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16 February 2018 1 Comment

What Are You Like Right Now?

What Are You Like Right Now?

Self awareness, spiritual presence, motivational impetus, real will, clarity, excellent boundaries: All of these advantageous states of being have in common knowing what we are like, right now in this moment.

Let’s talk about this speech pattern we’re hearing so much of lately, where people stammer: “And I’m like, I’m like,” or even more deeply still, “I was like, I was like.”

By definition, “like” is always similar, never definite, always indistinct, always approaching, never arriving. Never fully here. Like is “not quite.” Like is “sort of.” Like is “almost” or “maybe.”

In energy work, healing and diagnoses, the more exactly one perceives actual conditions the more power one has to influence, impact, heal and change them. Sort of, almost and somewhere-in-the-ball-park, leave a great deal of margin for error.

It is old news that our speech patterns reflect inner processes. What does this one reflect?

Sometimes uncertainty. Sometimes a need for approval. Sometimes being overly porous and letting in the energetics of people with the same pattern—which is one reason this linguistic virus has spread so much.

Discussing this speech pattern with people when it is active, I’ve explored what is happening inside as this almost spasmodic linguistic loop is taking over their communication. They usually don’t even hear it.

What about self awareness? If we’re saying something constantly and we do not hear it or notice it, let alone assign any meaning or value to it, what does this communicate to others? How does it impact us?

Indeed, everyone of us is asleep to ourselves to a lesser or greater degree from moment to moment. We think we are self aware. We generally don’t notice our bugs, twitches, automatic behaviors, or habitual speech patterns. Yet we can use any of these to wake ourselves up a bit more by observing them and feeling into how they arise within us. Being present to them and relaxing any judgment we may have about them allows us to view them instead of checking out and becoming unconscious.

Underneath the patterns that put us to sleep, we’re almost always uncomfortable or in some kind of dismay. Self observation really does require the ability to lean into our underlying discomfort. Discovering it gives us an opportunity to minister to it with kindness.

“I was like,” shelters discomfort. I feel nervous and uneasy when I hear people saying it. I know this is true for other people too because friends, colleagues, and even strangers have mentioned it. Some want to shake people who say it and demand, “What ARE you like? Right now?”

That speech pattern runs counter to my drive to wake up, and to help others wake up—expression of which may or may not be welcome in the moment. Part of my reaction is childhood stuff about not being heard or feeling valued. So when someone who is not present is talking to me, a young part of me feels uncomfortable. I aim to lean into that discomfort, to relax it, to affirm to myself that I do indeed exist, giving myself the compassion that was absent in the past.

If you have that speech pattern, or if you react to it in others, you can use it in your spiritual work to wake yourself up. Notice what is happening inside and make a kind and intentional response.

If you say, “I’m like, I was like,” give yourself permission to HEAR and FEEL yourself doing it. Meet it with curiosity. Relax any shame. Treat it like a stone that you roll over gently with your toe. Look underneath.

Ask yourself: “What is going on in this moment? Who AM I right now? What do I want? What do I need? What are my boundaries?”

Nail it exactly! What are you—right now?

Be sincere—not rhetorical. Rhetorical in general questions, posed to one’s self, like “Who do you think you are?” tend to be aggressive or shaming. A beautiful fix for the internal impasse this piece of meanness creates is to answer the question with full sincerity.

Sincerity is a real response that makes defense unnecessary. If you respond to, “Who do you think you are?” with an accurate and compassionate summary of who you are and what is important to you in the moment, the mean voice will bow out. By defining yourself in the moment, you are not subject to being defined by shaming voices.

Much spiritual growth relies on being able to hear and make constructive responses to our internal voices. Whether those voices are shaming ones or the voice of inner guidance, learning to recognize them is a big advantage. Then we can tell the difference between guidance and desire or compulsion.

With time and application, we learn to feel in our bodies the difference between these voices by the vibrations they initiate and the states they establish within us.

Where and how does a particular voice resonate inside? What does it lead to?

10 February 2018 0 Comments

Optimization & Healthy Will

Optimization & Healthy Will

Optimization—making our best decisions and making the best of circumstance and conditions—relies on acceptance. If we do not accept or if we mis-assess the actualities of things as they are, we will be less ineffective to the extent that we do so.

Traction means being in contact with the ground and able to therefore move forward. Figuratively, traction means being grounded in the actual. This requires acceptance. Wishful thinking, holding your breath and hoping, or denying fearful possibilities introduces slop into the situation, which functions like a wild card, reducing traction.

In order to optimize something, one accepts what is already established— and then says, “Within this, what else is possible? And is it mine to do?”

If something is not ours to do, we return to acceptance and find ways to respond more gracefully to circumstances rather than unbalancing ourselves by exerting force.

Letting go of any compulsive tendency to cause influence makes expressing positive types of power a choice rather than a defense or reactive stance. It does take self knowledge or keen intuition to clearly distinguish between an impulse based on desire and internal guidance. This discernment is an essential aspect of spiritual mastery.

Optimizing our choices with the most beneficial outcome in mind rather than reacting from habit or desire helps develop a type of will that allows us to move through life with purpose and strength.

Optimization is not perfectionism, which stems from self-judgment and a lack of self love. Perfectionism is a form of resistance. It is automatic and compulsive.

Learning how to nurture and love ourselves through our choices in ways that do not have a backlash is a rudimentary step in developing positive spiritual will. By spiritual will I just mean learning to follow our guidance instead of reacting to whatever is in front of us. As with eating healthfully, intentional choices make us happier and lead to greater fulfillment than does random indulgence.

Healthy will springs from our Essence. It promotes living fully, individuation, and positive relationship with life. Unhealthy will is largely a defense against feeling pain.

When our plans and intentions do not work out, this is only a defeat if we fail to use the situation to learn, making it a positive part of our spiritual process.

Living by attending to guidance is a receptive process, fairly fluid and flexible. We remain open to the universe, acknowledging that we are a participant within it. When we fall out of alignment and become distracted into our issues, we simply need to relax and come back, come back, come back.

Loyalty to our values develops endurance. We transform gradually, through a long series of small shifts. Each rendition of ourselves more present, like a slightly new incarnation. It’s like the movie, “Groundhog’s Day.”

What do you habitually resist?

What will happen if you lean into that experience in the moment?

What would you like to optimize in your life?

What would you have to confront in your life in order to optimize it?

How would the process of confronting it change you?

What do you need to accept in order to free yourself up to make a welcome change?

2 February 2018 2 Comments

Power, Mastery, & Acceptance

Power, Mastery, & Acceptance

I used to fear that if I developed and allowed my full vitality to be present in my body that I would get too fiery and have trouble managing my energy. I’ve needed restraint lest I speak out too suddenly, too forcefully, or at the wrong moments and cause unwanted consequences. Now I have more discipline, more skill handling various situations, a greater need for vitality, and more kindness toward myself and others.

Fear of one’s vitality is a fairly common underlying element of chronic illness. Sometimes, to get well, it is necessary to find and face that fear.

One way I’ve worked with mine has been by invoking a certain divine name that helps one keep from expressing the kind of power that surges up inside oneself but is better left unexpressed. Resonating with that frequency makes it easier to remain clear and unruffled, and helps confer immunity to external energies.

The root word of that Name has to do with clearing out the house. Invoking this energetic helps release everything that does not belong with us, to be open, and to favor internal emptiness. This positive emptiness keeps other people’s energy from sticking to us. That energy passes through our transparency as we have no attachment to it. The same practice is also used to help relax fear of death.

Over-riding the impulse to act is different than surrendering the impulse. Surrender allows everything, accepting it without trying to alter anything. Saints surrender. Those developing mastery—for these are different paths—intentionally alter conditions and circumstances.

Mastery aligns with guidance and creates influence through intention and developed will. Surrender releases the need to change things and lets the energy go.

Mastering an impulse still retains the energy, which can be reassigned to more optimal aims, or simply relaxed into one’s general vitality if we are empty of motive.

Choosing NOT to act requires the ability to release personal will without releasing higher will. This means you do not act accidentally, automatically, or from personal desire. We will act intentionally, if guided inwardly to do so. Choosing not to act is more often powerful than action unaligned with guidance.

Choosing not to act can also express healthy self love. Well-timed, aligned action spares us discomfort and inconvenience set in motion by ill considered action. This choice is not the same as suppression or hesitation. One pauses, checks in, garners resources, and then acts with good timing if the object of the goal is of benefit.

How do we balance acceptance and non-action with applying intention and optimizing our choices within circumstances and conditions?

While our life paths and personal natures probably favor the path of the saint or the path of mastery, we can all work with whichever mode best serves our spiritual needs at any given moment.

People often say we can only change ourselves and our reactions to things. This direction of thinking is useful, however, I believe it is incomplete. The difference we make in the world is partially predicated by our degree of self mastery and our energetics. These do create influence, which if accepted by others, leads to change. Our ability to engineer creative change is enhanced by positive energy, and diminished by resisting what is actually going on.

Our interface with the world as also enhanced by positive surrender; acceptance—not giving in.

Mastery and acceptance feed one another. Acceptance frees up our energy and resources to respond with creativity and intelligence, giving us more mastery within conditions and circumstances. Mastery includes sensing when surrender is the wisest path.

Is your personality more suited to mastery or sainthood as a direction for Work on Self?

Are you more comfortable with one over the other?

If so, what arises for you when you consider developing the other mode?

27 January 2018 0 Comments

Addressing Reactive States with Compassion

Addressing Reactive States with Compassion

Sometimes I still get reactive at recorded messages thanking me for my patience. After being on hold for ages and being disconnected repeatedly, trying to take care something that ‘shouldn’t be’ going on in the first place, I’ve been reduced to screaming that I don’t HAVE any patience (plus a few expletives). Most large companies do not care about their insidious impact on thousands of people’s lives. I justify my outrage with this care. Reaction still raises my blood pressure, floods me with stress hormones, closes my heart, etc.

My underlying core distress in this situation has to do with not mattering as a person. When I successfully address this inside it relaxes the reaction.

Without compassion for our distress it is very hard to intervene, especially if we feel bad about our behavior. Judging it doesn’t help. We need to create a loving opportunity to step out of it, right in the moment.

If we think in either/or, we may think: “I have to accept or tolerate this and go along with it even though it’s wrong OR I have to be mad.” There are always other choices. Either/or must not be allowed to reign. It’s a trap.

As I observe my reactions I begin to invite myself gently to make a different response. I ask myself, “What might that response be? It has to be something possible right now.”

Sometimes it’s fine to blow off steam and yell at recordings. I might feel better for expressing. Other times the same expression makes me feel bad and doesn’t help. Staying in touch is essential since one-size-fits-all responses are not sufficiently present.

It’s so easy to get down on one’s self. If I can take on the situation as a challenge to personal mastery and manage it with equanimity, this does not preclude giving a company clear feedback about their technology and methods. Useful feedback may help save thousands of people from enduring the same frustration.

Observing my motivation and my desire to have things work well for everyone instead of criticizing myself for being in distress, begins to open up options.

Then I relax more and I can ask the person I’m talking with to bring the issues up at a meeting, to their boss, or otherwise do something that may change the problem. I remind them that it is demoralizing to deal with faceless companies that don’t manage their impact on the public. Feeling like we don’t matter increases depression and stress. When I can enroll their assistance, the employee can feel good about taking a constructive and proactive attitude instead of shutting out people’s distress. I can do this without first losing my own peace.

What I would like to do in those situations is to integrate lessons from meditation: Breathe, relax my body, access love, ground myself, connect with the universe. Sometimes I can.

When we become disturbed or unpleasant, it’s a call for our own compassion and for the compassion of others. It’s okay to ask for that compassion, even though we may or may not get it. It’s even better to generate it ourselves.

It takes time and intention to learn how to bring compassion into our own distress and to minimize the distress we cause others. Judging ourselves, trying to be good, or making anger a bad thing doesn’t work. Neither does splitting off from the parts of ourselves that are in distress. Developing skillful means takes time, but feels good and keeps our hearts alive.

Mastering reactiveness can be an act of love for others as well as a way of loving one’s self.

What kind of situation casts you into reaction?

What is the underlying or core distress that drives your distress?

How can you make a compassionate response to this distress?

What happens when you do?

20 January 2018 0 Comments

Which Comes First, Loving Yourself or Loving Others?

Which Comes First, Loving Yourself or Loving Others?

We have probably all heard the saying that you can’t love other people until you can love yourself. Contemplating in my twenties I thought—starkly—that I would therefore be unsuccessful in the endeavor of loving others, since I could not love myself. Yet I did love others.

As I explored, I observed that when I was not loving toward myself I was more reactive. I was then harder to be around, or placed uncomfortable demands on other people. I began to see how the ways I did not love myself created strain for others. I began to make it a point to care for myself to keep from being a pain in the butt. Maybe this was back-assward but it was useful at the time.

Lack of self love makes us harder to be around, whether our issues are those of commission—things that we do—or of omission.Things we do not do also express low self love. Perhaps we are not standing up AS ourselves.

Standing up FOR ourselves tends to be defensive. Standing up AS ourselves means letting the people who love us know what we need and what we want, so we can co-operate in harmony. When we don’t communicate who we are we make it harder to have a mutual flow of love.

Whether we’re doing something that makes relating harder, or NOT doing something and this makes things harder, loving ourselves makes it easier to be in relationship. People don’t have to guess.

Many imagine that saying what we want and need will make waves. In actual fact, if we do it from a loving spirit of cooperation, spelling out who we are and what we need makes everything easier and smoother, as long as we accept what others can and cannot provide. Trying to give to someone who makes us guess and doesn’t receive well is emotionally frustrating.

Almost forty years later, I’m contemplating again how loving oneself relates to loving others. At this point, loving others is a way of loving myself.

When I am unloving to other people, some kind of discomfort within me is driving my state, and I am not responding with the self love that lets me lean into and bring kindness into this discomfort. Then I externalize my state in my actions toward others. When I feel their uncomfortable response I don’t feel good, because I care how they feel. So when I am unloving to others it is unkind to me too. In this way—by realizing the unity between us—loving others can be a way of loving ourselves.

It’s not that one comes first, self love or love for others. There IS a relationship. Love grows in us by including. When we include ourselves with love we love others more. When we include others by being kind to ourselves in the way we relate, we increase the available love in the equation. This experience makes the concept of spiritual unity accessible.

Realizing unity is a gradual process, not just a transcendental and final end goal. Ultimately we realize that we all are parts of The Only Being in Unity. Whether focusing on self love or loving others is more useful depends on our personal process at the time. It’s important to allow direct experience to lead, so maxims we may encounter support exploration instead of limiting experience.

At this point in your life, do you learn more about love by focusing on self love or on loving others?

How does your desire to love others impact your feelings about yourself?

How does your current orientation toward self love impact your ability to love others? Does it limit or expand your ability?

13 January 2018 6 Comments

Owning Death, Acceptance & Self Love

Owning Death, Acceptance & Self Love

At a gathering just before the turn of the new year, a friend of a friend presented a tarot deck, suggesting that several people draw one card each.

Usually I avoid divination techniques. Although lots of people find them useful, they clutter my guidance with imprecise thoughts and images that provoke mental processing. Still, I was drawn to take a card. I drew the “Death” card.

When I held the image on the card in my heart, I felt a freeing and uneasy kind of lightness or even an odd joy. The “Death” card felt like an acknowledgment of an internal process.

“Death” need not be literal and physical. We usually associate death with the painful and often angsty process of having to let go not only of your body but of everything you own, all you love, everyone you know, and your self, whether or not you are ready.

Most of our associations with death are as an unwilling participant, or of bereavement, and perhaps being left behind with overwhelming practical tasks and considerations. Conversely, reports from those who have clinically died and returned are usually pleasant, if somewhat unsettling. I’ve heard more than one might think first hand.

A few decades ago I thought about killing myself. My self esteem was so bad. If we feel like killing ourselves it’s good to remember that this type of assessment is often driven by negative self worth. We would not apply the same standards to another person.

Always remember: The body is innocent. The mammal that hosts you is totally innocent.

Unless we’re way past our pull-by date, it’s not the BODY that needs to die: It’s our mean self talk, ego attachments, fears that drive a perceived need for control, habitual and limiting aspects of our personalities, opinions and judgments about ourselves and others, and so forth. These can die and we feel happier.

When we feel like we want to die it’s usually because we are not taking good enough care of our bodies. The mammal needs love and nourishment.

Some spiritual traditions talk about dying into love. I always thought of this as a huge and ultimate thing, the final transformation. Now I’m taking a different view. Dying into love can also be simply the process of learning to release the stuff I mentioned above.

Letting go into love, as a figurative death, doesn’t have to be a highfalutin thing, some giddy state of denial, or even an ecstasy. Our moment-to-moment engagement with the process can be as simple as noticing and letting go of assuming that we are not worthy and allowing ourselves to BE, without self criticism.

We don’t have to release it all at once—most of us don’t die suddenly—but just as we are able to without strain, more and more. Small steps in the direction of self love create amazing transformation over time. Holding this type of death as a positive goal and practicing relaxing into it is actually comforting. It doesn’t get unnerving until we get ambitious about it and push to do it all at once, before we’re ready.

Absolute acceptance is a kind of a death, not the death of the mammal, but the unbinding of many ego and personality structures. Rigidity in these structures largely develops as defense against pain and distress, internal wounding, and real or experiential annihilation.

Paradoxically, we ourselves annihilate our own Presence to some extent whenever we are acting out these automatic defenses. In other words, when we are reactive we are not fully present. Some kind of pain is likely to be driving us.

Also paradoxically, being fully Present is being fully alive, and also a death, in that the transformation presence gradually and eventually births is so utterly monumental.

How do YOU consider death?

What would it take to make death accept it as a force within life to help you live more fully in the moment?

28 October 2017 4 Comments

Cell Phone Addiction. What Happens to Our Dreams?

Cell Phone Addiction. What Happens to Our Dreams?

We dream while we are awake, same as we do asleep, just as stars are in sky in the day, hidden by light. Thoughts and images of the outer mind, like light, distract us from our inner dreaming, in which lives: inspiration, insight, intuition, aspiration, what we are drawn to in our deepest selves, our guidance, what we are called to bring forth. These interior experiences give our lives meaning and shape our lives. They truly integrate us with the greater world; they connect us.

Meditative consciousness, deep feeling, unity with all life, our values . . . All pulse and breathe behind the scenes. When we are inundated from the outside we are unaware of them. They are inward aspects of our selves.

Our interiors anchor the pulse by which we know our own essence and realize our real selves. They do not thrive on the surface, in the noise. They arise TO the surface, often silently, often gently, through a stray image, an impulse, a feeling, a longing, a need—perhaps even through our discontent. When we sit with IMG_1255discontent, feel into it, we find ways to hold ourselves accountable for meaning in our lives. We find ways to inspire ourselves by discovering what matters to us truly, and feel our way, if blindly, into giving things that matter shape and form on our outsides, expression, perhaps even life direction.

How do you think cell phone addiction and Facebook addiction impact our ability to experience and breathe with these subtle and essential states, pathways, impulses, insights, and realizations?

What do you think happens when we are jolted at random by little alarms throughout the day, something beeping, buzzing, vibrating, demanding our attention regardless of our rhythms, focus of attention, productivity and flow?

What happens to our interior rhythms?
What happens to our access to ourselves?
What happens to the waves of our inner dreaming and what now washes up on the shores of our awareness?

What happens when sensationalistic fear-based news constantly demands action, time, money, feeling and attention without respect to what we have to give, and we’re not even sure all of it true?

Certainly we have a part in the causes of the world. If these causes are not our own—or even if they ARE our own—what happens when they are louder than our own inspiration and meaning, and begin to take the place of our inner worlds and dreaming?

We also may be jolted, alarmed, drawn in, called forth and asked to respond to those who text when they are out of balance, when they feel hurtful or want to bully others or damage relationships with gossip, when they boast, when they encounter difficult moments without first settling in to the deeper source of their essence or reaching into their hearts but instead reach for their phones—their need for love calling them to do so, but they broadcast the trivia of their egos and the toxins of reactive states instead of mutually connecting, for they have forgotten that they impact you.

What happens when we forget the breadth of our feelings, our bodies, and our breath and take what other people think as the measure of who we are?

If we begin to identify with our reactions to the superficial group mind, rather than taking meaning and purpose from our inner values, personal beliefs, integrity, sense of honor, chosen and cultivated values, and what we are drawn to love, the opinions and reactions of multiple people begin to displace Presence and self awareness. What happens to conscience?

When contact with others is virtual, how do you come to understand real results?
What happens to your ability to perceive your environment, to partake in the beauty of nature, and to experience joy without reason?

The trend is to make our inner world, our dreams and the people right in front of us less important than whatever comes to us electronically. What comes of this?

It starts because initially, those who can reach us are the ones who are most important to us. Then the related behaviors become habitual.
What results from constantly favoring the immediacy of an electronic contact over the people and environment around us?

If fast-food-style connection substitutes for realtime relating, and we lose touch with our depths, what happens to our capacity for soul-to-soul contact?

What begins as more easily connecting can create a riveting preference when the immediacy of it and the habits it creates make it mechanical, compelling, and often irrelevant or even destructive to what we value more.

Ironically, the more desperately one turns to multiple contacts through electronics, seeking connection, the more disconnected one often becomes.

It takes a sense of self to feel connected and allow love in.

 

Someone sent me this quote after this blog was published:

Albert Einstein: 

“I fear the day when the technology overlaps with our humanity.

The world will only have a generation of idiots.”

8 September 2017 0 Comments

Spiritual Practice, Sensitivity, Self-Observation & Socialization, Part 3

Spiritual Practice, Sensitivity, Self-Observation & Socialization, Part 3

continued . . .

One of the primary meditations that my Teacher recommends is to breathe in the all pervading life in space; breathe in the energy and life force, the wonder and beauty, and everything, and aim to feel that life force as an actuality, in one’s body. The results of practice are the little beginnings of this change, which I am tasting and talking about. Then we breathe out, focusing on the heart. Out of all the different energies and impressions, we focus on love, then intentionally select divine love, and breathe that divine love out of the heart., feeling it This is a powerful and beneficial way to meditate. It’s very direct and cuts out intermediate IMG_7789or unnecessary steps in development.

Of course—as with everything in this sphere of experience—there is a danger of doing the practice just in the mind; thinking that we are doing it instead of doing it with full body experience, energetic connection and emotion.

Working with breathing in and out the qualities of the different elements—earth, water, fire, air and ether—and sensing the differences between those modes of experience builds muscle when it comes to experiencing different energies directly, through the body. These modes of experience (symbolized by the elements) of course are always happening simultaneously in every moment, although the exact balance between them differs to shape each moment. By separating them out and doing them one at a time we can begin to get clear about each one and feel them more directly.

It is good to remember that there are certainly likely to exist many other elements that we may not have defined, just as there are dimensions we do not experience.

This type of practice is very helpful. The most difficult aspect of practice is to be able to sustain genuine self love. If I criticize and judge myself for being at the place that I am on the path, I will recoil and shut down. My self observation will stop, and I will be just like anybody on or off the golf cart, distracting myself and staying busy, or numbing myself to keep from managing the strong feelings and sensations that come up. If I can ALLOW the strong feelings to come up, and maintain self love, and the importance of tuning into and sensing my essence underneath all of the personality traits and fears, etc, then it should be a lot easier to do the same thing with other people. And with strong winds and moving clouds.

I’m sure I’ll still need ample time alone to manage my sensitivity. And that’s fine, because it allows me to fully open up. We need to wear some layers when we are around other people, and to be aware of the socialization that allows these animals that are also human to exist with one another. We all have coverings of socialization over the natural animals that we are underneath—all the instincts and drives that accompany having a mammalian body. Socialization has an important value, to help mediate these instincts and drives. We can respect the purpose of socialization without losing our self awareness—either of the instinctual self or of essence. This balance allows us to be, as they say in some spiritual circles, “In the world but not OF the world.”

It’s an adjustment to be able to see and recognize social conditioning for what it is without identifying with it to the extent that we lose our ability to truly observe ourselves as we are, or losing parts of ourselves to it. In other words: having a choice.

As I write this, using the voice memo function on my phone, several people have come by. It’s been fine; I’ve been comfortable because I took up those layers again. It’s key to be able to intentionally shift into the layer of experience that works for what we are doing at the moment. For the most part we get a lot of practice with the socialized parts and less practice with the parts that generally remain in the unconscious or superconscious. It takes time, openness, love, and often silence to access these layers in pursuit of wholeness and unity.

How do the habits and compulsions of your socialization impact your ability to be in touch with your deepest motivations? (For example, can you watch your responses to things openly without shutting down if you think they are not “nice”?)

In what ways do your socialized skills and habits impact your ability to be in touch with your unadulterated core essence?

1 September 2017 3 Comments

Spiritual Practice, Sensitivity, Self-Observation & Socialization, Part 2

Spiritual Practice, Sensitivity, Self-Observation & Socialization, Part 2

continued . . .

I’m contemplating these things and up over a little hillock comes a golf cart with a couple of people on it. I feel something recoil a bit, and I watch myself and ask myself, ‘Am I judging something? Am I making anything up?

I intentionally stay open. I watch and notice what I feel is an enormous welter of different impressions, all coming in. I’m not referring as much to my impressions of people as much as reading the energetics that show up along with them. And I’m not TRYING to read the energetics—I’m just feeling the energetics of the people through my being, and it feels intense. There is nothing wrong with these two people; they seem just fine. At the same time, I feel overwhelmed experiencing their layers: of mental assessment, egoic levels of P1150339artifice, and layers of social conditioning that stem from how they need to carry themselves based on what they tell themselves and what they have been told by other people and how they think they should be, and all the basic stuff—which I have too, but I may be less conditioned and more aware of it.

At that point I feel a little bit of distance from them, a little bit of alienation, a little bit of sadness about feeling those things. At the same time I know that this kind of thing is something that anyone who is truly a mystic goes through, at least from time to time. I want to feel more love. This feeling of wanting to experience unity is not only about wanting to feel love in the abstract, but of course I want to be comfortable embracing people as they are. At the same time, when the people at hand don’t really know themselves or love themselves, the divine Unity and essence within those people is being hidden by all those layers of derivative experience. By “derivative” I mean that it is derived by some process of thought as feeling as opposed to being a direct and complete experience in and of itself, like the bird, or the way a Zen master experiences things. The things we tell ourselves and what we derive from others make up layers or veils by which the divine in each of us becomes hidden from ourselves. It takes so much love to embrace all that and still keep love primary!

At this point I start thinking about my spiritual Teacher because he’s someone I’ve seen do this in practice, not just in theory; embracing everyone on the inside and experiencing unity with them. I know this not from words but because I’ve sat with him eye to eye in direct attunement, feeling one another with the simplicity of that little bird.  Moreover, after spending time with him I’ve experienced some of the things that he talks about and apparently experiences.

After my last retreat with my Teacher, I wrote the poem “The Rose,” which I put in my blog post on May 7th. I was walking the streets of San Francisco and I felt connected with everything and everyone in a loving way. I did not feel this discomfort about the layers. So there was no sense of alienation at all in my sense of mysticism in that specific state of Being. I ask myself, “What does it take to generate and sustain that kind of a loving state for myself?’

Of course, doing my spiritual practices regularly will aid in that direction. Various fears come up, about how a major shift might change the particulars of my life. I know that fear is normal at this spiritual juncture.

What fears come up for you when you consider immersing yourself deeply in spiritual practice?

To what extent does this fear influence how or whether your practice?

25 August 2017 0 Comments

Spiritual Practice, Sensitivity, Self-Observation & Socialization, Part 1

Spiritual Practice, Sensitivity, Self-Observation & Socialization, Part 1

I took a few days out in nature to hike by myself. While I was walking I did spiritual breathing practices that work with the elements—earth, water, fire, air and ether.

I’ve noticed that when I do my practices regularly, they do produce changes in my consciousness. My awareness and my sensitivity both expand. Sometimes that makes me stop doing the practices, because I become uncomfortable. I’ll describe a poignant experience:

I was getting ready to go for walk before going home, collecting my belongings. My interior Guidance chimed in and asked me to sit for five minutes. This directive was not something abstract or particularly subtle, so I was a little bit surprised. I sat down in a chair by a window. The room where I was staying P1150330overlooked part of a golf course. So I sat and just looked out the window without doing anything—which is unusual for me.

After breathing exercises and other practices in nature the day before, I naturally started to sense into the elements and into the space outside me, where I could see trees, and mountains in the mid-distant range, and a big expanse of air and atmosphere in between, birds darting around though it. I thought about a practice my Teacher likes: “Consider the plenum to be your own body of bliss.”

The plenum is everything that is out there; the fullness of all things in creation. I kept my sensors open, feeling out into all that space, and everything within it. A little bird landed on the corner of a nearby roof. I’m not too much of a bird watcher, but I could see her surveying the same territory that I was surveying. I was wondering what it was like to see it through her eyes, and began feeling her little heart in her feathery body, beating really quickly as little bird’s hearts do. She was so earnest, so simple, and so sweet. And she was sitting there waiting, watching, pausing before taking off in flight—much as I was doing myself.

I was noticing that when I expand into the space like that, sometimes even the movement of the wind, particularly the movement of clouds and sometimes strong wind churning through trees seems very stimulating to my nervous system. The movement of clouds can be so enormous and relentless, and so absolutely outside ones ability to control anything; a force, not an object. When I feel that way I scan myself to see whether I WANT to control something. Usually I do not. The feeling is like, ‘Something is happening and I’m not doing anything, and it feels powerful and intense, and beautiful in an awe-full way.’

I think it’s important to feel awe; to remember our place in the universe. I know other people feel this way sometimes, but I don’t know if it feels so intense in their nervous systems, if they take it in. I understand making one’s self busy so we don’t have to feel life so directly—because it’s so huge and can be overwhelming!

Of course stillness is the basis for much meditation and spiritual progress. It increases our ability to be at one with everything. I feel a bit cowardly or remiss when I feel an inclination to shut down or pull away. I’d love to have the courage to fully take on feeling deeper states of unity, but we have to simultaneously be able to feel solid in ourselves and dissolve our sense of self to do this.

Have you ever become sensitized to some type of experience or sensation after doing intensive spiritual practice?

What did you learn about yourself or your practice from this experience?