Archive for the ‘meditation’ tag
It is another beautiful day here in Puerto Morelos. This morning I tried meditating in a different location other than tucked in a corner of the studio apartment. I was able to enjoy the sound of the breeze, the feel of the breeze, and the sound of the water lapping against the pylons of the pier. I sat at the far right corner which sticks out even further into the sea. Because of the hour and time of day, I did keep on my bathing suit while meditating. It was an experience worth repeating, only tomorrow [weather permitting] I will go there two hours earlier, before my morning coffee with my wife. While I meditate, she does yoga, so this is a shared experience in its own way.
Meditation is vital for me. Because of my history as a child and as a youth, I have lived in a self-imposed straight-jacket as I tried to contain the demons that haunted me. When it became too much to contain, it was in meditation where I first found the path to ease the strain and thus be able to move forward into another day of masking the psychic pain that wanted to swallow me. I needed meditation, but didn’t really know why.
“Well, meditation is dealing with purpose itself… Generally we have a purpose for whatever we do: something is going to happen in the future, therefore, whatever I am doing now is important — everything is related to that. But the whole idea of meditation is to develop an entirely different way of dealing with things, where you have no purpose at all. In fact, meditation is dealing with the question of whether or not there is a such thing as ‘purpose’.” [Trungpa, Meditation in Action]
Today, I know why I meditate. I know that this act of letting my ego consciousness give up control, in a way disappearing for a while, allows my body to feel the freedom from the prison of memories. While I meditate I don’t have any history of pain, of confusion, of betrayal or of being someone who has committed his fair share of betraying, confusing and of inflicting pain. I become a being, simply breath, sitting in my space which disappears leaving me freer than it is possible to imagine. I cease being a victim and a victimizer.
My body appreciates this momentary space where all is released, as does my spirit. I breath, I sit, I am. And, that is enough.
I am going to try something different today, a different approach to evoking a sense of consciousness and the unconscious. As I was meditating this morning, images emerged and vague presences that might be called words or thoughts. The first image that appeared was that of a mother nursing her child – I was the child looking up into the eyes of this Magical Other person who was my key to life. And in being there as child and as observer, being nursed, I saw the origin of a Mother-complex, a complex that was neither good nor bad, but simply was. I could feel the love of the mother who was nursing me, nursing all the children of the world who were fortunate enough to be nursed. But I also could feel the unconscious shadows that hovered over that mother, that distracted her, that at times saddened her and caused her fear. At times, I could even sense her anger, her own darkness. And, I knew the source and origin of the Dark Mother.
And then the image shifted to darkness, the time before birth into the world, the time of the womb. Though the Mother knew I was there, she was fully unconscious of how I was developing, how I was growing, what was happening within me that was preparing me for the birth of my personal consciousness. All this was taking place in darkness, within the womb, unconsciously. The image shifted again, even further back in time to the instance before conception. Whatever it is that was potentially I was in two parts, the seed of the feminine and the fertilizing material of the masculine. Separated there was no life. Yet in that darkness where life didn’t exist, the two parts drew together and out of the darkness within the Mother, the spark of life was created.
Another shift, this time a different scene appeared. Appeared is a poor word for there was no light any where. All was darkness. I knew I had been taken back even further and was now floating in the space before creation, when the universe was only darkness, where light didn’t exist. I knew in an instant that I was in yet a different womb, the womb of the universe before there was life or light. Yet, though there was nothing to be seen, nothing to be felt, tasted, smelled, sensed, intuited, there was a pregnant possibility that was unconsciously just waiting for a shift in the emptiness and darkness. That time of pregnant pause before light and life would appear signifying the event of creation was nothing but chaos. Within the womb of the universe that was to be born, energies swirled without conscious intention. It was as if the universe yet to be was holding its breath, waiting for that magical moment when something would be born – consciousness, life, light.
And I was there, waiting, waiting for the essence of whatever was to be, a masculine essence, swam blindly in the darkness on a journey that was fully unconscious, not yet instinctual either. And I knew that I was in the womb of the All, the One. I knew then that the creator of light and light was the unconscious feminine, the Great Mother. With another breath, I rose from the depths of my morning meditation and came here.
The skies have cleared and the snow has stopped falling leaving the world freshly scrubbed with glistening white. I went for a walk in this windscape of white feeling the light wind burning cheeks and nose, knowing that I was alive and present. There was no space left for thinking, just being. At my side, my wife walked with me. We turned to see each other knowing that it was a good thing, that we were in a good place.
The last day of 2012 is here and I have continued to post blogs here, however not as frequently as in the past. I do want to finish the year with a post to share with you. Tomorrow I will be with my eldest child and her family for a turkey New Year’s evening meal following an afternoon at a hockey game. I know I wont be thinking of the blog site or anything else while I am with my two eldest grandsons and their parents. I am learning that being present involves more than just body presence.
Returning home the next day it then becomes time for packing and re-packing our bags in order to finally decide what goes and what stays in the bags. Of course we will have packed too much while worrying that we haven’t packed enough.
As I go through each day until we fly off, I continue to practice being present, even for the little things like doing dishes or other daily task. And each day I will take time to meditate with wishes that each of you can be freed from worries and suffering.
Happy New Year! – Bonne et Heureuse Année! - ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!
The past few days have been quiet for me, weekends are like that when one is alone with no planned structure to fill the time. Like anyone else in the same situation, I am left to search for something to fill the hours, to fill the emptiness. Having turned to Buddhism, I find meditation creeping into my day when it is least expected filling those unexpected moments with deep peace. Having renewed a commitment to my body as a temple with prolonged walks as the approach to the care of my body, I find peace in those moments when “thinking” disappears and I become mindful of my steps, of the flowers, of the breezes, of the passing faces and the sounds – no thinking about them, just being aware of their presence. Meditation and walking have become my spiritual practice.
“We have become so spiritually dehydrated that we are now desperate to drink directly from the Divine Well itself and our thirst will no longer be slaked by drinking from a substitute or tainted source. We are awakening to a new spiritual age p one less dependent on an outer authority and more attuned to the God within. Conjecture is rife, but we cannot deny the statistics that point, on the one hand, to collapse, and on the other hand, to renewal. While the death of the old can be alarming, the birth of the new is always exciting. Something is undoubtedly ‘astir in the land’ and what we are witnessing is, perhaps, a collective emergence to a new spiritual reality directing our lives.” (Brierley, Camino de Santiago, p. 35)
Yesterday I went for a walk in the Canmore area. I began the walk with a short half kilometre from the parking lot down a wide and easy trail to reach a cutline that I then took for a distance of about two kilometres where I then found myself on a road as I crossed a bridge. I was looking for the entrance to the Grassi Lakes trail which I found seven hundred metres further down the trail. I then began the climb of almost two kilometres with an elevation gain of 250 metres while stopping to take photos along the way. I took the more difficult route to the top of the trail and stopped for a bit before going back to the start of the trail on the graveled path, the easy route. Once at the bottom I made the return trip retracing my steps while stopping at times for another photo opportunity of wildflowers as well as an osprey nest with mother and chicks. For this whole journey, I forgot to think about my life, about “issues” or past history or what I will be doing in the days, weeks and years to come. I somehow managed to find a spiritual centre in the act of being mindfully present, feeling the path under my shoes, feeling my body, hearing the insects and birds, feeling the light breezes and the heat rays of the sun, tasting the water from my bottles carried for the walk.
This is what I have been craving.
I saw a number of these sand secretions, structures that had no meaning but were rather a product of simply living such as this sand worm cast which I found in Thailand. Simply living and being present and participating in life is all that is needed, but that is something I find quite hard to do. Rather than just letting life be as it is, I often escape either into the past or fantasize about the future.
A good example of that would be how I try to understand the past events that have landed me in analysis or looking towards a future day when analysis is over. Somehow, engaging in these polarity positions, I don’t have to face the fact of what I am doing in the present, looking at how I am in the present. It is a hard habit to break and one that causes some sense of fear. Why fear? Well, what if in paying attention, being present, I fail? What if I am rejected even by my analyst, my family, my friends and acquaintances? Better to bury the fear in telling tales in which I look better that I was, to paint a future that shows me as an accomplished and successful person, perhaps even somewhat famous. Being stuck in the now leaves me so ordinary, less than ordinary in my own eyes. And so I become defensive stuck in fear.
“Fear does not allow fundamental tenderness to enter into us. When tenderness tinged by sadness touches our heart, we know that we are in contact with reality. We feel . That contact is genuine, fresh, and quite raw. . . .
Sometimes people find that being tender and raw is threatening and seemingly exhausting. Openness seems demanding and energy-consuming, so they prefer to cover up their tender heart. Vulnerability can sometimes make you nervous, It is uncomfortable to feel so real, so you want to numb yourself. You look for some kind of anesthetic, anything that will provide you with entertainment. Then you can forget the discomfort of reality. People don’t want to live with their basic rawness for even fifteen minutes. When people say they are bored, often they mean that they don’t want to experience the sense of emptiness, which is also an expression of openness and vulnerability. So they pick up the newspaper or read anything else that’s lying around the room – even reading what is says on a cereal box to keep themselves entertained.” (Trungpa, Smile at Fear, pp 58-59)
I find myself doing this too much, finding creative ways to distract me from being present in life: problems with sitting still in my meditation, drifting into a mindless experience with Netflix, surfing the Internet to read almost anything just so that I can be distracted from my self. Being present is too much hard work. Being able to actually hold emptiness, to hold the idea of vulnerability, to hold onto the fact that even the idea of who I am is a fiction leaves me feeling very raw indeed. So, like almost everyone else I find some way to avoid all of this, even if it is just to once again do a statistics check to see meaningless data about this blog site. I don’t like coming face to face with shit, with my shit, and calling it shit. It is best to flush it away and pretend that it never existed, better to imaginary castles and kingdoms inhabited by heros and villains and gods and goddesses. Or, so I try to convince myself.
But in the end, I can’t escape the rawness, the vulnerability, the emptiness.
I am turning for a bit to some of my Buddhist readings, especially the work of Chogyam Trungpa, The Path is the Goal. The title of the book reminded me of the path of individuation. The more I study, the more and more I am finding that “fits” to make a whole. In the sixth chapter of Trungpa’s book, the topic is “loneliness.” I will bring some of the words here, words that address the topic of loneliness and meditation.
“I think we should realize that the practice of meditation takes us on a journey that is very personal and very lonely. Only the individual meditator knows what he or she is doing, and it is a very lonely journey.” (Trungpa, p. 126)
A journey of one person. There is a guide/teacher that helps with orientation from time to time, but the journey is still a journey of one person. And, it is a very serious journey.
“The only thing that is visible, that apparently exists, is the journey, the loneliness itself. . . . . On this path, we are not looking for the grace of God or any other kind of saving grace. There is no sense that we are going to be saved, that someone is going to keep an eye on us so that if we are just about to make a mistake, someone will fish us out. . . . Nobody is going to save us and nobody is going to protect us, so this journey has to be a very personal journey. (pp 127-128)
As I sit in my meditation each morning, it is just me, myself and I working at taming my mind, trying to find a bit more light, awareness, consciousness. As I sit in analysis, even with my analyst, I am still wrestling with myself. The analyst, like the meditation teacher is there invested with care, compassion and even love; but, neither can take any of my steps for me on my journey. When I move through the rest of the hours either alone or in the company of others, my sense of individualness continues to assert itself within me.
This separateness is easily understood as a parent. I love all three of my children with an unbelievable intensity and would move every rock on their journeys so that their lives could be gentler. But is spite of all my efforts and love, they must walk their individual journeys separate from me as a parent, separate from their siblings, separate from their own children and their spouses. It is almost overwhelming to realise this. Yet, that is the way of being human, the way of being in life. We live our individual journeys in loneliness. And, we are graced to find others seeing us, loving us, touching us and being with us as best they can as they also make their individual journeys.
As promised, I am writing to talk more about the workshop I attended following an introductory evening presentation given by Guy Corneau to the Calgary Jungian Society. The workshop was limited to a smaller group because it was an active participation workshop that engaged each of the attendees at some very deep levels, moving all of us in unexpected ways.
Guy talked to us about how healing works. The idea that doctors, medicine and other strategies heal the body was dispelled and replaced with the truth that “healing comes from within.” What we think, feel, believe, and need are what allows the body to do its work. All the health care modalities are needed in order to create the conditions for the body to heal itself.
We get sick because of the toxins that arise through feelings, need, negative beliefs and feelings as these create dis-ease and dis-equilibrium within. Guy looked at the following as sources of dis-ease:
- imprints from the past, existential fears
- wounds of living and the protective measures we enact, dissociating from self and attending to others
- self-imposed wounds including a lack of space for self
- society, church, politics, community, culture, economics
- emerging situations such as floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc.
The idea was then brought forward that we can change our mood, to shift from negative (dis-ease) to positive (self-healing). Guy then had all engage in a Golden Meditation, an exercise in searching in the past for some particular positive (peace, joy, etc.) and allow that feeling to be centre of the meditation, to follow it and hold it. When the meditation was done, we were expected to continue holding that feeling and talk honestly about it with a partner – powerful!
Then there was a shift towards a second activity which looked at relationship in terms of reconciliation/pacification. In terms of others, especially those we hold very close to us, even intimately, Guy said, “you really don’t know the person objectively” one only knows one’s response to the person, one’s projections of self (both positive and negative) upon the person. This second meditation, that of learning to deflate emotion that hurts and gets in the way of healing. I will outline below the flow of this meditation:
- entering into guided meditation
- travel with the mind to the heart/soul within
- invite someone with whom there is a conflict to a circle in front of your soul
- build a bridge between your soul and this other
- bring the conflict to presence – what hurt you? – using “I” statements express feelings
- feel what the conflict has done to you
- explain to this other what you really felt from your “heart”
- choose your next step to this person, choose your attitude, your words, your behaviour
- repeat this as many times as needed until you are “clear” about what will actually happen when you take it from meditation to outer life in order to deflate the conflict and its emotional control that leaves you a victim of that emotion.
There was more, but this will have to wait for another post in a few days. Tomorrow, there is a guest editorial waiting for you. Be well and heal yourself.
As I was meditating this morning as the sun was rising, a thought crept into my brain. I tried to breath into my body, to focus on each part of each breath in order to gently dissipate the edges of this thought that came creeping. But, it was to no avail. The thought took form and called on me to honour that thought. So, I listened to that still voice that at times decides to grace me, a voice that is so different from the regular chatter that seems to occupy so much of my thinking. The voice suggested that I set aside Hollis’ book for a moment and return to Jung’s words and listen. That was it. With that, silence returned and I fell back into a meditative state.
With meditation done, I had forgotten about the voice and the message for a while as I engaged back with being present in my physical reality and got prepared for the day and making sure that I finished my morning routines. Then, I approached my collection of books on the shelf rather than doing some cyberspace surfing and connecting. I picked up one of my books that looks at Jung’s words on a theme, this particular book looking at what Jung had to say about mythology. Then, I opened the book at random and found these words:
” . . . the hero myth is an unconscious drama seen only in projection, like the happenings in Plato’s parable of the cave. The hero himself appears as a being of more than human stature. He is distinguished from the very beginning by his godlike characteristics. Since he is psychologically an archetype of the self, his divinity only confirms that the self is numinous, a sort of god, or having some share in the divine nature.” (Jung, CW 5, par 612)
Today’s Daily OM message arrived after the post had been written. I was amazed at this message which parallels and compliments the photo and post. One would think that it would have been the other way around – get the message and then create a post around it. Here is today’s meditative thought:
January 25, 2012
Before the World Wakes
In the first moments of day before our mind is fully awake can be a wonderful time for meditation.
Every once in a while my wife picks up my camera in order to note the fact that I am also part of the experience in a new country, or an event at home. This is a difficult task as I am usually busy with the camera or else we are busy with doing things that doesn’t involve cameras. This morning, while I was meditating on my private little balcony, she took advantage of the opportunity.
Being in Thailand is as much, if not more, about healing and dealing with the upwelling of old, repressed contents of childhood, boyhood and youth. A major part of that healing work is meditation for me, and given the opportunity, nude meditation in a private, out-of-doors location. I meditate twice a day; once in the early morning when the sound of birds becomes the background music, and once in the mid-afternoon when the full sun can fall on my body. I find it especially healing with the sun and a breeze and sounds of birds which help banish “thinking.” I try hard to become “still” inside, a rest from the other work of healing. This is the way it is and so the record now shows the truth of the way it is.
The other part of the healing process is writing. I write in two separate documents. The first document is a journal in which I record dreams, associations and bits of memories as they emerge. I also allow my feelings and intuition to take form in words in this journal. The second document is a purposeful recounting of life, my life, as I know it. I have to be clear on this “how I know it” as others might know it differently, have seen and heard and lived in very close proximity without awareness of what I have seen and heard and experienced. I have repressed much of that childhood, boyhood and youth and have been meeting with many blank spots in the process. But as I continue the work, images emerge out of darkness and fit into the story that has already been told.
This is my process and it seems to be working for me. I build, or I should say, I am in the process of recovering, rebuilding my life, remembering by putting recovered pieces back into place in search of wholeness.
I have to admit that I haven’t been doing as well as I thought since the day my mother died. I had thought that I was prepared for her death knowing that it was coming and having had a week-long visit with her in order to say our good-byes. It took four days for the tears to finally come and allow the pressure to ease up.
I descended into a darkness. I felt an intense guilt about still being alive even though it seemed a part of me had died; it was almost as if the creative inner force within me, my very soul had died. I wanted to disappear, forever, into that darkness. I was forgetting to breathe. A vise had seized my lower stomach and was squeezing for all it was worth and all I wanted was for it to stop, for stop to the pressure and pain.
But, I was not alone through this. My good wife was there as well. It is not easy being with one who is often not in this world. That we were on holidays, whose dates were of our choosing more than a month ago, when my mother died was yet another blessing though it tainted the idea of this being a holiday. I didn’t have to bury feeling even more while I would have gone through the motions of teaching. I had a time, space and place to go through this process.
Meditating at least twice a day while here in the Philippines, having adopted this routine of a morning meditation on the balcony and an afternoon meditation in a secluded beach location where the sound of the waves add to the meditative experience, has provided me no small measure of additional release. Now, with this post, it feels as though there has been a shift and I am now emerging out of the darkness.
Today’s photos were taken by my wife. The scene is a cliff-side cave quite a distance south from where we are staying. The rock was hard and sharp, but for some reason, this was okay. At least it let me know that once again, I can feel.