No Other

 

 Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back into the same box.

                                                                                                Italian proverb

 

 I first heard the word wholeness from Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist.  His view of our humanity/our divinity resonated in me, especially his recognition of our innate wholeness.  

 We are one, holy and wholly one.  We are all that is. 

 Jung referred to our oneness as the Self.  The truth and beauty and undividedness of our essential being.  The Self, a representation of the wholeness/truth that we are.

 Who am I?

 I am that

I am all there is

 What does it look like to remember and embody wholeness?  What does it feel like to know, deeply and viscerally know there is no other?

 Remembering our full being, remembering and owning wholeness requires us to become conscious . . . in an unfolding and every widening/deepening way. 

 We are privileged with a capacity for self-awareness.  

 Jung found a calling within all of us to individuate . . . to remember our wholeness, the Self. Through self-inquiry, we, often, first become conscious of our distinct personalities.  We become self aware by exploring our interior and integrating all our energies, all our parts, our memories, and history . . . 

 Jung intuited the fact that we all have the whole world within us.  The dictator’s impulse for complete power and control.  Mother Teresa’s calling to touch the untouchables.  The ancestor’s ethnic or cultural traditions, the push for achievement, the receptivity of being still.  The win at any cost; open hearted generosity, feeling frail and weak, loving no matter what, the capacity for arrogance and greed, and the fear of dying alone. His map of the psyche (soul) encouraged us to recognize and integrate all that is within us.  

 Imagine being compassionate, empathetic and kind to every emotion you feel, to every thought you have, to every “mistake” you make; in fact, imagine being open to its energy, open and curious.

 For the longest time I understood this map (and put it to good use) conceptually.  It helped me feel empathic towards myself, forgive and understand folks who had “wronged” me and gave me an expansive view of our humanity. By exploring my own deep emotions, no matter how “ugly” they might be by my standards I, non-judgmentally, learned to compassionately understand what was driving me and my fellow human as well.  

 It simply made sense to me that as we, through making conscious what was unconscious, would be cooperating with an evolution of consciousness . . . an expansion that erases the illusion of there being an “other.” 

 In our heart of hearts whether we are consciously aware or not (remember, have glimpses, ripening in the truth of it) we know there is no other.   

 

*                            *                             *

 Instead, most often, we run from everything we cannot tolerate. We hate, disavow and often project out onto others what we refuse to own within ourselves. 

 We, personally and culturally, are a tangle of defense mechanisms.  We try to suppress everything that’s not comfortable for us. We distance ourselves from our shadows (Jung’s term), all ugliness relegated to the basement or cut out of awareness.  We defend ourselves against what we don’t want to recognize, to know, to face or to accept. 

 We deny our “negative” feelings, the parts of ourselves we consider abhorrent and undesirable and anything that appears contrary to how we see ourselves.  

 And yet, there really is no human emotion or behavior that, if we are willing to kindly look, we cannot relate to, understand, accept, and be with in a constructive way. 

 And when we do not look, when we stay asleep at the wheel?

 What we do not bring to consciousness will be acted out, played out.  Period!  

 Isn’t it agonizingly obvious that we act out against ourselves, against each other, against our best interests and against our environment over and over again?   

 What does it mean to own our shit . . . stop blaming ourselves and others, end projections?

 Give yourself the gift of sweet encounters that are judgment free, not filled with suspicion and assumptions.  Meet the toothless truck driver delivering wood and be available for a genuine connection.  Why not meet yourself in such a way, over and over again?

*                             *                      *

When you know, in your bones, there is nothing wrong or shameful with how you feel, or how you think, or . . . even yes . . . the hurtful and traumatic things you have experienced or done . . . when you are able to own your shadow, take back projection after projection, you are open to genuine transformation.  When you know you are not missing anything, there is nothing to gain or get, you are free to be authentic and fully alive.  When you know you are connected to every living being you are attuned to the truth of things. 

 You know those films of an explosion in reverse?  How everything comes flying back together and the world is in one piece again?

 Transforming our apparent brokenness, our fragmented psyches back into the eternal wholeness at the core of our being is like that.  Embodying the deepest being you know is like that. You are not your fears, your smallness, you are the graciousness, the dignity of all that is. You are not your psychological patterns, your conditioning; you are the consciousness from which that all comes. 

 Bring back all your disowned pieces and discover for yourself that what you see, what you perceive, what you construct, even what you know is a small sliver, a minutiae form of consciousness.  Discover the humble truth; your perception of reality is incomplete, a mere tip of the iceberg.

 There is hidden (in plain sight) vastness, infinite wholeness.  

 You are all that.

 Consciousness . . . life . . . is always dancing, moving, alive and fully present; permeating and animating everything that makes up our world, from the spec of sand on the beaches to the stars in the sky, from the rhinoceros to our morning tea, from the bruise on our shin to everything our hearts desire.

 We are called to wake up to that oneness.  

 Open your eyes, your hearts and your ears to your deepest vitality, allowing yourself to be a vehicle for consciousness to widen and deepen and flow without restriction. 

 Waking up to knowing, viscerally knowing, that everything and everyone comes out of the same cloth. 

 There is no other.

 

 

Home

The mere mention of home stirs something comforting and beckoning in my heart and soul.

Earlier in my life I had a dream, over and over again, that I was moving into a larger home; some magnificent home that was expansive and roomy – wherever I might roam or explore I would not be crowded or limited. I could open my arms wide and wider still. It felt big and I felt free.

Or . . . I dreamt that I, marvelously, discovered endless nooks and crannies to the home I already lived in. Much to my delight I kept discovering places I hadn’t known were there before. A room here, an alcove hidden under the stairs, an opening in a closet. The feeling inside the dream was the same, over and over again, unmitigated joy.

Growing up I had coloring books and paper dolls. I collected all sorts of dolls and loved playing jacks and pick up sticks. I played hop scotch and caught (and let go) lightening bugs in a glass jar.

But all I wanted, longed for and yearned after was a doll house. A wooden, stable, two storied doll house, with wall paper and furniture, wainscoting on the wall, a stairway with a wooden bannister and a family of four that would sleep in the beds and comb their hair in front of the bathroom mirror.

Truth be known, I wanted to move right into that home.

It can easily be said this yearning for home was extra pronounced since my childhood was very difficult. And yet this longing for home runs deeper than that – I think our souls are calling us to remember our natural, essential self.

No matter how we distract ourselves, no matter what mask or costume we put on, no matter how many achievements or accomplishments we rack up it is not uncommon to feel displaced, unsatisfied, far from home . . . in an inner sense. Deep down we know we are not at rest.

We try hard to convince ourselves to feel at home, at rest, when we fit in, find the perfect-fit clothing or the newest computer or appliance, have enough money to pay all our bills, know the “right” people, have a loving family, discover the real meaning to life, are “on top of things”, and mostly, no longer feel frightened, or alienated, or misplaced, bad, or inadequate (in one way or another) about yourself.

Maybe you know, in your heart of hearts, there is more to life than you are living. Maybe you spend a lot of time looking for a sign or an answer to what that might be.

There is a very strong societal undertow convincing us that home . . . the very thing, the very sign or answer that will do the trick and make us feel alright, at ease, comfortable, is outside ourselves.

This illusion is widespread . . . the belief that deep contentment is dependent on someone or something external. Our world manipulates this hunger for the real: Drink the right drink and you will be . . . courageous, loved, fit as a fiddle forever. Find the right partner/have the right family and all will be right in your world . . . forever. If you are fortunate enough to be disillusioned, maybe even over and over and over again, you realize that what you are looking for is not “out there”. The longed for rest, the longed for home has little to nothing to do with the external circumstances, no matter how comfortable, cozy and just right our living situation or mind-state might be. And the longed for rest, longed for home has little to nothing to do with perceived safety or certainty. For sure!

Anyone of us fortunate to know this, really know this, can stop the vicious cycle of trying to find our deepest peace in the wrong places. And trying, trying by banging our heads against the wall in a useless attempt to control, manage or avoid the uncertainty and impermanence of life itself, and, of course, death, the really, really big unavoidable truth of the matter.

Home is interior, an inside job. Deep rest is a state of being.

Home is interior and a state of being that is not swayed by our thoughts and feelings that come and go, nor by the circumstances that we cling to or run from and also come and go. Nothing lasts forever. No matter how many comforts and safety you accrue it is only a matter of time until something changes, someone leaves or dies, and the very thing that you counted on as home has evaporated. No matter how many therapy sessions you have or how well you meditate, you will likely feel constricted or reactive at some point. What we are really seeking is the equanimity to rest anytime, anywhere, whether our world is stable for now, listing left or right, or even coming apart at the seams. What we are seeking is the spacious presence for all our thoughts . . . all our feelings . . . all our humanity.

It can appear to be such an irony – peace . . . home . . . rest is knowing (viscerally knowing) we are not in control, so much so, we are willing to surrender, let go of our stronghold on how we think things should be, how we wish things are, how we insist things should be when they aren’t . . . let go of our concerted (and ultimately useless) efforts to reign in our lives to our liking and/or how we feel. Surrendering the insistence that what has already happened shouldn’t have happened. Such an irony . . .

The irony . . . it is in the very giving up of the pretenses we use to fool ourselves, the willingness to stop performing (whatever role we have attached to) as if we will die if we are not liked or respected or accepted, in being willing to look, really look at how hard we are working to not “get hurt or rejected” and feel worthy of love . . . letting go of this attempt to make ourselves feel at home, all the while knowing, deep down, that we are at odds with ourselves; the giving up of all that can open us to the truly remarkable thing:

We are whole, worthy and well.

Our true home is the center-most depths of our inner being, in the all around, above, below and sideways space that fills us to the brim and beyond when we open to the reality of things . . to the truth and fullness that shows up when we are radically honest and real . . . when we show up as our natural being, in our natural state, when we are present. Present to what is true.

Being present is home. Being present in this very moment, always, is home.

That is where life is living itself.

This is where roominess, our opening ourselves wider and wider, our unbound rest, no matter what, resides. Contrary to what our tribal instincts tell us, genuine home is unguarded, inclusive, and universally sacred. It is opening to life’s movement, open to the humdrum, the miraculous, the radical, the unexpected, the heart breaks – humbling us, allowing us to see with fresh eyes over and over again, as everything appears and disappears, comes and goes.

Letting go of our desires and wishes for things/us to be different than they are opens us to the power and direct contact of the present. Accepting things as they are, as they have happened opens the door to profound creativity, unrestricted options, clear thinking, and heightened awareness.

Living inside this very moment the rain is just the rain, the tears are just tears, the twig is just a twig and the scowl on your partner’s face is just a scowl. Living inside the home of this very moment sorrow is sorrow, disappointment is just that and all the comings and goings of your life means no more than being present to it as it unfolds.

The presence of home is unflappable, dynamic, and wholeheartedly welcoming. Our job is to listen . . . to heed.

Embodiment

I have a life-time of familiarity with my psyche, having watched it within a millisecond of its sometimes absurd and most times illuminating shift-shaping. I know its nooks and valleys and other than any worrisome possibility of going psychotic I was pretty comfortable with the dark and light places I found myself. And I knew how to get help when I needed someone else’s guiding light.

But not my body. My body, in the past, has scared the hell out of me and now here I am. I mean here I am in the grounded, earthy, sensual sense and I mean here I am in the profoundly spiritual realm of here am I. Being conscious, being aware of being human in the exact same moment of being human.

Being embodied. There is something completely wondrous about it to me. It sits deep in my solar plexus. Settling into the contours of my shape gives me the gift of being real. And congruent. It is as if I live inside the deepest bowels of the earth, when it used to feel like floating. To defend myself against insult and injury to my body I had lived as if I was far removed from it, hence floating . . . energetically apart, so seemingly unaware of having a body.

And now, with no removal, no separation, consciously embodied, I marvel at the real part of things, the way, being embodied, is showing up and, increasingly, from moment to moment, affording me realness. I would not have said, since awakening, that I was pretending or putting undue effort into interactions with other folks. I would not have said I was pushing to make something happen. But relatively speaking, I was. In retrospect I can see, my body, tired to the bone, knew it.

It is the quiet that first gets my attention. Or maybe, better expressed using the word neutrality. From this unassuming and powerful state of quiet . . . neutrality . . . everything has slowed down. Cooking a new dish, I recognize . . . easily captured now in this slowed down state . . . the assumption that I am feeling good about the activity; feeling happy and peaceful. But I don’t. Not particularly. I am simply going about the business of chopping and roasting, reading a recipe and paying close attention since I have not cooked this before.

It is what happens next (automatically) that gets my attention. In this recognition of it not being what I assumed it was and settling into whatever it really is, in this case, neutral, unemotional, maybe even indifferent, a just is ness. . . with absolutely nothing needing to be done or different about it . . . is restful. Bodily restful. Grounded restful. A first time ever full body restful.

This is ness . . . a knowing that keeps deepening and widening. And now it is quietly alive in my body.

Awakening, that radical shift in perception . . . the movement from seeing through the ego’s eyes to seeing from awareness, to being awareness . . . all that, all that is the beginning. Even though others had said this very thing I was still surprised; I had the illusion that the long sought after freedom was the be-all and end-all of things.

Now six years later I marvel at the embodiment of freedom, at the evaporation of anxiety that lived in the cells of my body, having a life of its own. The embodiment that is landing me even more deeply inside here and now.

Since awakening I have had a sixth sense/ intuition of something needing to unfold, reveal itself. I felt “unfinished”, not even fully knowing what that might mean. I would say to myself that the body needed to awaken.

I turned to yoga, to meditative body scanning, to cranial-sacral and Feldenkrais work. My nervous system, from years and decades of hyper vigilance was in a low level state of anxiety. Automatically and chronically. I wanted to kiss Scott Kiloby when I heard him say, about himself, “the body had not yet gotten the good news”, in reference to his state of being after awakening.

I had been afraid of illness, whenever something felt “off” with my body I would worry. My mind would quickly go to some possible catastrophe, and even though I didn’t buy into the thoughts, my body would tense and tighten. Since I was so out of touch with my body I didn’t have a reasonable read on things; my beleaguered body would hold the worry as a state of emergency when, in fact, there was no danger.


I became more and more conscious of this pattern, strikingly so and as all the varying body workers offered their skills and kindness, the love that we all are continued to, from deep inside me, embrace and contain all the cells of my nervous system. Always held in warm, soothing, and caressing arms, quieting and relaxing.

My body seems to have gotten the good news and the original shift in perception has deepened considerably. This more integrated and deeper awareness of how things really are feels innocent. Innocent like a young child who moves through the day and the world attuned to what comes to her attention. That might be the mesmerizing movement of color as the clothes spin in the washer . . . it might be a wash of feeling . . . it might be the ticking of a clock or the bark of a tree. This is how it goes when anxiety is not clouding perception. A simple fresh and neutral look at what is showing up in awareness at this particular moment.

And now there is an is ness in my body as well. A sensation is a sensation – an ache or pain or limitation is just that. A deepening of trust – the body speaks – and I listen.

It is a Technicolor embodiment – the irony is not lost on me. Becoming a full human being, alive and at home in my body, open and transparent, further reveals and expands the animating presence and unconditional love that is our essential nature.

This presence, this unconditional love, this is ness is silent, oh so quiet, and neutral . . . innocent; empty of this full humanity it so loves.

And is larger and more real (the realest) than anything my mere humanity can fathom.

We are, indeed, divinely human

Being

This piece comes out of a writing prompt – when you read the word ‘mother’ consider mother including society, culture, extended family, religion, and institutions.

TELL THE NONFICTION STORY THAT YOU DON’T WANT YOUR MOTHER TO KNOW. YOU KNOW THE ONE. DON’T CENSOR YOURSELF.

My parents loved to entertain. It was one of their uncomplicated pleasures. I remember lots of people milling around the small living room of our apartment (the very room that was my bedroom at night), laughing and telling dirty jokes and stories.

I was the official “would you like some hors d’ oeuvres” as I walked amongst the bodies of my parents’ friends.

I can still taste the feeling of having an important job to do.

When I was in my late teens my parents had another party, this time in their home in Los Altos, their very first home.

I had outgrown passing out snacks and I see myself standing on the edge of the living room, next to the fireplace. There is a woman sitting in one of the upholstered chairs, swaying slightly, with her eyes closed and her head slanted towards the heavens. I don’t remember how I know she was a musician – I think a pianist. I also don’t remember how I knew she was lost inside some piece of music.

You know that place . . . getting lost into something bigger than yourself, that sweet, sweet enchantment that comes from forgetting yourself for a moment. Losing yourself inside the music you are playing or listening to, sinking into the soil and the leaves of the plants as you garden, soaring weightless as you master the high jump. That delicious moment when the world around you, the thoughts inside your head disappear.

What I can still see clearly is the ecstasy on her face. I can see her husband standing at her side in an otherwise empty room. Most of the other guests were in the kitchen or family room.

I am not sure if I would have this memory – the simple, lovely image of this woman living in her own transported world at that moment if it wasn’t for my mother’s reaction.

My mother’s reaction, after all the guests had left and she could be free to complain. She found it rude and completely inappropriate and annoying . . . and if I read between the lines . . . threatening.

I have to remind myself at this point that other than her husband no one else was in the room (except me, to the side, as I remember it), which says to me that no-one had been “harmed” here.

What stands out to me, wondering why this memory comes to me at this moment, is the world’s admonition against introspection, walking to your own drummer (or pianist in this case), and allowing yourself to get transported into something other than the “party” at hand.

A bit of a tangent here. In George Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo (a remarkable fictional tale of Abraham Lincoln letting go of his beloved son, Willie, who died at the age of eleven) Willie has let go of his earthly body and is in the moment of transformation. He does a dance and a jig. Throwing his hands wide into the air he sings “ALLOW, ALLOW, All is Allowed now All is allowed me now. Getting out of bed and going down to the party, allowed. Candy bees, allowed, chunks of cake, allowed! Swinging from the chandelier, allowed; floating up to ceiling, allowed.”

He goes on: “Whatever that former fellow (willie) had, must now be given back (is given back gladly) as it never was mine (never his) and therefore is not being taken away, not at all!

As I (who was of willie but is no longer (merely) of willie) return

To such beauty.”

ALLOW, ALLOW – breaking the shackles of . . . what . . . the constraints we buy into, the being good/rebellious for being good /rebellious sake, the belief we are what we are told we are. Breaking the shackles of the conditioned mind and ALLOW, ALLOW our deepest longings, our very own song.

And returning to such beauty!

I am humbled by what it has taken to tell the truth I didn’t want my mother to know. I am humbled by the power of wanting to belong. I am humbled by the fear of being misunderstood. It is a reckoning to see, really see, the cost we pay for following society’s distractions, for getting caught up in the throes of the collective beliefs that seem to dictate our lives and divert us from such beauty – the truth of our being.

And oh, the irony here. The story . . . the truth I didn’t want to tell was not about the abuse I experienced, although I didn’t want to mention that either.

And then . . . deepening the irony here – while there is the ego’s requisite shame . . . and regrets . . . around abuse, about the hurtful things I have done to people in my life, along the way, about being profoundly self absorbed for so much of my life, about being blind, about blindly following other people and ideas, about cheating on an important exam – these are not what come to me as I contemplate the question being asked here.

No, what I really didn’t want to tell . . . what I kept to myself was my inner life. How I felt, what I desired, the night-time and day-time dreams that I cherished. I shielded this, I nursed it, I kept it tightly embedded in my chest and heart.

Instead, the greatest impact on my life has been hiding my soul, my essence. Not allowing myself, not being able, to shout from the mountain top the unfettered, unwavering joy of being alive. Simply that.

Of looking within. ALLOW, ALLOW

Of tasting the sweet purity of what is real – what is true. ALLOW, ALLOW

Of crying with grief for the pain I/we feel. ALLOW, ALLOW

ALLOW, ALLOW the water, blood, heart, and marrow of life – unrestricted and uncensored – to overflow and permeate and move on its own, as it will.

I know I am not alone in the masquerade. I look around and see my fellow beings struggle and, at times, question themselves. I look around and feel my fellow beings’ pain, reaching out for each other and something, anything, to blunt the feelings that confuse and scare them.

What I think we want more than anything else is to live in what is real, to experience the freedom of being ourselves, to know love, no matter what – explore what it means to be alive, to be fully and completely present to the truth as it appears to us, day in and day out, moment to moment.

I know that is what compelled me . . . that is what kept me looking and looking, outside myself in the form of reading and teachers and philosophers and inside myself, following the bread crumbs from my soul. A quiet, still voice inside kept me focused. No matter how long or lost I got into the world’s distractions and my own wounds, the steady drumbeat of my soul reminded me to “remember”.

Remember what really matters.

Without any need for proof, other than the deep alignment and holding I feel, I know there is a presence . . . a silence, permeating every cell of my being and is the coherence of everything we see and touch and interact with in our world.

This presence, this “other-worldly” intelligence has made itself known throughout my life, sometimes quietly and sometimes loud enough to wake the dead; and has emboldened me, over and over, allowing me to leave the party no matter how many times I was frightened or had to pay the price of not belonging or ended up hurting someone’s feelings or sensibilities, or walked directly into the unknown.

And now, as the new captain in the house, guides my every movement. No, in fact, IS every movement. IT is wholeness itself. It is completion itself. With gentle compassion presence revealed that the party and the complaint; the introspection and the pains, the music and the disharmony are all of one piece. Imagine for a moment, compassion for everything . . . everything. There is nothing outside, there is nothing wrong, nothing at odds.

That is one mighty and strong presence. And profoundly real; the realest thing I know, the realest thing I can even imagine.

To invoke this presence, we must go beyond that which confines and imprisons us. ALLOW, ALLOW. This presence, this love, is an energy and speaks its name again and again, quietly and fiercely, from within all of us. It is up to us to turn inwards, to listen, and follow its sound. Turn inwards; Introspect, reflect, contemplate the inner landscape. Nowhere else will it be found, and no one can sell or rent it to us. It is to be remembered, allowed to grow in the very core of our being.

ALLOW – ALLOW.

The space between

I arrived into the spiritual conversation when the debate was gathering steam: the debate around there is no one here (and therefore our human experience is an illusion) and becoming embodied is where the real work out is. What it really means to have life live through you, to be fully human.

I want to look at the space between these apparent distinctions.

In particular, the phenomena of spiritual bypass and the phenomena of getting stuck in the psychology of the human experience.

The space between.

There is no escaping the suffering we humans experience. Whether we acknowledge it or attempt to send it packing, suffering, or perhaps more to the point, pain, is a fact of life. Living in an ever changing world, with everything and everyone coming and going at some point in time, we are subject to fear, loss and disappointment.

Living in a world where we are convinced there is an “other” (do not experience our interconnectedness) and our well being and even our relative survival appears dependent on ‘holding our own’, on our either coming out on top or avoiding oppression we are subject to fear, aggression and hostility.

We humans, in contrast to animals and nature, can pretend to be something other than we are, can be unaware of our feelings, ignore our body’s impulses and sensations. We can don masks, close off our hearts, and believe we are alone, small, disconnected, and impervious to suffering.

We pretend, most often, to avoid pain and strong emotions. We pretend, even more often, to not feel vulnerable, naked, tender to the touch. No wonder we are often afraid of living, of entering into anything real.

A certain understanding of spirituality, awakening to our true nature, can, and often does, add to this desire for avoidance, to the illusion that we can, in one way or another, avoid the challenges of being human.

I remember, pretty clearly, having this semi-conscious belief. Like most of us humans I wanted to not feel pain, to not suffer and to not feel hateful. I carried wishful, magical thinking that bliss and nothing-would-bother-me was always just around the corner, courting, begging for certainty, for security. The more I read about spiritual awakening the more I strengthened the belief.

There is a deep and abiding contentment that comes with the visceral being of emptiness, of life itself. The message from many spiritual teachers, directly or indirectly, can easily persuade a seeker that waking up means not feeling the pain of loss, not feeling the constrictions of a conditioned mind, or not being subject to the stomach lurch that comes when you fall off a cliff. After all, if there is no-one here, who would be at the mercy of such things?

And yet, and yet, waking up to our true nature, in fact, brings us smack into the full force of feeling and aliveness. When there is no buffer, when all of reality, all of life, is directly engaged, there is no avoidance, there cannot be avoidance. There is full bore being whatever is happening. Always. The contentment we are pulled towards comes from a deep acceptance of what is happening right now, right here.

What does it mean then, that there is no-one here?

Since a profound shift in consciousness I watch and notice kindness dancing and moving. It seems to be coming from me; at least it shows up as my gestures and smiles as I naturally offer a helping hand. I listen as some wide open spacious wisdom puts words on my tongue, clear and insightful. I marvel . . . really does seem like a marvel . . . as an invisible and gentle force of love contains and permeates me as conditioning and constrictions attempt to flood my being.

The kindness, the intelligence, the love . . . these vast, infinite, neutral qualities are formless, tasteless, and invisible to the naked eye . . . they come through me but they do not originate from me – they are not a product of my personality – left to its’ own devices my conditioned “self” would opt for safety, pleasure, and personal survival. More often than not!

Instead these embracing and enduring qualities come from some unfathomable depth and appear to have no beginning and no end. I sit in a field of openness that has no boundary.

And from this perspective my psyche and my body are motes of dust, here one moment and gone the next.

And from that perspective it does, indeed, reveal no one here.

But something is here – this mote of dust breaths and walks. When we look at ourselves we can see that we have bodies, we think, we feel, we want to love and be loved, we grow and we die.

We are nothing and we are something.

Why would we ignore something so mysterious, something so close and seemingly familiar? Why wouldn’t we want to be intimate, deeply and abidingly intimate with every part of this being?

Here’s the thing about spiritual bypassing – it comes out of a deep assumption – an assumption that your human pain and discomforts will kill you and that the humiliations and horrors you often experience are an indication of who you think you are.

It comes out of a deep forgetting that you are whole . . . you are one . . . and that you are alive and kicking – alive in this blue, pulsating planet of interconnectedness (we really are all in this together) and impermanence. You are alive and able to be conscious of being alive. You are alive and if you are not keeping your head in the sand you know you have a limited time on this earth.

It seems to me that one of the biggest miracle is that we have the capacity to be awake to ourselves – every single part of ourselves – every unknown part, including everything left behind, unrecognized and undesired. The upside of such devotion is being wholly alive; vulnerable, tender and soft, open to the touch of right here and right now.

Spiritual awakening, inner self/Self-knowledge invites and supports us to turn towards, listen to, attend to, and surrender to to every bit of our wholeness, our being, our oneness . . . with unabashed love.

* * * * * *

Psychology, a relatively new kid on the block, is a godsend for anyone sincerely looking for self knowledge.

The inner and outer conditions of modern life are such that is has become difficult, if not nearly impossible for many of us to hear the the small quiet voice within. In therapy offices and retreats, with skilled therapists and facilitators, we are able to look deeply into our interior, in a safe, contained and inviting atmosphere. We can look at, we can touch, and we can feel our sorrow, our pain, our despair, our shame, our joy, our misgivings, our confusion, our loneliness, our happiness and our doubts – in a nutshell, our vulnerability.

We can examine the roles we play, the masks we put on; we can look honestly at our self absorption, our wounds and betrayals, our deepest desires and longings, our unrequited love, and the myriad disappointments in how life appears to be “treating us”. We can, with understanding the young parts of ourselves, become more conscious of defenses and walls we put up to protect ourselves. We can learn what triggers us, what we need and want, when we feel safe enough to feel and we can become aware of what we are thinking. We can learn to take care of ourselves without drama or manipulation and we can develop inner resources, allowing us to hold tender space for ourselves. We can be self-aware!

All . . . all with compassion, with true acceptance and with a tender heart.

It appears to me, in looking back over the years I spent in analysis, it was instrumental in helping me remember the love that lives within all of us. Until I trusted life enough to surrender into and rest in that deepest truth, I needed a “person”, a kind, understanding, patient and skilled person to reflect that love. I needed that containment in order to drop defenses and identities.

Sometimes we need someone to hold our hand. Sometimes we feel very little and very young and we need someone to tell us it is okay. Sometimes we feel alone and need someone to remind us we are connected.

The world of psychology, the world of therapy and self reflection, has given humanity the gift of being able to define our personalities, our intricacies, our faults and our genius. It has given us a place to discover a precious gift . . . to “know thyself.”

But psychology and therapy are profoundly limited. As they are designed, as they are commonly practiced, they cannot bring us home.

The underlying premise to every psychological viewpoint is - we are broken, in some fashion or another, we need to be fixed, we need to be other than we are. Within the walls of most therapy offices fear and lack are validated, even if subtly. This reinforces what families, cultures, societies and religions have more often than not believed and taught. The belief that we are incomplete.

But . . . we are not incomplete. We are not lacking, really we are not.

There are deeper questions calling you. The question of who you are and what it is like to be alive and fully present. To be fully alive and fully present to now, it is important to look beyond the boundaries of self knowing and open yourself to the vast, unknowable Self. It is important to be aware of the limitations of knowing your self, knowing not to stop there or get caught up there for too long. Recognizing the truth of there being so much more, vastly more.

I am indebted to psychology. All that I have learned from my years in analysis, in addition to being healing and transformative, also helps me understand the patterns and quirks of how I move in the world and how I relate to everything and everyone. I am grateful that I can, when necessary, see through neurotic or dysfunctional behaviors and with insight take a step in a new direction. I am grateful I know, when things go south, to look within for my reaction and not waste my time blaming the circumstances.

But none of that can hold a candle to simply noticing! Simply noticing in a kind and non-judgmental way. Simply feeling without interpretations and without the knee-jerk reaction to fix something.

Noticing the sensations. Noticing the feeling. Noticing the thoughts. Noticing the impulses. Noticing the behavior.

Over and over again I bear witness to the power of noticing. Awareness, like a fully attuned parent, neutrally and gently breathes fresh air in and around and through every aspect of what is happening . . . whatever is happening within me or whatever reaction I am having to some external event or person.

I notice that Life seems to feel great joy when I come up against some snarky feeling or thought – something so, so familiar – and simply notice what I am thinking or feeling . . . simply pay attention to it, with a mixture of tenderness, curiosity and detachment. What used to strangle me when I fiercely believed something was terribly wrong (with me or the world) now moves right along (energetically) . . . blows away like the mote of dust it really is.

The deep patterns that used to define me and drive my life are now seen through, again with tenderness and detachment, as if they are knots in a rope that are being loosened and unwound.

The expansiveness I feel from noticing and from experiencing awareness is freeing, is restful and tastes like nectar. This freedom, this rest, this nectar is the very thing I looked for in psychology and in relationships and in activities and interests all through my life.

The visceral experience of expansiveness reminds me, again and again, of my underlying knowing that there is always more to the picture than I can fathom. The visceral experience of expansiveness affords me the bigger perspective I have always intuited. The vast ocean of endless love and well-being within is something we all intuit, sense, and long to remember.

I am grateful and humbled by the space between. I feel awe at the mystery of this crazy, messy, beautiful, stirring life, this seeming juncture of being something and being nothing, the challenge of living my full humanity with the profound awareness of it being but a mote of dust!

Trauma and awakening

Many years ago I was walking across a parking lot, several feet behind my grandson, who was meandering slightly behind his father.

In slow motion I watched as a car, driving fast for a parking lot, approached on the right, headed in the direction of my two-year-old grandson.

I froze – literally froze in place, unable to move, much less run if needed.

My son had moved my grandson out of the way of the car, all without any sense of urgency, and the two of them casually went into the restaurant.

I followed moments later – shocked beyond words as I tried to reconcile what had just happened. I would not, could not, have moved from the spot, no matter whose life was on the line, which means I would and could not have run to grab my grandson and pull him away from the oncoming car if that had been necessary.

Trauma and awakening

Distancing from the immediacy of life, from everything and anything that is happening right now, right here, is even more exaggerated for those of us who have been traumatized by abuse, violence and/or neglect. Everything related to trauma is frozen inside or exiled from the human psyche, which more often than not, robs us of being present in the moment. Robs us, in many ways, of being present to our lives. At times, robs us from moving at all, can even rob us from doing what must be done, like swooping a child out of harm’s way.

To one degree or another every human lives in some measure of a trance – removed from the here and now.

Instead of being present to the immediacy of the here and now, we humans historically live in our heads, keeping us bound to the relative and limited – and keeping ourselves at a distance from the visceral truth of our lives. Like it or not we are more accustomed to metaphorically talking about eating a peach than actually full-on-experiencing the full juiciness of eating one.

I read a poem by Marie Howe and she, with music in every word, describes her father’s step coming up the stairs – and has, in melodic detail, given us lucky readers the sound and smell and touch of her family’s rebellion and anguish when her drunken father demands middle of the night cleaning.

And not for the first time am I aware, in a rather poignant and life-long saddened way aware of what it means to have very little, if any, real specifics of my early life, closed off from so much around me. Trauma – or should I say the protective phenomena of dissociation . . . being in a trance, can rob us of most sensations. Even more stunning is how trauma can remove us from what is real, what is true, having us, often, confused and lost. I wonder about the millions of seconds that went on between me and my world, what it was like walking to and from school every day, what did the sheets on my bed feel like, what smells came out of my grandmother’s kitchen and what did it feel like to be alive in this world, alive and sentient.

This is a grief I now have words for. I can be amazed at what I had no idea I was missing . . . and yet, some part of me sobs at what couldn’t be known.

So much is clearer from an awakened state.

Awakening to our true nature kindly dissolves the gaps and erases the distancing – inviting everything that has been frozen, cast aside, buried or forgotten back into conscious awareness. Not as a thought or a concept but fully felt and embraced.

But here’s the thing. The pain or the strong feeling or the fear or the fury or the grief that shows up in the defrosting and re-integration does not mean the same thing you might think it means. It is not seen or experienced through any interpretive lens, it is not experienced as resistance, it is not suffering. It is pure in its sensation, albeit possibly uncomfortable, but sure as day it, when welcomed and felt, moves along.

As the sensations are embodied, as the feeling is embraced, (as a frightened or saddened child might be), as the forgotten is viscerally remembered it is all given the freedom to move and to alter and suddenly we likely will be awash in clarity, and wide open roominess, like a cool breeze washing over a vast grassy meadow. The pain or the agony or the constriction, fully experienced, is a game changer.

Bringing us smack into this very moment, as a life lived. Really, really lived. Alive and fresh in every breath. Alive and electric with felt senses. Alive and present to everything and everyone, breath by breath by breath. Wondrously alive.

We can be awake to our state of being at any second. We can be deliciously real with ourselves right now. We can be gently honest each and every moment.

We can, right now, know wholeness – be awake to our true nature.

This was a revelation to me. For most of my life I looked to the heavens for feeling okay; I looked to the transcendent for the longed for rest and, when the real thing poured through my system I came to a profound and embodied realization – I am here! I am okay in the mud, I am at home, viscerally at home, in the mess and the sublime.

Give yourself this gift of letting go of the defenses you have built up over a lifetime – you do not need them. What was once needed for protection is now keeping you small and blind.

Invite back the discarded, the cut-off memories and feelings.

Be brave and take an honest look at how and where you are closed off. Spirituality is the process of stripping away every layer of yourself that is false. It is the process of seeing through the falseness of the small self, the ego and really understanding its constraints and, even more importantly, experiencing its limitations.

Strip away, dissolve and discover another ground on which to stand and take in reality.

See from a new vantage point. Open to the vast field that holds and surrounds all there is; to your deepest nature. Open to Life, life itself: soft, intelligent, wise, neutral, alive (technicolor alive) and infinite Life.

This is what is beckoning you and is the peace that passeth all understanding.

Why can’t we all get along?

I was recently reminded of Rodney King’s words: “Why can’t we all get along?”  Rodney King, a black man, was beaten by white policemen, during the riots in Watts, CA., in the 90’s.

We are still asking that question, and truth be known, have been asking that question in one way or another forever.  

Why can’t we all get along?

Dear god, why can’t we all get along?

The hero gives a wooden sword to 
his son
Until he learns to use a
real battle sword

Human life is a wooden
sword
Until he learns to battle
hurt with mercy

Rumi

Battle hurt with mercy?  To really love, no matter what?  What happens to “all getting along” when our hearts harden?  What happens when it gets to the “it’s you or me” showdown? What happens when someone you do not know or do not like or do not relate to or is not in your tribe or has brought you harm is hurting, is in danger, or simply needs to be heard?  

We tend to experience conditional love – love in bed with fear and with need -  until we know better.  We are open and comfortable when we feel safe, bonded and not afraid.  Introduce the “other” and something else happens.  When we do not feel safe, connected or understood something else happens - love freezes, entangles, and shrinks into fear and into need. 

From a very young age it can be crucial to join our protectors, our people, our caretakers, crucial for our very survival.  You know that feeling you get when you are with someone who agrees with you, thinks like you do, looks enough like you, has similar experiences as you do, sees the world as you do?  The feeling you get when you find your peeps, your tribe.  It has the feeling of all being well in the world.

How easy it is to feel relaxed, open minded and open hearted, when we are with our tribe, our culture, our country or even our sport team. How easy it is to feel comfortable when we are not fighting with our loved ones or friends or when we are feeling healthy. 

But you can be sure that won’t last.  We will certainly come face to face with the other. The other out there; a different tribe, people who look and speak strangely, folks who hold opposing values, our very own family member who refuses to do what we want him or her to do.  

And the other within our very own mind and body.  Who hasn’t come up against big and small conflicts inside their head?  The warring sides/criticism/judgments that go on inside your tired beings. Or the insult you might feel when your body becomes ill or breaks down.  

Then wham bang, some part of you turns away and to some degree you close your heart.  You assume or sense or believe the other is posing a threat to your well being.

Given that we begin life completely dependent on someone taking care of our needs and that we are physically incapable of taking care of ourselves it is easy to see how, as conditioned adults, we believe we might actually die if we are not joined or are at odds.   If not die, then certainly we are in some serious danger. 

Don’t automatically buy this belief.  If you really look you will discover that the belief is insubstantial and is in bed with fear.  

Take a deeper look.  Don’t take it for granted that you are in danger or under threat. Ask yourself what really might happen if you drop your pride, surrender your fear and listen, really listen to the other with an open mind and an open heart?  What really happens when you truly and compassionately listen to yourself – to your internal conflicts and your bodies’ break downs?  

When you really look you can see the belief simply doesn’t hold water. 

And here is the important thing – the real thing:  In our heart of hearts we are unconditional love.  Pulsing through our beings is natural and effortless mercy no matter what.  Indiscriminate love – free flowing love that knows no other – 

Do not buy into the knotted and gnarled defenses and beliefs that keep this unbounded love bent and distorted – defenses and beliefs that actually keep you at a distance from love and life itself.

We are all in this together.  That is how it really is. And nothing short of knowing that in the marrow of our being is going to help us get along.  Really get along, genuinely, kindly and abidingly. 

From moment to moment look deeply into your heart.  Be brave enough to allow your heart to completely open – let it melt, let it break from the weight of sorrow and loss you feel for being at odds with yourself and each other and the earth and the universe itself.  Let your heart expand and embrace every single moment of your daily life, no matter what shows up.

Be still and deeply listen to the truth of this. 

Sit still in presence – wherever and however you find it.  Maybe the practice of meditation opens the door for you, perhaps it is sitting in solitude that allows the quiet voice of your inner knowing to be heard.  Or for some or at certain times it might be being in the presence of someone who is unconditionally accepting. Someone who enables your interior to quicken and come to life.  Court presence, moment to moment, as if your life and love depends on it. 

Want nothing less than falling into full-on-mercy to every hurt, every time, for everyone and everything. Want nothing less than really caring for yourself and every other being.

Sharing a wound

We humans share a wound.  

We share the trauma of believing we are separate, feeling disconnected and alone. We share an agonizing and often stifled cry, as Rumi writes when he gives voice to the reed complaining about its separateness from its source.

Listen to the story told by the reed
of being separated:
‘Since I was cut from the reed bed,
I have made this crying sound.
Anyone apart from someone he loves
understands what I say.
Anyone pulled from a source
longs to go back
."

We are all born into a world of change.  A world where nothing lasts forever and nothing stays the same.  We come into a world of unpredictability and uncertainty.

We come into this manifest world whole and at one with everything.  

As young children we turn to the vibrant color of a leaf or flower, we cry when we are hungry or uncomfortable, we stop in our tracks at something that catches our attention, no matter how small or fleeting, we wrinkle our noses at a nasty smell, we are alive to the whole wide, ever changing, world, attuned to the very moment that is happening right now.  

And as we grow we develop into unique personalities.  I, me, mine personalities.  We develop personal narratives – seeing ourselves as standing apart and separate, becoming aware of ourselves as a body and able to think for and about ourselves. I am a girl.  I am tall, I am a brother. I like dogs. 

Over a lifetime we can and do develop marvelous abilities: we can remember our history, we can imagine how things might be tomorrow, we test ourselves and reality with adventures, we think about ourselves and can know how we feel and to varying degrees we can feel confident and “make things happen” in our lives. 

And typically, we lose ourselves into our personalities – we invest in our way of life, we identify as those personalities, and we attach ourselves to the superficiality of who we think we are.  We live as if our personalities are all there is to us. The separate personality, carving out a life, attempting to find some semblance of control and predictability in a world of change . . .and, of course, the ultimate change -  the inevitability of our death.  

We often forget what we came in knowing. We forget the eternal NOW that we were in touch with when we were very young. We forget the innocence of open-to-everything. 

And if and when we go looking – and if and when some hardship cracks open our façade – if and when something breaks our heart – we can finally hear our plaintiff cry for what we have been cut off from.   

And, in our very bones, we will remember:

We are human and we are divine.  We are, in actuality, one, undivided and whole.

We live in a divided world and we can love and be empathic.  We live as unique personalities and we can reach across the divide in our families, in our neighborhoods and in the world, in a real way.  We are tribal and we can be inclusive.  We are human beings and we can know oneness in the marrow of our bones.

This divided world is a “playground”, overflowing with opportunity for growing and for remembering, in a visceral way, that we are, in essence, unconditional love and wholeness.  We can actively embody oneness in every day life.  

From our innate wholeness, we can start with ourselves – loving every part of our sweet, confused and messy humanness.  We can truly accept our foibles and our trespasses as we relate to each other. It is possible.  We can deeply inquire and know our selves as humans; we can have compassion for our self-centeredness.  

And we can extend this kindness and love and acceptance out into the world, especially knowing that the great divides we see – male and female, white and black, powerful and powerless, arrogance and humility towards nature and life – are illusionary, deeply false and truly heart-breaking.  

We can hold, know and embody the whole picture, the transcendence of duality.  We can because we are the whole picture.  We are essentially, undivided. 


Living from wholeness

What does it suggest to live from wholeness?  Or as Muktananda wrote: “There is boundless love within. Go within and find it.”

It is more to the point to talk about what keeps us from our innate liberation.  What keeps us from going within, from seeking the boundless love we hear is within us?  What keeps us looking “out there” instead of within?  So often it is fear – including, and maybe especially our fear of pain and distress.  

How often are we afraid of feeling fear?  Weakness?  Or anger?  How often do we avoid feeling hurt, disappointment, shame, confusion, humiliation and so on and so on - avoiding ourselves so intently that before we know it we are closed off from our emotions, from how we feel, from the small, quiet voice of our hearts. 

We are emotional/feeling beings and when we turn away from ourselves in this way we are losing much of our juicy-ness.  Like keeping our car in first gear . . . only . . . and missing out on the higher gears.   Chug, chug, lurching along.  Maybe we are staying in first gear for some apparent safety and perceived control sake, but we lose out on the freedom that comes from living life in the fullest way possible, feeling and sensing the wide-open road, feeling and sensing our full selves, being in direct contact with life.  

Fear of:  When we are afraid of feeling, when we turn away from our first, and often our most natural response to some sensation or circumstance we have added another layer that is blocking our direct contact with reality.  Now we are not only distanced from pain or hurt or fear; now we have added debilitating resistance.  Fear of and resistance to is how we do it – it is how we are taught.  It is how humans from the beginning of time have been taught. 

Resistance – the granddaddy of all suffering!  If you want to get a feel for the power of resistance pay attention to how it feels in your body when you say no to something that is already happening – a feeling, a sensation, a circumstance.  Notice the contraction, the tension and the discomfort.  Then pay attention to your body when you lean into and allow what is actually happening, what has already happened.  Your body softens and eases, like a crying child welcomed into a warm and supported embrace.  And this ease, this softening is the opening into more creative and more open ended responses.

Living from wholeness is surrendering and trusting in something higher than our small selves, our limited minds. It is letting go . . . surrendering the ego – the voice in the head that is saying don’t go there, don’t feel, don’t be vulnerable or open. 

It can feel counterintuitive to your way of thinking but when you are devoted to remembering your deepest nature you will allow yourself to break, to crumble and be held. When you surrender into whatever you are feeling in this moment, in its’ rawness, when you stay open to the sensation in your body, including the fear of feeling, including whatever resistance might be showing up, it is likely you will slide deeper and deeper into yourself and into the real heart of the matter.   And you will soften into a different reality, into a more expansive state of being.  Science tells us there is an emergent order as things disintegrate – an entropy that reveals a bigger picture.

We experience an opening in our interior when we allow what is being revealed.  In fact, the mere movement of noticing what you are feeling, what is showing up is powerful in itself.  Bringing presence to a feeling can be transformative.  In the wash of presence, the feeling can, and often does, dissipate, like clouds in the sky.

And yet . . . what about the feelings that do not dissipate?  What about what persists, even though bathed in presence?  

All that is unhealed, unseen, undigested and, especially all that is unloved, is heeding our undivided attention and might be sticking around for a deeper look – for acceptance.  All the repressed, hidden away, tucked into corners of our bodies and minds – the hushed and silenced shame and rage and grief lives within us, consciously or unconsciously.   So, why not listen; truly listen and engage.

Feelings come and go.

Presence is everlasting

Bringing presence to deeper . . . getting honest with oneself deeper . . . encounters are transformative.  Looking with a genuine curiosity – being sincerely open to what is revealed (scary feelings that stick around or come back again and again- deeply embedded habits and patterns) - will open things up and bring in sorely needed spaciousness. 

Having repressed anger most of my life it is deliciously liberating to feel a sense of outrage that might arise in the face of some egregious behavior.  Now that I am not afraid of anger, it is exhilarating to be one with the pure animal energy instinct of oxen’s hooves pawing the ground or horns banging into trees.  I am not only more in touch and more alive, vibrantly alive, but the energy it took to suppress anger is freed up and available.  There is more space. 

Something . . . call it consciousness, awareness, the ground of being, presence, or creative intelligence . . . whatever name you give it . . . is silently holding and infusing every cell of your being, every cell of all matter.  Learn to trust it, giving over time and time again to its’ call and its’ wisdom.  Feel what you are feeling.  Sense what you are sensing and let something deeper and wider speak ITS’ mind. Follow its teachings.  Trust the creative intelligence of expression. 

The conditioned mind tells us something is wrong with us when we feel frightening and vulnerable emotions.  Instead, by turning towards and by turning inward, we are given the opportunity to bring what has been left out or behind into consciousness.  Wholeness is calling us home, inviting us to be as we naturally are . . integrated, undivided, one.  

Die into oneness.

“In all chaos there is cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order.”

Carl Jung

What makes me tick?

What do you know of yourself?  What do you know of your deeper self? Asking the questions, what makes me tick, who am I really, what do I know about being alive can be portals into your very essence.  

In our heart of hearts we humans want . . . hunger for - living free from suffering, free from the ache of depression, the struggle of anxiety, the relentless choke of addictions and the underlying fear and aversion to pain and our inevitable death.  We, consciously or unconsciously seek the truth of what we are beyond our “every-day” selves, knowing our inexpressible suffering from being disconnected from direct contact with life.

And, oh, the irony of ironies about this.  It is in the very facing of this suffering, the very felt sense of this confusion and disconnect that we can find the very peace we desire.   In fact, further irony; it is in running away from our suffering that we sadly create more suffering. 

We come alive, blood flowing through the veins alive when we are free to feel the real heartbreak of loss, the real pain of missing out on your life, and the agony we feel when we crush innocence.  We become acquainted with something essential when we open into direct contact with life, with messy, ever-changing and creative life.

What if hunger, yearning, restlessness, fear, loneliness . . . suffering itself is calling you home to direct contact with yourself – calling you back to your waiting-for-you- wide-open heart?  What if desire and aversion themselves are wake up calls to what you deeply know in your innermost heart and mind?

This freedom from suffering comes from the deeply silent place, from a wide-open heart. We get so lost in our thoughts, our made-up world, lost in the forest of bewilderment and suffering, convinced of our beliefs, we miss the truth beating in our hearts, showing and opening the path to what we truly are.  The primitive/limited human mind cannot see clearly into reality.  It is not possible. It distorts, it is self-serving, by its very nature. Reality is perceived through the quiet small voice of the innermost heart and mind. 

Be brave; be willing to go under your defenses and to admit to yourself when you are hiding, when you do not know.  Listen to what has stayed underground and stay open to spiritual insights . . . be still enough to hear the music calling you. 

Follow the path of suffering, of pain and discomfort – adhere, stay, commit until you find and can dwell in ease.  Feeling lonely, being lonely can be a siren song.  You have looked for something or someone to fill the vast abyss of loneliness.  You have looked for the thing that will make you feel better.  You have looked for the song that will keep you company at night.  Take hold of the notes and delve deeply into yourself, following the sound and the resonance of what you most deeply desire.  When you touch, when you taste the wide-open space of your heart’s desire you will realize how familiar it is.  You will remember wholeness with fondness. 

Stop talking . . . figuring out, attempting to understand or control . . . and listen.  Open your ears to the conch – listen deeply and always.  Listen to the strings and beat of your heart. Listen – there is a drum beat in your being, calling you to yourself.  Turn towards yourself.  Turn towards the unspoken, the unknown. 

Do not be swayed by the noise and chatter of what you have been taught, to the limits of your conditioned beliefs.   Do not be persuaded by what is “out there”.  Turning towards your inner world can be one of the most important movements you ever make.  Something inside might just say “I’ve been waiting.” 

Stop moving and be still. 

 

“ . . .  and one’s body is filled with desire and one suffers. One does not know and one knows.  Yes, vaguely, one realizes that it would be good, that the world would be beautiful, that it would be a paradise, happiness for everyone and joy.  To be guided by one’s blood, let one’s self be beaten, explored, let one’s self be carried away by the galloping of one’s own blood to the infinite prairie of the heavens smooth as sand.  And one would hear galloping, galloping, beating, beating, exploring, exploring, and the thundering drum beneath the great black palm of the pulsating blood.

     But it would be the dance, the true dance, one would obey, with true obedience.  One would do what the body desires.   All these calls of the blood would be calls of joy. Whereas here, one does not know, one is not sure if one ought.  One knows that one ought, but one dies not stir, one is bound.  And from the hollow of the breast one is also bound, that dance music, and the calling blood, it as though one were torn in two.  Because the poor body no longer knows.  Because the young blood that is just made knows. “

The Joy of man’s Desiring 

Jean Giono