bee happy * bee well * bee positive

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mid-week Mandala

Because it is the New Year & a new moon, two mandalas
Whirlpool Galaxy, NASA and Hokusai Dragon-Edo period Japan
They remind me of each other...

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Lovely List

            As the new year approaches, I like to take a few moments to contemplate my lovely list. At the end of each day as I wind down to sleep, I write my thank you's. Whatever the day has brought me or tickled me with goes into a little notebook that I keep by my bed. I have a collection of them, written over several years of this routine. They are my lovely list.
            New Years seems like an ideal time to look back on what has brought me joy this year.  Soon it will be time to look ahead and set an intention and positive projections for 2014, but now I will allow myself to revel in the past. 
             Actually, I will get out the intentions and projections from last winter to see what came to pass, what changed, and what fell by the way side. This year I know that my projections were off base and few manifested, but I also know that I am on the right path, because I am heading where I wanted to go. It took most of the year for me to see the truth of my intention and adapt my projections.
              Looking at the lovely list enables me to reminisce about what went right and simple pleasures. Seeing evidence that there were gifts each day gives me the courage to persist when things seem difficult. Writing in the list daily, reinforces that something lovely, no matter how small comes into my life on a regular basis.
               The lovely list sustains me. Intentions can take a while to manifest, positive projections may need to be adapted, but the lovely list is my full cup. What I pour into it expands in the context of the moments of my life and I can drink at that well whenever and how often I need.
              It only takes a few moments to write a lovely list, the blessing lasts far longer.
                    blissings, amberspiral

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Meditating Naturally

     I was enjoying Pinterest the other day, window shopping in it's visual paradise, when came across a meditation list. Many of the pins were of lovely meditating persons, most of whom were sitting in the classic Lotus position.
     I just want to say, however, that you don't have to be able to sit like a yogi to meditate unless you want to. I am not criticizing the lovely persons in the photos, I envy them, but those days have passed me by. Today, finding me in an overstuffed chair, you'll probably think I am just sleeping.
     The lotus yoga position is very nice if you are flexible and desire that experience, but the practice of meditating is not predicated on your positioning. In fact if you are older, disabled  or non-athletic you may not be able to bend that way. Forcing it is not necessary, because pain is not conducive to peace of mind.
      Sit or lie or even stand in a comfortable position that enables you to remain alert. Allow the experience to occur naturally. Be the witness of your spirit. The benefits of meditating, in whatever position works for you, is what is most important.
        Many people have challenges; physical, emotional and psychological, but that should not be a barrier. We can all meditate; in the Lotus position, walking, doing yoga, in a wheelchair, sitting by the fire or lying under a tree. Spirit accepts all comers unconditionally. That is the blessing.
         blissings, amberspiral

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fire Watching

         This week it has been very cold. With the  temp hovering around freezing, the wood-stove stays busy and I find myself hanging out near it. Inevitably I end up spacing out and watching the blazing embers and flames dance. My spirit slows down and I realize the space I am feeling is the vastness of the one.

        What has started as languid warmth, magically becomes a natural meditative state. Similar to focusing on a candle or an inspirational image, my fire watching has the same effect.

         There is a wonderful experience when we slip into a meditative state naturally. Timelessness and the act of stepping out of ourselves as we cook, create, listen to music, dance ecstatically or just sit and observe the tide, children playing, a river flowing or clouds passing is priceless. 

          When the reverie has passed, I am grateful and give thanks. My inadvertent meditation is a gift. Making a fire to keep away the cold has let me know that I am truly part of the one and spirit is everywhere. I am blissed.
           Wishing you the experience of the hearth, 
                      blissings, amberspiral

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Blissings to you.

  You may have wondered if there is a typo at the end of my blogs. Blissings, isn't that supposed to be blessings?  Well no, I am wishing you bliss. Bliss is defined as perfect happiness by the Color Oxford Dictionary 2003 and as spiritual joy by 

        Happiness is a driving force in our lives. As natural as our need for oxygen, food and water, we all strive to have happiness in our lives. The way we go about finding our individual happiness is as varied as we are. There are spiritual pursuits to find, cultivate or arrive at happiness. Do you go to church or temple, gather on a hill top, or sit quietly by yourself. Or are you pursuing an education, a great career, starting a family, traveling, hanging out with friends...just about anything you do, can potentially bring happiness to you.

        But, the happiness that I am blessing you with is bliss or happiness without a cause. It is the happiness that comes from your inner soul, beyond space and time, beyond cause and effect. It is in the Goldilocks zone of contentment, where everything is "just right".

         Bliss is what we truly are seeking in this life and no matter how we attempt to attain it, ultimately it is closer then you think.
          My wish for you is that you find the bliss in your life. 
                      blissings, amberspiral

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Mantra Today

still center
"External silence can be the doorway to inner silence."
Ram Dass

Friday, November 29, 2013

Hope is Essential

   During morning mantra today, lots of little anxieties came slipping through my mind. I apologized to the deity for thinking more of the future than of her and then wondered if a Goddess would tire of hearing numerous peoples little worries?
It got me to thinking about my mother, who always said not to pray to God for things. She has a"hope- ing man" she asks for things. I kind of prefer the hope-in' man as she pronounces it, to anxiety.

       I am not a big fan of request prayers, although I will admit to uttering a few, but I am a true believer in hope. His Holiness the Dalai Lama states "Our day-to-day existence is very much alive with hope, although there is no guarantee of our future. But still we are working for that purely on the basis of hope."
Although our whole life is spent in the present moment, in order to get things done we must set an intention that is future orientated. Intentions are the path, hope is the persistence to keep going and attainment is the goal. Little worries do not really fit into this plan, because essentially they are hamster wheel thinking. Still, I think they are reality for many, myself included.

      Next time my mantra goes off track, I will remind myself of the hope-in' man. Instead of rumination, I will allow my meditation to point me in the direction of an intention and hope. And if I can't stop the worries, I will notice them and let them pass, stepping off of the hamster wheel of hopelessness as I do.

      His Holiness says, "Without expectation and hope, without aspiration, there can be no progress. Some hope is essential." Time to replace worry with hope. My new mantra...hope is essential.  Little anxieties may creep in, but my intention will see me through and the Goddess will hear only hope in my meditation today.
       blissings, amberspiral 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Blank mind? I am grateful.

    My mind seems to be blank this week and that is the point isn't it. Meditation is a practice to give your brain a break from the "noise" of everyday activity. A place of solitude and serenity that allows union with our true spirit and nature.
       The reason we have a daily practice of meditation is because those moments can be hard to access. During meditation as my mind wanders and chats on, I wonder, exasperated, if it is worth the effort, but I know it is, so I hang in there.
      When we take the time to meditate we are reinforcing our belief that there is something more to this life. We are participating in a personnel affirmation of our luminous connection to everything and everyone and we recharge our batteries.
       This is the aspect of meditation that has kept me at it all these years. Especially on the days when sitting feels like a swarm of buzzing gnats or a bed of nails.
       In the moment I notice the silence, when I suddenly know the answer to the question that has been hounding me, or I forget the pain...these are the rewards worth the struggle to let go of struggle.
        Meditation as a practice has been with us for a very long time, in many ancient and current cultures around the world. There is no right or wrong way to do it. All it takes is a bit of time and consistency.
        This week my mind is blank and my heart is full of gratitude. My diligence has paid off. Next week the noise may be back. Either way I will continue to meditate, grateful for it's blessing on my life.
          blissings, amberspiral

Thursday, November 7, 2013

3 for 3

     I don't wait until December 31st to make my New Years resolutions. I do it when the air gets chilly, snow is on the horizon and the chair by the woodstove becomes a favorite...right about now. By the time New Year's Eve rolls around I am so burnt out from all the holidays, visitors, over indulgences and the cold keeping me in, that I cannot think straight. At Halloween, summer is a close memory and my spring inspirations still feel doable, so I set my resolutions now. This gives me some structure to cope with the the cabin fever I will be feeling as the winter drags on.
       I always choose 3 intentions, because I know I will be able to accomplish at least one of them. Three is the number of our perception of time moving from the past through this moment towards the future.  It is the number of life, 2 come together and in union create a third. And it is the number of perfect balance as well.
      Anytime can be a good moment to hit the refresh button. If we are feeling stale, stuck or perhaps even a bit blue, a revitalized intention can provide the oomph that we need. That is why I resolve now.
      I love this time of the year, perfect goldilocks weather and the trees reveal their true colors. The holidays and the quiet introspective time of winter is approaching. Making Halloween resolutions gives me a head start...just what I need to keep me positive and productive.
      This year I hope I am 3 for 3!
                 blissings, amberspiral

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mid-week Mandala

Found object mandalas

Upper-Japanese dipping bowl
Lower left- Figis candy container
Lower right- Oneida Deluxe 2010

Monday, October 28, 2013

Empty Nest

     This fall has been a time of big changes for me. The Kiddo started at the local university and suddenly I find my nest is empty. I wish I could say it has been a smooth transition, but as a single parent it has not. For 20 years it has been just me and the Kiddo. We had a lot of time and freedom over the years, because I homeschooled and worked part time when the Kiddo was young.
      Now there are days when we pass each other at breakfast and that is the extent of our day together. Life used to dance to the rhythm of Our schedule...not anymore. 
      As parents we know that this day is on the horizon. Glibly saying " oh they grow up so fast" we actually pass through our middle years changing little, while they evolve on a daily basis. The child that my Kiddo was is only a memory.
   Grateful and proud of the adult Kiddo has become, it still it feels as if I have lost a part of me: my identity, my life work, my amigo. I am left with an emptiness, not really knowing how to fill the gap. This is a time of opportunity for me, a time to rediscover all the things I've put on hold, but is that really me? I'm not sure anymore.
    Still, as I take baby steps into this new expression of my life, I have realized that some things have not changed. The actions I take may not be the same as they were in the diaper days or even the teen years, but I am still there nurturing the garden that I planted so many years ago.
    I will always be a Mom, however that looks. I will always love my Kiddo. That said...
              Maybe it's time to sit back and smell the roses.
                                   blissings, amberspiral

photo by Laitche

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mid-week Mandala

:-(   No blog this week, I have been under the weather
blissings, amberspiral


Friday, October 11, 2013

Labyrinth, Walking Mandalas

      Mandala is the Sanskrit word for circle. These concentric geometric reflections of the cosmos, wholeness and the self are meditation aids that have been used in various spiritual paths for thousands of years. A labyrinth is a mandala you can walk in.

      Unlike mazes, which have confusing passages and blind alleys, a labyrinth is unicursal, meaning one path in and out again. This is the symbolism of the "journey". Not complete at the zenith of destination, all journeys have a beginning, mid-point and ending. A metaphor for life and it's many phases, this simple form of meditation only requires a bit of movement and light concentration.

   There have been times in my life when focusing was easy, but sometimes sitting quietly in contemplation just won't do. Darkness can weigh me down, making a pinprick of the light of my spirit. I want to escape the pain which makes me antsy. Walking a labyrinth allows me to reconnect with my inner light, while giving my body something to do. It may only offer a short respite or it could open up new possibilities.

       To sit or stand unmoving is to go backwards because time always moves forward. Meditation brings us to the present moment and sometimes we just need to round the curve in the road to find a new perspective.

       Where we are in the journey of the labyrinth isn't the point. Since it is always One path, I can go with ease..I am always right where I need to be.
                   blissings, amberspiral

Photo by Pubdog

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Embracing change

Mid-week mandala
     Artist: Bonalyn Carver

   The weather got significantly colder this week here in the desert. It seems like only a week ago, it was 90+ degrees and the sun came up at 5:30 each morning. Today the sun peeked into the kitchen around 7 and I can tell "winter is coming".  Leaves are starting to fall from the trees.
    Staying in touch with the changing seasons is a good practice for living in the moment. It is easy to minimize the changes...we have lights and heaters in the winter and air conditioning during the dog days of summer. Still, our diurnal, day/night, cycle is an important factor in our well being and the season cycle is similar, on a macro scale.
   One of the easiest ways to acknowledge the changing seasons is to mark the solstices and equinoxes. You probably already do this unconsciously by changing the type and amount of clothing you wear. These solar events occur once every 3 months and mark the first day of each season. ( I actually think they are mid season events..but that is a muse for another time).
   Easy ways to ground yourself in the current season include: seasonal flower arrangements, a flag for your porch, art or craft displays, garlands, accenting the color of your home decor or dinnerware, resetting the home screen on your computer or phone,  preparing seasonal food, making time to enjoy nature in your yard or local park, or just wishing others a happy solstice or equinox. I generalize my cues, leaving holiday stuff for holidays, but you should do whatever feels right to you.
    Consciously embracing the change of the seasons may not seem all that important, but noticing them reminds us that everything changes.  Some changes are cyclic, some are once in a life time, some are life changing, some very subtle, some positive, some not so much. Resisting or denying change is a major cause of stress and unhappiness.
    When we  accept change as part of our daily and annual lives, we can appreciate good times and weather the rest with grace.  We are able to be more balanced and positive, coping with whatever comes our way. 
     The Autumn Equinox has just passed, here in the US. Next up: the Winter Solstice on December 21st in the northern hemisphere or Summer Solstice in the south. Here in my kitchen it is obvious... Brrr, autumn is here and winter is coming. Time to make pumpkin muffins.
May you be warm, stay in the moment and embrace change!
       blissings, amberspiral

Tags: Grounding, mindfulness, living in the moment, seasons changing

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

changing times and my focus

    Welcome to the new and improved Amber's Spiralheart. It has taken a while to distill who I am and what is the best way to share that. Every journey has some dead ends and I have traveled down several over the past year in my attempt to find myself and what I hope to share.
     I still believe that every person can benefit from the practice of meditation, but I have let go of wanting to teach how to do so. There are so many others who are much better at it and you can find them easily online. My own practice has expanded to include several types of meditative activities, some of which I do more regularly and others as the mood takes me. 
       This process of allowing my meditation to flow with my days mindfully, rather than as a rigid  practice, has been liberating.  Just as when one sits breath watching and thoughts come and go, your back needs a stretch or you find the still point, so our daily life ebbs and flows.  I came to realize that my entire life is my meditation and sitting in formal meditation is just another point of focus.
     That is the reason I began to post a daily mantra on my twitter and Facebook. Mantras are sacred seed words that one repeats to focus on intentions. Mantra Today is simple phrases that help keep our eyes open to the present moment, to the serendipity and synchronicity that occur in our daily lives.
     Mantras  and sitting meditation are only two of the many activities that we can do to embrace and enhance living in here and now. Join me as I explore various ways to find and express the sacred in my every day life and share them with you.
            blissings, amberspiral

mantra today= in the stream

Monday, February 18, 2013

Calling the earth to witness. Prayer beads or malas

      When I was in college in the 80's I had been meditating for a while when someone introduced me to prayer beads or malas. Mala means garland in Sanskrit and they are used to count how many times you repeat a mantra. I was told that the more you used them the more "Japa" they would acquire, Japa being positive energy.  Or at least that was what I thought my friend was telling me. Later I found out Japa means spiritual discipline in Sanskrit, but I suppose that the more you use them the more spiritual discipline you are using as well.
       Most full malas have 108 beads to count and a guru bead that is larger to indicate that you have completed one round. Most wrist malas have 27 beads (4 x 27=108) and a guru bead. The number 108 has had a lot of varied meanings in math, history and religion through the ages. Like Stonehenge, other ancient places and many symbols we may never be able to pin down the exact meaning.  I prefer the theory that it is not a number at all, but actually the symbol for a description of reality. (to get an overview of this interesting number go to
     Hinduism and Buddhism are not the only spiritual practices that use prayer beads. Catholics have rosaries, Orthodox Christians have Chokti, Muslims have Tasbih and  Wiccan's have prayer beads as well. Whatever type of prayer beads you choose to use is a personal and/or spiritual preference. My favorite mala is a homemade strand ( seen below) of 108 citrine and adventurine faceted beads. I don't actually count with them. I am not concerned about actual numbers of repetitions instead I use one round as a timer of sorts when I meditate with them.
     One of the things I love about malas is that they are often made of natural beads, although I do have a plastic set. Fingering stones, seeds or wooden beads brings a bit of nature to me and helps me feel more grounded. This is especially nice in the winter when it is difficult for me to get outside due to cold weather. Mantras can be as simple as one word, a positive projection statement or simple counting: 1,2,3, 1-10, 1-108 etc. I choose based on my mood, my topic of concentration/inquiry or gratitude/celebratory tone.
      Whether you use a mala, rosary or other type of prayer bead, the best advantage to using one is the mantra repetition which quiets the mind. I don't know if you are like me, but the near constant jabbering of the talking heads of my minds conversation with it's self ...can drive me crazy, cause me to lose sleep and make me feel overwhelmed. That is when a peaceful round with my favorite prayers beads is just what the doctor ordered. The timer function of one round gives me a breather/time out as well, which is useful for stress situations.

Prayer beads or malas are an indispensable tool in the medicine bag of inner peace. They are simple to make, or you can use a favorite necklace or bracelet. Easily located and purchased as well, they are portable, functional and can be used whenever the need or desire arises. I wouldn't leave home without one, especially one with lots of good vibes japa. ;-)
blissings, amberspiral

STOP that thought!

The last few months have been very difficult for me and it's been a challenge to stay positive. I have found myself on numerous occasions feeling like I was circling the drain. Even though I have been meditating regularly for many years, times like these are too heavy to find my inner silence, so meditation consists of mantra practice only.
It is important to have a few coping strategies when times get rough. Besides mantras, my favorite go to's are taking a few deep breaths, clary sage aroma therapy, and Rescue Remedy ( I am a big fan of flower essences). Another effective way to curb errant thoughts that I learned in a psychology class years ago is what I call a is a word or simple phrase that you use to intercept the thought and end it's course of direction. It's kind of like a football interception. I use the word Stop, forcefully- aloud or more often, internally. If I am still feeling vulnerable I will follow up with a safety mantra such as- I think only positive thoughts or You're very safe.
Using the interceptor or safety mantra is not an ostrich coping mechanism. I know we can't grow if we don't face our problems, but that journey need not be cast in a negative light. When I am feeling a bit more neutral and not so overwhelmed or helpless, I name my stuck places. Naming the areas of my life that bring up resistance or struggle creates signposts that let me see where the mud is deepest and my boots are stuck. It's that stuck-ness feeling that causes the talking heads to grumble so much, but naming, examining and acting- when and where you can, tames the talking heads, so you can continue along your path.
Things are easing up a bit for me over the last week or so and I have been able to sit in emptiness meditation again. Maybe it is the change in the weather. Soon it will be warm enough to sit in my garden and Earth without freezing my toes and the rest of me. Over the years I have found several ways to commune with spirit that engage, enlighten, and encourage me, but I also have times where just keeping my head up is a victory. Luckily my journey has taught me a trick or two along the way. I can't say that I am always on top of things, but I can say even when it seems very dark I know there is light just around the corner if I just keep going. I hope you can find your lightness as well.
blissings, amberspiral

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Prayer is the answer? Maybe

I rarely have the occasion to pray, I' m more of a gratitude person, but illness and unhappiness had me calling on my favorite female deities several times over the last week or so. The first time was to ask for a good outcome for a critically ill family member. Ok, that was simple enough, no harm done. Then another situation arose that made me feel pushed to the edge, so another prayer passed my heart. And then today as I worried about another's welfare I began to pray again and a darkness gripped my soul sending me to my mala instead.

You see prayer can have many can give thanks for the abundance in your life. You can celebrate a great event. You can sit in quiet contentment or send good thoughts to those who need them. But the most common type of prayer is to ask for help like my prayer for health for my family member, or for help with things we need. These and all prayers are valid, but the darkness that alarmed me was the tone of my prayers. Asking for something implies lack. Focusing on lack will only create more lack and that was the creeping feeling that I experienced with that last prayer. Fear and desperation can tend to color prayers filled with asking. I went away from the asking prayer to my beads because I use affirming mantras. To ground myself I used counting and then changed my focus with the mantra: I am blessed and he is blessed.

I have heard that praying for others is a tricky never really know what outcome would be most beneficial for someone else. Sending positive energy and well wishes seem ok to me. That is what my prayer for my family member consisted of, but some situations, especially those of a more chronic nature that seem to resist change can bring up desperate feelings of unmet needs accompanied by fear. In fact fear is often the over-riding emotion accompanying feelings of lack. Thus the prayer becomes more akin to pleading which only reminds and reinforces our belief that something is occurring that we do not want or is out of our control. Feelings of helplessness are some of the most debilitating thoughts we can have.

Positive projection is a much more effective way to "pray". Affirming in the present tense tells our psyche that the object of our goal is already manifest...we just need to reach out to grab it. This is not to say that -snap- things are instantly better! But we know that we are aligned to see possibilities that will take us where we need to grow and go. This is a proactive state which is much healthier for our well being. To assist others, wishes for the best possible outcome leave room for the unknown- their desires or other factors at play.

Prayers have been used by regularly by humanity throughout all of human history. Celebratory, grateful or used in times of need, they have seen us through some very dark times. Prayers can be very powerful so my advice is to use them carefully. Be mindful of the tone and words you use. Go for a positive projection statement of the outcome you desire, rather then asking. Affirming that "all is well" or "I am safe" can be comforting in times of distress. Be general or open ended when asking the great deities of your life for help, after all they are wise and benevolent. And believe- your prayers will be answered, your affirmations will manifest. Staying positive in your heart and mind is the most powerful prayer there is.
blissings, amberspiral

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Seeing is Believing

Some meditations use visualizations as the point of concentration. Sitting in your quiet spot holding the image of anything can be very challenging. I know, I have tried it. But there is an easier way to do looking at an image, say a statue of your subject, you can pinpoint your focus. This is great if there is a readily available concrete example of your subject. But what if what you are visualizing a possibility and not something set in stone or on canvas? A dream-board may be just the answer for you.
Dream-boards consist of an image or more commonly several images that call to mind the possibility that you are visualizing. Generally used to assist in manifesting desired outcomes, they are as varied as the individuals who make them. That is the beauty of a dream board. The images that you choose are up to you. As long as they evoke the thought of what your aiming for they will help your focus and that will positively change the frequency of your perceptions. Thus creating harmony between your internal and external realities.
Creating a dream board is as simple as looking through a few magazines for images that correspond to your desire. Or you may want to incorporate some original artwork, fabric art or personal photos. Whatever you decide is appropriate for you, most dream boards include either an image to represent yourself such as a photo or (my preference) a mirror. This puts you in the middle of the representation of your possibility.
Once you have assembled the group of images to be used, a sturdy piece of cardboard can be used for the background matrix on which to arrange your vision. In the example used here I added small strips of paper with encouraging words and I used a central image to represent myself. On other dream boards I have used fabric, crystals, old jewelry, stuff from my garden and my junk drawer. The sky's the limit and as long as it helps you to focus in your dream it is working.
The hardest part of visualizing any desired outcome is to remain on task, to keep your focus steady. A dream board is a strong visual cue that will do just that. Put it in a prominent place so you will see it often and Happy Manifesting!
blissings, amberspiral