Experiencing: Awaken to Your Aliveness

Being mindful is not a matter of thinking more clearly about experience; it is the act of experiencing more clearly. ~Sam Harris

People often comment that they can’t meditate because as soon as they start meditating, the mind starts chattering away, and then, before you know it, the time is up. Does this sound familiar? 

Experiencing is a very satisfying way to approach your meditation time. It is simple to dofullsizeoutput_421 when you focus on the sensations in the body as energy and vibration, and thereby merge into the field of awareness.

Experiencing is different from having an experience, however wonderful that experience might be. It is different from being entertained like watching a movie. It is even different from being mindful. I can be mindful in the way I eat my food, or slow down my pace and walk mindfully. Your awareness is surely heightened, but these are still more like having an experience, memorable though it may be. It is different also from being in the present moment. I like to make a habit of being in the present moment in the grocery check out line. It’s more enjoyable that way, but I am still very aware of my surroundings. With experiencing you lose the awareness of your surroundings and merge into a field of energy. It is not easy to describe without sounding cuckoo. It feels like every single cell in your body just wakes up all at the same time.

Daydreaming can be a form of experiencing if you are conscious that you are indeed daydreaming. To experience you do enter a trance-like state of being. There is ordinary reality when you are thinking and doing and planning and taking care of things. Then there is non-ordinary reality where you are tuned in to the awareness of you at this moment in time and space. 

I find it difficult to experience with my eyes open. Open eyes directs the awareness outside. Although it can be done and concentration on body sensations can be maintained, the eyes are quick to pick up things to focus on. Then the mind immediately enters and follows up with a story about that thing.

Staying present with what is is a subtle pursuit and the mind becomes easily bored. “Really? Is this all we are doing right now? Is this really doing anything anyway?” Actually, no. It’s the opposite of doing – simply being and feeling.

fullsizeoutput_9f4When you bring your attention inside, it can feel very intense. At times it’s difficult to stay with the intensity, and so, in a split second, the mind is back telling stories and hashing things out. Ego jumps in and wants to make sure s/he is not to blame for any problems or concerns that arise, and, before you know it, you are back to the races with the busy mind chitter chattering away.

Then the task becomes to refocus on the sensations in the body as energy and vibration, slow the breath and settle in to stillness and silence. To heighten the sense of aliveness, tune in to the heartbeat and the flow of blood in the body.

Feel it, be it, experience it. You are alive! Awaken to your aliveness!

Getting Connected

As a modern day mystic, I tend to see things differently. Take laws and the legal system for instance. There are laws that govern our cities, states and country, which are supposedly  there to protect us, but they operate on so many assumptions that are contrary to the mystical, sacred way.

I tend to resonate more with natural laws that indigenous people all over the world ascribe to.  Like plants and animals, we are inextricably a part of nature. Laws of balance, harmony, growth, birth and death govern us no matter what country we happen to be a citizen of. There are spiritual laws like reciprocity, intention, karma, animism, magic, miracles, alignment, and receptivity. There are subatomic, micro-level  quantum laws like resonance, vibration and frequency.

For native people, for instance, you can’t own property. The land is an entity in and of itself which cannot be possessed or owned. This makes sense to me especially since my house is situated in a flood zone which could be under water with sea level rise in the next 50-100 years. Who would own a piece of property that is under water? That brings me to the law of impermanence. When I started meditating and opening to feeling and sensation that was constantly changing in my body, I had to become more comfortable with detaching. Since everything is constantly changing, attachment to people, places and things is not only unwise, it also can cause a great deal of suffering as Buddha says.

Remember the story of Julia Butterfly Hill, environmental activist and tree sitter, who sat in a giant redwood tree for 738 days to save it from being cut down? She was standing up for the rights of the tree. Does a tree have rights? Not according to the logging industry.

Have you seen the Herzog movie “Where the Green Ants Dream?” It’s about a clash between the aborigines and the Australian government that wanted to put a road through aboriginal land. It was slated to be cut through an area where the aborigines believed that the green ants dream. If you plough through there, it would disturb the green ants’ dreaming and that would be the end of life. They resisted by squatting in that area and nearly got bulldozed over.

These are examples of people who are sensitive to the life beyond the veil – between the worlds. As you start getting deeper into your spiritual work, you start to grasp the idea that all is not as it appears. You start to become sensitive to deep feeling and sensation that is alive in everything – even a rock is alive. There is an invisible energy in everything even inanimate objects.

I can’t tell you exactly what this invisible realm is like, but I can feel it in my body when I drop into stillness and silence and get connected.

Experience – Getting Connected

This experience will give you a glimpse into what it’s like to go beyond the veil and awaken to both worlds.

Take a moment to drop in to your body right now. Notice any tension perhaps in your stomach, shoulders, jaw or eyes. Notice how that tension is a way of resisting the full experience of you in this present moment beyond time and space.

Ask yourself – what is that about? Why might I be resisting. Is there fear, anger, sadness? What might that be about? What’s keeping me from surrendering to the ever changing flux of the present?

Tune into your breath. What is the quality of your breath? Are you restricting your breath?

Invite in more and more sensation and feeling with the intention of tolerating greater levels of intensity. Allow yourself to experience greater degree of aliveness as you push the boundaries of your comfort zone.

Enjoy surfing between the two worlds, physical and non-physical, enticing yourself to experience more and more sensation for a little longer.

What did you learn from that? Get out your journal and write down your impressions right away.

 

Anger – Plain and Simple

I am starting to write a book called Craving Closeness: A Creative Work-It-Out Eco-Psycho-Spiritual Journal for Your Mental Health. I realize that’s a mouth full, so let’s just call that the working title. The first thing I am called to address is anger. So here goes.

Anger – Plain and Simple

The best strategy with anger is to accept that you are indeed angry. If you resist, which you can do, it will come back to haunt you, plain and simple. Feelings buried alive never die. “So how in tarnation do I accept my anger?” You ask. The first task it simply to just sit with it. Feel all the effects it has on your body, your physiology, your biological functions – your heart rate, your blood pressure, your muscle tension, your digestion. Get really close to these sensations in your body that are ever changing. Get down to the atomic and molecular levels where the anger is causing the neurotransmitters in your brain to work or stop working in a variety of ways. It affects your hormones. Imagine, if you will, the stress hormone, cortisol, squirting out into your system wreaking havoc on your physiology. Or adrenaline pumping out getting you ready for flight or fight. Again get back to feeling the effects. Get quiet and tune in to your heart, your breathing. What muscles are firing right now?

This is up to you to do. No Fitbit or Google Watch can do this for you. You are the only fullsizeoutput_715one who can feel your feelings, except in the case of resonance, by which your feelings have a frequency and a vibration, which can be felt by other sentient beings whether they are conscious of it or not, and whether they are even in close proximity or not. But I’ll save that subject for another time.

This is powerful stuff! You are having an atomic reaction after all.

You should be feeling pretty uncomfortable at this point. That’s good. Now get into the uncomfortableness. Where do you feel that? How do you experience that? This is where the cravings come in. They start protesting. “Why do we have to feel this? This is too much for me to take. I need relief.” Then the Victim chimes in. “I don’t deserve to feel badly. What did I ever do to deserve this?”

Before we entertain them, locate a piece of paper you can write and draw on, and start writing. Keeping it plain and simple, just start with “I am so angry.” Again. “I am so angry.” Then just “Angry.” And again write out the word “angry” over and over again until you can’t write it any more. Now perhaps repeat the same process with the word “uncomfortable” until you have had enough of that.

Now locate some paints, markers, crayons or pastels. And continue by adding color however you feel drawn to express yourself at this point.

And then rest. Good job! That’s all for now.

 

I Am Already There

My intention these days is to carry a sense of presence with me throughout my daily activities. I have gotten to the stage where the time I spend meditating is very enjoyable and rewarding. I enjoy turning my attention inward and can feel a deep sense of restful awareness when I do. However, as soon as I start to “do” something, the busy mind takes over, and, instantly, I am in a race against time and in resistance to reality.

Here is a funny story I read on the toilet this morning from The Teachings of Sri IMG_0380Ramana Maharshi, edited by David Godman that might elucidate the conundrum.

The seeker questions the guru about the difficulty of maintaining one’s peace of mind when you have to work and tend to the needs of one’s family. “Everyday life is not compatible with such efforts,” he laments.

The guru replies: “Why do you think you are active? Take the gross example of your arrival here. You left home in a cart, took a train, alighted at the railway station here, got into a cart there and found yourself in this ashram. When asked, you say that you traveled here all the way from your town. Is it true? Is it not a fact that you remained as you were, and there were movements of conveyances all along the way? Just as those movements are confounded with your own, so also are the other activities. They are not your own, they are God’s activities.”

In other words, if we are inwardly quiet, not forgetting the Self connected to the All, we can be present during all of our movements and activities. There is no doing. There is nothing to accomplish. There is no getting anywhere.

I tried this today as I was getting ready to teach my class. I kept reminding myself. “I am not doing anything.” Then when I was driving there, I told myself, “I am not going anywhere. I am already here.” That was very different from my usual modus operandi. Usually I am filled with anticipation, hustling and bustling to go sit with presence once I get there.

What a shock! I am already there.

Thinking vs. Knowing

We think we know our own life, but what we know is only an edited version, colored by our emotions and narrow vision.      —Gregg Krech, “Naikan Therapy

Part of being a Modern Day Mystic is distinguishing what you think from what you know. Just the other day, I experienced a rude awakening about the difference between thinking and knowing. I was engaged in a lively inner dialogue between my mother-self and my grown daughter about recent events with her new boyfriend. I found myself lecturing her, and the words started with “I know you….” I had to stop myself and question whether I really did “know” what was going on with her. Quite plainly, I didn’t. I was actually “thinking” this and that about her situation. This realization hit me right between the eyes ~ perhaps that would be in my third eye. 🙂

Catching myself red-handed like that really made me start to wonder about theIMG_6348 different sources of the information that winds up in my head.

This morning I started to consider what book to read while I sat on the toilet. (TMI, I know!) I have a quite a stack. I was thinking that I would pull out one of the daily readers I have, when an image of one of the other books popped into my head. I was going to ignore it, because I had already decided on the daily reader. Since it is my intention lately to really listen to the wisdom of my higher self, I caught myself and decided to go with the book that popped into my head. I was not disappointed. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

I have no idea where the information came from, but it felt different from the everyday thoughts that I have. You might call it intuition. But what, after all, is intuition? What is the source of intuition? Lately I prefer to call it “knowingness.”

My mentor says that we all have our “peeps” that are working behind the scenes to guide and protect us. They include ancestors and our own spiritual guides and helpers. Honestly, I never really understood what she was talking about, but I think I am beginning to.

The other night I had a bout of insomnia. In my mind, I was rehearsing what I had planned to do in yoga class the next day. It was an advanced Sanskrit chanting technique, and it was playing over and over in my head like a broken record. Finally, at my wits end, I decided that it was my “peeps’ trying to get my attention. Maybe they were telling me that it was too advanced, and I needed to change what I had planned. So I promised myself that I would change it to something more basic in the morning. Then I fell right to sleep. When I got to class, I realized it was a good thing because I had 3 new beginning students who may have been turned off by the esoteric chanting.

So, my fellow seekers, I’d be curious to know ~ what kinds of voices do you have going on in your head?

An Experiment with Being Present

Of course I want to be more conscious and more present. Who doesn’t? Being able to sustain longer periods of presence is an on-going goal of mine. Yet I spend most of my time lost in my thoughts. For simplicity sake, let’s say there are 3 major energy centers where your attention can land – your head, your heart space and your pelvis. In general, your head includes thoughts and also spiritual connection to source. Your heart space can be about connection, expansion and sense of self. The pelvis includes the whole pelvic bowl and is about creativity and power. It is interesting to consider what percentage of time you spend in each of these energy centers during an average day.

img_2810I decided to do an experiment. I set an intention to spend the whole day being present with what is in this moment. I not only wanted to be present with “this,” but attempt to take it one step further to be One with it.

I started the day sitting at the computer and became aware of a nagging pain in my sacroiliac joint. This is not new. Usually I try to ignore it and hope it will go away. Today I gently nudged right into it and heard something make a slight popping sound. I didn’t think much of it until I stood up and realized it had adjusted itself.

Okay. Good start.

Then I was in line at the gas station and saw a young man drive by in a truck. I thought about my adult son who is having some troubles and, long story short, lost his truck. I was immediately triggered and started to feel really sad as my mind sunk into that whole story. There is a bottomless pit of heartache around that, and, for a moment, I was concerned that going there and being One with that would swallow me up for the whole day. I stayed with it though and road the wave of emotion and sensation. I included my pelvis for grounding, and it was truly intense. I won’t sugarcoat it.

Okay. Not good.

I was beginning to understand why it is tempting to simply ignore this present moment. It’s intense! I had a momentary distraction doing some shopping and was starving by the time I got home. I gobbled down my salad so fast I got food stuck in my throat.

Okay. Not mindful.

I slowed down, but what was that about? I became present and got in touch with the little kid inside that was starving and wanted food now. That greedy, hungry, little animal that wants what she wants and wants it now! Do I really

fullsizeoutput_5dwant to be One with that part of myself now? Do I have a choice? Not today. So I sat down to meditate and let that part express herself fully. She goes something like this, “I want, I want, I
want. I need, I need, I need, etc…” After a while I remembered a compassion exercise in which you enlist your witness consciousness self to say “I’m sorry that you have unfulfilled wants, needs and desires.” And you keep going with specifics about your feelings at the time until you have exhausted all possible avenues. That felt deeply satisfying, and then, when I opened my eyes, this beautiful, compassionate lady (Kuan Yin) was looking straight at me from the mantel.

Okay. Not perfect, but it’s a start.