Tag Archives: meditation

Sometimes a Bad Day is a Good Thing

Reconnecting with Oneness, and Francis Lucille

I was having a bad day.

Houseguests made our morning coffee, creating a weak, half-decaf concoction without telling me, a woman who enjoys a strong cuppa in the a.m. We’d gotten up and dressed by 7:30 to go to breakfast, at their suggestion; then, they said, “Oh, we changed our minds. We’re leaving at 8:30.” An hour’s sleep lost. A friend sent me a photo of me, which she loved, in which I looked ancient, wrinkly and sweaty. The ego took a blow. It was hot and we have no air-conditioning. Stifling. My computer tablet refused to start; my mini-blinds would not lower to shield out the hot sun; in my irritated state, my meditation crawled from shallow to shallower, my mind jumping from one irritation to the next.  The neighbor started up a drilling/pounding house project.

I kept it in perspective – none of this was earth-shattering. “Get over it,” I said to me. But I was off center. I slipped further and further, as the irritations built. I sneezed, itchy eyes of allergies settling in; I gave up on yoga stretches and slipped further. I was at the door of a funk. In fact, I opened the door and was ready to take a step.

In a moment of synchronicity, I flipped on my Google + and  a new video popped up on my one working computer. It was from Francis Lucille’s satsang, and he was answering an online question from someone named Luke, who did not like who he was.  “That is my question,” I said. “I feel this way today, too.  I’m not liking who I am in this world.”

In Francis’ answer to Luke, he said that the one you believe yourself to be is not who you really are. That’s good, I thought, because I don’t want to be this irritable individual with hurt feelings. I sat down to listen and watch. Francis explained:

The one you really are is extraordinary awareness which is hearing these words right now. Nothing else. Stop linking this awareness to this body-mind called Luke [or Judy!]. Be open to the possibility that this awareness is independent from the body-mind that you call Luke. And that the awareness is the real Luke.…

Francis continued to explain that awareness is not a hostage to the body-mind. Or dependent on it.  And further, its freedom, power, peace and happiness derives from this independence.

“That which you want to change is not the real you,” he said.

I paused to listen again: “That which you want to change is not the real you.” But where is this awareness, this consciousness, then, when I want it and when I have slipped into an ego-driven funk? Where was it when I wanted to blame other people for weak coffee, switches in plans, crappy photos and a faulty mini-blind?

Hiding, I decided. Waiting for me to remember. Waiting for me to feel its presence. Waiting for me to get over this everyday body-mind junk focus. Yes, waiting patiently for me to remember. I finally did, thanks to a generous answer to Luke’s question from Francis Lucille.

I remembered and I moved on – not perfectly, but with a leap of intention. My heart eased and my soul let go. And that should be the end of the story. But, I admit to you that, even with all that resolve, I still do live within the powerful magnet of this body-mind.

I deleted the unflattering photo from my email, flipped on a fan, made a fresh batch of hefty coffee and covered my window with a curtain.

Oh, and I slathered on a facial mud masque, just for good measure.

The journey continues.

I ask myself. What is consciousness?

(c) DepostPhotos.com -njnightsky

(c) DepostPhotos.com -njnightsky

I watch a seagull dive into the calm surface of the Columbia River. Are we connected, this bird and I? Are we entangled in the folds of eternal consciousness?

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What are these ideas of consciousness that the world of physics and spirituality talk about so much and that I understand so little?

I come to this discussion acutely aware of my own materialist understanding of the world. I am Western-educated in the old-school sense of the words, and I question all things that whiff of spirituality unless I’m presented with tangible validation of their factual existence—material evidence. This matter-based view of mine is deeply engrained, imprinted even, and I struggle to catch glimpses of the world as it exists in its deeper realms.

Sometimes I think I see it, or feel it, or tangibly sense consciousness. And my world is akimbo with this evidence, off-kilter as I analyze what I saw, felt or sensed. I stand, off-balance and teetering, because, you see, just recently I began to know on an intellectual level, that it’s there, or here—that an intangible consciousness is at work under, around and above all material aspects of the world; this is a new knowing and it pinches my mind.

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I seek out explanations of what this consciousness is.

I like the simple ones, those easy to grasp. “Consciousness is awareness: the two are synonymous….Consciousness is the potential for all creation.” says Deepak Chopra in The Book of Secrets.

So, I ponder his clear, simple statement: Consciousness equals awareness. Yes. We get that.  But then comes his zinger: it “is the potential for all creation.”  And later: It is “pure potential”. My challenge is not just to understand this intellectually but to really “get” it. I struggle.

Consciousness is a “field of pure potentiality,” and we, as part of consciousness, tap into that field, either intentionally or not.  Clearly, to be intentional about it is preferable.

In reading Peter Russell’s From Science to God and listening to his talks, I come to see his view that consciousness is in all things; all creatures and all systems down to the atomic simply have varying experiences of it. We humans like to believe ours to be the most evolved, but is it? I’m not sure if Russell thinks that it is, and I’m no longer so sure that I can believe it either, or that it matters who’s king of this particular hill.

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This change has happened rapidly for me. It was not so long ago that I looked for consciousness in my body; maybe my mind created it or, somehow, my heart, I thought, and I meditated on that. I could not find it.

I should have just picked up a book by Deepak Chopra or Eckhart Tolle or Peter Russell or Francis Lucille or so many others. They would have told me in a heartbeat that the spirit of all, consciousness, is not in a body, that it is instead nonlocal, everywhere, that it is not a thing residing in time and space.  They might have used terms new to me, like non-duality, as they explained the complexities of this realm. And my head would have been akimbo.

My sister told me the same thing, by the way, and she does not consider herself a philosophical scholar. She just knows. She told me that Sunday School misled us all those years ago. There’s no soul sitting cross-legged somewhere inside our chests, she said.  Consciousness is nonlocal.

As I read and study, trying to grasp this mind-altering change from matter to consciousness, from a mechanistic view of the world to one in which the intangible realm of consciousness creates all, I am often stopped in my tracks by the beauty of it. Of course, then I start up again.

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The vision slips.

The seagull swoops away, white against a pure blue sky.

And I yearn to see it again.

On Meeting Serenity in a Pillow

I’m simply trying to buy a pillow and I am caught in the embrace of this man’s presence.  At first I think it’s his eyes that capture me, and then maybe the serene way he moves, his body fluid and light, and then maybe the voice so gentle on the air. I must stay here and learn more — about this pillow.

Don’t get me wrong: this is not a sexual attraction.

It’s something more profound, this feeling that touches my heart, this sense that I am standing beside a truly lovely human being and so of course, I want to stay. But I’m in the middle of the Portland Saturday Market, and the sun has brought hordes of us out on this early March day. I’m stealing time from others who jostle to get into his booth, who stand not-so-patiently fondling the pillows and making pointed digs into their purses for their wallets. We sit on the floor, me trying out his meditation pillows, he helping me with my seated posture and the positioning of my sit-bones on the pillow.

How to make the most of this pillow that hugs the body while one meditates— that’s the conversation we are having. I’m listening, but I am also exploring his spirit, silently and behind the sounds of our voices. I know this though I am certain no one else knows; our talk encircles us, revolving around pillows and postures and bent knees.

I’m touched by this spirit in front of me and I am also, on an intellectual level, gyrating through deductions and analysis. What makes a person appear to be so serene? How did he come to be where he is, and is he where he seems to be in this universe?  I hope he is.

I want to know that there are people who live lives of profound tranquility.

Walking Meditation

When you look at the sun during your walking meditation, the mindfulness of the body helps you to see that the sun is in you; without the sun there is no life at all and suddenly you get in touch with the sun in a different way.

~~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Why I Need Science to Teach Me Meditation

I envision my bookshelves back in my house at the beach. They lined the room, filling it with books that included literature from Chaucer to Virginia Woolf alongside lesser novels of every description, a great slew of them being puzzle-solving mysteries. One section was given over entirely to what I called then my curiosities. Some would call it seeking or new age or higher consciousness or motivational. But I was not ready to go there; I was only ready to admit that I was curious.

NASA-Ring of Stellar Fire-w

Ring of Stellar Fire This image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows where the action is taking place in galaxy NGC 1291. The outer ring, colored red, is filled with new stars that are igniting and heating up dust that glows with infrared light.

On these shelves were books that did not conform to western science, at least to my understanding of science, which was based on – by then – my own outdated information and on general public knowledge of how the earth spins amidst the forces of the universe.  Here’s where I kept my Autobiography of a Yogi, my Eckhart Tolle, Waye Dyer, Riane Eisler, Ken Keyes, Shirley MacLaine. I sought out writers who showed me a different way of seeing the world.

I dipped into many of them, but always I climbed back out of the pool, dried off, and got back to the realities of life. The books then sat, closed, on the shelves. The things I read about seemed so often like magic, which, of course, we all know is a conjurer’s bag of tricks. I’d read about yogis doing incredible levitations, and then I’d very soon afterwards come across a magician’s explanation of levitation tricks. I’d read about ESP and see how easily critics debunked experiments and ridiculed those wasting their time searching after something so patently based on trickery. The feats became in my mind akin to training a horse with tiny hand signals, so it might appear to be counting.

Where did I get this need for scientific proof of the inexplicable?

I harken back to the 1970s. I was befuddled at the time by people who flew to India to sit on dirt floors and learn – what? – from the masters.  I could not figure out what it was that they learned, no matter how often they explained and how closely I listened. Their talk about higher consciousness, about connecting with the oneness of the universe – what was that? I could not get it, could not absorb the idea of god, in the first place, and a god that was everywhere – well, that was unfathomable. If there was a god, wasn’t he/she sitting off somewhere keeping the universe spinning? Even if he didn’t look like the laughable vision of an old man in a big chair, wasn’t western religion saying there was an entity of some sort? Somewhere?  Science had already explained that the answer to that question was no; there was no one out there keeping watch; the wizard behind the curtain had been revealed, and the revelation was that there was no wizard. At least, that is how I understood it.

Science explained the atoms and the subatomic particles and the basic materials that made up the universe. So how could these eastern philosophies expect me to grasp a concept of oneness? Two marbles were two marbles, made of hard glass, not two energy systems interacting, and certainly not one marble. And two people? Or two thousand being one? How could that be? Well, my mind said, it couldn’t be. Not possible.

Airy Fairy was the term I most often heard.

And what red-blooded American wanted to be called airy fairy? Or gullible? Not I. I come from solid middle class stock, protestant and a life based on provable facts.  So, bottom line: I could never open my mind to the ancient teachings of meditation and higher consciousness if they could not prove to me that their concepts worked, and how, and why. I found that I could meditate, but only to the extent that it relaxed me and took my focus off the stresses of my day. I could go no further. No deeper. Uh-uh.

And yet I kept reading. I reached out to books on how to develop intuition, get in touch with my inner voice and reach my deeper consciousness. I tried left-handed writing and automatic writing. I would complete the exercises and look around the room at the hard surfaces of the desk, the chairs, the walls of the house around me. These were realities, my mind would tell me. The rest? That was imagination, the stuff ghost stories are made of.

I needed popular science to come full circle to the metaphysical. I needed to hear about the advances of quantum physics that was happening in academic arenas, and I needed those findings to be shared out with the rest of us — to take us out of the old, material-based view of the world and into one that begins to explain some of the ancient teachings, even as it begins to mesh with many of those airy fairy concepts I was too skeptical to embrace. I, being who I am, had to wait for middle America’s mainstream culture to embrace Einstein’s theory of relativity.  Dimensions needed to be explained by mathematics. And then, once science had begun to report that the material world was, indeed, not material at all but energy, or even just space, or fields of possibilities – or then, just information sharing –  then I needed translators who could connect these bizarre new theories to the world as I know it.

I’ve been seeking these authors out over the last year and a half, finding one, then moving to another, devouring their ideas, then when they mention another connector of the dots, seeking those authors out on youtube, books, radio, and in conferences.

And that is why I am here at my keyboard today, synthesizing what I am learning, me, a woman on a singular journey but knowing that I am amongst thousands on this same journey.  Most probably, millions.