possibility would want to be with someone who is exactly the same as they are, we are each unique and have our own contributions to make.  Diversity and contrasts are what attract us to each other, what bring us joy and expand us and make us want to love each other.  I want someone <i>else</i> to share my life with; a beautiful, one-of-a-kind awesome being who happens to be separate from me.  There is no other option, anyway.  That being the case, I will be mindful and do things for my love, rather than in his stead.

© 2003 Leah Cooper

CelluTao: A Year-Round Resolution Inspired by "Scrooged"

Graphic © 2011 Leah Cooper

It is strange how you watch a movie for years and multiple times, and it becomes a series of familiar soundbites in your mind; and then you watch it again and suddenly: you’re ready for it.  You finally get it!  Perhaps before that moment, the individual words and emotional sentiment made sense, but at that special moment, it infuses into you as though you’re a cherry soaking up brandy.

Paramount/The Kobal Collection

In the case of Scrooged, I’m pretty sure I saw it in the cinema when it was released in 1988 and automatically gravitated to it.  It was a clever, original modernization of A Christmas Carol; with a heartfelt performance by Bill Murray at one of the many peaks of his career.

We are introduced to this secret-of-my-success version of Scrooge, Frank Cross, whose philosophy seems to be that of a capitalistic emotional terrorist.  He exclaims that people wanting to watch their Christmas special “…isn’t good enough!  They have gotta be so scared to miss it, so terrified!”.  His violent, offensive and utterly inappropriate promo is to him yet another pièce de résistance.

Frank’s habit of going through life treating people like trash while sucking down endless Vodka & Tabs is cut short when he is visited by his version of Marley’s ghost, a desiccated cutthroat business millionaire.  The first real insight into the truth of this high-powered executive is when the Ghost of Christmas Past points out: “You don’t know who you are, you don’t know what you want, and you don’t know what the hell is going on.”

Do you know who you are?  Have to sat down to think about it?  Have you meditated on it; cracked the egg of your life and gently separated the yolk from the white?  How many of us really get to know our own core values during our lives?  I’m not talking about opinions, shoulds and wants; those can only be formed accurately when we take the time to slough off the extraneous influences of imagined expectations and desires that become habits from the moment we interact with the world around us.  The first time I truly considered my core values was last year.  Almost 34 years old, instead of asking myself what I wanted, I had been telling myself what I should do, working from assumptions I had made about life, society and people close to me.  Once you ask yourself and patiently listen for and know your answers, what you want becomes clear as crystal; then it’s just natural to know what the hell is going on: because you’re paying attention.

It’s so much easier to take the less challenging path in life, the one that apparently placates or totally ignores others.  Once on that shoddily painted yellow brick road, it feels harder to change and the regrets and unhappiness pile on, burying your true path.  But as Frank’s love interest, Claire, points out, “One good thing about regret is that it’s never too late.  You can always change if you want to."  The truth is that it’s just as easy to change a year into a choice as it is a minute in, because there is no expiration on change.  Change is that quantum moment, the one between intention and manifestation.  No matter how long or effectively you have buried yourself, it is always just as far away as the air is from a pane of glass when you steam a window with your breath.  Go ahead, take your finger and write your questions on the window, you’ll see your answer right on the other side of the glass.

How did Frank Cross get like this, though?  Why did he decide he should ”[s]crape ‘em off. …[and] save [him]self?“  Just as in the original incarnation of Scrooge, the protagonist doesn’t feel he deserves all of the joys of life.  As Gay Hendricks points out in The Big Leap, for some reason humans find it hard to accept that they deserve all success, abundance and love.  When Frank has finally caught the eye of the president of the network, he is no longer maintaining his relationship with Claire, a woman who challenges him to expand himself.  With no one and nothing to remind him to pay attention, Frank finally arrives unconsciously at a miserable pinnacle of power, influence and abundance.  He has become so aggressively against any kindness, thankfulness and giving that he can’t even stand seeing a child’s drawing, full of imperfection, innocence and love.

It may well be argued that neither Ebenezer nor Frank truly turns around until The Ghost of Christmas Future scares the pants off of him, but the nice touch of Frank’s obliviousness to Bobcat Goldthwait with a shotgun muzzle in his face illustrates the truth of the situation: yes, death can come at any moment, but it is how we spend our lives that we really care about.  Seeing ones own grave is the ultimate regret.  The time for humans to act in pursuit of survival alone is past; we need happiness, and the way there is through being consciously grateful.

In Frank’s final speech of the film he speaks of believing in a "spirit thing” and this is connection.  Once we are fully aware of our connection to others, that they are both one with ourselves while simultaneously separate, it becomes clear that helping others is helping ourselves.  This, by extension, means that treating others unkindly or badly is treating oneself with disrespect.  When you treat others well, you are acknowledging and accepting them as they are and this is where action becomes feeling.  The “feeling” behind kindness is gratefulness, being thankful for the ability and possibility of connection.  What Frank Cross realises is that not only does he find connecting frightening, he was resisting it because he didn’t love himself.  Through the ghosts he learns to appreciate, understand, accept and finally forgive the hardest person in the world to cut any slack for: himself.  Selfishness is not bad, that’s why the term “selfull” is so much more appropriate.  In order to give to others, we must allow it for ourselves.

So this year I watched Scrooge for the 22nd year in a row, and as Bill Murray stuttered out the following words, I too “got it”: 

“If you give, then it can happen, the miracle can happen to you. … [I]f you believe in this spirit thing, it can happen to you; and then the miracle will happen and you’ll want it to happen again tomorrow.  You won’t be one of those bastards who says, 'Christmas is once a year, and it’s a fraud.’ It’s not!  It can happen every day, you just gotta want that feeling. And if you like and you want it, you’ll get greedy for it.  You’ll want it every day of your life, and it can happen to you.  I believe it now!  I believe it’s going to happen to me now.  I’m ready for it!  And it’s great… it’s a good feeling, it’s really better than I’ve felt in a long time.  I’m ready.”

Go to 4:38 for the speech. Thanks to Jon Glanville for the clip.

Can you say the words?  Let’s try them on for size and say them together, just whisper them to yourself, it’s OK.  Try it:

“I’m ready.”

How does it feel?  Forget everything else.  Don’t limit what you’re ready for, just let the possibility flow through you and expand out from you.  Focus on how easy the words are to say and on the amazing feeling of having everything all at once.

“I’m ready.”

Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey made him ready, and has prepared millions of people since the first publication of Charles Dickens’ novella A Christmas Carol in 1843.  Being a child of the 80s, the advent of the name “Scrooge” as a passive verb was a significant one.  Instead of thinking of Scrooge as an example, we can now think of him as a type of experience, one all of us have had touch our lives in one way or another.  I am as grateful for this extension into my own life as I am for the lack of theatrical rigmarole I had to endure to reach it.

So, oh yes, I am ready.

My journey begins... without "me"

About a month ago, I received a call from my friend Sarah.  She told me that her mother would be welcoming a Reiki Master to their farm in Virginia.  This Reiki Master had been treating a long time friend of the family for years and this was the first Sarah or her mother had heard of her.  They both knew that I had just recently completed my Reiki II Practitioner training and were surprised that they had never known of their friend’s frequent appointments with the healer.  It turned out to be a fateful moment for me; although at the time I didn’t realize that I would meet her myself, and that she would pass on a revelation that would help form my path as a healer.


My path to realizing I have a destiny as a healer began when I was attuned to Reiki I about ten years ago in Massachusetts.  As a regular at Bukowski’s in Boston, and part of the “Poet’s Club” (drink all 99 or so types of beer and get your own glass mug with favourite writer’s name emblazoned upon it), I spent a LOT of time in that small dark-wood space.  I had been interested in consciousness, new psychology and metaphysics since college, and Boston being the city it is, there was no shortage of academics with which to discuss any number of philosophical, scientific and theoretical topics.  We must have been engaged in some such discussion when Bukowski’s chef at that time handed me a card with the Japanese kanji characters for “Reiki” printed on it.  She told me her twin sister was a Reiki Master and that I should go see her.  Having recently kicked open the bar door on my drunken way home and popped out my kneecap (courtesy of a teenage Bloodsport related injury) I needed physical healing.  It was winter, I was tromping through the snow with a cane, and there was no sitting for my six hour shifts at my retail job at Louis Boston. My insurance had gone through and I was seeing a physical therapist, but I refused to stop wearing my giant black tank-tread boots in youthful scorn of the physical limitations of my body.

I was interested in this “laying on of hands” healing technique of Japanese origin.  A friend in college had introduced me to it, and I had been able to soothe myself of stomach cramps and her of physical aches from time to time.  It seemed akin to a superhero’s power.  Something about seeing the kanji for Rei (spirit) Ki (energy) rekindled a flame that had burned low in the background of my life for three years.  My major in college had been Japanese Studies and so I could read, write and speak Japanese; although, when I graduated from college I had sought out and not been able to find employment using this skill.  I knew what those characters meant just by looking at them, but I also felt a deeper connection.  And so I got on a commuter train to Melrose, Mass, knee throbbing as I leaned on my antique cane, slogging painfully along the icy, uncleared sidewalks to the practice of Marybeth McKinnon Lang, Reiki Master.  At this free “reiki share”, I was a little leery of how new-agey  it all seemed, and even more disconcerted by the use of the terms “angels” and “angelic touch”; however, the concept of someone channeling energy in order to heal others seemed to me to be about the most good and pure calling one could have in this world.  When it was my turn, I got up on the table, closed my eyes, and I felt a warmth permeate my body.  The next thing I knew, I had awakened at the end of the treatment.  I walked back to the train station without my cane, my knee no longer bothered me. 

This convinced me that reiki was real and I was attuned to the first level a short time later.  Now that my chakras had been opened (this was not explained to me at the time) I could feel the energy was more readily flowing.  As with many things in my life and continuing a theme of self-doubt and lack of worth, I never returned to continue my practice with Marybeth; and soon my use of reiki upon myself and others dwindled.  I didn’t know it, but there would be a time when I would become serious about my path to becoming a Reiki Master.

I stayed in the Boston area until 2009, when a new era of my life began and I moved to Los Angeles with my new boyfriend, Harrison.  Upon my arrival, I began to seek out a Reiki Master in order to continue my studies and eventually become a Reiki Master myself.  Years of cutting my own path, ignoring convention and rejecting the nine to five world had put me in a good position to devote time to this pursuit; in fact, I now knew that I had set it up that way all along.  I quickly found a Reiki Master, the kind, passionate and straight-talking Patti Penn.  With her Scottish accent and California healthfulness, she guides others with no apologies, spot on insights and strong intuitions.  She has her own in depth Reiki books and I found her approach insightful and wonderfully practical. I didn’t know that Usui Shiki Reiki Ryouhou was the “path to personal perfection”, or that it had been “Chrisitanized” when brought to the United States.  I could read the original Japanese precepts but I had not understood them as a practice.  Now I felt a little more at ease and took Reiki II with Patti.  My impatience, issues with self-doubt and deserving all rose to meet me, fast as wreckage bobbing to the surface in a roiling ocean.  I didn’t know what I was doing as I sent reiki back to every year of my life to “clean the pipes”; working toward becoming a conduit for the energy.  I would be channeling energy from The Source.  My ego swelled and deflated and swelled again.  On the day Patti met with me to discuss my experience and hand me my certificate of completion of Reiki II, I still felt the urge to please her, but not as strongly as before.  I knew that it would now only be a matter of time before she would guide me in the next bout of training, to become a Reiki Master Practitioner and complete Reiki III.  It now made sense to me that I must focus on being patient and giving myself time to learn, grow and experience.

It is now the month of May 2011 and I am sitting in Sarah’s living room, using OmmWriter to type out my blog.  I just recently completed a four week course in sensing and usage of energy and the energy body, “Beyond the Body Consciousness Exploration” with Jon Boyd-Barrett, at Patti Penn’s studio, Pause In Joy.  The methods I learnt in his class helped me power up and channel energy more efficiently that ever before.  My self-confidence has been quietly growing, drowning out doubts; and although staying in a positive state is a challenge, through Patti’s book club, I have been introduced to The Celestine Prophecy and Ask and it is Given; this renders my resistance to progress more than a little bit silly.

Back in February, I came up with my company “dendria” and established my DBA.  Then in April, while planning my company launch and working on my website, I spontaneously decided to come to Washington DC to stay with Sarah, visit New York, Boston, and New Hampshire, and then meet up with my boyfriend’s family for a summer jaunt to Plum Island, MA.  This is a trip that will keep me on the east coast for two months.  I asked myself and those close to me, “Am I a crazy person?!”.  I didn’t tell my mum until the day before my departure.  Looking back, I clearly see that my faith in the decisions I have made was shaky at best.  But at the same time, I have faithfully followed every sign and feeling my intuition sensed.  Confusing, isn’t it?

Now that I have spent one week here it is now my feeling that I’m on a serious path; perhaps more serious than I would really have wanted to take responsibility for.  The space for excuses has become a vacuum.  It’s time to let go of resistance, step forward, stop worrying about the how and why of it and relish the journey.

Welcome to Aum Nॐm

Dear friends, family and followers,

I would like, with pleasure, to announce the launch of my new blog Aum Nॐm.  It is where you will find my muses on life, society, metaphysics and a plethora of other subjects.  Its purpose is to satisfy the appetites of our intellects and souls, hence the combination of the sanskrit pronunciation of Aum (), and the internet meme “Om nom nom nom”.

It is my sincere purpose to use Aum Nॐm to provide the juxtaposing offerings of sustenance AND unquenchable thirst.

Love & Be Well,

Leah Cooper

Are you hard on yourself?  Take the pressure off… get anchored.

Last week I had a realisation about how hard I continue to be on myself.  Whenever I would get out of my “flow” and feel my momentum wane it felt as thought getting it back was like starting all over again. 

Not when you remember you are anchored!

An anchor keeps us attached to our intent or purpose, while giving enough slack to allow changes in movement, course and activity.  Making goals doesn’t mean they will be reached in exactly the way we have envisioned.  We all have projects, hopes and intentions, some change moment to moment, some shift over time, others are values we hold as place markers of the type of person we consistently choose to be.

Visualise having an anchor that always connects you to what is most important to you, even if it’s by a hair.  You can go off course, sure, but feel how easy it is to just grasp line and pull yourself back into the flow.  You never have to start again, you are always in your flow, whether you can feel it or not.  Let that anchor be your guide.

I was so relieved at this revelation!  How does this exercise feel to you?

I want to meditate... but how?

~ Originally posted September 6th, 2011 3:28pm ~

Are you trying to learn how to quiet your mind?  Are you looking to connect with what you really feel, think and want?  Do you want to improve your life and health from the inside out?  Amusingly or irritatingly (haha), meditation is both the easiest and hardest way; in addition to being the most direct way.

I’ve been studying meditation for a few short years, firstly through my study of Reiki and just recently as a means toward its own ends.  I meditate in order to find stillness, clarity of purpose, gratitude and vision.  I use it to tap into worthiness and creativity, as well as to face fears and blocks as I follow my true path in life.

Your need may differ.  Perhaps you feel stressed?  Can’t focus as well as you’d like?  Secretly hate being a couch potato?  Feel anxious and don’t know why or what to do?  Are constantly bored?  Are sick of being cynical, negative or angry?  Wish you could be different or have things you don’t have?  The list goes on and on…

Meditation can help with any kind of imbalance, misalignment or negative feeling.

But how to start?!  When I first sat down to meditate, my body hurt, my “mind” wouldn’t shut up, I felt so bored and silly… ridiculous, in fact.  Everyone is different in their reactions, but we also need different approaches.  Some people need to sit in total silence with no thoughts, others need to chant, still others must visualize… finally, some need a variety of practices.  I will offering you options to try.

Try this:  

One Minute Meditation

  1. Find a quiet, comfortable upright position in a place where you will not be distracted
  2. Set an alarm for one minute (if the alarm is loud or jarring to you, place it somewhere that you will still hear it, but only faintly)
  3. Close your eyes and clear your mind of thought (if thoughts come up, let them dissolve like smoke, or have them walk through an open do that you shut behind them - whatever works)

Congratulations!  You meditated!!!

“Hey, but what now?  I only meditated for one minute…”, you might say.  Fair enough.  If you are up for the next step:

  • Meditate every day (you think of it) for one minute

Until you’re ready to…

  • Increase the meditation by one minute each session…

OR

  • Let yourself have “no where to go, nothing to do” and meditate without the timer (just note the time you began on a piece of paper or timer and once you’re done, check and see how much time you spent)

So… what are your thoughts?

Something Simple: Open The Window

How do we find joy?  Isn’t it the most difficult and ephemeral state to attain? 

Here is one simple, easy way to find joy.  How long your joy lasts will depend upon the length of your appreciation. Aside: The factors of simple, easy and joy time = appreciation time are constants.

Open a window.

Do you have a window open now?  If you do, yay!  If not, go ahead, open it.  Is it snowing, raining or the middle of the night…?  That’s even better!  I open my windows every day, even when I’ve had a long night and wake later to find that by the time I wander into the living room it will soon be dark. 

I have neighbours who use their air conditioner every day of the year, here in California.  Laying in bed in the evening and then having awoken in the morning, I am surprised again and again at hearing the constant hum of the machine.  They leave it on even when we have one of those icily refreshing, desert-dry (and consequently frigid) nights.  Many find it relaxing, and the “white noise” comforting, but from my Australian-raised point of view, all I notice is the buzz of electricity and drawn curtains.  It is true, we are across from each other, but they have curtains, sheer, but substantial enough to give them privacy in the bright daylight.  I often wonder why they don’t open their windows or curtains more than once every few months.  This fascinated me after moving from Boston, and before that Texas, where each has their shut-window/AC culture in full effect (for the most part).  It had seemed to me that living in West Hollywood, with the surprisingly constant fresh breeze, that everyone would have their windows open.  Many do, but I walk around my neighbourhood quite a bit and curiously, many windows stay closed for weeks at a time.  Maybe they just don’t realise there is a breeze, which is probably because they are not in the habit of opening their windows…

Opening a window allows air to circulate in your home, as well as light; this, in turn, circulates chi throughout your living space.  There are many times of day when opening the window might not have a beneficial effect, but it’s a fun exercise to get to know your home or apartment and how the air moves.  Sometimes you will only be able to open the windows in the early evening, and even then, perhaps you can only open it a crack because you have a resourceful cat.  Or maybe you live by a busy road and need to use a fan (or prop the apartment door open) to move the air from the back of the apartment through the top of the front windows so as to avoid lungfuls of exhaust, not to mention noise pollution.  In my current apartment, all of the air moves from the living room, through the kitchen and hallway to coalesce in the bedroom, so smells from everything we cook or any remnant of incense lit loiters there and becomes stagnant.  Because of this wonderful flow we are easily able to air out the place, but we must open the bedroom windows at least once a day to avoid stale air at bedtime.  Certainly, air pollution is a concern, but the dust, mold and damp that results from a stuffy home is just as detrimental, if not moreso.  Once your body becomes accustomed to the air outside, you’ll also find that you might sweat or shiver and therefore your skin will refresh itself or you can feel cozy in your slippers.  This reminds us of what is happening with the seasons and nature (more on that later).

As for light, we are solar-powered, much like cats are famous for.  We need vitamin D in order to properly metabolise nutrients found in the food we eat and the supplements we take.  A “dose” of D is free and as near as your curtain pull.  In the summertime the sun can be too much, and the windows may need to stay shaded (awnings on the outside of the window work wonders for this), but only until the afternoon when the sun has passed by.  Knowing the cardinal directions your apartment or home windows face and tracking the sun just by glancing at its position every day can connect us to ancient and simple cycles that become familiar and comforting as years pass.  You can know where and when to find the light you need for a project or task, because although fluorescent lights do indeed allow us to sit inside and do intricate work, so too does the sun, ranging by the open window.  And isn’t it such a pretty light?  Nothing can compare to natural light, whether to read or photograph by or just to bask in.

Chi moves when we move, and animals refresh chi as they wander around the home, as do plants; however, chi is like any energy, and it must be replenished and renewed from a vibrant source.  Yin energy is drawn from darkness, stillness and quietude, while Yang energy is drawn from activity, light and stimulation.  Each of these energies are chi and must be balanced in a home, so if your home is in the dark all the time, there will be too much Yin.  Conversely, if you live in a home that is all glass from floor to ceiling with no curtains, there will most likely be a surplus of Yang.  The same chi cannot be circulated in a space indefinitely, like air it becomes stagnant, trapped and decidedly funky; and when chi becomes “stuck”, you and those you live with do too.

The most common way fresh chi enters the home is through the front and back doors… and the windows.  Any sinks, drains or toilets drain chi (especially if the toilet lid is kept up and the drains unstopped) and so, if you consider this, without open windows to move and stimulate chi, the energy of the home is slowly draining away.  If you work from home and have a few days when you haven’t gone out, you may know that feeling of becoming a kind of gritty old hermit.  Additionally, the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (aptly SAD) is well-documented; and isn’t it strange that some are crippled by this, while others are not?  This is because not just ones physical body, but ones energy body is influenced by lack of light, air and stimulation.

In our world of constant activity, especially through our connection with technology, it is easy to forget that the natural world is outside that window.  Sure, it might just be one sad little tree, or a bird forlorn among the tangle of power lines, but we are still on this earth.  Opening and closing that window is to connect to nature.  How about the first whiff of Autumn, when the air turns crisp?  Or the sight of a sunset painting the clouds?  How about the sensation of the first drops of rain hitting the windowsill, sending a fine spray into the room as you rush to latch the window against a sudden storm?  It seems so romantic as you read it, doesn’t it?  Well, it is!  It is absolutely a wonderful feeling to stand in the open window for a just a moment, the sky darkening, swelling raindrops gusting in on the wind.  Open the window and be in an actual physical virtually reality: imagine you are out there in the natural world.  Feels good, right?  Perhaps not all of us will go hiking up a mountain every day, but we can open the window to see that squirrel chattering at the crows across the way, protective of its newborn pups.

So far my examples have stayed within the realm of the physical world, but what about the joy I was promising?? 

Opening the window is a metaphor for opening to the world, and it manifests not just in physical contact with the world outside the window, but in instinctual contact with nature’s cycles and spiritual contact with the present moment.  Opening the window feeds the body, emotions and soul.  When we open the window, possibility floods in taking the form of sounds, smells, sights and sensations.  We reconnect to the active Yang energy of the busy road near the house or the calm Yin energy of the garden below.  Furthermore, because we are human and full of desires, feelings and thoughts triggered by our physical sensors; with that rush of life energy come memories, hopes, dreams… past, present and future swirling into our minds and souls. 

Still, when the sun hits the face, warming and bright or steely and harsh, there is a pause to be found there.  Whether it is the smell of jasmine, or the sound of a helicopter, if one appreciates those feelings and sensations, it is a glorious moment in which to be alive.  The longer one stays in that moment, soaking up the world outside that window, experiencing, being grateful for and loving it, the quieter the inner world becomes.  And there it is, for as long as you like… joy.

When inspiration hits... get out of bed!!

Yesterday I got up and went straight to work on trying to come up with my first calligraphy piece and soon found myself very anxious - not feeling resonance with my ideas, nor confidence to pull off what I was planning.  I asked myself, was I on track?  Why was this vision in my mind’s eye more a painting than a piece of calligraphy?  I was frustrated, I had to get up from my work.  So I did my Kali mantra, practiced some others and did a Manipura (मणिपूर - center of dynamism, energy, willpower and achievement) mediation for inspiration; letting a golden lotus blossom emerge from my navel and then bringing my awareness down there, until I peered out from between the petals.

Afterwards I puttered around, catching up on interviews, talks and videos from Goddess Leonie’s “World’s Biggest Summit” (…going on through October! Check out my earlier post to sign up and get in on the wisdom!!!). I ate a late lunch, laying along the couch seemingly exhausted, trying to unwind with a little audiobook break (“The Shadow Rising” Book 4 of The Wheel of Time).

But my body was truly aching, twisting energy into small knots in and about my shoulder blades. I decided to take a bath. Beforehand, H mercifully massaged some knots out for me. I slipped into an almost scalding bath of Epsom Salts and sage oil, letting the tension drain. Then I went through my chakra meditation, activating each in turn. Vishuddha (विशुद्ध - creativity center, located at the throat) took some time to release and reach its blue, colloidal tendrils out from the front and back of my throat, to constrict in to form a tenuous, yet implacable blue bubble that finally and suddenly filled in. Once all were activated, I fed into each from the source until, like bubbles meeting on water, they formed into one.  I let the brilliant white glow expand until it had pushed its spherical shape through the earth and above me into the atmosphere of the earth.  Then I found myself within a white streak through the vacuum hurtling toward a crystal-like formation, glinting with all colours of the spectrum.  I entered the structure, crystalline forms all around me; it collapsed into white brilliance and I sat up in the the tub, back on earth.  I’m not sure exactly when it became apparent, but I had been superimposing other works over my own: my Reiki Master Teacher Patti Penn’s paintings, full of colour, depth and reiki energy; Shane Guffogg’s newest collection I had just seen the day before, of shining, intertwined earth-tone ropes, a luminous unraveling ball of twine… these began to recede.  My desire for wet, pigment-thick brush strokes faded.  I brought myself back to the immediate, black trails of the calligrapher’s brush, realizing I hadn’t even asked myself what kanji I wanted to write… 

Body languid, pores still pouring out heat from my bath, I dressed comfortably and wandered over to participate in Pause In Joy’s Meditation Monday.  Jaime on gong, Patti on singing bowl… like a mystical flying saucer visitation, I sat, sweating, thoughts flowing over and around me as though I was a smooth rock in a gentle, but fast-moving stream.  Thoughts tried to cling but all slipped off; I was aware of each one clearly, felling them pass a hair’s breadth from me the whole time, but somehow I was accepting, not my usual, impatient self.  No part of me was waiting for it to be over, but instead relishing more.  And then my Manipura piece’s kanji came: “勇気” (ゆうき; Yuuki) –> “Courage”.

Having returned home, eaten and now ready for bed, I drew a tumbled stone of Charoite across each palm in the Reiki power symbol, to combat my recent insomnia.  I lay down on my back, palms up, feeling the energy wheeling within and around my hands.  Moving the energy through my body, I feel into a deep sleep almost immediately.  At about 4:00am I woke to use the bathroom and then as I got back in bed, snuggling up to H’s back, I was flooded awake. 勇 drew itself in my mind again and again, morphing into a combination of interpretation and extended meaning; a mounting reminiscent of a scroll took my attention; a large 判子 (はんこ; hanko - stamp or seal, usually placed upon calligraphic work with thick red ink) hung to the side.  My eyes wide open, lists of supplies and to dos ticking off in my head; I checked the time: 4:21.  It was ridiculously early, ludicrously.  I started writing this blog post, the glare of the iPhone’s screen too harsh for my eyes.  After a while of tip-tapping the screen sideways, I accidentally hit “Post”, which moved me to my laptop in the living room.  Now here I am at 5:59.  I’m preparing a pot of tea and some vegemited toast and writing my first “tao of dork” blog post (a moment for THE AGES, oh yes!).  Then I plan to hit up http://www.taraswiger.com/ to “craft my own map”… and why not?  Who can know when inspiration hits, and when it does, one must answer the call.

My Path: A Past Life Revealed

Further Messages from a Medicine Woman

~ Originally posted July 30th, 2011 8:12pm ~

Now that I had watched for, and seen, turquoise; I was feeling some momentum to my spiritual search. 

As I stood beneath the tree, sun now slanting from the west quadrant of the sky, Catherine told me I had been a Native American healer in a past life.  The images I strained to see as the pulsing colours disappeared beyond my sight had taken a geometric shape during my session; animals, perhaps?  This concurred with the information that I could use animals, most especially crows, to interpret and strengthen my intuition and healing.

Before the session, as Reiki practitioners should do, Catherine had asked me if I could tell her of any areas of discomfort on my body.  I replied, my lower back and my knees.  Now, after the session, I felt light and discomfort-free and she explained the meaning behind my aches.  She had been told that in a past life my back had been injured during childbirth, and this is why I may have found maintenancing my back to be an ongoing task.  It is true that until my discovery of yoga during college in the late 1990s, my back had always been a little tweaky; and if I were to neglect my yogic practice for a long period, the aching would always return.  Catherine did point out, however, that another reason for the discomfort was my current worry over money.

For the past ten years I have been a wardrobe consultant (high-end clothing sales), shop girl, retail visuals designer, flower arranger, personal assistant, bookkeeper, photographer, office manager, Feng Shui consultant, ESL tutor, calligrapher and writer.  All of these skills have earnt me a paycheck or two, but not a one has held my passion for long.  My pursuit of some of the skills socially accepted as the “more practical” led me into one dead end after another.  I did not use my Japanese for translation, diplomatic, military or business pursuits upon my graduation with Earlham College’s prestigious Japan Study associated BA degree.  Less than five years later, working hard toward the dreams and passions of others had lost its imagined lustre and I sloughed off the yoke to become self-employed.  The excitement and hopefulness expressed by the two older generations of my family was soon quenched when I did not go on to become a CPA.  Oh, how the list stretches away, far out of sight and remembrance, so many apparent regrets for which I have never felt much more that guilt.  Still, here I was, a little over ten years out of college, and my “career” seemed nothing more than a hodge-podge of half-learnt skills.  The little passion I had for my myriad crafts had lulled over time, as I found the only true passions I was following were that of self-employment and improving others’ lives through various means.  Now, with little interest in blowing upon the embers of my current days work, my income had begun to dwindle and I honed the nasty habit of self-blame. 

For years I had rejected money, money the so-called equalizer; thinking it secretly satan’s scales, corrupting and decaying us from within.  I didn’t need money… what truly good person does?  But did I want it?  Absolutely.  I love to use it to travel, eat and drink, shop and improve my living situation.  Something about my relationship with money had always been off.  I was heavily influenced by seeing others with more than they could use hording it and those with less than they wanted fixating upon it.  I’m sure this must sound familiar to any person in the world and with my current focus upon spirituality and moving forward Catherine’s advice that I not let it bother me made a lot of sense.  I’ve been told often that I have a strong power to manifest, and I have used it in so many facets of my life.  Money always comes into my life at the time and in the quantity I am in need of; but for the past ten years I have been making sure it’s by the skin of my teeth.  Thank you, lower back, for this wise communication. 

Progress… moving forward, yes, this was my current goal.  It was the reason behind my moving from my newly settled home in Los Angeles to stay on the east coast for two months.  I was following my intuition, looking for and pursuing the signs.  This was why I stood here harassed by summer insects upon the verdant farmlands of Virginia, begging the wisdom of a Sioux Medicine Woman and Reiki Master Teacher.  So why did my knees hurt?  I was resisting moving ahead…

My Path: Turquoise Shift

Watch for turquoise…

~ Originally posted June 2nd, 2011 5:19pm ~

Recently, I have been seeking out my identity and intuition as a reiki practitioner.  I was attuned to Reiki II by Patti Penn in March 2010.  As per her course, I sent reiki back to all the years of my life, for a minimum of 30 days, completing the process in October.  The day I sat down with Patti at a cafe in West Hollywood for a final check-in and to receive my certificate, I was nervous.  The sending back had left me feeling mostly unburdened by my past, but also painfully aware of the present limitations and sufferings I was creating in my life.  Patti encouraged me to follow my joy and paint, combining my skill of Japanese calligraphy, while exploring new visions.  She mentioned opening an Etsy store and my first thought was, “No way.  I can’t do that.  It’s so impractical.  Although, I wish I could…"  I forgot about that part of our conversation, but did start sketching and exploring with the help of advice from my mother, who pretty much channeled my late father, an amazing versatile and talented artist, David Richmond Cooper.  I deemed it one of my "significant” conversations, where I listen deeply to the other person (Eckhart Tolle on listening), and hear them at the level of the heart.  It’s amazing what messages and interactions come when you open yourself to another person and truly interact with them at the essence level, silencing your Ego (or as I like to call her: “your annoying girlfriend who just won’t shut the F up”). 

Still, months later, I was feeling sedentary, fearful and stuck.  Patti was offering an EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) class on conquering your fears at her new studio, Pause In Joy, and I took it.  For four weeks I worked with Patti and a intimate group, tapping, sharing and letting go.  One of the main limitations that came up for me were my feelings of “not being enough” and jealousy and resentment of those who had what I imagined I wanted.  EFT is an amazingly simple technique anyone can learn and do on themselves to relieve any type of unwanted emotion. Although, with a practiced intuit and communicator such as Patti, the results are even more effective and immediate, as long as you are really ready to let go.  And so the clouds dissipated and I realised I was now ready to truly begin connecting with my intuition on my own “path to personal perfection”.  The week I decided I needed to find my intuition, I attended a mixer for Create Your Health and met a healer, Lily “Lalita” Diamond, who sounded like the kind of Rennaisance woman I aspire toward being myself.  She told me the colour turquoise would be significant, a combination of the two chakras:

Vishuddha विशुद्ध The fifth chakra, located at the throat, colour is blue.

Vishuddha chakra symbolizes the pure consciousness, and creativity. Aether is the element associated with it.On a psychic level, it governs expression, inspiration in speech, eloquence, and perception of the archetypal models.

Anahata अनाहत The fourth chakra, located at the heart/chest, colour is green.

Anahata chakra symbolizes the consciousness of love, empathy, selflessness and devotion. On the psychic level, this center of force inspires the human being to love, be compassionate, altruistic, devoted and to accept the things that happen in a divine way.

Lily explained that I would have to clearly communicate what was in my heart in the next month and that I should wear or keep something with me that was turquoise and would remind me.  Since nothing I owed occurred to me immediately, I dyed part of my bangs turquoise to keep this present in my thoughts.  Of course, soon after I found a few items that were turquoise.  One was a faerie book I had received from Sarah years before, which made a lot of sense because at the same mixer I met another healer who suggested I would find a guide in the Faerie Realm to turn to for my intuition.  Another turquoise item I found that was way too obvious (!) was my favourite nail polish of all time: Mattese Elite “Neon Flash” (Sadly, its been discontinued for a while now… please bring it back!!  Milani now has a rough equivalent in their “Neon” line called “Fresh Teal”… Hmmm…). 

Finally, Lily saw me by a stream, with tiny wild strawberries growing, almost ready to be picked.  She said I would soon be reaping the benefits of my efforts in the near future.  When I met Shaman Alicia Powers almost a month later, I would know in more detail what that meant.  But before then I would be attuned by a Sioux Medicine Woman who would reveal an unexpected past life ability…

I want to meditate... but how?

Are you trying to learn how to quiet your mind?  Are you looking to connect with what you really feel, think and want?  Do you want to improve your life and health from the inside out?  Amusingly or irritatingly (haha), meditation is both the easiest and hardest way; in addition to being the most direct way.

I’ve been studying meditation for a few short years, firstly through my study of Reiki and just recently as a means toward its own ends.  I meditate in order to find stillness, clarity of purpose, gratitude and vision.  I use it to tap into worthiness and creativity, as well as to face fears and blocks as I follow my true path in life.

Your need may differ.  Perhaps you feel stressed?  Can’t focus as well as you’d like?  Secretly hate being a couch potato?  Feel anxious and don’t know why or what to do?  Are constantly bored?  Are sick of being cynical, negative or angry?  Wish you could be different or have things you don’t have?  The list goes on and on…

Meditation can help with any kind of imbalance, misalignment or negative feeling.

But how to start?!  When I first sat down to meditate, my body hurt, my “mind” wouldn’t shut up, I felt so bored and silly… ridiculous, in fact.  Everyone is different in their reactions, but we also need different approaches.  Some people need to sit in total silence with no thoughts, others need to chant, still others must visualize… finally, some need a variety of practices.  I will offering you options to try.

Try this:  

One Minute Meditation

  1. Find a quiet, comfortable upright position in a place where you will not be distracted
  2. Set an alarm for one minute (if the alarm is loud or jarring to you, place it somewhere that you will still hear it, but only faintly)
  3. Close your eyes and clear your mind of thought (if thoughts come up, let them dissolve like smoke, or have them walk through an open do that you shut behind them - whatever works)

Congratulations!  You meditated!!!

“Hey, but what now?  I only meditated for one minute…”, you might say.  Fair enough.  If you are up for the next step:

  • Meditate every day (you think of it) for one minute

Until you’re ready to…

  • Increase the meditation by one minute each session…

OR

  • Let yourself have “no where to go, nothing to do” and meditate without the timer (just note the time you began on a piece of paper or timer and once you’re done, check and see how much time you spent)

So… what are your thoughts?

Encounters of the crow kind

I just meditated outside for about 45 minutes, visualizing a crow on the railing before me. I then went upstairs to find my animal-speak reference book and heard a cawing outside. I looked out the window and I crow had alit upon the railing. It moved to the spot where I had visualized it, then flew up to the roof at eye-level with me and stood looking at me! Hello, crow!

Why a crow? Continue reading my blog and you’ll see why.

Aum Nॐm Crystal Blog Series: Progress Report

Progress Report: A Manifestation Update


All art & photography © 2012 Leah Richmond Cooper

Hello Dear Aum Nॐmmers,

I began my Manifestation Meditations on September 21, and by the time I was at Entry 7.7, just a third of the way through, I became swamped with money-making opportunities.  The day I began meditating I had an offer from a friend to do some art-related work for her, and the next day another friend gave me a beautiful new bag from his store.  Less than seven days later, I was offered a part-time retail job at just the right time for me to work through another aspect of my relationship with money and open to ethical selling.  Since then it has become a regular gig that I enjoy and continue to use for my ethical selling expansion.  The day after being offered that particular job, both H and I were given the opportunity to work on a set for good pay, making enough money in five days to cover all of our rent, bills and expenses for a month and a half! 

In a nutshell, just nine days after beginning these expansive meditations I began working two days a week, then a week later it jumped to six in a row!  I took the day off today to do nothing, because every opportunity I get keeps expanding into more time and more opportunity.  Exactly what I asked for: but now I’m ready to move to the next step…

It has become crystal (hoho) clear to me that I can manifest money through the type of work I’ve been doing my whole life: worth my time, but not connected to my deepest and most passionate dreams. 

My next step is to manifest opportunities and money connected to what I truly want to do: art, writing, and energetic work. 

It felt like a big deal to find opportunities to bring in the minimum I needed to pay for my half of the bills, and instead it was easy.  Ridiculously easy.  From what I understand of the culmination of my studies over the past ten years, it is as easy to manifest a bag as it is a house.  I’m ready to do that now.  I feel intimidated, but whenever I look around me and feel grateful for all I have at this moment, I know that there is more to come, more unknown to expand into… and that’s what this 21 part Manifestation Meditation series is about!

Can you believe we are only one-third through?!

Have you given manifestation or magnetization a go?  If you did or have, what did/would you attract? 

Click through to dendria’s website. Like me on Facebook.

dendria presents: Aum Nॐm Crystal Blog Series

Aum Nॐm Crystal Blog Series: Entry 1


I have created this series of blog posts for people who are interested in crystals and either don’t know where to start, or are curious of further methods and insights that can be gained from the study of stones. 


Let me start by stating that my personal philosophy toward any energetic or healing art is that there is no right or wrong way.  The most important thing is to hone your own intuition through practice.  Now, practice can mean so many things, not necessarily a regime or routine.  What I mean by practice is consistent, conscious interaction with your crystals.  This series is not too concerned with the whys and wherefores of stones and energetics, although I may go off on a tangent regarding my own insights.  This information is intuitively gained through my own consistent, conscious interactions that continue to this day and that I intend to continue throughout my life.  Any conclusions I come to existentially or philosophically are prone to shift and that is how I like it. 


Always feel free to add your own voice!  The methods and approaches I write of here are open to expansion and interpretation.  I also welcome your own experiences and ideas, which I hope might differ from mine, as they will only benefit myself and readers.  Through challenge, questions and sharing we can all deepen our own personal practices.

© 2012 Leah Cooper

Entry 1 - Getting To Know You


Today I would like to start with a simple exercise, one that opened up my eyes to the difference between tumbled and raw stones.  I also believe this exercise a basic starting point when procuring and getting to know the stones that have come into our lives.

In the spirit of GTD (a now legendary organisational book by David Allen), I encourage you to get all of your crystals and stones together in one place.  Sit with them all in front of you so you can get a sense of how many you have altogether.  Some people go to crystal stores, others pick up stones on their travels, still others have bought or been given jewelry with stones in them; many of us have a collection due to all three actions.  Go ahead and get every last stone and piece of jewelry that isn’t glass or plastic, unless it “calls to you” (see Entry 3); you may find you already have quite a range at your disposal.

Now, take up each stone in turn and examine it.  Turn it over, look at it from all angles, get to know its shape and size, colour, texture and individual nuances.  Gently, and without expectation, cast your mind over how and when you found or purchased it, from whom you got it, things of that ilk.  Let thoughts about the stone come to you, whatever pops up is right; and if nothing comes it may not be time for that insight as of yet.  Don’t feel pressure during this exercise, there is no right or wrong way or thought.  I keep a journal where I take notes about my current energy work insights.  If you would like to dedicate a notebook especially to this, do so; it is always illuminating to look back on previous entries.

Next is the step is so simple, yet truly awe-inspiring:

Sit in a quiet place where you can be physically comfortable and will remain undisturbed.  Take the stone or crystal in your hand and feel the sensations that come up in your body.  You can try a few different ways of holding the stone: envelop it fully, hold it with space between it and your fingers or in perch it on your open palm.  

What do you feel and where? 

Depending on the stone, I have felt cascading vibrations, aches, warmth, pin-like pricks and pain, among other sensations.  These occur all over my body, sometimes in specific areas, other times in whole limbs.  Really, there is no end to the variety.   Each stone is different, and depending upon my mood or what I am going through at the time, it may differ widely.

One thing I am certain of, however, is the difference in strength between raw and tumbled stones.  There are exceptions, some crystals are very strong, even though they are shaped.  For example, I have recently been working with a spherical rutilated quartz that I find to be very powerful.  For the most part, though, a raw stone will be felt more distinctly.

The first time I really noted this was when I held the stone from the photograph above, a very effecting piece of raw Amazonite.  I am still waiting to be ready for this transformative stone and there is a space in my collection for it.  I have two smaller pieces of tumbled Amazonite, and it is my feeling that it may be a large piece.  This kind of insight can sometimes reveal itself a little at a time (my writing this brought up the image of a larger stone and I have been puzzling over the question of this Amazonite for a while now).  Stay aware of the thoughts and feelings you have about your crystals, and of how they progress.

I suggest using a reference book or online source to identify your crystals and stones, and to research their metaphysical properties.  You will be surprised at how apt each crystal is, whether it is in connection to the person who gave it to you, the time at which you found or purchased it, or even the location within your house where you had been keeping it.

You have your assignment.  Give this a go!  Think of it as a first introduction, as over time you will find that you can get to know your stones very deeply indeed.

<– Click through to dendria’s website.

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WOTao - Matrim Cauthon

Graphic © 2011 Leah Cooper

Let it be known that in this blog I embrace my Dorkish side to what may be an embarrassing extent.  My definition of “dork” plays off of the meaning that refers to “a socially inept, unfashionable” person.  When we are “dorky” about something, we expose ourselves, overcoming fears of humiliation or vulnerability.  With that, I declare my love of The Wheel of Time.

Now, for those of you that do not or have not yet read the Wheel of Time series of fantasy books, there is a little link at the bottom of this essay that provides a resourceful guide to Robert Jordan’s complex and fantastical world of Aes Sedai (sorceresses) and Asha'man (sorcerers) wielding the One Power (basically: The Force) in a tense build up to Tarmon Gai'don (The Last Battle).  Explaining the books would be like explaining the Lord of Rings, and truly, it’s an overwhelming undertaking.  I suggest reading for yourself.  Either way, my little scribblings can be taken separated from their sources, and if you disagree, I welcome constructive criticism that will allow inclusivity.  Dorkiness extends to all of us, it’s just that we are each dorks about our own particular passions.

Today, I will be writing of the character Matrim Cauthon, one of my favourites among the pantheon of characters in the TWOT books.  He is the equivalent of a Thief or Rouge, to use role-playing terminology.  He doesn’t usually use magic and instead relies upon skill with weapons and cunning.  Much of the time his personality will be a combination of nonchalant and/or wry, and he is usually a bit of a skirt-chaser.  Oh yes, just my type. 

So without further ado (as there as been just a little, for which I apologise), I give you the first of many:

WOTao - Matrim Cauthon

By midway through Book Four of The Wheel of Time, Matrim Cauthon has not yet achieve total self-realization, nor has he stepped fully into legend.  Mat’s character is the least allegorical in the series, because his abilities are tied up in synchronicity.  We can access the fundamentals of his ability in our own everyday lives, by taking his example of “chance” to heart.

Matrim’s first inkling of being more than just the village prankster starts with random Old Tongue phrases that seem to come out of his mouth without his knowledge.  The only explanation given early on is that the blood of Manetheren is strong in The Two Rivers; and his companion Perrin, and even Rand, are associated with this in the beginning.  It still seems this young man is simply an all-round cheeky bugger beset by the worst possible nightmare when he takes the ruby-hilted dagger out of Shadar Logoth.  Almost all of his strange behaviour until he blows the Horn of Valere has been influenced by the filthy object.  What we know of him is that he has a penchant for gambling, and seems to have good luck most of the time, whether with dice or with getting out of a scrape.

While being separated from the ruby-hilted dagger in a healing that requires the use of angreal and a room of Aes Sedai, he speaks in the old tongue; a surprising turn that is clearly significant.  When he wakes in his recovery room in the White Tower it is with blurred memories, not just of his current life and experiences, but of others’ as well.  The first thing he does is check to make sure his dice cups and die are with him.  He has throughout the first three books, become confident in his abundance; he knows he can win any resources he might need.  It is clear his horizons have already grown beyond his small home village.  Although he no longer intends to return home, he is eager to get away from the Aes Sedai.

The opportunity to leave the White Tower on an errand to deliver a letter from Elayne to her mother Queen Morgase, is the first in a series of synchronistic events.  Now free of the dagger, we are finally able to see Mat for what and who he is: one who is deeply attuned to the universe.  His flippant phrases and unworried philosophies are the embodiment of the Taoist viewpoint, not in there words, but in the attitude behind them.  He is a leaf upon the water, being pulled ahead into the unknown and all he can do is steer as smooth a path as possible.  The pull of Ta’veren also effects Perrin, but he is duty.  Rand pulls all about him and he is destiny and finally enlightenment.  Mat is what we are at our most fundamental, he is who we are when we are without thought or burden.  He is pure in spirituality and action.

As he begins his errand he falls in with Gleeman, Thomdril Merrilin, the struggling conscience of the books.  Once in Camelyn, Mat has an experience that epitomizes the wending way of synchronicity.  Synchronicity is a flow that matches up at points, but it is no straight line; in addition, it is not always a series of positive or successful situations.  When Mat makes the mistake of omitting the Daughter-Heir’s name while attempting to deliver her message, he is denied roughly from entering.  As a result, he decides to climb the wall to the castle garden and finds himself overhearing a pivotal conversation.  After just a few minutes in the castle, he knows more than even Queen Morgase herself.  In keeping with his pure nature, he immediately tells Thom and they leave only after taking food to find Nynaeve, Egwene and Elayne and save them from a plot they do in fact know nothing of.  These events taken separately might be judged as failure, happenstance, coincidence and then a knee-jerk decision; but when seen together, it is clear that all needed to happen in an exact order for the correct action to be taken.

When Mat and Thom first arrive in Tear, in a strong sequence of synchronistic events, their ship lands them directly next to where the women are, and as Mat passes by the house in which the women are billeted, he looks directly at the storefront as lightning flashes to illuminate it.  But he is impatient, and leads Thom on through the mud of the Maule, angrily stating that there is no way the women would tolerate this muddy, dismal area of the city.  Here we see that the harmonious course of life can be clouded or even blocked with too much thought and intention.  Thought is processing of ideas.  Intention is a planned action.  But we are no longer able to ride on the flow of life effectively when we stop being aware of the world around us and get caught up in processing only thoughts.  Furthermore, we limit our possibilities when we are distracted from the mutable truth of the universe.  Intention is of the moment and must always be adjusted as action takes place, even by the most minute degrees.  In Mat’s haste and worry he becomes disconnected from his synchronistic path, which he later realises in perhaps his largest shift.

In life, clues are dropped like breadcrumbs before us.  They help us to gradually become ready for larger Aha moments that take the form of major shifts.  One such breadcrumb is apparent when Matt is too tired to care whether he stops in at every inn along the way as they search for the women.  Because of his great fatigue and hunger, he skips a few inns and when he walks into the next random common room, right there in front of him is Comar, the man whom he knew had been sent to kill his friends.  In his exhaustion, Mat had forgotten to think and had varied his intention, resulting in his return to the synchronistic path.

Still, we never truly leave the path.  There are always more clues and more chances, strewn in our way, large and small.  Desperate to find his friends, Mat has dragged Thom throughout the city in the rain and wind until the Gleeman is in need of a healer’s attentions, an action which ends up laying yet another synchronistic stepping stone at Mat’s feet.  It is important to note through this that when an opportunity in life is missed, or a failure results, the benefits of the realisation gained is of even greater value.  It is true that if Mat had been clear-headed when he arrived in Tear, he may have prevented Nynaeve, Egwene and Elayne’s capture.  However, he would never have come across Comar.  Perhaps more importantly, when he finally dragged a dangerously ailing Thom back through the Maule to Mother Guenna’s house and discovered the women’s whereabouts, Mat came to fully understand the mechanism of his “luck”.  His realisation is in short that he cannot predict his “knowing”; that he can only discover the next step as he takes the chance and moves forward.  Here we see that only moving forward and openness to the knowing need be adhered to, and in fact, any more effort or thought may indeed impede progress.

From this point on, Mat may question and find himself resisting the ensuing events; but at the most pure level he has come to learn what he will never unlearn.  He stays in the flow even when he cannot understand why or what is happening; even when events are the opposite of what he might want or if something makes his blood boil.  In moments where he must go forward but cannot take action, his pure connection to synchronicity is so strong as a Ta’veren that he can literally toss a coin to make the correct decision.  What is pure and inspiring in this is his absolute faith.  At first it could have been assumed that Matrim Cauthon was prone to rash and silly judgements, nevertheless, he now understands what “knowing” is and he has at his core a calm that sustains his place along the synchronistic path; even if it is sometimes the eye at the center of a hurricane.

As Mat often says: “Dovie’andi se tovya sagain.” — “Time to toss the dice.”

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The Artistic Process - Calligraphy project

Last night I went on an amazing journey, crafting my first medium-sized calligraphy pieces for Pause In Joy’s new acupuncture space.  Follow my process right here and stay tuned for colour photographs (macro for Etsy!).

The process, step-by-step in photographs:

1) The Master Plan

2) 筆 (ふで/fude/brushe(s)), 文鎮 (ぶんちん/bunchin/paperweight) and 硯 (すずり/suzuri/grinding stone) ready to go!

3) Practice runs underway

4) Dad’s colour wheel amidst the B&W

5) The kanji and signature are finished

6) Labels calligraphed and cut, ready to paste on back

6) Dark green wax seals added and glazed

7) The Artistic Aftermath