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.

Yoga Teacher Goes Crazy

I started teaching a yoga class called Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra is a deeply relaxing guided meditation. It’s similar to Corpse Pose or Shavasana that you may be familiar with at the end of many yoga classes. Yoga Nidra means “yogic sleep” and takes you to the place between waking and sleep where you can experience such profound stillness and silence that you can awaken to your essential nature as pure awareness.

I consider it a privilege to have the honor to be a guide for people in this way. The only problem is that I find myself having reactions to people’s reactions. People love to IMG_1004give you feedback which is their prerogative, but what they might not realize is that just because they like it a certain way that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone is going to like it that way. One person likes this; the other likes that. I was starting to go crazy managing all the needs and responses of my students when I decided I needed to take my own advice and use my reactions to dive deeper into my own defensiveness and resistance.

Yoga by its very nature is a contradiction in terms. On the one hand, you are there to reach that blissful state of union with the All, and, on the other, there are forces conspiring against your ability to get there. It could be an external distraction like traffic noise that just gets stuck in your craw. Or (more likely) it could be an internal disturbance like “I can’t do this yoga pose perfectly, so the teacher shouldn’t ask me to do it. I’m going to talk with her after class about the scientific research that shows IMG_0688that pose is bad for your body.” It is these internal conflicts that disguise themselves so well that we don’t recognize that they coming from our own conflicts between our ego minds and reality.

Yoga teachers, myself included, make sure to provide the precaution to “Listen to your body,” and give you adaptive poses for the more difficult ones. But still our comparing minds persist and insist.

So why was I getting so upset by the feedback?

Then I remembered a phrase that my yoga teacher, Yogi Amrit Desai, often uses. “Let go of the need to do it perfectly.” Ah ha! I was putting pressure on myself to do it perfectly not only so that everyone had a great experience, but also so I wouldn’t get in trouble for not doing it perfectly. This deep belief goes back to childhood when we would get punished or lose love and attention if we spilled our milk or pooped our pants. Many of us learned that it is essential to try to control our impulses to avoid the shame and embarrassment, and, when that failed, try to control the environment. A lot of us also learned that adults often blame outside circumstances for their mistakes, and we adopted that approach by default.

So where do I go from here? What if I could let go of the shame and blame just long enough to be with the impossible imperfection of the All?

Shedding Your Skin

You may have heard that 2016 is a 9 year. In numerology you add the digits together to come up with the number like this 2+0+1+6 = 9. 9 is a number of completion and endings because next year will be a 1 which is when we get to start again fresh. Also December 12th or 12-12 is considered to be a gateway to higher consciousness so this is an ideal time to shed the old skin and release any energies and emotions that are not yours.

I had a revelation the other night while I was lying quietly in bed in the stillness of the fullsizerender_2night thinking about shedding my skin. The old skin is a metaphor for a habitual energy body that is based on old fears, fallacies and misconceptions from childhood. It is made up of portals, hooks, receptor sites and open invitations for old stuff like limiting self concepts, ancestral patterns, and toxic family members; energies we have been carrying with us for perhaps life times.

Some might be for those people in our lives who can rob us of our power. You know who that is. If you remember Red Dog from the Lynn Andrews stories, he took her marriage basket, which was a symbol for the balance of masculine and feminine energies.

Is there someone in your life who can do that to you?

As I lay there, I could feel that the tensions in my body were alien energies. They were not mine! They are hanging around from ancient maybe ancestral times and may have been IMG_0800the result of trauma and abuse from the past and lingering defensive structures that really don’t serve any longer. Often when I attempt to open up my heart, I can feel a compression that doesn’t allow my heart space to expand. Whatever that is, it is not mine!

Old stories also live in our energy bodies. They have hooks and hangers to latch onto and can get going really quickly. We are powerless to stop the worthlessness, comparisons, and disaster stories unless we remove the sites for them to hang on to. Do you really want to keep that old junker lying around?

That’s where Snake energy can be helpful. We can simply shed the whole energy body coat, pockets and all and be free

When you get this radical idea of shedding your old energetic skin, there is a sense of possibility to really be able to be open to the present. It’s not – “It is what it is.” It’s –“It is what is NOW!”

Peaceful Solstice to you, my brothers and sisters.

Comfortable In Your Own Skin

Early on in my career, I worked at a drug and alcohol recovery center with teenage girls. My supervisor asked me what I wanted to accomplish with the girls, and I said I wanted to help them feel comfortable in their own skin.

“That will never happen,” she said dismissively.

On one hand, I understand what she meant, and yet on the other, I still deeply believe that no matter what trauma we have experienced and no matter how spooked out of our sovereign space we may be, there is still an innate capacity to connect to our own eternal, infinite nature. Words like presence, consciousness, awareness, beingness, knowingness, Soul, expanded sense of self, or true nature point to the ineffable experience.IMG_6059

I recognize that there is a great deal of resistance and the ego-mind might squirm a bit. Often feelings of despair, guilt and resentment are lurking just below the surface. You will inevitably bump into many obstacles digging through the bedrock. Perseverance in the vein of allowing whatever is to be as is can melt ancient armouring along the littered pathway.

Judgments about the rewards to be had from going within often impede coming home to oneself. Thoughts like: “I should feel good, positive, loving, wise or ___________, may cause us to give up before we even begin.

Impatience can be easily subdued with gentle reminders to relax, breathe, allow and most importantly… FEEL. 

It’s okay to feel. It’s good for you to feel.

Feel body sensations. That means all body sensations, whether pleasant or painful. Feel your skin using a sense of heightened awareness. Feel the aliveness of your autonomic nervous system, and bodily functions, like breathing, heartbeat, blood flow, and temperature regulation.

Once you catch a glimpse of dimensionless presence, it will intensify as you continue to focus your attention on it, letting it grow and stepping back to observe and watch and quite simply experience.

Welcome home to the place where your soul resides.

Going into the Wilderness through Art

IMG_0836The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.     ~Albert Einstein

Am I just getting old or is time speeding up? People in my circle just seem to be getting hit left and right with major life challenges. As we enter the new world, it is becoming increasingly more important to check in with our spirit, soul, selves frequently throughout the day. One way to do that is to make some art. A daily art making practice has the capacity to be a mini-visionquest, and you can bring food and water!

Creativity is part of our true nature. That means that everyone (whether you consider yourself to be a creative person or not) needs to create. But…

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself. ~ Alan Alda

To be inspired and allow the creative spirit to come through, you need to be present like in meditation. You need to be able to receive the signal. It doesn’t matter how clever or talented you are if you are not connected. A state of allowing what is present right now is the most conducive. What am I feeling, thinking? Allow whatever is there to bubble up without editing. Notice the resistance but let it go.

Scribble technique: To practice, take a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Get centered and still for a moment. Then when you are ready start to scribble. Up and Down, left and right. Circular, jagged. Keep going until you come to a stopping place. Now just take a look. Turn the paper around and pick a spot to go in with color. Use markers or pastels to start coloring in sections that get your attention.IMG_0837

Afterwards take a look and start writing down associations. What got uncovered? Revealed? Discovered? What is trying to get your attention? What do you want to change? Feel free to add or subtract. Date it and give your art a title and you are done.

Making art gives us a chance to stop and get into a relaxed state. No matter how fast time is going, we don’t need to be racing around trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. That’s the old paradigm. When we are tight and tense and wishing things weren’t as they are, we are denying ourselves. We can neutralize external pressures by taking time to expand into the vibration of our own spirit, soul, selves. Making art is one way to do that.

PS: The first scribble is called “Hummmmmmm…” and is a reminder for me to chant throughout the day. The second is called “Healing Light” and looks a lot like the cast on my broken arm (another story) that needed attention.

Nowhereland

We only need to take the first step beyond all that we have known for reality to begin to unfold itself before us. ~ Adyashanti

IMG_1485In Chasing Serenity, Maya C. is in constant conflict with reality because of her helplessness over her son’s drug addiction. That is until she takes the final step into Nowhereland. To go to Nowhereland is elementary, my darlings. All you have to do is drop into this present moment. The portal is right here with you all the time, but ego-mind can’t see it. The mind is too busy comparing, analyzing, remembering, future tripping, worrying, and judging to notice that door right here all the time.

Dropping In

Take a deep breath in and hold it for a moment of time. Exhale slowly. The first step is to stop stressing and obsessing and create a safe place for your spirit/soul/self to come into and merge with the body. Check your adrenal glands in the middle of your back just above the kidneys. Tell your adrenal glands that it’s safe to relax. There are no tigers chasing you. Then drop in.

Dropping in is simply dropping your awareness down from thinking and doing to feeling and being. Breathe in again and as you exhale bring your whole being on line into a state of neutrality. Neutrality is when there are no distinctions between things. There is no black or white, good or bad. Everything just is as it is. We are as we are. The ego mind will argue with this. “But, but, but…” it says. Remember before you go chasing (or running from) a thought that all your other glands shut down when the adrenals start pumping adrenaline and cortisol into the system. It’s the other glands that release the subtle, sweet nectar of love and bliss. Do you like love and bliss? Thinking, any and all thinking, shuts down the other glands!

IMG_5178Think Less. Be More.

The mind is persistent and sneaky. Before you know it, it will slip back into action. If thoughts come back in, you are back in duality. Think less. Be more. Thoughts are attachments. Detach. Let go. Quit holding on. American culture seems to support holding on to stuff. How much stuff can you hold on to? That’s a sign of success. The opposite is surrender. I am at peace with my self as I am, and the world as it is. That can be a tough affirmation for the mind. “But, but, but…,” it will protest.

Stop fighting with reality. Go back to the breath. Deep breath in. Hold it. Exhale slowly and let the thoughts dissolve. Melt into the exhale and take that final step into Nowhereland. Open that door that is always right here all the time, and swim on through to the other side.

The Self is a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. ~Carl Jung.