What’s My Pilgrimage?

Two of my favorite movies are The Way and Walking The Camino, and one of my favorite books Rebirth by Kamal Ravikant, are set on the Camino de Santiago Compostela. The Camino, as it is often called, is a 500 mile pilgrimage through Spain to the tomb of St. James. Often beginning in France the pilgrimage takes about 30-35 days.

I think I relate to the Camino because in my late preteen and teen years I took long walks contemplating life, people or God. Those walks almost always left me with a complete sense of peace. Like the walks of my youth the pilgrimage of the Camino is said to return the pilgrim to harmony. The outer struggle of the trek brings to surface the inner struggle where it can be seen, faced, and resolved or accepted with grace. The Camino restores the pilgrim to harmony with life allowing for a deeper happiness.

As a traditional Hawaiian healer I perform a healing ceremony called ho’oponopono. Ho’oponopono is formally described as the act of setting things right. Less formally it reestablishes harmony within and between people. On one level the process is psychological. Participants speak and hear grievances and concerns in a safe place. On another level it is a spiritual practice where prayer plays a significant role in setting an intention or calling on a higher power to influence the mana or life force energy of all involved to aid in setting things right. The higher power need not be an ancestor or a god. A higher power may simply be harmony or homeostasis relative to disharmony. Ho’oponopono can be a long process taking many hours, or even days. I have come to see it as a pilgrimage.

The Camino is a perfect balance of the inner and the outer, of yin and yang. You walk through nature to see inside yourself. Jesus said heaven is within and at hand, so when we walk the Camino we walk on earth to touch heaven. Qi, pronounced chee, is the subtle life force energy acupuncturist manipulate to improve health. Qigong is an exercise designed to circulate and gather qi exchanging personal and environmental qi. It is similar to the way breath and blood circulate oxygen through the body. In my qigong practice I strive to be conscious of my qi as it dances with the qi all around and within me.

The ability to play with qi is not a gift some have and some don’t. We just haven’t been taught to pay attention and learn how to use it. It is similar to the way we have to learn good exercise and diet habits. It is easy for humans to forget we are a apart of and composed of nature, and that all matter is formed from energy. Most people primarily obtain qi through breath and food. Qigong allows you to pull qi directly from the environment and circulate it through your body. Qigong is similar to life force detox. After a qigong session I feel relaxed, energized, light, and harmonious inside and out.

I’ve been writing a book. Well actually three books. Until recently I could not find my voice. I also did not want to write simply to express myself or worse, as a marketing tool that has no real value. As a healer many of the experiences I’ve had and witnessed leave lessons that are applicable over a broad range of problems. I don’t claim to have discovered anything new. I have learned that every grand idea I thought I discovered had already been discovered hundreds or thousands of years ago. The ability to offer the fruits of experience simply with respect and usefulness has turned out to be more daunting than expected. In this way writing is a pilgrimage. Writing a book is not the only way writing is a pilgrimage; writing a journal or diary also fit the bill. Books too take you on a restorative journey; such books are also pilgrimages.

What’s your pilgrimage? I posted the question and one friend said being a parent was his pilgrimage. Being a father of three I have to agree. The journey with a child or children can be a pilgrimage; one that doesn’t end when they leave home. Marriage is a pilgrimage. Divorce is a pilgrimage. Sickness and caring for the sick are pilgrimages. Obtaining a degree is a pilgrimage. What’s your pilgrimage? Write me, or better yet, write a blog or social media post. #WhatsMyPilgrimage so we can share our pilgrimages with each other. Bon Voyage!

Pohaku Passage: Growing Through Dark Times

The majority of my work isn’t prediction. It is guidance keeping you in grace and blessings so you avoid, or go easier through, rough times. I have been given predictions when appropriate, when it helps you understand. Of course many people can’t understand and so the rough times happen to them full force. When that happens it sets up the lessons needed to accept guidance in the future. You will have ah ha! moments where you see much more clearly than in the past.

When a client cannot grasp guidance and heads straight into dark times I call this Pohaku Passage. Pohaku is the Hawaiian word for stone which I interpret as po-night or darkness, in which the ha-spirit learns to ku-stand or be upright. The dark time is a rite of passage where you are strengthened.

Sometimes the darkness isn’t happening directly to you as when a parent, spouse, or child gets sick or goes through a dark time of their own. These are still times of Pohaku Passage where you learn to be strong for others. Your compassion and kindness are strengthened and your heart softens.

Prediction during dark times rarely helps. It’s like you are about to crash into a wall and someone tells you the obvious. During dark times it is best to learn to surrender. Surrendering as a spiritual practice is not giving up and feeling helpless; it is the ability to flow with a higher vibration like skillfully maneuvering river rapids on a raft versus being in the water flailing, being pulled under and crashing into boulders and trees. Surrendering is learning to go with the flow, but also learning to choose the right flow.

When you are facing dark times keep repeating to yourself, “It will all work out,” like a mantra. Let those words bring you ease. Trust that things will work out even if you cannot see how at the moment. If you believe in God then say, “God will work everything out perfectly.” If you want you can replace God with Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha, the Tao, the Universe. Give it a shot you have nothing to lose but doubt.

You Are A Blessing: Part 2

The thing about being a blessing is noticing that everyone and everything else is too. You realize there is nothing special about being a blessing, and yet, everything is special about being a blessing. When you look at everything and everyone, including yourself, as a blessing it changes everything. And it changes nothing. So what the point? It’s not a point. It’s a power. One of the real and true powers we have is perspective. We can either look at everything as an offense or a gift. We can be the pawns and victims of life, the universe, God, whatever or we can be the benefactors of challenges that bring the seeds of opportunities.

Truth is I’ve yet to meet a life without stresses and challenges. And even that reality can be disheartening and distressing or encouraging. We can take it as life is a constant struggle that will never get better or that since everyone struggles we can get better and stronger in our ability to face struggles. Life favors no one and yet we have the power to favor life. We must use our intelligence to interpret things in a way that allows us to create solutions. Without a clear goal our heart has no where to focus its immense power. Used in harmony with our intellect the heart will rally the body and spirit to amazing and heroic accomplishments.

Try this. For one day think of everything you see and everyone you meet as a blessing. Oh it’s easy with the obviously beautiful things like flowers, birds, trees, the sky, but with situations and people who threaten, annoy, and irritate the crap out of us it is much more difficult to see it or them as a blessing. But if you can gain the mental and spiritual muscle to see the blessing in everything you will astound yourself with your own strength.

You Are A Blessing: Part 1

Nearly everyone says or feels it when gazing upon a new born; What a blessing! Immediately thereafter human education begins and depending on your luck of the draw, karma, fate, whatever you either learn to respect, honor, and make the most of the blessing or you end up in therapy, rehab, prison, prematurely dead, or spiritually seeking. If the stars were fucked up when you were born and you landed in a shit hole whether that shit hole was parents who where abusive to you, themselves or both, parents who spoiled you into helplessness and insecurity, parents so strict you ended up with a good degree and well paying job that you hated, well meaning parents who also led you to a good degree and a well paying job that you hated, or the all to rare well adjusted parents who raised you to be boringly well adjusted, it doesn’t matter. All paths lead back to the same premise, you are a blessing. On the off chance you were born to loving and wise people who nurtured your sense of blessing allowing you to actualize yourself, um, why are you reading this?

To be continued.

The Hug

The little spruce, reminiscent of the one in A Charlie Brown Christmas, was decorated to the hilt. It’s bare and brawny branches held strong to the weight of bulbs, lights, and tinsel as it sparkled in the cold. I’d walk pass it daily and it would help me to feel less displaced, this was after all Hiroshima, a far cry from Indiana. I came to Japan on a pilgrimage of sorts. You see when I was a child my mother took me to a lecture given by the Dalai Lama. Dressed in his maroon and saffron robes, along with his infectious laugh, he reminded me of an Asian Santa Clause.

That encounter set me on a path to understand Buddhism, or so I thought. It was later I realized that what I was really searching for was the warmth. You see I was one of the lucky ones. I got to meet the Dalai Lama face to face and he gave me a hug. While in that embrace I was filled with a palpable warmth I had not felt before, or since. My mother said I was an unruly child until that hug. After that I was kinder, gentler, and a more serious student. I didn’t noticed myself, but everyone else did. Figures. It seems human nature to be the last to notice your own changes, or to see yourself clearly, period, for that matter.

Everyday I’d walk pass that tree and it would fill me with a similar warmth to that hug. One day I spied the owner caring for the land. I stopped and asked in my faltering, Nihingo, Japanese, why he decorated only that tree. He looked me up and down and when sufficiently satisfied my question was sincere he told me it was because the bare branches of that tree were the only ones empty enough to receive the grace. I blinked, my mind recalibrating, did he really say grace? I repeated the word for grace to him, megumi?, megumi?, took a deep breath, scratched my head, and said, Wakaranai, I don’t understand.

He laughed and explained that his father long ago told him this tree represented a mixture of Christianity and Buddhism. It is a Christmas tree that could be decorated most fully because it was the most, in a Buddhist sense, empty, it had less self. The tree also reminded his father of the open hands and arms of surrender to God, and the open hands and arms of Christ ready to hug you with love and forgiveness. “You cannot give a real hug with a closed heart,” he said.

He went on to tell me that this tree helped his father heal from the war. His father was an American prisoner, but it was discovered he was a good cook so he was put to use. As he cooked he learned about the enemy, their tastes, customs, and traditions. As he grew to like their food, he grew to like them, their customs and traditions, and they grew to like him, the food transformed the enemies into human beings. His father realized this was why many religions taught the feeding of strangers, it can turn a potential enemy into a friend. His father grew to appreciate Christmas and Christ.

When his father returned from the war this tree was growing on his parents land, strangely it looks today pretty much the way it looked back then. It was this tree that helped his father remember that we are all the same. If Jesus and Buddha could live on in one tree then maybe humanity could live together on one earth. Then he leaned in close like he was about to tell me a secret and he said, “I may be crazy but this tree makes me feel warm inside, like it is hugging my heart with its bare, empty, open branches; it fills me with with megumi.”

I nodded and said, Me too.