Monday, October 25, 2010

Practical Joy of Shifting

Ever feel like nothing but a dysfunctional lump of meat? Me, too. This morning, for instance. Right now, in fact.

Ok...let's get into it. I am tired, since I haven't been sleeping well (broken ankle, still hurting). I have a cold. There exists a tremendous amount of interior painting, moving furniture, accumulated junk to get rid of, and many, many other things to get done within the next couple of weeks. My physical energy level is very low. I have been dreaming apocalyptically, and I wish I wouldn't.

That's not all, but I'm already sick of bitching. :)

Occasionally, I write long, stream-of-consciousness rants in my journal, full of anguish and pain and conflicting solutions to all my apparent problems. When I was a kid, I used to believe that I was "working things out" on paper, logically addressing my emotional distress. Now that I'm a bigger kid, I realize that I am simply directing a muddy stream of energy to a "safe" place. It doesn't really matter what I say--just that I say it, even with the full knowledge that it's just so much bluster and blah, blah, blah.

Depression and angst are not resolved with logic. Problem-solving is best used for extremely practical purposes, such as putting on a sweater when it's cold, or filling the belly when it's hungry. No amount of mental talk or structuring will fill a hole in the soul or open a heart that has been "damaged". Mental review of strings of painful images will not prevent pain. Neither will avoidance and denial.

There is a larger, more inclusive "language" to use for healing purposes, in which conflicts are actually met in the source and resistance is allowed to be the effective and necessary energy that it is. (That overused word energy is probably still the best metaphor for this fluidly shifting, morphing, mental/physical/emotional field that we actually are.) Maturation, deeper self-awareness and authenticity are the natural fruit of attending to and allowing the motion of energy--in other words, developing an awareness of yourself as a rolling wave in a vast ocean, each informing the other, working together as a silent whole. Not just a poetic, intellectual awareness--I'm talking about a visceral, unsterilized recognition of the invocation and evocation of This. All of it.

Energy is just another inadequate description of a certain spacetime-friction that literally blasts this dream into being in every moment. I can't point to it as a phenomenon apart from myself, or even as a quality of being--it is Being, a situation we wordlessly recognize (and often try to valve down). To "get close to it" is to awaken powerfully creative forces that we don't always agree with. Depending upon the social or religious indoctrination forming the walls of my mental structures, I might be shocked or dismayed to find (for instance) that I am God, and that God is far more lusty, playful and spontaneous than could ever be imagined. Or that God sometimes appears as a hopelessly dysfunctional human thought. Or that, really, I can say "dodecahedron" instead of "God", and mean exactly the same movement.

It seems that a deep awareness of the motion of energy is also a huge invitation to "get involved". Getting involved is a willingness to be "in the flow" and out of denial, out of cookie-cutter descriptions for what is happening in the moment, and out of ways to fight shadows or contain the uncontainable. What this feels like, in our world, is a kind of passionate dance with both the great tides and minor swirls and splashes that make up our ocean; what it often looks like are spontaneous eruptions of not-always-sensible (according to social mores) behavior.

When I say "spontaneous behavior", I'm not talking about unleashing, say, anger upon yourself, fellow beings or environment, which is a sure sign of ignorance (ignoring reality). Deep attending is exactly the reverse of the surface emotional reactivity we are so accustomed to. Deep attending means following an impulse past fear or desire, all the way down to the energetic level where it originates...this sounds terribly esoteric, but is in fact a moment of introspection, in which an impulse is felt in the physical, mental and emotional body...felt thoroughly and allowed to unfold before action. Unnecessary violence is never efficient or practical for an energy flow. When we respond in "fight-or-flight" to a situation in which all that stress is not actually needed or helpful, we know, even blinded by emotion. The body knows, the heart knows, and eventually will make all of you understand, even if your physicality must be brought down, locked up or otherwise frozen long enough to allow an opportunity to really see. See? Finally, shift can happen.

I'm talking about answering a calling, large or small, that bubbles up through our multilayered egos and presents as an irresistible "touching" of something significant, an authentic contact with wisdom-imbued "otherness" just there, in the moment. It may arise as a response to some difficulty, or for no apparent reason at all. What is actually happening is a moment of non-interference, when all of our selves are out to lunch or tired or exposed as repetitive and ineffective.

I might, for instance, be seemingly plagued with thoughts of financial stress, trying to apply math and logic that involve everything but printing up some cash (with a big heart on it, perhaps?), in an attempt to take care of business and still be "solvent". Suddenly, I become aware of my worried thoughts and feelings of helplessness...I follow them down, and a "solution", a different impulse will arise that requires me to drop everything, turn on some music with a definite beat, and stomp out a rhythmic circle on the floor until I know I'm finished. I may see or feel things that have nothing to do with money, but are somehow dissolving that sad and angry dam in my heart. I could be "led" to a further action, perhaps painting a story out of my vision, which later sells for enough cash to take the edge off...or (as is usually the case), I just stomp to the very bottom of my ocean, where such problems simply don't exist and abundance is what I am.

Another example: I am almost at the end of my day, in full power-down mode, leaning toward sleep. Someone walks by with a cookie. I want one, too. I don't need it; I'm not hungry, but a powerful craving for the sweetness strikes. I know very well that cookies and I don't agree, and result in a gastrointestinal brawl, but oh...yum! 

Now, I can argue with myself in that way we do when faced with a want that goes against a necessary restriction...I can reason with myself or beat myself up or get angry for even focusing so intently on a mere lump of glutenous sugar and fat. I can go into endless explorations around why I want a cookie when what I really want is "love"--etc., etc.; or, I can fall along the impulse raw, underneath the mental/emotional gunk, to a place where it is very clear and simple. I close my eyes and "see" it for what it is--a beautiful little being in itself, multicolored, non-threatening much less sticky than I would have guessed. It's there, before me, and I watch it make its way along to wherever it's going. Nothing needs to be done about it; in fact, action, either for or against a cookie, has nothing to do with this little creature. This is clear--so clear, that I could paint a portrait of it, and call it "Negative Cookie", or some other catchy title. It is far more fascinating than arguments over diet, and I go to bed thinking of art.

These callings are, of course, otherwise known as instinct or intuition--a wordless knowing by the entire energy field of just what to do and how to care for my little whirlpool (and by extension, the whirlpools around me). This level of care is entirely non-defensive and flexible. I've given up trying to figure it out so that it "makes sense" within my story or culture--it's better to just go with it, whatever "it" is doing. It leads me often into beautiful, technicolor visions and interesting physical sensations, walks, or vocal expressions, accompanied by "direct" knowing of whatever it is I'm looking into. What I'm sensing in those moments is a "hidden" order of being, a wider self with vastly expanded creativity and perception. My typical inner speech tumbles into a puddle of wordless gratitude and a kind of awe. If a human wanders too close, he or she is likely to be seriously hugged, mauled with lots of eye-contact, and have their confusion blessed thoroughly...after which, Maria flies off, giggling to herself. Alas, this is the real me!

In just the time it took to write thus far, I have moved from being a pessimistic and defensive animal into a more openhearted space, in which I am grateful for actually being a body with feelings and thoughts and memory, painful or otherwise. Energy shifts. We could help it along by giving ourselves and others permission to be real. We could really help it along if we took a good long look at human culture in general, and the tendency to give ourselves any excuse to get together (even self-to-Self) and have a good time. Energy shifts faster when there is a multiple of us enjoying the moment deeply...with music and dancing, with rhythmic chanting, with the percussion of running, with engagement in the flow around and within us.

I am reminded of a concert I attended last summer in which a huge variety of people checked their routines at the gates of the venue. Many wore colorful clothing that would cause too much sensation on an average street, and brought toys, food and various kinds of consciousness-altering things to share with each other. There was a long period of settling in and adjusting frequencies and saying Hi to the neighbors...then the musicians (shamans) came out on stage and began to weave magic with their lights and sounds. Within a song or two, the audience-organism was up and dancing, every unique wiggle part of the whole gorgeous scene, an ocean swaying and waving in delight. It's a people-watching orgy, for animals like myself...some folks closed their eyes and went in, while others focused on group silliness. People sang off-key, danced like fools, and called down the moon. We were in a space and time that could be called "sacred", in which we had permission to be more naked, more raw, more creative than what we could be during a typical, corporate-owned day.

A man in front of me turned around in his enthusiasm, at one point, and said joyously, "Oh my god! Do you hear that? This is where it's at! I love you!!"  He gave me a bear hug, laughing, and I laughed back, "I love you, too!" He was a total stranger, in love with the moment, having an epiphany that I couldn't see with my eyes, but felt like the ring of a bell. The pool of energy changed and moved with the tempo of the music, with the stage of the journey we were all agreeing to. It could have been ten thousand years ago, or hence--this is a human-animal energy that gets "sublimated" to the point of insanity in a culture that insists upon mediocrity, conformity and total obedience. It's also a Universal energy that is content to be expressed for no particular reason that we can see, in a moment of birdsong or otter play or belly-laugh. When this motion of energy is felt at the "bottom" of experience, each little blossoming hold a kind of joy--even the motion of "repressing". 

The universe is delighted to be. How do I know? I am. Even when I am "negative", I am.


  1. "printing up some cash (with a big heart on it, perhaps?)"...LOL...still reading :) XOXO

  2. "What I'm sensing in those moments is a "hidden" order of being, a wider self with vastly expanded creativity and perception. My typical inner speech tumbles into a puddle of wordless gratitude and a kind of awe. If a human wanders too close, he or she is likely to be seriously hugged, mauled with lots of eye-contact, and have their confusion blessed thoroughly..." --
    YES!! YES!!

  3. Hi, Leslie...didn't think I would be writing a book this time--but I feel so much better, now! :)

    And yes, I really think we need an alternate form of currency, since we insist on doing things "the long way", subbing one kind of energy for another. Ha.


  4. Maria, what a beautiful ocean you live in. Mine is altogether different. I start out paddling in the shallows and move out slowly to where the waves lap at my thighs and pretty soon the sunlight glinting on the wave-caps flits horizontally into my eyes. Keeping right on walking the surface closes over my head and at the same time I suck-in a first drought of water – deep into my lungs as I suddenly find that oxygen floods into my body. Breathing deeply of the water I continue forward with the light dimming gradually as the weight increases on my shoulders. I could still turn around and pace slowly back to the shore – I know it well, but still I walk steadily forward, deeper and deeper – I should not continue, this I know full well, but now the bottom calls to me and I move once more toward it with a new determination. And then it happens, the darkened waters now embrace me deeply and the weight thereof compels me forward. I cannot turn back even if I want to – the water is now so heavy that there is only one way to go and my limited strength cannot impel my feet and legs to deny the depths by turning back. The blackened heavy shroud now extends without limit in all directions as my feet loose sensation. Alone now as has ever been the case I sink into the Profound unable to deny its heart empty of all thought, desire and attachment.

  5. Thank you, Goldenages, for your equally beautiful walk to the depths. Have you ever stepped into that abyss, only to find yourself falling into a sky?

    Your aloneness is profound, and I'm so glad that it gives rise to such vivid imagery as this...


  6. Hi Maria,
    good idea of yours - turn a negative into a plus - takes a long time to get out of that hole but it is said that the upside must equal the downside in order to strike the possibility of equivalence. But yes, to answer your question directly. It was a very tricky maneuver because strictly I did not know what I was doing at the time did not have a clue except that I raised a question "who or what am I that thus span space and time?" It was all to do with questioning my being a scientist, of validating the "objective world" so to speak - but instead I smashed it all to pieces - exactly as humpty-dumpty because it would not go back together again and now it is just an apparently seamless mirage hanging there even if the Buddha raised a flower and Kasyappa thought it worth a smile.And then truth of it is that is about what it amounts to.

    It has its blinding-light filled sky but also its abyss (nobody tells about the abyss they just write about suchness or the only ever non-dual reality and so forth). Very uplifting I must say but not the whole truth at all.

    I wrote a review of the excellent book James wrote (on Amazon)- I saw your review of the same book and made a comment to James about it. He gave me your blog-address. When I saw you too had one of these (that which shall have no name) oceans I could not resist a comment. Sorry about that....

  7. Dear Goldenages...sorry about what? Understanding? :)
    I absolutely delight in communicating with people who "swim", so please don't be sorry. In fact, email me if you'd like (

    Also, I almost can't help but "turn a negative into a plus", or vice versa...I have this double-vision that seems to seek the center of everything. In that sense, I guess, I'm "nondual". I like to emphasize the positive, however, simply because it has as much relevance as anything else. :)

    Nice to meet you!

  8. Well the term "Nondual" is bandied about a lot but I think it has to be used with caution in reference to the center because most (that have never actually been there) wish to posit it as the "absolute" amid much fanfare as to its theoretical attributes. In that sense I tend to see it as a "false" consciousness since it has no concept of compassion (because it is the unit pure source of all) and besides which and in comparison thereto, nothing else exists all other concepts being "unreal".

    I am not 100% sure but I think this is exactly the point of departure between the Buddha and much of Advaita. Compassion on the one hand (which anyway knows full well the absolute state) and, on the other hand, at the limit, absolute self-centered nihilistic absorption (as by denial)on the other.

    I feel that there is a center, with which one can identify and coalesce therewith but at the same time, since it is a sense in consciousness, it can still question itself as to origin. Once that is done then compassion in relation to all those not consciously participating in the center arises and profoundly so. The bottom of that mountain of unremitting pain is also the bottom of the (my) ocean. Strict Advaita holds it all to be "unreal" therefore it can readily be ignored in favor of pure being, the one only absolutely non-dual Reality etc. etc.