Transforming Difficult Emotions Through Singing

“The Name repeated with either good or evil intentions, in an angry mood or even while yawning, diffuses joy in all the ten directions.”
~ Tulsidas (1532–1623), Indian poet-saint. (Quote shared by Krishna Das in the jacket cover of his CD, “Greatest Hits of the Kali Yuga.”)

Chanting (singing) has been one of my daily practices for more than fifteen years, and I have been chanting a forty-verse prayer called the Hanuman Chalisa for more than ten years. Each day when I sit down to sing along with a CD by Krishna Das, I acknowledge whatever is present in me in that moment, and then ask for help as needed.

One morning last month I got really triggered by something right before I was going to do my chanting practice. I was in an utterly reactive state, so I wasn’t sure if I was even going to be able to do the practice, but I sat down anyway, feeling angry and depressed. I said a prayer, asking that my difficult emotions could be transformed into love…

Well, it took the entire forty verses for that transformation to happen! This was the first time I had this experience: I chanted the forty verses in a gruff angry non-singing voice with clenched teeth, and felt like I was possessed. And in fact, I was possessed, by my own toxic angry reaction… After chanting the forty verses that way, as I began the after prayers, suddenly I was singing in my normal singing voice! The healing, transformative power of the chants is so miraculous! I felt so incredibly grateful to be softened into love again.

Sometimes when we get angry we have to do the mental work of searching for the root cause and then consciously transforming and releasing the anger through understanding… But sometimes we can just simply sit and sing, allowing the healing sound vibrations to melt the anger into love and joy.

Can you relate to this experience? Have you ever dissolved anger through singing?

May All Beings Be Free of Suffering.
May All Beings Be Happy.

May our singing diffuse joy in all directions!

 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

 

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Bells of Mindfulness

It was a lovely autumn evening and all was well… It felt wonderful to breathe in the cool fresh air… But then, once again the neighbors’ cigarette smoke began wafting in on the breeze… With anger I closed my window… and then, once again the toilet paper holder fell to the floor… and then, I stepped in water in my socks… and with each small frustration, I felt my angst growing stronger…

And once again the negative thinking swirl began, with the primary question surfacing, “Why is life so hard?” But just then, a small gentle voice asked quietly, “Umm, could we reframe that?” So I tried and tried to think of a more positive spin on my view of life (in that frustrated moment), but all I could come up with was “life is challenging” and “life is not fun.”

Well the small gentle voice was not having those negative reframes, so she dug deeper into the situation, and then she shared this insightful reframe:

“Life is filled with bells of mindfulness.”

Yes! All parts of me agreed, and the toxic angry vibes lay down to rest with the cranky despairing energies…

So then the small gentle voice said calmly, “When you closed the window in anger, that was a bell of mindfulness to show you where you need to cultivate more peace, understanding, compassion, and kindness… And, when the holder fell down and you stepped in water in your socks, those were bells of mindfulness to show you where you need to generate more calm inside yourself. So remember, life is filled with bells of mindfulness.”

Dear readers, this experience arose in me because I have been studying the teachings of the Zen Buddhist Master, Thich Nhat Hanh… His teachings on mindfulness are so simple to grasp, integrate, and practice in daily life… Soon I will write a post about his book Peace is Every Step.

And so what about you… Can you relate to my experience here? Can you also see many bells of mindfulness in your life?

I hope this post was helpful to you!

May All Beings Be Free of Suffering.
May All Beings Be Happy!

 

Photo of bells cropped from original photo by Az Aay Chhetri on Pexels.

 

StarFire Teja’s Sad Photo Challenge for Suicide Prevention

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and I am launching a Sad Photo Challenge. I invite everyone to share photos of themselves crying and/or looking sad, to help those who are suffering in despair to realize that they are not alone in their sadness.

Think about how much we all put on our happy faces for others, especially for social media. I think that as a society we need to allow sadness and realness and authenticity of feelings. I don’t think that we should wallow in sorrow or overindulge in it, but rather, we need to allow sadness to naturally flow through everyone, including men, women, teenagers, and children.

When I took the photo featured in this post (almost ten years ago), I was crying and feeling very, very sad. As I looked in my sad eyes in the mirror, I suddenly became inspired to snap a photo, never dreaming that I would ever show it to anyone! At the time I thought, “Why not capture this sad moment, like I capture all the happy moments?” So now I challenge you to also share a sad photo of yourself, with the caption “I am accepting StarFire Teja’s Sad Photo Challenge for Suicide Prevention.”

SadPhotoChallenge_SuicidePrevention_ReachingForOrange_StarFireTeja

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you know that I have been dealing with a Fibromyalgia flare lately, and I have to consistently work to happy up my mind and to keep a good, positive attitude. Well, one night a few weeks ago I dreamt that I walked up to two fellows from my high school class, and I said, “Guys, I’ve come to the end of my rope.”

People who commit suicide have truly come to the end of their ropes. When I say that I would never commit suicide, because I couldn’t do that to my family and friends, and because I don’t believe in killing living beings (which is why I choose a plant-based lifestyle), and then I say “but I am in such despair that I wish I would die of natural causes,” no one is alarmed and sends me to the psych unit because I first stated that I would never commit suicide. Not only are they not alarmed, they might say something like, “sorry you’re having such a hard time,” and then go about their day, without realizing that the despair I’m feeling might be every bit as alarming as the despair of someone who would commit suicide… Perhaps the only difference is that I would not kill myself… But, as I said in my dream, sometimes I feel like I’ve come to the end of my rope…

How can we truly help people who have come to the end of their ropes? I believe we can help through active listening, genuine compassion, and understanding. Even if you have never felt deep despair yourself, you can still listen and try to understand. You can also remind people that they are not alone in their pain. In fact, suicide is among the leading causes of death in the United States, and according to the World Health Organization, “Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds. Suicide is a global phenomenon and occurs throughout the lifespan.”

We need to welcome the tears of others and meet them where they are, so that they can feel that where their rope ends, a greater rope begins. We are all connected as part of one continuous energy. We all feel pain. We all want happiness. Not just the human species, but all living beings feel suffering as well as happiness. We are all part of the same rope, and we need to help each other feel that connection to everyone and everything.

If ever you feel that you have come to the end of your rope, please know that you are not ever alone in your pain. Help and connection are always available to you.

For further hope and inspiration, please read my previous post, “It Is Your Duty To Live” and my new book Reaching for Orange: Practices, Visualizations, & Blessings to Help You Happy Up Your Life.

If you live in the United States, you can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. It is available 24 hours everyday. You can also visit the website: SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.

So, will you accept the challenge and share a sad photo of yourself for the world to see? Your sad photo might just help someone in despair to grab onto that greater rope that we all share.

May this post be helpful to many beings.

May All Beings Be Free of Suffering.
May All Beings Be Happy.

 

 

3 Tips for the Lonely

Do you ever feel totally alone in this world, like no one understands and appreciates you? When you feel lonely, what do you do?

Typically, when people feel lonely they reach outside of themselves for comfort, through food and drinks, television, social media, and so on. Those external pleasures can be soothing temporarily, but a more lasting comfort can be achieved through internal practices.

The next time you feel utterly alone in this world, try these 3 tips for reaching inside your own being ~

~ Cultivating self-love with the mirror. Gaze into your own eyes in the mirror, and say out loud, “I love you (your name)” several times in a row, and then say, “I understand you (your name), and I appreciate you (your name).”

~ Focusing on your strengths. Take out pen and paper and write down everything you love about yourself. If you cannot think of at least 5 things, then write some intentions for new qualities you would like to call into your being. For example, if you do not feel like you are a very kind person, but you would like to be a kinder person, then set an intention to call the vibration of loving kindness into yourself. Place little pieces of paper with the written words “loving kindness” around your home and car.

~ Doing something that you really truly love doing. Make sure this is something you really want to do, and not something that you feel you should do. This could be turning on your favorite music and singing and dancing, or going outside barefoot to hug a tree, or making a cup of spicy tea to sip while reading an inspiring book… While doing this thing that you really love, tune in deeply to how you feel inside on every level. Focus on loving yourself totally, in every way.

To read more tips for reaching inside, please order your copy of my new book today! ~ Reaching for Orange: Practices, Visualizations, & Blessings to Help You Happy Up Your Life.

I hope this post was helpful to you, or to someone you love.

 

Photo of bird in marsh by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash.

 

Are You the Witness Today?

Every moment we have a choice: get caught up in what’s happening, OR be the Witness of what’s happening.

Getting caught up can look like anxiety, fear, anger, shame, guilt, grief, jealousy, disappointment.

Being the Witness can look like Peace, Patience, Understanding, Acceptance, Gratitude, Compassion, Love, Happiness.

Are you the Witness today?

 

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