Freedom…”not just another word for nothin’ left to lose.” Janis Joplin

My older sister asked me to come to Florida to take care of her duplex for the month of January this year. She was accepted into a program at the Hague in the Netherlands for a month-long course of study in international law. She is a retired attorney and 72 years old. She also started taking piano lessons after she retired and practices for 2 hours each day, to challenge herself and to play for her own pleasure. I travelled to Florida to be there a few days before she left, and stayed for another few days after she returned, so I got to hear her practice. She’s working on some of my favorites: Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” and “Moonlight Sonata.” I have seven siblings and she inspires all of us to continue learning, continue living fully, brightly, expressively, enjoyably.

I went to help her, to be there just in case the air conditioner went on the fritz again, or her tenants needed any assistance. I had no real idea that I would benefit. I’m a person who enjoys getting out to walk in any and all weather—I just need the right equipment for the job. (My absolute favorite time of year when I lived in south Florida was the summer. I passionately loved the afternoon downpours, when the sky opened up and rain came down in buckets. That was my favorite time to swim. I realize that’s not the usual reason people travel to Florida.)

I did benefit.

She lives just a block from the beach. I walked meditatively for a couple of hours every day. Gradually, the thoughts that had filled my heart and mind prior to this brief respite from my everyday life fell away. When you’ve been a powerfully dedicated worker, as I have been, work sort of sneaks back up and begins to fill the cavities of life once again. As I walked, an intention began to form in me, and it sounded like this: “I wonder what it would be like to have the freedom in my mind to think about what I’d enjoy doing.” Just having that thought made me realize that I crave more time spent in epic nature. I have since signed up for a week-long class with Jean Houston at Esalen, on the Big Sur coast of California. I will also be looking into teaching classes on Consciousness there. 

Stay tuned. I’m excited.

Regina

The “What Is Consciousness?” Audiobook is in Production!

This is what we look like holding a multi-faceted crystal up to the camera lens.

I’m excited about a couple of things this morning, and want to share them with you.

First, I’ve hired a producer for the audiobook of “What Is Consciousness?” and it is now being produced! It should be available on Audible by two weeks from now. I just listened to the first fifteen minutes and love it. The woman who is reading it has a richly resonant voice–one that I found compelling enough for the also richly resonant material being read.

One reader of this blog wrote to tell me that she was losing her eyesight. She said this blog is something she always looked forward to reading and asked if I would consider putting an audio version up on the website so she could continue to enjoy it. I am working on that, and am making progress, but am having trouble, so it isn’t live yet.

Which brings me to the second exciting thing I have to share with you. Because of the skill and generosity of my son-in-law, I do have a ten minute meditation that is now live! The daily practice of meditation I’ve had for just over 40 years now is something that I can share with you.

Meditation has been an evolving and alive practice. I’ve learned many methods over the years, and my practice has developed and changed accordingly. At first, I thought about the newly learned method and deliberately incorporated it in to my practice. What has changed is that I now simply relax, close my eyes, and bring my focus into an internal quiet, and the meditation begins inside of me. It seems to give itself to me in it’s own creative way.

As I said, there is a ten-minute meditation live now, and I am working on a twenty minute version which should be live within a week. So check back if that interests you.

The third thing I’m excited about is the TED talk I’m developing…

Stay tuned!

Regina

Let’s Reclaim the Space in Our Own Minds

Photo credit: BertParlee.com

Let’s take a step back and away from fear, shall we?

Let’s make room for wonder and curiosity. Let’s make room for love. Let’s make some space in our minds for applying some deep thought to life. Let’s ask ourselves some harder questions like: How can I resist this fear? What can I do to help? What can I do to take my mind back from the fear and hatred that is tearing our country apart?

Let’s not add to the fear-mongering that is going on in the world by ratcheting up fear in posts on social media.

Instead…in our posts, let’s talk about what we’re doing to make the situation better. Let’s tell each other about the actions of resistance we’re taking. Let’s share with each other about kindnesses we receive and about how we’re loving better, more expansively, more exquisitely.

I don’t mean to diminish the horrific things that are going on right now in the United States and elsewhere. But let’s do wake up to the fact that allowing hatred to set up camp in our own minds is not an act of resistance; it is surrender.

Let’s step back from the “ain’t it awful” club.

It is. All of us already know that.

The other day, I got to thinking about the triangle shaped pattern in psychology called the Codependent Triangle. At the apex is the person who sees themselves as a Victim. The person in relationship with the Victim has two choices–they can either be the Rescuer or the Persecutor. They don’t choose their own role, the Victim chooses it for them. This feels relevant to the situation in our country today. If the Victim is incapable of seeing themselves in a new way, the only choice we have is to walk away from that relationship.

The other triangle we can create for ourselves is called the Empowerment Triangle. It carries with it a growth mindset, is passion based and outcome focused. The three points represent the Creator, the Challenger, and the Coach. The Challenger asks pointed questions and the Creator is open to them. The Coach gives good ideas and healthy boundaries. The roles here are interchangeable–sometimes I am the Creator and I call upon friends to serve in the roles of Challenger and Coach. And I always step up to be the Challenger or Coach when I’m asked.

Let’s take our minds back from whomever has taken up residence there!

Let’s own our world and the space in our minds by thinking about what we can do, and then let’s do it. Let’s find friends who will enter into this Empowerment Triangle with us so we can deliberately reclaim the space in our own minds and hearts.

What Is Consciousness? Book Arrival Party

Public · Hosted by Alexandra Kaye and Regina Leffers

I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the birth of my newest book!

I’ve spent the last 40 years thinking about the material for this book, and the last three years writing in earnest. Commemorate the long-awaited arrival of “What Is Consciousness?” with me on Tuesday, August 20 from 6-8pm at the Cinema Center. It’s going to be a book birthday party!

The first 200 party-goers who would like to read it will get a copy of the book as a present from me.

My intention is to create an exploration in consciousness. In my experience, books written about consciousness are written in academic language making them inaccessible to anyone who isn’t primarily a student of psychology or neuroscience. The topic is important enough that every person should have access to this body of knowledge. It’s something we all experience—every single one of us. For that reason, we should all get a good idea about where we’ve come from, where we’re headed, and where we are right now. This book is an invitation to enter into the conversation about consciousness with your own interior, with others who are close to you, and with me.

Consciousness is a cloud of potential awareness, part of the unseen world that permeates all of the space and material of existence. We grow in consciousness in response to different conditions life presents to us and must consider how we’ll respond. Will we respond from an internal position of love, or will we choose to react in fear? Come explore and learn with me!

With tremendous gratitude,

Regina

Delving Into Consciousness

I invite you to join me in this exploration of, and conversation about consciousness. Together we will reach understanding, and a helpful assist in building our ability to respond from love rather than from fear. In doing so, the world will become a better place for all of us.

This Consciousness Focus Group has two options:

Tuesdays, beginning Sept. 3, 6:30-8:30PM

Or

Wednesdays, beginning Sept. 4, 1:30-3:30PM

The book, What Is Consciousness? comes with this course and you will receive your copy at the first meeting.

We’ll meet for 10 weeks at the St. Mary Magdala Center, 2800 Rolston St, Fort Wayne, IN 46805. Makeup classes can be scheduled directly with me at reginaleffers@gmail.com.

All proceeds go to fund Sophia’s Portico. The cost is $10 per class.

To register, call Sophia’s Portico 260-482-7402.

RE-INDIVIDUATE & RISK

“LOVE LIBERATES”
Artist, Ellen Sauer
See more of Ellen’s work at www.ellensauer.com

Love and Fear

Love = Feelings of empowerment, creativity, and the willingness to risk.

Fear = I might lose whatever it is that’s important to me because I’m stepping away from what is acceptable to my family/group/culture.

Keep in mind that…

Consciousness is a cloud of potential awareness, part of the unseen world that permeates all of the space and material of existence. We grow in consciousness in response to different conditions life presents to us and must consider how we’ll respond. Will we respond from an internal position of love, or will we choose to react in fear?

If we move into this Re-individuate & Risk facet of consciousness in any area of life, it means that living by a culturally accepted rule now feels so constricting that we must stop living by it. We feel discomfort because the rule doesn’t align with our core self and because of that, feels irrelevant and possibly even obstructive to our lives. This can happen in any area of life. As I said in the last chapter, moving out of a role that is socially acceptable to align with inner truth from our core self can feel as painful as a divorce. After we’ve taken this step often enough, the fear we feel in the Comply facet of consciousness is no longer able to control us. We begin to live more areas of life in alignment with our core self.

Remember that this facet of consciousness describes all of the following:

  • It is a facet of human development that we continuously go through, in every aspect of life, throughout our lives; and because of that, it also is
  • A facet in which an aspect of ourselves can either participate or be stuck, while the dominant part of us lives from within a different facet of consciousness;
  • And can be the dominant facet of consciousness expressed by a group, while individual members may be primarily functioning from within another facet.

Think of this move into the Re-individuate & Risk facet of consciousness as an uptick in independent, critical, and creative thinking. What does it look like in life when we stop following a rule or stop trying to live a version of ourselves that no longer fits? Have you ever stood up to a friend when he or she has said something racist, and risked losing that friend? Have you stopped someone who is objectifying or catcalling a woman or girl, and risked being maligned yourself? Have you come out to your family and friends as gay, lesbian, or transgender, and risked losing them? Have you ever left a church because it no longer supported your spiritual growth, and risked losing family and friends who still belong to that church? Have you ever had to stand up to a bully at work and risked losing your job? Have you decided to eat vegetarian food even though you’re immersed in a family culture that is all about meat, and risked being ridiculed? These are all examples of personal Re-individuation & Risk. It takes courage to be true to ourselves when who we have become goes against the grain of the family/group/culture in which we are immersed.

One of the ways this shift from Comply into Re-individuate & Risk occurred in my personal life is that I’ve stopped trying to create the structure of an idealized marriage. We begin learning about it in the fairy tales of early childhood and that story had a very strong hold on me. I have been married and divorced four times. In our society, that is viewed as failure on a fairly grand scale.

I used to feel that way about myself too. I thought something was lacking in me—“if I were a better person, maybe one of those marriages would have lasted.” Now I view it both as an education and a personal journey, one that has been filled with the risk of losing family and friends with each divorce. My family of origin was Catholic, a religion in which divorce is forbidden. But even without that background, our culture views 50th wedding anniversaries as a huge cause for celebration, and more than one divorce as cause for ridicule and embarrassment.

I want to tell you about this part of my life because we can have the idea that moving from one facet of consciousness into another is clean and happens all at once. It can be that way. But most of the time, it’s messy and the process is slow and difficult.

I left the last marriage when the risk of staying became much greater than the risk of leaving, and when leaving became the only answer to the question: “What would Love do if the answer includes me?”

The fairy tale story of love was yet to be rewritten in me. During my last marriage, I painted two oil paintings of my husband and myself, setting the intention with every brushstroke that the love we shared would be large enough to sustain us. When I left him, I brought the paintings with me, along with a mixed media artwork that friends Cheryl and Ellen had created for my fourth husband and I for our wedding. When I settled into my apartment and unpacked the paintings, they simply made me feel sad.

I thought about burning them—making it a ceremony by doing it with friends. When I told my friend Ellen what I was thinking about doing, she suggested that it might be more useful to create something new with it instead of just letting the artwork go up in smoke. I cut the two portraits into strips and my friend Cheryl helped me weave one into the other.

 “Reweaving the Patriarchal Story of Love.”

30”x30” Mixed Media

Contributing Artists: Ellen Sauer, Cheryl Spieth Gardner, and Regina Leffers

I stitched the weaving together, and stitched the little portrait of Kwan Yin[2] onto the weaving. Then I appliqued pieces of Cheryl and Ellen’s mixed media artwork onto the weaving. That’s Ellen’s river and palm tree and Cheryl’s poppies and little handmade ceramic fish, shells, and stars that are sprinkled throughout. Now this piece, “Reweaving the Patriarchal Story of Love,” hangs in my living room, and when I look at it, instead of sadness, I feel joy. I actually feel joy. The fairy tale story of love has been rewoven inside of me, and I am released from its hold.

I have always felt differently at my core with my friends than I have with a partner. I didn’t always know that—it lived beneath the surface of my own consciousness. With a partner, I felt ultimately unlovable, unworthy, and unwanted. Because of that, I felt the need to continually prove to my partner that I deserved to be loved, wanted, and treated as worthy. With my friends, I have always felt the opposite. I know that I am loved and accepted exactly as I am.

My partners treated me as I treated myself within the partnership. My friends treat me as I treat myself within the friendship.

Recognizing that difference and the mirrored quality—from/in my brain, to/in my world—allowed me to get to the underlying subconscious material and unpack it.

My friend John Beams, who is also a member of this book’s Focus Group, brought the following quote from Thomas Keating to me. I love it because it does a good job of explaining why one area of life may be stuck within one facet of consciousness, while we live predominantly within another facet. Father Keating says:

“We can have a mystical experience at any stage of development. But if we have…no practice to heal our early emotional wounds, that energy is not digested. If you have high graces and mystical unions, but other lines of development are incomplete, then the shadow will appear, even as you move forward spiritually.”[3]

Translated into the language of consciousness, Keating is saying that even as we explore multiple facets of consciousness, and live predominantly within a more expanded facet, unhealed material in any area of life can keep us stuck within a less expanded facet.

When we leave a marriage or church, or do anything to align with our own truth, our own core self, but that goes against the grain of our dominant family/group/culture, we can take those actions from love or from fear. If we take the action from fear, we will likely feel victimized and find ourselves bashing the person/church/etc. If on the other hand, we take the action from love, we will find ourselves looking for lessons learned and being grateful for the experience. It is always possible to stop bashing and look for lessons learned.

Gratitude is a transformative tool.

One Action to Take Today to Explore Consciousness:

Think about what love is in Re-individuate & Risk—feelings of empowerment, creativity, and the willingness to risk. Ask yourself to feel what that love feels like in the body. Now think about what fear is in Re-individuate & Risk—I might lose whatever it is that’s important to me because I’m stepping away from what is acceptable to my family/group/culture. What does that fear feel like in the body? Notice any areas of life where these thoughts or feelings are present. Ask yourself to inhale the feeling, and exhale peace into that feeling. Repeat several times. Repeat whenever you feel fear of any kind.


[2] Kwan Yin is the Buddhist Bodhisattva of Compassion.

[3] From an interview: www.conniezweig.com. “A Spiritual Life Review with Father Thomas Keating.” Dr. Connie Zweig. The Reinvention of Age. March 27, 2018.

Focus Group

My Focus Group for the book, What Is Consciousness?, has been meeting weekly for half a year. Those conversations have been the most satisfying and fulfilling of my life so far, and they have also stimulated an exponential inner growth in me. The other members have assured me that the same is true for them.

We took a couple of weeks off while I did the final edits on What Is Consciousness? and then decided that we all missed those conversations enough that we wanted to continue. While I was working on the book, different chapters provided the “meat” for dialogue. This time, a different person is picking a few pages of material from a favorite book to provide the topic.

I started with a chapter from Brian Swimme’s book: The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos. I read it on a flight from Fort Wayne, Indiana to San Francisco, California twenty years ago, and loved it. The chapter I picked out for our conversation was one about Einstein—I picked that chapter specifically because as I read it, I could feel the words of the chapter in my body. If you haven’t experienced that yet, pick up a copy from the library and read it—chapter 14—to find out if it happens in you too. Everyone in the Focus Group could feel it in their body as I read it aloud to them. If you ever wondered what the word “resonance” or even, “resonate” means, this experience provides the felt-sense definition.

Distilling the chapter to a couple of sentences, an interviewer wanted to know how Einstein thought in order to arrive at his theories and equations. The interviewer was expecting one of two possible answers, because everyone else had given one or the other, but never anything else. Einstein’s answer was extraordinarily different—he said he thought with his imagination. He said he wanted to know how the Old One thinks. So he would sit in his rented chair, smoking his pipe, and imagine, for example, what it would be like to travel at the speed of light.

What I want to do here is to tell you about each Focus Group member’s “take away” from our conversation.

One person said she realized why we need Abstract art. That is, we need space with no boundaries—no definitions about how something must be done. Nothing that says there is only one (or two) right ways to do something, or to feel, or to think, and etc. She realized that the abstract bestows freedom and grants permission to create life and art from an authentic internal perspective.

Another person said that her biggest take away was to realize that there is no floor in the Universe, and because of that, there is no floor in her either.

A third person concluded from the material in the chapter and our discussion about it, that forgiveness will be much easier for him to achieve from now on.  

A fourth said her biggest take away is the sentence: “How does the Old One think?” It’s that word “how.” Einstein didn’t want to know What, he wanted to know How.

My take away comes from thinking about each one of us, living on this earth, which is part of a system that is part of a galaxy in the Milky Way. That somehow, it is Creativity Itself, that is at the center of, and is supported by the Universe, whether that Creativity is expressed in the bursting-forth birth of a new star, a new book, or a new bloom.

It would take a page for each to explain how each one of us came to a specific take away, so I won’t do that. Instead, I’ll leave it to you to imagine “no one-right-way, so permission granted,” “no floor in the Universe/in you,” “easier to achieve forgiveness,” “How instead of What,” and “you as a creative expression of the Milky Way.”

xo

Regina

My Big News!

What Is Consciousness? Is now available on Amazon.com
in both paperback and kindle versions. (An audio version is coming soon.)

I am so excited to begin the conversation with all who are interested, both friends and future friends! I hope you’ll join me in thinking about this material. One way to do that, if you live in or around Fort Wayne, Indiana, is to join me for this class I’ll be facilitating beginning on September 3, 2019.

Delving into Consciousness 

Imagine consciousness as a cloud of potential awareness, part of the unseen world that permeates all of the space and material of existence. We are born as, into, and with that potentiality. In this class, we’ll explore each facet of consciousness that we grow into and through in each area of life. We’ll be using the book, What Is Consciousness?  Each class will include facilitated discussion and a guided meditation. The book comes with this course and you will receive your copy at the first class. 

Tuesdays from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, beginning September 3rd, for 10 weeks at the St. Mary Magdala Center, 2800 Rolston St, Fort Wayne, IN 46805. If you have to miss a class, makeup classes can be scheduled directly with me at reginaleffers@gmail.com.

The cost is $100 (installments are possible), with all proceeds going to benefit Sophia’s Portico.

“What Is Consciousness?” Is Headed to Publication!

Ready to Publish!!

After three years of writing, and six re-writes, What Is Consciousness? is headed to publication!

I received an internal call to write this book when I was at a Chopra Retreat in March of 2016. The process of entering into relationship with this material has been educational and the most satisfying and fulfilling work in life so far. I am looking forward to rolling it out in a class this Fall at Sophia’s Portico in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Stay tuned, and thanks for joining me on this journey!

Regina

The Comply Facet of Consciousness

Learning How to Fit In…

This is chapter six in the evolving + becoming book: “What Is Consciousness?”

Love = The feeling of loyalty to the family/group/culture—we want to learn its rules, and take them on as ours, because we want to feel connected in a way that goes beyond the feeling of belonging.

Fear = If I don’t comply with the rules, I will disappoint them (my family, group, culture), won’t be accepted by them anymore and will lose my connection to the group.

Keep in mind that…

Consciousness is a cloud of potential awareness, part of the unseen world that permeates all of the space and material of existence. We grow in consciousness in response to different conditions life presents to us and must consider how we’ll respond. Will we respond from an internal position of love, or will we choose to react in fear?

This facet of consciousness describes the way in which we learn and adopt the rules of our family/group/culture and we learn the consequences we’ll suffer for breaking them. We begin to believe in a system that gives us an experience of order into which we will anchor our moral, ethical and civil behavior. The rules and consequences contain the culture’s ideas about right and wrong and we begin to strive to implement them in our lives. We very likely take on the belief that the ideas and values that our group holds are the only right ones, the ones that should be held by everyone.

As we enter into and live from this facet of consciousness in any area of life, the need for certainty and dependability, order and control is a priority. We want to know our own proper social role, caste, grade, race, class, seniority level, military rank, etc., and we want to know where everyone else fits into that schema too. During childhood we begin to take notice of how others are valued and how we are valued. Often unconsciously we begin to take on those messages about our relative worth, and then live and create our lives as if the messages are true.

Remember that this facet of consciousness describes all of the following:

  • It is a facet of human development that we continuously go through, in every aspect of life, throughout our lives; and because of that, it also is
  • A facet in which an aspect of ourselves can either participate or be stuck, while the dominant part of us lives from within a different facet of consciousness;
  • And can be the dominant facet expressed by a group while individual members may be functioning from within another facet.

It is helpful to recognize that our thinking from within this facet can be very rigid and dogmatic. We can be very judgmental, lack understanding, and be intolerant of the perspective expressed by others. We see things as being absolutely right or absolutely wrong; we find fault and we assign blame. We likely use guilt, shame and fear of punishment to control our own behavior and the behavior of others. We may even invoke the sacred name of God to punish the offenders (or think to ourselves that Karma will get them). We believe our version of truth will be shown to be the one and only Truth.

From within this facet of consciousness, Love equals the feeling of connection and belonging we gain by investing our loyalty in the culture first. We want to learn its rules, and try to make life into an acceptable version of them. Fear is in the knowledge that if we don’t comply with the cultural rules, we will no longer be accepted by the family/group/culture and lose our felt sense of connection and belonging. Our fear may be great enough that it causes us to live perfectly what we’ve been taught to feel is our proper social role.

Once we become conscious of an internal constriction/tension while trying to live a proper version of a culturally acceptable role, we are faced with a choice. This is tough because the very rules we internalize within this facet create the embedded structures that can begin to feel limiting to us. As we become conscious of an internalized structure that feels limiting and challenge its validity in our lives, we grow as conscious human beings, and become more aligned with our own core self. Often we take this risk in one area of life at a time.

Because we anchor our moral, ethical and civil behavior in the cultural rules and mores we develop within this facet, and because we feel so completely loyal to the family/group/ culture, taking a risk in any area of life can be as difficult as a divorce. But when we become aware of a rule that no longer aligns with our core self, at some point, we must find a way to move our loyalty from culture to self in that area. That inner move to break from societal rules and invest instead in our core self is a signal that we have effectively moved into a more expanded facet of consciousness in this area of life. That’s how it normally happens—with one piece of life at a time, we divorce ourselves from an idea of rightness the culture in which we are immersed holds, and move into an idea of rightness that we hold for ourselves.

We begin this process of staying true to ourselves in a thousand ways, both large and small.

Here are some lighter examples of cultural rules we learn in this facet of consciousness that stay with us and serve us well through the course of our lives.

In the United States, we take driver’s education classes to learn the rules of the road. We have to demonstrate our knowledge of those rules in both a written and a driving test before we’re allowed the privilege of a driver’s license. My dad taught me how to drive. Once I sped up to get through a yellow light before it turned red. Dad said, “Reggie, yellow lights mean slow down and prepare to stop. They don’t mean speed up and hurry to get through the intersection!” You can imagine how often I’ve wished other drivers had learned how to drive from my dad! In fact, it’s become essential to check the rear view mirror when coming up to a yellow light to make sure the person behind me isn’t stepping on the gas!

Another example is the process of learning how to cook. We are likely taught how to follow a recipe, and the importance of measuring correctly for the success of the dish. As we acquire more experience and skill in following a recipe, we might simply continue making the dish in exactly that way throughout our lives. But at some point, we might begin to feel constricted by the recipe and decide to change it up by imagining the dish with other ingredients or spices. If the dish is Mom’s traditional recipe for three-bean salad, a dish that has been made exactly the same way for every family gathering throughout history, and you decide to eliminate the sugar and add cumin, you will get some (hopefully) good-natured flack. (Trust me on that.)

The same thing can happen with living a culturally acceptable version of a  “proper” woman or man, or in the process of belonging to or leaving a church, or in the career we initially pursue, or leaving a marriage, or…(you get the idea).

We can recognize an aspect of ourselves that might be stuck in this facet of consciousness, by examining where we feel constricted in an aspect of our lives.

One Action to Take Today to Explore Consciousness:

Think about any felt sense of discomfort you experience because you are following an internalized rule that no longer suits you. Notice what that discomfort feels like in the body. What one thing could you bravely do today to live more authentically aligned with your own core self?