Well since I wrote that last email (about welcoming and being with what arises) someone (or many ones) in me got the message that they were welcome loud and clear and proceeded to throw a party for the day. They arose. They got down and boogied. They held nothing back.
Thoughts and energies of every kind were coursing though my being - all the worst, most stressful kind. Self-loathing, wordless futility, searing remorse, freaked out energy that had me shuffling around the kitchen, my forearms shaking. In the midst of this I felt compassion and wondered if this is what it is like for some people all the time. If it is, that is hard.
I sat down right there in the kitchen mid-morning and took my own advice. I sat and welcomed all of it. The sink of drying dishes, the cats crunching their food, the chair hard-backed, facing a huge mirror.
I sat with everything that arose, the energy that wanted to explode out of my skin, the paralyzing collapse that took away all motivation, the murderous anger. I sat with it all. The quaver that shuttered through my lower belly, I sat with it.
As this storm raged it occurred to me to listen to the quiet. Whether because I have consistently practiced that for a couple of years, or for some other reason, it worked. I began to listen to the quiet and a small cleft parted open in the pounding self loathing and fear. A little cleft that a breath of relaxation welled up through.
I listened to the quiet.
I listened to the quiet, and the panic and pain were still there, but there was a quiet center to it. If I stopped listening to the quiet all hell broke loose. Literally, this is exactly what happened.
After a while of listening, the storm beating above the sphere of quiet, I asked of the quiet "Are you me?"
A kiss of myself folding into myself. An ancient mother waking up. A joyful child. A timeless 'ahh'. A hint. Enough.
The benefit of the visceral dance of self-hatred, the not-good enough, the it was all-for-nothing, was that it was almost unbearable to live from the perspective of those emotions and thoughts.
I had to wondering if, in fact, I was actually the quiet, because to not consider this was to remain in hell. And the ante stayed up ALL day. If I slipped into identifying myself as the maelstrom of unconcniousnness I felt it immediately and fairly hopped back into listening to the quiet. Most days the maelstrom is not so burning hot and the reflex to hop back into the quiet is not as strong.
Blessings be Sri Maelstrom. Usher me in.
Love to you all, and to all of our Maelstroms,
ps - it is now several days later and I just reread this letter as I prepare to hit "send." It strikes me that I have no shame about the maelstrom I describe that ran through my body, it is not something to hide from my readers or clients.
I am not it.
It is something that moves through me, and the I that I am gets to be with it, observe it, give it the space and consciousness to be. I am with it. Shames comes in when we say whatever is moving though us is who we are.
I think of that as a state of being fused with the maelstrom. When we are fused shame can arise, or despair, or distress, because there is no deeper sense of the Ithat we actually are.
My love to you again,
Last weekend I spent a day in workshop with a group of people exploring our Inner Children and, when the moment was there, doing The Work with these Little Ones. One practice that we worked with throughout the day was to welcome every sensation, every emotion, every energy in the body exactly as it was. To just be with what was arising, exactly as it appeared, with no push to change it or figure out what it "meant". This is a practice I use frequently, with myself and with clients, and I find that since the workshop it comes to me many times a day, and I allow myself to be with what is arising.
Yesterday, after my kids got home from school, I had an energy move though my body that was strong and all-encompassing. Not peaceful. I felt the draw to numb it with food and screens, but instead went out and sat in the sun on an Adirondack chair. I just kept saying "I welcome you", and listening into it and energetically opening to the sensations. I did that for about 25 minutes, and when I got up I was light, energized, and peaceful inside. I was then able to go in and be with my kids and get ready for my son's choir concert with presence and flow.
In my experience sometimes the body sensations and energies speak, and then we hear their words of pain. Sometimes they don't. Yesterday there were no words. And I trust that, I trust that when they are ready to speak they will, and when they don't I can open to the wordless, label-less direct experience of them moving through my being.
To loosely quote Byron Katie - 'You are the one you have been waiting for.'
I am the one to be with the myriad of energies, pains, and suffering arising inside within myself. Or as teacher Sharon Landrith says (again loosely paraphrased) 'You are the portal of mercy without end.'
We try to get everyone and everything else to do this for us. And while there is help along the way, ultimately is it our own selves, our own presence that transmutes suffering to freedom. Outsourcing is a dead end. You are it. You are the source of peace and healing and love.
Here are some insights I experienced while on a recent meditation retreat. I have tried to keep them true to how I experienced them. I hope that the essence is conveyed :) They came from watching what was before me from a very quiet place inside.
Future is a utilitarian overlay we drape across the thrumming Now. Our eyes skim across the surface of things, ever bouyed above the abyss by a microscopic frantic search for existence. "Use use use, how can I use?" is the silent refrain just below consciousness, raking across the surface of Now.
Habitual fear drives every moment saying "Got to get to. Got to get to." You may not hear it, but it is there. Stop and look. Let the mystery well up from the luscious Now and begin to flow and soften and permeate the hard disced crust of the future. If we let that happen where would our drive go? How could the future be ok? Will it be utter chaos if we let the Now take us, swallow us into her embrace? All that would be lost is our fear. And ourselves.
Is the future real? No. Never here. A deep dark soil of Now is here, deepening down down down into the upwell of creation, terrifying in it's potentiality.
Everything I lay eyes on is shouting the truth that the future is not real. Everything is vibrating in Now, only.
When we let the past live in the objects in front of us they die. They sink as if a lead weight was tied to their feet. Swiftly, deep into pain. We look at the objects in front of us through the lense of the past and they become hollow, an encrusted emptiness, drained of life.
When the future skitter across the objects in front of us they recede, becoming dead, we cannot see them. Our eyes Harden in kind, killing us, rendering us robots in a mechanical world.
A grudge is like a hatchet of melded together memories cleaved into the softness of Now. This hatchet, when we look for it, is not Here. It is only an image, an energetic clench in our mind.
I am taking an online class on Parenting and The Work. It is wonderful to be a student! I get to spend 6 weeks distilling the constant judgements I have on my kids onto paper, and then sit with these thoughts and do The Work.
When my son gets upset he has a pattern of clamming up into a tight ball of lock down. When this happens to him he sits all squeezed up on the couch, or in bed, and does not move or talk. This has distressed me to no end in the past. My usual reaction has been to try to sit with him and see if he will open up. This tactic sounds ok, but the state of my inner body at times like this is intense turmoil. I get all balled up too, and develop a frantic need for him to tell me what is wrong, to talk to me, to be ok. There is no doubt that my inner state is broadcast to him loud and clear. As such, until recently we would just sort of wait it out, and eventually the mood would pass through him (and me), but nothing would have been revealed or resolved.
One of the instructors in the online class had the beautiful guidance shown to him by grace to GIVE SILENCE to his own son when he was upset.
GIVE SILENCE. Do you feel the transmission there? Do you feel what the words point to? SILENCE becomes a substance, a nectar, that flows through you. There is a palpable tangibility that is evoked by the words GIVE SILENCE, and that material begins to flow through you and into the other.
I immediately understood the instructor's revelation, and took it for my own. The next time my son became upset in this particular way I began to GIVE SILENCE. I just laid there next to him with my hand on his shoulder and gave silence. Peace filled my inner body and the substance flowed out, healing us. We sat like that for maybe 5 minutes.
Quite suddenly there was a blossoming. It was as if I got to watch my son swell and blossom into expression, and words and emotion poured out of his mouth, freed. He told me all of what was troubling him, and it was heartbreakingly sweet. He had been sneaking his iPad onto the school bus and playing violent video games. He couldn't bear the secret of it, and it all came out.
This blossoming and unfolding had never happened before, and he has had this tight balled up pattern for 5 or 6 years. A week later he got upset like this again, and again I gave SILENCE. Again he blossomed forth after about 5 minutes, and he told me everything that was bothering him.
In both of these instances there was full resolve, and a light, clear energy pervaded afterwards. The difference between my method in the past and this new method is that instead of wanting him to be calm and ok, I cultivate the calm and peace in my own body by invoking the silence. Then I GIVE SILENCE to him, but of course the silence totally fills me as I give it to him. I give it to myself, and then it flows to him. Before I would be frantic inside, unconsciously willing him to be peaceful so that I could be ok. That way doesn't work.
How could you GIVE SILENCE? Maybe you can start by giving the trees outside of the window silence. Maybe you can give the tightness in your throat silence. Maybe you can give silence to your painful thoughts and emotions.
This is a non-conceptual exercise. The SILENCE that comes through is a felt substance. This SILENCE that I point to is not a concept in the mind. It is here, real, it does not need your mind to conjure it up. Sit and wait until you feel it, and then give it away. It is a blessing.
The unholy monster. Do you know that one in yourself? Have you seen it in another? I'm pointing to the deep one. The dark one. The monster that wants to hurt another, that wants maim, the one that abuses children and then makes the child lie about it. These ones. The ones that murder.
Last spring I was on retreat with Sharon Landrith and she taught us the Hawaiian practice of Hoʻoponopono. The practice is simple. You invite a person to appear before you, and to that person you say
Please forgive me.
I love you.
That is it. You just say this over and over, directing it to the person's eyes. There is nothing more you have to do, the words themselves open the healing. They open the healing because they are True. The mind will fight this, so don't use it. Just use the words and look into the other's eyes.
I invited a person to appear. Straight away my great-grandfather was there. I never knew him in real life. He stood in the doorway of my grandmother's bedroom, his hand on the doorknob, opening it. He was going in to rape her, as he did every night of her childhood. Rape her and then punish her by taking way the blankets for the night if she did something "wrong". This started when she was 4 or 5 and lasted until the eve of her wedding day, the day she turned 18. The scene stood still.
I looked at his face and began to say the words.
Please forgive me.
I love you.
The mind will scream here and say no. It will say go to the child. In the real life moment I go to the child, I stop the man. In this practice of forgiveness I stay with the man. I trusted my teacher Sharon, so I stayed with this man and said the words.
My heart breaks watching the scene in my mind as I write. He rippled instantly from an adult body down into a little boy body, maybe 6 years old. I kept saying the words. He couldn't look at me. I said the words and as I did I looked at him. My heart could see. He was a little boy, with the devastatingly undefended heart of a young child. You know this heart if you take a moment to open to it.
This little boy knew everything that he had done to his daughter, knew it with the pure heart of a little boy. It shattered me. I cried and cried, somehow experiencing this burning ground through and with my grandfather. The pain of opening to every moment of the transgression, the years of it. The violence of it. He experienced it all, his heart relived it all from the position of utter feeling and zero defense.
It is the way of it, it is what must happen.
I witnessed perpetrators grief. The burning grief, the burning ground that every perpetrator will go through on the soul's journey. I cannot describe the depth of the gift I received in experiencing this utter burning grief through him.
By the end of that day with my grandfather he would sit with me, but he did not belief that he was worth the food I offered him. He had kept himself from entering life. Somehow I knew that he had kept himself out of reincarnation since he died because he could not risk that he would hurt again. He would keep himself from creation for eternity rather than risk hurting someone again.
I sat with him throughout that summer. In the fall I was on another retreat, this time with Adyashanti. A woman who had been sexually abused by her father stood up one evening, shaking and almost unable to bear being in her skin. She stood in front of Adayahsnti and spoke her story, how it impacted her every day of her life.
Adyashinti honored her courage the next day with a gift. As I watched him give her this gift something broke free in me and I cried. I understood something beyond words, beyond concept. I went to my little boy grandfather (by now he was 12 or 13) and told him that he could go back in. Go back into life. I knew that he was the exact person to go back into life, because now he is the stopper. What he lived though, what he did, and the absolute seeing of what he did equipped him to go back into life and stop the pattern. Stop the transmission of abuse.
I barely told him this and he jumped into the world. I cry writing this. I watched him completely grasp the truth of what I told him. And then NOTHING could stop him from going in and stopping it. He jumped without a backward look and no hesitation. Like a marine jumping from a plane into an utterly unknown jungle. Every cell of his being was ready for ANYTHING that he incarnated into. I wish I could put this experience directly into you so you could feel the power.
A bodhisattva was born. My heart shakes with the power and beauty.
That same night my mother was in her garden. He came to her, whole. She had never seen him whole before. He smiled at her with peace. She had only seen horrible smiles from him in life. Then he was gone.
I share this with you because I saw it. Because it makes my heart shake. And because I think we turn away from the unholy monsters too much.
They Owe Me.
Oooh, ouch. THEY OWE ME!!!
Can you find it in yourself? Can you find where you have held that thought? Or maybe it is alive in you this morning. Boy it was alive in me the other day, and when I believe it, do I ever believe it, and it hurts!
I was on a walk. High high on a dirt road where the grassy hillside plunges away over such a precipice you could leap and wish and be airborne, soaring over the shinning green.
I was thinking about people in my past, obsessing. Bitterness filling me as they paraded across my mind. THEY OWE ME!! I could feel the root of anger and hate shoved down deep, anchoring me in a sludge of sullen rage. I wanted to scream at each and everyone of them, grinding their faces into all I did for them until they got it. Got how I had sacrificed everything for them and got how they needed to repay me.
I looked at the blades of grass. Thousands, millions of them, swaying, gleaming silver in the sun. In not a single one of them could I find that they felt they were owed anything. I looked and looked, breathing in their multitudes, all of their All pushed up without hesitation to the eternity of sky.
I tried to make the thought stick to them. I tried to inject them with the belief They Owe Me. I couldn't do it. They Owe Me rolled off the grass like oil to water.
The grass IS. The grass IS, each second shed from the last. They Owe Me is an insult to the AM of the grass. How could they be owed anything thing when they ARE? To be owed anything would diminish them.
I looked further. The sumac, bare branches stark to the sky. The telephone pole, proud, study. The freshet of water bubbling over the road bank. No where could I find it. Nothing I saw held the thought They Owe Me.
What did I see? What I saw made my heart tremble with the naked vulnerability of it all. Right here. Everything is right here, complete, held up, nothing hid or apologized for or tucked away. The new leaves, silent, still, alive in the morning, open to the the breeze, the sun, the bird droppings. Open to the insects, the lighting, the dust. Here, holding nothing back. Ever.
Again I see if I can weave in They Owe Me into what I see. The dirt road winding off below, darkened black by the recent rain shower. Can I find it there? No. What a bitter road it would be if it held onto that thought! All those cars for all those years, decades of trash thrown out the window, all the scraping of the snow plow, the salt. It's possible that the road has never been thanked for its service.
And yet, I cannot find anywhere in its cracked surface, worn and crumbled by years of use the thought They Owe Me. Instead. Oh instead, instead is the place our hearts fall open, humbled, broken, cracked with a love so fearsome it fillets everything we thought we knew.
I'm pointing to something. You have to find it for yourself. It is everywhere. Look into the being of things around you. A curtain, a telephone wire swooping to the house, a piece of junk mail laying in the mailbox. Look at these things and let them tell you about being owed. Let them show you the hell you enter when you think you are owed, and the heaven laid before you when its gone.
All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth,
"You owe me."
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky."