Saturday, October 31, 2020

On Our Way Home

      “There is a light in the core of our being that calls us home ..."
       John J. Prendergast. “The Deep Heart – Our Portal to Presence.” Sounds True, 2019

     “The center is the focal point that stands for whatever is of enduring importance – the core, the meaning, or the hub around which life evolves. For archaic humanity, the creative mound represented the feminine principle, the womb of life and the center of the world. Later, as the masculine principle emerged, the mound was surrounded either by upright stones or an enduring central pillar, symbolically connecting earth and sky as the world’s axis, ensuring the continuity of life.
     A human personality, initially an ego, that cannot journey toward the center of its own being, the Self, is left unconnected, at the mercy of unconscious compulsions and motivations as well as social conventions. Paradoxically, however, these same drives may create the suffering that reflects our inner healer’s efforts to get us into sufficient conflict to begin the voyage home.
     An ancient legend speaks of the old Hebrew shepherd who, in speaking of his small village on the edge of the desert, remarked, ‘I am happy living here.’ Then he added, ‘But if I saw Jerusalem, I would not be happy anymore.’ His simple words are filled with a natural wisdom.
     Jerusalem, Delphi, Mecca (the eternal cities), Mount Fuji (the central mountain), the Holy Land, and other numinous places have been considered symbolic centers of the sacred world. Ironically, many people among us live – metaphorically – in small villages far from their center, on the outer fringe of their personality, and seem quite happy there. Others of us seem chosen by life to be thrust into an inner journey. We become seekers. Initially, we seek peace and happiness. But once we see Jerusalem, once we see through ourselves to the center, we cannot be happy again where we were. We see beyond the external, material destination we are likely to have been seeking and become aware that the pilgrimage is eternal – and inner. We may even feel alone in this crowded world, with only our inner Hidden One for a companion. However, if we can learn to continue, turning our (often reluctant and too rational and willful) focus inward to cooperate with this inner healer, then we begin our pilgrimage to completeness, to
wholeness, toward feeling at home in ourselves and in the world.”
     Bud Harris. “The Journey into Wholeness: A Jungian Guide to Discovering the Meaning of Your Life’s Path.” Daphne, 2020. 

      Mindfulness practice is "cultivating a certain kind of intimacy with the core of our being."
Jon Kabat-Zinn PhD

The Way It Is              by William Stafford

“There's a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn't change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can't get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time's unfolding.
You don't ever let go of the thread.” 


Thursday, October 22, 2020

Feel the Radiance

     Check in with yourself first thing in the morning - HOW DO I FEEL? Is it:
'Shit, I'm tired. I don't know if I can handle all this #@><* today.'
'Yes! A brand new day awaits me! I wonder what new adventures I'm going to experience?'
      Your felt sense is probably somewhere along the continuum between:
• closed, up-tight, afraid/anxious/angry/pessimistic, and
• open, relaxed, kind/warm/realistic/gentle.
     NOTICE how the mood you choose to stay with, powerfully impacts the quality of your day, and ultimately, the emotional tone of your life.

     "My research has convinced me that we all have extraordinary creative, humanitarian, and spiritual possibilities but are often alienated from them because we are so focused on a very narrow slice of who we are. As a result, we aren’t fulfilling our full potential. We spend so much time looking outward for validation that we don’t develop the incredible strengths that already lie within ..."
      Scott Barry Kaufman. “Transcend. The New Science of Self-Actualization.” A TarcherPerigee Book, 2020.

“One way or another, we all have to find
what best fosters the flowering of our
in this contemporary life, and
dedicate ourselves to that.” Joseph Campbell

      According to Abraham Maslow, most of us are partially alienated from our full potential, even after our basic needs for physical health, safety, belonging, & esteem have more or less been met.

     One of the author’s clients “was able to identify a core belief that had plagued him his whole life. Despite being raised by loving parents, he did not think or feel that he was lovable enough, and he felt compelled to compensate for this apparent lack. As a result, he could never rest as he was. He was always trying to be a different and better self. This is the self-improvement project that few of us are immune to.
     Almost everyone struggles or has struggled with an underlying sense of lack, of not being enough in some way. This belief can take various forms. Instead of thinking that we aren’t lovable enough, we may feel that we are not worthy enough. Have you ever secretly believed this? If we are honest with ourselves, we almost always feel like we aren’t ____ enough. You can fill in the blank.”
      John J. Prendergast. “The Deep Heart – Our Portal to Presence.” Sounds True, 2019

     It's easiest to see the paradox when others appear blind to how much they have: a billionaire acting as if penniless; a thin person being convinced they're fat; a strikingly attractive person being sure they're ugly. Their perspective, their capacity to see reality, is distorted or even blocked, by past ± ongoing traumatic conditioning.

     Much of our attention is absorbed by the repetitive, self-centered STORIES we keep telling ourselves - "the story of me." We habitually dissociate ( into "self-talk," and too often neglect to directly engage with what's actually taking place in real time. We're so worried about ourselves (based on past traumas & other aversive conditioning), that we find it difficult relating & responding wisely to reality.

     At the same time, the advertising industry so expertly conditions us to believe that buying & owning more & more of the latest stuff is the only path to happiness, that we distrust & ignore all other options. A lot of us become perfectionists & workaholics, since working harder & better + achieving more & more + buying bigger & better is the only current socially-sanctioned path to happiness. But noticing that we're no happier, we double-down to work even harder & better + achieve even more + buy even bigger & better.

      “In an age of great material excess, we suffer dislocations from the energies of our deepest being and, in return, suffer emptiness, anomie, aimlessness ... (And) our culture’s treatment plans ... are materialism, hedonism, narcissism and nationalism, as well as a coursing nostalgia for a world that never really existed.”
     James Hollis. “Living Between Worlds. Finding Personal Resilience in Changing Times.” Sounds True, 2020

     Surprisingly slowly, we start realizing that no matter how many widgets we crank out per hour, no matter how "perfect" each widget, no matter the recognition at work, no matter how huge our house, no matter how fancy our cars, and no matter how extravagant our vacations, we STILL feel that gnawing "lack"

     Some sadly will nevertheless ride this train to the bitter end: cynicism, bitterness, burn-out, heart attack, stroke, death. 

     Some, however, try to understand & investigate - "lean into" this unpleasant persistent lack and realize that all of us have qualitatively higher needs than more money, recognition, & material possessions.

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and
the joy will burn out the pain.” Joseph Campbell 

      What if we directed attention towards the subtle feel of our own life energy? What if our deepest desire was authenticity to who/what we (all) basically are?

     “There is a light in the core of our being that calls us home – one that can only be seen with closed eyes. We can feel it as a radiance in the center of our chest. This light of loving awareness is always here, regardless of our conditioning. It does not matter how many dark paths we have traveled or how many wounds we have inflicted or sustained as we have unknowingly stumbled toward this inner radiance. It does not matter how long we have sleepwalked, seduced by our desires and fears. This call persists until it is answered, until we surrender to who we really are. When we do, we feel ourselves at home wherever we are. A hidden beauty reveals itself in our ordinary life. As the true nature of our Deep Heart is unveiled, we feel increasingly grateful for no reason – grateful to simply be.”
       John J. Prendergast. “The Deep Heart – Our Portal to Presence.” Sounds True, 2019

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

From Alienation to True Intimacy

     "Americans suffer inordinately with what therapists call problems of the self - an inability to self soothe; an inability to sustain a satisfying and cohesive sense of self over time; an inability to warmly love the self; an inability to maintain an ongoing sense of belonging and a deep sense of meaning and purpose in life. … we live cut off from a sense of our true deep mutual belonging & interdependence, and we suffer from a painful sense of separation – a separation from the life of the body; a separation from the hidden depths of life, its mystery and interiority; a separation from the source of our own guidance, wisdom, and compassion; and a separation from the life-giving roots of human community.”
       Stephen Cope. “The Wisdom of Yoga: A Seeker’s Guide to Extraordinary Living.” Bantam Books, 2006.

      “If you pin your hopes on things outside your control, taking upon yourself things which rightfully belong to others, you are liable to stumble, fall, suffer, and blame both gods and men.
      But if you focus your attention only on what is truly your own concern, and leave to others what concerns them, then you will be in charge of your interior life. No one will be able to harm or hinder you. You will blame no one, and have no enemies.”
       Epictetus (55 – 135 AD), Greek Stoic Philosopher

     "... the philosopher and psychologist Eugene Gendlin, creator of a therapeutic approach called ‘Focusing,’ beautifully clarifies the nature and character of what is known through interoception, the viewing & experiencing of the body from the inside. Gendlin developed the widely influential notion of ‘felt sense,’ referring to what the body knows directly of itself, without the mediation of the thinking mind. For Gendlin, the felt sense, the ability to know one’s own interior, somatic experience, is the 'open sesame' of successful psychotherapies.
     Through (body-centered meditation practices), we learn how to extend our awareness into our body and we begin to sense what is there ... we are softening the boundary between our highly intentional, restricted, conscious ego mind and the limitless, unconscious domain of the body. When we do this, our conscious mind begins to tap into and connect with the somatic awareness that is already going on - mostly unbeknownst to us - in our body. In this larger field of consciousness, we are still conscious but in a very different way.
     It is as if we are waking up, within our Soma, and we suddenly find ourselves in a new world. We are uncovering a completely different experience of what our body is. We begin to see that what we formerly took to be our body was just a made-up version with little correspondence to anything real. We find in our body previously unimaginable vistas of spaciousness, experience arising that is ever surprising & fresh, an endless world of possibilities for ourselves and our lives.”
      Reginald A. Ray. "The Awakening Body. Somatic Meditation for Discovering Our Deepest Life." Shambhala, 2016.

       “When we sit in meditation, we can discover a way of being that is very different from our typical interactions with the world. For the period of time that we sit, we agree within ourselves to quiet the familiar internal chatter that goes on most of the time. We sit so that we can discover in ourselves this capability for stillness, for intimacy with our self. We can uncover the heart.
     This process of stilling the mind and opening the heart brings a great feeling of ease that courses through the body, releasing the sensation of holding back, of fragility or tightness, and freeing us to work with the challenges of life. I call that true intimacy. When we can actually feel what we are feeling, experience what we are experiencing, and recognize what we are thinking, then we become intimate with ourselves. This intimacy is a closeness, a quality of interiority, a nearness. To be intimate with yourself is to be so attuned to your own feeling-state and mind-state and perception-state that nothing is hidden, your whole being is available to your life. In this intimacy with self, we begin to recognize the habits of thinking that stop us from living confidently, generously, and vigorously. And we begin to trust ourselves.”
      Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara. “Most Intimate. A Zen Approach to Life’s Challenges.” Shambhala, 2014.

     "In human relationships, as mutual love deepens, there comes a time when the two friends convey their exchanges without words. They can sit in silence sharing an experience or simply enjoying each other's presence without saying anything. Holding hands or a single word from time to time can develop this communication. This kind of relationship points to the level of interior silence ..." Fr. Thomas Keating

"The flute of interior time is played whether we hear it or not,
What we mean by 'love' is its sound coming in.
When love hits the farthest edge of excess, it reaches a wisdom.
And the fragrance of that knowledge!
It penetrates our thick bodies,
It goes through walls —
Its network of notes has a structure as if a million suns were arranged inside.
This tune has truth in it.
Where else have you heard a sound like this?"

May I meet this moment fully;
May I meet it as a friend
Sylvia Boorstein


Susan Paterson "Strawberries and Cream"

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Persevere! We have what it takes!

“Beyond a ‘nice to have’ wellbeing benefit in the workplace or an alternative to prescription drugs, … cultivating the innate capacity of mindfulness and its essential qualities such as attention regulation, receptivity, meta-cognition, cognitive flexibility, embodiment, emotion regulation and kindness could be foundational in responding to the complex challenges of the 21st Century.” Jamie Bristow & Rosie Bell

"Your vision will become clear
when you look into your own heart.
Who looks outside dreams.
Who looks within awakens." C.G. Jung

“The truth will set you free,
but first it will piss you off.” Gloria Steinem 

“Every transformation demands as its precondition
‘the ending of a world’ – the collapse of an old philosophy of life.” C.G. Jung

“Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” Mary Anne Radmacher

There is power in love. There's power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There's power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will. There's power in love to show us the way to live.” Bishop Michael Curry, Prince Harry & Meghan Markle’s wedding address

“We are equipped for the journey. We possess the resilience of our ancestors who clung to this spinning orb, tumbling through measureless space, and we survive … rich for all that has accumulated on our journey.” James Hollis. “Living Between Worlds. Finding Personal Resilience in Changing Times.” Sounds True, 2020.

Charlotte Day Wilson