Aging & Death

The rains finally came today.  A solid 20 minutes of genuine downpour…a “get naked and dance in the rain” downpour.

I am so grateful to the Elementals.  They settled their differences today and found balance.  And so, too, may I find balance.

I’m 68.  I have been moving consciously through layers of armor and patterns of conditioned-response to stress for decades.  But at this moment, what seems significant, is the last decade.

I reverse my timeline and look backwards from July 12, 2018.  

I officially opened the Mountain Valley Retreat in 2014.

Sidebar:  “This is 2018, my fifth year in my new business.  I’m sorting out the bugs and it’s working.  My working edge is clarity about what I want.  I am a Renaissance Woman.  Staying focused on one project at a time isn’t as fun  (read challenging) as juggling several projects at once  Some interests are more lefty, artsy-fartsy and some more righty, rational-mathematical.  I seem to go for the balance.”

  In 2010 my marriage of thirty-seven years ended in divorce.

 

Sidebar:  “We hooked up for the first time in 1968.  I was an 18-year-old freshman at DU and Jim was a 20-year-old junior on a 4-year NCAA basketball scholarship majoring in Economics.  When Jim graduated he moved to Chicago to play at being a banker in the big leagues… riding on the lapping tongues of the jock-sniffing Execs at the First National Bank of Chicago in the loop.  His entry-level position was as a Jr. Trust Officer.  Jim did the leg-work for his boss, Manny, from Kenilworth, Sr. Trust Officer. I transferred to NIU and majored in Education and Psychology.  We got married in 1973.”

In 2007 I left Jim and the farm we had lived on since 1975, 32 years.  I maintained my business, Be Well Now, in Godfrey/Alton.  I moved into a tiny log cabin 10 miles from my farm isolated in an oak forest on a little lake owned by a young couple going through a divorce.  My landlady, Kristy, was getting the house with 100 acres and rented the cabin to me and my cat, Lemur,  for two years.

The story of the preceding fifty-seven years is a blog (read book) for another day.

So, this somehow brings me to my topic, Death & Aging…or Aging & Death.

What, you are asking, is the connection between Aging & Death and the past decade of my life?  I’m aging and so is everyone around me and we all die.  The longer I live, the more Aging and Death become a “thing” for me.  As friends and family die, I’m left wondering the great unanswerable question, “What’s it all about?”

Within my ‘wonderings’ I came upon a thought.  As I age, time appears to be collapsing in on itself.  The clock may say it is six hours later than what feels like a moment ago.  It appears that my mind is staying more and more present.  Without thoughts about the past or the future time is losing its relativity.  Without anything to relate to,  there are no relatives for time?   Without relativity, there is no time!  Only now.

What does this have to do with Aging and Death?  Everything!

Aging depends upon the passage of time.  No time…no aging.

Death is the absence of time…it is timeless.  Therefore, if I am in a timeless space, I am already dead, by definition.  If I am dead, what separates me from life? Just the appearance of this body.

Savasana,  The little death, the chance to die before you die.  This is what my yoga is all for.  For 50 years I’ve known of yoga, practiced yoga, studied yoga, taught yoga…and now?  Perhaps, I am yoga.

Aging and Death?  Nothing but concepts of the mind.  Paper Tigers.  Bring it on!

Agelessness and Life Eternal.  Word!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Lessons from Roy

Lessons from Roy

Mountain Valley Retreat just finished its first four-day retreat.  I invited Roy Dopson, a Canadian man I met years ago, to come and share his experience of life with us.  Being with Roy has helped me to remember what is important to me.  It has helped me to realize that I want to move in the direction of contentment.  I understand that contentment is not dependent on any external condition or circumstance.  It is within me.  Happiness is within me.  The path to happiness, to pure contentment, is through the letting go of thoughts that drive me to action, always seeking happiness through some external event or condition.
Thoughts arise. They are random. They are meaningless. They are simply chemical firings of the brain creating the experience of the senses. Thoughts are the mind’s attempt to prove its existence to itself.
Every movement of the mind, every thought, is a movement away from the Self.
Notice movement of the mind and ask yourself, “Who is doing the moving?” “Who is doing the thinking?” “Who am I?” “What am I? “I am.” “I.”
The “essential Self” is only found in the stillness of mind. The “essential Self” is before thought, before mind, the nameless, the potential that is “prior to” movement of mind.
“Step” in and out of stillness. Stepping out of stillness of mind is the engagement of mind for the purpose of serving the body. Serving the body is acting on movement of mind. IE: I want this…I don’t want that…I like this…I don’t like that…the mind measures everything it perceives. The mind is our sixth sense. It craves focusing on something, anything. For in that focus on something outside of itself, it affirms its existence. I am not that, therefore I am this. I think, therefore I am. The mind is constantly trying to prove its existence by comparing itself to everything it perceives through the five senses.
When you stop the movement of the mind, the mind turns in on itself. It moves from the duality of “I am this and you are that” to the oneness of “I am that.” Oneness is the source of all existence. Oneness is the essential Self, All that Is. Oneness needs nothing for it is Everything. All seeking stops. The experience of Pure Contentment arises. Bliss. Nirvana.
Practice sitting in stillness. Notice what is arising. Let it go. Invite the mind to stop. Notice without judgment. Give no thought any credibility. Remember that no thought has any value to the Self. Thoughts only have value to the ego and the body. They feed the belief in separation.
In the experience of duality  (everything that is more than one) is polarity. For every yin there is a yang, for every high there is a low, for every happy there is a sad. There cannot exist one without the other. Living in duality is a constant roller coaster ride. It cannot be anything but this. We are up and down, in and out, pushing away, pulling toward, constantly in flux between this and that. As long as we allow the mind to run loose, life will be this way.
The other choice to become master of the mind. Choose when the mind is allowed to think and when it is still. When I gain control of a muscle through exercise and strengthening it, I choose when to engage it and when to relax it. Exercise and strengthen the mind through the practice of sitting in stillness and observing the mind. Choose when the mind can think and when it will be still. In stillness, experience the blissful state of pure contentment as the mind stops chasing the highs and running from the lows, endlessly seeking what can only be found when it stops seeking.  The final paradox.  Stop seeking and find that you have within you what you have been seeking.  Liberation from suffering. Freedom.meditation pose silloette

Notes from the Session

Notes from the Session on Feb 23, 2014

Zero Balancingetheric meditation Session with Melinda

Session Intention:  Clarity

Within five minutes a belief came right up to my consciousness!

Surfacing Belief: “I can’t trust men”’

The movie of my life ran through my mind reviewing all of the betrayals I suffered at the hands of men from 6 months of age through the present.

I asked myself:  Is this belief true?

Myself said:  Apparently!

Me:  Are you absolutely sure it’s true?

Myself: Well, in fact not only can I not trust men, I can’t trust women either…the truth is, I can’t trust anyone…not even myself! 

I’ve betrayed myself more times than any other single person!

Me:  What if you could trust everyone?  Play with that belief.

Myself:  “I can trust everyone.”

I can trust that humans will behave like humans and human beings cannot be trusted to be any certain way on any given moment.

When I choose to believe “I can’t trust people”, I am being too simplistic.  Trust is incidental.  For all of the betrayals I have suffered there are many more equally significant experiences of support and love. 

Why does one betrayal cancel out one-hundred acts of love?

 Myself: I am seeing an expanded view of this discussion.  Beyond the single belief that I can or cannot trust humans, I am realizing that all beliefs are concepts.  The human mind conceptualizes, that is, it takes its limited body of experience (finite) from the limitless pool of possible experiences (infinite) and creates a theory based on that incomplete experience.  Beliefs are human perceptions attempting to bind the boundless!  Beliefs are our attempt to control that which cannot be controlled. 

Trying to make the infinite finite is the labor of all beliefs.  A belief implies that the same outcome will happen over and over again…that there is a truth that can be depended on. 

Not so in this Universe.  We (this Universe) are a living, breathing, infinitely expanding experience.   Nothing can be depended on.  Nothing is finite.  Nothing is true. The only constant is change. 

There is no belief (human concept) that is supported by our universal experience…without exception.

Me:  So where does this leave us?

Myself:  In any given moment, I recognize that I am in an ever-changing environment, in which nothing is as it appears, and all is expanding and evolving perpetually.  I survey my environment and use discernment to determine my next step. 

Human beings can only be trusted to be themselves, unpredictable.

I perceive myself as more than this body and mind, this human being. 

It is in that experience of “more than this” that I choose to trust.

I trust in the Tao.

Into the Stillness

voidMy yoga class began with meditation. As we sat, I spoke words to facilitate awareness of  body sensations. Leading the class with an invitation to simply notice what they felt, I had the sensory experience of my sitting bones resting on the meditation cushion, by feet and legs against the floor. I felt my spine lifting out of my pelvis and felt the relaxation of my shoulders down my back. I dropped my awareness into my chest and noticed my breath. Feeling the rise and fall of my chest and the expansion and contraction of my belly and back, my breath deepened. I felt my throat soften and widen.
As I stayed present to my breath, I began to notice my exhalation getting longer and as I reached the end of the exhale, I saw the portal. There, at the end of my breath, was a small sphere of light. I “stepped” into it and my breathing stopped. For an endless moment, I was in absolute stillness, a void that I have no other words to describe. The feeling was weightlessness, my body suspended in the experience. I heard my inhale as breath flowed effortlessly into my lungs for what seemed like many moments. I followed the breath in and at the end was the portal, and again I “stepped” into it, and as my breathing stopped I was back in the stillness.
It came to my mind that the stillness and the void are one and the same. The stillness contains the breath and I can remain in the stillness even though my breathing resumes. The point between the end of an exhale and the beginning of the next inhale is the portal into the void. Being in stillness is the experience of noticing the container instead of the contents.
The thought that appeared next was like an instruction to “practice staying in the stillness even though you continue to breathe.” So I did.
What followed was a series of instructions: “Once you are able to stay in the stillness even though you are breathing, practice staying in the stillness when you move.” I moved from the cushion, sliding to my back and drawing my knees into my chest all the while remaining in the experience of the void.
“Practice staying in the stillness when you open your eyes and allow the sensory experience of seeing the external world.” So I did… and the room was before me and I was still in the void. For two hours time disappeared and I taught the class effortlessly remaining conscious of being in the stillness.
“Practice being in the stillness, regardless of external circumstances and conditions.” I am here, writing these words, and the stillness is here.
The stillness is always here. It holds all the sensory experiences of my body within it…all that I see, hear, smell, taste and touch is within It. All of my thoughts are within It.
Although I am functioning in a normal way, my experience feels very soft and gentle. My body is relaxed and comfortable. My thoughts are succinct. In between each thought, my mind notices nothing but the stillness. I am experiencing the container, which is holding the contents.
In this moment, my life is a walking meditation. I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude for this life I have been given.
Namaste’

Who Is Driving My Bus?

Just breathe

Who is driving my bus?

She feels slightly angry and has a hard edge
She is not smiling
Her breath is shallow
Her brow is furrowed

Close my eyes
Breathe deep
Feel my feet
Feel my heartbeat

Who is driving my bus?

She feels softer, yet in a resigned way
Her lips have turned up a bit
Her spine is resting back in the chair
Her eyes have softened

Breathe again, with full awareness
Feel my chest rise and fall
Feel my belly swell and flatten
Breathe all the way down to my pelvic floor.

Who is driving my bus?

Emotion rises
Tears well in her eyes
Her sinuses burn
Her throat slightly closes

Allowing myself to feel
I notice heaviness in my chest
I hold it gently
I open my heart-space to myself

Who is driving my bus?

She is smiling as tears of joy well in her eyes
Her body feels soft and warm
Her feet have melted into the floor
She knows she is not alone

I breathe and feel grateful
I have the key to transformation
Such a simple and profound practice
Now… Spirit is driving my bus.

Motherheart

Original caption from NASA: "S103-E-5037 ...

Oh, Sweet Inspiration
A mere thought?
A fleeting feeling?
A deep knowing.

With knowledge of You
Breath comes deep and full,
Body softens,
Mind relaxes into trust.

Connecting
Deep into the Earth
Body gifted with motivation
Mind ripe with invention.

Brilliance
Light beams of awareness
Clarity of vision
Gems of insight.

Found in Stillness
Presence arises
Drumbeat of Motherheart
Love is here.

Now and Then

Big Sur and fog on a typical day in June. Phot...

Big Sur

I am here this morning. I had another skip day yesterday…let me see…what was my excuse? Oh, yes, yoga class at 8:00. My determination to get up at 6:00 so I can write before the day takes on a life of its own has slid down the slippery slope of resistance. I awoke this morning and put my feet on the floor before 6:30. I am here dressed and on tack by seven. Wahoo. Perhaps the true resistance is a feeling that my words have run out. The meter says 70,492 at the bottom of this blog page. If I was an auto, wouldn’t I be due for some sort of revival tune up?

What sort of revival would put inspiration into my heart so I could put words on the page that feel significant to me? Oh, yes. They need not have any significance. I can write anything. It does not matter who reads it or what they think. The practice is simply to write EVERY DAY no matter what! The practice is to allow words to go freely from my fingers to the page without an agenda, editing, judgment or expectation.  The practice is “transparency.”

Expectation snuck in the door and is looking over my shoulder. She expects me to write something meaningful. She wants to be inspired…entertained. She really wants me to be funny! She is tired of the same old depressed, spiritually oriented bullshit. With the book of Judgment under her arm, she is ready to denounce every sentence.

Note to self: This writing business worked better when you woke up at 6 and sat up and meditated for at least 30 minutes and then sat to write…duly noted.

Without the early rising and the mind in that altered state of meditation, Business Mind walks right in and starts making the “to-do” lists for the day. If you think this writing is pathetic, you should see the “to-do” lists! There used to be one list…of late there are FIVE! In addition there are four clipboards, a vertical file, the in and out box on my desk and two drawers of current hanging folders. Am I bragging or complaining? I do not know…I am trying to keep a handle on the hive of activity I created as the retreat construction kicks into high gear for the next six weeks.

In six weeks, my life will take a dramatic change. I will leave my retreat construction project and go up the coast of California to Big Sur. For five weeks, I will be living and working at Esalen Institute, a most amazing retreat center, with my friends and colleagues. My days will be filled with people and I will be involved in the business of teaching and treating the souls who come to Esalen. Like me, they are searching for some hidden part of themselves. What is the Force that sends us to a place like Esalen? The same Force puts me at this screen to write.

Jennifer Welwood speaks of this Force in Transformative Fire. I cannot say it better…

There is a great fire that longs to burn you—
Don’t let fear imagine a separation.
It is only yourself, burning for the truth,
The truth burning for itself.
Knowing this, give yourself, without reservation:
In ecstasy the fire burns.

She continues:
“Having deeply opened to the annihilating aspect of the path, and having allowed it to act on us, we may find that now and then it acts through us, cutting through ignorance and sentimentality with a voice of ruthless clarity…”