Sunday, September 23, 2012

Back in the Saddle

After a bit of a dry spell, I have decided to get back into writing. Not that I really stopped, but it’s been a little more free-form than what I post. You could say I have been lacking the inspiration to put myself out there.

As usual, I have been doing a lot of reading, and as usual I often read to make sense of my life and experience, but in the last number of months there has been a more intensive quality to the soul searching I have been doing. I have felt that my life is not mine to live. I have often wondered who I am and been quite alarmed that I really can’t answer that question. I have felt that this transition period is still a transition not because I am actually still in transition, but because I have not yet recognized what I need to in order to know that I am moving forward. I have felt helpless and useless, that for some reason I am not allowed to do what I want to do, and I have felt that my brain is somehow being rewired.

What does that mean, you may wonder? Well, it was an exhausting process of trying to concentrate on something practical and 45 minutes later finding that I had been staring into space…or actually falling ‘asleep‘. I would begin meditation and find that I had ‘slept’ for a 10 or 20 minutes and afterward feel, relieved, recharged or sometimes as though I had been visited by people whose faces were still vivid in my mind’s eye and who crammed my brain with more information than I could handle. I refer to ‘sleep’ because it is a state of mind/consciousness that I experienced is not one that I am not familiar with. I can best equate it to that nap-like light sleep the brain slips into before you go into a deep sleep, but not. Perhaps I will have more to say on this at a later date, as I continue to search for an accurate description.

Anyway, I was learning a new level of patience when it just stopped. It was a Friday morning not long ago; I got up and began to struggle through my day as usual, and a little after lunch I felt lighter. By dinner, I thought ‘I feel different now’, and the next day I tentatively recognized that it was over. Say tentatively, because I waited to see if, perhaps it was a hormonal shift, then I looked at the weather to see if I had recovered from a mild form of seasonal affective disorder, and then I looked for some other mood altering shift in my life. After a few weeks I accepted that the months of rewiring were finished.

Now that things feel relatively stable, I am left to sort out who I am and what I want. The task feels daunting.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Getting back to Now

Focus is all about right now, whether I am in meditation or concentrating on what I need to learn. I know I’m ‘doing it right’ when I have sense of peace and I lose track of time; it’s a feeling of doing the right thing at the right time where things flow, and I find the energy and insight to complete my task well.

I say ’doing it right’ because when I’m in the zone everything feels right, but in reality there is no right and wrong; there is, however, easy and hard. This would be an instance of ’easy’. ’Hard’ occurs when things don’t flow so well - when there are a lot of distractions that creep in and derail my efforts to accomplish something, be it a task or a state of mind. In this instance it’s a process of remembering what my intention is and returning to the task at hand…and sometimes not getting swept away in frustration. On these days success is measured by the number of times I return to the task, not necessarily in what I accomplish.

Getting back to now, it has not always been easy to see. I found myself wound up in my past and my future almost all of the time and had quite a challenge really understanding what now is. Even recently my perception changed again and I understand it in a way I didn't before. The implications of now run
very deep, and keep everything very simple.

Past and future only exist in the now through thoughts and memories. As I have realized the truth of this, I have also been able to see now expand from a fraction of an instant between past and future, to the space between breaths where life begins anew, and to the moment before thought where, from the infinite chaos of purest potential, a thought arises and is realized. In that moment before thought, we choose.  

Life is awe inspiring.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mindfulness in action

I wrote this a year ago, today.  Clearly I was sending a message to a future self -  a self that really needs this right now.  It's funny how that happens.


To start, I don't think what I am going to say replaces the mindfulness practice that takes place when
when you are sitting and paying attention to your breath and what is. Theres a certain quality to that approach that separates the self from body, thought, aches, pains and other distractions, that I am not sure the mindfulness-in-action approach does. Having that awareness is invaluable, and I am quite sure I have not finished discovering how much so. There is something there that I need again, that I have not really had since I gave it up(the formal practice), so I am trying to figure out what I need to do to get back into it. In my attempts I have been able to access both a comfortable and an uncomfortable familiarity, and I have begun to realize that I am going to need to make a lifestyle change. I am not sure what it will involve, but I sense that it will be considerable and is best done gradually. So, one step at a time.but I digress.

I understand the frustration of feeling unfocussed, of my mind racing, of riding the wave of a thought, ending up somewhere else and saying, Shit. I did it again. I know what it feels like to be at the beginning (again) and to question the value, to wonder if it is worth the effort, pain and frustration, but I can recognize that they are just thoughts. I have a knowledge that runs deeper than that, experience of how it goes and how much is not real. Its almost impossible to remember when I am tired, my knees hurt, I have defeated myself by slouching, but I know that there is no failure in trying and that the success is actually in the realization of Shit, I did it again. It is really not about how many times I get lost in thought; what is important is how many times I return to the point of focus. More is better. Its skill development, which cant happen if I dont make mistakes. It can be frustrating, but its easier when I shift my attention to whats important - whatever I have selected as my point of focus, instead of dwelling on the mistakes. Oh, there it is again works much better than Shit!. Sometimes I do okay, and sometimes its just another stupid thing to be mindful of.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Resistance is futile

I am reading journal entries from last summer, around the time I really started to accept that there were some things about my life that I could no longer deny, and around the time I got some help in dealing with my experience so I could come to terms with my self.

The themes so far are

1. Feeling okay and like I have things under control
2. Feeling like crap and as though I have no control
3. Feeling pretty good about my commitment and action to get things under control
4. Something happens to indicate that I have no control over what is happening
5. Feeling directionless, lost, generally quite useless, and feeling as though I am just taking up space on the planet.

I had spent a long time training myself and successfully practicing that life is what you make it and that thoughts manifest. I had a good life that started to fall to shit (in some respects) and I thought I could stop it. 6 months later I am knee-deep and only just realizing that I have no control over a good part of my life at this time. Every time I think I have control, I realize I have none. Perhaps it is time to accept that I have none. Perhaps I am being propelled down a path because I must go down the path.

I am clearly in a transition, a big one. I am struggling with a sense of urgency to do something and at the same time, I don't really know what to do. So, while I struggle wth focus and a sense of direction,
I am also spending a lot of energy trying to stay neutral until I figure out what I want. Transitions are times of pure potential; it’s mind-boggling, but it is time to unboggle the mind. What’s the best way to maximize pure potential? Set goals! I set some. I set a bunch. I managed a few…the ones that only involved me…fitness goals and whatnot; others? Not even close, despite taking the steps, fruition never occurred. The only explanation I have is that they were not goals in sync with something about me. It seems to me that sometimes the plan is bigger than I can see and, when that is the case, resistance is futile.

Friday, January 20, 2012

My two selves

I have two lives. One takes place in a realm of consciousness where everything is normal. I look for work that I like and is fulfilling, I earn a living, I buy stuff, go out with friends, drink, eat, look for more stuff to buy, work harder to earn more money, and then I spend more time coveting my stuff because I have worked so hard to obtain it…but it’s good stuff, I have good people and I am basically happy.

In my other life, I don’t care about work, I don’t care about stuff, I am convinced that the practicalities of urban life will be taken care of (my other self thinks this self is delusional), I don’t drink because I don’t like how it makes me feel, I have good friends, and all I want is to be more connected to myself and others. I want to understand who I am and how, at times, I slip into unity consciousness, and how to make that process even more fluid and grounded than it has been.

The common element in both is my relationships. This is the link. These two lives are sometimes at odds with each other but are always connected through the people. The me that is grounded in concrete material life wonders if we are all connected to something greater than ourselves, while the me that is sometimes lost in experience wonders if the 'greater is that we are connected to each other.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Life is… a highway…a box of chocolates….a classroom…or whatever you make it.

I watched some of Oprah’s Life Class. Though it is often affirming, I don’t usually feel as though I am missing anything by not watching it. However, occasionally, she says something that helps me think about things a little differently; today it was the loss of my job. She mentioned getting fired and how it was the best thing that could have happened to her because that event pushed her in a different direction - direction she probably would not otherwise have gone.

Maybe my job loss is doing the same thing. It was my job; I was assured and reassured, and then I was out. Not only is it possible that it was a push, it is also possible that I caused it as surely as I created that job for myself in the first place. A few months before my surprising departure (due to budget constraints), I had decided that I would find a way to live an emotionally, physically and spiritually balanced life, that I would no longer deny my experience of the world as energetically interconnected and that I would actually explore it. I am sure that I could have done what I am doing now while working, but not as quickly. I wonder if there’s something I need to be ready for.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The distance from here to there

I recently realized (again. I keep forgetting and realizing) that trying to get from point A to point B does not work. I think I am not where I am supposed to be or I have this impression that I am progressing toward something.  It's not so much 'progressing' as 'realizing' what is.  The fact is that there is no distance between where I am and where I think I need to go. I am both here and there, and at the same time there is no here and no there; there is only here and there is only now. The old adage “there is no time like the present’ is actually inaccurate. There is no time but the present…or to take it one step further, there is no time. Everything exists in its fullness.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Process - Part III

When I decided I was going to have a normal life, one of the things I wanted was to NOT do things out of fear. I remember recognizing that almost everything I did (and often didn't do) was out of fear.
I wanted to get to a point where I could do things because I wanted to rather than because I was afraid of what would happen if I didnt. Realizing one of the mechanisms that leads to terminal dissatisfaction is a difficult thing to come to terms with, especially when you have no clue how to fix it. I cant say exactly how it did it. Its complicated, I think. There was a decision to do something about it, a lot of research on how successful people get what they want, trial and error, changes in attitude, a growing sense of control over my life and what happens to me, and then I would say that I had some momentum and things got a lot easier. 

Now in terms of my concrete life, I am very future-focused and in terms of myself I am very present focused. If I am okay now and I have what I need, then with a bit of focus, my future will fall into place. When I started reading what happy successful people had to say about happiness and success, I remember thinking that there had to be some luck too. How could all of that good stuff happen to one person when so many others live with so much shit everyday? A person like that has to have a golden horseshoe up their ass. Things dont just happen because you want them to!

Well, actually, they do...but, it seems, you need to be doing what's right for yourself...and its not just desire that makes it happen; its a certain kind of desire, maybe a true desire. There is the type of desire that is more like a wish. It occupies your thoughts, it may involve a high degree of chance (like winning the lottery), and you basically sit on your assand by this I mean specifically doing nothing that leads in the direction of the thing you want. The other type of desire is a combination of drive and planning. You may not know how to get from point A to point B, but you can see a few steps, so you take them. As you take the steps, you see more, you start to experience the benefits of making positive change and you are encouraged to move forward. Granted this assumes that you do not have an intense fear of success. In this case, smaller early successes will trigger the imagination to the larger successes to come and you will probably either shut down, or fabricate unnecessary obstacles. I know this from experience. I do everything the hard way. Not so much anymore, but I still see it from time to time.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Love is

A VERB. It’s not how you feel about someone; it’s nothing if it is not expressed. Love is what you do as a result of what you feel. You can say you love someone, but words are nothing without congruent action. Expressions of love must be communicated in ways that coincide with what your loved one values so that s/he can recognize it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Process - Part II

In the spring of 1991 I wrote that "long-term illness signalled the beginning of my identity crisis. I am not this body. I am not what I do. I no longer identify myself with my occupation. Being ill meant doing nothing, which lead to feeling useless which translated as I have no value. What exactly is it that has no value? Of what importance is doing‘? I cant do all the time. Do I lose my value during those times?

It’s funny how things come full circle. I am at a very similar time in my life. Though this is more of an existential crisis than an identity crisis, some of the questions remain. Where does a sense of value come from? What am I supposed to do? I have been relatively inactive for a while now, hoping that I will find my inspiration somewhere, but I haven’t, so that leads me to believe that I need to do something. However, just keeping busy is not very satisfying. I would like to at least have a sense that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, or heading the right direction. When that happens things feel right, opportunities arise, things fall into place and flow smoothly. That does not seem to be happening right now.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Process - Part I

Last year I had a pretty major existential crisis, and basically decided to drink more to keep myself grounded in my concrete life. It seemed to work. I think it was the alcohol, but it may have been a decision to avoid most of the spiritual aspects of my life and to not explore my consciousness. I keep being pulled and realized the last time this happened that I could control my experiences. I couldn't controlwhether or not I had them, but I could certainly make them stop when they started. Having a sense of control was good because the aftermath was usually awful. 

The contrast between my spiritual/mystical experiences and everyday life was too serious. That experience of having answers but no questions, the feeling of absolute comfort and certainty that all is right with my life and the world, seeing the interconnectedness of everything, seeing light rather than people and recognizing them by a particular frequency or vibration, feeling complete peace, full potential and understanding on a level beyond words that everything is an energetic creation that we choose, not chance occurrences that happen to us. 

These experiences go so far beyond words that everything I just wrote feels almost like a lie. I want to say the words describe the experience but they do not. These are the most beautiful and moving experiences I have ever had, and waking up from them (for me) has been like being pulled out of bed and thrown naked into a snow bank. The harsh reality of life, in contrast with the experience of full potential, has been too painful, so I chose to set that aside for a while. A beer after work and a glass of wine with dinner did the trick nicely, but lately (since spring) things have been changing. I am being pulled again.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

True Gratification

It seems to me that people want what they want, but many unwilling to look at why they do not haveit. It’s not a criticism of individuals, but more a statement of our culture. As North American values spread, more and more of us are living not only with an insatiable need for instant gratification, but also with a lack of awareness about what is truly satisfying. Then over time, or perhaps after some sort of crisis, some of us realize and acknowledge that, at the end of the proverbial day, that there aren’t very many things that really matter; most of it is pretty meaningless.

From my current perspective, it seems obvious that intentions which are polluted with old patterns of belief lead to behaviours that don’t bring about the desired outcome.  Some behaviours are easy to change. Sometimes we do things a certain way because it worked once, or because our parents did it that way, but there is no real attachment to it. In this sort of situation it is quite easy to evaluate a particular approach as unsuccessful and to try something else. The situation gets interesting when you develop this analytical skill, evaluate something as ineffective, intend to change it and then continue to do the same old thing. The level of self reflection required to address whatever is underlying a pattern of behaviour, a sort of shadow of myself, can be intense. Sometimes pushing myself to do something new or something old in a new way helps me to understand myself, thus making it easier to do next time, but other times it doesn’t get easier…but I digress.

It is not a bad thing to want creature comforts, but I need to be truly satisfied. The material things don’t bring true satisfaction with oneself, and the cultural push toward instant gratification just makes it all worse. It is short-sighted, but true satisfaction is not always easy to find, so perhaps in its absence we think it’s worth a try to fill the gap with stuff.

Unfortunately, I cannot draw a map for how I found it because I am still looking. For now I know that it is important that my friends and family know who I am, that I continue to clear myself for clearer action, that I stay open to change and that I feed the love in my life by participating actively in my relationships. In my last breath, I think these are the accomplishments against which I will measure my success, but I am still looking for something else. I think there’s more to it