Time for Me.

  This is me today. A person I had scheduled for a private yoga lesson did not show up. They possibly forgot to tell me about a trip or something. It is very unusual.

I found myself thinking that I can use this time for me. And then I was criticizing myself for putting myself last. As if whenever there’s a crack in my schedule, that’s when there’s time for me. It really is an ongoing struggle to take care of myself well, partially because it’s not always easy to see myself. I find it much easier to hold the needs of others in my minds eye.

I’ve just moved again. It’s definitely unsettling to move. I must find myself here, in this time of my life and take care of this person I am. Me. A human worthy of care, not an object waiting to be found. Here. I am here. Ready for myself, and to be responsible to my needs as I continue to discover them.

The Sweet Passion of One-ness!*

seahorseTranscendent experiences happen. Someone can feel an experience of one-ness, bliss, or insight that is so powerful. It can shake the very foundation of a person’s understanding of themselves and life. This is not necessarily news.

As the work of Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad has shown, a problem occurs when a person prioritizes transcendence above other states. They might become checked-out from life on the planet, or someone might give up personal agency and/or wealth to a guru or spiritual group that promises more of a direct or constant connection to the “special” experience. A person can be vulnerable after a spiritual opening such as this (and sometimes vulnerable to delusions of grandeur and consider becoming a guru).

I feel that my experiences of bliss, connection and insight are too many to count, really. I think there are bits of it in every day!

However there was also an extreme experience I remember happening after a yoga class. I was saying goodbye to the teacher, looking into his eyes, and I had perception of palpable love that came down from above and held me in place, frozen for some time, like a Star Trek tractor beam of love. It was all around me, including the air and walls. It was overwhelming my senses, this experience of love like sensual molasses: it was thick and strong and all encompassing. I couldn’t even flesh out all the details with my mind, the love just kept going, expanding like a nuclear blast of love and magnetic intensity that kept going…

And I came back to the experience of my body, never to be the same again because I had experienced something more than I had known before. Words are not adequate.

After years of trying to understand (or at times to deny) this extremely transcendent experience, through spiritual reading, teachers, observing my experience in the world, and working to see the world as well as I can, I have formed some ideas about how to navigate transcendence even though the experience itself can be unasked for (in my case), totally disorienting, and overpowering in the moment and aftermath!

I think it’s not correct to use this knowledge to escape the suffering of the world. I know that this is the promise of spiritual traditions, and that it is a human impulse to move away from pain and towards pleasure. But I also think that any escape is temporary, and meanwhile the violence among people in the world and towards the environment of the world appears to be escalating. We haven’t found peace.

The transcendent experience I described earlier forms a foundation of belief for me. I have had an experience that I really cannot deny (even if there are moments and habits that are contradictory). I know there is love that is felt that goes beyond what I learned from others. I rationalize it as a vision of potential, a kind of faith.

I call on this knowledge to be fuel for trust in the goodness of this world, even as it is not fully expressed in time as we commonly think of it.

My “job” (I believe) is to use my agency/power/privilege to help healing in this world. We, as humans, can do so much better! Part of healing in our bodies in our communities on this planet is painful. It is important to discover when we are doing helpful work versus harmful actions in daily life.

The vision of healing includes building a structure of helpful actions to set us up for a house of love (including loving relationships) for the future. Right now the house is not loving—we are not there. Even if and when there is love present, the human work is to fortify love and build more to let healing expand beyond our own homes, close family, and communities. But we can know what it feels like to be there through the insight of a spiritual breakthrough. So feelings of spiritual bliss exist to help us believe in our potential for creating in this world and to believe in love and healing, even when we see pain, suffering, and oppression in lived experience.

Keep going. We can make things better.

* The title for this piece is a remembered phrase from a Mary Oliver poem!

Right to Love.

I have a right to the love inside myself, I’m thinking of it as “the love in my soul.” I have a right to that. It’s my birthright to access and tap that to make full use of this miraculous resource. I wish to free the water in my love dam! Let it flow!

What I don’t think I have a right to is love from a particular person. Some people are not going to like me at certain times, and others might blow me over with unexpected kindness, generosity or care. I don’t have jurisdiction over how another person shares or withholds love from me.

I think that I’ve heard that people have “a right to love and be loved.” I may have even written that somewhere at some time. I don’t agree at this time. I don’t have the right to be loved by any particular person. When someone loves me it is a beautiful miracle of life. I can’t predict how long such a blessing may last, or how it might fade in and out of my experience over time.

I do have a right to my love, and even a responsibility to myself to uphold the honor of my own love when it seems to be challenged by the judgments of others.

I cherish love and the incredible gift of feeling my heart open along with bliss and glowing wellness, and also to experience the horror and rage that can sometimes fly out of an opening heart. It is passion and truth. It is a big deal.

I can nurture the opportunities to cultivate love with another person when it is offered. And I can defend my right to love myself, even when another person’s actions and reactions evoke thoughts about how that they may have decided that I am not worthy of their love. It does not mean that I am unworthy of love.

I think that everybody is worthy of love. I just don’t think that anybody “deserves” it. The world just doesn’t seem to work like that. Things are desolate at times, and there are times when experience seems to burst with love, drip with love, just love!

Being loved in my experience isn’t reliable as if it were available in a well-stocked and well-maintained vending machine. Some people marry in the hopes that they can stabilize the flow of love, and make it reliable so it seems like it’s always there.

I’m trying to open myself to what I perceive as the very instability of love as it comes from outside of myself. It might be impossible, but I want to give it an honest thought. Because when someone opens my heart, I want to hold them tight. I want to control that resource that seems to be linked to this other person. It does seem so precious. Not everyone can open my heart. The door just seems to open for one person right now. And I want that experience. I want to nurture it on it’s own terms, not from the point of view of expectations.

But I can’t control my access to it or own anybody’s love. I am talking about another human being here with their own dreams and goals. Trying to control another person’s desires is a crime of the soul. Everybody has a right to explore and experience what they want.

Love. That’s all. I do it.
OrangeHeart

The Root of Unhappiness.

WarofArt

A good friend recently gave me a book, ‘The War of Art’ by Steven Pressfield.

Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.
~Steven Pressfield, ‘The War of Art’

It’s a book about the forces that block creative action, and also includes thoughts on the forces of creativity seeking expression. I do recommend the book, and found it helpful. I also found myself needing to adjust pronouns a bit as I read because the voice is largely male-centric even though there are a couple of sections that use ‘she’ and ‘her’. So many “him”s and “he”s distracted me from the message until I started doing my own substitution.

Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease, and erectile dysfunction.

This is a quote from the beginning of the book that sets up resistance as an essential problem. The word “root” intrigues. Yet the quote also betrays a phallocentric viewpoint (that also carries throughout the book) by equating ‘erectile dysfunction’ (a male-bodied problem) with poverty and disease.

This problem of resistance the book pries apart and strategizes against is one that I deeply experience. A personal note I recently jotted said, “Resistance seems to be deeply wound with aspirations in my DNA.” I remember learning somewhere that within my living cells at any moment exist the very components that will facilitate rotting upon death. A law of cellular life is that death is enfolded within the life capsule, itself. And I’ve also heard that when someone takes on the joy and fulfillment of love with another person, they are also taking on (whether it is realized it or not) the pain of the love ending (whether through death or moving on). So maybe it shouldn’t surprise me that with dreams and aspirations towards making things better, there is a companion death wish energy that can interfere with good things ever happening or getting accomplished.

A root of unhappiness is this resistance if it is allowed to overshadow what we want to accomplish for the good of our selves and others. This kind of unhappiness might be viewed as a symptom of something being off, similar to the way we might see sniffles or sore throat as symptoms of a physical imbalance. Unhappiness could be seen as a symptom of a spiritual imbalance. Perhaps unexpressed dreams and aspirations are compromising our emotional wellness in some cases of sadness.

uncomfortable

One of the sections in the book I was drawn towards is called ‘How to be Miserable.’ A few months ago I wrote a personal note in my calendar that said, “Time to be uncomfortable.” And just a couple of days ago a friend described that he imagines the most horrific demise for himself before he gets on his bicycle because he feels that it will give him emotional presence if something happens to him on the road—he’s already prepared by imagining the worst.

And it’s so hard to move forward towards accomplishing good things when resistance has enthralled thinking. One solution: prepare to be miserable.

The Marine Corps teaches you how to be miserable.
This is invaluable for an artist.

The artist committing their* self to a calling has volunteered for hell, whether they* know it or not. They* will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation.
* Pronouns neutralized by me.

There is an idea in our culture that being comfortable is the best thing, when physical comfort in the absence of living truthfully can be really depressing or suffocating. I was taught to be comfortable. And at some point I’ve identified that perhaps that is not really the best thing. Having some comfort for ones self can be great, to be sure. But when comfort is chosen and this comfort hides consciousness enhancing revelations, or world transforming ideas, and prevents meaningful action, then “comfort” becomes a manifestation of resistance and prevents people from making awe-inspiring and healing contributions to help our world.

So perhaps it is good to identify a root of potential unhappiness, and to strategize in an effort to create something helpful for people and the planet. It is not so easy because resistance is good at hiding itself, but stakes are high. It is worthwhile to consider this subject and to put into action what makes sense for what you want to do. And do it.

Live the life you think about that would make the world the better place.

Accomplish a dream.