Monday, July 16, 2018

Gateway to Presence

​Awareness is a gateway into presence, deepening our availability and engagement with life.

The practice of bringing awareness to our wholly bodies allows us to relate with what we are noticing. In any given moment, a rich tapestry of experiences within is pulsating with life beneath our habitual routines, just waiting to be noticed, discovered, and appreciated.

Neglect, abandonment, rejection - the wounds that so many of us carry and try to avoid - can begin to be healed when we practice wholly embodied presence.

The irony is that welcoming our experiences into presence is inherently pleasurable, even as the sensations and feelings we've been avoiding may be painful.

It's like bodybuilding -- but for consciousness!  In the love-gym of our hearts, we lift awareness which at first is heavy with entrenched habits and dusty remnants of past losses.  Through diligent practice, we bring awareness to meet inner experience, which impatient of waiting and hungry for presence, shout, "Yes, choose me!  I want attention!"

Bonus presence (conscious community) supports the process, as often it is easier, especially at first, to receive embodied presence from another than it is to create new pathways of wholly presence alone.

The eventual payoff? A strong inner presence muscle which can pleasurably welcome a greater range of experiences in a moment and be sustained for longer and longer durations, creating inner spaciousness which shimmers with new possibilities and wholeness that shines like deep wells through our eyes, resonates the sound of our voices, and pours through our pores.  If that sounds too good to be true, sometimes it is!  That is on a good day -- a moment of relaxed oneness within ourselves and with the river of life.  On other days we start again at the complete beginning, disheveled and askew, since like snakes we shed old skin so we can grow and emerge into fresh new versions of ourselves.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Love is Space; Love is Specific

There are so many ways to try to escape reality, to escape the here and now, and to escape really participating in our own lives.  We can escape by dwelling in the past.  We can get so caught up in our habits that we pick up the road of our pasts behind us, and lay that road in front of us to repeat again and again and call it our future; but it is not our future, simply a replay of the past.  I heard Thomas Hübl use this metaphor to describe how we can repeat the past, and I really resonate with it.  We can escape into a fantasy that we call our vision of the future, but is really just a pretty picture to get us away from something we don’t want to face in this moment.  We can escape by telling ourselves we are having the wrong experience.  Whatever is happening shouldn’t be happening, because it is not what we planned, or what we wanted.  We can also escape by telling ourselves everything is perfect, and attempt to rise up out of the difficulty of our human experience by trying to paint it in spiritual colors, so we can bypass the pain in our emotional and physical bodies and escape to a spiritual realm, far above.  We can escape from our present moment by blaming ourselves for how things are, or blaming other people for how things got to be this way.   And of course, we can turn to any number of numbing or addictive behaviors - drugs, drinking, sex, eating in an unhealthy way - to try to be anywhere else but here.

And, at some point, it all seems fruitless.  My experience is, when I finally locate myself in my body and notice what is happening in the vast field of my body-mind system, when I allow the river of experiences that is flowing within and around me to be as it is, I feel relieved.  I may feel a lot of other things too, and I think it is important to point out that relief is one of them.  It’s a relief to drop resisting facing what is.  It’s a relief to let go of the energy eaten up in trying to escape, which involves building a dam to hold back the energy of what is real, the life energy flowing, pulsing and throbbing which so wants to live through the field of my body. I find life is a continual call to presence and participation.  What a challenge, and yet what a joy to surrender the life I conceptualized, and become available to the life that is actually happening!

Sometimes life breaks our hearts.  Heartbreak invites us to expand, to allow the unexpected and unwanted to be here, and to allow the spacious grace of possibility, of spirit, to come in and make more space in and around what’s here, to become a large enough version of ourselves to presence what is here, now.  One of my favorite kirtan artists, Deva Premal, has an album called Love is Space, which I adore.  My mentor and friend, Kathlyn Hendricks, says that love is the ability to be in the same space with something or someone, and my experience is this definition of the spaciousness of love is true and powerful.  Being available to soften my defensive edges into presence, while simultaneously opening to the river of life energy flowing through what is actually happening, which is also presence, is expansive and makes me feel stronger.

I’m learning lately that love is also in the details: The particular sculpture of whatever life challenge I am facing becomes interesting and inviting once I allow my resistance to morph into presence and willingness.  The detailed practice of presence within myself -- my actual here-and-now sensations in my body, connection with the movements of emotions and energy, noticing the nature of my thoughts -- is a gateway to a rich relationship with life, which involves a continual willingness to open and allow myself to evolve and grow new capacities.  

This poem by David Whyte captures the beauty of love being in the details: 

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way of starting
the conversation.

Start with your own
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something

To find
another’s voice,
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
becomes a
private ear
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don’t follow
someone else’s
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don’t mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

~David Whyte, River Flow: New and Selected Poems

There is only one you - unique in your history, your particular recipe of qualities and gifts - and your showing up in your authentic fullness in the world allows the river of life to flow through you back to the source.  Your full authentic expression equals fulfillment for you as you express your gifts to add to the rich tapestry of life here and now that we are weaving together, as well as a contribution to all of us, since nobody else can contribute just what you have to offer.