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Making the Body Conscious: Like a River Flows

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Understanding is a means toward acceptance.  Herein lies the center of our subjectivity and the center of our serenity.  Enjoying a deep sense of mindful breathing is one tool that we humans have to connect with the source of our mentations and our emotions.

Breathing is our first experience of life in the world beyond the womb.  Mindful breathing is our best attempt at gaining both understanding and acceptance as our mind grows toward maturity and impermanence.  Neither of these concepts are reversible and we either flow or rage toward these inevitable ends.

Because breathing is central to the experience of life making its unconscious, autonomic components conscious is our first step into the wildly active world of the human subjective. Conscious breathing is an experience that brings us closer to the primal sense of the subjective.

As we mature, we bump into life’s many intrusions and obstacles, some so powerful that they derail us from our mission:  to live in peace with ourselves and to the extent possible with those in our world.  Conscious breathing allows us to interpret the natural pace of our lives.  Turning our attention to our breath can add a pause when we are racing, our can add a nudge when we are lost in a status quo.

Breath like a river flows……….

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The Road Map Is Not The Landscape

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Van Gogh tells a story of a countess who commissioned him to do a portrait.  When the portrait was finished and it came time to unveil the canvas to his subject, she had a startled response.  “My God, she said, “that is not me!”

“No, Madame, you are quite right that is not you, that is a painting of you.”

 

Frequently as we meander through life, we internalize images and thoughts and these images and thought are stored in a “consciousness-storage” container.  Some place in the brain-body matrix we have visions and we hold on to these visions as memories.  They take on an internal life of their own.  We can close our eyes and see a light we saw ten years ago, or we close our eyes and we see a person saying something to us.

At times these visions of our internal world become so real that they appear to us to be our reality.  In fact these visions and memories are simply symbolic representations of those people, places or things.

What is contained in our minds represent the world outside of us, but it is not the world outside of us any more than a road map of the eastern United States is the landscape of the eastern United States.

We can find Flint, Virginia on the map, and a good map will represent the way to get to Flint Virginia, but, it is not Flint, Virginia.  In the same way we often have a dialogue with ourselves and that internal dialogue takes a form that resembles reality.  We can become convinced that this internal dialogue is life, when in actuality the internal only symbolically represents life.

If we go looking inside ourselves for our souls, we will find inside a representation of our souls, but our souls are not in us.  We are in our souls.  The soul, what Emerson called the Over-soul is something that we reside in.  It does not reside in us–we reside in it.

It is an important philosophical distinction because if we can not let ourselves know that life is out-side of us, we will continue to believe that when we find Flint, Virginia on a broad map that is all that there is to Flint.  Guide-post exist inside of us that we can use to find the world, but we ought not confuse the map for the reality.  If we only find our selves on the map we will fall far short of the satisfactions that the universe can provide.

Let’s give it a shot.  Let’s go find ourselves in the world rather than remain content with the representational, symbolic world that exist as a chemical matrix within.

 


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Contemplations On Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

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Over and over announcing out place in the family of things……

It seems that no amount of announcing this make it a reality until we are able to announce it to ourselves out of a human kindness and a genuine feeling of self-love and self-compassion.  We all struggle with ourselves and with our place in the world, but there is no better ointment for this wound that a capacity to sit alone with one’s own heart and feel it beating.  There is not better feeling that to decide I am going to catch the wind.  I am going to go in the direction that I want–not the direction that the wind pushes me in.

Alert your heart with a deep sigh and a moan for the hurt and the pain and the time that you have not been able to be kind to yourself or to others and start with the sentence, “everything will be all right as soon as I let myself flow.”  The acceptance of ourselves before change, rather than postponing that acceptance until after the change, gives us the strength we need to approach what ever your mother, your father or the universe has thrown at you.

Breath in and know that who you are in the moment is sufficient.  The next breath will be just that much easier.  Whether we are filled with vitality or dying, the next breath will follow the last and ease of breath is the necessary component to a mindful transition, from one activity to another, or from one life through death.

Impermanence is the earth breathing and oneness makes it our breath as well.  Aim to thrive not to strive.  Let your drives and your will be the guide to your next move and remember in all cases to give your self the mothering love that you need.  It is soothing to like oneself.  Fighting wears us down.  Thriving raises us up.  In the act of mindful compassion we can find the seed of a life that knows how to tolerate pain without suffering.

Come home to who you are.  We are each on our own journey and though we may feel an obligation to be responsible for another, we can only be responsible to something, not responsible for something….because each thing, each person has its, his, her own journey…

Sail-On, sail-on, sail on.


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All Roads Lead to Rome: the force behind a wish that activates the human capacity to manifest

Good Morning Page:
I have been very lazy.  I have been on a vacation of sorts and I am awakening to the idea
that I am ready to go back to work. I wonder about a life after retirement and if I could really
do that without suffering the pains of outlandish boredom.  I think that I can find myself tied to obligation
in a way that a dog finds himself wrapped around a tree, he knows there is a way out but just
can not reason his way to freedom.
Such is the daily dilemma of existence.  We can envision a freedom, but allowing ourselves to have that
freedom is a different story than the simpler envisioning.
 moss
You see, perspective is one of the functions of the ego.
However, because every function of the ego is also a defense against death, it does function to give-up a clue about the landscape of life as we live it and as we see it.  The old spiritual idea that we know all that we need to know to fulfill our purpose here on earth is an adage that appears to be holding true in a secular society.  There is more than an afterlife that can induce morality.  We are apparently wired to higher instincts.
As we go through this journey, whirling about in space on a small ball of molted ash that has been fortunate enough to have an atmosphere, we can stop to ask questions; or if we prefer, we can let circumstances push us to and fro.  Life can looks a bit like a shopper in a pedestrian mall.  The perceiving-organism waltzes from shinny object to shinny object looking for the “je ne sais quoi”.
The decision to advance through life letting circumstances move you is not so unlike advancing through life rationally attempting to find answers and attempting to control what experiences you have.  From the outside both lives will appear to be on a trajectory from birth to death (1886 -1960).  Both lives are perfectly normal.
(1886 – 1960)  You see those numbers.  They are arbitrary.  What is really important in that little symbolic sequence that starts this sentence is this:  The dash ( – ).  Yup! what is important in that symbolic sequence is the dash between the numbers.  Where we come from and where we are going is a very limited question.  It has to fit between the parenthesis or else it is a vision, or perhaps, an hallucination or a distortion, or even an intellectualization or a denial.
Your life will have a trajectory weather you give it one or you allow one to develop.  The trajectory of life is guarded by the defenses that the body armor, the egoic construction of defenses, develop while growing in the organism.  Our ego is not a static object like a vase that we fill, or half-fill.  Our ego is a growing organ every bit as important as the ever growing liver, kidney, heart and lungs and brain and so on.  We were born with a burgeoning ego.  It is our task not to kill this ego, not to hide or pretend that it is not there; rather it is our task to master this ego.  If we do not, it will master us.
An Aside
In order to go much further in this essay we have to stop and remind ourselves, again, that as human-being we possess a divided mind.  Both in anatomy and biology as well as in psychoanalysis and physics.  The human being is of two minds.  The earliest of these minds is really the body mind.  It awakens first.  It begins its function in the organism even before birth.  The heart of the fetus, having connected to the brain of the fetus begins to develop a mind.  It is like the trinity, the father, the son and the holy ghost.  The heart and the brain together create the mind which is really a metaphor for the complexities of chemical and physical and hormonal activities that begin to take place in the human being around the time of conception.
The mind is not one thing.  The mind is a complexity of operations that occur through-out the brain/body matrix and never stops functioning. It functions autonomically and in tandem with all the cells of the body.  We are essentially a chemical factory.
Aside over
 
Back to our story about the ego.  We left it back there with the idea that we must master the ego or it will master us.  It is no coincidence that we are using the term “master” because when it comes to our ego, if left to its own devises, it will master us and in some cases will master us in a manipulative, and even sadistic fashion.
There is a misconception that the ego has a conscience.  It does not.  What the ego has is revenge, rational maneuvers, guilt, fear and a ton of ambivalence, to name a few of its qualities.  When we take the low road and let the ego direct our lives we become at mercy to its myriad of defenses.  We become hurt that a friend forgot us, we become angry that the car next to us at the red light looks menacing, and we become convinced that we are in some competition with this person who we instantly hate because of how he glanced at us with indifference.  The ego is set on the default position to compete, that has been its major function through evolution.  It has been programed to survive as the fittest.  This insures its posterity on our spinning ball of molted ash.
But what if we do not accept the C E O position of the ego.  What if instead of just going along with the rules and regulations of our predictable ego, we were to check in with the other half of the divided mind that has been sitting there pretty much idle — looking more like a bed of moss than anything with force.
It is easy to let the ego have it way with us.  In many ways being the servant to the Lord of the Manor is more defined.  It is an “easier” position than comes with being Lord of the Manor.  I am realizing recently that i would have fit in to post feudal society very well  if I had been a Lord.  “Yes, my Lord, No, my Lord….anything you need My Lord……”  I might have function equally well as a page to a handsome warrior or as the court’s poet laureate.
What I am saying is there is more than one trajectory that can work for us.  There is more than one “pre-chosen love-object” already out there in the universe reading itself to meet us.  What we do with the “dash” between the numbers is pretty much up to how much energy we are willing to invest to making this life look the way we want it to.  And many path are right.  All roads lead to Rome.
MAKING PEACE
Life can throw such chaos our way that we become automatic at pitching it back.  And, life does not have to be automatic.  We do not have to show up to every argument ready to fight.  In our best of conditions we show up at conflict with a genuine desire to study the situation, think about the problem it is causing for us; and then attempting to consult with the bed of moss that lies still just under the surface of the sea of consciousness, we look for a new and improved way of solving the problem.
The ego is our default position, our default perspective, if you will.  The wider instinct that emanate from the heart/body matrix is a quieter, much less intrusive aspect of our mind.  But unlike the ego that will insert itself long before we ask it to, the baser instincts of the heart have to be deliberately invited into consciousness.  That velvety, deep green moss just beneath the surface of consciousness is God.  When we instruct ourselves to go off for a search of this holy-grail, we enter an unchartered void, almost dark with secrets and answers, but so not visible without the excavation that is necessary for the heart-instincts to reveal themselves.
It is easier to be a slave than it is to be a master, there is no question about that.  And to take a vacation from time to time and put ourselves in the hands of a cruise director can be charming, and alluring.  But to live by the paradigm that we are forever being conducted by one slice of perception while ignoring the other is not fun. I would add it is also not safe.
The ego is not alone in wanting to survive.  We have heart felt instincts that are primitive and encrusted through antiquity.  Our instinctual self also wants to survive, but in addition to “simple” survival–existence; the instincts are the source of our drives, our libidinal motivation–the force behind a wish that activates the human capacity to manifest if we are to dove-tail notions from the laws of attraction philosohpy.
Tapping the instincts can not occur simultaneous to tapping the ego.  We must be prepared to separate and to individuate from the ego in order to be able to go deliberately searching for notions that the ego does not essentially concern itself with.  The higher order of feeling and sensation, the location in us that is activated when we are in a state of Grace, a state of Joy or when we are entangled with enthusiasm –this location in the human spirit is called consciousness.
We can tap our consciousness, like we can tap water.  And Like water, the instincts are pure, authentic not enhanced by projections or defenses of any kind.  When we are in the realm of our consciousness that is separate from the ego we feel a safety and a security that we know what we need to know, and that we know what we need to do in order to address the chaos (large, overwhelming feelings or sensations).  There is a peacefulness to the instincts that is not present in the ever anxious ego.
There is a quiet, like a deep in a forest quiet  that slows down the organism to a reasonable hum. The chatter of the linguistic ego telling you what to do, and what you have to do, should do,  and why you have to do it, and how to accomplish it in such a way that you will win………disappears down to a whisper and eventually a hum when we deliberately invite the instincts to consciousness.  The words disappear.  Linguistic conceptualizations disappear and instead we are greeted by clumps of sweet, damp moss–voiceless and even somewhat pretty; but, voiceless!
Entering the quiet can be a daunting experience for those of us Type A’s that have run our lives racing from one gusto to another.  In fact from a distance paradise can appear very boring.  We have all heard people say that singing in heaven with the angels will be boring.  I get that.  But the perspective is off.  Paradise is to our making and it is served to us by ourselves and it can be as elaborate and as glorious as we like it to be; or it can be as simple and as casual as a walk in the woods, or waltzing through our own goals and desires.
The important piece to remember is this:  we must first be quiet before the language of the instincts emerge with a new paradigm, a new perspective.  We can’t shift from wanting an answer from the ego to wanting an answer from the instincts.  We have to shift from wanting an answer to wanting to access the silence.  Only after entering the silence will a new perspective be revealed.
It is still close enough to the beginning of the 2014 to wish all my readers a Very Happy and Effective New Year.