Order my books from Lulu.com My novel, Echoes Across Time can be ordered directly from the publisher, Lulu.com. There's an e-book version too! And more to come at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/symbolicthemes
Practical Spirituality I maintain and edit this blog filled with positive thoughts for an inspired life for my spiritual community. I also handle their main website, www.unity-community.org.
If you are familiar with the Law of Mind Action and the Law of Attraction, you know that what we think about, we experience. Being a conscious consumer of pop culture (or one who is “Pop Conscious”) means examining our choices of entertainment and mass media for how they enrich our lives ... or not.
We can do so with these three basic steps: Observe, Discern, and Choose.
While enjoying your favorite TV shows, films, music, or other entertainment, assume the role of an observer and pay attention to what you’re watching, listening to, and reading. You might think about it in terms of how someone else would see you, based on your choices.
A good tool is to examine your presets or favorites on your television, stereo, or any entertainment system. What apps dominate your phone or tablet computer? What’s the music on your playlists? Don’t forget your guilty pleasures! Look for patterns and themes. Awareness is the first step!
Discernment is one of our 12 spiritual powers as taught by Charles Fillmore, so why not use it? We can ask ourselves, “How do these shows, songs, books, make me feel?” “Does this make me think? Do I feel smarter afterward?”
If they’re guilty pleasures, why do you feel guilty? Remember, in Unity, we know guilt is not a constructive emotion … unless we can learn from it. It’s okay to “take your hour of rest” and not think for a while. Even God rested on the seventh day! What about these “guilty pleasures” appeals to you? Look for the underlying value.
For example, one summer Stacy felt guilty because she kept playing Yahtzee on her phone instead of taking the time to meditate. She mentioned this to our minister, Rev. Molly Rockey, who replied, “Oh! That’s your Yahtzee meditation!” Giving herself permission to enjoy the break allowed Stacy to get what she needed from the experience. When she was ready, she renewed her meditation practice.
I found that I spent a fair amount of time not just watching murder mystery TV shows, like Castle and Bones, but also being concerned about the characters for days afterward. Good storytelling can account for some of it, but I found I liked solving puzzles and studying psychology. The sense of justice at the end was satisfying too.
3. Choose, Consciously
Ask yourself these questions: What will feed my dreams? What might inspire me to be my best self? What might educate and inform, and also be entertaining? If I’m staring at the TV just to zone out and relax, what will make me feel better later? Are there other shows that might better serve the underlying values I’m looking for? What are other like-minded people watching or listening to? Check with your Facebook friends or even the real ones that you meet in person!
Venture outside the habitual comfort zone and channel surf a bit! Try channels like Discovery and National Geographic, or OWN–Oprah Winfrey’s Network. You can even try just snippets on YouTube or your cable or satellite provider’s preview channel. Expand your horizons by stepping to the edge of what you know and embark upon adventures you can undertake from the couch—instead of being a couch potato, be a conscious armchair explorer! And don’t forget the resources available at Unity Online Radio!
We covered guilty pop pleasures like my one-time Twilight obsession, which lead us to examine social evolution and inner demons. The Grammy Awards lead us to marvel at how music can bring the world and generations together. We discussed how Cirque du Soleil confirms that “with God all things are possible.” We talked about science fiction visionary Arthur C. Clarke and how in life today, science fiction from the past has become our present reality.
In media terms, what we pay attention to is measured in ratings and advertising dollars. If we are watching something that has irredeemable characters, no happy endings, or glorifies a lifestyle we find isn’t worth celebrating, we can turn our attention away—simply by changing the channel! Let’s give our support to something we’d like to see continue and gain in popularity. And in this way, our choices can affect others in a positive way.
Everything in our sphere of experience can become a tool for spiritual exploration and self-growth. Having grown up in Unity, Stacy and I have learned to look for the metaphor and metaphysical interpretations of just about everything.
Malayna Dawn is cohost of the Unity Online Radio program Pop Conscious: Where Pop Culture and Spirituality Unite. She and her cohost, Stacy Macris Ros, are lifelong Unity students who are both working toward their ministerial credentials. Malayna is the office manager at Unity of the Oaks in Thousand Oaks, California, and author of a spiritual adventure novel, Echoes Across Time.
I came up with a great new mission statement, and I already feel it shaping my experience:
"I use my voice -- written, spoken and sung -- to share my worldview in order to inform and inspire joy, abundance and a life well-lived."
I've been feeling a bit shattered and scattered, and needed something to tie all my pieces together again. These felt like the magic words.
I've been focusing on my writing for a while now -- about a decade. Then, for the past five years, I've been the voice of Colombo Fashion Week. I like working on CFW because I get to utilize so many of my abilities at once, and it makes me feel like a useful part of a team. I write the scripts, edit the printed programs and manage the online content for the web and social networking. I get to use my performance experience on the nights of the show, too.
Another thing I've been doing to some extent lately is performing wedding ceremonies. Previously, I only did that for my friends and their friends, but as a means of feeling useful, I've begun sharing that experience with new friends that I hadn't met yet. It feels like being a kamikaze fairy -- I dive in, deliver the magic words, wave my wand and disappear, leaving the completed mission behind me. I didn't really publicize that I was doing this work, because it didn't really seem to fit.
But lately, I've been feeling the pull toward music again -- my first love. And I've actually begun taking steps to put myself out there in a whole new way.
So this mission statement lets me incorporate my musical experience and my wedding ceremony services as well as my fashion week announcing, because they all fit! AND "world view" is a perfect way to describe the new travel site/network, Spiral Whirled Travels, as well as my take on pop culture and mythology and symbolism and spirituality. It's like Prego, it's all in there!
By Malayna Dawn, Compere and Communications Consultant to Colombo Fashion Week since 2008
If you’re coming to Sri Lanka to be part of Colombo Fashion Week, you’ll want to make sure your entire trip is one of style and beauty. Luckily, that won’t be too difficult to do in the vibrant, diverse city of Colombo!Let me tell you about some of the best places to be and sights to see.
The host hotel is The Hilton Colombo Hotel once again, overlooking the Indian Ocean and Beira Lake. While you may be tempted not to leave the hotel grounds, I say you must. Within walking distance you can use the hotel’s direct access to the World Trade Center and then wander out the front entrance of either building to be introduced to the FORT District where modern day business takes place amidst old world architecture.
If the Mayan calendar is right, and the world is ending on December 21 2012, (my birthday) or even transforming dramatically, this could be the last Christmas* and the last New Year. At least, the last one we might recognize.
Kinda a bummer, I know. But we Unitics (AKA Truth students, positive thinkers, Pollyannas) can make it work for us.
Last year, we thought it might be the last holiday we could spend in our family home, so we did it UP!
We infused every aspect with appreciation and love, and lived it consciously and meaningfully.
(P.S.--Thanks to the law of attraction and our attitude of gratitude, we didn’t lose the house!)
Let’s treat this holiday season the same way. Deck the heck out of those halls, and trim those trees to teetering! Be good to yourself, and give to others from the heart.
If anything can stop the end of the world, it would be unfettered, unadulterated LOVE. And if it can’t be stopped, we may as well enjoy it to the fullest, live in the moment and have no regrets.
Make the most of the Mayan prophecy and make this holiday season the best EVAH!
(And if it turns out NOT to be the end of the world, we can top ourselves next holiday season while we giggle.)
What is it about Tim Burton’s creative vision that resonates with so many of us? In a time when fairy tales have been cleansed of anything scary, violent or even hinting at death, Burton revives the darkness that has been removed, but for the delight of grown-ups, and without removing the magic.
Look back to the original versions of fairy tales—at the least the earliest written ones we can find recorded, such as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and you’ll see that they were indeed grim. There was violence and horror mingled with the enchantment. Endings weren’t always happy, but they served a social function…several, actually. Beyond scaring kids into behaving, they also fulfilled the purposes of mythology: to offer a metaphorical guide through the journey of life (which, let’s face it, can be messy). It’s a path we all travel, though at different times—from infancy to independence, puberty to procreation, adulthood to aging and finally, death.
If it weren’t for the brightly shining sun on the leafy green trees and modern cars out the window, you might think you were in Victorian England – where the fog would obscure the cobblestone streets and gas lamps, so you could only hear the hoof beats of horse-drawn carriages and the hoot of the steam train in the distance. But this lovely little room is in the sunny Southern California suburb of Burbank!
Clockwork Couture has more than Victoriana, it offers the opportunity to become a Steampunk! To be a steampunk, you need to imagine that you’re living at the turn of the last century, when science is making huge strides and the British Empire stretches across the globe. The Queen’s subjects bring tales of steamship adventures and souvenirs from exotic lands. America lures many with the promise of freedom and danger in the wild West, and grand Colonial plantations in the South are creating Civil War, while on the East Coast, a new-world version of Victorian refinement can be found.
Before embarking upon my recent trip to London with one of my best girlfriends, she told me she really wanted to visit a palace. Though Buckingham Palace does offer tours, it’s only during certain months, and it wasn’t available to us during our 3 days there, so I checked out what Kensington Palace had to offer. I was so excited with what I found!
Not only do they offer tours through the State Apartments, but a theatre group called Wildworks has been brought in to bring the rooms to life, not as it was, but an enchanted version that lets you get a *feel* for the lives of the seven princesses that once lived there. The Enchanted Palace is what Kensington Palace has become, through the fashion and art installation that tells their stories.
We started our visit with afternoon tea on the terrace of The Orangery, an 18th century building commissioned by Queen Anne (reign: 1702-14) with French floor to ceiling windows overlooking a manicured garden. “The building was supposed to serve as greenhouse for over-wintering exotic plant and citrus trees that ornamented the gardens in summer. Its accomplished interior decoration reflects the Orangery’s other uses as a ‘summer supper house’ and a place for entertainment.”
The only hints toward the Enchanted Nature of what awaited were: 1) the design printed atop a chocolate tea cake and 2) the whimsical archway at the garden entrance.
As women in business, we aren’t always lucky enough to have role models to follow. But if we look back to the ancient world, we can find that many mythologies included ideal feminine concepts that were not restricted to the care of home and family.
The psychologist Carl Jung (1875-1961) used familiar symbols as models for patterns of behavior or personality traits called “archetypes”. We have many archetypes at work within us, helping us to fulfill our various roles in life. There are numerous images to choose from, but for representations of ideally powerful women, goddesses are probably the best.
(Photo of Athena at the Vatican Museum taken by Malayna Dawn)
Listed below is a sampling of goddess archetypes we can apply to the business world. Whether we recognize these qualities in ourselves already, or long to possess them, perhaps with these archetypes as guidance, their traits can become part of our working personas.
Athena was the Greek goddess of wisdom, war, the arts, industry, justice and skill. Her mother was Metis, goddess of wisdom, but she emerged fully grown out of her father Zeus' head. Her Roman counterpart was Minerva, goddess of wisdom, medicine, the arts, dyeing, science, trade, and war. She was also credited with the invention of numbers and musical instruments.
The Athena/Minerva archetype speaks to women’s ability to multi-task. The Athena-type’s well-rounded education allows them to communicate well with men and earn their respect, which can be very useful in business.
The word “shaman” may bring to your mind images of medicine men in colorful outfits, dancing around a fire to the beat of tribal drums, much like the image of Sri Lankan devil mask dancers, above. And you’d be right, though you’d be getting only part of the picture.
The REASON they do all of that is to get past our attachment to the “real” world and connect to our inner workings--to help us travel the landscape of our hearts and souls and make us whole in mind, body and spirit.
Now for you and me, their performance probably would not work. This is because they’re not speaking our cultural or symbolic language. To do that, they’d have to tap into our religious and spiritual beliefs, our cultural upbringing and the images we see in our dreams.
Wikipedia describes shaman as “intermediaries or messengers between the human world and the spirit worlds… Shamans are said to treat illness by mending the soul…[which] restores the physical body of the individual to balance and wholeness.” They also said “Cultural anthropology approaches shamanism as an integral part of the study of culture, belief, and practice.”
So who are the shaman of our modern Western culture? Who guides us through the realm of dreams, symbols, metaphor and stories to help us make choices in our lives? Joseph Campbell said it’s the artists—painters, poets, singers, dancers, actors, directors, comedians, etc. They take inspiration, which is a message from the spirit world, and communicate it in a language we understand. And when they really get it right, it not only entertains, but touches our hearts and inspires us. (Of course, that’s not always their goal.)
Joseph Campbell and Caroline Myss both have said that in today’s world, it is up to us to find our own way through our spiritual landscape. We have to be responsible for the well-being of our own souls. In other words, we need to become our own shaman.