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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

The Truth Within the Truth

Recently I returned from the October 2011 retreat workshop taught in Pecos, New Mexico by Nouk Sanchez and Stacy Sully. I assumed this New Mexico workshop would be valuable, powerful, moving. I never dreamed it would change my life forever.

First off, I should tell you I only went as an observer. (Nouk and I will be teaching a 9-day retreat workshop in Germany in April of 2012, so it seemed like a good idea for me to attend this New Mexico version to start planning how to blend our teaching methods.)

Nobody else on Earth is teaching exactly this information in exactly this way. Sure, this would technically be considered an ACIM (A Course in Miracles, that is) workshop.  The curriculum definitely stems from ACIM, and at first glance may all seem very familiar if you’ve been studying the Course for awhile. (Incidentally, you don’t have to be any sort of ACIM expert to attend one of these workshops—but it will damn sure help to have at least a passing familiarity with it.)

But this ACIM-based information is being taught in a way that’s radically new. In the past year (after her partner Tomas Vieira’s passing), Nouk underwent a ton of personal transformation. Some real ‘dark night of the soul’ stuff, as you can imagine, in the aftermath of those events. And in answer to her fervent prayers, she began receiving direct transmissions from Spirit showing her how to much more deeply understand—and teach—the true message and meaning of the Course.

Combined with this astonishing new clarity of interpretation, is Nouk’s own personal experience—which came during that aforementioned ‘dark night’—of releasing all ego attachment in order to surrender total trust to Spirit.

(No, if you’re wondering, she doesn’t yet abide in this awakened, ego-free state permanently. It comes and goes.)

Anyway, the result of all this is phenomenal: Nouk is offering the deep, direct scoop on how to rapidly awaken from the dream, and it’s delivered straight from the Source. This info is absolutely accurately true to the Course, yet at the same time a radical reinterpretation that cuts straight through to the non-dual heart of the teaching.

As I listened to her teach this workshop, it felt as if a powerful, yet gentle surgeon’s scalpel was deftly slicing away all the areas of confusion; of fuzzy thinking; of mistaken ego interpretation that have commonly plagued our collective understanding of the Course until now.

And she teaches all this not merely as mental theory, but from direct experience and inner knowing. She has personally experienced each one of the releases, each of the healings, and all the miracles she’s teaching about.

And, and, as she delivers this information to us, Nouk is constantly listening to her inner Teacher. She pauses to receive added explanations or clearer wording so that any confusion among listeners can be reduced or eliminated. It’s a living process, in other words, a Partnership of teachings being delivered in ‘real time,’ flowing according to the needs and capacity of the listeners who are present.

So that’s a small description of Nouk’s contribution. What’s Stacy’s role, you ask? Why is this new person who isn’t Tomas up there sharing the stage? This is a brief recap, in Nouk’s own words, of how Stacy came to be a part of this teaching process:

“Tomas and I met Stacy Sully in early 2009. Tomas chose to leave physical form in December of 2010. During his final 10 months, Stacy (a powerfully intuitive energy healer) devoted herself to taking Tomas through a very deep and joyful process of releasing fear and undoing the remnants of ego. The outcome for Tomas was a monumental dropping away of fear, and a delivery into Joy and immense trust.

Stacy and I continue to be very close because we share the same goal. Our priority is the peace of God; now we wish to help others undo the one cause of suffering without delay.”

Stacy’s role in these workshops, while much more subtle than Nouk’s, is absolutely vital as well. Stacy’s verbal contributions are filled with quiet wisdom and are always valuable; but what’s absolutely unique and totally essential to the process, is the energy work she does silently, internally, to support the listeners throughout the workshop.

She lovingly ‘holds the space,’ as they say, working on an energetic level with the group as a whole, as well as individuals who need it. (Yes, she can see and read that invisible stuff going on in each of us. It’s ok; you can trust her.) Without speaking or engaging the conscious mind of anybody in the room, she gently helps participants to open their hearts and authentically absorb the very challenging info that Nouk is presenting.

There is a great flow transpiring between Nouk, Stacy and Spirit, in other words. Stacy silently assists each listener to release any blocks, resistance or fear that come up during the workshop. She also helps ground everybody present, so the information doesn’t get stuck in the mind as intellectual theory, but instead becomes integrated into the heart. Through establishing this ‘grounding channel,’ Stacy supports a deeply anchored experience of present awareness in each person’s heart—a direct embodied understanding.

(While in ‘Truth with a capital T’ our energy and our bodies are illusory, the human experience is that bodies and energy are where we hold our unconscious ego blocks rigidly in place, here in the dream world. Stacy’s gift is to help soften those blocks so they can be released if we’re ready. The fewer ego blocks we embrace, the more we can authentically know ourselves as the one True Self that is beyond all dreams of bodies and energy. Stacy’s work is used exclusively to help us accomplish this.)

Stacy’s work relies entirely on the willingness and readiness of the person involved. (Nothing would ever happen without your authentic permission, in other words.) Combined with Nouk’s uncompromising, paradigm-busting material and exercises, Stacy can help workshop attendees experience openings and healings right and left, if they’re genuinely ready.

For me, core stuff that has resisted healing my whole life has begun to fall away in huge chunks after hanging with Nouk and Stacy these few days. But even more than that, it’s like my whole orientation has been subtly turned to True North: It’s as if all my life, every cell in my being has unknowingly contained iron filings within it; and this workshop permanently magnetized all the iron filings, causing me to feel gently but firmly pulled toward a homecoming with God.

The best part is, Nouk and Stacy are just getting started in this paradigm shift. This workshop was only the beginning. There’s lots and lots more info to share—only so much could be squeezed into 2.5 working days.

Going forward (starting with the German workshop in April of 2012), we’ll be joining forces to present these workshops. Nouk and Stacy will be doing their Divinely inspired thing, and I will be providing the nitty-gritty ‘boots on the ground’ examples of how this stuff gets integrated into everyday life. The three of us working together will be an awesome joining, I can feel it.

*            *            *

So. Are these workshops right for you? To quote Anaïs Nin, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Translation: Are you ready and willing to face and accept your deepest unconscious ego crap, (whatever it may be) and allow it to be gently released? If so, then yes! This workshop series is definitely for you.

If you’re willing to face and accept just some of your unconscious stuff, these workshops may still be for you, although, understandably, you’ll probably get a bit less out of them. Still, great honking chunks of old personal baggage may fall away for you, too, as a result.

But between you and me, if you’re still happy to remain ‘tight in the bud,’ as Anaïs would say…then you’re probably better off staying home. At least for now. Participating in one of these workshops is an agreement to get on the bullet train of forgiveness. It could cause a fair amount of motion sickness if you’re not quite ready for it.

Having said all that…only you will know if you’re ready for this or not. Well, only you and Spirit. My advice? Ask for Guidance, see what feels right. If the answer is yes, then do whatever it takes to get yourself to one of these workshops ASAP.  Seriously.

*            *            *

Future workshop info: Along with the April 2012 Retreat in Germany, Nouk, Stacy and I will facilitate additional retreats at the beautiful Pecos Monastery in New Mexico. The first retreat is open to those who have previously attended a Power of Power – Know Thyself Retreat and will be held in the early summer of 2012. The second retreat is a Level One, 4-Day Power of PowerKnow Thyself Retreat in the later Summer of 2012 in New Mexico.  If you are interested in attending, please let us know in advance, as our guidance is to keep the groups small, around 20 participants only. Dates, prices and details will be released soon. Please email Sparo Vigil to let us know your interest:  sparo.arika@yahoo.com.

For more about Nouk, Stacy, workshops and whatnot, go to http://www.undoing-the-ego.org

To listen to this article, please use this audio player –

The Lois Lane Syndrome

I’ve often been asked to describe what happens when I “channel” Spirit. But channeling is not what I do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be able to nudge my ego mind aside and make room for Spirit to come through instead of me. But that’s a talent I don’t have.

I’m just a listener—and then afterward I report on what I hear. I would describe my role in this as being kind of like Lois Lane: Through no virtue of my own, I seem to have acquired an ongoing, daily relationship with a mysterious Friend much greater than myself.

A Friend who feeds me wonderfully accurate information to write about. A Friend who cares only for my happiness. (A Friend who also shows up to save the day, every time my foolish, impetuous ego mind gets me into a jam.)

Like Lois, my only “talent,” if indeed I have one, is that I’m a plucky, intrepid sleuth. Whenever my Friend gives me a hot tip to follow, I’ll track it all the way down to its source—and then I’ll share what I’ve learned with interested readers everywhere.

What can I say, the whole analogy makes me laugh: Carrie Triffet, Girl Reporter.

•            •            •

But Lois Lane makes for a useful analogy in another, more universal way.

Because really, we’re all a bit like Lois: Every single one of us has the same great Friend with us at all times. This Friend loves us all equally, and shows each of us infinite compassion and patience. It wants only our happiness, and wishes us to know its Friendship as it truly is.

But, like Lois, we never seem able to recognize the true identity of this most dear Friend.

Why? Because it’s wearing those ridiculous glasses.

Now, let’s be honest. We all willingly choose to be fooled by this laughably thin disguise. We could easily see through it if we really wanted to. But we don’t really want to. We love the fantasy that our super Friend is something entirely separate from poor old Clark Kent, and we don’t want to see they’re One and the same.

The truth is this: Every single one of us is that wonderful Friend. Just as every single one of us is also mild-mannered Clark Kent. And evil genius Lex Luthor, for that matter. Whatever flimsy disguises we may seem to be wearing on the surface, the truth is each one of us is infinitely loved and loving. Each is equally innocent of crime. We just don’t look like it at first glance.

See, our eyesight isn’t so good.

But if you squint very hard and ask for help from that wondrous Friend, you’ll begin to notice all those Clarks and Lexes and Loises are actually united in the same holy perfection. Which, not coincidentally, is all part of your holy perfection, and mine.

Working to see the holy perfection in the people around us strengthens our true vision. Maybe soon that’ll help us ditch those eyeglasses once and for all.

And then—who knows? We might develop some x-ray vision of our own, and finally see past all surface appearances to behold the shining, eternal truth of Oneness that lies beyond.

Be the change you wish to write about

My next book, The Enlightenment Project, is almost finished. I’ve been really happy with it so far. I didn’t feel like it was missing anything.

Except for one thing: I had this weird persistent feeling all along that the book was shorter than it was supposed to be. Not by a lot, just maybe 8 or 10 pages. But I couldn’t quite explain the feeling, so I shrugged it off and kept going.

Meanwhile, I’d recently teamed up with Jan Cook, booking agent extraordinaire, so that I can start traveling around teaching workshops. I know that’s what I’m meant to be doing; Spirit has made that abundantly clear on many, many occasions. But I’d been resisting it with every molecule of my being.

I know fear of public speaking afflicts like 93% of humanity. I don’t flatter myself that my problem is unique. I just know it runs really, really deep with me, and its tangled threads of self-loathing are a big part of the distorted fabric of my whole self-identity. Even after all these years, I still don’t like to be seen.

I’ve made tons of progress, of course. I’m fine with writing books or telling personal stories now.

But any form of public speaking (even a brief telephone interview) is enough to send me round the bend beforehand, in anticipation. Afterwards is no better – that brief trip into the spotlight is experienced as such a stark violation, I always need a long recovery period afterward of hiding in darkness.

I agreed to stop resisting all this public viewing months ago. I surrendered it all to Spirit. Yet my October speaking gig in Sedona was still enormously difficult, and interviews since then have gotten harder, not easier.

Now I’m scheduled to teach a one-day workshop in Louisiana in May. I know the information itself that I’ll be teaching (thanks to Spirit) is wonderful. But I hit the wall over the seemingly hopeless depth of my public speaking problem. This isn’t the focus I want to carry with me into that workshop. Self-obsessed shyness and fear and ancient tangled up pain and self-hatred are not what I want the underlying energy of that workshop to be about.

I mean, why get on a plane and fly someplace to teach, if I’m so gripped by mistaken self-perception that I can’t even see the other folks in the room as they really are?

So I made a small shift in my intention this morning. I decided to stop perceiving my problem as hopeless. I decided it’s immaterial how tangled or complex or deep it has always seemed. I don’t need to understand each of those tangled threads; I just need to be done hanging onto them. All mistaken perceptions melt away with equal ease, when truth is honestly desired instead. And now I honestly desire truth instead.

So my change of intention is: This problem is already over with. I’ve given Spirit full permission to help heal my misperceptions by whatever means necessary. No holds barred. The steps involved are of no consequence to me; only the outcome matters. And as a result I know with full confidence this painful self-hatred and fear are already things of the past.

Now I look forward to public speaking with a faint sort of tingly joy. Does that mean the problem has resolved itself already? Oh hell no. The deep forgiveness work is still to be done. Only the intention has changed. Yet now I can imagine how wonderful it will be to teach, when I’m free to care about the wellbeing of the other people present, instead of spending 8 hours in violent self-torment.

And I realized that’s what’s been missing from the new book. First I need to undergo this wonderful transformation, freeing myself from my prison of fear and self-judgment once and for all, and then I need to write it down as a useful example for others.

It should make a pretty good story.

HDTV Forgiveness

Ever feel like daily spiritual discipline is a whole lotta work with no immediate payoff here in the 3-D world?

All this effort to retrain my mind to see the world correctly, you think, yet I’m still reacting to the crap around me in the same old ways. That’s how it feels sometimes, at least for me.

I know all this forgiveness work is hugely powerful in terms of healing my ego mind – I can feel it happening more and more all the time – but somehow divine love never seems to be my first reaction to anything.

Well, until yesterday. That’s when I got the opportunity to see just how far I’ve really come.

My husband, like many guys, is a tech geek. I, like many women, am not. He’s been lobbying for high definition TV for about a year now. Me, I harbor no desire to see the pancake makeup actors wear to cover their pores. Especially when it’s going to cost me an extra $20 a month for the privilege.

Truth be told, I’m not so in love with TV at all, anymore. It just isn’t any fun, watching cataclysmic ego stories of good and evil. But Kurt likes it, and he really wanted that HDTV. So I relented.

And then it turned out it came with hidden fees that made the total more like $32 extra per month. Kurt took it as a personal crusade, spending hours on the phone with the DirecTV people. But they wouldn’t budge.

So he removed the DirecTV satellite dish and switched to Dish Network instead. Dish Network (compared to DirecTV) comes with a user interface straight out of the Stone Age. It’s clunky, nonsensical and needlessly complex, making even the simplest functions a difficult mess. So much so that it puts me off watching TV altogether. That’s how much I hate using that remote on that interface.

In earlier times, I would’ve been really bummed out about that. But what the hey, I’ve been looking for a reason to watch less TV. Now I’ve found it.

Yesterday as I juggled my own hectic workday, in the background I could hear Kurt on the phone with DirecTV for what seemed like hours. He emerged afterward looking flushed and upset; I thought he might burst into tears.

“It’s really terrible,” he said, flinching a little, and I realized he had something he was afraid to tell me; he was bracing himself for my reaction. “I had to sign a brand new 24 month contract when we ordered the HDTV,” he said, “and DirecTV refuses to let us out of that contract. We owe them almost $500 in cancellation fees.”

The old me, the me I’ve been all my life, would not have taken that news calmly. I’d have let him have it with both barrels for dragging me down this HDTV road in the first place, leaving me with a new TV watching experience I absolutely hate, and $500 poorer to boot.  I’d have made a major drama out of it, remaining secretly resentful for months afterward every time the TV was switched on.

But it wasn’t the old me. I listened peacefully to his unhappy tale, observed the fear and frustration on his face, and immediately thought: It’s just money. You are the perfect light of heaven, and I have no desire to punish you. Because you’re not guilty of anything.

It wasn’t a forgiveness exercise – that was my honest-to-God first reaction. I then broadened the forgiveness to include all of Dish Network (who would charge the same cancellation fees if we bailed on them) and all of DirecTV. They’re taking our money, but they’re really just calling for love. It’s all perfect, exactly as it is.

Astonishingly, the whole mess has never interrupted my peace for even a moment. And I’d pay a hell of a lot more than $500 for that kind of joyous serenity, any day.

So I guess the moral of the story is: Keep doing those forgiveness exercises, kids. Keep retraining your mind to see the truth of Oneness in everything, because you never know when it’ll actually start sinking in.

‘Fearful and Angry’ is not all it’s cracked up to be

I know what you’re thinking: But Carrie, you say, being a shy, dweeby hermit sounds so glamorous and interesting. Why would you want to give that up?

The truth is, I really didn’t want to give it up.

Because all ego minds, including mine, get their juice from specialness. And it really doesn’t matter what kind of specialness. If you’ve got reasonably healthy self-esteem, you probably believe you’re better at basketball or more gifted at Guitar Hero than others. Or you secretly know your ass looks way better in jeans.

I wasn’t much for the self-esteem, so I built a very convincing ego identity out of being the very worst: The ugliest, the stupidest, the most worthless and socially awkward. And once that identity is embraced, it’s damned difficult to let it go.

So what happens when all of Heaven and the whole world are showing you otherwise? Suddenly I’m not remotely dweeby, and all kinds of people seem to want to hear what I have to say.  And it turns out I’m not a pathetically awkward wallflower after all – apparently I’m a natural born public speaker. Who knew.

A thorough self-image overhaul was clearly in order.

Scared the crap out of me.

Because who will I be if my identity is taken away? It meant working on a way down deep level, agreeing to release all kinds of unconscious ideas that used to make up my belief system. It’s been a months-long process, and I could never have done it alone; it’s Spirit, of course, who makes this kind of profound healing possible.

And now I’m beginning to reap the fruits of those efforts. As my self-perceptions have slowly healed, my fearful perceptions of others have been replaced with quiet trust and a real sense of safety.

Chicken or egg? Is it my forgiveness efforts toward others that has kickstarted my own emotional healing? Probably. The two work hand in hand.

All I know is, I used to be fanatical about preserving my privacy, and was terrified of what others would think of me if they knew about this whole crazy ‘messengering’ thing. I learned those fears were completely unfounded.

And now the beautiful messages are starting to trickle in, more and more each day, from wonderful strangers who have become my friends. They’ve been touched by my book and they want to make a connection with me.

And I gotta tell you, it’s awesome.

So I’ll take ‘open, strong and trusting’ over ‘shy, dweeby and fearful’ any day.

Wouldn’t you?

Past-life murder and present day forgiveness: The ultimate do-over

I remember bits and pieces of some of my more colorful past lives. I never get the full story, though – just quick, disconnected flashes lacking any kind of meaningful context.

I know I was once the leader of a secret religious order called Lamb of God. But I only see images of torchlight flickering on roughhewn walls; of long white tunics and heavy crosses worn around the neck. It would be nice to know a little more, but that’s all I have.

And then there’s a shamanic episode a couple of centuries later that took place on Navajo land: I see images of a black horse galloping at me, its rider silhouetted against the sun; I’m raising my arms, and wearing a long cape that seems to be made of shiny black feathers.

In general, I’m not all that fascinated by the idea of past lives, so I haven’t gone out of my way to find out more. I don’t know, maybe that’s because I tend to remember less about past lives and more about past deaths.

I’ve been burned at the stake. Shot in the back. But before I talk about past death, I want to go back a minute and tell you more about that shamanic memory. It took place at Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly, during an amazing 5 day InnerVision journey I did with Fran in 2008. (if you don’t know who Fran is, see any of the blog entries listed under ‘Sedona’s spiritual connection.’)

We toured a great big loop through Arizona and Utah. It was amazing – someday maybe I’ll write the whole story as an epic 5-parter. We hit lots of well known sacred spots on that trip: Valley of the Gods, Monument Valley etc., as well as some lesser known areas like Mexican Hat.

Fran had long been telling me about Mexican Hat. She was afraid of that place; she knew she had a deep connection to that very troubled land, and that she was supposed to do something powerful there but had never felt ready. She told me the land had been raped – mined for uranium which was then processed at nearby mills, leaving the area with permanently polluted groundwater.

InnerVision journeys are never planned ahead of time. Fran just goes wherever Spirit leads. As we approached Mexican Hat, her description of its painful history grew more heated and angry. I was expecting to see a ravaged landscape, but as we got out of the car the place struck me as astonishingly beautiful, a study in red rocks and green (don’t drink it) water.

Suddenly she stopped in mid-rant. She was remembering she’d been ‘told’ long ago that she would one day bring someone there who would heal the land. And she just now realized that someone was me.

Time stopped and I watched myself out-of-body as I said to her: “To heal the land, we need to love the rapists.”

I wasn’t entirely sure at the time what I meant by that. But the other night I realized that this episode actually connects to another one, a past-death memory. Here’s that past-death story as it’s told in my book:

…The next thing I knew, I was in three places at once. Part of me was reliving my own murder from a previous lifetime, a brutal rape and strangulation. Yet it wasn’t nearly as scary or disturbing as you’d expect, because a second part of me was peacefully watching it unfold from a detached bird’s-eye viewpoint and the third part of me knew I was safely lying in my own bed the whole time.

I’m being shown this for a reason.’ This was the thought that filled my mind, and I knew it was the truth.I’m supposed to forgive this guy.’

Yet it didn’t seem to require forgiveness in the usual sense of the word. I didn’t get that I was supposed to be saying, “Oh, there, there, it’s ok that you’re murdering me.”

It seemed I was being asked to remain open-hearted and peacefully present while he did this awful thing. So I did. And as I made the choice to do it, I dimly sensed that this decision to stay loving in the face of hatred was having a big effect, shuffling the deck on my own past or future timeline, although I couldn’t begin to say how.

This past-death experience occurred shortly before I was introduced to A Course in Miracles. Now I recognize that it was asking me to practice forgiveness as defined by the Course: To completely overlook the imagined transgressions of this world – no matter how evil or terrifying they might seem – and to respond only with love.

And what’s the payoff, you ask, for responding with love instead of attack or defense? The payoff is huge. Probably more awesome than you or I can comprehend, in fact.

When I made the choice to offer only love and peace to that rapist-murderer (instead of responding with terror and rage as I had done the first time around), I felt a massive shift that I described at the time as ‘shuffling the deck.’ But it really felt as if time itself was collapsing, shortening my journey immeasurably. I had the strong impression, in fact, that it was rewriting my past or future to leave out certain painful portions because those lessons were learned now.

A Heavenly do-over, if you will. Pretty powerful stuff.

So, back to Mexican Hat. Could that ravaged land really be healed through the simple action of choosing to love its ‘rapists’? I’m thinking yes. If time and destiny fall like dominoes when love is chosen over fear, surely the Earth can be healed by that same gently loving choice.

After all, that’s another of the Course’s basic tenets: We’re all One with everything that is. Which presumably includes every rock and stream. Heal ourselves as we heal the rapists, and in that simple choice the land is automatically healed too. So can you imagine just how powerful love really is?

I don’t know; something to think about.

The Meaning of Christmas – random thoughts from a Jewish Buddhist Voice-Hearer

Let me state this right up front: My relationship with Christ has always been complicated.

Messed up, really.

I was born into an Orthodox Jewish family that was still very busy mourning the effects of World War II when I arrived on the scene in 1958. Christ was a complete stranger in our household, Christianity seen as nothing but a dark catalyst for terrifying world events.

My resulting relationship with Jesus is summed up in this story (from the book) called He Who Must Not Be Named:

…On the one hand He looked like a nice enough guy—His blond, blue-eyed portrait smiling down on my sleepovers at the neighbor kids’ house. And of course it was widely known that if you believed in Him, Santa brought you all kinds of magical swag on Christmas.

Yet He was also the reason I wasn’t allowed into some of the other kids’ houses. I was a dirty Jew, or so their mothers informed me, and Jesus wouldn’t like it if I spread those cooties around.

Meanwhile, school brought a whole different kind of challenge. I learned nothing at all about Christ or Christianity at home or in my Hebrew school studies, except that He was somehow associated with unspeakable evil, and so the name of Jesus was never to be uttered aloud.

“Why? What happens if you say it?” I figured it must be bad because nobody would ever tell me. Maybe saying Jesus’ name was what killed those six million Jews?

This was back in the day when public school kids were routinely made to sing religious songs, so for these occasions I was forced to adopt a weird sort of ventriloquist’s dummy approach:

Wag-wag(soundlessly my jaw moved up and down)

Loves me, yes I know

For the Bible tells me so.

…………………….Yeah.

Does it seem insane to you that anyone would teach a child to equate Jesus with Voldemort?

Well, you’re probably right about that. But cultural context is everything.

The Jews who taught these lessons were not the slightest bit nefarious in their intentions. Just scared. Traumatized. And deeply worried that their bacon cheeseburger-loving American offspring were in danger of forgetting recent cataclysmic history.

Now fast-forward several decades to our post 9-11 world, and that 2007 story about the Muslim Mickey Mouse with his own TV show. And we think: How could anyone be so evil? And are they insane, using Mickey to teach children to hate and murder?

Well, yeah. They’ve already proven they’re at least a little insane, if only by ignoring the global reach of Disney’s fearsome legal team.

But the very embodiment of evil? I’m gonna go out on a limb here to say: I don’t think so. I think maybe they’re just wounded citizens of a deeply damaged world, trying to pass their belief system on to their kids.

So. Back to the meaning of Christmas. (Or maybe it’s the meaning of Christ that I’m really after.) It’s taken me a half-century to undo all that well-intentioned cultural conditioning from my early years. But I don’t regret any of it, because that outsider status has allowed me to approach the subject with fresh eyesight.

For what it’s worth, here’s what I think:

There’s no such thing as pure evil. There are only degrees of damage and desperately misguided ways of coping with it.

And let’s face it, we’re all at least a little damaged and a little misguided.

So my personal practice – all year long, but especially now during the Christmas season – is to overlook the damage and the mistakes as best I can, and try to see only the Oneness and perfection that lie deep within each person. I’ve been told (and see no reason to disbelieve) that everybody who’s ever lived is equally perfect and worthy of unconditional love. So, what the hey, I’m giving it my best shot.

Do I slip and forget? Constantly. That’s why they call it a practice. But on the days when I manage it, I’m enveloped in peace and joy and a sense of…holiness, really, that feels like warm cocoa wrapped in a cashmere blanket. Or something like that. To be honest there are no words to describe the feeling, except to say it’s real good.

So I think that’s the meaning of Christmas. Joy. Oneness. Letting the world off the hook for its collective “sins.” From that guy in the SUV who steals my parking spot at the mall (dammit, he SAW me waiting), to the Muslim Mickey who teaches hatred to yet another generation of children.

I’m hoping to let a whole lot more people off the hook as the season progresses.

Because practice makes perfect, you know?