Archive | May, 2013

Forgiveness Part Deux: Johnny Depp Style

18 May

I think it’s totally possible that if you don’t learn to forgive, you very well could wind up spending your days slitting people’s throats and baking them into meat pies.

An Example of Being Ass Crazy 'Cause You Won't Forgive

An Example of Being Ass Crazy ‘Cause You Won’t Forgive

 

No, seriously folks, it can happen to you.

Watching for the first time this weekend the film adaptation of SWEENEY TODD featuring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, I was struck with not only its gruesome, blood-spurting gore, but also its visual exemplification of what happens when we don’t forgive. Yes, yes, I know my most recent reflection chronicling my own experience with forgiveness probably did you in (which, by the way, you can totally read here).  But I found the display of Sweeney Todd’s nightmare existence walking around Fleet Street refusing to forgive his tragic past worth noting.  And I’m gonna do so in pictures.

Depp, who plays Todd, spends most of his scenes (when he’s not slitting people’s throats) stoic and frozen, wrought with vengeance and fury.  Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Mrs. Lovett, his psychotic counterpart (thank you, Law of Attraction) takes a fervent liking to him and spends most of the film trying to win his love and affection.  But is he able to receive it?

Let’s take Exhibit A.

 

Exhibit A

Wooing Depp with the charming Sondheimian number “By The Sea,” Carter attempts to paint an idealistic retiree future for the two of them.  She’s looking relaxed and happy at the seaside.  Is he?  Guess he’s not an ocean person.

Exhibit B.  When you have truly forgiven those who have wronged you and tumultuous past events, isn’t walking arm in arm with your partner the bees knees?

 

Exhibit B

Not for Depp.

Exhibit C.  By not forgiving, you’re closing yourself off to the love of others.  You never really receive a hello; you never fully receive a goodbye; you’re not present for a handshake, a hug or even a kiss.  (And what a bummer since they’re both so cute.)

Exhibit C

 

Exhibit D.  Worst case scenario.  You choose not forgive, but you’ve met someone amazing and commitment day comes along.  When the aforementioned someone amazing turns to you to seal the deal in front of hundreds, are you going to be able to meet that turn with an open heart?  What happens when she can turn but you can’t?

 

Exhibit D

(And just think, a paid-for open bar and personally designed napkins all for nothing!)

I guess what I’ve realized is that forgiveness is really not optional; it’s a necessary part of life unless you want a psychotic existence playing out your fury time and time again on those who don’t deserve it.  By choosing not to forgive, it limits you, it restricts you, it only allows room for pint-sized love when you deserve the full gallon size.  More importantly, though, it blocks you from the love that’s out there waiting, emanating from the Mrs. Lovetts in their pie shops wanting to live out their days with you, by the sea.

The 360 of Forgiveness

10 May

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It took a dream for me to understand forgiveness.  I didn’t find it in a song or an audio recording or one of Wayne Dyer’s books or an Oprah Super Soul Sunday segment.  Like many of my important spiritual downloads, it happened at night.  And this one was a big one.

While the location in my dream was not totally clear, I was in an interior of a public place walking from one side of the room to the other.  In doing so, I passed two middle-aged women talking quietly.  As I was passing, I glanced over and one of them, in an attempt to describe someone to her friend, said, “You know, he’s a little — like him.”  At which point, she holds out her hand effeminately and the two of them laugh.  I reach the end of the room.  I stop, I turn around.  My blood began to boil.  I was angry and I felt confrontational.  I take a step towards them.

“You know, it’s not nice to talk about people like that,” I shouted to them.  They stopped their hushed chatting and turned to me, surprised.  “Do you talk about gay people like that all the time or just today?”

Their mouths dropped open.  Minutes pass and I proceed to lecture them, speaking sternly, powerfully, angrily.  I raise my voice, I use my hands to emphasize my points.  I was standing up for myself, calling out bigotry and was relentless.  I don’t remember everything I said, but it felt like a long time, raising my voice more and more to prove my point.  Eventually, the women’s faces turned from shocked to sad.  One of them began to the cry; soon after, the other began to cry, too.  Tears were streaming down their faces and once I took notice of this, I quit my yelling.  I stared at them and they stared at me.  We were quiet.  Suddenly, an overwhelming amount of empathy flooded over me and I immediately felt terrible for my outburst.

“I don’t mean to yell at you,” I told them.  “I know you all are good people.  I can see that.  I’m just angry.  But I see that you didn’t mean to hurt me.”  They continued crying and as they did so, my perception of these women changed.  At first, I had seen only one side of them, a side that was petty, ignorant, and offensive.  Then, as the tears progressed along with the dream, I saw these women in a totally new way.  While flawed, I saw that the root of their comment about me was not meant to be offensive; they were just simply unaware.  I saw, in a new light, that they were actually good, deeply-feeling people whose intent it was not to hurt anyone.

I woke up, puzzled about the dream.  It felt important, it felt powerful, but I wasn’t sure why.  I wrote it down in a notebook by my bed and several hours later upon reading it over a cup of coffee, I determined the power of the dream had to do with me standing up for myself and that, perhaps, this was a message from Spirit.  Maybe they were trying to tell me that I needed to stand up for myself more on a regular basis or that I would have to very soon?  Later that day, upon reviewing the sequence of events in my head, it became glaringly obvious that the power of the dream was actually not in my tirade at these two women.  The power was found in the fact that before my very eyes, my perception of them as wrong and evil altered to empathetic and kind.  Yes, these two ladies in my dream were really teaching me about forgiveness.

When someone wrongs us or we feel betrayed by them, we are looking at the person through a 180-degree perspective.  We only see the wrongdoing and are blinded by our rage and hurt.  Yet, when we get to a place where we choose to forgive someone for what they have done to us, we are adopting a more 360-degree angle; a greater picture that’s truly three-dimensional, choosing to see the person in a fuller, enlightened way, not merely for the wrongdoing they may have done to us, but as a complete person.

I spent the next day thinking about this, about the ironic timing of my dream since I had recently been flooded with YouTube videos, books, quotes and reading material on the topic of forgiveness.  Forgiveness seemed to be taking a spotlight in my life and I wondered why.  So I set out to explore it for myself.  I wrote down the names of three people who I have felt wronged by in the last few years and I set the intent to truly forgive them and view them in the 360.

Marianne Williamson’s advice on forgiveness is to think of the person you must forgive and wake up each morning and pray for their happiness for 30 days.  Realizing I felt stilted in several ways by not truly forgiving these three people, I woke up the next morning and said out loud each of their names, taking several minutes to focus and pray for their happiness.  God, it wasn’t easy.  It kind of made me wanna throw up in my mouth at first.  And doing it the next morning wasn’t easy, either.  And the next one after that wasn’t so hot, come to think of it.  But by the fourth and fifth morning, I began to feel a cellular shift in the way I thought about these three people.  They no longer stirred negative emotions in me and the feeling of wishing them true happiness, wanting that for them on a profound level, gave me a peace I’d never had before.

Well on my way in this advanced spiritual practice, here are three things I realized about this powerful practice:

Forgiveness brings clarity.  Since following Marianne Williamson’s advice, and since having made several other lists of people I now realize I need to forgive on one level or another, I now see more clearly the soul contracts behind these complicated relationships and the purposes behind them.  I see more lucidly why things happened the way they happened and saw the good that came out of it as opposed to being clouded by the negative aftermath.

Forgiveness is a process.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  I’d be lying if I said that while I wish these three people true happiness and joy, there is definitely 15% of me that still would consider throwing a pie in their face mid-sentence a la Anita Bryant.  But several weeks ago that percentage was more like 25% and I’m hoping next week it will be down to 10%.  For some people, it might take years to fully forgive.  But if we are truly honest with ourselves, people in our lives fail us in greater and smaller ways all the time and the practice of forgiveness is a constant one.

Forgiveness opens doorways.  Through forgiving, you make yourself available to better things that can come into your life.  Carrying around excess bitterness and resentment closes you off to opportunities; yet, when your heart is open, you are truly able to receive.  You’re spiritually available for the amazing people, events and chances meant for you in this lifetime.

I wasn’t ready for this lesson a few years ago.  It seemed too daunting, too difficult.  And let me tell you, it’s definitely not easy, forgiving someone on that cellular level, particularly in the beginning.  But I realize I’m now ready because I really strive to view people in the 360, there’s a genuine want there.  And while I’m sure there’s a longer road ahead, I know I have those two ladies playing limp wrist in my dream to thank.  ‘Cause even though I yelled at them a little, they got me off and running.  And let me tell you, you’re not really off and running until you learn to forgive.

 

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Interview with Psychic Deb Bowen

3 May

Psychic/Intuitive Deb Bowen

Psychic/Intuitive Deb Bowen

It’s a great pleasure to feature the second psychic teacher of the two Psychic Teachers, Deb Bowen, on Open Doorways.  

In addition to co-hosting her weekly Psychic Teachers radio show with Samantha Fey, (whose interview from last week  you can access here) she is an intuitive based in North Carolina who has been giving readings to clients worldwide for years.  Anyone who is familiar with Deb’s work is charmed by her warm Southern wit and impressed with her sharp and profound intuition.  I ran the gamut, asking her about her work with ghost hunts, paganism and animal guides, not to mention her important advice on coming out of the psychic closet.  Whether you’re a fan of the Psychic Teachers or being introduced to them for the first time, I know you’ll enjoy getting to know Deb.

 

Deb, what is your process when giving a reading? I know you incorporate tarot into your work, so if you could explain how and what your process is like. 

I begin by shuffling the deck at least three times.  I then ask the client to cut the deck.  I hold the deck to get a reading of the client’s energy, and then pray, asking for guidance and truth from my guides.  I use a Celtic Cross spread.  I don’t necessarily read each card individually, but instead they have now become more of a trigger for my own intuition.  I ask questions for clarification, but don’t want to know the client’s question beforehand.  It’s usually clear to me what the issue(s) is/are the minute I see the cards.

You seem to do a lot of visits to haunted houses. What has been your experience with lingering spirits and how do you deal with them on a “hunt”?

I’ve had many, many experiences with ghosts in haunted places.  Sometimes I see them, sometimes I hear them, sometimes I sense a density of energy that tells me a ghost is present.  If I am working with an investigation team as the team’s psychic, I don’t say anything about what I’m experiencing, but keep a record of what room, the time, and the experience I’m getting.  After the investigation, I write a report to the team leader so that my findings can be compared against results from all the various equipment.  Unlike what you see on television, I’m not a screamer, and my silence ensures that I don’t taint or sway the evidence the rest of the team may get.  I’ve done investigations where I have been asked to help a lingering ghost cross over.  Those are usually successful, particularly when the ghost understands that the reason he/she may be haunting the location is no longer valid.  For example, we crossed an elderly woman over after she understood that her family was no longer in the place she was haunting.

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Animal guides seem to be a big part of your life. What are some of your animal guides and what do they represent?

 I have several animal guides.  My primary guide is Redtailed Hawk.  Hawk brings messages from Spirit.  When I have a major decision to make I ask Hawk to fly over me if I am leaning in the right direction with my decision.  I usually give Hawk about 24 hours to show him/herself.  If that doesn’t happen, I know I need to rethink the decision.  Bear is another guide for me.  Bear is about introspection and protection.  When I need a shield between me and an adverse situation, I wear a carved turquoise bear around my neck.  My belief maintains that all animals are sacred, so I also offer gratitude to Squirrel and Cardinal and Wren and many others who grace my land.

You were raised in a Christian household, but identify as Pagan now. What was that process like and how did your intuitive abilities contribute to that?

It was a very long process, beginning when I was in high school.  Somehow I couldn’t resonate with a belief that maintained it was the only way to enlightenment.  I studied Buddhism and Hinduism first, and really respect those beliefs, but they weren’t for me.  As I began to study with my elder teachers in the Lakota Way, I became more clear about my beliefs that connect everyone and everything.  “Mitakuye Oyasin” is the Lakota sentence that basically means “We are all related.” From there, for me, it was a naturaly evolution to become connected with earth-based spirituality.  I started reading about the Goddess tradition, and now honor both the masculine and feminine divinity in us all.  My intuitive abilities contributed tremendously.  I finally found a place where such gifts were not only accepted, but encouraged.

What advice would you have for anyone coming out of the psychic closet?

We all have psychic ability – that’s one of the primary principles Samantha and I teach.  Don’t be frightened – psychic ability is a gift like any other talent.  It must be honed and practiced, but it can be a blessing just for you – even if you never use it professionally.  Your family may ridicule you or shun you, but you have a gift from Spirit, and you have an obligation to use it.  Although my mother was psychic, she didn’t much care for me doing readings or talking about psychic work in public.  She eventually accepted it.  My sister wouldn’t even talk about it until she had a crisis in her life and I convinced her to see Samantha.  Now she honors what I do, and even carries some stones with her that I’ve given her!

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Deb Bowen is a psychic based out of Wilmington, North Carolina.  She offers readings, in addition to many other services, including workshops, rituals and ceremonies.  You can learn more about her at  http://www.debbowen.com/ and learn more about The Psychic Teachers at http://www.psychicteachers.com/