The Privilege to Rest in Being

It’s such a blessing to have a free day, a day in which the movement of Being is unfettered and flowing. Today has been just such a day, off from work, a morning unscheduled. I woke at 7:30 to the bright cold, laid and lit a fire, meditated, ate. I split wood and kindling, ate lunch, brewed and drank coffee. Read.

Recently I read an article in National Geographic about the three happiest places to live. In each, Denmark, Costa Rica, and Singapore, the common denominator was a governing infrastructure that guaranteed physical well-being: work, income, housing, healthcare and access to food. I do not for a moment take for granted their role in personal happiness, my own included, although our government does not guarantee these to us, not in practicality. I have been blessed to work in my field for forty years, to come to a point of financial security and simplicity such that I am now able to support myself working part-time. I have investments that, potentially at least, should guarantee me a fairly secure elderhood. I trust that this will be so.

What I am feeling into today is the way Being shows up when we have the freedom to rest. When our immediate needs are met, and we are able to live in the flow of what arises. Today, it is ease and well-being, physical strength necessary to keep my home comfortable, the food to sustain me, shelter that is able to withstand the weather. I have love, companionship, and a direct line to the Divine Nature that is in everything.

It is not always so, not completely. Some days, I struggle with the demands of earning my living, warming the house, driving the car, being with others. Nevertheless, the direct line to the Divine Nature is always present. Sometimes it shows itself in the natural world; sometimes it is in the kindness of strangers; sometimes it simply arises out of the smoke and ash of my own emotional discomfort. It’s like my heartbeat. I’m not always aware of it, but it’s always there, steadily keeping me alive, upright, awake, aware.

There are spiritual teachings that encourage us to subdue difficulty, to repeat the mantra this, too, shall pass. Teachings that encourage us to find our bliss, transcend the body, to treat death as a non-event, in which grief is a weakness, a belief in an illusion. I know that these sorts of teachings have their place; they made up some of the paving blocks on my path. But coming to the place of Sahaj Samadhi, the simultaneous realization that I AM THAT, and that I am also this body, both awareness of consciousness and its lived expression, has changed all that.

I’m discovering a new and deeper understanding of the nature of embodiment. It’s been slowly coming forward in me as I continue to navigate my embodied conscious awakening. My knowing of it is rooting itself deeper and deeper into my very cells, each one an arising of Consciousness. There is no separation between Me and Myself. I know myself in, as, and through, this body. It is a highly sensitive receptor of stimuli. My yoga training gave me the language of the koshas, the sheaths of the body: Pranamaya kosha, energy; Manomaya kosha, mind; Vijnanamaya kosha, wisdom; and Anandamaya kosha, bliss. They are merged into the skin, nerves, muscles, tendons, organs, bones, and blood of me. In any given moment, I am knowing myself as Consciousness through one or more of these sheaths. When I’m relaxing in the morning sun, I may access most of them; when I’m reactive to slights, disappointments, delays, I may access some. But I am always accessing them; they are the network of my aliveness to which I am fully awakened.

The Dharma of Trillium Awakening is, in a way, a Tantric Dharma. It is an outpouring of harmonized masculine and feminine energies. It is not transcendent. It is embodied. To fully know ourselves, our Dharma says, we must come to a place of “radical embrace” of all of our parts. Radical is the right word for it, drawing its meaning from the word radix, or root. We must come to the root of ourselves, and be willing to not just tolerate, or accept, but embrace what we find there.

This can be a slow process. Everyone’s awakening is different. Everyone’s conditioning is different. The shell that separates us from our true nature may be more or less dense depending on a multitude of factors. But once we catalyze the process, we can be sure that it will take us with it to the eventuality of a deep knowing of all that we are.

If you’re reading this, then you may already be in its embrace. Maybe you are one with it, and maybe you are wrestling. But you know its hold, and you can be sure that it is not going to let go. This is a beautiful thing.

With some luck, you have a good roof over your head, food in your belly, meaningful work. You are free to explore the regions of awakening without worrying about your physical well-being. You can rest in Being and let it unfold itself in you like the kaleidoscope it is. You can become its unfolding, multicolored, infinitely changing self and know it as the Self, your true and total nature.

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Healing the Parts that Make Us Whole

To heal, you must be willing to disrupt your equilibrium. To go deep into the unseen, unknown places, to allow the energy there to be stirred and released.

As part of my process of becoming a mentor in the spiritual tradition I follow, I am required to undergo six therapeutic sessions–typically these are psychological, sessions of “talk therapy.” Talk therapy has long since stopped being a mode that works for me, that gets into the depths of my shadow places, the parts that are in need of exploration and exposition. Years of yoga and various body-centered energetic healing modalities have unearthed and revealed into the light of recognition long festering patterns of behavior. So to meet my six session requirements, I requested and was given permission to work with a pair of Shamanic healers who teach in our lineage.

The question I’m pursuing is not important. Although it has a story or elements of story: a who, what, where and when, and likely has a why, I’m not really pursuing those. I’m no longer interested in the story per se. It’s more like a flavor, a residue. It’s like the splinters that remain after a large sliver is removed from the flesh.

I’ve worked with these two healers previously around this particular issue, and in both cases, they brought about huge shifts for me. Each time, we met in person in small groups that were working together for a longer period, once for a week and then for a weekend. The sessions I’m doing now are happening via Skype. They begin with prayer, with calling in the elements, the unseen guides that surround us at all times. There’s a short conversation about the issue being pursued, and then there’s a long period of energetic work in which I am more or less passive, sitting, eyes closed, breathing the circular breath used in rebirthing, and feeling into what is happening in my body.

A lot happened in my body. Painful contraction around my solar plexus. Heat. Cramping. More heat. Deep vibration. My teacher held me between two crystals, one at my crown and one beneath my feet, and my body was filled with expansion. I had to loosen my shoulders from their joints and let my arms hang out at an angle. I saw the Christ and Magdalen. I saw my father and waves of light that was more than light, a sort of deeply embodied incandescence. I was the hills and the snow and the ether that holds everything.

She told me that I would continue to integrate the healing. It might show up in my dreams. Might interrupt my sleep. Might make me vulnerable, raw, irritable. To ground myself, drink plenty of water, take hot baths. Walk consciously in the outdoors, breathing the cold air, feeling the earth beneath my feet. To ask for forgiveness. To know that I was healing.

In the last thirty six hours, I’ve manifested most of the side effects she noted. I feel a deep discomfort in my body, in my Being. And yet, as she pointed out, this is how I know that healing is happening.

We are always a process. Never a product. There is no end point, no completion, no perfection. As long as we inhabit these human bodies, we will continue to unfold. When we awaken into embodied consciousness, it is a second birth, a continual maturation that along with our being alive brings a deepening into what we are. All that has come before us going back to the primordial ooze is within us to be integrated. We are not separate from all that is or has ever been. The further I go, the deeper I go. It’s a folding as much as an unfolding. I fold more deeply into my parts as they unfold within me. I’m merging with every thread and fiber of my Being.

This is an essential process for anyone who sets out to guide others on their journey. It’s a shamanic process, this journeying. We must be familiar with the terrain and be willing to face its fearful aspects as well as its shining peaks. We must be willing to upset our own equilibrium, to lean into our own discomfort, to take everything we have been given and honor its gifts. Being is a powerful master. Are you willing to learn what it has to teach? In life, the poison is often also the antidote. Learning is homeopathic. A small dose will go a long way.

News from Nerdville: Or the Process of Absolute Happiness

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It’s a big day here in Twisp.  The couple of miles of Route 20 that comprises “town,” is clogged with foot and vehicular traffic.  The weekly market ran two extra hours from 8 to 1 instead of 9 to 12. The parking lot at Hanks, the local supermarket, is packed, and gas prices seemed to have inched up a bit since mid week. Wonderful. Twisp is an idyllically scenic town that thrives on tourism, and Memorial Day weekend, as in many such places, is the real start of the season.  It’s great to see our local community benefiting from summer tourism.

It’s a big day here, inside me as well.  Yesterday, a long time dream came to fruition with the offer of a job that makes it possible for me to finally join my beloved here on a full time basis and more or less support myself.  I’ve been praying for this daily for the last year: please provide the means.  A number of doors in the maze of job seeking opened and led to dead ends.  Each one was a short lived thrill of expectation and then an equally short lived disappointment. As I wrote in an earlier post “Has God been Co-opted?” patience is trusting in God’s timing, trusting in Being.  Each of those potential positions was showing me something about myself, how far I was willing and able to stretch, to lean out from my safe and reliable perch as a tenured college professor and pick the higher hanging fruit of change.  The job that I’ve been so lucky and happy to get is just such a plum.  I haven’t signed the contract yet, so I’ll keep things a little vague for the moment.  But suffice it to say that it’s a job in private sector elementary education in a school that is well established as a provider of what I’ll call “whole being” education: inter-disciplinary, collaborative and life based with lots of space for exploring the vast and ever changing outdoors in each season.

When I applied for this job, I had a completely incorrect expectation, which I know is a redundancy.  I made the usual projection my own ideas and sentiments into and onto the unknown reality of the job.  I applied for it as one more opportunity to get here permanently, and even though I got a response from the Board a couple of times before I left Pennsylvania, I had no real “expectation” that I would get an interview let alone get the job. And yet, here I am.  It’s as if the job was waiting for me.  The school, the board, the children were waiting for me.  At the first interview with two board members, I fell head over heels in love with the reality of the position, with its numerous challenges and uncertainties and with its radiant possibilities.  Love at first sight even at a little less than half my previous salary.  No problem!

The reason I’m home here today on this spread of land that backs up to countless conservancy acres in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains is that my partner is away in Seattle at a two day retreat with our beloved Guru and teacher Mata Amritanandamayi Devi known as Amma, “the hugging saint.”  Even though Amma’s organization does what it can to keep down the cost of attending the retreat, which is not for profit, it nevertheless still costs money to produce, and it was money that I thought it better not to spend. It’s not that I don’t have the money; I do.  It’s in my savings account biding its time until I need to buy a ticket to fly east in June to see my family and get my car and winter clothes and then drive the 2300 miles back home.  It’s waiting for the final course in my Waking Down mentor/teacher training, Advanced Mutuality Skills in August.  Its waiting for need to arise, which is different from desire.

Daniel Odier says quite a bit about this in his commentary in the Yoga Spandarika.  He says that the Tantric masters asked about the “whole of human passions . . . How to make it so that all is used, nothing is denied, nothing is rejected . . . so that we will not find ourselves one day face to face with our own demons, who always come back in hordes to destroy the quest?”   He says that for the Tantric, there is “no place for sublimation.  There is simply the act of looking deeply at what is there and of allowing whatever has remained buried to come up out of the ground and open like a budding flower.”

So not going to the Amma retreat is not a renunciation and does not feel like a sacrifice.  It’s an opportunity for me to look at an old pattern, one that says, “oh, what the heck!  I’ll just spend the money and go,” and  let it breathe freely and find expression in the comfort of staying home.  He says “One day, confidence begins to bloom, then flowers.  We then lose the idea of separation, and we get a taste of totality, space . . . a process that never stops evolving over the course of a life . . . process that is this absolute happiness.”

This process is deeply alive in me these days.  Today in particular I feel a simultaneity of excited joy, spaciousness and expansiveness. I have no needs.  I hung a closet rod and put my shirts on hangers.  I moved my altar from one side of the room to the other. I made and drank a smoothie.  The birds are singing.  It’s otherwise absolutely quiet, and the hills are at work being hills.  There’s a way in which they anchor me, drop me more deeply into my body.  Slow me down.

One more quote from Odier:  “When we talk about awakening, it is nothing other than . . . to discover , in a more or less permanent manner, [the] comprehensiveness of the universe, which is wholly contained in our consciousness . . . infinite fluctuation . . . never a beginning, nor an end.”  This is the process of absolute happiness. Be still and know that you are God.

 

Yoga and Great Relief

Today was the first day of my new yoga teaching gig at the Studio on Glover Street in the heart of  Downtown Twisp.  I was pretty psyched about it.  Expectant.  I had my people post flyers around town and had announced it on FaceBook.  The Studio added the class to its Web page.  It seemed like everything was in place.

My beautiful Beloved and I arrived at 9:45 so I could set the bhav or attitude for the room.  I had brought a small picture of my guru, Amma, and turned on the yoga playlist on my iPhone.  Then I stood by the door to wait.

it reminded me faintly of the old days when I gave parties, and I would ask some friends to gather a little early to keep me company while I waited to see if anyone was going to come. If the house and food and drink and music would magically transform into the alchemy of “party.”  Which in the complicated mathematics of the self equals “success .”

As I stood by the door this morning gazing through the red sheer curtain that screens the studio from the street, I felt that old worry. And it metabolized as disappointment. The hands on my watch swept slowly and inexorably toward ten o’clock. My Beloved sat meditating on her mat.

I felt a wash of old uncomfortable feelings: disappointment, unworthiness, embarrassment. At the same time, I remembered when I started teaching the yoga class I’ve taught in Philly for seven years. How many Thursday mornings I felt like the old Maytag repairman, waiting for someone to show up and leaving after half a hour when it was clear that no one would. Or one person would come and how long it took me to feel comfortable with that.

Developing a following takes time, especially being the new yogi in town. My Beloved sat serenely waiting for me to start. I sat on my cushion and closed my eyes and said the words I have said nearly every Thursday for the last three years that I’ve been teaching Yoga for Great Relief: we’ll start with a short closed eye meditation followed by gazing and then I’ll make a few comments and open up for sharing.

The meditation did its usual magic bringing me a deep sense of Being, and the gazing brought us into a communion. It drew me into the font of consciousness, the gateless entrance to what is.

When I began to speak, it was of the feelings that were alive in me, the percolating and shifting flow of those old familiar feelings. Speaking transformed them and cast them in the light of Wisdom.

Being human means being hard wired for self-preservation. And yet, this essential system often becomes our default, a pattern in which we keep our selves coiled in contraction as a way to keep safe from what might cause hurt. Being human means constantly surfing the edge between the finite and the infinite. That requires awareness. How does it feel now? Can I be with that? And Hatha yoga gives us a chance to cultivate and deepen that awareness.

And so we began. Breath, movement, effort and relaxation. And by the end, as we sat quietly after chanting to seal in the practice, I was home again in the great relief that this practice offers. Resting in Trust in Being.