I often complicate the simplicity of the action by over thinking. By over reaching. Peace is a global hope but a personal commitment. It always begins with our Self. With strangers at the grocery store. Cashiers at the gas station. Our coworkers, friends, family.
I imagine peace residing in me, ready to spread like a virus to anyone I come in contact with. I sneeze peace on others. I exhale it. It slips off my fingers when I touch someone.
But it has to live in me first first. If I do not have peace within then how can I spread it? And I must lovingly care for it, nourish it, for it to bloom.
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 🙂
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.
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.
Some time back I set myself the unexpectedly difficult task of setting poetry to a list of words gathered from readers as well as from my own list of loved words. Words like “passion” and “joy” and “entwine”. This little piece evolved from that list of words and required constant editing because each word seemed to give birth, or shed light on, other words that were connected. It grew, large and unwieldy. What follows is the latest edit of that poem reduced to a manageable size that, I hope, makes sense while staying on task.
So long I waited
My life spent in beautiful surrender
How I longed
To hold you in my arms
Knowing you existed
Without ever knowing your name
To touch you
To invite you close to me
To feel your heat next to mine
Like a slow fire
With hopeful desire
To share a lifetime with you
In romantic wonder
With mouthwatering dreams of us
How long I prepared
In fearless devotion
To kiss with passion
and gentle abandon
your exquisitely tender flesh
To taste your delicious spirit
Bathe in your intoxicating soul
To share my heart
With hopeful gratitude
Now you are here
Close to me
Laying right there next to me
Singing your song with me
I am seduced by the sound of you
Awakened by the scent of you
Your body calling out to me
I reach out
and find you reaching back for me
and all I dreamed
is made real
You call out my name
With sweet moaning
Press your body next to mine
With tempered fury
Our souls connection
A perfect union
To light the sky
with joyful passion
Our sacred space
with intense pleasure
Our one heart
Throughout our days
and into the nights
I offer you love with thoughtful intention
and give myself to you
You are the gift
I never thought I deserved
The treasure of a lifetime
I am yours
A hazy mist
Rich with opium and jasmine
Filters the light
Of scented candles
That flicker and play
On your shadow
That sways and rolls
To paint the naked walls
Of my modest rooms
With images of ecstatic fervor
As you dance without knowing
The affect of your mesmerizing movement
To songs only our joined soul knows
Of distant lands
Where the streets
Are imbued with spice,
Where the rising of the sun
Reflected in triplets,
The setting of the moon
On the endless sea,
Even the passing of a cloud
Through ice blue skies,
Is celebrated with honor
And there is no one left in the world
Here at the edge of the world, where men reach into the the sea with heavy line and glittering tackle attempting to join the massive Oneness of the ocean by removing from it those that truly belong, I find a sure and sudden calm as if sedated yet awake and aware. Fully aware.
I have spent so little time in my life by the ocean though I have always heard its call. A gentle tugging. It is the lure, I am the fish, and it is trying as hard to be a part of me as those men standing on the edge of this expansive pier are trying to be part of it.
In 1917 Rudlof Otto wrote Das Heilge, which appeared in English in 1923 as The Idea of the Holy. He suggests that while the concept of “the Holy” is often used to convey moral perfection It also contains another distinct element, beyond the ethical sphere, for which he uses the term “Numinous” and defines it as “non-rational, non-sensory experience or the feeling whose primary and immediate object is outside the self.” (Thank you Wikipedia)
I won’t go into the whole Jungian psychology surrounding the archetypes and Numinous because I believe I can sum it up in this one example: An artist creates a sculpture to give form to something that has taken life inside him. What he feels is Numinous, the influence of something “other” than himself. Years later I see his sculpture and literally feel the spirit he has put into the stone looking back at me.
This is the Numinous Experience.
I look into the ocean, this beautiful and powerful creation of the Divine, and see it looking back at me. Calling me. Reaching into me and igniting a spirit within me which I release onto the page of this blog where it lives and, hopefully, reaches into you and ignites the “other” that lives within you.
Life is truly a spiritual experience if we allow it to be.
Image by JMGreff at the end of the Gulf State Park Pier in Gulf Shores, AL
The night is long
The bed large and empty as a vacant lot
I raise up as if from a depth of heavy water
Gasping for breath
Reaching like a tangled weed for the sun
Which has yet to reveal itself
The morning progresses as if through setting concrete
Each second passing slower than the one preceding
Yet with each impermanent second
The day becomes brighter
The air lighter
Time begins to move swifter
The sun flies across the cloudless sky
Until the excited barking of the dogs
Announces your arrival
as if under the influence of divine magick,
You step inside
accompanied by your own brilliant light
to replace the sun
now frozen and pale
I meet your smile at the door
with my own
Our lips touch
and time begins anew
keeping pace with our unhurried
yet urgent advance to the bedroom
where we lay close
Soft words are spoken between kisses
and hold each other close
firm and sure
as clothes fall away
to allow skin on skin
Urgency becomes passion
Breath becomes heavy
and tangled in the other
I sit in silent contemplation and awe of the direction my life has taken. Where I’ve been. Where I’m headed. I am amazed by the change that has manifested in my life because of my persistent dedication to my intentions but if I allow it, and I do allow it, I feel a pressure in my chest, a tightening of my throat.
It is anxiety. Stress. Worry.
It is a reminder of those things that brought me to this point; hard memories of hard times that led to hard decisions that brought me to who and where I am now.
I allow those feelings to express themselves completely. The disappointments. Failures. Shame. Guilt. They are the voice of my soul asking for my attention and tender affection. I listen.
I don’t ever want to forget those things. They keep me grounded. On my path. But I never allow them to control me. My past has no place here. Now. Except to keep me on course by reminding me who not to be.
I have allowed those hard times to make me soft. Vulnerable. I am ever grateful for that. There is strength in that softness.
With eyes closed, I breathe deep and slow, acknowledge those feelings, then treat myself with the same loving compassion I would treat anyone else who was suffering.
I lay one hand on my belly, the other on my heart, and, with honest sympathy, I repeat those same words to my Self that I would tell anyone I care about;
“I love you.
I am listening.
I am here.”
In doing so I release those feelings and love rushes in to replace them.
I keep a place in my heart
for my Beloved.
I keep her heart in my heart.
For it to be a place
where she feels the care
and passionate love
I keep there for her
it must be a place of love.
For it to be that place
I must first love myself.
In loving myself
I love her.
This is what it means to love myself and why it is so important.
So I sit in quiet contemplation and awe of the direction my life has taken and in that quiet contemplation I find gratitude, even for the reminders of the past that led me here.
Today is the Autumn Equinox. Day and night are of equal length for a few days and then the days will become shorter.
It is the time of harvest. When we reap what we have sown and labored so hard to produce. It is a time of harmony and balance. When everything is exactly as it is supposed to be.
Seeing that balance isn’t always easy so I’m going to refer to the Oxford Dictionary to help:
bal·ance [ˈbaləns] NOUN
1. an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain
upright and steady:
"slipping in the mud but keeping their balance" ·
synonyms: stability · equilibrium · steadiness · footing
I appreciate the example they provide, “slipping in the mud but keeping their balance”. I can relate to that. It defines balance as tenuous yet firm. Precarious and cautionary but upright and steady.
Balance doesn’t mean sure footed. In fact, I am most likely to be seeking better footing when balance is even, but slip and slide aside, I remain upright.
Tonight I celebrate that balance and while I do it while physically alone, I do it forging ahead with plans to join my Beloved.
The past and future are even tonight and beginning tomorrow the days grow shorter and each shortened day brings me closer to her.
Whether you call this day Mabon, The Second Harvest, Wine Harvest, Feast of Avalon, Winter Finding, or, my personal favorite, Cornucopia, I wish that this Autumn Equinox finds you in harmony and balance with all that you do and that your own harvest is as rich as my own.