Are You Not Feeling Heard?

Do you feel misunderstood in your relationships?
Does it seem that your partner doesn’t quite hear you?

You already know this, but it is worth looking at the issue again in terms of creating and sustaining relationships. Clear communication is not only important; it is crucial. A problem can enter, however, when you think that you are communicating, but you are not.

In this discussion, I want to be clear that I am not speaking exclusively about long-term committed relationships. Instead, I am referring to a larger context of relationships that includes a broad range, such as: companions, friendships, siblings, families, work-oriented relations, and many more. The elements that help create and sustain relationships of all kinds are essentially the same.

With that in mind, let’s take a dive into some observations about communication that you might want to remember if you find yourself in a difficult spot.

Words Are Not Communication

It is not uncommon to confuse speaking with communicating. You communicate not only with words, but with a spectrum of tone, gesture, posture, touch, and even an energetic meta-communication. All of these channels need to be clear and focused in order to communicate effectively and without confusion.

A person told me once that she felt that I was often dismissive of what she said. I did not think I was, in fact I held her thoughts and opinions in high regard! When I asked about that, she said that whenever she spoke—and sometimes others, as well—I shrugged my shoulder when she finished speaking. I was completely surprised and unaware that I did that habitually in conversations.

As I tracked that gesture, it usually happened when I stopped to think about what the person had to say. I was not dismissing what was said, but signaling (apparently confusingly) that I was going internal for a moment.

Don Miguel Ruiz in his book The Four Agreements points out that it is important to “be impeccable with your word.” It is important to be as clear as you can to communicate what you mean to express. Also, “taking things personally” generally interferes with clear and open dialog, and “making assumptions” will sidetrack the conversation into directions that are likely not true or helpful.

That being said, he also suggests that while you are responsible for what you say, you are not responsible for what the other person hears—how they interpret what you are saying. People will hear you through their own filtering system, just as you will interpret what others say the same way. That is why it is very important to keep talking until each person is as sure as they can be that they have been heard correctly.

Some highly sensitive people express to me that they “know” when someone is saying one thing, but mean another. In other words, they believe that the person is lying, even though all of the other indicators seem in alignment. This read of the energetic meta-communication link is very tricky. If you find that you feel this way, it is time to engage the Third Agreement, and not make an assumption about what the other is meaning. Ask for clarification instead. It could be that your partner is not “lying,” but means something different that what they seem to be saying.

You have to be careful with words. They are slippery sometimes. And yet, communication without them is not really possible. All in all, do your best to be clear and open to feedback from the listener.

Communication Is Two-Way

Remember that there are two or more people in any conversation. At least you need someone speaking and someone listening. An essential component in that equation is the listener. At any point in which the person who is supposed to be listening breaks away, the communication is effectively at an end. This most often happens when you, as the listener, begin to formulate your response to what is being said, rather than attending fully to the speaker.

When this happens, you may be reacting to something that you heard, or think you heard. If you feel yourself getting emotional, that’s often a signal that you have taken what they said personally. Remember, though, that you might have heard something inaccurately and be sure not to give into making assumptions.

In the same way, you, as speaker, need to be as clear and focused as you can on what you are wanting to communicate. You may sometimes find yourself speaking to what you think your partner will say in response instead. This is another slippery form of “making assumptions.” Do your best not to get ahead of the conversation. Let your partner have their turn.

Let there be gaps in the dialogue—opportunities for you and your partner to reflect on what has been said, your reaction to what you have heard, and what you want to say in order to be as clear as possible.


Partners in strong, authentic relationships do not always agree. That you and your partner do not agree is not a sign of problems in the relationship at all. In fact, it is likely a sign that the relationship is stronger than it might seem. When each person feels safe in the relationship, disagreements are much easier to manage and navigate.

When you disagree, it is important that each person has felt heard. If either you or your partner do not feel that you have been heard, then the discussion likely needs to continue, perhaps after a break. If you find yourselves “butting heads” instead of communicating, it is a very good idea to take a break. You are very likely lost in a web of assumptions.

It is perfectly OK to say something like, “I don’t feel like you are hearing me.” Such a statement is not necessarily an accusation; it may be an expression of how the person actually feels. It may simply be that what is being heard is not what is intended to be expressed. Time for a few clarifying questions, like: “This is what I think you said. Is that accurate?”

As long as each of you has expressed your opinion or belief as clearly as you can, and you believe that each of you has been heard, you can certainly agree to disagree. In fact, many ongoing disagreements can lead to very interesting and enlightening discussions in the future.

Long Silences

Let’s be clear. It’s completely OK to go for long periods of time with little or no talking between partners. In fact, there is an argument to be made that silence is a key requirement in healthy, authentic relationships.

An important element in managing long silences is how the relationship structures around them have been laid. Communication and dialog both before and after are generally helpful. The “emptiness” that is sometimes felt during lengthy periods of silence can easily be filled with assumptions about why one partner has become quiet or stopped interacting.

Another element, again, is how safe each partner feels in the relationship. When there is trust and clarity, lengthy periods of silence—even hours or days—do not seem as threatening, and there is little need for making assumptions.

  *   *   *

Again, it is very likely that none of this is new to you. However, I often find that when I am working with couples or partners having trouble in the relationship, the difficulty involves one or both forgetting these few fairly simple aspects of communicating effectively. If this is you, I invite you to take a moment and reflect on how you might improve your communication.

Remember that you can apply these ideas to any relationship, including life companions, friendships, relatives, and business. Communication is a key and core issue in creating and nurturing relationships of all kinds.

Learn more about this topic and relationships in general in my book, Spirit Paths: The Quest For Authenticity. I devote an entire chapter in it to the issue of Relationships, Tribe, and Community.

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Change The Narrative — With Gratitude

Winebelly_071317_200Let’s change the narrative, the stories that we tell about life, the universe, and everything. Let’s work together to create a new narrative, one of compassion, respect, caring, abundance. Of course, the place to begin is within.

You have likely heard many times that change begins with you—that you can only change yourself, not anything “out there.” However, that is not the whole of the story. When you dive into the depths of you—when you fearlessly let go of the story you tell yourself about who you are, and you fiercely examine what part of your inner story resonates with what you want to change “out there” and work to address that—you do have a profound opportunity to make a difference in the world.

Why? How? Because we are all connected in this amazingly creative multi-dimensional space. Not only do you receive waves of energies coming from your energetic environment, you also send energetic waves, as well. You radiate your energy, or more specifically, you radiate your feeling state. Thus, as you shift your own deep feeling, you affect the field (or Spirit) surrounding you.

How do you do that??

It takes breaking old patterns that support how you currently view the world. Nothing else will do. If you find that you feel depressed or angry after spending time on social media, cut that time to a minimum, or eliminate it altogether. Let go of attachment to people in your life that feed feelings of hopelessness or anger or whatever the feeling it is that you do not want to experience… much less put into the field. Set boundaries on what enters your energetic space.

Now, this is not to put your head in the sand and ignore that there is suffering in the world. It is rather to deeply shift your feeling state to be in alignment with what you want to receive. From that place of balance, you will find more useful and appropriate ways to act, if you need or want to. Not react, but act. That is an important difference.


One of the best places to begin—one of the most powerful and accessible ways that you can begin to make that change—is through being in gratitude. Notice that I am not saying “be grateful.” I am suggesting that being “in gratitude,” fully immersed in that feeling state, can create a profound shift in the core of how you are in the world and give you leverage for more insights and change.

You can probably identify 5, 10, 20 or more things to be grateful for in your surroundings at any given moment, if you look for them. Take some time, as often as you can, to pause and look around. What do you see, hear, smell, feel, touch that you can find gratitude for its presence in your life, or in that moment?

Pick one and let yourself dive deeply into the feeling of being in gratitude for that one thing. What is that feeling of gratitude like in your body? Allow your awareness to sink into the feeling that your body responds with as you experience what it feels like to be in gratitude for just that one thing.

Choose another and do the same thing. Let the resonance of Gratitude find a home in your body, as well as your feeling, because it is your body that is the antenna—it is your body that sends out that electro-magnetic wave into the field. Your body will learn with practice how to feel more and more that sensation, and it will become easier to find.

Change the Narrative… With Gratitude

From the very first time that you do this simple exercise, you will find the story that you are telling yourself about You and your life shift. At the very least, you will have broken the habitual thoughts and actions based on the old patterns that keep you stuck, if only for a few moments. As you change your inner story through practice, you change the narrative of how you are with others… and they will shift, as well.

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On Being Gentle

gerry16_300_sqI have been thinking a lot lately about what kind of attitude I need to cultivate in order to best weather the current emotional swings I sometimes feel in these turbulent times. The word “gentle” kept coming up, and I realized that I did not really understand what that means.

So I looked it up.

According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, it means “mild in temperament or behavior; kind or tender.” It has a quality of being “moderate in action, effect, or degree; not harsh or severe.” While technically correct, I’m sure, the definition was unfulfilling. The definition did not really seem applicable on face value. Are there not occasions when gentleness might be inappropriate to the needs of the time?

As I continued researching sociological articles and writings of more philosophical sources, one observation stuck out more than others. Being Gentle is not the same as being Weak.

Gentleness As A Quality of Strength

Unfortunately, too many people equate gentle with weak. I had to admit that I, too, was one of them until I began the search to understand what being gentle actually means (or can mean), particularly as applied to these times.

While I agree that being gentle is more aligned with my values than is being either weak or harsh, I wonder: What is the balance between being gentle and speaking truth to power?

Gentleness is a strong hand
with a soft touch.

According to author Gary Thomas, “Gentleness is a strong hand with a soft touch. It is a tender, compassionate approach toward others’ weaknesses and limitations. A gentle person still speaks truth, sometimes even painful truth, but in doing so guards his tone so the truth can be well received.”

The strength to which Thomas spoke, according to his examples, was physical strength. This reflects the possible gentleness of people in authority with power over another. As we know from many stories, confrontations between police and citizens do not always end in violence. Those in authority do not always abuse their power. I would suggest that by not doing so, they are expressing a flavor of gentleness.

We need a LOT more of that.

However, the quality of gentleness that comes from inner strength is what most resonates with me as a person without the power of authority or physical strength. What does that flavor of gentleness look like?​

The Gentleness of Inner Strength

I thought immediately about Rosa Parks in her protest against the treatment of people of color. She chose (either by design or circumstance) to make her statement on a bus in 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, when she refused to give up her seat to a white person when the white section was full.

Of the incident, in which she and three other people were told to stand up before being told to move to the back and Parks did not stand, Parks said,

“When he saw me still sitting, he asked if I was going to stand up, and I said, ‘No, I’m not.’ And he said, ‘Well, if you don’t stand up, I’m going to have to call the police and have you arrested.’ I said, ‘You may do that.'”

In my mind’s eye, I can see her shift to the window seat, waiting to be arrested. A gentle woman speaking truth to power. Parks did not refuse to move because she was physically tired; that is a myth. She did not move because she was “tired of giving in.”

“I only knew that, as I was being arrested,
that it was the very last time
that I would ever ride in humiliation of this kind…”

~ Rosa Parks, “My Story”

That Rosa Parks simply and gently did not comply is, for me, a clear example of the gentleness of inner strength.

Rosa was not the first who had used gentleness in response to power. Others had taken similar steps since 1942. While it is true that her case received considerable attention when the NAACP took it up as the best candidate for legal action, what catches people’s attention is the idea of a woman of color resisting only by saying, “No.”

Many people in the history of the racial and social struggles of the 1940s through the 1970s have stood up to power with gentleness. It is the core idea of the notable non-violent resistance movements of Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), and many more.

Practicing Being Gentle

As I sat with all of this, I reflected on what it would mean for me personally. I don’t have to stand up to physical authority. No one is telling me to move to the back of the bus, or which water fountain I can drink from, or which bathroom I can use. Not me personally. I would like to think that if any of these events did happen, I would have the courage to say, “No,” but truly, I do not know. I have not been so tested.

And yet, there is an inner resolve to practice more gentleness in my dealings with others. The fear that is sometimes trying to infiltrate my thoughts and spirit does not have to be expressed in anger or outrage.

This kind of gentleness reminds me in many ways of aikido, the Japanese martial art, in which the energy of the attacker is not resisted, but is blended with, turned, and redirected to restore balance in the situation. The founder, Morihei Ueshiba, referred to it as “The Art of Peace.” His goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury.

Gentleness derives from a calm mind
focused on restoring balance.

If I put my mind to it, I am certain that I can apply the examples of gentleness of Rosa Parks and so many others to my own daily life. And, as with practicing aikido, when or if the time comes to speak truth to power myself, I just may be ready.

Still, even if it never comes to that, the notion of being gentle with myself and others every day is in alignment with who I want to be in this world.

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Three Keys To Successful Long-Term Relationships

You may already know that I have been in a long-term relationship for … well … a very long time. I have seen many other relationships that have developed during that time fall apart. As a counselor, teacher, and minister, I am always curious about what leads to break-ups, but even more, I am interested in what fosters long-lasting relationships.

I want to be clear that I am not speaking exclusively about marital relationships. Instead, I am referring to a larger context of relationships that includes a broad range, such as: committed companions, friendships, siblings, families, work-oriented relations, and many more.

Let’s take a look at three keys to successful long-term relationships, but first there is one concept that I would like to introduce. Your relationship template.

Your Relationship Template

Fundamentally, you learn what relationships are and how they work primarily from your parents. As you grow up, you watch what they do and how they interact together. From these observations, you draw conclusions about relationships in general, and these conclusions form a matrix of behaviors and beliefs that eventually becomes your relationship template. That is, the template that you carry with you into your own relationships as “how relationships ARE.”

Everyone has one. Even if you had only one parent—or no engaged parents—you have the idea of how relationships ARE that you learned as a child. (Notice that I did not say “ought to be.” Your template is reality for you, not conjecture.) One fundamental problem that I see over and over again is that relationships get challenged because the templates of the people involved clash. They simply, fundamentally, and subconsciously disagree about what relationships are and how they work.

Many times, people have trouble in relationships simply because their relationship template does not match that of their partner. Because these templates form key assumptions about how relationships ARE, they are rarely examined to see if they are actually true. And therein lies the problem. Until the partners realize that they are not the ones clashing, that it is their assumptions about relationships doing so, they generally keep arguing and blaming until the relationship is crushed.

So, step one in maintaining long-term relationships is to examine and understand the assumptions you are making about relationships based on your own template. If both partners do this, they have a chance to create a new, hybrid template that might serve them much better.

Now, let’s move on to three keys of maintaining relationships.

You Have To Be Flexible

The relationship has to be flexible enough to accommodate change. Everyone changes over time. Everyone. So the relationship has to be able to expand and contract to handle that change.

You will grow apart, sometimes greatly, and you will come back together. It’s quite like breathing. The relationship has to have room to breathe. If it doesn’t—if one partner tries to hold fast to “how it is supposed to be”—then it will be stifled. If it can’t breathe, then it will die.

People, especially those who are on a spiritual path, are always evolving. Frankly, the pace of growth can be uneven and partners can become separated. Over time, it may be that they become so greatly separated, either by the pace of change or its direction, that it can become difficult or impossible to come back together.

Interests may diverge so far that there is no center of gravity to pull the boundary of the relationship back, to inhale. If the relationship cannot inhale as well as exhale, it can be considered on life support. Then it is time to honestly reflect and reevaluate the core of the relationship and whether it can continue.

Sometimes such flexibility can be scary, but it is worth it over time. Healthy and strong relationships are flexible enough to survive and thrive well into the future.

You Have To Be Willing To Let Go

This doesn’t mean that when times get tough you have to let go, to bail when things go wrong. It means that you have to be willing to let go. Just as if you hold too strongly to “how things should be,” the need to hold on to your partner may eventually strangle the relationship.

From a shamanic perspective, since everything is alive, so is the Relationship itself! What happens when you try to hold too tightly to an animal, perhaps even your pet? Its instinct is to fight, to escape. Only when you do not hold too tightly or too demandingly, can you hope to continue the relationship.

If you find yourself getting “clingy,” it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate whether you might be creating the problems you are wanting to avoid. If you are feeling desperate to hold onto your partner, odds are very good that you are strangling the relationship.

However, if you can remind yourself that it is OK to let go if things are not working right then—if you can see that letting go if needed might eventually lead to your own and your partner’s happiness—you may find that your relationship grows stronger, more intimate, and more rewarding.

You Have To Like Each Other

Love is not the key factor in maintaining long-term relationships. I know many people who genuinely love each other, but simply cannot get along. When I ask clients who are seeking assistance with what appears to be a failing relationship whether they like their partner, sometimes it takes a while for them to say. And, actually, quite often the answer is “Not really.”

I’m not referring here to the reality that you might “love the person but just don’t like them right now.” That happens all of the time. One partner might do something that annoys the other, so that they don’t “like” each other in the moment. Eventually, things get settled out and they are good again.

The quality of like I’m referring to is more that of best friends. If you are not best friends with your partner, essentially you don’t really like each other—perhaps not enough to keep the relationship together long term. If you don’t basically and fundamentally like each other, it is difficult to really trust each other either.

Being good, close, best friends is intrinsically connected to trust, and trust is the bedrock of successful long-term relationships. Once trust is lost, the relationship is functionally dead. If trust cannot be regained—and I would argue that the best, if not only, way to regain trust is if you like each other enough to be willing and able to truly forgive because of that—the relationship is in trouble.

These three keys do not all have to be in place all of the time for the relationship to be successful. Rather, they offer excellent ways to examine and evaluate what might be going well or wrong in your relationships with others.

Again, the examples I use here may seem to refer to one-to-one committed partnerships because that is the easiest way to talk about them. However, if you think about all of the relationships you have in other arenas more broadly and apply the keys to them as well, you may find that they can help you decide which relationships are likely to succeed over time, and perhaps those you might want to let go.

You can learn more about this topic and relationships in general in my book, Spirit Paths: The Quest For Authenticity. I devote an entire chapter in it to the issue of Relationships, Tribe, and Community.

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Navigating Difficult Times

Things have been pretty overwhelming recently. It is difficult to be anywhere near social media (much less the news) without feeling as though you are being pulled almost constantly from productive work to distraction to worrying to anxiety to… and down the spiral we go again!

Where has the Love gone?

It can be difficult to seek a balance between Fear and Love, without succumbing to the desire to run away or to simply go numb and “go along to get along,” as my parents used to say. Who is right? Who is not? Who is to say? There really are several sides to all of the issues now up for examination, or actually at any time there is conflict and discord.

Here are some super ideas for navigating these times and taking back control of your life.

Pendulums Swing.
That’s What They Do

Remember that everything changes. What is now will not always be. Sometimes it gets dark before the light comes; sometimes the light is overcome by darkness. Remember, too, that darkness is not always “bad.” Without darkness, light is meaningless. 

Many people are very afraid right now, possibly you are one of them. That’s OK. It’s a perfectly Human response. In truth, I feel it as well. Yet, there is this voice inside that keeps telling me:

“It will be OK. Everything will be fine.
Just keep going.”

Focus on your chosen path. Avoid letting fear sidetrack you. Breathe. Do what you have to feel safer and still keep moving.

Choose Your Words Carefully

It is perfectly OK to feel what you feel and express what you need to say. My suggestion is to try to do so without judging others for their views and emotion that they are entitled to, as well. Remember to “be impeccable with your words,” because words do have power—the power to harm as well as to heal.

This is a very good time to practice, perhaps especially in the volatile, virtually anonymous, global world of social media. Avoid reacting. Give yourself time to reflect on why it is that you feel the need to respond.

Are you just reacting from anger or fear, or do you have something constructive to add to the conversation? Respond only when you have something useful to add; you do not have to respond to everything.

Be Gentle With Yourself And Others

Do your best to find Compassion not only for those you love, but also for those with whom you find difficulty. This does not mean that you have to give in or give up; it means to go the extra mile to try to see things from all sides.

I hear “I do that! But the [other side] doesn’t!” OK, that’s fair. It happens to me, too. Eventually, all I can do is disengage and move on. Some people seem only to be looking for a fight; they want to WIN the argument and make you see the error of your own thoughts and feelings. That’s actually fine. Don’t take what they say personally.

Have conversations with those who are willing to engage in dialog. Let go of those who are not. They are not your problem. You do not have to WIN, either.

And take time away. Sit in the sun. Read a book. Bury your feet in the dirt. Take a few days off to recover your sense of who you are outside of all the emotion. Take care of yourself, and if you can, be ready and willing to hold space for others. Really listen—to really Hear—when people speak about their own anger or fear or pain.

Stay Plugged In To Your Network, Your Community

Remember that you are not alone. There are people who care about you. Sometimes you need to lean into your network or community for support—whether that be friends, spiritual or religious groups, coworkers, or others. Social groups are there to support you and to offer you opportunities to support others.

Find a way to be of service. Doing something for others is a wonderful means to return to your Center. Do so from Compassion, though, rather than Fear or Anger. Acting from a place of Compassion will help you to feel better, stronger, and more grounded. Acting, even in service, from Anger or Fear will simply make you feel tired.

Support Causes You Care About

We cannot all be Warriors. However, there are many Warriors now engaged for change, and you can support them. Remember always that you (and we) are not alone. There are organizations with talent and experience that you can support in whatever way you feel is reasonable.

You are likely receiving numerous emails asking for financial support. You simply cannot give to everyone who is asking. Choose two or three that feel important to you and give what you can monthly. Then, you can know that you ARE doing something, and you can send a blessing and let the other requests go guilt-free.

It is important to feel useful,
rather than helpless.

These are simply a few thoughts that have come up for me that I would like to share with you. These feel like difficult times, and yet difficult times are great opportunities to do some deep and powerful personal work.

And you can do it!


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When You Let Your Guides Down

Among the wonderful benefits of having more than 20 educational videos about journeying and spirit allies online, is that I occasionally get some very interesting questions. I would like to share this one, and my response, because I hear variations on it from readers and from participants in journey circles and workshops. The answer to this person’s concern also points into a deeper relationship with Spirit than it might seem at first.

Dear Gerry,

I hope you won’t mind a personal question/request. I know you are a busy person, so I’ll be as brief as I can.

BlackPantherMy spirit guardians and guides are Black Panther, Lioness, Butterfly, Unicorn and Bear. I have had most clear and pressing communication with Black Panther, who is helping me (through visions as dreams, and visits or appearances in this world) and she has been so good to me, so kind, so protective. I have received visits from Cougar in real life, where she has simply stared into my eyes, for a long time, and did not leave before I did.

I live in the US where there are cougars, not jaguars, but I know my Black Panther spirit guide/friend is a black jaguar. Today, however, I had an auto accident, and it was caused by a large rock that a panther (cougar) knocked off of a mountainside as I drove past. I just caught sight of her tail as I pulled over to look for damage.

I feel like I have done something to upset my guardians, and I know exactly what it could be (I have not lived up to something I said I would do to honor my guide, something that is really difficult for me to do, but I did say I would do it to honor her). I didn’t think that she was that concerned about it, mostly it was just a something I had wanted to do to improve myself, and make myself a more pure person, operating on a higher level because of the gifts she had given me. I wanted to be worthy, and I thought I had time to keep working at it. in any case, I am not working/employed now, and my insurance for the car is not going to cover this kind of accident.

I feel like Cougar dealt me a fierce and devastating blow as a warning to do better; or worse, that my guides are going to drop me because I have not lived up to what I need to do.

My question: do you have any videos or resources that discuss what happens when you let your guides and guardians down? Do they ever leave you and not come back? I feel horrible, and I want to make things right, if it’s even possible. The last thing in the world that I want to do is to let these angels down. They have been everything to me during a very long, dangerous and difficult period of transition.

Here is my response:

I have so many videos up that I cannot actually remember what is where. There are at least 3 related to working with animal allies. However, I want you to know that your guides are ALWAYS on your side. I don’t know the nature of the promise that you made, but you were clear that whatever it was, it was intended to “make (yourself) more pure and worthy, operating on a higher level…” If you have not kept that intention, for whatever reason, then you have not let your guides down, you have let yourself down.

If you have not kept that intention, for whatever reason, then you have not let your guides down, you have let yourself down.

Remember that feelings like disappointment, anger, frustration, and such like are intrinsically human emotions that have little or nothing to do with the spirit world, which is essentially neutral. When you sense those emotions as coming from your allies, they are actually reflections. You are basically disappointed in yourself, and I would guess, choosing to ignore that as well as postponing pursuing your intention.

One of the jobs of your allies is to hold you accountable to your promises, not to punish you for failure. You are only failing yourself, and your allies want you to know that. Your promise must have been really substantial for Panther to cross the ordinary/non-ordinary worlds boundary and drop a boulder on your car!

One of the jobs of your allies is to hold you accountable to your promises, not to punish you for failure.

It might be that Panther is telling you that now would be a very important time to get going on that promise, since there may be something coming in your future where you will need that discipline or power.

And sure, if you continue to ignore their messages and continue to postpone fulfilling your promise, they may very well leave until you do. I mean, after all, why bother?

Here is what I would do. Journey to speak with your allies, to all of those to whom you expressed this intention, and let them know that you have heard and appreciate their message and reminder. Have a discussion with them about your intention and what it means to you. Then, if you need to, you can express a new, perhaps more reasonable intention, knowing full well that they will hear you and will hold you to the new one, just as they are doing to the old one. If nothing else, Panther has shown you the reality of this bond you have with Spirit. Then, if you mean it, ask them for help with the new intention.

Also from this experience, please take with you that your Spirit Guides and Allies are just as real as you are. Further, you will discover that there really is no separation between you. When you come to perceive that they are as alive as you—that they are active on your behalf, and that they are deserving of respect, gratitude, and honoring—you will shift your relationship with Spirit substantially.

Be well and safe. All the best…


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Eagle’s Challenge

The Eagle chapter of Spirit Paths: The Quest for Authenticity is challenging. It leaps from a discussion of personal authenticity within family and community (Tribe) to an overarching view of responsibility for nurturing human evolution as a whole. That is a view difficult to comprehend, much less hold, for many people.

Eagle sees the vast curve of the Earth, as well as a mouse on the ground.

SoaringEagleThe perspective of Eagle requires the ability to hold two disparate views of the state of the world. In one very broad worldview, a vast perspective like gazing down at the globe from a great height, everything is perfectly balanced and aligned. The dimensional poles of light and shadow, love and fear, joy and suffering are completely balanced, everything is perfect just as it is. There are no boundaries, no partitioning of the land and features into distinctly separate pieces. All things are held in an exquisite and dynamic wholeness.

Yet, far below, Eagle also sees Mouse on the ground. From Mouse’s worldview, it is clear that there is suffering, that the dimensionality of love and fear are not experienced as so balanced. The individual—and even group—experience is quite different from that of Eagle soaring overhead. There is work to do on the ground, big work.

For an example of the work needed, I selected a topic that is very important to me: the plight of Family in our society. Family is at the root of any culture, and the plight of Family is the cornerstone of mending what is broken in it.

The EuroAmerican culture has pulled apart the nuclear and extended family and scattered the pieces to the winds. Just more that 50 years ago, individuals within a family lived within 10-20 miles from where they were born or where the family called home. Now, members of families may be separated by hundreds or thousands of miles: separate states, countries, even continents. Some of this is driven by a hyper-monitized society, in which money and the accumulation of wealth is seen to be the path to happiness, or even a necessity for security.

Family farms dwindle as the children move to urban areas in search of work or success, and the children of Elders who carry generations of wisdom come down from the mountains in pursuit of “something better.” Family fields are abandoned to corporate farms, and the Wisdom Keepers find no one to teach.

Gaps between the generations are widened also by the cultural focus on the value of youth, rather than the wisdom of age. The distances between children, youth, adulthood, and the elderly have become increasingly clear. Rather than being integral parts of an organic evolution of family, the care of both children and the elderly are being outsourced into childcare and eldercare institutions. Whereas children used to be reared by grandparents while the parents worked the fields, in a blink of an eye, in terms of the human experience, their connection has been severed and pulled apart.

The cost has been unacceptable. More children in schools are on medication to manage their behavior than ever before, and the trend continues at an alarming rate. Many of the elderly are sequestered into “nursing” homes or other long term care institutions—mostly discarded and abandoned as their children continue their pursuit of money, whether from desperation or desire for security no longer found within the intact extended family system.

Yes, there is work to do to rebalance the human experience, to bring together the strained dimensionality of love versus fear… to realize the greater vision of Eagle.


Eagle perspective shows that all is not lost, however. Upstream, in the mouth of the future, there is hope. Much of the solution lies in our not-so-distant cultural past. Although returning to these earlier days is not an option, by looking forward toward a renewed integration of the potential of future generations, we can create a new vision of wholeness. A key, I strongly believe, is the institution of Spiritual Eldership that grows from authentic community.

When the focus of culture and society can be changed from short-term gain to longer-term vision, balance can be achieved. When it is recognized that the wisdom of age is as valuable, or perhaps more so, than the raw energetic of youthful exuberance, a renewed emphasis on spiritual community can emerge.

When you know enough about enough things, then you become truly useful.

Spiritual Eldership is a term that describes the place of people who through experience have learned many things about many subjects and situations. In culturally organic societies and tribes, for example, it is the elderly who care for the children. they have the patience to handle the vast energy of children, and the time to be available for care and nurturing. Children truly love to be with the elderly when they can, and the elders find the energy of children to be refreshing.

I believe that we are several generations away from this possibility, however. Our culture has created a relatively new phenomenon called toxic elders, older people who have lost their place in the flow of society and family, and have become suspicious and often angry. They feel cut off and abandoned. Many times they feel betrayed by family in particular and society as a whole. They did what they were supposed to in order to be happy, but in the end, the social promises failed them. Some do not recover and refocus their lives afterward. They become bitter and angry instead.

Yet, the experience of the Intergenerational Learning Center, a preschool located within Providence Mount St. Vincent, a senior care center in West Seattle, is a prime example of how powerful this pairing can be. It is a template which can be used and expanded to help heal the generational divide. Imagine an entire educational and apprenticeship system that uses such creative initiatives as the base, rather than the current view!

The results of such a societal change could be the return of a more balanced way of living as a whole, since the intergenerational wisdom that could be formed creates an upward spiral. Each generation adding to the wisdom of the previous, with Spiritual Elders as mentors to human evolution once again.

This holding of the grand vision of humankind as part of the exquisite balance of nature, as well as the ability to perceive and address suffering, is the challenge of Eagle. It requires patience, persistence, non-judgement, and overall trust in the mysterious unfolding of Spirit in everyday living. We can do this.

Eagle: The Path of Spirit
Where Everything Is One Thing
Spirit Paths: The Quest for Authenticity

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