HOLY WATER

Heart moonA rather big shift of awareness happened the other day: I finally invited divine love, with all its unruly magnitude, to come crashing in. Not only did it arrive on cue—it stayed, taking up residence within me. As me—kind of. But not yet 100%. Nowhere near. So now it seems, in effect, that I’m living with a very large celestial roommate. For lack of a more accurate description.

This was no sudden incident out of the blue. It was precipitated by a month-long series of more or less daily shifts and realizations, occurring along two parallel themes:

1. Everything I’ve ever depended on for happiness has been a self-created lie.

And

2. Divine love is surprisingly, unexpectedly delicious in all possible ways—and I genuinely want to go around seeing and being only that. (Because, yes, everything else sucks by comparison. See theme #1.)

I am inspired to speak openly about this particular shift, because there are aspects of it that might be helpful to others who are walking their own paths home to love.

There’s a very good reason I haven’t spoken about any of the other shifts, even though each has been deeply worthy in its own way. These pedal-to-the-metal stages of the letting go process are messy, you see. They don’t have to be, theoretically at least. Spiritual teachers always hasten to assure us of that.

But let’s be real: As long as the small self is in charge—and it will always be in charge until the letting go process is virtually complete—you can expect a mess.

Besides which, these are messy times we’re living in. High-strung instability is the new normal. The unstable times bring with them a huge opportunity for transformation, yes…but it isn’t likely to be comfortable.

Think of the times we’re in as a rising tide that, potentially at least, can lift all boats to far greater heights than our civilization has ever known. But the water is choppy, and the effects on one’s own dinghy are unforeseen at best.

But hey: If not now, when?

So I, intrepid spiritual explorer, have knowingly and repeatedly steered my vessel onto the rocks. Inviting boat breakage so I can find my own freedom, and maybe also help clear the way for other sailors to follow in my wake.

And that strategy does pay off, a thousandfold. Eventually. When speaking of it in the abstract. But here’s how it goes in realistic day-to-day terms:

When I least expect it, some part of my boat suddenly sideswipes a rock and falls to bits. I cry out with shock and pain. The shock and pain prompts a sudden realization or shift of great depth and loveliness. As a result, I spend 24 hours bathed in joy and peace. And then the next 2 days after that are spent frantically trying to scotch tape the waterlogged boat bits back together, because it’s so deeply uncomfortable to be partially boatless.

And so it goes.

So that’s why I haven’t spoken to you about any of these prior shifts. I was too busy alternately smashing up, and then fruitlessly patching my sad little boat back together.

Like I said: Messy.

But here’s the thing about this most recent shift, and it’s important: I discovered there’s nothing to fear, in the loss of your boat. It was a crappy little craft anyway.

•   •   •   •   •

I always get symbolic visuals in my communications with the divine. This welcoming in of divine love occurred because I finally surrendered all my habitual attempts to manage it, or contain it or squeeze it down in any way to fit into parameters I might feel more comfortable with.

Divine love will not be contained. It will arrive as itself, fearlessly free, or not at all.

So the symbolic visual I was given was of the Johnstown Flood, a catastrophic dam failure that occurred in the late 1800s. The dam collapsed, the water roared through the town and swept nearly everything away. The small self, not unreasonably, would have found this a frightening image.

But here’s the thing.

This heavenly flood was incredibly peaceful. There was no fear in it.  And that’s because the small self wasn’t the one doing the looking.

As soon as I surrendered and caught sight of that sparkling water rising up over the wall, my perception shifted and I was now seeing from the divine perspective of the water itself, not from the interpretations offered by the small self. In fact, the small self was nowhere to be found.

The rushing water was lovely, pure and clear. And I was actually glad, relieved, to watch as it swept through all the rickety-ass structures I’ve built in my lifelong futile quest to feel happy or safe in this unhappy, unsafe world.  I marveled that I could watch this process so peacefully and entirely without fear. My safety wasn’t even slightly in doubt.

And I heard: It’s impossible to drown when you know yourself as the water.

Whoa.

And then I was wordlessly given to understand that, in fact, not everything would be swept away. Some people, some objects would still be left standing after the floodwaters receded. But my relationship to each of these, my own perceptions of each of them would be washed clean, and made new.

And that’s good to know, that some things and some people will accompany me forward. But I couldn’t bank on that beforehand. It was only because I was ready to allow absolutely everything to be swept away, that I could issue the no-strings-attached invitation to let love in. As long as I hung onto anything out of fear of losing it, fear itself was the thing that blocked love’s entry.

And that’s how we usually tend to do it. We hang on to the bitter end, kicking and screaming, clutching our various small treasures, afraid to let them be removed and replaced with something infinitely better. Until we eventually figure out the hard way how worthless those trinkets really are. And only then do we consent to let them go.

But I see now that it really doesn’t have to be that hard.

So here is my advice: Be incredibly bold. Chart a fearless new course—the rockier the better—and do your best to be excited each time your pathetic little boat springs another leak.

Because when you’re finally ready to take that plunge and surrender everything—(how bleak and juiceless that glorious choice seems beforehand!)—you will instantly be shown how unspeakably wonderful it actually is.

But of course you won’t get to see any of that until after you surrender. Because that’s the way it works.

I know. Bummer, right?

But that, my friend, is why they call it faith.

A Year without Fear: (IM)PRISONER

open-cageI thought I was done with the war between the sexes. For me, that battle was so, like, 1975.

I am woman, hear me roar, and all that.

I’m not making light of the very serious and ongoing worldwide challenges women face at the hands of men, mind you. I’m just saying that, by and large, it hasn’t been my fight.

Over the decades of spiritual practice, my early gender rage and frustration have slowly given way to genuine empathy for the other half, the hairier half of the human race. Sure, as a global group, they make some seriously appalling blunders based in fear and anger. And the consequences of those actions are never pretty. But let’s face it—the stonefaced and steel-balled ideal of masculinity (as the world defines it) is a nasty bit of business altogether. And trying to live up, or down, to that code of behavior can’t be easy. Most guys, in my estimation, are honestly doing the best they can.

•          •          •

These days, I’m all about the attempt to go home to God with empty hands. And that’s an interesting process. You look down and notice all the useless baggage you’re carrying. The old grudges. The phobias, the various beliefs in limitation.

And as each one comes up for examination, you ask yourself: Would I rather remain scared of this spider, or hang out with God?

Or maybe it’s: Would I rather be disgusted with the banking system/oil companies/government corruption/insert your pet peeve here? Or would I rather spend quality time resting in God?

Because of course you can’t have both, you know. You always have to choose.

So I’ve been agreeing to drop the mismatched set of luggage, piece by piece. Because I’m starting to finally recognize that all the juice, all the peace I crave can only be found in God. And the peace of God is way better than any baggage I currently own, no matter how much I might enjoy carrying it around.

But after the hands are empty of readily visible suitcases…well, that’s when it really gets interesting. Because the other stuff—the bigger stuff—has to go, too. The opinions and behaviors that run so deep, they form your worldview. The ones that are so automatic, so unquestioned as truth that you can’t imagine who you’d be, or what your life would be like without them.

•          •          •

So I was surprised to find myself triggered a bit by all that old gender stuff again recently. Only this time, I was seeing it from completely outside my own frame of reference, as if my spaceship had just landed and I was viewing this aspect of humanity for the first time.

I saw and felt the vast scope of the world’s rage and hatred toward women. And it kind of took my breath away to notice how we, as a species, have all collectively agreed upon the idea that women, simply because we exist, are so scorned, so feared, that we are therefore legitimate targets of violence anytime the opportunity arises. That this is an unfortunate, yet unavoidable fact of life.

By ‘collective agreement,’ I don’t mean to imply that we all approve of this concept, by any means. I would guess that most men, and virtually all women, are appalled by it. But when we fight an idea—when we take karate classes, or choose a jogging buddy, or helpfully offer to walk a woman to her car, we reinforce the solidity of the very structure we rail against. We accept this hatred and control of women as a real and permanent condition, and we plan for it by fighting fear with fear. Rage with rage. And in doing so, we guarantee it will persist as a fact of this world.

I don’t really know why I found all this enmity so astonishing. It certainly isn’t news.

I guess I just personally noticed in full enormity for the first time, that I am not welcome on this planet. And in age-old response, I seem to have been sporting some hella thick emotional armor all this time. I also noticed I never go out walking by myself, and never, ever alone after dark, if I can help it.

So here’s the truly interesting thing about all this: I absorbed that hateful message way back when, without even knowing it. And only now have I suddenly recognized that, in response to this collectively agreed-upon belief in my own vulnerability as a target, I’ve chosen to live my entire life in a self-made prison. The armor keeps me in, a whole lot more effectively than it keeps anything out.

And I don’t go to the park by myself. I rarely walk alone at night. Hell, I rarely do much of anything alone at night, really. Because you never know who might be out there hating me tonight.

Why have I agreed to live this way? Why do so many women choose to live this way?

For every actual attack that takes place, ten thousand other women attack themselves every day by not going where they want to go. Not doing what they want to do. Not feeling free to simply exist, just as they are. Without airbrushing or apology.

We clip our own damn wings.

I suddenly noticed I’ve chosen to live my entire life in a cage that’s no wider than my shoulders. Clipped or not, I’ve never even bothered to raise my wings and try to fly. I don’t even know if I can.

•          •          •

So who might I be without this shoulder-width cage? No idea. It’s very hard to imagine a “me” who is unbound by these constraints. And honestly, it’s even harder to imagine a me who is free of the old, calcified fear and rage that make up the bars of that cage.

But really, who is there to be angry with? The jailer is me.

Nobody in the world has the power to do to me what I freely chose to do to myself. Men are certainly not to blame. And I’m not mad at myself for choosing the cage—not really. I know I did the best I could with the choices I thought I had at the time.

So…am I willing to open my hands and drop this rage I feel at nobody in particular, in order to hang out with God?

Yes, definitely.

Ok, then. Am I also willing to know myself in a completely different way—as somebody who is unconstrained and unafraid to walk the world in safety and confidence in my right to exist?

Ummm…sure?

Yeah. That one’s a little bit easier said than done. Because it’s hard to imagine that which is hard to imagine.

Meaning, the mind can only grasp what it knows from experience. And that kind of fundamental change in worldview is beyond anything this particular mind has ever known.

But I’m willing. And I’m pretty sure willingness is all it takes.

So. How to go about taking a leap beyond where the mind can go? The first step is to believe that you can.

No, seriously. I’m not launching into a song about ants and rubber trees, here. This is important. Significant change comes only when we allow the possibility for it. Prayer without believing that what you’re asking for is possible…is just aimless wishing.

Luckily, I’ve already learned that anything is possible IF I SAY IT IS. This world of dreams is infinitely malleable—and as the collective architects of this dream, we can change the rules on it anytime we choose to. I, as an infinite creator, have that power. And so do you.

So if I can manage to authentically believe it’s possible for me to experience myself as being free of fear, free of rage…hell, just plain free… then it is possible. Even if I have no idea what that freedom actually feels like, or how to go about it, I recognize that it’s possible.

So I’ve been choosing that possibility all week. Feeling it fully, believing in it completely. Claiming it as my own.

Step two: I’ve been stating clearly to the universe that it’s my choice to start walking this earth in confidence, safety and trust. Open and un-armored. And just by claiming the possibility and stating this intention, I seem to have broken free of the collective agreement for fear-based gender control.

(This doesn’t mean all worldly precautions should be ignored now. I still probably won’t lounge around in Central Park alone at midnight, festooned in my most ostentatious diamond jewelry. That would be foolish. But it does mean willingness to learn how to walk in trust and open-hearted forgiveness, seeing the world—and my place in it—with fresh, loving eyes.)

So the collectively agreed-upon structure of gender-based hatred has lost one pillar. I’ve stepped outside the building. Actually, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me who did the stepping. My job was just to recognize that it’s possible to see another way…and then to make good on that recognition by choosing to release all crusty old fear and blame. That’s where the empty hands come in.

Step three:  Yes, I recognize that it’s possible to release my grip on fear, hate and rage. Because anything is possible. EVERYTHING is possible, including this. I can know myself without fear, without hate for my so-called oppressors, even though I can’t yet picture what that’s like. So I open my hands now, and because it’s possible to do, I agree to let these old beliefs and old protections slip through my fingers and be gone forever.

And once I’ve let my attachments to the old hatred slip away…hello, Step Four: I can then ask to be airlifted higher than my current perception would allow.

As far as I can tell, this method seems to be working. The view seems a bit different up here.

•          •          •

Yes, sometimes major shifts really can be that easy. Airlifting is my new preferred mode of travel.

But be warned: This method of release is accomplished without drama. Without plumbing the depths to revisit old pain. I let it all go without examining every injustice I suffered, every wound inflicted, in an attempt to find resolution and healing.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when that kind of excavation is very appropriate. But take it from me, because I’ve done it both ways: Hard work and pain take a whole lot longer than simply letting yourself be lifted. And they’re way less fun.

WAY. Less fun.

So this is my heartfelt advice, if it interests you: Take the quick and scenic route. Let your liberation unfold in a way that’s free of agony. Stop rolling boulders uphill, and let yourself be lifted instead. Four easy steps. Really. That’s all it takes.

If you’re anything like me, and your wings don’t work so good yet…divine helicopters are standing by.

ENLIGHTENMENT-AHOLIC


Road-to-NowhereFunny, isn’t it. You’re positively sure you know some fact or other; you understand it completely from your head down to your toes. And then one day the candle of Knowing spontaneously ignites, and whoosh!  It’s made a liar out of you, just like that.

The other night I came to know — really know — there’s no point to the goal of attaining future enlightenment.

Mind you, I would have said I already knew that chasing a phantom “future enlightened state” is an exercise in futility. I seem to recall I wrote a book on that very topic.

And yet I discovered I was doing just that.

I realized I was still seeking enlightenment as a future-based end goal, complete with checkered flag and trophy cup. One more item to check off the to-do list. But there is no end goal, and no finish line where enlightenment is concerned. How could a limitless state of awareness ever be brought to completion?

I honestly thought I knew better. [You probably know better too.]

But when an authentic knowing floods in and rewires your perception, as it did the other night, you can’t help but recognize with a shock that up until now, you really didn’t know what you thought you knew.

That you didn’t, in fact, know squat.

Because now, suddenly, you have become the knowing — and no amount of shriveled-up previous mental “knowledge” compares, once that fully integrated whoosh of living, breathing, juicy, mind-body-Spiritual embodied wisdom takes permanent hold of you.

•          •          •

It happened this way:

Having recently vowed to live our lives as “loving servants of God *with plumbing*” (it was me who added the plumbing clause to the contract, because I do enjoy a good hot shower in the mornings), Steve and I have taken to spending big chunks of our day in meditation or contemplative prayer, since we have no clear idea of what form that service might take.

But we haven’t been praying in the sense of asking or telling Spirit what our ego minds think should happen; rather we’re doing our best to simply stay open and empty and trusting, and rest in God while listening for…what?

Inspiration, I guess.

Mostly I get Big Silence. Peaceful, sure. Grounded? Absolutely. But not much clear direction happening on the topic of loving service – or any other.

This particular day’s meditation was much the same. But then suddenly at the end, the candle whooshed, the dominoes fell and a fully formed knowing clicked into place:  It’s pointless for me to go on chasing the goal of enlightenment. It’s only my ego mind that seeks it, and what’s the mantra of the ego? Seek and do not find.

I had long ago convinced myself that awakening was a necessary step toward choosing Love instead of fear, because theoretically if I’m awakened I’ll be present enough at all times to remember to choose correctly between them.

Sound enough logic, as far as it goes. But it’s a future-based ego trap, designed to put an end goal on something that has no finish line.

And then a second knowing whooshed in: I needn’t wait for, or struggle toward enlightenment (which is a pointless effort anyway because the time and circumstances of my awakening are not within my control). I need only choose to let my life be guided by Love in every moment starting right now. Awake or not awake is kinda beside the point, when one’s life is being shaped and moved and art-directed by God.

So I let go of enlightenment as a goal. And I chose to let every moment of my life be guided by Love instead.

I can’t say it felt good, letting go of that firmly entrenched goal – which is a pretty fair indicator of how deep my attachment actually was.

I felt disappointed, deflated in the pit of my stomach. And alarmingly close to tears. My identity as a spiritual seeker was a huge chunk of who I thought I was. If I was no longer chasing enlightenment, my ego mind would now be forced to give up acres of prime real estate.

And then a third knowing tumbled in on the heels of the other two: Letting go of the cherished goal of future enlightenment allows me to have less resistance to what’s going on right now, in this moment.

THIS moment is the classroom, the treasure, the eternal choicepoint. Every gorgeous, messy, imperfect, confusing moment of it is a fresh opportunity to be guided by Love. But if this moment is chronically unworthy because there’s no awakening happening in it, how can I hope to embrace it fully and receive all the infinite gifts it has to offer?

Ah. Oh I see. Ok, I get it now.

It’s all well and good to agree to let my life be guided by Love. But it’s not quite the passive activity I imagined it to be. (Not at this stage of my development, anyway.) I’m no leaf, peacefully surrendered to the eddying stream; I’ve got a very bossy ego that is still mostly sure it knows best in every situation. And that ego will not hesitate to grab a motorboat and tear upriver at full throttle against the current anytime I let it.

So am I serious about living my life in alignment with Divine Will? Do I really want to let Love guide me?

If so, then an ongoing commitment to action is required. It’s my moment-to-moment responsibility, as crap hits various fans, to pause, step back and ask: How would Love have me respond in this situation?

To ask it over and over, as many times a day as I manage to remember to do it. And this is key: To ask it and listen. And not assume I already know the answer.

Oooh, another small whoosh: Yes, forgiveness will always be a component of the answer. But Love is chiefly concerned with extending Love. So the decision to be guided by Love is a request to be used by Love as a conduit for actively healing, nourishing and replenishing everybody and everything I encounter.

Them, before myself.

And I haven’t a clue what’s the best way to do that in each new situation. Only Love knows.

So it’s a whole new moderately unfamiliar landscape here that I’m looking at, one with several key landmarks missing. And a certain amount of mildly uncomfortable newfound humility heaped on top.

I haven’t entirely made sense of it all yet, but there seems to be a faint, sparkly joy playing around the edges of it. But I can’t absolutely swear to that.

We’ll see.

I’ll let you know.

 

GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PRESENCE


Lately I’ve been happier and far more peaceful than ever before in my life.

Of course, that’s not saying a lot.

From day one, I’ve always had far more heart-thumping, grindingly antsy anxiety running through my veins, than actual blood.

Mind you, it’s about a thousand times better now than when I first began my spiritual journey. But (as anybody on a similar path knows), when this painful ego stuff gradually begins to clear and sanity is strengthened, the crap that remains becomes seen in ever-sharper focus. And it’s that clear-eyed perception that makes the remaining bullshit far more acutely unpleasant than the dull, unfocused ache of the old days.

•          •          •

In recent months, Holy Presence has become the basis of my spiritual practice. This form of present moment awareness is very unlike the earlier ‘now moment’ flirtations I’ve tried through meditation, or chanting, or stopping to smell the roses, or whatnot. This is a sort of up-close-and-personal, in-your-face form of presence. A vast and muscular and very Loving presence.

Back in May, I embarked on Michael Brown’s Presence Process, a ten-week breathwork course that emphasizes consistent morning and evening periods of sustained presence. In the book, he describes these steady, prolonged periods of present moment awareness as being very different from the usual spiritual practices that are meant to put us in touch with the now moment.

He says it’s the difference between visiting an old friend often for a cup of tea, (and assuming you know their house well because you’ve stopped by so many times) and actually agreeing to house sit for a few weeks. Suddenly you’re in this house by yourself for a prolonged stay, and you have all the time in the world to notice the hundreds of things about it that you’ve never seen before.

So I did the breathing, in presence, as prescribed. And I started to notice something right away that I’d never realized: Presence has a distinct vibration.

At first I thought it was just a ringing in my ears caused by the super-oxygenation of the breathwork.

But no.

Presence is a living thing; it has a mind of its own – and it comes calling for me whenever it wants my attention. My ears become filled with its unmistakable ‘sound,’ and I am gently reminded to withdraw my focus, my belief, from whatever silly ego story I’ve sucked myself into at the moment.

This has been a lasting effect of my presence and breathwork explorations, and I’m delighted to say that the phenomenon seems to be growing more pronounced all the time.

I wish I could find words to describe for you what I’ve found inside the ‘house’ of Presence, now that I spent those ten weeks house sitting. But truly, it enters that sacred realm where words can’t go.

It isn’t just that Presence has an intellect. Presence is Holy.

Presence is not only where Spirit dwells, the now moment seems to be made out of Spirit. And vice versa.

And I know…I can feel…that if I could just manage to spend quality time hanging out in Holy Presence, entirely nonresistant to it, then this experience itself would be Heaven on earth.

(See? I told you, words are fumbly nuisances here. But I’m doing my best.)

And so it has become my practice to melt gratefully into Holy Presence, and sit there non-resisting. And to try to string together as many moments of that experience as I possibly can, before my chattery ego mind slips away and drags me someplace else.

It’s sort of a combo of intensely focused present moment awareness, and a joining pool exercise. (If you’re unfamiliar with the joining pool, see The Enlightenment Project, page 141.) Except this is the funny thing – and here comes the failure of words, again: I’ve discovered that true present moment awareness IS a joining pool exercise.

So there you go — it’s the best description I can come up with. If you’ve managed to make any sense out of what I’ve written here, and feel inspired to try this Presence practice for yourself, I highly recommend it.

•          •          •

Anyway, the benefits of it are wonderful and many, including a gentle, ever-unfolding clarity.

The other day I was snugged up in my cozy English digs. It was cold and blustery outside, but I was sitting warm by the fire with my hot tea and Afghan throw, the Christmas lights a-twinkling. And I noticed I was truly happier, more peaceful and more free than I’ve ever felt before.

And then Presence came gently calling. And I was very softly pulled into it, taking me several layers deeper than usual. I adjusted my focus accordingly, and as I did it, I could see that at this more buried level I was actually seething with anxiety.

This was a profound antsiness, a thorough dissatisfaction with myself, for sitting by the fire with a mug of tea instead of using the moment more productively. I should be writing a book or something, shouldn’t I?

This dissatisfaction, this self-criticism runs so deep in me that at its lower levels I’m completely blind to it because it seems so much like what my world is constructed out of. It’s the lens through which I view and experience my 3-D reality, so I would ordinarily never back up enough to notice it as a stand-alone thing – just a lens, not reality itself.

But here’s the great thing: Unlike the old days when I believed in the anxiety message through and through, I knew this present moment was perfect and Holy, exactly as it was. And nothing at all was required of me right then, except to relax and allow it to just be.

It was kind of a startling moment of worlds colliding. But thanks to the reassurance and Love emanating from the ongoing song of Presence that was playing so sweetly in my ears, I took the time to examine that old buried ghost story of anxiety very carefully. And I saw it had no relevance here. So I made the conscious choice to relax and melt my habitually anxious worldview into present moment peace instead.

•          •          •

I’ve been experimenting with this very delicately ever since. And I find its effect has been equally profound, no matter what the present moment happens to hold.

A couple of days ago, we went on an outing to the lovely city of Bath to do some Christmas shopping. I had a client phonecall scheduled for 7:00pm (to accommodate the 8 hours difference between England and California), so there should have been plenty of time to shop and get back before then.

But as we all piled in the van to head for home, we discovered the roads were seized up in absolutely stupendous gridlock — which they specialize in, in these ancient cities where cars and traffic are always a patchwork afterthought.

A half hour went by and we hadn’t moved more than a car length or two. And suddenly the hours of extra padding between me and my client call didn’t seem quite so cushiony. And I had no way of contacting them to let them know I might miss the call.

This should have been a prime recipe for anxiety, but it wasn’t. Presence was in my ears, and I was steeped in the profound peace of this-here-now. And I knew the client call would either happen, or I would apologize when I got home, and reschedule.

The folks in the front seat started up a game to pass the time: What’s your version of paradise? Where would you be right now if you could have anything in the world?

I had to really think and think. But when my turn came, my mind was blank.

Because honestly, this moment was already it.

Stuck in traffic in the back of a van. Nothing could have been more glorious than that.

 

So on this day of Christmas Eve, dearest friend, I wish you peace, and happiness, and freedom.

And most of all, I wish you Holy Presence.

 

THE BREATHWORK CHRONICLES


Have you noticed? There’s a bewildering cornucopia of seemingly contradictory forms of breathwork out there to choose from. Some kinds have you breathing through the nose only, others say to use just the mouth. Some want you to focus only on the inhale, others only on the exhale.

Some forms of breathwork super-oxygenate the brain and body; certain other forms of breathing do the opposite, consciously restricting the oxygen in the brain to create an altered state of spiritual readiness.

All agree that breathwork is very healing. Except, of course for when it’s very damaging.

It can be confusing as hell to know what to do.

And this is no small matter. Because (as Yong made abundantly clear to me) breathwork is extremely powerful. I’m told that in the wrong hands, it could have very undesirable effects.

So you’ll understand why I spent a few days doing the bunny-in-the-headlights thing. On the one hand, I’m being asked to do LOTS more breathwork as part of this much vaunted ‘legacy’ I’m supposed to leave. But on the other hand I received not one, but two very hard spankings in recent days (one from a Being, the other from a human being) over the potential dangers of breathwork.

And so I put my prayer, my confusion, my fright, my petulance about breathwork in a big old suitcase, and flung it off the cliff of trust and surrender. As in: I don’t have a fucking clue. You want me to step forward and do this thing? Show me.

(Fortunately, Spirit always pardons my French. And my bratty attitude.)

•          •          •

It took a few days to get my answer. It arrived in a huge download of information in the middle of the night – the kind that drags one’s ass up out of bed to write it all down, because the sheer volume just keeps flowing and flowing — and you know from experience it’ll be gone by morning if you don’t get up now and document it.

So this is what I got. This is my knowing:

What matters is the intention.

Powerful Spiritual beings that we are, our intention is the universal force that moves mountains. Our intention is what creates and destroys worlds. Literally.

So all forms of breathwork are nothing more than neutral tools, like everything else we toy with in our 3-D dream existence. It all boils down to how I INTEND to use those tools. And thanks to Yong and others, my intention about breathwork has become completely clear:

 I only want this tool to serve the highest good. Always.

And the details of how that intention comes to life are none of my business.

So all tools that flow through me must function for the highest good of all, or I don’t wanna play. (I’ll pack up my tools and go watch tv instead.)

So these are my conditions:

I ask that these tools be truly, authentically and deeply helpful for each individual who is drawn to them. And that the tools always be profoundly loving in nature.

Part of the scary unpredictability surrounding breathwork is the unregulated power with which it is able to drag up insights from the unconscious into the conscious mind, whether that mind is prepared for them or not.

So I also ask that each of these breathwork students receives only as much insight, only as much healing and light as is perfect for them to absorb in that moment. (These are things I can’t possibly know or control, left to my own devices, so I’ve handed my full intention over to Spirit permanently on this.)

And that’s how I know that whatever breathwork program I develop will be completely safe. {Which is not to say it will always be comfortable. My intention is to use the breath as a tool to help self and others wake up. And sometimes that process ain’t pretty.)

But because the great power of my intention has been surrendered to Spirit, I know without doubt that my breathwork programs will always function for the highest good, and could never be damaging or destructive to anyone.

But. Will I still make people read disclaimers anyway, stating all the benefits and potential dangers of breathwork, and then make them sign waivers before moving forward with it?

Yup. You betcha.

I’m going for broke with God, but there’s no reason to be stupid. This is the 3-D world I live in, and it’s chock full of lawyers.

•          •          •

So this is the nature of the program I’m currently developing — it’s a two-part process. (It’s not necessary to do both parts.)

1. A guided meditation/breathwork session whose purpose is to gently open us to the holy light of Presence, drinking that Divine light deeply into every cell of the body. (Those very cells are where deepest illusory pain and misperception are held.)

This exercise reveals areas of darkness and deep resistance almost by default – nobody can drink in holy light 100% unless already fully awakened.

So very naturally, our dark matter is revealed to us.

And that gives us the opportunity to gently observe those areas of dark misperception that arise, using nothing but our loving and nonjudgmental awareness. By just agreeing to be aware, and feel this thing we’ve suppressed and denied for so long — that’s where freedom lies.

(The power of our own loving awareness is right up there with the power of intention. There’s literally no limit to the healing it can bring.)

 

2. The second breathwork exercise, for those who wish to go the Indiana Jones route, and intentionally excavate the deepest caverns of their own unconscious misperception… (bullwhip optional…)

…for them, another guided meditation/breathwork session, this one designed to actively access and release the unconscious blocks to Love.

In both of these guided breathwork sessions, we intend to use a combination of music, sacred sounds, specific vibrations and tones that are precisely calculated to access these targeted areas of the unconscious mind and body where stuck pain and old frozen energies are stored. The intention is to facilitate as deep and thorough a healing result as possible.

But again, the vow remains the same for both exercises, even though the second one is designed to be much more proactively intense than the first. I only want to be an instrument of highest good. I’m not attached to any of these processes that we’re developing; if any of this breathwork falls short of that goal of being truly helpful, then I won’t use it. I’ll move on and wait to be shown what to do instead.

•          •          •

When I was first Guided to explore this breathing stuff (first through Michael Brown’s Presence Process, then Judith Kravitz’s Transformational Breathwork), I saw the immense value right away, in its ability to help us undo our ego thought system and release our unconscious blocks to Love.

On a 3-D physical level breathwork also has great healing benefit — because we, as a species, typically starve ourselves of oxygen. We shut down our breathing to almost nothing as a way of hiding from our trauma, and refusing to feel our own unconscious gunk. (That’s why relearning to breathe with full capacity unlocks the unconscious stuff we’ve been suppressing.)

All organs, all cells, need full oxygenation to be healthy. In addition to the emotional/spiritual healing that can take place through the release of unconscious trauma, many seemingly intractable illnesses of the body respond in dramatically healing fashion to the rich oxygenation that breathwork delivers.

But beyond those benefits, I noticed something else: Breathwork seems to facilitate a much easier, much deeper and more profound connection with Spirit. Judith Kravitz’s guided breathwork CD is about 45 minutes long, but each time I listened, by around the halfway mark I would spontaneously feel inspired to join deeply with Spirit in Divine Presence…instead of whatever Judith was instructing us to do.

I was working daily with this CD, roughly two weeks prior to the October Power of Power retreat workshop that Nouk, Stacy and I were to be teaching in Colorado. And I started to feel really inspired to share this breathing practice at that workshop, despite my near-total lack of experience with it.

So during one breathing session, while joined with Spirit in holy Presence, I asked if it would be appropriate for me to teach this at the workshop. And the answer, stated powerfully, was: THIS IS THE PATHWAY WITHIN.

And the unspoken feeling surrounding the words was: Yes, Yes definitely. Yes. Teach it.

So I did. At that retreat I led a couple of guided breathwork sessions, and just let the inspiration flow through me for how they should go. And I have to say, the results were amazing.

But that was beginner’s luck. (Or beginner’s Grace. Either way, it had nothing to do with me.) So I’ve been slowly studying, researching, developing it ever since. Just so that I have some kind of clue about what I should be teaching, here.

But it doesn’t really matter what form the breathing ultimately takes. Now I know my only real job is to keep my intention on the highest good. Eyes on the prize. After that, it really isn’t up to me.

 

 

 

 

 

JUST BREATHE


Ever been spanked by an ancient Chinese Entity?

Yeah, me neither…until last week, that is.

Last Tuesday, Ken Bok [of http://acimexplained.com] came down to the farm for a visit. Although he’s interviewed me many times online, we’d only met once in person at last year’s UK ACIM conference.  Now that I’m staying in Dorset — a mere trainride away from London — we thought it an excellent opportunity for hanging out, so Ken came down and spent a couple of days with us.

And with him, it turned out, came this ancient Chinese Being. And the Being wanted to talk to me.

•          •          •

Ken has only recently poked his head out of the closet to announce that he’s psychic. (I’m told his readings are quite good. Contact him at https://www.facebook.com/kennethbokpsychic if it interests you.)

What I didn’t realize is that he’s also a psychic medium. And the guide he channels is actually a whole group of ancient Chinese intelligences that go by the collective name of Yong. Sort of like Abraham, I guess, except not nearly as cuddly.

As it turned out, Yong had plenty to say to me. I’ll share just a few of the highlights here:

Apparently I ought to be a lot more prolific than I have been thus far. It seems I’m supposed to leave a ‘legacy,’ a comprehensive body of work that will continue to help others after I’m gone. But apparently I’m being a bit of a slowpoke, output-wise.

So I’m ‘strongly urged’ to get off the stick and get to work in earnest. I’m told to write more, and speak more, and give more workshops.

And speaking of workshops, we (the Undoing the Ego team http://undoing-the-ego.org) also are told to hold a lot more Power of Power workshop retreats. It seems we haven’t even scratched the surface with those. As mindblowing as they already are, they will apparently evolve way beyond this current level and make a huge contribution to the collective Self.

Or something.

So we need to leave a legacy of work from those retreats, in addition to our own personal legacies.

And there’s more: The breathwork that I’ve been developing – it seems I haven’t yet begun to tap its true power and immense value. It hasn’t yet become even a fraction of what it will be. (I thought it was pretty unbelievable before. But what do I know.)

I’m supposed to do a lot more hands-on experiential breathwork. I need to experience it as often as possible myself, and also facilitate it for others.

A lot. Like, really a lot.

Each time I do it, I’ll learn more, and new avenues of exploration will open. I should also start to talk publicly about the breathwork. Like in my blog, for instance. And I should maybe start some breathwork groups on the internet. (Yes, apparently ancient Entities do keep up with modern technology.)

•          •          •

Honestly? I’m exhausted just thinking about all this. Partly because most of my seeming to-do list doesn’t even exist yet, and I have no clear direction or idea of which way to head, to get there from here.

And yet, I’m actually not worried about any of that.

This is where trust and surrender play such a big role. It means setting the bone-deep prayer and intention that I want to be truly helpfulwhatever form that takes. And being absolutely unattached to what the result of that prayer looks like.

And then wandering out into the world at large, eyes peeled for signposts. Trusting that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, even when no signposts are yet visible. Or maybe they’re visible, but they look too weird at first glance to be right. (Tricky, but I’m getting much better at that part.)

And the inspirations have indeed been coming. A whole new exciting avenue for breathwork exploration has revealed itself just in the last few days. (I’ll get into the details of that another time.)

And a group of beautiful, courageous friends-in-Spirit have shown up and agreed to be my beta testers – yes, on the internet! – as I work to fine tune these powerful new breathwork processes.

So it’s all good.

And the spanking? That came after all this glorious hoo-hah about legacies and such.

It seems I needed, er, an attitude adjustment. A big chunk of this very long message was spent sternly admonishing me for my childishly foolish/cavalier behavior towards this breathing business. Breathwork is not a toy, and I need to use a hell of a lot more wisdom and discernment, going forward, because its power must always be wielded consciously and with clear Spiritual intent.

…Ok, then. Um, thanks.

I responded to this fairly overwhelming and moderately disturbing 40 minute communiqué (which had lots more juicy bits than I’ve described here) by promptly catching a cold and going to bed for a few days. Sometimes a girl just needs some blocked nasal passages and a cup of hot tea.

But now I’m back, and the ‘legacy’ is still waiting patiently right where I left it.

So here we go. Trust and surrender.

Excuse me while I go someplace quiet and just… breathe.

 

I, PITBULL (or: how I learned to love the world)


I’ve been staying with my dear friend Kathy and her adorable dog Coco recently. The other day our little household swelled temporarily from three to four when Coco’s best buddy, a darling white pitbull named Cloudy, came for an extended visit.

Cloudy is a big snuggly ball of sweetness encased in 65 pounds of hard-packed muscle. And when he smiles – which is often – it’s literally from ear to ear. So delicious you could eat him with a spoon.

He has no idea why anybody would ever be afraid of him.

Pitbulls get a bad rap, in my opinion, and they don’t deserve their rotten reputation.  The fact is, I’ve never met a pitbull that wasn’t sweet natured; it seems to me if you really want a mean pitbull, you’d have to go pretty far out of your way to train him to be that way.

And yet.

To pretend a pitbull isn’t capable of great violence is to do the dog a disservice. The fact is, pitbulls were bred specifically to clamp down and hang onto other animals with those powerful jaws. That instinct is buried deep in the DNA.

If I were to assume this dog was a harmless jello baby made strictly for lovin,’ I could put him (and maybe also the neighborhood cats and Chihuahuas) at risk. In the wrong sort of threatening or confusing situation, those deep down genetics just might kick in.

A pitbull can’t help what he is. It’s up to me to see the dog clearly: To see past the unfair reputation so I can appreciate the cuddly nature, yes — but also keep one realistic eye on those fearsome jaws at all times.

•       •          •

And, in a rather roundabout way, that brings me to the topic of humans.

Like the folks who unfairly characterize all pitbulls as vicious thugs, I used to only see the worst in our collective human nature.

Oh sure, we were capable of great art. Great leaps of spirit. Occasional acts of selflessness, even. I acknowledged these anomalies grudgingly — but mostly I saw us as irredeemably miserable bastards, out to ravage the Earth and each other. And despite my best efforts over many years of spiritual practice, that attitude toward the world persisted for a very long time.

In fact I used to shake my head in bemusement at those eternally rose-colored optimists who insisted (despite all evidence to the contrary) that mankind was essentially noble and good. And that given the opportunity, we humans could be counted on to do the right thing most of the time.

Well. Clearly we can’t be counted on for any such thing. Our minds aren’t hardwired that way. And yet (just like pitbulls) when it comes right down to it, we’re not the slightest bit evil, either. We happen to have some nasty jaws on us, sure… but deep down we really just want to be loved.

Yet I was unable to truly feel any of that compassion for us in my heart. I could cut a dog all the slack in the world, it seemed, but when it came to humanity I just couldn’t seem to forgive us our trespasses.

•       •          •

Not to change the subject, but this has been a hell of a year for me. Deep spiritual crises followed by even deeper spiritual openings. The fledgling emergence of a profound new Self I never knew existed…which is totally awesome, at least on paper. But these shy introductions to this wise, powerful Carrie 2.0 have turned my life completely upside down. Let’s just say I’ve been both shaken and stirred.

But uncomfortable as it’s been, I wouldn’t change a minute of it.

Getting to know this eternal Self has caused some amazing shifts in perception. Suddenly I can step outside many of those deepest (conscious or unconscious) beliefs that have caused me pain and kept me imprisoned in my own mistaken stuff for as long as I can remember.

And one of those deep beliefs – not just deep, but miles wide – was my casual certainty that the world was evil. That humanity was irredeemable. It wasn’t something I ever thought about consciously; I didn’t have to. The bleak facts of our existence, and our endless catalogue of crimes spoke for themselves. It was undeniable.

Wasn’t it?

One day a few months back while I was brushing my teeth, my newly emergent eternal wisdom unexpectedly asked this gentle question:

What if I’m wrong about the world?

As in: What if nobody’s actually guilty here? And what if every assumption I’ve ever made about our inherent evil is completely baseless?

(As is often the case with such communiqués, the words were accompanied by something much bigger and altogether wordless: A perfectly neutral snapshot of humanity as a whole, an overview of us as we’ve trundled along throughout our messy history — but witnessed now from beyond my own dark and narrow vantage point.

It was an invitation to see more clearly. To notice our deadly jaws, as it were, but to look beyond them for the very first time, to appreciate our inherent sweetness. Our yearning to know God, even if we often don’t call it that. And to let a lifetime of rigid fear and judgment melt away in the process.)

It was an opportunity, if I wanted it, to entertain an entirely different possibility about how to live in this world.

This was staggering. It had never before occurred to me that my attitude was mere opinion, subject to interpretation. I was so certain of the world’s evil, I had never even bothered wondering whether or not it was true.

(I know. WTF, right? I wrote a book all about self-inquiry; all about revisiting our deepest assumptions and asking ourselves if they’re really true. And I practice and teach A Course in Miracles, which is all about the world’s innocence, for God’s sake. Well. What can I tell you. I knew all those things in my head, but sometimes it takes frigging forever for such important information to travel from the head to the heart.)

And now, I’d experienced firsthand that the world was neither good nor bad. Wow. I realized that everything I had ever done, everything I was up until this point, had been constructed with defense or preemptive attack in mind.

How should I start to behave now that the world wasn’t evil?  This would surely change everything.

•       •          •

And it has. Just by acknowledging the possibility that I was wrong about the world’s nature, a spontaneous release of my old crusty stuff seems to have taken place.

Nowadays I mostly feel tenderness and empathy for us. I can see our hurts, our skinned knees where we’ve repeatedly fallen down on sharp gravel; I still have days when I’m appalled by our antics, but mostly I just want to clean the scraped knee, kiss it and make it better.

Yes, I acknowledge it’s possible one of you might pop me in the back of the head with a slingshot rock the moment I turn away to grab a clean bandage. Humans are like that – we haven’t stopped acting like little bastards. But knowing this, I watch carefully for signs of possible bad behavior and go on dressing the wound anyway. Because we’re all in this together.

Violence is programmed into our genetic code, but I’ve found if I look carefully beyond that surface aspect of our collective makeup, very quickly our truest nature begins to shine through. And you know, it ain’t half bad.