Today, I send into your meditation The Force. From Star Wars comes the famous line, “May the Force be with you.” The curious thing about the phrase is it suggests there are times when The Force might not be with you. As if it were a bit like luck. Either you have the good fortune of its company and have been given the special training to use it, or so sorry little Jedi, The Force is with Darth this night.
Possibly the greatest spiritual revolution in the last five hundred years is the awareness that we can never be separate from this great Force. Regardless of religious or cultural understanding we are always in The Force. There is no outside of it. We can resist it, ignore it, refuse to acknowledge it, but “it” is never gone. Even without one prayer given we are never bereft of its presence or available guidance. Any sensation of separation is entirely on our part. Any story we tell of our bad luck is a story we are creating to explain things we don’t understand. It is a story based on a Force that has forgotten us to avail itself of what we believe to be worthier warriors.
We all have a kind of romance with the notion of “The Force”, yet here we are fully loaded with all the power we could ever need, yet find ourselves frequently feeling adrift on galactic winds. Floating directionless in a foreign galaxy longing for a master like Obi Wan to help us find our way or bestow upon on us the wisdom we so desperately seek. We tell many variations of the general theme that we are, somehow, lost and alone. We’ve come to believe we need a nail-gripping challenge of a death star to push past our limits and know the true depth of our essence.
All of us have an inner Yoda. A voice, an inclination, an intuitive compass that guides us at all times. We may be lousy listeners or worse navigators, but what we seek is in this immediate now. This Force is within us, because we are it and it is we. We quiet ourselves in meditation that we might come to hear this Force, not so much in words but in feeling and a deeper knowing. In fact, we are so beautiful in our power that naked we possess the ability to heal beyond our wildest dreams. Sitting here all alone in our small lives we have the power of the greatest warriors that ever walked the Earth. We are not alone for we have been deeply woven into the fabric of this universe by an energy that spins the finest silk thread out of stardust.
Spoken more accurately, the line should read, “May the Force be known to you.”
Today, I send into your meditation a Christmas tree. Few things are quite as beautiful, even in their simplest garb, as a Christmas tree standing alone in the corner of a darkened room. With the children off to bed and even the fire burned down to embers, its value transcends holiday gifts and punch bowls full of nog. In the quiet of the late evening it shimmers and draws all into the mystery. Though the light cast is not bright, there is a magic within it notwithstanding. The ambience of the tree pulls us in as surely as moths to a flame. As a symbol of late December it has brought the Christmas holiday into most homes whether Christian or not. We are drawn to the flickers of light that dispel the darkness, regardless of our secular or religious notions. All have come to share in the delight at midnight hours its curious luminescence.
On this great earth are many things, but of late, a thread of violence, greed and despair has consumed our times. Such suffering has gripped our planet and it is often difficult to turn away. What shall dispel this darker part of us? What can illuminate the human heart in such a way as to cast out shadows? Where shall the light come to push that ebony veil back a few feet that we might breathe more deeply?
Until we come to know fully our own luminescence, we will always feel the oppression of that curtain about us. If we can awaken within ourselves our own shimmering light, we become like the Christmas tree, a beacon in dark corners. We alter the darkness not by demand, but by attraction. As we become our true brilliance, all come forward wishing to bask in the glow. Awakened our light joins others dangling so delicately from the tree of life that says:
“No darkness shall prevail this night.
No suffering shall lay waste upon my door.
For I am the lone star beaming forth into the firmament.
I am the light that dispels shadows.
I am the voice that calls to others – wake up, see who you are!
See how your light shimmers – see how beautifully it glows.
I hold the power to wipe away darkness in the most dispirited souls beating magically, wildly within my breast.
I shall not listen to the wind that shakes the limbs with fear for I hold fast and true to this branch.
I hold fast and clear to this moment.
I am the mystery!
I am the light!”
As I look upon the post-processed images I often feel I have stepped into another life. A life separate from the hike that actually took place. As if I have been given a second life laid on top of the first where art, light, and shadow burst into life and I get to live the experience in some other fashion. I see the blues and blacks or deep yellows inside the photographs as if through Yellow Submarine glasses. Glasses that alter the reality of the land into patterns of shapes and highlights. Nothing is really the same in the image as it was on the trail. The other senses are suddenly shut down and my inner eye is the only thing firing on all cylinders.
I am also different, curled up under a blanket, nose deep into my smartphone. I am pouring back out within a very tight focus, what the trail poured in.
I see the four Beatles long-legged images from the Yellow Submarine poster flash through my mind. The psychedelic movie and madcap song that have nothing to do with dirt trails, but in my artistic mind they seem connected. I am distorting the image, the way their music often distorted our minds. A little Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds again. Nothing is as it seems.
I am there in the image, as I was when I took it, but I am also not there now, as the image has a life of its own separate from the hike. I am hearing birds and feeling the frost, but as I tweak the image I hear Ringo Starr’s throatier voice proclaiming that we all do live in a yellow submarine.
The beauty of all creative endeavors is they shift our focus, even if only briefly, from what we believe is real, to what is also real, but must be powered by our psycho-emotive-spiritual energy. My creative world is no less real to me than the feeling of cliff face beneath my hand.
A few years back my friend, Juan Crocco in Chile turned me onto photography. Up until then photography was for me just people standing by monuments taking pictures of themselves or photo albums filled with images of children opening up Christmas presents. I didn’t even own a camera and hadn’t taken an a photograph in over a decade. I’m not particularly nostalgic, so have never spent much time looking at photo albums. In my last couple of house moves I had, in fact, jettisoned ninety percent of my photographs and albums.
Juan encouraged me to take photographs while hiking as a mindfulness exercise. I was going through a rough patch and he thought this might help. Wise man. It did more than help. It healed me.
I interact with images taken not as an observer to what had been there, but what I might find now. I am on a treasure hunt. Seeking shadows and reflected light. There’s a conversation going on between myself and the image. I am not cataloging my hikes. I’m talking to myself in symbols and abstractions that affect me deeply at an emotional level. Thus, for me, photography isn’t about what was there, so much as it is about what is now inside me being viewed through the effected image. An inner art I am not aware of until I begin to work with the image. It’s this crazy blending of photography and my own personal mojo that creates something else entirely in the end. I live the joy of the hike and then I live the joy of the art.
This pattern, now rooted in me, has become a pattern of living and altering, experiencing and awakening. It has been growing like prairie weeds out of the images and into my day to day life. There is what is here in this moment, physically and then there is what is in this moment more abstractly. The things in my life that live as highlights on the edges of things. Shadows that create contrast not darkness or fear. I want to alter my vision. Don my Yellow Submarine glasses and see that world from some other angle entirely. To live with a little psychedelic energy in my soul. Not through drugs or other altering substances but through the spirit in me. The bigger eye that sees so deeply into things the things I look at deeply change.
“In the town where I was born
Lived a man who sailed to sea
And he told us of his life
In the land of submarines
So we sailed up to the sun
Till we found the sea of green
And we lived beneath the waves
In our yellow submarine”
“Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles, album cover art by George Martin
Today, I send into your meditation Paris. How can we best serve the wounded, the dead and the aggrieved, as well as, the angry, the vengeful, the perpetrators of such suffering? Where in our practice can we rest our thoughts of confusion, fear, and despair? In what way can we be most effective? How might we turn this tragedy into something else entirely? Something that heals, binds us in love and strengthens us in our deeper knowing that we are all one. For we are as much in the lost and frightened wandering in the streets of that great city, as we are in the hearts and minds of the bombers.
When we come to understand this deeply we see there is no escape. There is nowhere to go. We are already in it with them. We carry their pain, hatred, fear, and grief within ourselves. We are The One and so we are the terrorist and the terrorized. We are the dead and the living. We are what remains whole and what has been destroyed.
Separation from the Parisians or from the terrorists is an illusion.
In Joe Vitale’s work on the Hawaiian prayer for healing and forgiveness, ho’oponopono he speaks of Dr. Hew Len’s work in a Hawaiian prison where he prayed each day for forgiveness from each prisoner. The psychiatrist asked for forgiveness from prisoners he’d never even met, because in his culture the prisoner’s wounds were his wounds. The crimes they’d committed he believed were his crimes. Through this process extraordinary healing came to that prison. If we are one, then we each can ask for forgiveness, healing and grace for the whole. We need not wait for the accused to heal themselves. We need not wait for the wounded to become whole again, to reach within our collective being and see our own wholeness manifest before us. We can ask forgiveness now from all who suffer.
In the end are we not the best to do so? Are we not in the safest position, away from the smoke and cries to ask for forgiveness and healing? To give what others in our Oneness are not yet able to give? As we do so with love, we are laying our own hands, in this moment, on the hearts of many. We are all connected. We are not powerless. We are not trapped in violence and despair.
And so we sit. The silence descends amidst our wandering thoughts, and still we persist. We turn back again and again to the breath, the mantra, the voice leading us down a guided trail. We let go. We accept. We see our own wounds inside this situation and we seek in the next breath to heal ourselves. For healing of others begins within our own being.
Be fearless and step into the heat of this breath full of our collective pain, breathe out all the love you have to give. Do not spare your amends to the bomber you would give willingly to the baby. For us to heal, we must all heal. To be whole, we must all be whole. There is no force greater on this earth than our own willingness to except responsibility for the wounds we all share and bow our heads in humble forgiveness that we find our way together.
I haven’t been posting much lately, as a quiet has permeated my mind that is difficult to describe. I am not without thought, but rather a tension I hadn’t noticed was consistently there until now gone. I find myself suspended a bit, as if my thoughts have slowed enough for me to lift a few inches off the ground. I laugh to hear Obi Wan in my head. “There is no disturbance in your force, young Jedi.”
I think about this objectively, as if examining an exotic beetle. Iridescent blues, pinks and greens of the scarab float as a mist about my mind. It’s a little “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” inside of me these days, but without the psychedelics. I am not in nirvana nor have I become some Bodhisattva. There’s still a good bit of funky shit in this old noggin. It seems, at least for the present moment, I’ve lost interest in the inner drama. It begins it’s crawl across my mental windowsills, as I have allowed it to do for decades, but find myself either completely disinterested or curious that such a creature should have found its way into my home.
There doesn’t seem to be a point in wondering where it all came from. I’m fifty-two years old. Like most people I’ve been a hoarder of life experiences and reactions and reflexive memories since I hit terra firma. I’ve been storing a lot of stuff for a very long time. Cement boots sit next to a Mad Hatter’s hat, teetering on top of ballet shoes, dangling from a business suit as worn as all the other items inside my mind. They all have the same value to me now. The reasons for all of my previous costumes and acting parts just doesn’t seem all that important.
I move about the attic looking at it all. There was a time the sheer volume of internal debris and boxed up crap would’ve overwhelmed me. Now I look at it all, as if from a great distance, and watch the decay. A millennium’s impact on a human life leaves nothing in its wake. Everything in the end returns to the earth or to the Force, as Yoda would say. I feel no need to wait the time out. I imagine it is already decaying, evaporating and blowing out into a strong, celestial wind. This young Jedi has other things to do.
I am uncommonly joyful these days. There’s always more to evolve and grow, places to be challenged and changed, but I seem to have found a sort of sweet spot. I note areas for this same growth, yet feel little struggle at the discoveries that are causing me to let go of old ways. My heart pumps steadily and even my breathing seems the easiest it has ever been. I have engaged many new strategies for living lately that I can clearly see are working. On a broader level, I can see it is not just these few things, but an odyssey I’ve been on to let go of old versions of myself that no longer serve. I look back and see I’ve been opening up windows drawing in the freshest air for now on seven years. My latest mantra that simply rose up in my mind now makes sense to me.
“I am open to fresh ideas, fresh thinking and all manner of newness to my soul. Show me, Source Energy, what I have never seen in this world or in myself before.”
Freshness as a quality, a way, a manner of looking at things seems to have pervaded every corner of my life. I take clothes from the closet and put them in new combinations I have never worn before and suddenly feel I have a new wardrobe. I take off down side streets not caring the way home will be longer, as I feel an eagerness to see new paths to the same place. I walk into work and feel the lightness of my step. The day cannot be the same as it has always been, because I am not the same as I have always been. I cut open a tomato and really look at it. The pulp, flesh and seed. What an amazing miracle something so common really is. The cat meows hello for the millionth time and I am completely taken with the look of love on her face, as if she had never spoken once before.
Even as I laugh more I grow more quiet within. The chatter of my mind seems at an all time low. I am certain something will arise to get it clambering again, but for now I relish its gentle murmur. I realize I am no longer afraid. Afraid of life, other’s thinking, myself, the future, the past. I am no longer afraid. I could write that sentence a thousand times and it would be no less wondrous to me. I am no longer afraid is as fresh an idea as cut lemons and spring rain.
Fresh. New. What I have never seen before.
Now to milk this moment for all that it is worth. Really indulge in the joy and the peace, as a child would a huge, autumn leaf pile. Isn’t that the true glory? The moment you feel free enough from yourself to actually enjoy the present moment meeting yourself, as if it were the first time.
When I was younger my following of new age spirituality was, if I’m wholly honest, more about novelty than any meaningful appreciation for the ideas. I was looking for an out from what I grew up with. Not that there was anything wrong with what I grew up with, other than it was what I grew up with. Now, as I grow older, I find myself revisiting many new age thoughts. More from the heart, rather than my typical brain level. As I dig deeper a richness that was apparently lost on me before unfold from my center.
I watched the eclipse last night in all its blood moon glory. As she came out of her dark phase and her sliver of light fell upon me it seemed not only right, but very powerful to contemplate a prayer to such an opalescent moon. Kneeling on the lawn in my urban neighborhood I found myself immediately connected to millions of native tribes around the world. Each attuned to the earth and the skies. Humble and grateful for the very pulse of the heavens. I find an appreciation, not only my life, but all life naturally fills me the moment my feet touched the grass. The intimacy of Source Energy comes up through the earth and rises up my legs, as it pours down upon my head and wraps itself around my arms with the subtlest breeze. There is no waiting when your skin touches the earth. Love is poured into you, as cool water into a great urn.
How strange it seems to me that we have, in many of the world’s religions, forsaken this extraordinary intimacy. An intimacy that feels more natural than any pew or scripture, but can only be known at a level that seems to lack any description. Maybe to the human brain, this is its offense. That we can know you and yet not describe or confirm any boundary or limit or specificity to you. Maybe all religion is, is the outward manifestation of our inner madness at this affront. We cannot wholly know you, so we will stomp our feet and defy you and say that we can. We are, as a species, nothing if not stubborn. I smile, realizing I am also talking of my own stubbornness.
The crickets creek, the tall grasses rustle and the owl hoots in the marsh. It is clear we are all ready to pray.
May your luminescence fill me. Fill every pour of my being and ignite every cell. May your wisdom and gentle balancing of the earth and the tides, be a balancing within me, as well. May I cast this gift of light I take from you tonight, everywhere I go. May I be a full moon in the dark night of others that I, too, become a beautiful celestial body floating in this Universe. Not only on this night, but in all the days of my life.
Namaste, my dear friend.
As the night’s cool, even if the days have not, my mind ponders the autumn. A sacredness for transition points has settled into my soul of late. The awareness that one thing is ending and something else has not yet bloomed. I feel that inner toggle switch laying idle in my hand, as there is no clear direction yet to take. One season eases out slowly in the daylight hours, while another is tiptoeing in at night. I find myself embracing, more and more, in-between spaces and allowing the peace it brings to sink deeply into me. Intuitively, I see the power in their lack of direction or action.
There was a time when everything in my life had to have some clear direction. Some plan, clear outcome, a certainty provided on the front end that all would be well. I realize our entire culture has built this need for safeguards and assurances in. We have insurance polices for every possible eventuality. Contracts to ensure everything goes according to plan or someone else will be at fault if it doesn’t. We have schedules and calendars and smartphones that offer alerts so nothing can be forgotten. We are all so afraid of the unknown, the unexpected, the misdirection, which, in the end is never a misdirection. Spiritually speaking, we are always going in the right direction. It can only be the wrong direction by our reaction and resistance to where we are.
I’ve come to understand the weakness in the constant hunger to know where things are going. A hunger that is always driven by fear. Given how little we can predict ahead, I was surprised when it dawned on me how much of my life I’d lived with a low-grade anxiety. Constantly seeking ways to know the future or like some boy scout, be prepared for every possibility. For a woman who would never describe herself as anxious, it was a revelation.
Now I watch the leaves turn as a summer wind lifts the edges of my skirt. I sense myself leaving a number of things, but also feel no clear planting of my feet into something else. An older version of me wants to pull out the notepad and make lists so something can be accomplished to get it all moving to somewhere. I smile and breathe down her fear. She’s worried nothing will get done. She’ll end up wallowing in no man’s land without a life. She’ll miss the boat, she’ll be left behind. Oh, the calamity of no plan!
Today, I’ll just enjoy being nowhere. The sun is up and there are hours left to play. As a destination, nowhere is a grossly underrated place to be. If I possess any doubt about this all I need do is stop and listen. Ah, see, starlings have filled the cattail beds.
I remember Wayne Dyer speaking of walking on grass in bare feet whenever he couldn’t sleep. He traveled so much that he’d learned to do this whenever it was possible and found he slept well, with little jet lag. He believed the body finds rhythm when it touches, intimately, the earth.
Sleep, for this menopausal woman, is an art form I am determined to master. So sandals in hand I stepped onto the grass. The sprinkler system had run earlier and the grounds were all wet. The water was cold, but the air warm enough it wasn’t unpleasant. I began walking the lawn planning on a tour or two before donning my shoes and finishing my walk. I found the cool, soft feeling of the grass so pleasant though, that I lingered.
After a time, I stepped out onto the cement sidewalk, and then the hard-packed dirt and scrub grass of the further path. Each sensation registered in my feet with acute awareness. Seeds stuck to my soles, some hard and older, many soft and fuzzy. I felt the ragged edge of a stone and the cushioned step of a bed of dandelions. A burr in my little toe stopped me short and was remedied just as quickly. Without shoes each step registered clearly in my mind. The weight and length of each stride became a mantra of sorts. Surfaces were rough or soft, warm or cold, hard or permeable and the impression of each experience kept me keenly aware of where I was. Not merely lost in thought, but lost in sensation.
I walked without shoes for almost an hour.
When I was a child I spent all summer free of shoes. My soles would be tough as shoe leather by summer’s end. I traveled woods and lakes, streams and bogs. I loved adventures that involved climbing trees and hopping stones. Huck Finn had nothin’ on this tom boy knee-deep in lake muck looking to catch a painted turtle. As I walked I thought a lot about her, skin tanned, shins scabbed and dirt under every single fingernail.
After a day in front of computers, breathing canned air and pondering life under fluorescent, I find she is a welcome visitor to my mind and my feet. She pushes out a sterility that has settled in on the shirt tail of professional attire, heels and security badges. The walk has turned from an exercise in sleeping to one of being awake.
If anyone’s interested I slept seven hours straight. Thank you, Wayne….
In the lesson section of “A Course in Miracles” comes the lesson, “My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts”. We see only the world created by our past thoughts that we then project into our current now. Just like a projector projects a movie onto a screen, we use all that we’ve previous learned to formulate what we believe is happening right now. This has been complicated for me to grasp, yet somewhere in my brain I knew this to be true.
Recently, I attended a workshop on neuro-sculpting, the art of using meditation techniques to sculpt both the left and right side of your brain. One of the very cool and salient points relates to how the brain creates memories. We think of our brain like a big file folder. Christmas 1969 is in one folder, car accident 1991 in another and so on. When we recall something we think of it like opening up a cabinet and pulling that moment out and recalling it, as it happened.
Actually, the brain is a mega-processor that stores sensory information in a multitude of sites. When we recall a memory the brain actually has to put it together. It pulls information related to that moment in time from a variety of sources and re-constitutes it, so to speak as a memory. So in essence what we think of as a snapshot or a true to life, short film, is actually a manufactured story. To no surprise we manufacture our histories in various ways depending on why we wanted to recall it. Thus, nothing we are remembering can wholly be said to be exactly true. It is true to the point of view we currently possess and through that filter we formulate what we remember.
How does this apply to a preoccupation with the past? Everything we perceive now we perceive only from the point of view of previous experience and knowledge. When I approach a road rotary I drive through it not as a new experience, but from all of my knowledge from past driving on how to drive through one. If my boss calls me into her office, my thoughts on my way there are tainted with every past experience I’ve ever had about going to an authority figure’s office. All those thoughts feel like they are related to what is happening now, but what I’m really experiencing as I walk to her office or enter that road rotary is every experience I’ve previous had on this subject.
Waking up is about focusing all of our energy off the film and into this now moment. Forsaking the illusions we, ourselves, have created over time and space from what we have learned, come to believe or acquired through life experience. So what does this really look like? I mean, if we aren’t who we think we are right now, with this massive machine of past-ness, then what is really happening now?
This becomes my consuming thought as I drive into work this morning. What is really happening now and how does this impact who I think I am?
Two small green bugs are clinging to my windshield. They have likely been there for some time, probably since the house, but until the sun’s rays hit the windshield I hadn’t seen them. Sunrise lights up the hairs on their legs and they appear on fire. The streetlight turns green, but it is very difficult to look away from them. One walks slowly toward the other and their antenna touch. I can’t help feeling I am witnessing the greeting of the Universe with itself. “Oh… there you are.” I open myself to feel the beauty of this. Not superficially, like someone reading a novel, but really open myself to their antenna touching. I am not thinking of previous bugs or drives to work or other sunrises. I am in my car, at the light, unfettered by other thinking, gazing upon two green bugs on my windshield. In this moment, I am wholly free of past or future. It’s just me, the bugs, the sun and the divine. I focus on breathing their fiery bodies in. The moment lasts what seems a very long time.
A horn blares and I start moving. I realize to hold onto the moment of fire with my friends is again to hold onto the past when something else is already in play. Each now is delivering something potent. I open the window and can smell exhaust immediately, but as I drive I can also smell the sweet scent of summer grasses, now drying, in the fields that I pass. They sway with the whoosh of passing cars. The sun now up, hits the glass of an office building and I am briefly blinded. I feel the cones in my eyes constrict like a cat against the intrusion of light. I relax and let my peripheral vision take over. A swallow, up way too early, dashes past my windshield, barely seen out of the corner of my eye. The car hums beneath my seat and I note the satisfied feeling of a belly full with breakfast.
Can anyone hold this level of exquisite detail all day? What happens when you relinquish every story you are in the habit of telling yourself all day about what you ‘think’ is happening and immerse yourself solely in the details of what is happening in just this split second? Can I be that aware, I wonder, as the smell of someone’s cigarette drifts in my car window? Do people really accomplish their jobs this way? It all seems unlikely and yet I instinctively know this must be the path.
For now, work is in my future. The bed I came from already my past. What will happen to me today, if I hang in this ever rolling moment? I feel the importance of that intention swirl around my heart. As I touch the coconut oil lip balm to my dry lips and feel it’s smoothness nourish my skin I realize it is me that is now on fire?