My Sister Pleiades

My spiritual partner has a powerful way of connecting with me when I am in my process of awakening. After listening intently, with her whole being, she says, “I see you.”

When I was in counseling, I found words to describe my childhood. It was a childhood cut short by assuming the adult and parental role at 13. I was responsible for the care of 4 people while holding some twisted privilege for this. It was a cycle of codependency I replicated in my significant romantic relationships. So for most of my life, I felt invisible.

I was drawn to men who were equally invisible, who needed me in some way. Generally, I saw and supported who they could be and they showed me gratitude. I confused this for love and connection.

The end of those relationships marks the most significant turning point in my path of consciousness. With fierce Grace, I embarked on deep retreat and committed to my path of awakening. Everything in my life dissolved and then realigned behind this intention.

Before that, a desperate part of myself once said I would stand before My Then Love once I was fully healed and ask him to see me, to love me. What I didn’t know is that as I deepened in healing and awakening, I would not want to stand in front of him or ask anything of him.

So why is it so powerful when my spiritual partner tells me she sees me? Possibly because I am not asking her to. Possibly because she sees my awakened self and my egoic self equally and with love for both. Possibly because seeing each other is the foundation of our partnership.

In my deepest core, I believe we could go for decades without talking, and with a single moment of connection we would see each other. It reflects what is true on our path. It reflects our lack of attachment.

There is no greater gift.

(I have a few Sisters who have grown in spiritual partnership with me. This piece is not a diminishing of my love for them. What I have in essence in partnership with them is such as this too. The title references the 7 sisters who were with Artemis, and honors all my Sisters).

There’s a little Trump in each of us

“Fanaticism consists of redoublng your effort when you have forgotten your aim.” – George Santayana

In the book Opening the Heart of Compassion, we explore different levels that the ego sustains, which in turn creates our suffering. The six realms described include:

1. the Animal realm – territory, danger and the desire for laziness 

2. the Hell realm – righteousness and anger and victimization

3. the Hungry Ghost realm – what is lacking, comparing to the past or others

4. the Titan realm – envy  for others, frustrated entitlement 

5. the God realm – self infatuation and indifference for others

6. the Human realm – efforts  to possess experience, to find certainty in meaning  and to control the future 

In my practice recently I’ve been focusing on how I embody the Titan realm and sometimes the God realm. “When we live in the Titan realm we want to prove that we deserve to be respected, to be honored, to be loved, to be secure, and to be treated justly.” – Opening the Heart of Compassion 

One of my habits that creates separation is to mentally (and sometimes verbally) judge my child’s father for how he does not show me respect or honor. It is the fastest button pusher I have in his presence. I can mentally tear apart some of his cherished beliefs and fantasize about what it would be like if people could see how unjustly he treats me. 

When I noticed that in myself,  next I went into what are considered the conceits of this particular realm . There is a superiority conceit, in which you view another person as worse than yourself. Or an inferiority conceit, whereby  you see yourself as worse than the other. Sometimes we use an equality conceit, which says I am just as bad as you are. I tend to move between all three of those when I notice my ego doing its thing.

Othe times, I like to judge my child’s father for any discomfort he causes me. I complain about how he does not recognize my value, or how he becomes a burden when I interact with him. 

“In the God Realm, we admire ourselves and we are seduced by the comfort and joy that results from this admiration. We want to surround ourselves with only those people and things that support our well-being, our self-esteem, or enjoyment, and our happiness. We are able to achieve and manifest our unlimited potential through our unlimited personal power. We are concerned with acquiring things not to prove anything, but to experience the joy of what they bring. We are preoccupied with the feelings that are produced as we fixate on our emotional states of well-being.” – Opening the Heart of Compassion 

So why do I say there is a little Donald Trump in each of us? The Buddhist tradition says that we move through and experience the emotions of the six Realms every day. We may find ourselves in a particular pattern that is consistent with the spiritual work that we’ve been doing but we sometimes will move back and forth. When I study all of the realms,  I see actions  from Donald Trump that look like each of them. But more importantly, I see myself in all six realms as well.

Well I certainly do not want Trump to be a world leader, I think it is interesting that he has emerged at a  time where our  conscious awareness is moving  to higher levels of compassion. We have global views and connections to other people in other countries and begin to see them as more like ourselves. The discomfort that Trump has elicited in our society may actually be just what is necessary to continue us forward on our spiritual path as a planet.

Aging: Loss or Change?

The frame we use to interpret experience is the best predictor of what we do experience. So for example, if you believe teens are irresponsible, you will pay attention to events that confirm that and dismiss data that proves the opposite. 

So it is with getting older. What you believe makes a difference. Many people talk to me about aging as a form of loss. 

What if it was viewed as more of the ongoing changes we have experienced our whole lives?

From a loss viewpoint, I could say that by the age of 10 I lost my ability to fall and have minimal injury the way I did when I was 2. I lost my ability to perceive the world as it is, without imposed meaning and language. 

By the age of 13, I lost my experience of a non-sexualized world. By 18, I lost my ability to not worry about the future. 

But we don’t do that, do we? We frame the losses of childhood as developmental successes.  

So, as I have lived, I have gained evidence all over my body that I have laughed, cried and grown. I have evidence of lessons I would only learn the hard way. My body moves with more confidence. My  mouth inspires others with words from my heart and soul. 

I have lost the ability to tolerate superficiality.  I have lost my desire to buy into bull$h!t repackaged as neo-tantric ideals. I see through new ways of society living patterns that have been around for a long time. 

If these are the losses of aging, I celebrate each moment I have lived as steps towards freedom and love. Bring it on. 

Up the Spiral

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I groaned inwardly. “Ugh – this is really bad,” I thought as I read my poetry journals about 8 years ago.  Like many young adults,  I wrote poetry as a means of purging my angst. Or maybe as a passive aggressive expression of my victimhood.  Same, same…

What stood out at the time was how little had changed. I still felt the victim angst even though my life circumstances were completely different and it was many years later. 

With some pleasure, I noticed the opposite when I re-read them now. Sure, I can imagine myself sprawled on the bed writing them. But in all other ways, I don’t connect with the feelings in the writing.

This week, I suffered a setback. I was badly triggered and had anxiety attacks. They have been manageable but I felt some sense of failure. I had not had anxiety for a year and believed the story that I had overcome it with my spiritual superpowers.

In May, my spiritual partner and I went to see Wayne Dyer. I confess that while he had been a significant teacher of mine a decade ago, I had moved away from his work. So I was unprepared for the gift of being in his presence, the love that encircled us all and the connectedness that came to my awareness while we were there. 

When I told my spiritual partner about my slippage into anxiety, she reminded me of something Wayne Dyer talks about and that she herself sees as truth. We all have heard the idea that lessons repeat themselves in life until you learn them. But she reminded me that we also spiral up, that a lesson can come back even after you have done the work, not because you have failed but to build on it to go to the next level. Sort of like powering up to the next level in a video game.

How could I forget that if I set an intention,  what follows MUST be in support of that intention? I have dedicated my life to Truth, to serving from that Truth. I personalized my anxiety as something about ME, instead of seeing it as part of the pattern of Truth being revealed.

I am not fighting where I am at. This is what is. It is neither good nor bad. I suffer when I wish this wasn’t what was. But when I embrace it as part of the Spiral,  it turns into this beautiful gift.  I don’t miraculously pick up my bed and walk (Bible reference – sorry if it doesn’t resonate), but I do relax, stop grasping at what should be, and let go.
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The Middle Path: Being, Less Doing

When relationships end, it is normal during the grief process to pull back and go inside. You don’t have the energy to go out. You don’t want to do things that remind you of your former partner. And really, you are trying to keep one foot moving in front of the other anyway.

Which is why I began to beat myself up when after a few years I still wasn’t going out every week or taking new classes outside the house. Was I stuck? Had I not moved on?

This week my child was out of town for 3 days (gulp!) and people asked what I was going to do to indulge myself with my free nights. I signed up for yoga. A floatation tank. Dance night. Woo hoo!

And I didn’t go to any of them.

Why not?

Because I am in love with being connected to the Divine.

What did I do those nights? Well, nothing really. I meditated. I journalled. I sat in silence. I cooked. I had incredible teas from my little collection (Shout out to Acquired Taste Teas). I wasn’t doing. I was being.
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I was listening to Wayne Dyer in “The Shift”. In it, he refers to the things we value when we begin to awaken (the list varies for men and women. Sorry guys!). Before awakening, women value Family, Independence, and Career. After awakening begins, women valued Personal growth, Spirituality and Happiness. That shift in what was being reflected in my own life resonated.

A few years ago, I went on pilgrimage to John of God. I had many experiences while I was there. The three most notable were John committed to supporting a deepening in my spiritual awakening, he worked with me on reflecting self love, and I found deep joy in quietly serving others. I mark that trip as the start of significant moments of awakening.
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Following that trip, anything that didn’t align with these aspects of growth were removed from my life. Relationships first. Business next. Then the move from doing to being.

I may not be taking the silver working class I had considered but I have completed over 20 hours a week of spiritual study. I may not be attending yoga class weekly but I am on my mat weekly and I am in nature daily.

What is important about this? It reflects what is termed The Middle Way in Buddhism, and is similar to surrender or abiding in Tantra.

“Abiding means letting everything be as it already is – no matter what it is. If you’re feeling good, let that be as it is. If you’re feeling bad, let that be at it is. No matter what your emotional, physical, or mental state, let it be as it is and don’t wish it to be otherwise. If you want it to be different from what it is, you’re not abiding; you’re picking and choosing and trying to control your experience.” ~Adyashanti
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My doing had been a way of controlling my experience. What was I going to do next? I could orient to a menu of options, anticipate an experience, and hold that experience tightly. I could get angry if you took it away or disappointed me by not complying with how it should be. Bloody hell…as an expletive and a descriptor of that time.

So now, it is this:

Let come what comes, let go what goes. See what remains.

~Ramana Maharshi

5 Ways to Consciously Release The Past

All fear comes from thought in the form of memory (past) or projection (future). Thought creates time: past, present, and future. So fear exists and comes from the perceived existence of time. To be free of fear is to be free of time. Since time is a creation of thought, to be free of fear you must be free of thought. Consequently, it is important to awaken and experience your Self outside of thought, existing as eternity. So question all notions of yourself that are creations of thought and of time—of past, present, and future. Experience your eternalness, your holiness, your awakeness until you are convinced that you are never subject to the movement of thought, of fear, or of time. To be free of fear is to be full of Love.” – Adyashanti

I have been a lover of the past.  I have believed that my past qualified me for better things, or at least should be enough to earn me happiness.  I have looked backwards to find ways to prevent myself from repeating the past.  I have held on to parts of the past, akin to the famous break up line “No one can take away what we had.”  With respect and spiritual truth, I am going to call B#$* S*%# on all of that.

1. Live in the Present

This one sounds obvious, but our minds so often make our past into a story that we tell, retell, revisit, and reconstruct.  This process keeps us in the past, and keeps us from experiencing our soul, our enlightenment, and our freedom.

“Your body has been going through this thing called “life,” but your head has been going through this thing called “my fantasy about life” or “my big story about life.” You have been caught in an interpretation about life, so you have never really been here. Here is the Promised Land. The eternal is here. Have you ever noticed that you have never left here, except in your mind? When you remember the past, you are not actually in the past. Your remembering is happening here. When you think about the future, that future projection is completely here. And when you get to the future, it’s here. It’s no longer the future. To be here, all you have to do is let go of who you think you are. That’s all! And then you realize, “I’m here.” Here is where thoughts aren’t believed. Every time you come here, you are nothing. Radiantly nothing. Absolutely and eternally zero. Emptiness that is awake. Emptiness that is full. Emptiness that is everything. ” –Adyashanti

Let it go2. Energetically Let Go

Often, some aspect of the past is connected to us energetically.  Life events can leave unprocessed energy in our bodies and our minds.  While couselling can be helpful to process some of that, there needs to be a process of moving the energy of whatever connects you from the past.  Whether it is a lover, or a regret, or an old pattern of yours, it can help to imagine the energetic connection it has with you and dissolve it.  A lover often has energetic strings to your heart and other chakras.  Imagine the energetic chords being dissolved with golden light as you connect to universal love and energy to refill the energy to the chakras.  Or sometimes what you are releasing feels like it has hooks into you. Imagine releasing the hook from where ever it seems most attached to you.  And remember that this energy is not wrong; what you feel is neither good nor bad.  You simply don’t want to hold it any more.

3.  Is it True?

I have found that one of the fastest ways to release the past and thinking that holds you there is to apply the Work of Byron Katie.  Heck, there is even an app for it!

The Four Questions:
Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
Who would you be without the thought?

4. Stop Believing Your Thoughts

Your thoughts are not who you are.  You have no control over thoughts.  They come and go without you doing anything about it.  You cannot cause your next thought.  It simply is.  Thoughts occur more often when we condition them by returning to them, giving them our energy (ruminating or talking about them), and by believing them. Do not resist a thought.  If it is a thought that is painful to you, I suggest you try “#3 – Is it true?”. Once you really look at a thought and challenge it, it is like a rope you saw in the dark and thought was a snake.  Once you see it as a rope, it can never become a snake or source of fear for you again.

5.  Focus on Being

“Awakening to the truth is a deep realization of what you are as an experience. What is it that is feeling? What is it that is thinking or sensing? This is not about coming up with the right name for it, so don’t name it for a moment. It’s about just noticing, just experiencing. Feel it. Sense it. Welcome it. Spiritual awakening is realizing what occupies the space called “me.” When you listen innocently, you’ll see that there really is something more here than a me.” – Adyashanti

It becomes more difficult to live in the past if you are BEING at this moment.  When I was suffering the most emotionally, I found meditation, retreat, and yoga to be the best cure.  I went to Brazil on a spiritual retreat and left alot of my story behind.  I had to sit with myself in meditation for 10 hours a day, and discovered that there was something more than Me.  After that, everything in my life flowed from that place and aligned with it.  That is not to say I don’t have days or moments of blech.  But the blech is an experience now.  It is an opportunity for experience or for inquiry.  It is not good or bad – just dropping those labels makes a huge difference.

As you let go of the past, the space it creates in your life for more of what you value to show up is amazing.  Slowly, subtley, you look around and realize your life has become a reflection of your energy and your vibration.  And then nothing is ever the same again.

 

 

Just Do the Next Obvious Thing

13_05-13_Spiritual-SurrenderMy life is fulfilling and beautiful, no matter what circumstances arise. I am supported.  I have financial freedom.  My daughter is an amazing soul.  I have spiritual gifts showing up all the time.  My awareness and awakening have sped up and I can see the changes as life puts things in my path that have been triggers for ego and suffering in the past.  While they made me sad, they did not make me suffer.  That is a huge difference.

I shared some of the circumstances that were showing up in my life with a friend.  He asked me what I was going to do, now that my plans were in upheaval and my image of what was possible was now at risk.  I could have become really upset, because there is nothing I can do.  I am helpless to control what is happening around me.  Everything changed and turned on a dime.  I momentarily had old thoughts come up.  Maybe I could get a new job.  Maybe it was time to move to Hawaii.  Maybe I should move to Winnipeg.  This lasted about 30 minutes.  In the end, my answer to my friend was “I am firmly rooted in doing absolutely nothing.”  I knew that doing something was out of my control and probably quite useless.  Instead, I had a sense of curiosity about what would happen next.  There was a surrender and an acceptance.  It was not a giving up.  I am moving forward as things emerge and flow and shape themselves, and there is no sense of hopelessness.  I simply don’t need to control any of it.  My personal will is not required.

This is new, and possibly not new at all.  My whole life I have struggled to answer what is next for me, what do I want.  Experiences and opportunities have shown up for me and I have taken them.  One might challenge me and say “You have a PhD, you are a senior leader, and you lead strategic planning.  You teach people how to do vision boards and manifest.  You really don’t have a personal vision? You really don’t know what you want?”  In a tangible way, the answer is that I made a vow of consciousness and awakening, so everything in my life aligns with that.  There are no specific circumstances that goal requires.  I don’t need to be in India or living in a Buddhist monastery.  Everything I have needed for it has shown up to me in the comfort of my own home! Every minute of my day is an exercise in being liberated from self.  As Byron Katie says, I am in love with what is.

So after my bad day, when I decided to be firmly rooted in doing absolutely nothing, my teacher told me this about how one lives from a place of No Self:

“Reality moves in obvious ways, it just does the next most obvious thing.  That’s available to anybody.  When we are trapped in various forms of identity, we can’t see the next most obvious thing. We aren’t simple enough or quiet enough.   When we have personality and ego vying for attention, we can’t even see what the next most obvious thing to do is.  We don’t even want to – we want to do what we want to do. The way No self moves is it does the next most obvious thing. It doesn’t move from a place of causes and reasons.  It moves from something prior to causes and reasons. Something else moves it.  What that is isn’t something we can put in to words, or control, or do.  You just notice it. Something just simply seems to know what to do the moment it needs to know what to do.  When ego and personality aren’t vying for motivation, there is an inner movement.  It doesn’t have guarantees, it doesn’t say everything is going to be ok.  Certainties and guarantees aren’t how reality moves – that is human mind stuff.  That is based in existential anxiety. The world beyond self has no existential anxiety.  It is always there, we just don’t chose it.  No body has told us to.  It has no anxiety, no weight, no psychological dilemmas.  it doesn’t see the world that way.  Its always there, moving from a profound simplicity and quietness.  It moves in the absence of personal ambitions and motivations.  As long as we are tied up in our personal motivations, it is hard to access this.  Life does move in the absence of motivation.” – Adyashanti

I am at peace knowing that my reaction to the life circumstances is in alignment with my personal vow of consciousness and awakening.  I desire No Self beyond all else. I have been told it is inevitable once you set that intention.  My personal will gets frustrated from time to time that it hasn’t happened, and then I can laugh and relax as I realize it is ego helplessly pounding its fists that reality is not on its terms anymore.  It fizzles away like a balloon letting out air.  A year ago I could hardly cope with life.  Now I flow with life.  I have given up knowing what I want next because this is it!  I have set my sights on awakened consciousness, on no self, and everything, every moment, is exactly in alignment with that goal.  I don’t need to do anything.

I just have to do the next obvious thing.  Seems easy enough.