Follow Your Inner Voice. You Don’t Know What You’re Missing.

Yesterday, I had an urge to take a detour and go to the park overlooking the ocean by my house.  I wanted to sit there for a few minutes to sing before going home to get ready for a meeting with a friend.

As I was singing at the far corner of the park, right by the cliff’s edge, a dog came by and said hello.  I met her owner and the owner’s friend, who had a dog named Ra.  During our conversation, I found out that Ra was abused and neglected by his previous owners since he was a puppy.  His nails were so long and unmaintained, he had to turn his feet to walk.  He had mange on ¾ of his body.  He was depressed because the previous owners “just threw food at him” but didn’t interact with him.  After 10 years of being “the family dog”, the previous owners asked someone they knew to take the dog to the pound to be put to sleep.  They didn’t want him anymore.

The guy they asked couldn’t do it.  He didn’t have the heart.  So he called the lady I met.  She was determined to save the dog and found him a new owner in her friend, who I  met with her that day.

For the past two years, Ra’s current owner has been nurturing and loving him back to health.  He is now looking like a very strong dog.  He said that he named the dog Ra, like the Sun God, because Ra had brought so much sunshine into his life.

I also found out that Ra is actually very sick.  He is losing weight.  He has not been able to eat for days. When he did nibble, he ended up throwing it up the following day, undigested.

His current owner shared with me that this is probably Ra’s “last day at the park”.  His owner thinks he has cancer and will probably be put to sleep tomorrow (today).  I asked the owner if I could work on Ra and give him some healing energy work.  He said that Ra already received Reiki earlier today from his friend who was with him but, “of course”.  I put my hands on Ra for a little while as I sat next to him.  Whenever I let go, he would come closer.   At one point, Ra decided to lie down.  At first, his breathing was labored but soon settled down and his breath became even and relaxed.  He laid there for probably 30-45 minutes.  When he had enough, he got up.  At that time, the owner loaded him in the car and we said our goodbyes.  As I walked away, I looked back and Ra was looking back at me, head turned, eyes wide with the whites showing, mouth open, tongue hanging out, happy-dog style.  A face and a moment in time I will never forget.

This is why we need to listen to our inner voice.  We don’t know where our Presence is needed and for what reason.  The funny thing is, I’m thinking I helped this dog feel better, even just for an hour, hopefully more.  In reality, Ra did more for me.  He opened my heart, invited healing energy to flow through me, gave me the opportunity to feel unconditional Love for a being I have never met.  Ra also made me feel joy, peace, harmony, purpose, gratitude, appreciation and reverence.

I woke up earlier that morning feeling sadness in my heart.  I danced, I sang and it was after I met him and worked with him, that I realized my sadness was completely gone.  It did return later with tears as I remembered his happy face looking back at me knowing that others will not be able to experience his Spirit on this plane for too much longer.  I felt blessed that our paths crossed before he left us.

Life is about a series of moments of energy exchanges – between humans, humans and nature, humans and animals, animals and nature, etc.  The quality of energy exchanges you participate in becomes the quality of your Life.  Be aware.  In as many exchanges as possible, share your highest and best Self.  As importantly, cultivate your capacity to receive what Life has to offer.

Listen to your inner voice.  It is your inner compass, meant to lead you to be, do and have everything you need to live a purposeful life.

Can you imagine if I decided to ignore that voice in my head?  That unforgettable meeting and exchange would have never happened and we both would have missed out on something beautiful.  Life. 

 

Be The Change.

Last night, I was researching the items on the ballot for this year’s election.  In my hometown of San Diego, California there was an item on human trafficking.  Later on in the evening, I was lead to a TED talk (video) on Modern Day Slavery (which includes human trafficking/sex slavery) http://www.ted.com/talks/lisa_kristine_glimpses_of_modern_day_slavery.html.  My heart broke.  I cried.  I wanted to do something, so I continued on to https://www.freetheslaves.net/SSLPage.aspx?pid=298.

I always knew there were many people in the world who were oppressed in countless ways but I was naïve about its pervasiveness and magnitude.  I have been living the good life for too long.  I have forgotten the extent of suffering my fellow human beings on this earth endure on a daily basis.  I consider myself someone who is very conscious of other people’s suffering.  After all, I do healing work and I come from a third world country.  I am not completely foreign to the concept.  Or so I thought until I saw those videos.

I used to be scared to look at humanity’s shadow side because I’m a sensitive soul.  I was afraid to be sad.  I was afraid to hurt.  I was afraid to be angry.  I was afraid to feel deeply.  I was not sure I could handle it.  I was afraid of my own powerlessness to do something that would make a difference.

In very recent years, I have asked the Universe to open my heart, to “break me open”. I realize this means that I would have to be willing to experience Life.  Not just the good stuff, all of it – the pain, the sorrow, the grief, the anger, fear.  We need to fully experience our own suffering.  For until we are able to experience our own shadow side fully, we cannot fully experience their opposites – love, joy, peace.  Also, feeling our own suffering enables us to have compassion for others who suffer, which is everyone.

So I began the journey of fully experiencing my own life.  With years and years of practice, I have gotten used to not fighting against the sadness, anger or any other experience I was having that I chose to label as “negative”, whenever they came up.  Well, okay, sometimes I fought.  Usually, not for too long as I know well enough that it only makes the suffering more intense and prolongs its duration.

Witnessing other people’s suffering on a global scale, that is a whole different ball game.  Now I am looking at BIG problems with very powerful people “in control” of situations.  How do you begin to deal with that?

Well, thankfully, the trails have been blazed by courageous souls, advocates for human rights, peace, equality, the environment, animals, etc.  All we need to do is support the causes that are dear to our own hearts. We can’t support every cause, though all of them are important.  We only need to pick the ones that we are passionate about.  Something we won’t be scared to put a little sweat into.

There are countless organizations out there that are already doing the work.  They have laid the ground work.  We don’t have to recreate the wheel.  We only need to put our energies behind the ones that we are willing to fight for.  Make a contribution, no matter how small, in any way, using your natural gifts, skills and/or expertise.  It will give you a sense of purpose and fulfillment.  Funds are always helpful.  Just take the first step.  You will learn what you need to, while on the path.   Act NOW.

I was also recently inspired by the movie “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” – http://www.praythedevilbacktohell.com/  I realized these women were successful because they were committed to the cause.  Nothing else mattered.  What was happening had to stop!  Period.  They would have laid their lives (and some of them did) on the line for what was right and virtuous.

I also just saw on the news today about a 14-year old who was shot by the Taliban for campaigning for peace http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/09/us-pakistan-schoolgirl-idUSBRE8980EB20121009.

We are lucky.  We don’t have to die for change.  We have the easy job.  We just have to support in whatever capacity we are comfortable with.  We have that luxury. 

We all agree that the world needs to change.  We, you and me, are “the world”.  We, individually, must change.  We can’t wait for others to do it first.  Change has to happen from within.  Change happens when something inside us says, “I have had enough!”

What do you value most?  Who are the people who do not have access to the opportunity to have what you value most?  How can you help?  How will you help?

The Soul’s Journey

The “School of Life” for me, began as an intensive.  It was a good set up to lead me on the path I am on now.  That’s the nice way of putting it.   Even though that’s how I see it today, at the time, all I knew was I didn’t want to continue on the path I was on.  So, in my mid-20’s, I began a search for tools to create a new life for myself.

I was very proactive in my learning and growing.  Life started me on the fast track, may as well use that head start to learn as much as I can in this lifetime. I would purposely put myself in situations that challenged me and did things for experimental purposes (and no, I don’t mean hallucinogenic drugs).

After many years, my life did change.  It got so much better and easier.  Not because things went perfectly all the time.  It was because I began to see things and reacted to situations differently.

It wasn’t easy.  It was a very conscious effort practiced everyday, all day.  I had to restrain myself from reacting the same way I always have to each situation that came up.  It was exhausting at times but well worth the effort.  I created better outcomes and situations and eventually, began to attract more positive people and experiences into my life.

This whole process inspired me to spread the word about how “You can change your life!”.  I was excited!  I wanted to share with people the tools I have discovered to see if it was something that could also work for them.

As the years went on, I also noticed how some people would continue to think and do the same things that lead them to outcomes they didn’t like.  Despite this, they didn’t change their approach or perspective.  They wondered why life stayed the same.  “Same shit, different day”, I would hear.  Of course, I would do my best to find an opportunity to share with them the tools for change I found helpful.  Sometimes, this information was welcomed, most of the time it was met with defensiveness and other times, down right aggression.  Discerning when and with whom to share this information continues to be a learning process for me.

I watched people I deeply cared about get hurt, fall down and have a hard time.  I would do my best to help in ways I knew how knowing that “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”.  My wish and hope, no matter how much, didn’t get them on a better path any faster.  All I can do is watch their suffering.  My challenge to this day is to not suffer with them in the process.

We all have heard of people on their death bed, finally getting that big Life’s worth “aha!” moment.  For me, I used to feel bad for these people.  I always thought, “Too bad they didn’t get the lesson until the end of their life”.  “Too late”, I would think to myself.  Or for some people, they never get their “aha!” moment in this lifetime.  I really felt bad for those people.

This morning, I realized that maybe some lessons take a lifetime to “set up” and learn.  Maybe even multiple lifetimes, if you believe in reincarnation.  If you look at it from the soul’s evolution perspective, it’s not “too late”…it’s the perfect time.

This helps me put things in perspective.  This is helpful when watching my loved ones suffer.  The bottom line is I don’t know what their soul’s purpose is.  I don’t know what lessons they are here to learn.

This is another tidbit of information I can use to remind myself not to get frustrated with their process.  No one appointed me to be their Sherpa to show them the way.  I have to trust that “Everything is as it should be”.

Let It Rip and Witness.

I don’t think the Ego is The Evil thing some people make it out to be.  I do think that as I develop my witnessing skills, it can be pretty amusing to watch the Ego in action.  It can also be an invaluable tool for self-discovery.

Here’s an exercise:

  • Think of a person or situation that triggers you, whether mildly or wildly.
  • Begin to think of all the things that trigger you about that person/situation.   Let it rip!  Don’t hold back.
  • Listen as you go off, no holds barred.

As I do this, a picture begins to emerge.  Hmmm, that sounds vaguely familiar.  That…sounds…like…ah, shit!  The finger always points back at me.

I realize that I recognize the things I don’t like about this person in myself.  Maybe it’s not to the same level or magnitude but familiar nonetheless.

I believe we are all mirrors for each other.  We attract people into our lives as tools to better get to know ourselves.  Whether we think of them as positive or negative, they are reflecting back to us a part of ourselves that we accept or reject, respectively.  Our outer world is only a reflection of our inner world.  The outer world is not going to change without us first changing our inner landscape.  If you want to change your life, you have to change your Self.

I know, bummer!

The good news is, since I have chosen to see it in this way, I have become more grateful for their existence in my life.  To be clear, this is not necessarily the same as “they have stopped triggering me” – at least, not always…not yet.

I do appreciate the insights they have brought to light.  How can I dislike someone or something that has taught me a valuable lesson?

Also, in thinking of it this way, I find myself having more compassion for people.  Now that I’ve identified how we are similar (whether I want to admit it or not), I am able to be more forgiving.  I know that even though I am not perfect, I still want to be loved and accepted for who I am, as I am.  I am certain, they feel the same way.  And in my opinion, people’s negativity is directly proportionate to the love and acceptance they are “calling out” for.

Most people do what they think is best.  We may agree with it or we may not.  I think people do what they think is best because they want love and acceptance.  In remembering that we are all in this together and that we have this commonality of wanting to be loved with all our imperfections, my heart softens.

And that softening of the heart is what we want to practice because that is where we will all find the love and peace we are all wanting and hoping for.

So next time you are ranting and raving about all the things that trigger you about that special “annoying” someone, take notes.  Ideally, we take this opportunity to change ourselves for the better.  The more we accept all aspects of ourselves, the more loving and forgiving we become of ourselves and others.

You Can Fall or Fail in Love. It’s A Choice between the “L” or the “I”.

Love is a wonderful thing, when it has been mastered.  Otherwise, to truly Love, at times, can be a challenging thing.  At least, that is how I experience it.

I had a disagreement with my beloved the other day.  My ego wanted to stand its ground because “I was right, dammit!”  Of course, at the same time, I heard my Higher Self ask the question, “Would you rather be right or be back in Love?”  Well, when you put it that way, it sure sounds ridiculous to insist on being right.  My Higher Self always takes the wind out of my Ego’s sail.

I realized that in order to be in Love, I need to learn to:

F – Forgive – myself and/or the “other”, as necessary

A – Accept the “other” and/or the circumstance

L – Let go of my expectations, my perceived hurt, insult, anger, etc.

L – (choose) Love

I believe that most people, most especially our loved ones, are not out to hurt us on purpose.  And even during those rare times where maybe they are trying to hurt us, it’s only because they are hurting and they can only share what they have at the time.

What I realized that morning was that the only difference between FALLing and FAILing in Love is the decision to choose the “L” (Love) over the “I”.  The “I” is the Ego.  It is the part of us that thinks we are separate from everything.  Therefore, we must defend and protect what is ours – our pride, our reputation, our feelings, etc.  Once we choose to keep the “I”, FALLing in Love becomes impossible.  Now you’re just FLAIL-ing.

Whether I FALL or FAIL in Love is my choice.  Whenever I am able to allow myself to be vulnerable, to dissolve the “I”, and choose Love, I feel so much better.

So next time you are in disharmony with anyone or anything, are you going to choose the “L” or the “I”?

Our Life’s Purpose. Express Your Self.

Recently, a lot of people around me have been talking about their desire to discover their life’s purpose.  I remember when I was younger, I prayed and asked to be shown what I’m supposed to do in this life.  I waited for the answer for a long time.  I always felt that my 35th year was going to be a significant one but I wasn’t quite sure for what reason.

During my 35th year, it did come, “the download”.  I woke up with all this energy running through me.  My thoughts racing and I felt charged!  I wrote everything down that was coming to mind.  After writing eight pages and quite a few hours later, I knew what I was supposed to do.

As I’ve gotten older.  I’ve come to realize that as nice as that was, to feel “the download” and know what I’m supposed to do, it was a bonus.

I believe that our life’s purpose isn’t so much about that one big thing we are meant to do in this world.  It’s about expressing the best of our Selves in everything we do.  Some of us are lucky enough to make a living at it and get recognition for it.  For most of us, it’s much more subtle, and just as powerful as that.

It’s about how we positively affect those who we come in contact with and how we add a quality of lightness into this world.  Some of us are good at making others laugh or making people feel at ease.  Some of us empower others and inspire them into action.  Others still, are good at seeing things from a different perspective and come up with innovative ways of doing things.  We all have a gift.  It’s our Essence.  Our life’s purpose is to express that Essence in everything we do.

Think of all the times in your life when you felt “lit up inside”, when you felt alive with vibrant energy!  How about the times in your life when others came alive and became more vibrant by being in your Presence.  What were you doing?  How were you beingThat is your life’s purpose.  Do more of that.

It has nothing to do with making money with it.  It has nothing to do with being recognized for it.  Expressing who you are and what makes you come alive is enoughThat’s all we have to do to fulfill our life’s purpose.  Don’t make it any more complicated than it is.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Marianne WilliamsonReturn to Love

 

Conditioning. Don’t Be A Trained Monkey.

I only started this blog site a few weeks ago and already, I see things shifting.  I knew it would.  I just didn’t realize it would be this soon.

I was told that a good blog gives the reader something useful.  I need to use bullet points and list things so the reader can scan the piece easily.  So I did.

I felt obligated to make “lists”.  Something for you to do.  Because God forbid we don’t DO.

At first, it made sense.  I wrote a few suggestions on how to be aware of the breath and ways to play with it.  I received a lot of good feedback on that first blog (a “good job” for me – conditioning in action).  Then I made a list of my two cents about making choices.  After that, I bulleted some “questions to ask yourself”.  Then it started to feel forced.  I was trying to make lists instead of just writing however it came out.  I published a blog that didn’t feel quite right.

Who’s blog is this anyway?  Who’s making the “rules”?

I consider myself an independent person. My way of thinking is not exactly “conventional” and I like that.  And still, other people’s and societal beliefs seep into my life so easily sometimes.  Sneaky, sneaky.  I think I’m living my life.  I think I am running it according to what I think.  Then BAM! “This is not my beautiful house.  This is not my beautiful wife”.  (For those of you too young for the reference, look up a video of Talking Heads “Once in A Lifetime”).

That’s why it’s so important to be aware as much as possible.  Know when something is our belief/idea and when it is someone else’s.

I remember when I was about nine, I wanted a nose job.  I didn’t really even know what that meant, except I needed a slimmer nose.

When I was in my late teens, I witnessed someone after their nose surgery.  Not a pretty sight.  That’s all it took to discourage me from getting one.

In my mid-20’s, it hit me.  I never wanted a nose job.  I liked my nose.  There was nothing wrong with my nose.  The nose obsession was my mom’s.  She would always tell us to pinch the bridge of our nose and pull, so our nose would shape itself into a nice “thinner” nose.

From these instructions, I interpreted it as “There is something wrong with my nose”, and so I wanted it fixed.  Thank God, I realized this before I did something stupid.

This taught me an important lesson.  Always be aware of whose beliefs I am living by.  As I said, it’s not as easy as it sounds.  We are so conditioned by our surroundings that sometimes, it’s very hard to sort out what is really ours and what is not.  All we can do is commit to the exploration process and hope that we don’t spend too much of our lives living by other people’s “rules”.

p.s.  I’m  sorry if you had to read paragraphs instead of bullet points.  I hope you still got something useful out of it.

Acceptance. Dogs Don’t “Meow”.

We can spend our lifetime trying to train a dog to “meow”.  We can punish it, deprive it of our love and not feed it.  No matter how much that dog wants to please us, it will not, and cannot “meow”.

To my disappointing realization, people are the same way.  It took me a long time to get this one.  Intellectually, I’ve known it for decades. “Accept things as they are”.  I’ve been hearing it since I was a little girl.  I have actively worked for decades to “get it”.

Embodying and living it, is only now beginning to happen.  I still struggle to practice it at times.  The difference is, I now realized that there is no other way, if I want my suffering to end.  I have to learn to accept people as they are and not insist they become how I wish them to be. 

The minute I did it, my whole world changed.  The person and situation was still the same – nothing changed there.  And still, everything was all of a sudden different.  The deep pain I was feeling inside me for all of my life dissipated.  I felt lighter and more open.  The struggle was over.  I had to laugh.  I realized, I was the one who was creating all the “resistance” by not accepting what is.  Dammit!  If only, I had done it sooner.  Livin’ and learnin’- the ever, ongoing Present tense.

At that moment, I no longer insisted on the reality I wanted and saw the reality in front of me as it was.  I realized, it was my expectations that were causing the “conflict” with reality.  Who said that things were supposed to be how I wanted it?  When I dropped my expectations, and looked at how things were, as they were, the conflict miraculously disappeared.  Don’t get me wrong, I still preferred the reality I wanted, of course… but in a very short time, I also managed to let that go.

Life has been much easier and a lot less painful since then.  But as we all know, Life does not stop.  It will continue to challenge us with people and situations, most especially when we write blogs saying we’ve finally “got it”.  But that’s okay.

If we only had the same determination and perseverance to get to know and accept people instead of spending that time trying to get them to change to our liking, this world would be a much better place.  Not to mention, everyone would be much happier.

So as my friend, Alli says, “Know your animal”.

The Road Not Traveled

Life is like parenting.  No matter what you do, you will think you could have done it better.

At the end of our lives, whatever choices we have made, we wonder about the road we didn’t travel.  If we spent our life working to provide for our family, we will wonder if spending more time with them and working less would have been the better way.  If we spent our life living for ourselves, we will wonder if sharing ourselves with others more would have been the better thing to do.  No matter what we do, we will always second guess ourselves.

We fantasize about how the untraveled road would have been this or could have been that.  The fact is, we will never know.  So our imagination can paint any picture it wants.  But that’s just fantasy.

The reality is what it is.  I believe that for the most part, most people do what they think is best.  Whether we agree with them or not, we have to give the benefit of the doubt that this is the case.  Therefore, we have to trust that we all make decisions to the best of our ability at the time.

A few things to keep in mind to minimize “what ifs”:

  • Be present.  Pay attention to what is going on inside and outside of yourself, as often as possible.
  • Get to know yourself.  Knowing yourself (what brings you joy and what brings you suffering) helps making decisions for your own good easier.
  • Visualize each of your choices with as much detail as possible as if you have already done it, then check in with your body to see what kind of reaction it has to the vision.  Which scenario feels more right?
  • What will you regret more, doing something or not doing something?
  • Consider what will benefit the most people involved without sacrificing your True Self.
  • Take an educated, calculated risk.  There are no guarantees.  You have to take chances.
  • Trust.
  • Listen to your intuition.  Your Higher Self knows the way.

We will never know what the untraveled road would have had in store for us.  All we can do is trust that we took the path that we were meant to take and find peace in that.  And remember, sometimes, what we would consider a “bad decision” or “mistake” is actually a doorway that leads us to the right path.

Be Careful What You Wish For. Co-Creation At Work.

I noticed early in life that I always get what I want.  Not in a spoiled brat kind of way, but in a sense that Life gives me the opportunity to manifest for myself, what I have asked for.  Co-creation.

Recently, I asked for help to “let go of things I no longer need and things that are blocking me from moving forward easily to accomplish my life’s purpose”.   And as always, I ask to be able to live in the Present moment more and more.

Enter physical un-wellness (Life, offering “opportunity”).  This has been my biggest fear all my life – to not be well and not be able to take care of myself.  It manifested at first as vertigo, then a plethora of other random and weird central nervous system symptoms that scared me like no other.  Icing on the cake, tinnitus.

For the past seven weeks and running, it has been a roller coaster ride – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually (I say that as if one does not affect all levels).  At the same time, my life has come to a Southern California rush-hour crawl.

This leaves a lot of time to notice every body sensation, all the mental chatter, each wave of emotion, and the quality of spiritual connection I feel as all of this is going on.  Talk about present moment living.

  • I acknowledge and I am grateful for the moments of wellness I experience, no matter how short or long its duration.
  • I observe and question the validity of the negative mental chatter that goes on in my head.  Being careful of not go for the scare tactic rides my fear-based shadow tries to take me on.  If and when this happens, here’s my antidote:
    • I bring my awareness back to my breath.
    • I come back to the present moment by taking inventory of what is going on at this very moment on all levels of my being and my surroundings.
    • I focus on the things that are working (with me and my life), right here, right now.
    • I put things in perspective by thinking of the big picture.  What is going on outside of me and my life?  I think of what is going on globally and out in the universe.
  • I become curious of the waves of emotions that arise, most especially the ones we generally label as “negative”. Instead of getting swept away with it (which sometimes happens) or suppressing it, I explore it.
    • How does this emotion manifest in my body?  Where does the sensation come from (my gut, my chest, my throat)?  What does this energy/emotion feel like (holding, thick, empty)?  Don’t label it (sadness, anger), feel the essence of it.
    • What thought (underlying belief or memory), if any, gave rise to this emotion?  Does that have any validity at this moment?  If not, let it go.
  • It has also been interesting to notice the quality of spiritual connection I feel at various times and how that affects my well-being.

Approaching this very challenging time with curiosity has helped me from sliding down the slippery slope to anxiety and depression that chronic un-wellness can bring.

It is giving me the opportunity to get to know myself better, “clean house” and let go of ways of being that no longer serve me.

Present moment living is no longer a concept.  It has, at this moment, become a way of life.

Life always gives us what we truly want and need.  It just doesn’t always come in the form we expect it.  Keep your eyes and your heart open.

To wrench anything out of its accustomed course takes energy, effort and pain. Many people want change, both in the external world and in their own internal world, but they are unwilling to undergo the severe pain that must precede it. Rivers in extremely cold climates freeze over in winter. In the spring, when they thaw, the sound of ice cracking is an incredibly violent sound. The more extensive and more severe the freeze, the more thunderous the thaw. Yet, at the end of the cracking, breaking, violent period, the river is open, life-giving, life-carrying. No one says, “Let’s not suffer the thaw; let’s keep the freeze; everything is quiet now.” – Mary E. Mebane