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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Reflections on the Journey

Dakini statueMy life is a journey that leads me down unique and uncommon paths. None has been dead ends…though some took me to closed doors that required inner transformation before they would open. I am a student of paradox. I revel in the duality of nature all the while it vexes and drives me toward madness. As the decades shift me past the midpoint of my personal timeline, experiences around death and dying increase. This seems natural and I am drawn to seeking the support of those who have traveled this path before me.

I recently discovered the poetry of Jennifer Paine Welwood. She self-published a book of her poetry called Poems for the Path. Reading her words impacts me. With fresh eyes, I am seeing the connection. Death of the body is a metaphor for the true death of the ego. I have spent hundreds of hours lying in Savasana , practicing death, in the way of a yogi. In Savasana I surrender again and again to the feeling of death, posing the question, ”what would it feel like if I could lose the sense of my personal self?” What would it feel like to “die before I die?”

A Dakini may refer to the enlightened female principle of non-duality which transcends gender. It may also be translated as a female yogi, an enlightened teacher, who teaches the secrets of the Tibetan Tantric wisdom schools. My gratitude to Jennifer for the following poem, The Dakini Speaks.
My friends, let’s grow up.
Let’s stop pretending we don’t know the deal here.
Or if we truly haven’t noticed, let’s wake up and notice.
Look: Everything that can be lost, will be lost.
It’s simple—how could we have missed it for so long?
Let’s grieve our losses fully, like ripe human beings,
But please, let’s not be so shocked by them.
Let’s not act so betrayed,
As though life had broken her secret promise to us.
Impermanence is life’s only promise to us,
And she keeps it with ruthless impeccability.
To a child she seems cruel, but she is only wild,
And her compassion exquisitely precise:
Brilliantly penetrating, luminous with truth,
She strips away the unreal to show us the real.
This is the true ride—let’s give ourselves to it!
Let’s stop making deals for safe passage:
There isn’t one anyway, and the cost is too high.
We are not children anymore.
The true human adult gives everything for what cannot be lost.
Let’s dance the wild dance of no hope!

As I let myself fall into Jennifer’s world, I feel an inner shift. The gripping loosens. I feel an expansion in my cells as they open to the limitlessness of death. The need to fully surrender grows strong. I feel passionate joyfulness in my gratitude for this life I’ve been given. I laugh long and loud as I dance the wild dance of no hope!
Dakini

The Message

Sage LemurYou know
we still need you,
so you have stayed.
The calming reassurance
of your presence
is with us.
We see you
not as you were
but as you are;
tall, dignified, powerful,
graceful and gentle,
Omniscient.
A magnificent white feline
standing upright on hind legs
appears from the misty morning light.
He embodies the wisdom of ages.
His message is clear.
You are loved.
YOU ARE LOVED!
Fiercely, Tenderly, Truly and Unconditionally.
Always and forever.
Not universal love that is all-purpose and wide-ranging.
Personal love that is explicitly for you.
You matter.
YOU MATTER in ways you cannot possibly conceive.
You are intricately woven into the fabric of this Universe.
Every thought you think, every word you say, every act you take
is immensely significant for all of time and space, for all of life.
You can do no wrong.
YOU CAN NOT DO WRONG.
It is outside the realm of all possibilities for you to make a mistake.
You are part of the One.
Only through the veil of separation do you not see this.
Only through the illusion of disconnectedness
do you see yourself as less than perfection.
You have nothing to fear.
YOU ARE SAFE.
No harm can come to you.
It is the illusion of duality that creates
your sense of good and evil.
In the One, there is only Love.
ONLY LOVE IS REAL.

 

Mind Matters

Cover of "Rain Man"
G and I watched Rain Man last night. If you haven’t seen the 1984 movie, it stars Dustin Hoffman as Raymond Babbitt, an autistic savant. Screenwriter, Barry Morrow, based the character on Kim Peek, an American man who lived from 1951-2009. Peek was the subject of much scientific study and it was determined by medical scientists that Peek was not autistic, but rather a mega savant with FG syndrome, similar to Down’s syndrome in that it is linked to the X chromosome. FG syndrome causes physical anomalies like low muscle tone and an abnormally large head. When given traditional psychological testing, Peek scored lower than average with an IQ of 67 and had difficulty with motor skills like walking and dressing himself.

Kim Peek (1951–2009) probably had FG syndrome.

Kim Peek (1951–2009)

Like the movie character, Raymond Babbitt, Peek had instant recall and a photographic memory. From the time he was a small child he read books, memorizing them with one read and retaining the information indefinitely. He could read two pages at once, one with each eye! He was able to do highly advanced math and calculate the day of the week for any date on the calendar as well as remember events that were in the news on that day. He enjoyed sharing information with strangers about their birth date.
Peek’s mega savant condition was the result of “brain damage.” He was born with a condition in which the bundles of nerves that connect the two hemispheres of the brain are missing. Speculation is that his mega-memory was the result of the way in which his neurons made unusual connections due to the absence of a corpus callosum.
Learning about Kim Peek triggered a lot of questions in my mind about the capacity of our human minds.
Is it possible that with the right neurons connecting we all would have photographic minds with infinite memories and computer-like calculating abilities?  Would I even enjoy that mind?  If my mind has the capability for such greatness what does it take to tap into that resource? Is it simply the luck of the draw that some brains are born with neuron configurations that create conditions for particular skills and abilities? Is “talent” based on the way the cells of the brain fell into place as we were developing? What is happening that allows for one person to live a life dependent on their five senses while others have a highly developed sixth sense? What techniques, practices or behaviors affect the brain’s cellular structure?
These are all questions I may never have answers to and I’m okay with that. It is just fun to speculate. I have ideas based on experience regarding the last one. Although I haven’t any of Kim Peeks memory or mathematical abilities I have developed my sixth sense through practice and techniques. The technique of meditation seems to give me more clarity and it appears that a lot of useless thoughts falls away and my mind better focuses on whatever is serving me. Through the practice of CranioSacral Therapy for nearly twenty years I have developed the ability to “listen” deeply to the body. This ability is dependent on a sixth sense supported by the other five. I believe that our “brains” are not only in our head but in every cell of the body. When I am “listening” to another body, I am using my own body as a navigational system to pick up information coming from the other. Since I can do this over the phone as well as in person there is definitely something going on here beyond the basic five senses.
Where does this “knowing” come from? I think we all have a part of ourselves I call the “all knowing.” The “all knowing” is present in every cell as the brain is present in every cell. When we are able to let go of the ego’s need to “know it all,” ironically, the “all knowing” is able to surface.
Sir David R. Hawkins M., died last year. He was a nationally renowned psychiatrist, physician, researcher, spiritual teacher, writer and lecturer. His early works, included the co-authorship of Orthomolecular Psychiatry with Nobelist Linus Pauling. In 1996 I read his newly published book, Power vs Force, The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior.
Dr. Hawkins said, “With humility comes the willingness to stop trying to control or change other people or life situations or events ostensibly ‘for their own good’. To be a committed spiritual seeker, it is necessary to relinquish the desire to be ‘right’ or of imaginary value to society. In fact, nobody’s ego or belief systems are of any value to society at all. The world is neither good nor bad nor defective, nor is it in need of help or modification because its appearance is only a projection of one’s own mind. No such world exists.”
The concepts put forth in Power vs Force supported my burgeoning beliefs about the brain and the power that is within the minds of us all, if only we can discover the secrets to tapping into it.

Into the Stillness

I relax into the presence of pure love... (366...

I relax into the presence of pure love…

I just moved from the meditation cushion to the desk and as I sit here and begin to write my mind is tugging me back to the tranquility of the space I just left. Pointing to that time and space, which words fail, are the experiences of safety and freedom.
I sat in deep silence, no thoughts interrupting my reverie, only a sensation of being held in a warm, watery, womb-like cocoon. I felt a steady vibration, strong and powerful, gentle and protective. Penetrating the darkness, a stream of light entered my consciousness. It surged up my central channel quickly exiting my crown without powerful sensation, only warmth and the perception of its unusual breadth and speed. It felt familiar and its course was open and unobstructed. As it reached my crown, I felt the sensation of satisfying fullness throughout my body as if the warm light had moved into every cell. Following the initial upwelling, the flow slowed to a gentler wave. I rested into the support of the experience allowing myself to open and receive what was being offered. After a while, my thoughts returned, and the first idea was, “I am safe” followed by “There is nothing to worry about.” The sensation that arose from those thoughts was the feeling of absolute freedom.
I am grateful for all my teachers who for the past forty years have pointed me in the direction of my Self. When I am able to get quiet enough and still enough, a sensation arises in my body which informs me that I am part of a great and powerful energy field which is infinitely powerful, intelligent and compassionate. My perception of this field feels feminine in her gentle nurturing nature and masculine in his strength and power. It is the two in one.
I am aware in this moment of the illusion of the duality of me. The deeply powerful force of nature I am feeling as a presence within is creating and animating me. She/He is beyond the power of words to express. The thoughts I am thinking come from another source…a part of the Creative Presence thinks it has fractured itself from the One and is acting as if it is independent. It is not, but the illusion is powerful. My head has a gentle ringing as my brain tries to find words to express the concept that is beyond conception. I surrender. There is nothing more to say but Namaste’