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Lame Animal Totem: The Tick

woodtickYou never know when Tick will enter your life, so undress carefully and check all your crevices as soon as possible after reading this. When Tick does crawl up your pant leg and into your life, rest assured that this totem animal will help you take advantage of others while inspiring revulsion in all you encounter.

Tick energy is intrusive, draining, and waaaaaay too intimate. Let it inspire you to show up at the homes of friends you barely know, asking to stay for an indefinite period. Eat their food, borrow their clothes, and follow them into the bathroom to tell them long stories about the bad things done to you by your ex-spouse. Whine. Wheedle. Attach yourself. Tick energy will give you all the inspiration you need.

If your spirit animal is Tick, you already know how to sink your mouth parts into a juicy situation, whether it’s a pyramid scheme that sells automatic buttock massagers to the elderly, or a naïve lottery winner whose money you’ve volunteered to manage. As you enjoy your Tick magic, be aware that you are genuinely disgusting. Also, avoid people with matches and pets with those special collars. You are already living on borrowed time.


Periodically, I’ll be sharing the animal totems you wish you knew more about: the marginalized, the disrespected, nay I say, the lame. You’ll learn the illuminating messages they hold for you. You’re welcome. ~Martha

Make Your Own Pocket Eden

220px__lesser_goldfinch_1I’ve written a lot of delirious prose about my experiences in Africa, and in my new home where the back yard is a national forest. If I could, I would take everyone to these gorgeous places that restore my spirit. It frustrates me that I can’t. Recently, however, I’ve found a spot as wondrous and magical as any safari I’ve ever taken—and this one you can replicate, if you want. I highly recommend it.

Here’s what I did: I put a bird feeder and a little fountain outside my bedroom window. I face that window when I meditate. While I’m supposed to be watching Nothing, I sometimes realize that I’ve become enthralled by the miniature ecosystem outside.

I especially love a family of tiny Lesser Goldfinches who couldn’t care less about an ordinary birdbath, but love to bathe in running water. I am not kidding; these little yellow puffballs love bathing like drug abusers love crack. They shiver with joy, lowering themselves into the water and fluffing their feathers with pleasure so obvious it would get them arrested in some states (not California). Each time I see this, it makes me deeply, absurdly happy.

I’m going on about this because I’m pretty sure you could make this experience, or something like it, happen for yourself.  If there’s even the tiniest space—a window ledge, a planter box—where you could invite nature in, do it. Then sit still long enough to see wild things discover and enjoy what you’ve offered them.

I could quote studies showing that this will do fantastic things for your physical and mental health. But I’d rather just have you go look outside, maybe scatter some birdseed, and let the wild things come and tell you themselves. 

P.S.— Watch my home video of the tiny goldfinches frolicking in the bath above. Then, click on the picture below to see how my oneness with the tiny birds manifested the first-ever appearance of an eagle (captured by a nature camera on a different part of my ranch).

Doing Nothing

TailLob2Yesterday I went whale-watching with my son Adam and my partner Karen. It was a beautiful day, and there were humpbacks everywhere. Aside from the slight injuries I sustained being elbowed by other tourists, it was awesome.

Of course Adam had his own odd way of whale-watching, which consisted of sitting on the boat with his eyes closed for three hours. Whenever I asked him something (“Don’t you want to see the whales?”  “Don’t you want some water?” “Don’t you want to elbow a tourist?”) he’d shake his head briskly, wide awake. When I asked him what he was doing, he said he was “feeling ALL the sea animals.” As one does.

This illustrates a paradox I’ve noticed this month: Sitting still is incredibly powerful. Recently I’d been hankering to meditate more, and I can’t sustain a good hanker, so I started sitting more often, and for longer time periods, than ever before. This has had a weird result. Slowing down has caused everything I do to happen faster.

Every day, after meditating for an hour and a half, I get up and observe my body as it does chores. Then I watch my brain and body together writing, teaching, or answering email. I don’t feel as if I’m doing it, and it happens bizarrely fast.  All my life I’ve felt rushed, but the more of nothing I do, the more I seem to feel my way through the ocean of tasks we all face.

This month, especially if you have a lot to do, try doing more of nothing. If you don’t meditate at all, try 10 minutes a day. If you do meditate, double your time. Then notice the velocity at which things get done. If you don’t notice an improvement in a week, quit. But give it an honest try.

Lao Tzu says, “When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.” I’m finding this to be almost magically true. 

Do it—that is, don’t do it—and see for yourself.

The New Normal

Disclaimer: CAUTION! You will either like this post, or comment to yourself that I have truly climbed off the crazy station and onto the crazy train. So if crazy doesn’t work for you, just stop now.
 
So I just got back from yet another delicious and astonishing experience, this one at a ranch in Montana owned by a dear friend. This is the same place where I experienced the original Pronghorn event. This year, because I now know that Pronghorns frequent the area, I decided to up the ante: “Wolves!” I thought to myself. It’s WAY harder to attract a wolf than a Pronghorn. Then I realized this was a ridiculous thought, since calling a wild wolf requires exactly the same amount of effort as calling a Pronghorn—in other words, practically nothing.
 
When I got to the ranch, I asked if there were any wolves living in the area. My friend said she thought a few had been seen 18 months prior. I invited everyone in the group to call in some wolves…and at 9 o’clock that night, guess who started howling outside the cabin? Oh yes they did! Some people heard them all night long. I, like an idiot, got too attached and did not hear them myself. Damn you, tenacious ego! Still, it was one hell of a “coincidence.”
 
Oh, and by the way, the day the whales came (see last “Insight from Martha”), it was covered INTERNATIONALLY. My friends in Africa saw it and called to tell me they figured I was on that beach.
 
This is all so normal.
 
But enough with my obsessive animal stories! The point is that I am experiencing what many of you are, too: an increasingly powerful conviction that what we once thought of as the world “out there” is in fact as intimately connected to each of us as our own heart. On one hand, my own physical body feels more and more like an animal that happily lives its life without obeying any of my conscious intentions; on the other hand, my consciousness feels capable of creating physical events that seem distant and impossible.
 
In Expecting Adam, I wrote about a moment when, exhausted, sick, and heartbroken, I sent out the thought “I just can’t do this. Maybe you should drive.” I didn’t know what I was talking to, and I still don’t. But whatever it was, it surrounded me with an inexplicable sweetness. It picked up my heart and held it like a baby. Ever since, there have been moments when I have climbed out of the driver’s seat, only to grab for control again when my inner lizard raised its fearful, scaly head.
 
These days, I simply don’t feel like driving. The passenger seat is much more fun. I watch my own body and mind playing ecstatically with the illusion of form.
 
Have I lost you yet? If so, I respectfully and lovingly do not care.
 
Recently, several clients have told me that they have an odd sense of being disconnected from their bodies. They still feel sensations, but find themselves acting strangely in their own eyes. They have stopped driving. The journey has been taken over by what we, in our coaching system, call their essential self. Some people seem to be able to stop this from happening deliberately, others invite and enjoy it, and others, weirdly, are observing it as it happens to them without any conscious decisions on their part. I’m sure this has always been possible, but I’m just warning you: these days, our essential selves are growing more and more powerful. The blissful game of consciousness clothed in matter is getting faster and more delicious. So if this is happening to you, and it’s freaking you out, relax. Let the wolves drive.