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Mastering the toltec wayA Daily Guide to Happiness, Freedom, and Joy
By Susan Gregg
Red WheelCopyright © 2003 Susan Gregg
All right reserved.
Chapter OneBy the Light of the Moon
The moon had just risen over the mesa in a perfectly clear sky. Shadows illuminated the path with a magical blend of light and dark, and the warm and loving wind gently blew the Grandmother's skirts about her legs. She smiled as she looked at the curious faces of the children walking with her toward the top of the mesa.
She felt so blessed; her stories had taught so many generations about the sacred nature of life and the great mysteries. Silently she said a prayer of thanks to the Earth Mother.
Then the Grandmother broke her silence. "As you walk upon the land always make sure to give thanks. With each step you take you leave a little bit of yourself behind. Do you want to leave love or fear in your footsteps?
"The earth is alive. She knows you by your touch. She knows your heart. When you open yourself to the magic of nature, all things become possible."
The wind stirred, and off in the distance an owl spoke. "What did you just hear?"
The youngest girl replied, "I heard the wind as it caressed the land and Grandfather Owl greeted it with his song. I heard love."
The Grandmother was pleased. She nodded and walked on. The rocky trail grew increasingly steep. "Let the rocks speak to you. They will guide your feet and make your passage easy. Trust, quiet your mind, and allow yourself to feel the power in the earth."
When they reached the top of the mesa, each took a place in the circle of sacred stones. A fire already burning sent sparks leaping into the night sky. The Grandmother began her story.
"Look around, my children. Let yourselves feel the love and the magic in the light of the moon. Open your hearts and let the moon love you. Breathe deeply and feel.
"Light is light, yet notice how different the light of the moon is from the light of the sun. Look down at our village and see how the land about it sparkles. Feel the magic in the air. Sit in the light of the moon and let it embrace you; look into your heart and see what you feel."
Off in the distance a coyote howled. "The moon is constantly changing. We measure the seasons with her passage. She reminds us of the nature of life. Each month her light goes out and the night sky darkens, filled only with the stars. Then slowly the moon grows until it once again fury illuminates the evening sky.
"If you watch the moon each night, you will learn much. We are spirits; we are energy, and the moon will show us how to align ourselves with that energy. The moon will help us connect with our divine nature.
"Sit under the night sky each evening and let yourself feel. Quiet your mind and feel the presence of the Great Spirit. Breathe and let the moon teach you with her love, her wisdom, her gentleness, and her strength.
"Notice where the moon rises and where she sets. Each day, notice where the moon is in her cycle and what your relationship is to the world about you. Allow yourself to feel the energies as they flow through you. Become aware of yourself as you go through your own inner journey. Take the time to let the moon teach you."
The Grandmother stood, and her voice blended with the wind. She called upon the four directions, asking them for protection, wisdom, and strength. Next she called upon the Great Earth Mother. She called forth the spirits of the ancestors, the ancient ones, the spirits of the land, and the Great Spirit of all things great and small. Once she felt the power of the moment surround her, she invited the children to offer up their prayers and to ask the moon to teach them. The magic of the night embraced them, and the children learned many lessons that night by the light of the moon.
What Do You Expect?
Expectations can be incredibly powerful tools for bringing about transformation or for creating disappointment. There are many different types of expectations: negotiated and un-negotiated expectations, conscious and unconscious expectations.
What do you expect to gain by reading this book? Do you expect your life to magically change without any effort on your part? Do you expect change to be hard and require a great deal of work or to be easy and enjoyable?
Do you expect that if you only had __________________________ (a better job, a lover, more money-you fill in the blank) your life would be fine? What do you expect of your friends? Do you expect them to take care of your needs so you don't have to set boundaries? Do you expect everyone to like you and make choices based on your desire to be liked?
What do you expect from yourself? What do you expect from life? Take some time and become aware of your expectations in relationship to improving the quality of your life. I know that if you do these exercises daily and continue to apply the principles set forth here for a year, your life will change dramatically.
If you really expect magic and miracles to occur in your life, they will. You can have a life free of limitations once you let go of the expectations that limit you.
Once you become aware of old, limiting expectations, you can change them by repeating your new expectations ten or fifteen times a day for at least a month. Every time you notice an old expectation, observe it, remind yourself you are letting it go, and then-with as much passion as you can muster-repeat your new expectation.
Contract with Yourself
Affirm your dedication to fully engaging with this book by writing a contract with yourself. Put down exactly what you wish to do or gain in relationship to these exercises and your spiritual explorations. Include the statement that you will abide by your contract, then sign it, date it, and put it someplace where you will see it daily. Do this now and enforce your contract with yourself. As the Grandmother advised, "Become aware of yourself as you go through your own inner journey."
Freedom allows us to choose how we "walk upon the land." But the definition of our personal freedom is more intimate. Define what personal freedom means to you. How will you feel when you achieve it? What will your life look like? What will you do during the course of a typical day?
My own definition of personal freedom has transformed over the years. At first my definition focused on external circumstances-a great job, a nice place to live, a loving relationship, and the ability to create whatever I wanted. It evolved into the ability to make all of my choices based in love. I thought I had finished redefining my personal freedom, then one day I realized my definition had become "maintaining a deep and abiding connection with my spiritual self."
Write down your definition of personal freedom and be sure to revisit that definition frequently. Take note of how it evolves.
We tend to make meditating much harder than it really is. There are hundreds of ways to meditate, and none is inherently right or wrong. You can meditate with your eyes open or closed. You can repeat a mantra or a phrase or a prayer. You can focus on an object while sitting, standing, walking, in nature, at home, in a church, or anywhere else for that matter. You have not failed if you can't quiet your mind. Follow the advice of the Grandmother and "Open your hearts and let the moon love you. Breathe deeply and feel."
The easiest way to begin a meditation is by focusing your attention on your breathing. Take several slow, deep breaths, and notice your breath. How does it feel? Where do you feel it in your body? Follow your breath as it effortlessly flows in and out.
If you find your mind wandering, bring your attention back to your breath. The Grandmother chose the mesa in the moonlight, but perhaps a different image works better for you. For instance, imagine yourself standing at a train station. Trains come and go. You can stand and watch them go by or get on and go for a ride. Think of your thoughts as trains. As soon as you find yourself lost in thought, get off the train and go back to focusing your attention on your breath.
Practice, gentleness, and love will make meditating much easier and more enjoyable. Over time your meditations will grow and change, just as you will. Avoid comparing yourself or your experiences to anyone else.
Habits and Routines
The Toltec tradition is really a method of retraining your mind so you can create your reality from your spirit. One way to begin this retraining is to experiment with breaking old habits and routines. "The moon is constantly changing." Even cycles and routines change. Try some of the following:
• Go to work a new way.
• If you're usually on time, be late; if you're often late, be early.
• If you're a vegetarian, eat meat; if you're a meat eater, don't.
• Change the way you dress-try bright colors instead of muted colors or flowing skirts instead of tailored pants.
• Wear shoes that don't match.
• Comb your hair with a different part or style or don't comb it at all.
• If you meditate every day, stop; if you don't, begin to.
Decide to change your habits and routines for a full week. Notice how often you remember to change them and how often you just slip back into old habits.
Which do you want to be in charge of your life-your mind or your spirit?
"If you watch the moon each night, you will learn much," the Grandmother said.
Get a small calendar, preferably one that shows the moon's cycles. On it, write a few words about each day. You could simply take note of what you did or how you felt-a sort of "internal" weather check. Note whether your emotional climate is stormy or sunny with light breezes.
After you have kept the journal for some time, go back and read through it. Do you notice any patterns between your "internal" weather and the cycles of the moon?
Moonbeams: A Meditation
Let the moonbeams transport you to another time and place. "When you open yourself to the magic of nature," the Grandmother said, "all things become possible." Imagine standing in the middle of the desert surrounded by a group of loving friends. Ancient chants fill the air. The full moon shines over the mesa. The wind begins to stir. You bow your head and move your feet rhythmically to the sounds around you in a dance you've never been taught.
The ancient chants fill your heart and your mind. Feelings stir deep within your being. You feel your connection to everyone and everything. Breathe in the love around you, and let the ancient chants and dances take you. Surrender completely to the magic of the moment.
Fear is an illusion. We live in a safe, limitless, and totally loving universe, yet we experience lack and limitations. Our fears stop us from seeing the richness life has in offer. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Our filter system clouds the true, loving essence of everything and everyone.
Our filters tell us many lies-that we need to be right in order to be happy, that we must protect ourselves, that intimacy is something to crave and fear simultaneously. Without knowing it, we stop seeing the richness life has to offer and instead think our filter system represents reality.
Today, pause as you move through your day, look around, and ask yourself: How could I see this differently? How would this look if I saw it through the eyes of love?
In the words of the Grandmother, "Sit in the light of the moon and let it embrace you; look into your heart and see what you feel."
There Is No "Out There"
This thing we call reality is totally subjective-it depends on what we tell ourselves at any given moment. Reality or "out there" is not real at all; it is just a projection of the story of our own lives. Our filter system distorts our perception of reality and then we react to that distortion. But the external universe is neutral.
Today pretend there is no "out there." If you find yourself upset by someone or something, remind yourself that there is no "out there." If you don't like how you are feeling, simply tell yourself a different story.
Dominion and Domination
Learning to see life from the perspective of dominion instead of domination was a long journey but the most rewarding one I have ever taken. In dominion you see everything through the eyes of love and acceptance. You learn how to embrace all of life, even the most challenging parts.
Today carry around a piece of paper, divided into two columns. At the top of one column put the word loving, and at the top of the other put the word judgmental. Whenever you find yourself having a loving or judgmental thought, put a check mark in the appropriate column.
Set your intent to observe life and yourself from a place of dominion. Notice how it feels when you put checks in the loving column instead of the judgmental one. Do you judge even that?
Love even your judgments. As much as possible, practice embracing all of life. "As you walk upon the land always make sure to give thanks."
We are all actors on a stage. You are the actor, director, scriptwriter, and projectionist of the movie of your life. You can rewrite the roles anytime you wish. "Each day," said the Grandmother, "notice where the moon is in her cycle and what your relationship is to the world about you."
Decide on a role to play today. Pick something completely different from the role you usually play, or choose the role you often play that you like the most.
Meeting Your Spiritual Essence: A Meditation
The night is very dark and cold. You've been walking on this lonely road for a long, long time. Off in the distance you see the light of a flickering candle. You keep walking; the light remains, off in the distance, but it seems no closer. You grow weary. You want to sleep, but to sleep surely means death. In the silence of your heart, you ask for help.
You close your eyes for an instant and when you open them again you find yourself in a magnificent temple filled with light. Standing in front of you is a beautiful being of light who reaches out and touches your head and your heart. You become one with the being and see yourself as you really are. You are one with your perfection. You are one with your divinity, and you breathe a huge sigh of relief. You're home.
Awareness is the first of the three Toltec masteries. Our awareness of ourselves and of life has many levels. We can see everything as an opportunity to redefine ourselves in either a more expansive or more limiting way-we influence that choice by what we tell ourselves. Being aware of that can be quite a challenge because we take things personally.
A useful awareness exercise is to simply observe your mind. Observe your thoughts until you can see them as opinions.
Excerpted from Mastering the toltec way by Susan Gregg Copyright © 2003 by Susan Gregg. Excerpted by permission.
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