Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Shocking Experience

Over the last few days, the concept of "shock" has appeared several times for me in various places--an economic article, and another the same day about Kundalini; in a book about PTSD; at the gym; on a TV medical program; and overheard in a grocery store: "Why do these stupid shocks always happen to me?"

It's enough to get me contemplating. I tend to pay deep attention when something like this comes up and grabs me by the eyes and now, I understand it's the larger dream talking to me (the busy, local end of the dream).

Physical shock in the event of an injury to the body involves the progressive slowdown of systems (circulatory, etc.) while the body absorbs the fact that injury has occurred, and begins to marshal the necessary defenses and healing processes. It will recover, or not; a similar process happens in the event of a shock to the psyche.

We call large shocks "trauma", and smaller or frequent ones things like "bad luck", "crummy weekend" or, with a more positive spin, "challenge". But describing an event as crisis or opportunity does not change the fact that a shock is basically a change--in perception, modality and function. By nature and in essence, a shock is a surprise, and involves an unlearned, instinctual response to an event...which, by the way, activates our deepest potential.

The old saying, "What doesn't kill you can only make you stronger!" has a ring of truth for a reason. But we are so good at defending and pretending, that our strength can take the form of a very hard shell, a calcification and rigidity which limits our range of motion and intelligence. Hanging on to fear can interrupt the real purpose and benefit of shock, which is a process of maturity and expansion. Enlightenment, if you will.

Life has shock built in. Falling on one's face is necessary in learning to walk. A creature free of any kind of change, stress or trauma does not exist. But there are humans who have become walking shock-absorbing, integrating and expressing events within the Great Event. Prying open the shell involves a conscious shock and a kind of death; but inside is a priceless range of colors, a matrix turned at last toward the sun.

Enlightenment, realization or maturity is just another fascinating and ongoing story. Chapter one is dealing with the shock of being human and mortal. Chapter two is about developing skills to handle the shocks thrown at us by life. Chapter three is figuring out how we shock ourselves. Chapter is always ourselves. Chapter five might be about chasing a shockless way. Chapter six is a screeching halt to this activity. Chapter seven...hmmm, chapter seven!

It's all about experience, isn't it? Some of us are driven to retell, to point beyond the shell into the wide-open spaces. I don't know why.

One day, through intention, spontaneity and both, shock stops being the one-pointed, injury-causing mosquito bite, stubbed toe or blow to the skull that is an imaginary ego confronting a greater Self.

In that moment, the fiction of ego-versus-Self is dissolved as salt in the sea, and being becomes an everlasting shock, accompanied by a sort of awe. And no matter what stories are written or told, this total contact never stops. It accompanies every thought, every motion, every "choice", every change in such an intimate way that it feels like the world is my heart. I am terribly vulnerable to this life, and it is equally vulnerable to me, and we/It hangs in perfectly wordless balance.

People speak of the shock of a near-death experience, when everything is suspended and an apparent choice between life and death--to continue the story, or not--becomes a sudden option. Many come out of this experience fundamentally altered. They bring the lesson, the enhanced vision and sensitivity back into life with them. What is permanently changed and understood is that we are that choice, that fulcrum point between the known (life) and the unknown (death).

Integrating this paradox transforms being, which is suddenly not just a job, but an adventure--and exposes sacred vital organs to a new kind of air. Simply not resisting what is happening in each moment during any kind of change, welcome or not, teaches one to breathe, to be reborn in flexibility and innocence, somehow evolved beyond our assumed story, which defined us as a mere shelled animal. Eventually, we grow into our true identity, which is the entire, endless process of becoming priceless pearls--irritating grain of sand, to valued gem, to grain of sand--and all universes contained therein.

Feeling this is an ongoing, always unexpected kind of ecstasy. New "shocks" occur and deepen everything.

Why does this happen to...?

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