Fall Again…new beginnings

The days are warm, the nights cool. I sit on my back deck surrounded by my friends, the giant conifers, soaking in the afternoon sun, squeezing the last drops of heat from the thinning sun before it sinks behind the trees.

The monsoon season is almost over in Dharamsala India. The weather is cooler this fall than usual I’m told. It’s been close to a decade since I discovered McLeod Ganj, Upper Dharamsala, home of the Dalai Lama and tens of thousands of Tibetans in exile, but every year at this time, I long to return to the place where a part of my spirit permanently resides.

A prediction was made more than one thousand years ago by Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche: “When the iron bird flies [airplanes]…the Tibetan people will be scattered like ants across the world, spreading [their culture and Tibetan Buddhism].”

Perhaps next fall, or the next one, we will go back to Dharamsala, before more of our Tibetan friends leave. They truly are spread around the world: France, the US, Australia, one waiting with hope in Toronto for permission to immigrate with his family.

This year my partner is winding down his survey business, preparing to retire at the end of the year. I am returning to my creative and spiritual pursuits, restoring myself after intense immersion in another sponsorship program, this time with Syrian refugees.

As our planet, and we along with it, moves deeper into the vibration of the fifth dimension, I renew my goal to be in connection with spirit continually, participating in activities that feed me and spending time with folks I have deep connections with.

My year’s experience attending the powerful Divine Love prayer circle and the friendships developed there have helped me tremendously with my spiritual pursuits. So has my relationships with the devote Christians on the Working Committee for the Syrian sponsorship, a local church sponsorship, and my time  with our two Christian Syrian families.

Maintaining contact with spirit is simple, if we allow it to be so. I am slowly learning this truth. Angels are around us all the time, and the more we acknowledge this and ask them for assistance, the stronger our connection becomes to spirit.

“My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself, [herself], in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”
Albert Einstein

 

Accepting the Intense Energy, External and Internal Change

We all do it. Resist our spiritual, or soul process. Letting our heads run the show.

Lately the energy onslaught has been so intense personally I find myself using extreme phrases I would not normally use, like “energy attacks”, and “being affected by inner and outer demons”.

The combination of outer world chaos like wars, plus major energy events like the current period of eclipses and solstice means that our energy systems are experiencing an onslaught more intense than anything before. (whether we are aware of it or not). It is an opportunity to grow if we can learn to manage all that is happening, both on the external level on this planet, and our internal emotional and psychic wounds.

The Divine Love prayer group calls these wounds soul encrustations, old material that is holding us back from developing into our spiritual fullness.  Our intent to change combined with prayer and meditation, slowly clears this energy

Many of us are now experiencing, in varying degrees, kundalini awakeninsg, as the life force stored in our base chakra begins to rise upward. This process, when completed, frees up a tremendous amount of energy. The energy blocks in various chakras block the kundalini rising, and as our nervous systems are being rewired we often experience many symptoms.

Kundalini awakening is not well understood, apparently. The internet has many long lists of common symptoms but finding information on the less common ones requires more thorough research. I’ve read that it can happen both when someone has learned to “be still”, i.e. meditate etc., and very unexpectedly to people with no knowledge of energy.

Heat is the most common symptom. Some of my symptoms are common, and some not so much. Many originate in the brain stem, where old memories,  of a fight or flight nature are stored, and the head becomes very tight. Some of my other symptoms, including the common and not so common are: Not wanting to mix with people much; Movement of energy around my body; Changeable moods; Energy blocks in hips and legs, Occasional dizziness, (from inner ear rewiring I’ve read); A feeling of collapsing inward through the solar plexus and second chakra; Two very brief feelings of craziness due head energy rewiring.

Some of the things I have found helpful during this time are:

  • Structuring my morning with (brief) meditation and prayer, journalling,  walking, then writing.
  • Learning to ask my angels for help and being mindful of their presence.
  • Considering/embracing the idea of “joining with spirit” rather than surrendering, as that does not work for me at all; it feels very disempowering.
  • Softening the way I treat myself.

Please note that I have chosen not to post any links about kundalini awakening for several reasons: there’s too much out there, your symptoms may be less common, some information may not be reliable and/or may seem flaky. (In the past I believed some of those folks were over the top, yet here I am now myself, experiencing this energy!)

PS: Having said above that I am not recommending any links on kundalini awakening to you, I have just come across one that is the most comprehensive & sensible one I’ve seen:

http://kundaliniandcelltowers.com/energy-shift-symptoms.html

 

An Indian Sojourn by Ellen Besso

My second book, An Indian Sojourn: One woman’s spiritual experience of travel & volunteering” was truly a labour of love. Three years in the making, it chronicles my journey through many parts of India, and volunteer work in the Tibetan community of Dharamsala, home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

An Indian Sojourn is available through Amazon, (sample pages available there), and locally on the Sunshine Coast, from Ellen (ellenbesso@gmail.com), WOW Art Gallery in Sunnycrest Mall, and at Molly’s Lane Market.

Here are a couple of testimonials about my book:

“I journeyed with you every day. It is travel writing with depth to it.”  Jan Degrass, Coast Reporter

“A factual account, plus an emotional and spiritual journey.” Sara MacDonald

An Indian Sojourn is for women looking for a deeper travel experience and for the arm chair traveller.

Best wishes  

Ellen

 

 

Separation vs. Joining – When the Planet Heals, She’ll Heal Us

“Daesh, i.e. ISIL/ISIS, and Donald Trump are very much on the same side: the side of separation.”    Mark Heley

I recently received an intuitive message: “When the planet heals she will heal us.”

We and our planet are inextricably joined, we can’t talk about one without considering the other. Mother Earth has much to teach us about togetherness, working together, co-creating, helping each other.

My previously random praying has become more regular and refined over the course of the last six months. My involvement in the Divine Love prayer group has sensitized me to many things, including my environment. I usually begin my prayer with  healing for the planet, asking that Divine Love and Light pour down upon her, while visualizing the earth as a globe.

The planet works by natural laws, as a well oiled machine, when not interfered with. We have harmed her, and now we as a society are slowly beginning to feel compassion for her, to notice how out of balance she is and to begin to make amends.

Having compassion for our planet instead of ignoring the damage that’s been inflicted on her changes us. It softens something inside us, something that we may have ignored in our state of denial. This softening enables us to feel more compassion and empathy for all those who live here on the earth, whether they’re in our backyard or many thousands of miles away.

Separation or Joining…we have a choice.

Blessings to you  
Ellen

An interesting article on having empathy, & not just for people we know http://upliftconnect.com/whole-world-needs-healing/   

The ancient practice of marrying the land, Irish folklore & goddesses http://upliftconnect.com/marrying-the-land/

Ayurvedic Exercises given to me: When springtime comes round again, I will remind myself to lie on the grass underneath a large pine tree in my backyard, to soak up the earth energy. Also to walk in the sand at the edge of the water on the beach.

 

Gibsons will host its first Syrian Refugee Family

    “Everything that divides us weakens us.”   Source: Associated Press

The idea of being part of an organized group bringing refugees to Canada on an ongoing basis has resonated with me for several years. From late 2013 into 2015 we were part of a group that sponsored a family of Tibetans into our community, as part of Canada’s Tibetan Resettlement project. The group of 1000 Tibetans who have arrived, or hope to come to Canada, if they have private sponsors, are from the remote tribal states of northeast India, specifically the state of Arunachal Pradesh.

We were inspired to participate in this project because of our travels and volunteer work in India, in Dharamsala, the home of His Holiness the Dali Lama. Each  Tibetan we met there, through our work, at Men-Tsee-Khang Medical Clinic or on the street, impressed us with their sincerity, groundedness and spirituality. Our lives have been deeply enriched through both our experiences in India and here in our home community. We will always remain close to our Tibetan friends in both countries.

Now it feels right to branch out, to step up and help with the needs of Syrian refugees. Many are waiting in Jordon, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey to be sponsored, either by governments or private sponsors. Conditions are very difficult. Last winter there were windstorms and flooding in Jordan. Many shelters in camps were destroyed. Urban refugees suffered through bitterly cold nights, sometimes below freezing.

We will be playing a small part in helping Syrian families, by being part of Christian Life Assembly’s church/community partnership that is bringing the first family to Gibsons, through a private sponsorship.

There are many things we can all do to help:

  • Sponsor a refugee family
  • Donate to private sponsorship groups in your community
  • Donate to UNHCR to help refugees waiting to find homes
  • Help sponsorship groups by being a volunteer
  • Attend the CLC Valentine Dance Saturday February 13th (tickets through CLC, Laedli and myself)

Here are some informative articles:

Who are the 25,000 Syrians Coming to Canada?

United Nations High Commission for Refugees – UNHCR

“Whether we like it or not, we have all been born on this earth as part of one great human family…ultimately each of us is just a human being like everyone else: we all desire happiness and do not want suffering. Furthermore, each of us has an equal right to pursue these goals. Today’s world requires that we accept the oneness of humanity.”          

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

PLS NOTE: The picture at the top is of a refugee child holding a picture she drew of her former home. Credit abcnewsgo.com.

A Tibetan Refugee Woman’s Story

I would like to bring in the New Year by offering you the story of Tsering, a woman we met in Dharamsala last year. We met her through another friend and I interviewed her in  February of 2015 in our room at Pema Thang Guesthouse. Of all the Tibetan refugee stories I have edited over a period of six years, Tsering’s is, in many ways, the most moving one. Although she was so young at the time, the events of her early life and escape to India are still very fresh in her mind. She is now 26 years old.

Tsering’s Story

I have no parents; I’m an orphan, from the province of Kham in Tibet. When I was nine years old, in 1999, a kind neighbour and an uncle helped me leave my abusive life in a Tibetan town and escape across the border into Nepal, then on to India.

In my early years I didn’t get a chance to play like other kids because of my difficult situation. In our family I’m the second youngest of five children; I have two brothers and two sisters. Everyone was busy at their own work I was alone in the house.

After I was born my mother was sick and I lived with her for the first year of my life only. Then I was sent to my mother’s eldest sister to live in town, where I worked very hard and never had time to play. By the age of five I was looking after the cows. Even though my aunt was a blood relative, they didn’t treat me like their own child, but like a servant, a maid.

My aunt came from a very poor family of nine girls. She married at an early age, an arranged marriage I think. The family became the richest family in the town. She had money and power, but never gave anything to her family members.

When I was seven I had a chance to meet a Rinpoche and told him everything about my situation and my family. Through his help I was accepted as a day student at a boarding school one hour’s walk from home. I studied there for two or three years. But they would call me back from school to work at my auntie’s house. Her husband drank and he beat me all the time. He never wanted me to spend a single day like other kids. By the time I was nine, he forced me to work for other families, nomadic people who also had farms.

Neighbours noticed how badly I was treated, and said “You don’t have to stay here, you’ll never be happy”. So one of the women took me in the night, and we walked to Lhasa. It took us about fifteen days to get there, journeying during the night and resting in the daytime, so my auntie’s family would not find us. We went to the home of my aunt, a young woman in her twenties. Later my uncle came to see me and tried to send me back home. He said the family promised to treat me well, but I knew they were lying. I told him, “If you send me back I’ll run away.”

My uncle came back again after Losar, the Tibetan New Year, after I had been in Lhasa for two or three months. He took me to the border of Nepal, where he left me in the hands of two Nepalese boys, not much older than me, would be my guides from the border to Kathmandu. I had no Nepalese language, but they knew a little Tibetan. We walked most of the night every night. When I was tired they carried me on their backs. Sometimes we slept on the ground.

One night the boys left me, one going ahead as a lookout to check if Chinese soldiers were in the area. The other boy thought I was following him, but I was asleep under a tree. When that boy caught up with the first boy, he asked him where I was. They came back for me, both crying. In their limited Tibetan they asked, “What are you doing here, why are you sleeping?

We reached the Reception Centre in Kathmandu, Nepal after about fifteen days. The trip was slow because we stayed hidden during the day. I knew no one at the centre. After about a month I was sent to the Delhi Reception Centre, then here to McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, on my own the whole way.

At the Dharamsala centre I was the youngest person, all the other refugees were either families or monks. They treated me well. It was here that I met a young monk who helped me. After a while he went into a monastery, but came to visit me sometimes. I’ve lost touch with him and don’t know his name. I’ve tried to find him, asking many people about him. He was a tall man, that’s all I remember. Maybe he’s in a South India monastery now.

After a time at the Reception Centre I was sent to the Tibetan Children’s Village, or TCV school, where I boarded and studied for almost eight years, until the tenth grade. Because I was good at my studies I skipped a grade and was sent to TCV Gopalpur, a half hour’s distance from Dharamsala. Many of the children there were without parents, they were orphans or their parents had sent them to India from Tibet to have a better life.

“You remember so much”, I said to Tsering. “I have seen so much.” came the reply.

In 2011, when I was in my early twenties, my auntie’s young brother-in-law came to India, to the Kalachakara teachings in Boddhgaya, North India, where the Dalai Lama performs special Buddhist initiations. While I was there some monks told me he was looking for me, to take me back to Tibet. I told them not to say I was there.

 

Tsering survived her difficult early years with her abusive family, and received the best education the Tibetan government in exile could offer her at TCV Schools. She now has a very good job in a large Tibetan NGO in Dharamsala, where she helps other refugees.

When she speaks to her brothers and sisters in Tibet by telephone, this younger sister always tells them, “Don’t ask anyone to help you, you know what they’re [the family] like. You’re healthy, you can do everything yourself.”

I asked Tsering if there was anything else she would like to tell me. She replied that she appreciates westerners who have so much feeling for Tibet causes, who learn about issues like self-immolation, and work hard to help. Some Tibetans have much less feeling about Tibet, she told me. Tsering ended our conversation with: “I thank you for your kind consideration for Tibet and the Tibetan people.”.

 

Good Times Too in Dharamsala

Although our trip did not meet our expectations, there were some memorable times in McLeod Ganj, Upper Dharamsala. A road trip with our busy Tibetan doctor friends to their older son’s residential school and to a vast, outdoor zoo was a pleasant day. Also visits to their home in the Men-Tsee-Khang Medical Centre’s staff housing were, as always relaxing and heartwarming. We’ve been there so many times over that it feels like a deja vu to sit in their living room, with its wide screen tv showing Dalai Lama footage, while Dekyi, and sometimes her old Mom, sometimes Khenrab, prepare a Tibetan lunch or dinner for us. We’ve had the privilege of seeing the children grow into fine young people over the last five years.

Also we connected several times with another Tibetan family with whom we have a deep heart bond, despite the lack of shared language with most family members. We met both the mother, who sold her handmade bracelets on the street, and the eldest son, at the Hope Centre where we volunteered, in 2009, but we did not get the family connection until 2012. Kelo and I were overjoyed to have a translator to speak through in her son. Our non-verbal communication was loving, but only went so far.

The family is very traditional, most of the adult children are monks and nuns. The eldest son has recently disrobed to run a business to support his aging parents. Former nomads, the father from a noble family, they’ve been out of Tibet for almost 10 years, but with their traditional dress and devout ways they seem like relative newcomers to Dharamsala.

We reconnected with S, a Christian Indian woman, a widow, who begs in McLeod Ganj. S supports her two children back home in the state of Bihar by doing this work, and is currently putting her daughter through nursing school. (She receives more money, and a reliable income this way, as some employers don’t pay up). One Sunday she invited us to her place in Lower Dharamsala. S had told us she lived in a “tent house”, but when she proudly took us to her home in the downtown area, we were shocked at it’s sparseness. Set on a cement pad, the walls actually were blue plastic tarps. Her bed was a pad on the floor, with a small table to hold her food and cooking implements. The public washroom was steps away, with toilets and showers. At night her two male friends, also from Bihar, slept on the cement pad outside her home. It was apparent that S has many friends in the community who care about her. When she goes to Bihar, everything is in place when she returns.

Our good friend Choezom, who we met in 2009 at the Hope Centre, is a strong, independent woman. She lived with her sister until she married and emigrated to France. Intelligent and enterprising, Choezom has found a variety of work in this area of high unemployment, recently studying hairdressing. On this visit she brought a former client to us, a man who needed financial help to attend computer school. We began a crowdfunding campaign on our return home, but his family in Tibet were harassed by the Chinese authorities, so we had to terminate it.

At Pema Thang Guesthouse, where we spent most of our six weeks, we made some new friends. The owner, a singer, is a very westernized Tibetan, having travelled the world giving Tibetan concerts, and before that running a restaurant in Kathmandu. Before we left she told me they had a shrine right there in the hotel, the room where a very evolved monk spent the last four months of his life, after 30 plus years in a mountain hut. Later that day Don and I had the privilege of sitting in the room, soaking up the tranquil, still energy of the monk’s presence, his energy still very much there.

We met few new people on our 2015 visit to McLeod Ganj, our fourth, because we were not able to do volunteer work as expected, however, soaking up the healing Buddhist energy of the town and reconnecting with friends was a gift, as always.

Ellen Besso is a life coach, counsellor, author & energy worker. Her new work combines her newly emerging High Heart Chakra work, EMDR, Reiki & Trager. Ellen’s books, An Indian Sojourn and Surviving Eldercare, can be purchased through Amazon.

Ellen lives on the West Coast of British Columbia and is available for in person or telephone sessions. You can contact her through the blog comment section or email her at: ellenbesso@gmail.com.

 

India Rewind – Must get off my chest!

Have you ever had a holiday that just didn’t work out right?  One you’d looked forward to for a long, long time. Our trip to India last winter, the fourth, was such a one, quite an odd trip when you put all the pieces together. Our time there felt like the movie Groundhog Day in many ways, especially the McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala part, sort of a been there, done that kind of thing. The place was the same, but we were different. Although I consider McLeod Ganj a spiritual home, as the trip grew closer, I didn’t feel like leaving home, and never really let go of my home community during the four months we were away.

Chennai, Tamil Nadu, in South India, was a different point of entry this time. First we regrouped in a three star hotel, in itself aberration. Then on down the coast to Mamallapuram, a tiny, ex-hippy colony with beautiful sandy beaches,  a good place for relaxing and getting over the jetlag. Pondicherry, a Union Territory that was originally French, had wonderful architecture and real French bakeries, run by Indians of course. But it’s a typically busy small Indian city and you take your life in your hands crossing the streets, not much fun.

Still in Tamil Nadu, we visited the mountains of Ooty, a destination for Indian tourists. At almost 8000 feet, it gifted me with elevation sickness. It was a busy working town with a few interesting sites. After a false start at the sparse, cold YWCA in the town centre, where the staff were stiff and conservative, and religious pictures adorned all the walls, we secured a room up the hill at a nicer hotel. Well run and clean, the food was decent, albet a tad monotonous, being only Indian-Asian fusion. But Don’s appreciation of the place was spoiled by our waiter, who plied us with wretched tasting home made wine left by a Brit, then hard liquor, then offered momentos of the hotel.

The Prince Polonia Hotel in Paharganj, Delhi, owned by our devout Hindu friend Brig, had been suddenly sold, so many hours were spent using the internet at the very welcoming, upscale hotel next door, to secure a new place, (we never got our money back from the on-line booking agency). Finally we booked into a small family run place in Karol Bag, a new Delhi neighbourhood to us, at a whopping $100 Canadian per night, a far cry from our usual $35 at Prince Polonia.

We finally made our way to the airstrip below McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala by plane. This time the company did not go out of business as in 2012 and the fog lifted on a  warm sunny, February day. Yeah!

It was wonderful to reconnect with dear Tibetan friends again, but we arrived just before Losar, the Tibetan New Year, when almost everything shut down for a week or more. The NGO’s we’d volunteered at previously and planned to work at again, were closed. Don’s never re-opened, and on our last day in town he went by, hoping to assist at just one English conversation group before departure, only to discover that the centre was closing that day, turning into an art gallery! My supervisor at Tibetan Women’s Association ‘seemed’ too busy to bother with me, and did not facilitate any of the plans for my work, not even ESL teaching and women’s empowerment coaching, as before, and as she had suggested during this visit. I felt hurt, annoyed and insulted by what happened, and mulled over lodging complaints, both to her and to the association. Ultimately I decided against that, for in the end I knew I was just one more rich entitled western woman in their eyes.

After the first three or four days of warmth, the weather regressed from February early spring to January winter temperatures, almost constant rain and frequent thunderstorms complete with big balls of hail! The Tibetan guesthouse our friends  moved us into was very cold and there were multiple power failures. I also reacted to the negative energy of the place, sensing that bad things had happened there. Later a friend who taught Tibetan language at a nearby American private school told me that she once visited a student there, an older German woman who was ill, and found the place to be very cold and uncomfortable energetically. We moved back to our original, more expensive, Tibetan guesthouse.

When I tell people what happened in Dharamsala and in other parts of India, I hear how strange it sounds. Some look at me and say, “That was a weird trip.”, or simply, “Wow, that’s all I have to say, wow!”, or as a friend who is a medium asked, “Were you rejected?”

Yes, I think we were. But did India reject us or did we reject her?

After four trips to the country, (plus one 1970’s trip for Don), perhaps we’re done with India. The timing was all wrong for sure; we were both in transition as we slowly move into a ‘semi-retirement’ stage of our lives. Or could it be we were meant to find McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, or “Little Lhasa” as it’s called, only so we could later become sponsors of a Tibetan family from northeast India as part of Canada’s Tibetan Resettlement Project? However, I’m sure we’re meant to be connected to India and particularly to McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala and to the very special Tibetan people there, but in a different way than before.

We spent the final six weeks of our four month trip in Ireland; (we did the “I” countries, our chiropractor said). Don didn’t want to go home, and anyway, by early March the rental agency had managed to rent our house, so we had no home to go to!

Literally marking the final weeks and days of the trip off on my pocket calendar, I was never so glad to see my home and my town again in mid May, and spent most of the warm summer on our back deck, surrounded by huge planter boxes of sunflowers, basil, carrots and cherry tomatoes, planted by my own two hands from seed.

What all that was about, I can’t tell you, but it was definitely part of my and our process! I needed to get that off my chest before moving on to my regular blogging.

Coming next: Good things did happen in India

Blessings to you

Ellen

Ellen Besso dot com Has Changed

After much deliberation & planning, I took down my website of 10 years a couple of weeks ago. The coaching-counselling-writing business has given way to a new way of being & working.

The new ellenbesso.com will be a place of joy, fun & healing, where I play with my writing & introduce you to my new energy work, Opening Hearts, Dancing Spirits: Gateway to the Soul.

Please join me in this journey. I would love to hear your feedback.

Tashi delek (Tibetan for blessings)

Ellen