We all have them:
Days when we want to save the world
Days when we want to see it burn
Days when the lightness in our heart can lift us to the skies
Days when it’s so heavy that the weight threatens to sink us to the core of the earth where we’d gladly lose ourselves in that molten hell
Days when the sun shines and lights our way
Days when the sunshine hurts our eyes and makes us wish we were invisible
Days of love and joy
Days of suffering and pain
We have very little control over the events of our days and sometimes simple things can trigger either incredible happiness or intense sorrow.
What we can control is how we deal with those events. The more aware I am of this and the more I practice mindfulness and meditation the more awake I become and the more better my days are. But its not a cure, it’s a practice. A practice that never ends.
I hope you have a more better day too but if this turns out to be one of “those” days then remember; we all have them. They pass.
And remember to breathe.
Image: “Deep” by Mario S Nevado
One of the most desirable, and often most difficult to achieve, meditative states is that of Nothingness. It is not a state of loss of Self as the word implies but of merging with All. In joining the All we are able to experience the same egoless state of infancy where we are One with our surroundings. It is a state of consciousness where there is no division between my Self and the zafu I sit upon or the air I breathe or the light from a candle that burns or the smoke from the incense that drifts across the room.
In my spiritual wandering I have come across a number of methods to achieve this state. Methods that range from inducing trance to consuming large quantities of psilicybin to strict ritual. Most of them failed or were so hard on my body and mind that they were not worth reproducing. As a Spiritual Warrior I am determined to keep pushing forward in my search for personal truths, those things that improve my life, no matter how many setbacks or pitfalls I encounter. As a result I developed my own method of reaching this state of consciousness.
The process is not difficult though it can take some time to master. For me, it has been well worth the effort. The benefits are numerous; a sense of peace and calm that I carry with me, an understanding of and a desire to live by the intentions of love and gratitude, respect for others and our world, an appreciation of all that life offers, even it’s suffering.
We can never achieve that same perfect state of egolessness we were born into simply because we have a lifetime of experience that conflicts with it. Memories that clearly prove we are separate even if what those memories tell us is false. But we can get close.
1. Get in the zone.
Flow State is that frame of mind where one is fully immersed in an action with a feeling of energized focus. While I primarily use sitting meditation to achieve this state there are literally thousands of ways to get there. Select one that suits you whether it be meditation or prayer or trance inducing dance or running or stamp booking. Anything that gets you in the zone, that place where we allow ourselves to set aside the problems of the day and focus only on the task without thinking about it. It is quite impossible to achieve this first part if you are worried about what might happen tomorrow or the bills in the mail or the jackass that cut you off in traffic. So give yourself permission to set them aside. They’ll still be there when you are done.
This step requires intentional dissociation. If you are running, imagine seeing yourself as if from above. From the trees. A bird. The sky. If you are praying gently close your eyes and see yourself wherever you are as if standing outside yourself. As a stranger viewing your prayers in curiosity. If meditating see yourself as if you are standing in front of yourself. Whatever it is you are doing pick a person or a place or a thing and see yourself as if that thing.
It is important to accept that what you are seeing is real. That you really do see yourself from the trees or the sky or the stranger. It is surprisingly easy to visualize yourself, we do it all the time. We see ourselves failing at something. Missing the great parking spot. Not getting the raise. And we are not at all surprised when those things happen. The lesson we can take from those experiences is that we actually manifest what we believe to some degree. Apply that lesson here. See yourself. Believe it.
Allow that field of vision to expand and extend, to encompass everything around you a little at a time. Not just one tree but every tree in view. Let in sounds, smells, textures. Feel the sway of the tree in the breeze, the squirrel scrambling in your limbs, the warm moist earth on your roots, the nourishing sun on your leaves or the warmth of the lightbulb on the paint of your ceiling. The mind is an amazing thing. It really is capable of this. Soon you will have difficulty separating yourself from your environment.
With regular practice you will literally be able to see yourself in these positions, doing these things. It can be a little uncomfortable at first but it will also be familiar, and soon you will lose some sense of yourself. You will see with a thousand eyes. With one eye. You will become Nothing and in that nothingness you will experience All.
I’m not saying it’s easy and you certainly wouldn’t want to live like this all the time. We really do need to retain our sense of self in our everyday routines. But to feel the restraints of this physical life be released is true freedom. It is the egoless form of the infant recaptured by the mature mind. A mind that can appreciate the experience and apply it to living.
Image by Studio Canal from the movie “Under the Skin” which has nothing whatsoever to do with the article….. I just liked the image 🙂
Life is all about discovery.
When we are born we discover the most amazing things: the world develops before our very eyes and as we grow it expands as if we, ourselves, are the gods that create it moment by moment.
In our teens we discover complex emotions that threaten our very existence: rage, pain, immense joy and sadness, and, for the very first time, even though we may not recognize it for what it is, Love.
We go through school being taught pointless rhetoric: math, science, history. All the while being taught none of those things that could lead us to deeper paths; mindfulness, loving kindness, compassion. Those are supposed to be taught by our parents. Parents who never learned those things either.
Learn them. They will lead you farther than you imagine.
Later still, we discover that we wished we had learned more of those worthless ideas. Paid closer attention. What was that formula for finding the volume of a circle again? That will come in handy later. I promise you that. So pay attention if you can. But there’s more.
We discover the value of money. Of friendship and of hard work and of possession. We go into the world discovering fine food, good company, bright lights.
Too often people don’t make it past those last discoveries. They base their lives on the hedonistic values of life: a big house, a nice car, good clothes, physical pleasure. Discovery ends. Life has been explored and all that it offers has been found.
Discovery continues despite that belief. Our friends die. Our loved ones leave us. Our investments fail us. We discover loss, suffering, disappointment.
Those discoveries become empty. Meaningless. Superficial. Life becomes meaningless. Emotions become an intolerable consequence. A side effect of life.
If we are insightful, or have a fortunate predilection for it, or have a loved one willing to force our awareness, or we are just plain lucky, or unlucky, we push deeper. Struggle harder to find meaning.
Our path of discovery narrows to two distinct paths: inward or outward.
The outward path leads us to medical discovery. To miracle cures. To pills that end our suffering. To gurus and healers and shaman. The path can branch over and over from here but it always leads us to the discovery of the inward path though very very few can make that transition.
If you find yourself at that transitional fork in your path I hope, I truly hope, you find your way to the inward path. Reach into that place and you will find a hand willing to lead you farther than you ever imagined. I promise you that.
The inward path leads us to ever deeper discovery: understanding, self love, honesty, acceptance, awareness, unity, Love. True Love.
Discoveries that lead us to higher planes of existence. Planes where loss and suffering are accepted as simply a part of life and where the value of a single breath, drawn long and slow while listening to and feeling the beat of our own miraculous heart connect us to the very soul of the Universe, is beyond measure.
What we discover there can never be fully expressed in words but in that place are experiences outside the realm of comprehension and yet understood as if we were once again children creating, moment by moment, the very fabric of our own distinct, yet combined, reality.
My wish for you is this:
Continue your journey. Never cease in your struggle of discovery, because even further beyond that point lay infinity: a point of chaotic generation and regeneration of life where the distance between infancy and eons are but fractions of moments of the life of a single drop of moisture on a spiders web and all that we have discovered between birth and true life, the life that always awaits, that bekons and welcomes all, are a single reflection on the surface of that dew that shimmers a while before dropping into an endless ocean that rises as mist to condense on the web over and over again.
In that chaos of constant re-creation resides the Divine where She rests on this, the Seventh Day, with arms wide and welcome, to bring us into Her embrace.
It is a place of constant discovery and awe and wonder where a word as simple and complex as “Love” or “Gratitude” can define our very existence.
Though I tend to speak of it in terms of enlightenment and higher planes of consciousness it is not some mythical place reached only through lifetimes of deep meditation and study. It does not require the use of psychoactive compounds or healers or teachers.
It is here.
It is Now.
It awaits your discovery.
Close your eyes and breathe.
Image: “Infinity” by Tue Bengsston
I’m not sure when I scribbled this poem on a loose sheaf of note paper (now in the “Final” file along with empty cans and banana peals as all illegible scribbles later clarified end) that suggests there was at one time more to it. Still, it stands on it’s own as a contemplative piece.
Catching on the web of it
Hurtling through the thick of it
In to the past
Hanged on every word of it
Passing through the heart of it
By the act
Bleeding with the pain of it
Shooting past that part of it
To someplace better
that stepping to the side
of the ongoing ride
to watch it rolling by
frozen in a space
about the size of nothing
at the slowly melting something
leaving just the core
while the unreality of it all
just makes me want to smile
Image: “Orion” by Liu Yu
I stand in awe
as I face this sea of change
It is infinite
yet in its eternity lay a single course
I am meant to follow
though I can not see
I am scared
afraid that I may drown
in its vastness
Or become lost
in its unfathomable depth
I have no idea
what tomorrow will bring
What shore I will arrive upon
What distant island
I will call home
My life is like this sea
I can not point and say,
“Here is where I begin”
“There is where I end”
It is a swirling mass
of endless change
Some I desire more than anything else
Still others could put those desires at risk
Change is what it is
It is change
It is inevitable
It happens whether we want it or not
I want it
So I embrace that change
in whatever form it takes
even though not all
is what I want
I can not see
how to get through this day
or where it will lead me
I only know that I will
is all that ever exists
and that the path
will always lead me home
Image: “A moment to reflect” by Andrew J. Smith
I wake, alone, always alone, and wonder; why does it have to be like this?
I move slow, zombie like, to the kitchen dragging a handful of clothes which will be my armor this day. Too thin to keep life’s pains from intruding. Just enough to hide them.
It is too late in the morning to stretch my body and mind. Too late even for coffee.
Half dressed, I look down to Brown Dog, my traveling partner for these last twelve years, though he is going on fifteen or sixteen or I-don’t-really-know-what-teen since I picked him up as a feral stray, and I smile. I admire him. He is always ready to love and be loved.
I celebrate his birth along with my own in November which looms ever closer. I will be 54. How the fuck did that happen?
I make the time to love him then let him out the back door and shuffle to the front while pulling a dirty shirt over my head (too late now to find a clean one) and let myself out.
As the day progresses, the loads of water going from my truck to the road we are building keeps time like a slow moving metronome, those morning thoughts continue to intrude.
Surely I’ve learned the lessons that earn me the right to love and be loved? Surely the person I am now, regardless of my past, is worthy? Surely I deserve that most basic of all rights? Why am I such a failure?
I get ahead of the work crew and park my truck by the river that supplies the water I get paid to make the roads muddy with and walk to an overlooking edge.
I sit and breathe. Deep and slow.
I allow those thoughts to flow like the water that passes in near silence in front of me. I listen to and acknowledge each of them; “You are not worthy”… yes, I understand that’s how you feel. “You do not deserve”… it’s ok to feel like that. “You will never be happy”… it’s ok.
Each thought repeated with the impact and clarity gained through years of practice. Each identified, acknowledged, validated then treated with the same care and compassion I would offer another and released.
They are just words. Labels. They mean nothing.
Slowly, with practiced patience, the thoughts are reduced to a whisper and are replaced by the sound of the wind, a trickle of water, the birds, the rotation of the earth through the cosmos.
I slowly open my eyes and watch the gentle flow of the river and, without thought, begin to understand; The path I am on is like this little river that cuts its way through miles of prairie. It’s sweeps and bends the altered courses of my life. Its flow from past, through present, and towards the future.
I see my reflection in the surface. Static. Unmoving. It is in this static image that those thoughts live but it is an illusion. Beneath the surface the water is constantly flowing as it slides past stones and cuts its ever changing course through the prairie.
If I were to submerge myself in those slow moving waters, become one with it, there would be no past, no future, no false reflections, only a sense of Now. Eternal. Dynamic. It has no beginning. No end. It flows to the sea. Evaporates. Returns as rain. Flows.
It is that sense of Now, that never ending cycle, that I strive for in my meditation. Yes, the thoughts remain. My mind, like everyone else’s, never ceases its rumination and contemplation and formulation. It mutters incessantly.
But today, right now, I am like the river.
Image by JMGreff