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I went to a workshop at Omega Institute, Rhinebeck, New York, and I had a few early morning hours dancing seemingly alone in the moonlight, which will stay with me. It was 4:00 am on that other morning, and I had slept soundly and felt rested and excited about the learning that was occurring in me, but I also felt completely alone. This is the day I have set aside to explore my close surroundings before I head out on my Maui adventure activities for the next seven days.
As I allow the disappointment to get as big and painful as it needs too, something happens that has happened many times in my life during difficult experiences. During a recent trip to Maui, I rediscovered that beautiful child in the eyes of the aging woman Ia€™ve become. For many years, I searched to be a better person, to become wiser, and to learn how to live a full and productive life, and to be admired.
Patience has been my work this year and Ia€™ve learned much about the difference between tolerance and patience.
The voting was heavy and because most of us know each other in some way, our politics are often known. As Zacha€™s son-in-law returned to the inside of the voting precinct to witness the casting of Zacha€™s vote, he said two simple words: Thank you.
Later heading home, fatigue turned to laughter and memory recorded these shared emotional experiences of inspiration. The written word has often been the way spiritual messages have been received during my Life.
The human survival instinct supports us in seeing what is there that needs to change or is threatening to us. Sometimes an old message said in a simple direct way can change the Life of the one who truly hears it. Since that time, I have written of the learning that came from my choice and consequently his choices.
As I was leaving the workshop, a young woman came up to me and asked me to share what meditation had meant in my life. My deepest longing is to love and be loved and yet fear can hold me back by expecting perfection.
Michael Singer wrote a book called The Untethered Soul, and it speaks of the way to let the personality desires play out while the Seer of what is transpiring watches without judging or clinging to an outcome.
It has been some seventy-two hours since I began this essay and then stopped writing because I realized I was living in a huge story and could not write authentically from that place.
It has been seven years since this small community called to me and embraced me within its furry mountains and quiet streams. During the last few weeks, I have begun to feel that my time here in this small community is limited. The rock in the creek feels cold against my warm skin in contrast to bike riding on this hot day. When he turns, his familiar face and eyes are beaming toward me as he explains that he is looking for the rock we used in meditation the last time we visited the creek. His love for me is visible in the steady gaze of his eyes, and it both comforts and frightens me.
It is late evening and Mark Nepoa€™s words speak to me; his writings have been an inspiration in many ways during the past few months. At first, the feeling is a bit overwhelming and tears flow as I remember Nepoa€™s request to include looking at the lighted candle as part of my meditation.
It is spring again; forty-eight years have past and yet my memories of a small toddler are as vivid as every. It is good to remember the joy of him running across the yard, small frog in hand and joy in his face, panting as he recalls how challenging it was for him to catch it.
He made the team, got a new girlfriend, went off to college, had much success, and oh so many friends. May the light in the eyes of our children remind us of the light that is possible in our own.
Mark Nepo is my author of choice the last few days, and his writing speaks to me in the silence of my being and I am changed by what I hear. Those who have poor vision, those who have less than average senses of taste and smell, those who have physical difficulties, those who have hearing challenges, what do they have in common? My friend has learned to angle his head in a certain way that tells me he is listening carefully sometimes cupping his ear with his hand.
Recently Ia€™ve been seeing growing older as a limitation; an ache here, a gray hair there, a bit of fatigue at the end of the day, a need for a short rest more often, a wrinkle on the back of my hand, a need for glasses more often. As the mother, the blind childa€™s face filled with wonder inspires me to see more clearly through her blindness.
As the cherry blossom, I stand in the glow of the sun knowing that I add beauty and wonder to the earth and to its inhabitants.
Mark Nepo in his book, The Awakening, asked the questions: How am I different from others and how am I the same.
In this silence, the wisdom of Lamotta€™s quote is known somewhere deep in the part of me that I share with all others.
Each of us experiences death of our physical body, each of us grows physically from birth to death, each of us is capable of thought, each of us experiences the pain of physical life and the joys. I believe deep in our core of being, we are each a small piece of the Universe, and we have manifested into this unique physical form equipped with the tools and a gift we need to create our healing part of the collective.
As I began to ride the bike, it seemed a bit big for my frame and often my back hurt after riding a long distance, so I chose to buy a new girla€™s bike. Two days ago, a new friend suggested he would like to go biking with my group, but his bike needed repairing. On the ride back to the trailhead, my friend and I rode together; I shared that the bike had belonged to my son and he was the first to ride it besides me. A limiting beliefa€”just as it soundsa€”is having a thought about the past, present, or future that keeps you from seeing what is true in the moment you are living right now.
This natural symbol of equality of day (light) and night (dark) is a reminder that light and dark are different not better or worse. Equality is a slippery word in our culture and the term is often used to compare one thing, one thought, one person, and one event to another.
This search for meaning has brought me to this autumnal point, and to a knowing that equality is expressed within through an attitude of a€?non-judgmenta€? about what we can see, smell, hear, taste, and touch through our five senses. Recently in a difficult discussion with a male friend about equality between genders, I suggested that our older generation seems to have more difficulty with this deeper feeling of equality since our culture has encouraged stories about superiority vs. This experience has supported me in looking closely within me to see where I discover feelings of inequality as a part of my physical existence. Observation of the equality of light and dark during this Fall Equinox reminds me that deep equality means no judgment or comparisons are needed. During the past few weeks, Ia€™ve spent time at the Wintergreen Nature Foundation as a volunteer. One particular Saturday, a call came that a baby rabbit had been very still in the garden for a long time and appeared injured. A few days later, I was the human contemplating the impermanence in nature and wondering what to do.
Recently I met my daughter and her family to fulfill her wish to visit the two homes where she had been a baby.
As I approached the door, I remembered my husband carrying me across the threshold; I remembered bringing my son and daughter home to the loving arms of an extended family that had arrived to celebrate their coming into Life.
Unbelievably, the man and woman that had bought the house from us still lived there, and it felt wonderful that they had continued to add their love of the house to ours. Neighbors dropped in yesterday and provided me with fun, friendship, and an unexpected sacred moment. It was a balmy late spring day and the hydrangeas were in full bloom and served as a backdrop as we drank smoothies, ate rice chips and salsa, and enjoyed a glass of wine on my screened porch. We shared how important it is to avoid fearful story-telling about what is happening and to simply deal with what is happening right now in the present moment. My friend is out of town and some part of me is pleased by the freedom that gives to me and I have an authentic knowing that he is doing what enriches his life.
As I sit typing this, I realize that my day is my own creation and whether or not I act from a place of fear is all up to me. From some people the question triggers a feeling of annoyance within me, and I sometimes give them an answer like, a€?nothing special just the usual things or therea€™s always plenty to do.a€? It is more avoidance of responding from annoyance than an answer. As I examined my feelings during these different experiences, I discovered the part of me that wants to be what the other person perceives me to be, a busy, active, interesting person.
It is a reminder that I am not here to fulfill anyone elsea€™s expectations; I am here to find meaning and purpose for my own life. This morning I awaken to the gentle sound of rain, and I snuggle down into the nighta€™s accumulated warmth under my blankets. Again no thoughts come, just an incredible presence and knowing that in each moment there is beauty and nurturing for the soul for the taking.
If unused muscles and bones create a message to the brain that their dysfunction is normal until the imbalance creates pain, is that also true of emotional dysfunction? The physical discomfort is in my second energy center, which I understand to be the energy center of creativity and belonging, and it is sending me a message. A few days ago, Eckhart Tollea€™s book, called The New Earth, was mentioned in a conversation with a friend, and I had a knowing that I wanted to reread it. In that moment, I began to look at my choices during the past few months and the intentions behind them. Tolle goes on to say that if you can neither enjoy or bring acceptance to what you doa€”stop. In that moment, I chose to look into his clear blue eyes and said, a€?Hi.a€? He didna€™t look at me, but his eyes were alive with the joy and pure light of the incredible sun that rose through the window of the elevator. In gratitude, I left the elevator carrying the gift of pure light that had come to me from the sun through a young man that reflected it. There are few activities more thrilling than the exploration of consciousness, particularly in the form of intelligent spiritual practice. The best way to overcome it … is to make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life.
I’ve had a lot of opportunity to think about Russell’s quote, and not just because I am now in my middle years, and thus aging more noticeably (and, it feels, more quickly).
Russell was a strong critic of organized religion and the truth claims of mysticism, although he also admired the mystical attitude and claimed it was “the inspirer of whatever is best in Man.” No doubt the great philosopher would have said the changes he describes are in no way proprietary to spirituality. My contention in this short piece is contemplative techniques like meditation amplify and accelerate these changes. One central quality that arises in consciousness as a result of meditation is a kind of smoothness or non-grasping, often called equanimity in Buddhism. Some describe a strong feeling of coming apart, of emptying out – even as they are held and supported by a deeper quality in their experience.
When a person dies, all their ordinary ordering principles – the organizing of thought, even the organizing of sights and sounds – goes back to the blooming buzzing confusion of the neonate. On the other hand, if you are able to accept the confusion, if, in Young’s words, “your awareness can alight and identify with the blooming and buzzing, can become that flow of nature – well, then you are home. Living and practicing for years in Asia, Young saw a different kind of death in Buddhist and Taoism masters: “Does an enlightened person become senile? You don’t need to be a Zen Master to have equanimity with confusion at the end of life. But meditation and other contemplative practices definitely seem to improve the odds. In 1974 Hans Burgschmidt was sixteen years old, living in the Canadian Prairies, working in a photography studio darkroom, elbow-deep in chemicals all day long.
Soon after he began his meditation practice, exactly as advertised, he found himself transported from his parent’s basement into a shimmering inner space of light and colour and bliss. Everything was fine, until three weeks after his first retreat, when, in Hans’ words, “something changed.” My sense,” says Hans, “is the technique precipitated something that was already there. To understand what happened to Hans, you need to understand something about how meditation works in general, and vipassana in particular. Practicing vipassana, you have more space to make appropriate responses, and more space, too, around your looping thought-track, which can dramatically reduce stress and anxiety as well as raise a person’s baseline levels of happiness and fulfillment. Yet most of the clinicians who so enthusiastically endorse mindfulness do not have a proper understanding of where it can lead. In fact, the classic result of a successful vipassana practice is to permanently recognize the impermanence (anicca), the selflessness (anatta), and the dualistic tension or suffering (dukkha) of all experience, which may sound like an Ibsen play, but this is the clear empirical understanding that many otherwise sensible practitioners report. For Hans, what began as confusion and disorientation led within a few hours to extreme panic. Over the next few months Hans spent hours with Young on the phone, but despite the counseling, none of his symptoms went away – if anything, he says, the selflessness, the rawness of sensations and the associated fears became even more disconcerting. Was Hans experiencing a slow-motion nervous breakdown unrelated to his meditation practice?  Or was the experience of depersonalization triggered by meditation?
He was able, just barely, to keep working, although he says he has no idea how he was able to do this since, in his words,  “I often couldn’t understand what people were saying – all I would hear is the weird texture of their speech patterns, there was no meaning to any of it.” His own responses, too, came as a surprise. More meditators and practitioners are beginning to speak openly about the challenges associated with practice. Over the past three years, Britton and her colleagues have conducted detailed interviews with over forty senior Buddhist (and some non-Buddhist) teachers and another forty or so practitioners about challenges they’ve either experienced themselves, or, in the case of teachers, seen in their students.
The full range of symptoms, from mild to intense, include headaches, panic, mania, confusion, hallucinations, body pain and pressure, involuntary movements, the de-repression of emotionally-charged psychological material, extreme fear and – perhaps the central feature – the dissolution of the sense of self.
But, as she reports in a recent interview, the most surprising finding for Britton has been the duration of impairment, which she defines as the inability of an adult to work or take care of children. Britton has found that two demographics seem to be affected more than other: young men aged eighteen to thirty, who, in the way of young men, go for months-long retreats in Asia and pursue hardcore practice and log ten to twenty hours of meditation a day.
The situation is complicated by the fact that a period of difficulty is actually a perfectly normal part of many meditation practices. Shinzen Young writes, “It is certainly the case that almost everyone who gets anywhere with meditation will pass through periods of negative emotion, confusion, disorientation, and heightened sensitivity to internal and external arisings. According to Young, the real Dark Night occurs when, as in Hans’ case, a practitioner has difficulty integrating insight into selflessness.
Perhaps surprisingly, Britton’s research has so far not revealed any clear associations between meditation-related difficulties and prior psychiatric or trauma history.
Britton gets two to three emails a week from people looking for help, so this is something she thinks a lot about. It was 1972, and Gary Weber, a 29-year old materials science PhD student at Penn State University, had a problem with his brain. It so happened that shortly after he recognized the problem, in one of those little life coincidences that some people like to call “synchronicities,” Weber picked up a slim volume of poetry on his way out of the library.
This is the first line of a famous Zen poem – Song of Zazen – written in the 18th century by the Japanese Buddhist teacher Hakuin Ekaku. Weber had had what in Zen is called a “kensho” – an awakening, a glimpse into the unconditioned, a mystical phenomenon described in different ways by countless texts and countless teachers in countless traditions.
Now of course, the fact that Weber is telling this story at all would seem to contradict this rather dramatic claim.
But the real surprise for Weber is what disappeared along with the “me” narrative: any sense of being a separate self, and with it all mental and emotional suffering. Whatever the exact case, both men agree that a reduction of activity in the DMN is central to the elimination of suffering. Have Brewer and his colleagues finally found a clue to how the reduction of suffering looks in the brain? This kind of neurobiological perspective is a movement towards what Brewer calls “evidence-based faith,” where science may be able to help teachers and practitioners fine-tune the approaches they take to practice. Weber agrees, “Right now we can get folks off the street and within one or two runs in the Yale fMRI they can produce this deactivated state. Like the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths with a psychotherapeutic twist, Weber has it down to a terse progression: “I had suffering, it came from my attachments. Although it is unlikely Spira would put it in these terms, this part of what he is describing is, from a neuroscientific perspective, actually quite conventional. For Spira, this recognition is the departure point for a radical reorientation in how we experience self and world. If this sounds like an unwanted excursion into freshman philosophy – at best an indulgence, at worst a solipsistic derangement – then that may be because you are trying to use common sense to follow and critique Spira’s argument. Maybe you’ve experienced something similar in nature: a sudden view that pulls your breath from your body and resets your mind, an unexpected convergence of intimacy in the forest or sea.
For some – call them the accidental few, although as the saying goes, practice makes you accident-prone – their perspective shifts and stays that way.
The particular challenge of writing about nonduality is not that there is too little information about the subject; it’s that there is too much. Nonduality also has a much more precise meaning in the smaller inter-disciplinary world of consciousness studies.
For a journalist, it’s a slippery area to research, for everyone has a slightly different take on how to arrive at that underlying nondual reality, and what that reality actually entails. To the uninitiated, the language and the ideas at SAND are strange and sometimes frustrating. The other day I went for a hike in High Park, a large tract of forest in Toronto’s West End. It’s easy to criticize technology in this way—as the great distractor, dissociating us from our bodies, and from nature.
Think of it as the ultimate design challenge, a new kind of artist –scientist collaboration, and a new kind of product assembly line. Insert an infrared sensor and you could enter the world of the mosquito – how do they find you? Although some of this functionality is out of reach at the moment, the technology is getting cheaper and faster and more portable (and responsive) by the day. This is where the arrow of consciousness studies is pointing: out beyond us, to the next concentric ring, in what we might hope is an ever-expanding circle of empathy and understanding. My own view is that the more we are able to see ourselves as part of the community of nature, the more sympathetic and respectful and conscious we may become. Looking up at the birds – enchanted, distracted – the hiker doesn’t notice my hand reach for his $800 SmartShades. Thirty years ago, if you mentioned animal consciousness at a psychology conference, you’d risk getting jabbed with a Skinnerian cattle prod by some beady-eyed behaviorist. Even if it sounds like common sense, the Declaration is important, for it will pave the way for further study, and, one hopes, increasing respect for the impressive mental capacities of the non-human world. But in other respects, when it comes to our relationship to animals, we continue to be held back by an even deeper intellectual taboo, and that is the taboo of imagining we can relate to animals in the first place. Nagel’s paper is an elegant defense of the integrity and irreducibility of inner experience.
However, in making this important point about consciousness, Nagel inadvertently erected an ideological wall between ourselves and the rest of nature.
The idea is that, yes, obviously there are private aspects of another organism’s experience that, due to the constraints of our biology, we cannot fully know. Our ability to relate to an animal’s experience shifts in proportion to the species in question. And indeed, when you pan out to the big picture of human knowledge, what you see are multiple lines of inquiry converging on this exact point. Non-Westerners, too, have their own insights, particularly animistic people that have remained in close relationship with nature. We can and should learn to trust this more free-form style of awareness – it is the means by which we’re able to dramatize any interior, as every novelist and filmmaker and artist knows (even Nagel admits as such in one of his paper’s footnotes: “imagination is remarkably flexible”). It was so incredible that I tried to write about it, because it was the perfect topic for an essay.
My room was a dorm room about seven-feet square, and I shared a bath with several men and women in similar rooms.
I welcomed their company and the aloneness that I felt seemed to lift with the sound and movements of our Moon Dance.
Life was hidden in the shadows and difficult to see, but it had completely surrounded me as I danced.
It is a dark starless night, the rain slashes against the window, the winds howl with 50 miles an hour gusts.
It is morning, a light rain continues, the winds are not as strong and yet the bamboo grove sways and sweeps the ground.
The week continued to have some misadventures and some spectacular adventures and the courageous and joyous parts of me lived them fully.
So as this year ends, the compassionate patience I feel for myself fills my heart and it is soft with love; a love that has always been close at hand and seemingly just out of my reach. The voters are old friends, new friends, community workers, casual acquaintances, and families coming together to express their preferences through voting. As the voting lines formed for this election, we stood together only as neighborsa€”rich and not so rich, young and not so young, extraverted and not so extraverted, highly educated and not so highly educated, multi-raced, blue voters and red votersa€”without malice or ill intent. She was adorable in her winter hat pulled down over her ears; it brought attention to her laughing eyes.
He looked concerned and said to me, My father-in-law is out in my truck; he is 85 and hea€™s had a medical procedure today and wea€™ve been with the doctors. It was an unforgettable moment; we hugged and thanked each other for making it possible for Zach to vote.
Since saying a€?yesa€? is the first rule of improv, the message didna€™t seem new at first. The need for control is strong so supporting someone elsea€™s ideas or interests each moment seems difficult at times. This one has certainly changed the content of my last two days, and the intention to expand the experiment is exciting and feels like a spiritual loving act. As I sat on my deck looking out over the city, the leaves of fall were turning the world into bright hues of red, orange, and brown. I felt reluctant, but I had had some physical limitations during the last year that had been difficult to accept and meditation had really supported my healing.
Mostly it happens when a small activity of the day seems more difficult than I judge it should be.
Without being sure of outcomes or things unseen, this is my opportunity to act without attachment and with the joy of what I will learn from the experiences my actions create. It was a time of change from working long hours to going inward to discover what was left to uncover within me. The withdrawal I needed and the healing it has brought to me has completed this phase of my life. The need for expansion comes from an internal voice that says explore, experiment, and do not become complacent. When the time and move is right, something within my spirit will say, a€?Get crackin.a€? The patience to wait for that insight has come as a part of the growth Ia€™ve found in this small blue house on top of a hill surrounded by mountains. He agreed to run away for a day to escape the heat and discomfort brought on by a loss of electrical power in our homes even though his electricity had returned. This evening he invites me to light a candle, to close my eyes, to reopen my eyes, and to see each thing before me. I stood in wonder at this amazing child so full of life and uninhibited yearning to have a good time and accomplish what he set out to do. He wanted to have the biggest paper route and he wanted to make the most sales at his part-time job.
Academics didna€™t seem to be his focus, but he seemed to relish his relationships and became the life of the party and the favorite student to his teachers. Now his spirit of aliveness lives in me and the memory of his voice reminds me that Life in this physical realm is short and that what we create here lives forever within those we have truly touched. Today in the quietness that is The Wintergreen Nature Foundation on some Wednesday mornings, my clarity about what I was to learn came.
His voice stills my mind, brings me to the present, and opens my heart to listen not to the words but to the message his words point too. What Ia€™ve noticed is that they look more closely, eat more slowly, move more deliberately, and listen intently to others.
A young blind childa€™s face radiates the sun in his eyes as he turns his face up to feel the warmth. So today, Ia€™m altering my thoughts about limitations and seeing opportunities everywhere.
I am sometimes impatient, but Ia€™m learning to accommodate his need for being on my right side to hear more clearly. Then he issued an invitation to sit in silence with eyes closed and contemplate these questions. We are here together at this time, in this place, and in this specific body to understand that the essence of all Life exists in each of us humans and in all living matter. If we examined each Life, it would not be what happens to us that would be different for pain and joy comes to everyone; it would be how we respond to what happens to us that has created our unique experience of our individual Life.
Another woman loses a child and creates a charity in its name and supports the lives of many children. To live well is to choose to grow into what we are most capable of being and be grateful for the uniqueness of the Life.
I am a personality in a physical body with the power of logic and thought as is everyone else.
Two years ago it was refurbished with new tires, new horns on the handlebars, and had been given a good checkup so it could be used for riding with my new bike group. Without hesitation, I offered the unused bike in the garage, and I felt my heart open to the possibility that the bike would finally be used.
Perhaps you awaken from a long nighta€™s sleep and have the thought that you are tired; but are you really tired or just not quite alert as yet?
They were planted by the property owner in the early 1900s and seem to be a symbol of welcome outside the front door of an ancient majestic medieval stone castle. To quote Wikipedia: a€¦the Sun is at one of two opposite points on the celestial sphere where the celestial equator and ecliptic intersect. Who could argue that day and night have distinct powers to aid in the Life upon planet Earth?
In my youth the expression, a€?all men are created equal,a€? stirred many thoughts of disbelief in my mind: Does that include women, does that mean skill level, does that mean talent, does that mean appearance, does that meana€¦on and on? It is a deeper understanding that the Universal energy dynamic of which we are a part is without judgment. If there is a value judgment placed by me on what I see, it is sure to mean that I do not see myself as equala€”it could be a feeling of doing better or of a feeling of doing less, of being stronger or of being weaker, in control or not in control.
To honor what each contributes with no value judgment added supports my intention to appreciate all that a€?isa€? because it a€?is.a€? If Ia€™m walking on eggshells, stomping heavily through a room, or withdrawing my love in a reaction to another to gain acceptance or power, it will be my challenge to ask why I do not feel equal in this moment without demanding an immediate answer. It is summer and the calls to rescue injured or troubled animals and people come in quite often. The caller stated that hawks were circling and it wouldna€™t be long before the rabbit could not be saved.
What happens are visions of past experiences, people, and places that are pictures in the minda€™s album. They had added gardens, doors, patios, waterfalls, fireplace, and fisha€”just to mention a few of their creations.
It is challenging to accurately describe a sacred moment and the power it contains, so Ia€™ll start slowly from the beginning. I can feel within me the need to know who is the night raider and how can I change what is happening in order to have my world be as I choose it to be.
For some reason, I have doubt about whether that person is capable of caring about me just as I am in this moment. The birds are chirping in the trees, the squirrels are trying to get into the bird feeders, the breeze is moving the leaves, the raindrops are collecting on the deck, and the mountains stand observing it all. There is no thinking only comfort and presence; it is as if I am one with my feelings and it feels like what I believe peace to be. Ia€™ve felt that my body is trying to tell me something so each morning Ia€™ve asked the question: a€?What do I need to know that I do not want to know?a€? Without requiring an answer, Ia€™ve continued to just be open to learning. As I began, I felt I was reading it for the friend to support him in his relationship with someone he loves; but as I began to read, I knew the booka€™s message would bring me the understanding of what I needed to know that I was resisting unconsciously. My intention is to have compassion for the part of me that feels I need all the answers to lifea€™s questions now.
I dona€™t know what it is I am not aware of in this moment, but I am fully aware that I am enjoying the quietness of it. The elevator door opened and a middle-aged woman entered pushing a teenage boy in a wheelchair. He wasna€™t concerned that it was crowded or that too many obstacles were in the way of what he wanted. An individual human existence should be like a river: small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. For several years I’ve been researching a book on the changes that happen to advanced meditators over a lifetime of practice. He would be right; we find the same ease and wisdom in maturing artists and athletes, in bankers and farmers and scientists.
They allow practitioners to experience the best of old age’s wisdom and perspective in the prime of life, instead of at the end.
The state is paradoxical: surrendering to the wisdom of insecurity, they find a new ground, even as their previous identifications and certainties and drivers wash away. Next, he enrolled himself in advanced courses and in the late 70s he left for Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa, hoping to become a teacher. Maybe it was the dubious “levitation” training, or the dogmatism of his fellow teachers, or the “almost abusive” way the school administrator overworked their staff.
The part of Hans that had once looked out at the world, the core we take for granted as the “self”, had without any warning disappeared.
Most meditation techniques are designed to shift a person’s orientation from a limited personal identity to the broader ground of their experience. This is one reason why mindfulness has become the technique of choice for thousands of clinicians and psychotherapists, and there is now a considerable body of scientific research demonstrating these and other benefits. The fact is that mindfulness in large doses can penetrate more than just your thoughts and sensations; it can see right through to the very pith of who you are – or rather, of who you are not.
The emptiness was ominous – in his words, a “deficient void.” One moment the world seemed far away, the next it was too present, a “barrage” of overwhelming sensations. One by one, all the meaningful parts of Hans’ life dropped away: his love of photography, of art, even his sex drive. If the very real benefits of mindfulness add up to the good-news mental health story of our time, then, like so many good things, there is also a shadowy seam, an experience known popularly as the Dark Night, after the writings of the famous Carmelite mystic St.
The importance of this cannot be overstated, for there are those in the scientific community who believe that taking these reports seriously may one day provide key insights into both mental illness, and the mystery of contemplative transformation. The study’s current research design cannot answer the question of what percentage of practitioners run into problems, although Britton did tell me that serious complications that require inpatient psychiatric hospitalization probably affect less than one percent of meditators. A well-meaning therapist might label this pathological, when what might be more helpful to the “patient” is guidance from an experienced meditation teacher. This is something he says he has only ever seen a few times in his four decades of teaching.
Problems can occur in individuals with no identifiable red flags; conversely, individuals with multiple red flags (bipolar disorder, trauma history, and so on) can do intensive retreats without any difficulties whatsoever. Over the past seven years, the words of one teacher kept circling around in his head: “If life gives you nothing you want and is not on your own terms, would you still have the generosity to show up for it?”  There’s no easy “yes” to that question. He sat down on the green grass in front of the University admin building, unpacked his lunch and idly opened the book.
He read lots of books, he meditated with Zen teachers, mastered complicated yoga postures, and practiced what is known in Vedic philosophy as “self-enquiry” – a way of directing attention backwards into the center of the mind. Conventional wisdom tells us that talk is the verbal expression of thinking; separating the two makes no sense. For Weber, true letting go means arriving at a state of “no-thought” where the mind is permanently stilled of any kind of “bandwidth-gobbling” inner monologue. That it is being discussed at all marks an important advance in the scientific study of meditation in particular and spiritual practice in general. The Mind and Life conferences, the big NIH grants, the explosion of studies on mindfulness – all have generated enormous insights.
Not the activation of a specific region, but a more general deactivation, a neurological letting go that parallels the experiential one?
Contemplatives may recoil at the idea, but for Brewer, addressing suffering is the priority, a project science can help with. The more glimpses the brain gets, the more time it spends there, the more it can stay there. His interest in perception comes by way of his art, and by way of his other career as a spiritual teacher and author. The world comes in all broken up via the senses and is assembled by the brain into a coherent model of reality.
What if, Spira says (Spira and the other two dozen or so speakers), what if we don’t immediately rush into that very reasonable assumption of externality? Because it turns out that when you trust the instructions and actually begin to feel into this kind of questioning with your body, something very interesting can happen.
This “reorientation” is the opposite of exotic; indeed its very familiarity is said to be one reason it is so often overlooked. It’s as though they crossed their eyeballs for too long, just like their mothers warned them about, and now – whoops – they went and got enlightened. Welcome to the Science and Nonduality Conference (SAND), which I attended in Doorn, Holland last June, the sixth installment in four years, a California export that every year finds a larger and larger international audience.
Maurizio is a tall and radiantly sentimental Italian, given to public displays of grateful weeping. It is a direct translation of “advaita,” part of the Advaita Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy, one of the oldest and the most rigorous branches of Indian thinking and practice. Different teachers emphasize their own way in, and usually disparage the other routes, which is why the elitist Tibetans roll their eyes at the gnomic Zennies, who smugly dismiss the striving Theravadans, who are enraged by the absolutist Vedantans, who make fun of the devotional theistics, who weep with joy and confusion and don’t actually care what the others say, because, like the famous “masts” of India, their engorged neural-circuits are sloshed on Divine love. Some version of nonduality is the where all spiritual practice leads: meditation, prayer, koans, ecstatic dance – you name it.
For Lisa Cairns, nonduality is the end of “stories” – the end of projecting onto other people your ideas and assumptions about who they and what they experience. It may be hard to see how this boutique clique of 21st century practitioners and explorers might have anything to contribute to a proper science of mind.
For an hour I got to ask the three of them questions about how, exactly, they experience reality.
It hears (microphone), sees (camera), feels (touch screen), balances (gyroscope), and is self-aware enough to know both its speed (accelerometer) and position (GPS). Every week some new bit of research on the chemical sensors of the octopus, or elephant sub-sonic hearing or bird navigation, makes its way into the scientific journals. At one end is a vast growing Open Source Wiki of consolidated information about different animal sensory systems and ecology and comparative neurobiology and behavioral data and all the rest.
We could have apps for dogs and cats, calibrated to their particular visual and auditory systems – specialized colour spectrum, amplified sounds, higher frequencies. As it does so, expect some radical sensory extension: tools to visualize the chemical world of plant information exchange, the electrical fields of amphibians, the fluxing and shifting magnetic field of the planet itself – the list goes on and on. Anachronistic aquariums and zoos – bad ways to deal with the legitimate human desire to seek out nonhuman nature – could be slowly replaced by the next generation of interpretive centers, all kitted out with the latest animal sensory system technology.
Over the past two hundred years, in part via the printed word (that first generation of perspective-expanding technology), our circle of empathy has moved far beyond the small ruling world of white male property owners. As I argued in my last column, something of an animal’s experience can be known to us – certainly more than is known at present. I pluck them easily from his face and disappear into the trees before he realizes what’s happening. Animals were largely regarded as stimulus-response machines, devoid of inner life. Dissenters were few and far between. Animal cognition is all the rage, and, following closely behind it is the study of comparative neurobiology.
It was a position that needed to be staked out, for then – as now – many zealous materialists believed that everything important about consciousness could be described by looking at brain-based external measures (Nagel recently expanded his argument in a new book, to the outrage of scientific fundamentalists). For it is not true that we cannot say anything at all about what it’s like to be a bat, or, indeed, any animal. Since we are all descended from a common ancestor, there is always a measure of shared experience conserved in body and mind. So the pith we share with a bacterium is far narrower than that we may share with a whale, which in turn is perhaps narrower than that we share with the chimp. From the scientific world, we have the study of animal cognition and communication, as well as more cutting-edge domains like the study of animal sense worlds (or “umwelts”) and embodied cognition.
The Hopi, the Yanomani, even the Balinese – very different cultures that all describe some form of active reciprocity between humans and the natural world. As poet, critic, and inter-disciplinary rabble-rouser William Irwin Thompson writes in his introduction to Gaia: A Way of Knowing, imagination is not some epiphenomenal effusion with no bearing on the “real” world. Art opens new channels of intimacy and helps us formulate fresh questions and avenues of exploration. Novelist Barbara Gowdy is working on a film adaptation of her brilliant novelThe White Bone, which is written entirely from the perspective of a herd of African elephants.
Some kind of air-born swoop in the belly, a feeling of tautness across the chest as the wings fold back. Under each tree and beneath each bush, there seemed to be an aurora of light that painted a distorted picture of each bush upon the ground below. I turned to head back to the dorm, a little wet, a little cold, and covered with the glow of Moon Dancing with my Shadows. 50 mile an hour gusts of wind in Virginia would encourage me to hunker down for protection.
The disappointment is strong and yet I can take a small step toward the bathroom and get dressed. As I compared the pictures of me as a child and me as a grown woman, I finally could see my own beauty and it made me laugh with joy. As the New Year begins, my heart is open and I look forward to the experiences I will create. As a poll worker, the day was long, warm inside, cold outside, enjoyable, inspiring, and at times emotional. He is immobile at the moment and concerned because he has never missed an election since he began to vote. Sometimes it is before an experience and during the experience the words start ringing in my ears. As we began to practice creating scenes, it was immediately clear that it was easier for me to say a€?yes, buta€? and it was equally clear that doing so blocked the scene from expanding. Acceptance of a€?what isa€? can be challenging and this simple idea of energetically saying, a€?yes, anda€? has given me clarity about my own negative or judgmental views as Ia€™ve gone through my day. The experiment itself has supported me in living more fully in the present, which is, of course, the only place we can live fully.
My heart seemed to stop breathing, my throat was tightly constricted, and the top of my head felt as if it would fly into the trees so great was the pressure. His choices were courageous; his experiences were dramatic examples of how to live and not to live for those who watched his progress. It could be loading bikes on a rack, spilling milk in my new car, lateness of a friend, hot when I want it to be cool, or appreciation not shown. The deep longing for companionship thwarted by my fear of losing independence is simple but complex within my thoughts about what to allow and what not to allow into my world. Ia€™ve been living at least for the past few day in a story of my own making about what others want me to do, how they want me to live, or what they need from me.
Recently a friend was talking about his experiences and how excited he was about his hopes and dreams for the future; I recognized them as both different and similar to my own. It has been amazing and comfortable and productive in a different way than accomplishing projects. Last night as I looked around during a concert on the mountain, I saw the same people I see almost daily. It isna€™t dissatisfaction with what is; its more a wonderment of what other experiences and growth are possible for me. There is a joyful feeling of contentment as the warm air circles close in and sweat runs down my back. Joy has not always come to me with ease, as my human need to protect myself and those I love is well practiced and vigilant at times.
He talks about a concept in a book we are sharing and wonders if hea€™s got it right; if he has understood it.
He encourages me to ask myself how the things Ia€™m seeing are different and how they are the same and listen to my heart speak. It is orange and ita€™s light is a lacy hue; two triangles extending from ita€™s center one reaches toward me and the other away from me.
What an awesome experience to see the love of a husband and a father reflected in the toothless grin of a new life. Memories of his birth and death have supported me in finding this place where I intend to live with compassion for others and myself and with a love of Life every day and every minute. I cannot change it, but I can surrender to a€?what isa€? in each moment in order to respond from the healthiest part of me rather than to fearfully react.
This habit has triggered in me a new perspective about what I see as limitation and opportunity.
Today that message is to consider every limitation as an opportunity and to be opened to what is most important to learn in each moment. The woman in a wheel chair demonstrates patience as she waits to enter through a revolving door. I now move slowly enough in the morning to watch a cardinal land on the bird-feeder, my glasses magnify the beauty of the gifts that fill my home, my aches encourage me to stretch and care for my body and to find the wisdom to rest when rest is needed. My nose will tell me of ita€™s fragrance, my touch will tell me of its softness, but only through my mothera€™s tone and voice will I know what that fragrance and softness belongs too. As I carefully describe what Ia€™m seeing, my gift to this unseeing child supports me being present enough to fully see it myself; and this level of awareness is the childa€™s gift to me. As the child, as the mother, or as the cherry blossom, my purpose is simply to live my best life and to grow.
The manifestation of that essential Life we have brought into being takes many physical forms; all different, all unique. All of these things have resulted in my becoming the a€?soul in a bodya€? that I see in my mirror this morning. If in this Life, we do not become conscious of the power of the collective Life of the Universe, we will be given another chance.
To make that possible, I pulled it out, pumped up the tires, admired ita€™s beauty, and my heart felt lighter. As we remounted and rode on, the bike was a€?just another bikea€? racing to the song of the fall breeze. Perhaps you look in the mirror and think that you are getting older and no longer beautiful; yes you are getting older, but aging has ita€™s own beauty.
The ability to bring awareness to the harsh, dramatic, judgmental, and repetitive sounds within our minds contains the freedom we think is not open to us. These points of intersection are called equinoctial points: classically, the vernal point and the autumnal point. So to carry the a€?Pointa€? into an individual Life, who could argue that pleasant (light) experiences are better or worse than difficult (dark) experiences since every experience has the potential for learning by the being that experiences it. Like the similar times of day and night in this season, we are connected by individual and collective purposes with an equal opportunity to live our best lives. As I was hearing the story, it occurred to me that we saved the rabbit or deprived the hawk of its meal. It is a beautiful spot and it was early evening as the light played its songs upon the angles of the rocks and crevices as we watched. Today if someone walks along the same path we took, there will be no hint of what occurred between the snake and the frog.
Going back there did not necessarily appeal to me either since my relationship to my former husband and her Dad had become faded memories of love and pain. As often happens with this friend, the discussion turned to nature and bird songs in particular. It was quickly replaced with a look of acceptance of what was now occurring as she described her coming treatment. Ia€™m grateful for the awareness of this part of me that continues to need challenging if I am to be at peace with what is in this moment.
How do I challenge the part of me that judges his actions and wants him to be different so that I can be happy? That feels nurturing and I can feel my heart open as I consider the possibility that life is an illusion created by my thoughts, and I can choose which thoughts I will give my energy too. For others, I just say something like, a€?planning a quiet day.a€? That answer feels authentic and supportive of the way I want to live my life.
For sure, I am an active person with a wide variety of interests, but sometimes I enjoy a€?Beinga€? in my home. Today I have set an intention to answer the question, what are you doing today, with authenticity no matter who is asking. As the morning unfolds, the feeling of hunger comes and without questioning it, I stretch, arise, and move to my robe.
Without thinking, there is a deep knowing that I am not a separate entity seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling this moment, but an integral part of it and without my energy and presence it would be different. She said that I was flexible in my hips and so compensated there for the lack of flexibility in the last vertebra of my back. I begin to remember the times in my life when I have felt emotional pain and have chosen to override it with thinking.
Also this week, Ia€™ve felt the need to remain quiet while reflecting with more stillness than is my normal pattern. This morning I read Tollea€™s words I needed to hear: If you are not in the state of either acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm, look closely and you will find that you are creating suffering for yourself and others. I will ask for guidance to accept what is happening in the moment without adding drama and fearful thoughts or intelligent explanations. I felt impatient with the loss of time and the people that swirled around in the garage seemingly in my way. He seemed challenged both mentally and physically, and my reaction was to look away so that his mom would not feel I was staring at the young boy. He wasna€™t complaining internally, he wasna€™t judging others; he was without fear and was gazing in awe at the light. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being. Again and again, the central dynamic described is the very one Russell articulates: greater openness and humility and equanimity, an expansion of identity, a paradoxical increase in both the impersonal and the personal, and a lived intimacy with an ever-larger world. These qualities seem to be a natural part of aging, or – more accurately – of aging gracefully. It is a kind of death, but, as Goethe describes, a death that makes way for a richer living. If you are scrambling around in that confusion trying to get back to the ordinary organizing principle, trying to organize thoughts and perception, then that’s going to be very uncomfortable. You get there early, so you have time to get used to living from an unfixed address – indeed, to ride on the spontaneity and grace that such freedom affords.
Finally in 2006 he met a teacher he could trust – one of my own teachers, in fact – the Buddhist scholar and future neuroscience-consultant Shinzen Young.

Because, as Buddhist teachers and teachers from many other contemplative traditions have long argued, on close investigation there doesn’t appear to be any deeper “you” in there running the show. After encountering some of this difficult territory herself, she began an ambitious research project to document the full range of phenomena that can happen as a result of practice. Within vipassana traditions, some classic texts talk about the “dukkha nanas” – challenging stages that are actually a sign of progress. I still live in emptiness and wake up every morning with no idea who I am.” But he no longer gets panic attacks, or feels ten thousand volts of electricity irradiate his senses every time the phone rings.
Still, within seconds of reading Ekaku’s words, according to Weber, “the entire world just opened up. To make time for all this, Weber would get up at 4am and put in two hours of spiritual practice before work. He got into a yoga pose – a pose he had done thousands of times before – and when he moved out of it his thoughts stopped. Creative thoughts, planning thoughts – these are fine, and are, according to Weber, in fact served by completely different parts of the brain. One subject described watching his thoughts “flow by.” As Buddhists have long argued, you don’t need to eliminate the self-thinking process, you just need to change your relationship to it. They’ve demonstrated how positive emotions can be trained, and reactivity softened, and concentration increased, and attentional clarity boosted. Brewer: “Even in novices we saw a relative deactivation across the brain – like the brain was saying, Oh thank God I can let go. As proof-of-concept, Brewer has just published two studies [here and here] that show how meditators can watch live feedback from their brains inside the fMRI and use it to decrease their DMN activation in real-time. All we ever experience are these images and sensations and perceptions, which we take to be an honest accounting of a world beyond ourselves. What if we take a bizarre chance, and practice living our lives from the technically more accurate truth of direct experience, which presents to us only one thing: our own awareness?
You may have heard the phrase a million times before – something about oneness, something about the dream-like nature of reality, something about the outside being no different than the inside – except this time there is a slippage in your conceptual guard. For many, the experience is accompanied by a sense of lightness and spaciousness and – for me anyway – of comedy. Technically, anyone writing about “oneness” – and this includes popular spiritual writers like Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie and Deepak Chopra and a legion of disorderly New Agers – is expressing a form of nonduality. I don’t know anything, and the not-knowing just gets thinner and thinner and thinner,” says Shantimayi, a charmingly candid former seeker from Ohio, now a spokeswoman for living without boundaries or fixations. If you believe these people – and until there is a proper neuroscience that can address what is happening in the nondual brain, all we have to go on are first-person descriptions of experience – then by all reports the nondual operating space is fundamental to understanding who we are, how the mind works, and why we suffer.
Life for her is just happening, and the idea of creating any kind of continuous narrative out of it seems to her damaging and false. I watch the squirrels and the birds and place my hand on the trunks of the largest trees, feeling for something I can’t readily describe.
Except … except God and the Devil are always neck and neck, aren’t they, bobbing and surging like Olympic rowers in a race that never ends. It’s pretty old at this point – a third generation iPhone that my friend Roy gave me when he upgraded a couple years ago. In these different ways my iPhone senses the external world and, via different apps, generates an appropriate response. A separate algorithm adds texture to moving shapes in an imaginative recreation of echolocation, as the species-specific song or clicks or whistles play underneath.
Animal science professor Temple Grandin, famously autistic, “thinks in images” and says livestock do the same. Put three artists and three biologists and three ecologists in a room and you’d have fifty cool Animal-Empathy App ideas in under an hour. Lately we’ve seen a new cultural focus, in works like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, on stories that dramatize the interior landscape of mental illness, for instance – the world of autistics, schizophrenics and depressives.
Last July, a consortium of well-known neuroscientists issued “The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in Non-Human Animals,” as public an acknowledgment as you are likely to find on behalf of science that, yes, it seems that animals do in fact possess consciousness, or at least they possess the “neurobiological substrates” necessary to “generate” consciousness. Many cite the American philosopher Thomas Nagel, who in a famous 1974 essay, “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” argued that, yes, it is like something to be a bat, but as humans we are largely cut off from that experience. In a sense, the human-to-animal mind question may simply be an exaggerated version of the human-to-human mind question: we can never entirely know another person’s experience – all the more so if they’re raised in a different culture – but there are deep points of overlap that can, crucially, be expanded.
It seems to be more a question of how much energy and intelligence and openness you bring to the inquiry. From the philosophical world, investigators are beginning to elaborate a whole series of intriguing approaches, from “affordances” to the phenomenology of “interbeing,” to name just two ideas. Some of these cultures inform us that we can learn to pay attention to intuitions gleaned from other modes of consciousness via dreams and visions and even psychoactive plants. Benjamin Hale’s recent The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore tells the story of a young chimpanzee’s acquisition of language.
My feet picked up speed, my fear lessened, and I began to explore the light that broke the shadows. The lake lay in stillness and hovering above it was a wall of mist, kind of stringy, but not transparent; and above all that, hung the moon spreading its final visible glow before dawn arrived with the sunrise. Outside the window, the lily pond beyond the deck is beautiful, the deck is wet and shiny, and the door slightly open lets in a pure and sweet freshness. I can take a small step toward my car and drive the dirt road to the main road; and if the wind is too strong, I can return to this rugged North shore bamboo farm and make the best of it.
As I gazed at the photo of the beautiful child holding the doll, I remembered that feeling of love; my heart was soft and full. The beauty had nothing to do with the physical features displayed in the photos; it was the radiance that traveled from my heart through my eyes and took in the world around them. Let me tell you why inspiring and emotional experiences were my companions on this day in small-town America. We kissed each other, hugged each other, waved to each other, talked with each other, supported each other, and laughed and yes cried with each other. I focused on these positives as we supported him in whatever healing was possible, and eventually, supported him as his alcohol-damaged body died. As she led us in meditation, I felt the deep pain of powerlessness again, and again I invited it to get as big as it could. When Ia€™m in that centered place what happens outside me is like a movie and I can watch my personality, the actor, think and plan and wish without attachment. It is all a a€?Storya€? from the part of me that loves stories and the justification they give for me to be less than open and less than loving. As we parted, I heard myself say to him, looks like youa€™re on it and Ia€™m just standing beside it. It has been exciting, it has been challenging, it has been peaceful, it has been stimulating; and mostly, it has been healing.
Ia€™ve come to look forward to their presence and the feeling of security and safety they trigger within me.
Change for many is difficult, but for me the newness of change is invigorating and stimulating. Expansion now calls and the excitement of just what that will entail lifts my energy and makes me want to sing. In my view as I watch the water run over the rocks, he stands with his back to me looking into the creek. His open heart is almost always constant even when he is confused or slightly annoyed with his surrounding world. As we danced I asked him, a€?What was the best thing about today?a€? And, without waiting for his answer, I laughed and said, a€?Everything.a€? He laughed out loud with complete delight and agreed. I listen to his expressed doubt and somewhat confused words, and have a knowing that he understands it perfectly. We are many flames from the same candle, and yet, just one light; apart we are a flicker but together we make a luminous Life. The memory fills my heart and I see a vision of him in a jaunty Easter hat and sports jacket toddling up the small hill in front of my house; two steps forward and one step back and finally falling and rolling to the bottom only to rise again and begin again with laughter and determination.
In those magical days, he marveled at the beauties of the life of which he found himself a part be they giant mountains, rock music, or the smallest of butterflies. In time he began to drink alcohol to lessen the pain of the world not always being as he wanted. It is my full responsibility to live with presence and courage and to grow into the person I am called to be. This act of responsible choice and the intent behind it becomes the vehicle of my creation and the consequence it brings. It has been a life-long habit to observe closely human behavior and sometimes to judge or to give value to what I see; that is changing. They are aware that the opportunity to connect must be given their full attention and they have learned how to do that. The man whose taste and smell is not so acute takes two bites before he makes his choice of what to eat. The veins and wrinkles on the back of my hand remind me that Ia€™m dehydrated and need to drink more water today. I hear from her there are five petals close together in almost a circle; and where the petals attach in the middle of the cherry blossom, it is a deeper shade of pink that grows almost to white at the petalsa€™ edges. This delicate flower filled with color and shadow created by the warm and nurturing sun comes alive in my being and is energetically past to this curious and loving child. My heart called me to the computer to put down my feelings, and I became distracted by email for a moment.
Each of us makes choices that create our life day-to-day, hour-to-hour, moment-to-moment, and those choices add up to a Life unlike any other. The experiences were the same; the creation process of what remained in each of them became very different. If I stood in a long line of people, those who know me would recognize me even though we all have two eyes, two arms, two legs, one nose, and one mouth. For this Life, in this place, I have a knowing that the Life I have created has supported the Lives of others and me.
The answer for me is in what I choose to give my attention and time too; with a conscious intention to live my life fully not someone elsea€™s, just mine.
He had bought the bike as transportation when he lost his drivera€™s license because of a drunk driving charge.
Later we loaded the bike into his SUV, and I felt as feathery light as the evening air rushing across my skin. No memories flooded me for I was in the moment, and this moment was another level of healing I had not expected. You see a friend walking and think she really wants to walk alone; but in reality when you join her on the walk she is welcoming and the walk enriches you both. In each moment, we can step back from a belief and ask one simple question: Does this thought or belief serve to expand my Life or limit my life? Since being human with the power of our minds to create stories around our experiences, it is often easier to live in an imaginary story of what happened and how we should react than to see that how we respond to an experience in this moment creates the suffering or not. Growing and aging brought new a€?judgmentsa€? about equality and how to discover what equality really meansa€”not to others, but to me.
It is not always easy to carry that deep sense of equality into our relationships for we are indeed spiritual beings in physical human forms with old patterns of reactions and judgments. The rejoicing of anothera€™s strength or my own cannot diminish or inflate my feelings about either if I am without judgment of that persona€™s or my own value as a result. It was peaceful and awe inspiring to see the effects the water has played and still plays upon the landscape as it all shifts and changes imperceptibly. But there we were in front of a house that I had come to as a bride, altered it with the support of my dad and husband to accommodate our familya€”a house in which I had brought my children, and where I laughed and cried and planned the perfect future. I thought of a day when the world was perfect because we were exhausted together and happy. The small trees that we had planted cast some shade now, and the flowers his wife had planted added color all around them. My friend had started them from her plants, and her husband had traveled along with her to deliver them to me and to share a few moments of time. So she and I pulled out my IPad to compare what we were hearing in my yard with the Audubon recorded bird-songs. I looked at her husband and there I saw a deep pain quickly replaced with an expression of deep love for this woman with which he has shared many years.
Only then can I make a responsible choice to support the life I want with the consequences that come from making choices within the presence of acceptance.
This is not a new conflict; the difference is that I am aware of the thoughts and feelings within this dynamic that create circumstances I do not wish to occur. I alone am responsible for the experiences I create and it is those experiences that enrich my life if I choose.
Of course, routine chores like making a bed, fixing food, doing dishes, caring for my home are always needed, but this question seems to be about something more. Ia€™m reading, Ia€™m writing, Ia€™m thinking, Ia€™m dreaming, Ia€™m questioning, Ia€™m answering, but more than anything else Ia€™m simply being here now doing this and it nurtures my life. Sometimes I will be playing golf or tennis, rushing around running a project, working to beautify my yard; but sometimes Ia€™ll simply be choosing to a€?Bea€? and for me that will be enough. The rain is, the fruit is, the wood is, the carpet is, the chair is, the joy garden is, Jon Kabat-Zinn is, the peace is, and I am. She said that when some part of the body is not used, the brain notices and will see the lack of movement as a€?normal.a€? She said the unused area becomes more and more unbalanced and eventually creates pain in the body. Ia€™ve told myself that life is difficult sometimes and have moved on without giving the pain its due course and attention.
As I sit with that question and just relax into the moment, I feel certain that if I remain open the question will be answered; not by the intellect, but by something deeper inside me that guides my life if I choose to listen. The light from the sun had entered his eyes and body completely and radiated outward toward anyone who chose to look. The question then is how to talk – or not talk – about your experience, in a secular world often suspicious of spirituality. Again and again, practitioners report more space and perspective in their lives, less egotistical clutching, and a more mature and laissez-faire relationship to life’s vagaries. Some terminally ill patients have a natural grace in these times; others, very understandably, are terrified. There is a palpable sense of grace and beauty in the dysfunction that is not present typically.” These senior teachers, he told me, had the same confusion, but none of the fear and the suffering. Then when death does come, as it comes for us all, there’s nothing to fear: the things we’ve learned to care for will continue.
Not long after, Hans attended a lecture at the local library, where a man in a suit spoke about the scientific benefits of relaxation.
It was the most terrifying and alienating thing that ever happened to me.” And Hans has been living with various degrees of this experience for the past seven years. Hearing the phone ring was like someone running a thousand volts of electricity through me.
The initiative is called “The Varieties of Contemplative Experience” (Britton’s group have just published their first paper, here). These are a natural response to the layer of mind being exposed; with a teacher’s help, the student can move through their Dark Night in a matter of days or hours.
Just normalizing the experience.” To that end, she has already founded both a space and a website to provide resources for practitioners in need, and also to educate teachers and clinician about the full range of meditation’ effects. For me, I finally figured out that I needed to integrate these changes into my physical body. While most human beings would consider this par for the course, par for the human condition (cogito ergo sum), Weber wouldn’t accept it.
In other words, Weber’s normal state was a kind of meditative letting go, something Brewer had only seen a few times previously, and other researchers had until then only reported anecdotally. The real suffering happens in the endless and exhausting internal monologue. Thus, he argues, working to extinguish these kinds of thoughts should be the explicit goal of practice, something he says other contemplative traditions also emphasize.
Many researchers have shown unequivocally that stress and suffering can be dramatically reduced by meditation and by mindfulness in life. And he’s just received an NIH grant to study how this could work for non-meditators – more quickly, and hopefully, one day, more affordably. If we actually do this, if we reframe experience in this way and patiently explore not the world, but our own personal world filters, then we will not find any sort of division between a self and a world, an inside and an outside. In Zen they call these well-timed phrases “turning words.” A bright shot of vertigo enters the system. Indeed, a version of the idea – often camouflaged in very different assumptions and language – can be found in all the world’s contemplative traditions, from Greek philosophy through to Buddhism and Taoism and each of the mystical branches of the Abrahamic religions. Because nonduality is all about subtlety – all about exploring very fine paradoxes that, over time, are said to change the way you experience self and world. You get the sense that many of the speakers don’t even know why they are there – the experience just seemed to happen, and here they are on stage, looking bemused at the an equally-bemused audience, spontaneously manifesting their bafflement or their certainty or, in some cases, their nihilism. That’s the absolutist view, which is extremely annoying and probably why no one talks to “neo-Advaita” extremists at parties.
For two and a half thousand years contemplatives in every era and culture have repeated the same basic message: all mental anguish is descended from our unwitting and false identification with a limited self. But I’ve also seen how it can rewire them, sometimes in ways many of us would find disturbing. Something very interesting happens to the human mind over the course of dedicated spiritual practice. When you strip out the layers of interpretation and religious dogma (not to mention the endless if well-intentioned appeals to quantum physics), what you are left with is the raw evidence of people’s experience.
And I bet God has an iPhone too – actually, He probably has an early prototype of Google Glass, Google’s much-anticipated “augmented reality” spectacles.  But even as these new God-gadgets threaten new ways for humans to checkout, they may also promise new ways for humans to check in.
She’s been able to design more humane cattle corrals because she sees what will spook the animals: shadows, reflected light, sudden changes in contrast, small objects, blowing clothing – specific details that most of us would overlook but many farm animals will balk at.
We rarely think of minds this way, but Darwin’s “endless forms most beautiful” is as true of the mental as it is the material.
From an evolutionary standpoint, if a big-brained mammal acts similar to us under similar conditions – if they squeal in pain, or nuzzle affectionately – then it makes sense that some part of the psychology behind their action is similar to ours. Obviously, the further away you get from the human, the more room for fantasy – this is a genuine risk – but this doesn’t mean there isn’t also a real sensitivity that can be cultivated.
All of these lay the groundwork for a kind of radical perspective-taking; they are different ways of illuminating sensibilities we once dismissed as opaque.
Although these traditions and values are being challenged by modernity, they are also finding renewed expression in the work of sympathetic Western thinkers, from Joanna Macy to Stephan Harding to David Abram, among many others. These books are not in the same tradition as Animal Farm and Watership Down, where animals are clearly stand-ins for human characters. But I do know what it’s like to be a breathing and moving and sensing body in the world – we all do.
But from what I had written, the reader would most certainly understand the essence of my experience. This time when movement caught my senses, I saw on the side of the Main Hall at Omega two shadows.
As I glanced up, I noticed that the stars were vanishing from the sky and the moon had moved toward the lake so I let my feet dance after it. If I could remember to challenge my fearful thoughts, Moon Dancing would always be possible. Doubts about whether I should be here alone nag me and breathing deeply doesna€™t seem to help. Many times Ia€™ve experienced that feeling over the years: when I married my new husband, when each of my children were borne, when a bond of female friendship was revealed to me, when I gave unconditional love to an amazing yet flawed man, when I held my grandsons the first time, when I witnessed my son-in-lawa€™s tears at a grave site, and so many moments in nature.
Many times the circumstances of life and my thoughts about them hid my beauty from me, and I could not believe others even when they shared their love and compassion for me. May I remember to look deeply into my own eyes to find love and then freely give it away to others. She literally danced to the voting booth and then out; waving and glowing as she left the precinct. The voice in my head was still, the polling precinct was quiet, and the room filled with the light of choice I had been witnessing all day.
Of course, there are times when I have to say no to someone, and what Ia€™ve found is that even that is easier when I say yes to what is transpiring in the moment and then expand the conversation or activity to make my point or acknowledge someone elsea€™s need. But inside me deeper than even I imagined was a sense of sadness and powerlessness to change the drinking habits of my 37-year-old son. When I could bare it no longer, it vanished and was replaced with a deep stillness of peace. My overall intention for my life is to love well, and of late, that seems more difficult than it has for the recent past years.
It protects me and not in a way that is creative; it prevents me from living each moment as it is with an intention to hear the quiet voice that wisely guides my Life.
Then from deep inside me came that still small voice, that is not the Phyllis I know; I recognized the voice as me and not me. It is a song of healing and caring for this person I am and the growing Being that awaits me with my next choice and adventure.
It does not; so I reach my hand toward it and it appears as if the light is resting upon my hand. All these objects, all those Ia€™ve loved, and all those who have loved me are part of this one light. I may need to remain silent.A I may need to speak aloud about something that is bothering me about whata€™s happening.
It is with gratitude that I accept all the parts of mea€”the difficult and the pleasanta€”and quietly surrender to the learning that my experience offers in this moment, and the next, and the next.
Now more often I observe not to give value but to learn and to appreciate the insight that observing brings to me about me.
As my hair grows and the gray is more visible, Ia€™m reminded of what a long and remarkably healthy life I have and the freedom that brings.
From the middle of the deep pink rise varying lengths of stamens with small orangey-pink, round fluffy dots at each of their tips. My heart aches with gratitude for this small being whose blindness first filled me with sadness; but now has added a measure of being alive that could not have been possible without what I once considered to be her handicap. There in the emails I read: We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be. They may remark that I look like someone else, but if they truly know me, they know that I am like no one else. When it came off the moving van five years ago, it went into the corner of the garage, because I was still not ready to let go of the memory of the healing I thought it would bring to my son. It sat and sat, and I would see it with a flood of emotions triggered by the healing and loss it represented. We stopped again to sit by the river; all I felt was deep gratitude for all the extraordinary experiences of this Life lived fully.
Perhaps the thought is that living alone is not as enriching as living as a couple, but the amount of freedom that comes with living alone is amazing. It takes a deep intention to look inside us and see those patterns, take a second look, and remind ourselves they are imaginary stories we have created to feel okay in this particular incarnation and perhaps others. Since the evolutionary process of physical a€?survival of the fittest,a€? has taught me to judge whether or not I am safe when with another, this approach to Life is challenging and yet interesting and exciting to me. Only the man, the boy, my friend and I will really know the changes created within us from these experiences. We took smiling pictures with a camera to add to our real photo albums of course, and we spoke of the skill and time that each family had given to this beautiful modest home. As I watched them drive away, I knew this strong, courageous couple was focusing their attention on accepting and living Life fully in each moment, and I was grateful that they were part of mine! Simultaneously, I feel a€?less thana€? because Ia€™m choosing not to do something a€?importanta€? and a€?more thana€? because I feel at some level the other person isna€™t capable of understanding that need. Sliding my feet along the carpet, the harder surface of my wood floor is recognized at the doorway. She continues my therapy and she comments that my pelvic area begins to move a little, but I cana€™t seem to feel it. Have I, therefore, sent a message to my intellect to override this pain and continue to function. I will not seek the answer in my mind, but I will relax into the present and observe what comes to me. It has felt really good and freeing, but Ia€™ve also had this voice in my head that says, a€?Whata€™s wrong with you?a€? I watched the thought come and go and remained quiet, peaceful, and still. I will look at my activities one by one to see if there is a second agenda lurking in the shadow of my fearful ego. As the elevator door opened, I said to his Mom that I believed he was enjoying the sunshine. Practitioners learn not to grip so hard on circumstances, not to push and pull and endlessly negotiate with reality. I also had feelings of being stretched and twisted inside out, like I was morphing into some kind of animal. Indeed, some teachers argue that the skills practitioners acquire in coping with these passages are often the very ones that allow them to progress to more liberating stages of the path.
What he cared about was that in an hour he needed to go to work, where he was supposed to run four research labs and manage a thousand employees and a quarter of a billion dollar budget, and he had no thoughts. How was that going to work? One interpretation of that – and there are many others – is that the brain knows what it needs to do. Do you ever know or come into contact with anything other than the knowing of your experience? The camera of your awareness lurches and resets and suddenly you are conscious of the weird fact – and breadth – of your existence in a fresh and more immediate way. If the shift begins as a very subtle and ordinary thing, the more years one percolates inside it, the more profound it can get, eventually uprooting all kinds of familiar structures of consciousness and leaving the former seeker just another chunk of vibrating cosmos, free and unbounded and participating in what they say is a paradoxically more accurate reality. It is the centerpiece of the so-called Perennial Philosophy, which argues that all religions point to the same underlying reality, whether you call it God or Emptiness or Tao or the True Self. This is the other part of why I attend these conferences; I’m interested in the specific and particular ways nonduality affects how people live – the so-called benefits, the challenges, the impact on relationships. Now, when our technology mediates our experience, it does so through the simulated prisms of an alien nervous system.
Now, when you click on the killer whale you hear real functioning echolocation clicks and watch a visual reproduction of how a killer whale might experience … er, Prospect Park. An animal-empathy app could find practical application with its ability to scan a particular environment for farmers and highlight potential problems. The primatologist Frans de Waal says those who reject this obvious insight are in “anthropodenial.” In their groundbreaking work, How Monkeys See the World, the biologists Dorothy Cheney and Robert Seyfarth point out that for field naturalists, a certain amount of anthropomorphizing actually works.
Spend enough time with dogs and you start to get a feel for what makes them sad or excited, for how they move in space, little hints and flavors of their experience. Rather, they are infusions of imagination and science, informed attempts to wrestle with very different sensibilities.
During the remainder of the week there, I edited the essay several times and eventually it morphed into a short surreal poem. As I gazed out into the darkness, I had the urge to take a walk, but felt frightened that I would be walking in an unfamiliar place in that darkness, and it might not be wise. As I entered the garden, it was a cascade of silence punctuated with the crunching sounds of my footsteps upon the path. I remembered one of my favorite childhood poems, a€?I Have A Little Shadow That Goes In and Out With Me.a€? I remembered how much I loved giving it to my grandchildren!
I hummed a€?Que Sa Ra Sa Ra, what ever will be will be,a€? all the way back to the dorm and into the shower.
The curious part of me whispers, a€?go out and take a few photos.a€? So dressed in my robe and slippers with camera in tow, my hands slide back the door, and I venture out.
As I said a€?yes, anda€? to what she had to say, the profound lesson came that what she was saying would be an amazing way to not only do improv, it would change a life from a negative focus to a positive one.
Over the years, my daughter and I, had pleaded, threatened, and prayed for him to give up drinking. He was free and it was spring one year and four months after his first healthy choice in a very long time. The last few years have been filled with the joy of living and remembering his life and what it brought to mine. Do this, dona€™t do that, go here, stay there, love this, mistrust that; the mind chatter is overwhelming in these moments.
So when discontent of the kind Ia€™ve been experiencing of late is present within me, it puzzles me as to what Ia€™m to learn this time. One of me is the movie my personality creates with thinking, assessing, resisting, and this me was the Seer who watches in loving amazement at times. There was a time in the past when this need would cause me to question a€?who I am,a€? and a€?why am I like this;a€? now it feels warm with acceptance like the return of an absent and beloved friend.
This slow to respond, slow to move, slow to show emotion man has a great capacity for deep joy that I admire. He wanted to hear his music uninterrupted and spit on his sister when she came into his room to chat.
These moments of choice step-by-step and consequence-by-consequence truly become the Life I experience.
This year as I focus on creating more humility through patience, the experiences that I a€?m creating through what Ia€™ve viewed up to now as limitations are supporting me in doing just that. Her words say that the stamens are the pollen-bearing male part of this delicate precious flower. She never considered herself handicapped, and her acceptance has brought me bravery and added awareness that life is created by the choice to live with a€?what isa€? with courage. This quote by Anne Lamott brought me back to my intention to explore Nepoa€™s original questions. Another man loses his job and decides to create a different way of living and becomes a role model for others. We are a soul having a physical experience that has the opportunity to contribute to the healing of all living beings.
In the peaceful stillness, I closed my eyes and let the gurgle of the racing river wash through me as the sun shared its warmth. Perhaps your belief is that your children should behave differently, but then you see them blossom into their own lives that are very different from what you imagined. If the answer is limits, look at it and let it go for it does not serve your Life or anyonea€™s.
With closer observation of the direction of the winds and of the angles of the sun, it becomes clear that the one that seems to be leaning-in has twisted, has transformed, and has become deeply rooted thereby protecting the other from the elements. Our patterned reaction may not be the healthiest response in this moment, and if it is not, it may be wise to make a different choice. It was clear to me that as a male, he had automatically assumed that the woman in his relationship had to have been weaker or less assertive for inequality to exist. Later a call came that a skunk, which appeared to have a broken leg, was outside the restaurant by the golf course.
Life is by definition impermanent and the cultivation of acceptance has been my yearlong intention since Winter Solstice of last year. I remembered a summer of disruption as Dad added the addition and my son walked in the foundation ditches and later put nails into the exposed electrical outlets.
In that moment of presence, their togetherness seemed all that truly mattered, and I was touched by their love for each other. No one knows in Life what will come next, living in this present moment is where we find our power. Ia€™ve watched the French Open and seen the victory there as a moment in time that is relevant only to the lives involved.
She says thata€™s okay because the movement is subtle, but necessary to maintain the health of the back and ultimately the nerve in that area.
I will trust the Universal force to support me in my learning and relax into the pain, feel it deeply in the moment; I will no longer resist the discomfort, but welcome it in with whatever message it brings. Ia€™ve read, baked cookies, watched the birds out my window, slept late, meditated, done yoga, watched old movies, and just stayed in my home with just me. If I find one, I will look to see what I can learn from that situation in the present moment. What a waste of my day!a€? These thoughts were still in my head as I entered the glass elevator with a few others on the top deck of the parking garage. He liked to figure out how things worked, and how they could be tweaked to work more efficiently. All it takes is persistence and curiosity. The old ego-motivated human existence, our 75,000 year-old operating system with its need to gratify our desires and exploit the environment and have six of this and ten of that – that can all fall away. As we learn techniques for metabolizing the mercurial layers of interference and bias that come between ourselves and the world, not only do we suffer less, but so do all those we come into contact with. To that end, in Holland I hosted a panel called “Filling in the Details” with three people who teach and identify with with the nondual perspective. When I’m in some public space and I hear a song I like, I hit the app and it listens too, processingprocessingprocessing, until eventually it blinks out the artist and track title. Programed into its database is an encyclopedia of bird sounds, from the begging calls of hatchlings to companionship appeals, warnings of threats, aggression challenges and more. For most of us this understanding is vague and refracted, but for pet owners and dog trainers, it can be intimate and profound.
It seemed bettera€”it captured the light of my mooda€”but somehow did not convey the importance of that few hours of Moon Dancing with my Shadows. Now and then something would move in the silence and take my attention away from the shapes and forms of the plants that lined the walkway. Now absorbed in the beauty of the ocean, focused on the view in the camera, and not feeling my feet, my body tumbles down on the lower deck, my camera flies off into the grass about one foot from the lily pond. As more new-generation voters came to exercise their right to choose along with others that had been voting for a long time, it reminded me of how precious this right is to Americans.
As he voted, we prepared to go outside to collect a€?Zacha€™sa€? vote from the truck, being careful to follow procedures that would allow his ballet to be cast privately.
What I have never written about is how difficult and how painful it was to be the Mother of a dying son, and what Life was like for me when I could no longer touch his physical presence. No longer do I pretend that losing a sona€™s physical presence is easy, no longer do I need to be that strongest person in the room, no longer do I hide that losing him changed my own life in ways I could not have imagined. I smiled with the recognition that it is the Seer that I can trust and I let the Story of discontent go.
The need for change calls to be embraced with wonder and welcoming; it is part of the personality that has formed my human experience for as long as I can remember. I try again; I want to catch the light and hold it, but the flame of the candle cannot be held, it must shine wherever it will or it disappears.
Without judgment of how things should be, we can simply shine and bask in each othera€™s light. His physical body left us nine years ago, but for me his spirit is in the sound of the wind through the treetops and in the light of an early Easter morning sunrise. And as I chuckle at this thought that is now present, my perception of losing some short-term memory gives me ample time to remember the most important thing: what is the present moment offering me as an opportunity.
My mother says, behind the flower the great sun, which I feel on my face, casts a dark surrounding edge that make the blossom even more vivid and creates a shadow of the stamens on the petal itself. The light shining in her sea foam green eyes reflects what she is seeing through my voice and her other senses.
As a physical manifestation of a living Universe with unique skills, hopes, dreams, and personalities, how much healing we contribute is up to each of us for we have free will to choose what we will create. In the words of Lamott, I am truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who I was born to be. The strength coming back into his body was coming too late for him to survive this incarnation, but he seemed to love his experiences on the bike. Because of their ages, that would be a very long time into the future, but it was the logic I used to hold on to this small symbol of my sona€™s longing for health and my own.
I turned and sped away leaving him to his own period of learning since he had not ridden a bike for sometime. It was a beautiful river, a beautiful moment, a beautiful bike, another memory, and I loved and was honored to share it with this friend. Perhaps your belief is that you love to write, but that you are too old and unknown to get published; you go forward anyway and your book is published and it brings you great joy. Because they are almost 100 years old, their roots under the surrounding plants, rocks, and soil are entwined with and supportive of each other in ways that cannot be undone. Since I did not feel he was open to the idea that this assumption was in and of itself telling about his view of equality, I just said there are many kinds of strength and the subject was ended.
As this thought was taking up residence in my brain, I noticed a man and a small boy up ahead. She said, a€?He still makes me laugh.a€? He, in character, chuckled with pleasure at that thought. Ia€™ve dressed to go biking and yet I stayed in the drama unfolding at the French Open as if it had some significance in my own life.
Time to make the smoothie that has become a part of my mornings of late: cantaloupe, pineapple, blueberries, yogurt, strawberries, apples, and raspberries. It has been years since I fearfully resisted emotional pain and stiffened and numbed against it. For so long, I have worked to be conscious, to be authentic, to be present, and in that moment, the part of me that feels sorry for myself was active yet again. Far from being escapist, which is the usual 21st century dismissal of spiritual practice (we are impatient to act – call it our deepest bias), in an interconnected world, helping ourselves is actually the departure point for helping others. Minus 99% of what’s actually true and important about what it’s like to be a killer whale (you have to begin somewhere).
The hiker now has access to the rich and multilayered story of the forest, as the app tracks the movement of potential predators, identifies nest areas and flight arcs and opens up a world few of us know is even there.
Yes I said a€?shadows.a€? Now a week later I am at home and awake in the early hours of morning and I know it is time to write. Out of that stillness a rabbit hopped, two deer walked slowly behind me, and the early birds of morning began to chirp. This week as I gazed at the two photos, the child and the woman, it dawned on me that the beauty of love has always been within me patiently waiting for me to rediscover it. With the wisdom that I was changing my own life not his, I decided to offer him my support for sobriety one more time. The silence of deep meditation, the practice to live in this moment, and the awareness that we are a part of something bigger than our physical being have supported me to accept and heal from the things I can not change.
As we close our eyes and state our intentions for the week, I feel his love and send him mine. I am filled with love and gratitude for the ability to write my thoughts and feelings down in a way that enriches and expresses my experiences. Each day the intention to live in fear of losing a physical existence that is inevitable carries us away from the love that is the essence of the Life we all share. When I took it to be restored with new tires, etc., the repairman remarked on how well it was made and how unworn it appeared.
Perhaps your belief is that your life experiences should have been different, but deep inside you know that it has been those experiences that have created you Life.
This deep presence and seeing of their combined lives bring a growing appreciation of connectedness.
By convention, equiluxes are the days where sunrise and sunset are closest to being exactly 12 hours apart. His physical pain during the discussion expressed itself in a visible expressed pain in his chest as he talked about the need to live a more solitary Life to insure his freedom to be himself. I have a deep knowing that no matter what my perception is in the moment, the Universe is a friendly supportive force within me that a€?does not take sides, but seeks only balance.a€? It is my intention to have compassion for what I hear and see and to learn the lesson of impermanence as I witness it in nature.
What mattered was the memory of love and support that flowed through the energy of the house into me and then to my daughtera€™s family.
I began to think he was just bored as my friend and I turned to playing games on my IPad, so I asked if he would like to join us. Their smells mingle with the sounds of the rain and for a moment the blender whirl drowns out all other sounds. It expended a lot of energy going over and over the same anxieties and cravings and storylines. I had forgotten this feeling of freedom that has moved my spirit since I was a child, the love of nighttime, and the magic of moonlight. Since staying here on the deck doesna€™t seem to be an option, I pull myself up, retrieve my camera (bent but not broken), and shuffle back to my room and sit silently on the bed.
He lay in the back seat of the truck, and as I stood on my knees in the front seat to get his ID papers, Zach asked, Can I vote? It had been a few years since we had seen him because he just never showed up to family gatherings. This time was different than before; this time I knew I could accept whatever choice he made, but he was my son and for myself I needed to offer him assistance one last time! The deep wound of loss affected many of my relationships and still I clung to the strength of knowing that I had done the a€?righta€? thing. Without the wisdom and acceptance of or a€?surrendera€? to each moment as it is, I cannot choose an appropriate action with a conscious intent and honor my need to live authentically in this moment, and the next, and the next. Her voice falls upon my ears and her words become my thoughts, and I imagine with great specificity how the cherry blossom appears and admire its beauty. This cherry blossom is magnificent, and the glory of its connection to this growing child leaves me speechless and filled with awe for this blessed life. Perhaps your belief is that there is only one Path to God and that prevents you from appreciating all those who believe in a different God than yours.
Depending on where you stand, they are framed by the sky above, or the garden below, or by the giant stone arches of the porch. There is evidence that we are still there as surely as we are here through our choices to give of ourselves. He said, a€?No, Ia€™ll just walk up to the edge of the golf course.a€? His demeanor seemed unusual, but I dismissed it and returned to the game my friend and I were sharing.
I glide to the coffee maker and the smell of coffee is strong enough to feel like I taste it already. His mind was elsewhere, as my mind is so often elsewhere, flitting through information space, that endlessly diverting playground. Just when I could hardly believe the vision my courage had co-created with the moon, a flock of wild geese cut the mist of the lake as they winged their way across in perfect formation. My body is tired, my mood is gray like the clouds above the ocean, and self-doubt seems to have taken me over. He had stopped answering his phone and his friends called me to say they thought he was dying.
Perhaps your thoughts are that your thoughts are true and you do not question further how best to live your Life with yourself or in relationship to others. The annoyance I felt in my body as I viewed his pain turned into compassion and acceptance for us both.
The back legs and rear of the frog were already in the snakea€™s mouth and the froga€™s body was badly bloated as its eyes bulged, its front legs kicked, and it sought freedom from the snake. My choice to visit the past because I love my daughter created a rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of time passing in the present, and my gratitude for my daughter and our choices to share our Life sang within my heart; a reminder and then a another memory of time passing in the present! I smile at the wonder of just being present without thinking something should be different than it is. This need to understand everything that happens has been a recurring theme for as long as I can remember. In that moment, under his white hair and beyond his aging body, there was the light of youth and his eyes held the same excitement I had witnessed in the young girl that morning.
The last five years had been a roller coaster ride of emotions for me as he was better and then not better over and over again. I could do this and I began a long path of self-healing without the courage to ask for support directly.
Perhaps you have doubts about your own goodness and forget to look at the generosity that has been a major thread of your Life.
Earlier that day, a dog had stumbled upon a horneta€™s nest and had been stung badly, and a staff member went looking for the nest to eliminate it so humans could walk the path without being stung. I felt the pain of the froga€™s struggle; I wanted to do something to make this stop, but what?
I relived a day when my small son gave my baby daughter a drink from a cup as she rested in her crib; she almost drowned. If I understand it then I can accept it, or more accurately change it; or so my Story goes. Then as if a powerful director had taken over the scene, a fish danced to the ice-like surface of the lake. Meditation had supported me in staying centered enough to love my daughter and her family, support my partnera€™s interests, hold a demanding job, and attempt to just enjoy and learn about my life. Perhaps your belief is that friends and family should be more open hearted and open minded and so you close your heart and mind to them. It is the most reoccurring event involving injury that comes to the attention of the Nature Foundation.
They are delicious and colorful in contrast to the dark quiet of the room and the day outside my window. I turned to find a circle of life rippling the water and the dancing fish no longer visible.
Perhaps you have made what seems like a mistake and your belief is that you cannot be forgiven and that thought keeps you separate from someone you love. My thought was that the bees were there first and should be left alone to resettle into their lives.
I chose only to stand and watch with sadness and curiosity as this unusual sighting in nature played out.
I gaze at my joy garden that is bright with purple, pink, and white against a blue-gray sky. It had the slight chill of autumn, and I could imagine the burst of color that would soon fill the trees. On this glorious October day, I felt that I had done everything I could and my body sagged from the weight of wanting him to be different. Perhaps the belief is that if you dona€™t act in a certain way, you will not gain acceptance; but someone once said, a€?if you do not always bring with you who you truly a€?area€™ others will fall in love with who you are a€?nota€? and how limiting will that be?
It is hard to express all that I saw through the visual memory there in our first small house. It took him some time to physically fill out the ballot, and it was my honor to wait for him.
For me, Zacha€™s light infused the darkness around the truck and as I looked from my fellow poll workera€™s eyes to Zacha€™s son-in-lawa€™s eyes, they seemed to glow with something unexplainable. I could no longer watch so we turned away and continued our walk through this civilized and yet still wildly natural, tourist attraction. In the pages, he quotes, William Stafford: What can anyone give you greater than now, starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

Treatment of idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss
Magnetic therapy and tinnitus
11.01.2016 admin

Comments to «Ringing ears enlightenment ubuntu»

  1. orxideya_girl writes:
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  2. superman writes:
    Developed in the ear is so loud possibly also subside.
  3. BARIS writes:
    Kill or partially paralyze the person.