Going Within and Coming Back Out

Last week, my partner and I took a back-country camping trip into the heart of Adirondacks’ West Canada Lakes Wilderness.  For five days, we were surrounded by pine, spruce and hardwood, felled trees disintegrating into forest floor, a pristine lake with a beaver dam about 100 yards from our tent, whole micro-ecosystems living out their destinies in small pools and ravines, mountains blanketed with morning mist, and all manner of living creatures carrying out their quotidian acts of survival.  A huge electrical storm swept through one night, with impressive cloud to ground lightening and raucous thunder peeling out in the magnificent stretch of sky.  Billions of stars lit up the cool night sky afterwards.

It took a little while to shed the layers of civilization that we carried into this landscape, but after a day or two, we noticed ourselves becoming more and more at one with the pace of life  as we breathed in and out the incredible energy that enervated all life in one of the most wild places left on the East Coast of the U.S.  It occurred to us how easily we could peel away so many of the so-called “conveniences” of life that actually make life so much more complicated.

No computers, no cell phones, no running water, no air conditioning, no oven, no restaurants, no running this or that errand, no checking bank accounts and paying bills, no making this deal or going to that meeting, no strategic planning, no profit-forecasts, no microwaves that kill food, no electrical wires, no eerily flickering TV’s, no annoying commercials on the radio, no endless miles of pavement, concrete, steel and glass, no air pollution, no honking, no pissed off drivers weaving in and out of lanes, no billboards trying to sell you stuff you don’t need, no shopping malls selling stuff to teens that they don’t need, no hot showers, no running to the grocery store, nothing we had to do and nowhere we had to go.  The only thing we had to do was just Be One with Our Nature.

Hollows between the roots of a great tree were our lounging chair.  A good portion of the day was spent drawing water (thank you, lake) and collecting the abundant sticks lying on the forest floor for firewood (thank you, forest).  We practiced Qigong by the lakeshore.  We listened to the sound of beavers carrying out their work in the middle of the night and smiled in our half-sleeping states.  We marveled. We learned from the fire, from the water, from the air, from the earth, and from the few simple metal tools that we brought with us. We ate simply. We loved simply. We laughed. We were quiet.

I’m still a little in shock at our return to civilization.  I am struck hundreds of times daily at how needlessly complicated we have made our lives.

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On the so-called ‘God Particle’

Just as the world can reveal itself as particles, the Tao

can reveal itself as human beings.

Though world and particles aren’t the same, neither

are they different

Worlds and particles, bodies and beings, time and

space:

All are transient expressions of the Tao.

Unseeable, ungraspable, the Tao is beyond any

attempt to analyze or categorize it.

At the same time, its truth is everywhere you turn.

If you can let go of it with your mind and surround it

with your heart, it will live inside you forever.

The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu: Hua Hu Ching (tr. by Brian Walker, Harper One),  p. 39 (~4th c. CE)

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Transforming Spaces

Making the world around us a better place starts with transforming our mind-based thoughts into pure consciousness.   Meditation, over time, helps to raise one’s energetic vibration and helps to protect one from absorbing and holding onto the negative vibrations of others (e.g., anger or irritation, fear, shame, chaos, etc.) via  Metta–the practice of generating kindness and goodwill towards all beings.  Compassion neutralizes negativity, because love generated within the whole being, from the sub-cellular level outward, neutralizes fear-based thoughts, actions and reactions.  Metta cleanses as it radiates.  We can carry what we learn from Metta into our daily actions and activities, thereby increasing our Mindfulness, as Mindfulness and Metta go hand-in-hand.

The Monkey Mind will often make us leave the spaces we enter into in a more chaotic state.  When we are hectic or worried or angry, the spaces we enter into carry will be affected.  When we live without Mindfulness, we may leave a room messier than when we entered it, making it less comfortable for others who enter into it.  Or, if we clean up a space in irritation at others who have left it messier for everyone else, the irritation that we feel poisons the quality of our thoughts and the quality of the energy that we bring into a room.  Have you ever walked into a room knowing without a word spoken that someone in it is irritated?  That irritation occupies space, and makes it uncomfortable for others to be in the room.

One really wonderful practical way to integrate Metta into our daily activities is to simply decide to leave each space we walk into a little cleaner and more positive.  Leaving a space in a more positive state than when one entered into it is an act of self-love and love for others.  When done with Mindfulness and love, it is an act of blessing and an act of inner purification.

  • If a room is untidy, for example, take a moment to straighten it up.  If you don’t have time to clean it fully, just mindfully replace one or two things into their rightful place and feel good about doing so. Un-cluttering a room with Mindfulness and Love increases your own vibration.
  • Or, play a little healing music for the houseplants, which are also energetic beings and flourish in positive environments.  The plants, in turn, will help purify the air you breathe in that room.
  • Organize a bookshelf in disarray.
  • Burn a little incense or sage with mindful intention.
  • Say a little wish or prayer for the well-being of all who enter this space.
  • If you practice Reiki, send distance Reiki to a space you know you will be entering (your office, for example, or your in-laws’ home).
  • Or, just send a Mindful blessing to that space,  with the intention that all who enter and leave it, including yourself, will be better off for having done so.
  • Recycle or find another home for an object rather than throwing it away.

There are so many ways in which we can attend to the spaces we enter.  Use your imagination, fueled by goodwill.  If we go around blessing the spaces we enter into, we engage pure Consciousness.  We live out compassion and love, thereby purifying our own energetic bodies and making the world around us a better place.

 

 

 

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The Simple Pleasures

A tree’s gift of a stick on green grass under a blue sky…

 

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Saying the Hard Things

Today, it has become necessary for me to say some things to a beloved friend that I believe will be difficult for her to hear.  Communicating simply, honestly, and peacefully was never one of my stronger points, but I have been facing the discomfort of changing to become more communicative, and I welcome the opportunity to grow in this way.  So today’s post is really counsel to myself and to anyone out there who finds it difficult to say the hard things; and, I’d be grateful for feedback and suggestions in the comments.

Remember:

  • Say it simply
  • Say it honestly
  • Say it peacefully
  • Say it with love
  • Say it with the intention to restore balance
  • Say it with the intention not to manipulate, control or change the other person’s behavior
  • Say it with the intention, rather, of setting or restoring healthy boundaries
  • Say it without expectation
  • Say it with absolute freedom
  • Say it with respect for the other person’s absolute freedom
  • Say it without blame of self or other
  • Say it with compassion for self and other
  • Say it with Mindfulness
  • Listen Deeply, knowing that every word spoken and really heard presents an opportunity for growth

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The Necessities (?) of Life.

A couple of weeks ago, I lamented leaving the Adirondacks on a journey through them to Montreal.   The pristine wildernesses left such an impression upon me.  Like a chance encounter between destined lovers who meet each other for the first time as they are both en route to continents in opposite hemispheres, the vision settled into my mind and took root.  It has changed me somehow, and my mind has been almost recklessly calculating how to get back there, how soon I can be there again, and what I can do to prevent us having to be separated for long stretches of time.

Luckily, my partner is an experienced back-country trekker who is more at home in a tent than she is our apartment.  And, so, it took zero art of persuasion to convince her that we should plan a week-long expedition into the heart of the West Canada Lakes Wilderness area.

Now, I’m your average car-camper.  For me, camping generally means slugging along a host of  comforts and half a cupboard of food that I can engineer into a fabulous “foodie” cooking experience using the rarely employed technology of an open fire.  Clothes for every weather, paint and canvas in case I feel like getting creative in the woods, two pairs of flip-flops (one for inside the tent; one for outside), travel scrabble set, cumfy pillow, and the ever important good coffee-making paraphernalia.

Needless to say, I’ve had to practice letting go.  We’ll be eating pre-packaged, freeze-dried meals, and packing in one extra set of ultra-lite clothing.   Instant coffee and survival gear.  Every single item that goes in our packs must be set before the judge and jury of my experienced back-packer, and it would be a grand understatement to claim that she is a vigilant guard of weight management.

At first, letting go was a little difficult: “What do you mean, I can’t pack every kind of snack I think I might have the urge to chomp on?” “What do you mean, I can’t pack four pairs of jeans?” “What do you mean I’ll not be able to eat fresh fruit and veggies for a week?”  But, as we peel away all the extras, one by one, and as I settle my mind into being comfortable with only the barest of necessities, I find myself actually becoming happier and happier.

All of these little cravings add up– so much so, that if I weren’t willing to work loose their stranglehold on me (and one or two moments certainly popped up in which my willingness evaporated), I would miss out on the opportunity to be where my soul finds absolute respite and harmony.

Thank you, Katie, for helping to free me a little bit at a time.  Adirondacks, here we come!!

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Body Consciousness

Using the mind to look for reality is delusion. Not using the mind to look for reality is awareness.

-Bodhidharma, “The Wake-Up Sermon”

Have you ever been in a state of mental agitation and noticed that sensations were taking place in your body, too?  Detaching from thoughts in those moments and just noticing the rising and falling away of sensations in the body can be a wonderful way to increase consciousness and awareness.  The body has a consciousness that the chatter of the mind often over-dominates and obscures.   When the narrative about something in the past or future is quieted, and one begins to notice sensations in the body that have arisen in a state of agitation (heat or tingling in the hands, face, or chest area, for example), one begins to notice that the body experiences energetically what the mind experiences through fear or grasping. Fear or grasping underlies and propels the mind’s narrative, whereas energetic agitation in the body rises and dissipates if it is allowed to just be without the mind feeding into it.  The body is a dynamic energetic system that has the potential to perceive itself energetically as a drop of water does in an ocean–as fluid with the universe.  In the place of awareness that is reached when the chatter of the mind is quieted, real consciousness may arise from just noticing the sensations occurring in the body.

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A Thought Provoking Blog Award

Ben Naga was one of the (well-earned) recipients of a new blog award, created by Just a Thought, entitled “A Thought Provoking Blog”.  Ben Naga’s blog is exactly that, so if you haven’t become a regular reader yet, you’re in for a lot of challenging and whimsical consciousness-expanding delights.  I thank you, B.N., for the honor of the nomination, which comes with the pleasurable responsibilities of posting the award-logo and of naming a few other blogs for the award.

There are far too many to possibly name (I am grateful every day for the wise reflections, comments, and images of all my friends and fellow bloggers), but here are a few of blogs whose words and insights have truly helped me to expand my consciousness:

Living in the Now

Julie Hansen Intuitive

Fierce Buddhist

Spiritual Mysticism

The Way Home

The Wondrous Dharma

Known is a Drop, Unknown is an Ocean

As ever, I wish blessings and light upon one and all.

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The Ultimate Attainment

The past is already past.

Don’t try to regain it.

The present does not stay.

Don’t try to touch it.

From moment to moment.

The future has not come;

Don’t think about it

Beforehand.

Whatever comes to the eye,

Leave it be.

There are no commandments

To be kept;

There’s no filth to be cleansed.

With empty mind really

Penetrated, the dharmas

Have no life.

When you can be like this,

You’ve completed

The ultimate attainment.

             -P’ang Yün (龐蘊 Hõ Un)

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