The Hugeness of our Divinity

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Can we step into the Hugeness of Divinity that we are and meet ourselves, our relationships and our lives from the strength and totality of this embodiment. To do this we must be willing to stop believing in the movement of our minds and their story of reality, and see that there is one here who is noticing the story, one here who is outside of the story witnessing life. And this one has no age, no gender, and is not aligned with any wounds or beliefs; this one is already complete and totally free. When we step into this as ourselves, we can meet all the painful and wounded aspects of our ego, with the healing space of Love. And as the Love, that we are, touches the painful, hurt and wounded places within us, we heal.

So this is our invitation, can we align with the boundless perspective of the witness that we are and our Divinity as us.  And as we do this can we meet fear, and misperception, misrepresentation, anger, hostility, emotional vulnerability and the impermanence of life from the spacious Divinity that we are? Can we allow our pain to heal in the Hugeness of our Divinity? Can we allow ourselves to be touched by our Love?

To the degree that we meet these things in ourselves, is to the same degree that we can meet this in others; our invitation is to take care of ourselves first. Because if we do not first heal ourselves; we will not be able to be fully present to those around us and to the healing of our world.  And yet as we heal ourselves, we heal the world; because we are not separate from Life, we are not separate from anyone or anything; we are one with all of existence as this Existence. 

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Letting Go into the Mystery We Are

To be awake, it is necessary to investigate the various parts of our self that make up our humanity; because our humanity is often where we become deluded into believing we are something, that we are not. Our will is one of the major areas where we quickly become unconscious or lost in egoic identification. Yet, our personal will is a fundamental building block of our ego. Our will is most basically, the psychological force or program within us that wants to survive, maintain, assert itself, fight against, or fundamentally separate itself in order to create a separate sense of identity. In a healthy way, our will is what makes us want to have a career or have a family or be a part of a political party; our will is what drives us to succeed at sports or want to be right. From a psychological perspective, having a good strong will, creates a healthy sense of self from which an individual operates in the world.

Yet if we believe too much in our will, and mistake it for who and what we truly are, this will lead to more delusion within ourselves. We all have known times when we have fought persistently to be right, and as a result experienced intense separation. If we give our will too much power or authority over ourselves, then we will end up believing in it’s point of view exclusively. This point of view is generally some version of me against the world. And if we see the world from this perspective we will not be seeing Life from the perspective of Unity, of Oneness.

Naturally our relationship with our will must be investigated if we are going to be free. There are many spiritual practices and ascetic techniques that work to break down our will such as hours and hours of meditation, difficult yogic asanas; many spiritual traditions prescribe difficult labor without purpose or aim, such as racking gravel in one direction and then the other. These may be helpful if done with sincerity, but if they are done from the perspective of the will, they can actually reinforce the will, not exhaust it. But a wonderful space opens when the will is exhausted, and we become so open and raw that we have no choice but to surrender. This is where most spiritual practices try to bring us, to this point of exhaustion and eventual surrender. Although, we are welcome at any point, to fully surrender our will and to let go; right here, right now. This is the direct path; to step onto the direct path, we must be deeply sincere; and be more sincere than our attachment to our own will. Sincere surrender is by far the most direct way to let go of the will and to step into this huge Mystery that we are.

Working with Difficult Emotions through Compassion

 

It is common for individuals to protect themselves against mental, emotional and physical pain by armoring ourselves, in a psychosomatic way in our physical and emotional bodies.  This tends to happen at a moment of a real or perceived crisis, when our bodies instinctively go tense in an effort to brace oneself from being overwhelmed by feelings. As therapist and teacher, I have worked with many individuals throughout the years that hold heavy layers of protection around themselves; sometimes decades after an experience of pain or trauma took place.  I learned how to work with others, from years of working with and healing my own armoring. To this day, I continue to work with liberating myself from years of holding my body tight from trying to shield myself from being hurt, by often imagined fears. Of course there are times when these fears are real and in the present moment. If this is the case, it is wise to take action, such as leaving the situation or getting whatever help we need.

 But what I find amazing is that often, for years, we hold ourselves tense to protect ourselves from a person who is no longer in our lives or who we might only see 1% of the time.  Maybe we will never see the person who originally hurt us again, and yet unconsciously we still armor ourselves against a one day chance encounter.  We may continue to hold this protection simply out of habit, even though there is no longer a threat. It may even be that be that our body was once shocked by a sudden accident and that it habitually holds itself tight for years. Whatever the case, this unconscious psychosomatic phenomena can hold us back from fully experiencing the wonder of Life in the affected parts of our being. To be awake, means that we open and include all of our being in our experience of life. But if there are parts of ourselves that are unconsciously resisting life, it will be difficult to experience beauty in these parts of ourselves. After we discover this in ourselves, we can invite our body to open and relax.  But for our body to relax, we must first be in a safe environment and feel emotionally and mentally safe.  This might mean a change of relationship, or environment, or simply realize that we are perfectly safe right here, right now; that this moment is not the past.    

After we have established a feeling of safety in ourselves, we can talk to our bodies or the various parts of ourselves that are in pain; and let them know that it is safe to relax.  It is safe to put the shield down.    We no longer have to hold tension in our bodies.  If we speak in a way that our body can hear, then it will hear us and begin to relax. Although, if we speak to ourselves in harsh or judgmental ways, we will not feel safe and we might become more scared and become more tense.   I like to think of talking to the places within us that are still hurting, like a good parent would talk to a child.  This might be a soft reassuring voice or a voice that is calm and clear; when we talk in this way, it becomes easy for our pain to hear us.  And our body may start to relax in a very gentle and natural way. Although if we have been through deep trauma and pain, much more work will be necessary.  

After my divorce, I can remember the intense pain that I experienced and held in my body.  I sat intentionally with this pain for over a year, and I did this each day.  I used a very specific mediation practice for helping to release this pain.  I sat down and relaxed my body.  I became open and spacious inside.  From this quiet, open and spacious place, I would locate the pain in my body, often this was quite easy to find. The wonderful thing about pain is that it is loud and undeniable.  The practice was to fully sit with the pain and fully allow it to be in my body. The key words here are to fully allow it to be.    When we first do this, our minds habitually, turn and run in the opposite direction.  They do this by thinking of something very important that needs to be done right now. Or it fantasizes about some other place or person.  Or it starts planning the day.  The mind will try to do anything but sit with pain.    It can be humorous to watch how quickly our minds go somewhere else when pain is in the room.  It can find something else to do in a fraction of a second.  Our minds will avoid pain at all costs, so it is quite a task to just get ourselves to sit with pain and allow it to be.    

After we have opened and allowed the pain to be here fully, we might imagine that the pain is a child and it is sitting in our lap.  As a father, I love this image.  I can think of any time my daughter even got hurt, the first thing I wanted to do was to pick up her and hold her.  We must cultivate this type of love for ourselves and the pain that lives within us.  We have to want to hold it. Although most of us, want to get rid of this pain as soon as we feel it. But if we want to get rid of it, we miss our chance to be free.  We miss our chance to know love. We miss our chance to transform pain into peace.     

For this process to be truly healing, we have to totally be open and to want to sit with it. Another image that I like comes from the ancient Zen teachings on the angry bull.  If we have an angry bull, and want it to calm down, then we let it run around in a big open field.  We work with pain in the same way; as we open to the pain and allow it to fully be within us, it may even become louder, it may need to run around for awhile. What is helpful is for us to notice all the space in our mind and our bodies, in our awareness and to notice that this space has no end. From this spacious openeness we can allow the pain to spread out and unravel in our spacious awareness. This also, helps our ego to relax, once it knows that there is so much space for all this pain, and that we no longer have to contain it. As we open to our already spacious nature, which is always here, we may notice that our pain might make a fuss; it might send awful memories through our minds.  To fully let go and heal, these memories must be seen, heard and acknowledged; but not believed.  By this I mean, that we see in the present moment that it (the experience that is feared) is not actually happening any longer, it happened in the past and now that it is the present and we are safe, we do not need these thoughts and stories anymore.  

If we continue to believe in the stories and thoughts, then we get stuck in the past and the mind is again successful in distracting us from sitting fully with the pain. And we don’t heal. Sometimes, we need to allow for these thoughts to go on and on until they wear themselves out.  But it is very dangerous, if we believe in our stories and add to them in the present. We will continue the story and never free the pain from ourselves until, we go back and fully allow it to release. 

If we can be this open, this willing, the pain will release, in a very powerful way, when it’s ready.  And this is up to it, not us; the only thing we can do is fully accept what’s here and surrender.  This is a very important point. The pain must feel safe and fully accepted and not denied in any way and then it will release.   And as it releases we may experience a wonderful power or energy running through our body, or a terrify energy or emotions.  Most people when they experience this terror or overwhelming sensations, get scared and quit this work. It is as if a wonderful dam broke inside and began to release and it was too much for the individual, so a person closes the gates, and stopped the whole process of letting go. 

If this happens, and it almost always does in the beginning, we don’t have to be discouraged, there will be another chance. When we are willing to again open to the pain, sit with it fully and allow for its release, there will be this wonderful and terrible feeling of being out of control.  And our invitation is to allow ourselves to experience this fully; to fully embrace feeling out of control. This is what it feels like to let go of deeply held emotions; it will feel as if uncontrollable sensations are moving through our body. Any time we are deeply emotional it feels uncontrollable, this is very much normal and ok. It might be the scariest experience of our life; we may turn red or pale, and feel sick to our stomachs. This is all a part of the process of conscious letting go.  Can we allow ourselves to turn pale, and to be terrified; in the end we probably will not die from this experience of letting go, although our minds may think that. As we fully allow the emotions and overwhelming sensations to fully be here, these very emotions will most often turn to pure energy and a rush of energy will run out of our body.  And this movement, may last for a second, a minute and hour a day or longer. But when we open to the movement of emotions and see that it is just energy; and do not believe the thoughts that say we are going to die; we become free.  This is what it viscerally feels like to consciously let go. We see that it is just energy running through our body and we allow for it to move in whatever way it needs.    And depending on the depth of the pain, it may take just one meditation on pain or a hundred to heal.  If we become comfortable with working with ourselves in this way, this fearlessness will become a way of life and we will come to love going into the unconscious parts of ourselves that are hurting.  And we will find that the majority of the pain we experience, is nothing more than energy stuck in our body from the past.  

Staying Awake

[Fakelvis]

One afternoon, I found myself listening on the web to interviews with many spiritual Masters and their students. As I listened to the stories of these great awakened ones, I began to ask myself, what is the difference between being awakened and being a Master or put a different way, what is the difference between being awake and being enlightened? It seemed that I had experienced a powerful and profound awakening, but I was not living up to the Truth that had been filling me. I could see that my inner life was rich and wonderful. My mind and desires have greatly calmed. Fortunately, I haven’t gotten in nearly as much trouble as I did in the past. But with many of the teachers that I studied with, it seemed as if they had two qualities that most of us lack, their actions followed their words and they were no longer fooled by their own minds.

When I am deeply honest, I see I have a great deal of work to do in these departments. What most of us find is that the habits of the mind are deep and when it comes to our outward expression; I, like many others often, habitually choose to live from the past.  Which leads to this confusing experience of feeling and experiencing great freedom, yet being drawn back into the habitual nature of mind. As a teacher, I meet more and more individuals who are having deep spiritual experiences and yet still remain deeply entranced in their own personal delusion. This can be quite confusing for someone to be on the path and wake up to a vast perspective of Beauty, Oneness and Radiance, and yet to lose that vision and again struggle with the limited perspective of our habitual minds. Many deeply struggle with this, and experience a huge feeling of lose, as they find themselves being deluded again. Life can even be more painful to wake up to the ultimate Reality, and then find oneself back where we used to be. I often laugh at myself and this wonderful awakened perspective I have been given, and how quickly I choose to again act like an idiot.

What is more surprising than seeing myself fall into delusion; is how great spiritual Masters’ fall off the path or make painful mistakes like sleeping with their students, having affairs, or becoming power hungry. It wasn’t until I realized that they are human as well, that I understood. Because we are all human, which means we all have minds with habitual thoughts and desires and conditioning. This habitual nature, can come forward in any of us, and when it does, we act habitually or unconsciously. If we are honest, we can see that every way in which we are deluded comes from misinterpreting our thoughts as Reality.

Ultimately there is only one human mind and all of us, have this mind. And in this mind lives all the various thoughts of evolution, from fight and flight, to wanting to have a family, to desiring more power, and every imaginable thought. And because of this, all of us can fall prey at any moment to being deluded to mistake our thoughts for Reality. When we wake up, we see clearly the nature of things; we see clearly the nature of the mind. But this does not mean that all delusion will disappear from our being. The very programs of delusion are in our biology: fight and flight, desire, anger, jealously, all forms of  ignorance, etc. When we wake up, we gain a vast perspective. But this does not mean that these drives spontaneously and completely disappear from our being.

Often with a powerful awakening or shift in perspective, various programs of the ego simply fall away. This is one of the wonderful graces of awakening. Yet for most individuals, much of the ego, if not all of it remains untouched and as the awakened perspective fades, delusion creeps back in its place. But what waking up can gives us is a wonderful new space to work with delusion from the outside; instead of being stuck in it and trying to fix or heal our ego with the ego. To have this vast perspective stay vast or become more permanent, we must be willing to resist the temptation to believe what we think. And this is precisely how we unenlighten ourselves; by believing the stories in our heads. And this can happen to anyone, who believes the next thought that is not the truth; whether they are a Master Being or simply us.

Our challenge here is to live up to our realization. To walk the razor’s edge of freedom, which means to not give into the habitual nature of our mind. It means that we resist the temptation of taking our thoughts and feelings to be true; to be Reality. It is a big job to live up to our realization and to not give into egoic games or programs. To walk this razor’s edge, we do not do this from the self-righteousness of the ego; it has to come from the sincerity, strength and humility of our True Self or it will just be another movement we are deluded by. And so this is our challenge, can we embody the Truth of who we are as us, instead of embodying the past as us, instead of embodying an unconscious habit of mind as us? Can we give ourselves to this and allow the Truth to live us, as Us?

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.

The invitation of Yoga

The invitation of yoga is to live as Unity.

And to accept this invitation, we must be willing to radically step beyond our egoic conditioning; which is an audacious task. We will never get beyond our limited sense of self without the practice and  discipline of questioning our mind; how it works, how it operates and processes information and expresses itself in the world. If we are going to live in unity; as an expression of unity, then we must give up our divisive tendencies and movement of our minds.

So we begin to ask questions like, “can we live beyond judgements and limited perspectives?” This is quite a radical stance from the perspective of the egoic mind. One of the main jobs of the mind is to define the world. And as long as we continue to give our mind permission, it will continue to put the world in a box. And we will continue to live in the trance of our self created dualistic virtual reality. And this reality is the world of good and bad, right and wrong, black and white. Our mind does this in order to keep us safe; and that is all that matters to our ego. Its’ job is to keep us safe. But if we want to be free, we must be willing to go beyond who we think we are. We need to go beyond the safety and security created by the insistence on keeping the world packaged up in a safe little box.

What if, when we walked into a room instead of labeling this person beautiful and that person ugly, this person safe and that person bad; we walked into a room and saw Unity.

What if we saw things for what they are in their totality. What if we resisted the urge to comment on each and every person. I know that I have walked into yoga class and quickly scanned the room and allowed my mind to comment on each individual. As I sat there, I experienced my own pettiness. And I grabbed a seat in the back, so no one would judge how unflexible I am. (I am usually the most unflexible person in the room). As long as I give into my judgments of others or judgments of myself; I become very small inside. Isn’t this our experience?

Fortunately for me, I have studied with a teacher who always saw the best in me. His vision of me came from a hugeness of compassion. He looked at me from a place beyond the mind, and was able to see my Divinity. And through years of being reminded of my own innate goodness, something opened beyond my mind. And I received this gift of being able to see and experience this Divinity in unimaginable ways.

(© Pat Young/lululemon athletica 2011)

[© Pat Young/lululemon athletica 2011

And this is the invitation of Yoga. To allow our judgmental mind to break open into a mind that does not have a perspective; that does not see the world in black and white, beyond duality. From the perspective of our limited thinking minds this is impossible. And that’s what the invitation is to be and realize. It comes from joining the impossible; stepping out of the mind and not into a different part of our mind, but actually out of the mind and into a vision that is beyond the mind. Imagine looking into the mirror and seeing Beauty; not beauty defined by Glamourmagazine, but a deeper, richer, Divinity pouring out of your own eyes. Imagine walking into a room of people and seeing Beauty pouring out of everyone. Imagine walking outside and seeing the vastness of the sky and the radiance of Life in everything. It is quite a different reality.

Of course there is a time and a place for our egoic judgmental vision. If you feel unsafe, leave the situation; this is wisdom. If someone looks creepy, stay away from them. Evolution, Life, God (whatever you want to call it) has worked hard to give us a mind that keeps us safe. But for most of us this mind is working on overdrive, constantly putting the world in a box of good and bad, right and wrong, us and them. What if we stepped out of this. Just like when we lay in Chavasana or corpse pose, we are not judging anyone. We are laying and resting in our own Beauty and radiance. But this vision does not need to stop when our teacher says Namaste. This vision is actually here all the time, if we allow it. How would our life change if we stepped out of our conditioned mind and into our Hugeness. What would happen if we relaxed into our Beauty, how would we see the world? Who would we become?