Freedom Beyond the Past

Exposure © Voyeurism's

What if we woke up one day and had no memory of the past, but we were still able to function in a quite natural way.This is, in a sense,what it is like to truly be awake.

Imagine that every one you come into contact with today, you are meeting them for the first time. What if everything appeared new and fresh? To awaken in this way, we must be willing give up thoughts and concepts from the past and be open to seeing life as it truly is, beautiful, alive Oneness. To be free means we are not putting life in a box, or seeing life through the lens of projection.

I was speaking to a client today who was deeply entrenched in victim consciousness.

To maintain this entrenchment, to keep the victim alive; we have to continue to choose to see life from the perspective of the past.  We have to continue to believe in concepts that the world is an inherently unsafe place. So as he sat before me, he continued to see the world through this lens of self created concepts, that the world is unsafe. Usually this concept comes from some experience of trauma. When we experience trauma, whether it is real or imagined; a deep sense of fear and tension gets imprinted in the body. Often this tension and defensiveness becomes our way of meeting the world. In a sense, if a trauma happened 23 years ago, many individuals are still seeing life from this perspective that the world is an unsafe place. It could be from something that only lasted a few minutes, and we spend the rest of our life, reacting as if life is dangerous. Often to release this fear, it takes a focused intention on healing, so that we can begin to fully see clearly again.

As I was working with this individual, with an intention to begin to release this trauma, and the accompanying concepts that life is not safe; we looked clearly at the present. We imagined what life would be like if we had no memory of the past. We imagined meeting life fresh and new in this moment. As we did this, I asked him, how he felt? To which he responded, “spacious.” Next, I asked him to tell me about his week. Right away, he went into victim consciousness, blaming others and acting as if the world were a dangerous place.  I asked him, how he felt? To which he replied, “terrible.” So here, I pointed out, is the choice; we can choose how we feel and how we respond to life. We can choose to not engage in the past. We can choose to not see the present through the lens of the past. Or we can choose to take the easy way, the habitual and unconscious old way of egoic consciousness and suffer.

Sometimes it is simply this easy. We just choose and then we experience the freshness and openness of freedom. But for the deeper more persistent pain and trauma in us, especially if it is at a cellular level; we need to do deeper work. This work often, requires us to be both open and courageous. And the invitation here is often, to grieve the past with an open heart. It takes courage to grieve this deeply. As we grieve we also, again, actively choose to not pick up the past; but instead to actively let it go. This does not mean pushing it away, it means grieving with the doors of the heart and mind open, which allows the pain to naturally release. Here we renew our intention to not pick it up again and allow it to go. We do this again and again until it no longer arises.  We do this so we no longer suffer or cause suffering in the present, due to our projection of the past. And by uprooting projection, we step into the freedom that comes from seeing Life as it is.

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What do you really want?

What do you want?

I have always seen this as one of the most important questions to ask ourselves on the spiritual path. When we ask this question, it solidifies our intention and direction on the spiritual path. And often, if we are not clear in our intention, we find ourselves in the  confusing landscape of modern spirituality. It is helpful to inquiry into what this path or this life is really about for us. If we don’t deeply ask and reflect upon this question, we will be left to the hopes and fears of our habitual and conditioned egoic consciousness.

Today I was at a yoga workshop; a very advanced training with arm balances and inversions.  I had no business being there, I am not so good at yoga.  I normally sit for hours on Sunday mornings; meditation has always been my path. But this morning, I cut my meditation short and ran off to an advanced anusara yoga workshop.  My inner voice told me it was the wrong thing to do; yet today I decided to not listen. It is not that there was anything wrong with the workshop or the teacher; I was the one who was not listening to my inner voice and was headed into a confusing landscape.

When I approach any class or meditation retreat or teacher for the first time, I ask, “What does this have to do with Freedom, with Awakening?” I ask this because, ever since I heard the word freedom, this is what the path has been about for me.  As I sat there in this class, I began to wonder “what am I doing here?”   I love yoga as a path to awakening; I have a great respect for the Yogic path. But the yoga that I am speaking about is union with and surrender to the Divine; which I often find is quite different than what most folks call yoga. It is not that there is anything wrong with different paths or versions of yoga. But yoga is only meaningful to me, if it is about waking up from egoic consciousness.  I know that different people are attracted to different things and have different focuses in life. But as we go through life; an important question to ask is what do I really want, what is this life about for me? And if the highest answer that comes from our heart is to have a good healthy yoga body, then go for it. Likewise if the the highest movement in us is for freedom, then align your life and choices with freedom.

So as I struggled in this yoga class, I began to reflect on what brought me here. I had this idea that yoga would be good for my stiff body. But as the class went on, I began to wonder what all this yogic acrobatics was all about.  We ended up spending a few hours trying to do some very difficult inversions.  I looked around the room and wondered if I was in a circus camp.  Yet none of the people looked like they belonged in the circus. It was mostly middle aged women, who probably were therapist and who had come thinking, that this was going to be a day of spiritual practice.   What I wondered was, what does an arm balance inversion with a twist have to do with awakening or freedom?  I have often asked myself the same question when on Tibetan Buddhist retreats; what does all this imaginary and visualization and moving energy have to do with the Divine?  And for me this day, I could not make much of a connection between falling on my face and freedom. So I decided to just to be myself, and as I relaxed in my own being, and gave up any expectation of landing these complicated arm balance inversions. As I let go,I felt an expanse and a unity; Life came alive before my eyes.  I began to see God all around me. I saw God in the eyes of the circus performers.  But as I tried to do my circus trick, I fell on my face and laughed and cried, and it was God laughing and crying through me….