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What IS Spirituality?

Posted by horsewisevt Jul 29, 2013

spiritual and spirituality, spiritual but not religious….


Buzz terms that are all over these days.  But spirituality is one of  those vague terms, like the term healing– which I will address in a  later posting topic– a vague term, in that there doesn’t seem to be a  real tangible definition… but many people use the term spiritual to  define their outlook or approach to life.

I use it a lot myself.  And I realised today, that I’ve acquired a  “sense of the word,”  without ever really codifying it for myself.  I  have done this a lot with Quechuan terms, such as ayniAyni is a term that I love, and use a lot.  It is the cornerstone of the  Andean and Peruvian cosmology.  But it is a word for which there is no  direct translation. The word spiritual is beginning to feel like this  kind of foreign word, when I try to pin it down.  Does that make sense?   Just like Ayni…

I remember struggling with the word-concept Ayni, when I was a  student.  People would use it, and my brain would try to create a  translation or understanding, according to words and definitions that  worked in western discourse.  It vaguely translates as balance– but has  much deeper and subtler nuance than that, having to do with reciprocity  and sacred harmony. ‘there IS no word in English that translates, and  even conceptually.  It is a term y you develop an entirely new  relationship with- unable to import any word or concept already in  existence.  You can try to equate the term to something you already  understand– but that doesn’t always work.  Often, words are something  that we learn to “grok,”  wrap our understanding around, without ever  having the distinct and clear definition to accompany them.

That is what deep-language, or fluency really means.  An innate  understanding of language and usage.  of course this doesn’t apply to  the common mis-usages and applications of words.  But other than that-  when someone says  something, or uses an expression- we understand the   context and implication of what they are expressing.

So- spirituality is a word that is emerging as one of those words.   People use it a lot these days, but it has yet to find that commonly  understood definition.,

Okay, so I am now giving a lot of thought to this question.  I’m  finding is more slippery than I had anticipated.  I want to avoid  resorting to textbook definitions for now.  I’ll be curious to see what  dictionaries offer as a way of explanation.

What does it mean to be spiritual, or to have a spiritual practice? I  am referencing this now, outside of any religious connotations or  parameters.

I consider myself to be a spiritual person.

To be spiritual: to develop and maintain a connection to a higher  power? this could be Nature, a religious belief or deity, or whatever  one perceives as Source?  but by this definition- can an atheist be  considered spiritual?

So, the definition needs to be expanded, to include ones inner or higher self, rather than anything external as a higher power…

So this concept of connection to”something”.. works.


How does it play out? What does it mean to live a spiritual life?   What does spiritual practice look like?   What does it mean, in terms  owe live or lives?


If we say that it is about consider the bigger picture, or the  greater good- is that spiritual, or moral?  Or is morality a component  of being spiritual?

Is it about maintaining a practice of relaxation and grounding- and how is this different than “stress reduction?”

Is it about how we receive information, and how we process it? ie,  meditation and prayer? And if so, how is this different than a religious  practice?

What does spiritual mean to you? And what does that look like?


Please share your thoughts comments and interpretations below.


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Beingherd Intro Podcast

Posted by horsewisevt Jul 9, 2013
Hiking with Murdock, my rescue dog, on Deer Leap in Vt.

Me and Murdock on Deer Leap in VT.

This week’s entry is a podcast. I am definitely exploring different  approaches to delivering information. And it’s a really great  opportunity. I will do one podcast each week. If you have specific  questions or topics you would like me to address, let me know in the  comments, or in a private message ( if you prefer anonymity:)


This podcast talks about the whole idea of social communities, how  our society and educational models suppress the very best parts of who  we are. I share some of my own experiences and what I have gained, and I  hope you can benefit from this information! I look forward to hearing  from you.


dancing amaon cover.jpg

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Nualla and Monika.JPGI just read a post- what is the one thing, moment.. that you will  never forget. Do you remember any life-altering points you can look back  to, either momentous, or maybe seemingly tiny ( at the time)? I  probably have a few, but the one that came to mind is the time when I  was about 17, in boarding-school/camp. I always wanted to work with  horses, loved horses, related better to horses and animals than I ever  had to people. It was my niche, where I felt understood, accepted and  belonging. But I struggled with my parents refusal to support who I was,  and what i wanted to do with my life. My then mentor and hero,  Ehren,  whispered words that would change my life, or at least if not change it…  changed my perspective. She said, with compassion and not any sense of  goading: You don’t need your parent’s permission to do what you want  with your life.” That was a novel, and freeing, concept.


I had spent so much of my life, in pain and sadness and frustration. I  hoped every day, that my parents would wake up and see me for who I  was. NOT the champion swimmer, or the merit-scholar/ honour student. BE  like someone else, was the daily chanted mantra. Along with that, was  the echo of disappointment and rejection that reverberated through my  life. My life was the daily war of attrition between hope and despair.  Hope that the world would just stop pummeling me with expectations, and  despair that I could ever BE what that upscale preppy world of affluence  and ambition dictated as karma/destiny.


I looked the same, and as per private school- dressed the same, and  yet.. was never the same. My peers knew this intuitively- uncanny  creatures that kids are. and cruel. I was ignored, shunned, pushed away  by my “peers.” And those were the better days. In the less-lucky days, I  was called names, taunted and targeted. and to this day… ironically,  perhaps.. none of those people who made my daily life such an unceasing  misery.. even remember me.


And I am okay with that. These people shaped me. I can thank them,  for showing me with direct experience– all of the things I do NOT…  EVER,… want to be. The things that should NOT be perpetuated. I  understand, NOW.. what I have learned from animals, about what we, as  humans, all too often, are not.


All of those people, have gone on, with varying degrees of their  successes and failures. Where any of them ended up, I really do not  know. And I am fine with that. When I say that they shaped who I am, I  mean that I learn to find who I am. It took me a while, and a wandering  path, literally and metaphorically, to find the firm footing of identity  and acceptance that comes with awareness.


I don’t know that I ever tried to BE like other people. I often  floated, fleetingly, through the peripheries of social cliques- like a  foreigner, looking for the hint of native tongue- someone who spoke a  language that was comprehensive.. someone who was ” like me.”

I have found it, a few times, over the years, in varying degrees. A  few good friends, for whom I would do most anything… and have done a few  hairbrained things… with never a regret.


But through all those turbulent years of “growing up,” animals, and  horses, were my tether- to identity, to direction, to sanity, and Soul.  They taught me, more than anything else– what is important, what matters  and what is needed. We don’t need more Latte’s or designer coffee. Our  kids don’t need more after school activities and structured  conformity-inducing “enrichment.”


We all need, the compassion that animals freely offer us. The  acceptance of who we are NOW, that has nothing to do with expensive  cars, successful careers, money, affluent friends and snobbery. whether  it is a teeny furry ball of kitten-fur, or a 1500 pound horse, and all  things inbetween, They don’t WANT… anything… FROM us ( other than at  feeding time:) They become the mirrors, or our own best ( and sometimes  worst) selves.


Do we come home from a long day, too tired to see that they are HAPPY  we are there, both in this moment, and in this world. Do we push them  aside, in our hurry to race through the minutiae of expected modern  living? Or do we stop, see them, and the love that flows out of them,  overflows, radiating vital heart-energy that they GIVE to replenish the  vital-heart- energy that our lives suck from our soul?


I never got the approval of my parents, and my siblings hold little  regard for who or where I am. and for certain, my peers were never going  to ” get it.”.. But that isn’t what it’s all about. I.. got it. I know  that I followed the path that I knew was in front of me– even when I  couldn’t see it, or understand the concept of ” a path.”…


So- while we remember those who have given their lives for the things  we ” hold dear.,” and I believe we need to be politically questioning a  lot of things in this world– we need to remember the ones that have  been here all along, giving their lives in service to us. Shaping us,  sometimes silently, along the way.  The ones who have been trying to  help us each, find our own best selves. and also, those who have set us  on the path and held the space around us. Yes- many have shaped our  lives, both personally and as a country. What we do with it, who we  choose to become– and that IS a choice… what we do, moving forward… is  how we remember, and honour… those who have touched our lives, sparking  that inner flame, creating a potential that previously didn’t exist.


and as an end note– to those who gave their lives, in past and  present wars- they stood their ground for a belief in something. We owe  those people no less, than to stand firm in whatever belief we hold,  whatever line in our own inner-wars. And- we all need to ask,  collectively… for all those who gave their lives in War: do we not owe  them, the legacy of Peace? Perpetuating WAR, does no honour, to those  who laid down their lives. Maybe we need to look to the animals, and  learn those lessons of Peace, acceptance, and compassion.  Look to the  animals and the children.  what lesson is there, that they have not  forgotten– and are trying so desperately, to instill back into each of  us?


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maggie grounding.jpgI was just reading an interesting article about some of the physical benefits, or rather physiological benefits of grounding. It talked about the importance and benefits of going barefoot. Also,  I remember in my herbal training, we talked a good bit about how the feet absorb minerals from the ground and grass.  That's a pretty cool idea and absolutely makes evolutionary- biological good sense.






Another benefit to walking barefoot is also physiological.  Or perhaps anatomical?  When we walk over uneven ground, especially if we are barefoot.. we use our muscles and our bodies very differently.  Walking over uneven ground, and walking barefoot over natural ( not man-made/ paved) surfaces allows us to use more of our muscles, and stresses the feet and joints less.  I played around with this, shifting back and forth between the sidewalk, and the grass next to it.  I definitely sensed the distinction. Of course, it probably looked a bit silly, but I was pretty immersed in the changes in sensory information.  Walking over the grass also felt more relaxing, satisfying, in some way...have you tried it? You might be surprised...



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Historically, Education was a privilege.  It was also elective.  Many   parents on farms, gave their children basic instruction on reading and   writing, and arithmetic.

At what point, did education shift from a right, to an enforced obligation? who came up with that brilliant idea?

Should education be required?  What if it wasn’t?


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dreamstimefree_Aapple.JPGI was just chatting about the educational system.  Someone noted that this is not anything new– the failed-state of education.  It was failed a long time ago.. yep! Absolutely! it is like people in a house that should be condemned, moving the furniture around.. thinking that will improve circumstances.. and then they serve tea and cakes:)


Nope- definitely not new.  but somehow it seems to be getting swept under the carpet a lot. Esp around the whole NCLB and testing/ competencies.  you know who the testing benefits the most…? the corporations that produce the tests!


It never ceases to amaze me, whether it is schools, or national politics etc.. how blindly people will remain loyal to the sinking ship… it is a failed system for today’s needs.  period.  The model was developed to create functional workers who would then have a job for life, on the assembly line in manufacturing.  THAT is the energetic paradigm. That economic model.  It’s DEAD! ..


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dreamstimefree_apple-book.JPGI remember when I did my masters… we had one aspect where they wanted us to explore best practices in education, visit top models and talk to the experts… I noted 2 things.. 1- I was NOT going to go look at the best model of a failed system.. instead, I went to a place where kids had succeeded beyond expectations…


and 2.. gasp and shock.. I talked to the experts.. you know.. the kids! imagine that…


Kids are far more aware and savvy than teachers and schools give them credit for- and you’d be amazed at how much they will share when they know you are actually listening and not paying lip service.


btw- the school I visited for my Masters project was Simon’s Rock in Mass. It is/ was the first early college model in the country. Students usually enroll after tenth grade, and complete their associates degree and receive a High School diploma at that same time. Note that this is an actual college, with professors teaching from some of the most prestigious universities around the country. When I asked a History Professor if she had to scale her curriculum because she was working with younger students. She noted that she did. BUT, it was scaled UP. She noted that the younger students challenged her far more than students from an ivy league school where she had taught previously. Imagine that!


Now, lest anyone think this is a cherry-picked population and that they were privileged or highly gifted learners.. they might have been.. but what follows can readily refute and prejudice against the fullest potential of younger scholars…


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dreamstimefree_cosmic star.JPGThis is a follow up discussion post, but somehow seems to stand on its own merits. Death and death rites, and how Death and transition can keep us honest, and show us what we really value.


I remember when I was younger, I used to comment that we send flowers when someone dies, as a guilt message.  To me, then, it seemed to be saying- I didn’t really value you enough when you were here.. I/we didn’t take those hikes, or go for coffee, or hang out.  I never took you to that game/event.. whatever.. I didn’t appreciate you fully while you were HERE… and I am now sending a sympathy card that shows that i regret those lost moments.


I raised dogs when I was younger-Bridget and Keeper were my very best friends, companions and compatriots ( also my cosmic guides, but I didn’t know that then:). Anyway- as much as I missed them when the two of them died ( separately).  I didn’t “mourn” per se.  I had no real regrets.  I don’t think either of them had any regrets or felt that their life was lacking anything.  One, waited 2 days for me to come home, so I could be with him when he died.  The other, I think, waited until I was NOT there- because I don’t think she could have left me, otherwise.  I note this, just to illustrate the depth of the connection.   Yes, I did miss them, when friends die, there is a life-change.  But it was not the sort of gaping black hole of loss and regret.


This is what I think most people experience when others die.  And so they send flowers....


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dreamstimefree_461136.jpgNot everyone wants to heal.  Some people want to BE healed- having  someone do the work for them.  Some people are overly attached and  identify at a deep ( or not so deep) level, with their wounded-role/  identity.  Sometimes people can be so lost that they don’t know where to  begin. It could also be that they are caught under something so deep or  weighted, that they can’t get loose enough from it to do the  healing-work needed.  a catch-22:) One thing I will often do with a client I don’t think is “there” yet…  give them an assignment, that is do-able.. and tell them to come back  to me only after they have done it… it could be a fire ceremony, a sand  painting/ nature meditation.. or something concrete like.. make a list  of.. or write down your description of.. whatever.. mostly something by  which they need to take action… sometimes, if you don’t trust their  honesty.. it could be something that requires an actual “artifact”..  bring me X… show me X.. noting that we, in the west, deal with a culture  that has grown up on homework sheets and gold stars ( oi!:). but- the  point being.. by taking some sort of action.. even if small.. they are  making the baby steps of commitment toward “doing their work”- also  note.. sometimes a client can be caught up enough in something that they  may not be fully capable of getting out from underneath.. bear in mind-  for some people.. getting there ( to you/ a healers) IS the big step..  when you pick up that sense ( collective you).. it could be beneficial  to do a prelim sort of clearing.. or the energetic equivalent of calling  child protective services.. where you bring in a guide-guard for the  clients benefit.


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dreamstimefree_waterdrop.JPGHow many people make resolutions at the beginning of the calendar year?  What percentage of the do we keep? What inspires and motivates us to make them?  And more, to maintain them?  And I like and use the term maintain, because we keep promises.. we maintain a lifestyle… What is a resolution? is it a promise to ourselves?  Or is it, should it be, setting an intention for the path ahead?


I like that, new years intentions. setting intent. And what is the connotation of a resolution?  It seems people make “hard” I am going to quit smoking, or lose weight.  Instead, it seemed to me, that we should make lifestyle changes, and also- move toward a positive, rather than away from a negative:)  For me, with chronic lyme.. health is always a sort of front burner issue- how can I be more healthy.. but even aside from that.. it seems people don’t make genuine lifestyle changes in their resolutions.  I know this, from having been an on-again/ off-again smoker growing up.  Personally, I am not over-addictive personality- so quitting was never a really hard thing for me.  I would quit for several years, and something would spark me over into smoking again( offhand, I couldn’t say what those were, but probably life transitions that put me into a smoking culture. dunno:)– anyway, the last time I had quit, when I was about 26.. the insight/ understanding/ transition was;  I did not want to BE a smoker.  Which is subtly but powerfully different and distinct from:  I don’t want to smoke.  I had realised something , from my very best friend, Nancy- when she made an off-hand joking comment.  She noted, she would do the laundry, and then have a cigarette.  She would make coffee.. and have a cigarette. It was her little reward system.  Anyway- from that, I realised the extent to which smoking BOTH, a lifestyle, and is a series of patterns and habits.. and I just started erasing those one by one.  I would get in the car, and note.. I am only going to the store- I don’t need a cigarette. I quickly got comfortable even for long drives, without a cigarette.  Anyway-


there is a distinction between doing, and being...


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dreamstimefree_3hearts.JPGAll relationships seek to find the balance point, a workable harmony  or sustainability.  As all is energy, and all is in a constant state of  flux, so to do relationships shift and change.  At the base of most  relationships is the desire to love and be loved; to feel loved, safe  and accepted.

Unfortunately, I think in our culture there is an energetic confusion  between love, energy and need…and all of us doing this “work” have a  good bit of work helping to untangle those threads from each other.  All  too often, people confuse or substitute being needed, for being loved.  This is both an energetic as well as a physical transaction (word?). At  the energetic level, it leaves a person open and susceptible to  parasitic energy, energetic predators, energy junkies and “vampires.”   On the physical level.. well, I think we have all seen those scenarios  play out….


I remember years ago, reading the book’ Tally’s corner” for a  sociology class.  VERY eye-openings.The book  is a sociological study of wash DC  post kennedy-era poverty-eradication failure.  Anyway- one woman makes a  comment.. when her boyfriend leaves — this time she knows its for  good.  He doesn’t love her anymore; he didn’t even hit her.


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dreamstimefree_squirrel greenhouse.JPGEveryone picks up cords.. it happens as a part of our daily  interactions with the people around us. We often don’t intend to, either  accidentally attach, or to allow someone to attach energetic cords into  our bubbles.  Most of the time we have no idea something isn’t quite  right. In my own case.. I found out about the cords when I had some  healing work done on me( yes, even healers need tending- sometimes more  so:)- so this was external confirmation. I also know I have a few spots  where in my “physical” bubble that tend to be hot spots- so I now  periodically check and clear those.

If we do find out, or suspect that we have picked up cords.. the  important thing is not to attach additional energy to the situation, by  becoming angry, resentful or anxious. Having energetic cords is just  something better not to have/ do… so the goal is releasing cords  respectfully, not with anger, resentment or negativity. I think of cord  removal as a happenstance? matter of course, event… so I suppose you  could say they are being cleared with compassion/ respect/ integrity. I  don’t necessarily think of the originator as some vile bad or horrid  person. In this instance, it was with people whom I no longer had a  physical-plane connection. So I can’t say how the removal played out at  the other end of how the connection might have changed.. but generally, a  relationship will rebalance itself and improve, unless the person is a  junkie- just looking for that fix.. cutting cords is a great way to find  out which…

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dreamstimefree_purple fractal stars.JPGI think I noted.. somewhere.. a “contract” can even be something as  minor as the energetic equivalent of leaving a door unlocked, because a  friend was stopping by, and then forgetting to lock it later.. or  opening a window to clear out the room, fresh air etc, and then a  mosquito finds its way in… not all “openings” are a sign of  dire-predilections.. but are good cause to be conscientious,  nonetheless:Sometimes energetic cords are intentionally, willfully  created- consciously or unconsciously, even with people we love/ love  us.

Sometimes, we may opt to allow a cord to be created/connected, and to  remain-, either consciously or unconsciously.. But essentially, the  bubble should be sacrosanct, and not even god, can enter without  permission.  That is how it was taught to me.  and that makes sense..  everyone has equal access to their own source of energy,  from their wiracocha: the speck of source, or 8th chakra.. above your body, where your  individual essence connects with the universal essence,.. sort of.. not  sure if other cosmologies have a term for this..


We each source from this place, by birth/being-right.. and we can  source from Source/universe, the higher planes/ 5th world.. and from the  pure natural elements around us: The sun, fire, the water, the  Wind/Air, Pachamama: the Earth under our feet.

In essence there is no real reason someone should need to source from  the people around them. And there are ways to help support them without  enabling them, and draining ourselves…


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dreamstimefree_3323460.jpgWe've all known people who seem to suck the living life out of us.   People who leave us drained, or use all our reserves.  Some people are  just plain needy, and perceive/ substitute "need" with "want"/  friendship/ connection/equality.


But there are other types  of junkies as well- energy junkies that can literally sap our energy-  directly from the energy bubble.  It doesn't need to be physical,  verbal, or mental.  These are people who can literally get under our  skin, and like a parasite, steal your energy-body's power.

As  they say, what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger.  Unfortunately, in  these instances, being depleted can end up killing us- especially since  we live in a culture that doesn't understand how to replenish the body's  stores of energy from natural sources and the universe around us.   Instead- we scrabble amongst ourselves for what is actually the most  limited energy.. that which is already bound to a person.

But all  things are gifts, or lessons- which are a gift.  Some things we grasp  intuitively- others, we need to learn.. sometimes; the hard way:)


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dreamstimefree_2045958.jpgWe all make agreements, all the time.  We make agreements with  ourselves, the people around us, and the larger world/universe/reality/  god.

As in literature, where there are 3 basic themes, man v self, man v nature, man v man.


So too, we have contracts, or agreements that govern, or rule-create those different sorts of engagements.


Agreements, or contracts, or sometimes, when charged-  I like to refer to as beacons. More on that later:)


But as far as the nature of Agreements: even regarding an agreement  with others and the Universe,it is sort of still an agreement with  ourselves.. about others, or how we interact with others or how others  will interact with us (or not interact with us:).




A contract( or agreement) is a truth, belief or dynamic that serves-  whether we like it or not- as an organizing pattern, or dynamic in our  life. If you followed any of the other recent threads, you may have read  about fractal patterns, and kangaroos- if not, check it out, as it is  relevant to this conversation- and easier to send you off to read it,  than to revisit it here:).


anyway- nature has a way of creating patterns.. habits, dynamics.  So  to does energy.  Energy, like water, tends to prefer to follow the  paths of least resistance, and also- like water, does not necessarily  have an inherent structure of its own.  So, it can be shaped, or molded,  or directed.. and acted upon by other things..


read full article at:


Dancing in Your Bubble; ancient teaching, modern healing @Amazon

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Member since: Dec 25, 2009

This is where I am posting excerpts from my books and writings. Some are complete- often, things I am currently working on, in progress:) Spiritual, metaphysical, horse-related... wherever the keyboard goes whither with or without my consent;)

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