Untethered Soul, Chapter 4: Get Me Lucid!

“What differentiates a conscious, centered being from a person who is not so conscious is simply the focus of their awareness. It’s not a difference in the consciousness itself.… Just as all light from the sun is the same, all awareness is the same.”

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Are you lucid?

Now that you know you are aware, based on the last four posts we’ve shared covering the topics in The Untethered Soul, have you found yourself being more aware that you are aware? Chapter 4 is called The Lucid Self and wraps up Part 1 for us. So let’s see what Singer has to say about all this awareness stuff before we launch into the very exciting Part 2, Experiencing Energy.

A lucid dream, as you probably know, is a dream in which often you are flying but especially in which you know that you are dreaming while having the dream. Michael Singer says that similarly if you are aware that you are Awareness, then you are lucid.

Throughout the day you might not be aware that you are Awareness. But when you’re seated in the self you’re lucid, aware that the thoughts, feelings, judgments, labels, emotions that you are experiencing are not you but that they are the dream in which you are immersed. Or, if it resonates more with you, they are the movie in which you are immersed.

Singer uses the analogy of TV to make clear that we can allow our awareness, or our consciousness, to wander. When you’re watching TV, you often don’t focus at all on what else is going on in the room, or the time that his passing. In the same way, we can get wrapped up in what Singer calls our “inner show.”

Let me get a little personal to make this more relevant. I don’t just want to write chapter summaries here. I want to be real and I want you to take something from this for your OWN lives. In thinking about all this in relation to my own life and trying to think of a way to make it functional for you readers, I ended up noticing that there are three levels of lucidity for me. (Nothing is really so easily categorized, but for the sake of ease let’s say three levels.)

Level 1: I Love Lucid!

This strongest level of lucidity happens for me during times of meditation and prayer when I can remove all distraction and “go inside” to be in the witness seat. With practice, I am more and more able to remain there fairly steadfastly and commune with whoever/whatever I want to from that place. When I began the exercise of silent mediation a few years ago it was MUCH harder to quiet down and let the monkey brain relax. Now, I can get myself into that seat of witness with more ease and once there, I let the prayer begin…if that is what needs to happen. I rarely start with prayer anymore (unless I am praying with someone in person) because it is much better for me to get into the seat of Self and pray from that spot instead of just sitting down and praying from a more ego-run place.

Level 2: Lucid or Lose It!

My Level 2 is the point where I have to work out my awareness muscles. It is where I am inundated by distractions of my external movie and internal reactions and so my intention and effort to remain aware of my awareness is in full effect. This would be for example while I am driving my car in busy traffic, while at the grocery store, hiking at the busy and bustling Hollyridge Trail, or surrounded by energies at a family gathering. Basically, anywhere that is not my quiet meditation spot requires me to flex my awareness muscle!

The great thing though it that I fully believe that the more I flex, the easier it will become. It is very liberating to be among people and egos and be in the seat of witness, from which I can interact with them with less attachment, emotion, and defensiveness. Things get to me less, traffic is okay because all things unfold as they are meant to, people are more lovable because they are on a journey just as I am, etc. You get the idea. Stuff is just better.

Level 3: Luciwhat?

This Level is where I am not at all lucid. Not even thinking about it. Forgot all about my Self. Totally engrossed in my movie and emotions. What are we even talking about?

This inattention happens most frequently and intensely when I’m at work. Work is busy, busy, busy; I have anxieties that get triggered easily at work; I am almost constantly in someone else’s presence so there is little gratuitous alone time. In a social situation I can step aside and get reentered before entering back into the pool of egos. At work, not so easy.

No guilt though. This level just gives me a challenge, helps me set a goal. What would it be like, after all, to be more Self and less Ego at work?? It probably would be pretty amazing. I probably wouldn’t feel as stressed or nervous.

So those are my levels. What about you? Where is your awareness throughout the day? Is it in your movie, in your emotions? do you remember at different points in your coming and going that you are much, much more than all of that external and internal gunk?

“You will find that you are tremendously expansive.… You realize that your consciousness only appears to be small and limited because you are focusing on small and limited objects. ” Pg. 37

I’m setting a goal. I’m going to try recalling my true identity during my work days. That’s at least 40 hours a week in which I have a chance to be more of who I want to be! To be more free! To be more authentic! What a great opportunity.

Will you join me? If you have already grasped your true identity through reading the previous Untethered posts, now think about when and where you can bring that awareness of awareness into your daily life. I’ll meet you there!

With Love,

~~~S Wave~~~

Freedom On the Mat

 

Eventually you will see that the real cause of problem is not life itself. It’s the commotion the mind makes about life that really causes the problems.
― Michael Singer, The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself

 

I’ve been practicing yoga on my own now for a while but just this past year I have been practicing with others at a yoga studio. The presence of others can certainly challenge the practice, especially initially! Judgement, embarrassment, distraction, all kinds of energies swirling around the room…it can be difficult to focus with all these things contending for attention. Our mind wants to react to it all!

What a joy it has been to face these exterior and inner workings with curiosity. By no means have I overcome the temptations of the mind during my practice, but that’s not really the point anyway is it? Instead of overcoming (a bit too violent a term for me these days) the mind and its wanderings, what is better sought perhaps is a steady awareness in the midst of the wanderings. Or, as others have talked about it, remaining in the Seat of the Witness as distractions come and go, generating reactionary thoughts and emotions in our psyche.

Now, on a great day, I am eager for the challenge of going with the “flow,” riding the waves, and letting my yoga practice be one of mindfulness as well. Even on a not-so-great day I find that I can at the least be comfortable with the surroundings and the resulting mind chatter, knowing that each practice is unique and has something to teach. I have also come to terms with my yoga practice being JUST. WHAT. IT. IS. …no more and no less. I begin with fewer expectations, judge myself less, enjoy my breath more, and notice unfamiliar nuances of my body electric with great gratitude. The practice guides me more and more and there is actually a great sense of freedom in that.

Last evening, as I meditated and prayed in my room, sitting on my yoga mat, I was struck with the similarity of the challenges one faces in these activities as well. Challenges and benefits. Outer distraction, the wandering mind, physical discomfort, self-judgment…there they are, ready to greet you during your “quiet time” (an ironic label actually.) They require the same detached allowing as they do in yoga. And, just as the yoga mat can teach us to remain open to what our body calls us to do during our yoga practice, so too the mat of spiritual practice beckons us to heed what our hearts call us to do in spiritual practice. When we let go of rules and scripts before going inside to meet with god and our Self in prayer and meditation, we find that same freedom that we find in yoga. We flow in the trusting of our Selves, our body, and our connection to god.

May you find freedom on your mat!

Blessings,

~~~S Wave~~~

 

Your Weekend To-Do (Good) List!

The weekend To-Do (Good) List returns this weekend to give you some suggestions for ways to include altruism and activism, introspection and evolution, compassion and connection in your weekend!

1. Good for the Animals

The Performing Animals Welfare Society provides a new home to animals who have been used (and frequently abused) in the entertainment industries. One of their residents needs a little help and it couldn’t be an easier assignment for you! Here is their request:

Ferguson, PAWS macaque, has become more ape-like as he reaches middle age. A few years ago he began destroying his mattresses so we decided to provide him with disposable beds made of paper or straw stuffed inside a pillowcase. We now have an ongoing need for used pillowcases. If you have used pillowcases you would like to donate to Ferguson, please mail them to our Galt office at P. O. Box 849, Galt, CA 95632.

2. Good For Others

The Greater Good Science Center just added an article about the importance of social connection for the lives of seniors. How can you take some time out of your busy weekend to be that connection for them?

Here are some ideas:

– Schedule a visit to a local retirement community…if you’ve got a skill to share, share it! My Grandmother enjoys it when visitors come to her assisted living community to perform, visit, bring their therapy animals, join in game night, etc. Be creative! Maybe you can simply bring some flowers to distribute door to door. Or a St. Patrick’s Day token. Or offer to drive a resident to run some errands or attend church.

– Call a senior you know! Take time to really listen to them. A phone call may not fulfill their need for daily community, but for that hour you will be a welcomed connection. Don’t know any senior who might appreciate a call?….Nah, I don’t believe you.

– Establish a plan to incorporate your senior loved ones into your family routine more consistently. Build that “village” that we know benefits our kids, our elders, and ourselves.

3. Good For You

Take a lesson from St. Patrick! Did you know that St. Patrick was taken captive from Roman Britain when he was a teen and kept in Ireland for 6 years in servitude until he escaped? In some of his writing he said:

The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same. … I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain.

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As part of your To-Do (Good) assignment I suggest you spend some time meditating on what you can learn from his experience. I don’t want to be too leading here since it will be YOUR meditation, but I’ll just say that you don’t have to be a catholic to relate to his revelation.

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Have a wonderful weekend! Make sure to report back on any other good things you added to your

To-Do (Good) list. We would love to hear them!

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From one to ONE

I have been feeling more and more boundless during my times of prayer. When I close my eyes and sink deeper and deeper into it, I can begin to sense that the idea of my body as my boundary is contrived. That my true self is without limits. Like I said, I’m no ordinary squirrel. 😉

I remember when I was about nine that I had a life-changing moment driving past the lake in the passenger seat of my mom’s car. Looking out the window I suddenly realized in my gut that I was completely singular, completely alone in my experience. I remember looking at mom and, with no small sense of amazement, realized that she and I were two different people and our experience of the world would never fully converge. I would never know what her eyes saw as she looked at the same road I was looking at, or how the seat beneath her felt on her legs, or what thought was filling her mind from one moment to the next. It felt very isolating, yet somehow inspiring. There was suddenly a feeling of importance for my life, but also great alone-ness.

Whether or not it is related to that early event, for most of my life I have been operating under an unexamined belief that we are all separate. Why wouldn’t I think that? Don’t most people think that? Doesn’t it look like that? I am me and you are you. I am one and you are one. Here we are:

one, by ~~~S Wave~~~

Even as I’ve come to know more about God, even as I’ve experienced inexplicable connections with a few very special people, even as I have done some reading up on metaphysics and theories of transpersonal connection, my grander experience of life has never really changed. So why would my overall paradigm change?

But now, something new is dawning. The other night, as I was feeling boundless, I said, “Thank you for the way you move through all things.” With those words my paradigm changed. Suddenly there is a ONE. If my Self is boundless, then your Self is boundless. And his…and hers… Where do you begin and I end? Where does my spirit or consciousness or energy cease to inform yours and vice versa? Where does yellow end and green begin?

ONE, by ~~~S Wave~~~

I’m telling you, I am walking down the streets of Los Angeles the past few days passing people and thinking, “Do you know that we are actually colliding right now?? That you are made up of divinity just like the rest of us? How cool is that!?” This doesn’t mean I have to trust every person, that I have to welcome their energy into my experience, but I do think it is a part of the Love that I have asked to learn more about.

As for separateness, I think we are separate as sensory processors and as egos. My little nine year-old self was right about that. But senses and egos are not all we are.

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A final reminder—for you and for me—that this blog was started with the idea that we are like waves. Remember that you can not point to where your wave ends and another’s begins. Nor can you can point to where your wave begins and the ocean ends. It is a metaphor I like…and now I like it even more. Hope you do too.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere A Sign

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

― Anaïs Nin

What an amazing experience it has already been turning my attention to the spiritual more fully and consistently as part of Here I Am. Things are happening! Where to even begin?

How about with the mystery of coincidence? As I began this month of spiritual intention, I knew from experience that I would be encountering “coincidences” connecting that which would be growing in me (you can’t not grow when you sincerely seek truth) and what I encountered in the world around me. I knew this because it is true that we see things as we are. If we are watching with our spiritual selves we begin to detect the amazing spiritual synchronicity that surrounds us and even seeks us out. If we are watching with our physical eyes only, those synchronicities aren’t so obvious.

Sometimes these coincidences are unmistakable. Sometimes they are almost imperceptible. Today I experienced both. The first was blatant! In a recent prayer time, I was repeatedly reminded of the newness of each moment, including my own newness moment by moment. I saw the truth of newness differently. It made more sense to me. And there was a scripture from Revelations that was embedded in my heart for the next few days: “Behold, I make all things new.” Then today I attended a service at Agape Spiritual Center in Los Angeles, a wonderful trans-denominational center that I have not visited in almost a year. The title of the monthly theme, as it turns out, is “Ever True — Ever New,” and what scripture do you think the speaker kept returning to?  That is the kind of synchronicity that will make you sit up and listen.

But today also brought a smaller and for me sweeter coincidence. I was reading a story to my 2 year-old niece before naptime. She picked out a book called, “Scaredy Squirrel.” The last time I read this book was, again, almost a year ago.

Scaredy Squirrel

As we nuzzled on the floor reading, I got to the part where the agoraphobic Scaredy Squirrel is finally forced to leave his comfort zone, jump into thin air, only to discover that he is “no ordinary squirrel” but in fact a flying squirrel! (What better analogy for enlightenment could there be?!)

The illustrations, the words, even the sound of my own voice as I read sent a rush of spiritual acknowledgement through me. It was the feeling of connection. This particular connection was to a vision that I experienced last week during prayer. In this vision I myself had taken a plunge off a cliff and found myself not falling as I expected, but swimming through the air. I was without limitations and unshackled from all fear. I had to smile as I read this page and saw Scaredy Squirrel embrace his newfound identity with great joy. I am no ordinary squirrel! (And neither are you, by the way.)

All of this to say that the big and little coincidences that cross our paths are worthy of our attention. They emerge in the most unexpected times and places, and yet if your intention is to see them then you bet you can expect them! And what are they after all? I am convinced that they are NOT coincidences but something more. They are the infinite speaking to us and guiding us on our odd and mysterious ways. They are signposts. Listen and watch and you will know what they mean.

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Well, get ready for more of these types of posts in the upcoming weeks! How can I not share them? In my life, I have found the pursuit of truth and communion with the divine to be the most exhilarating and excellent pursuit. Uncontested. And my great, great amount of gratitude for being able to take part in that pursuit silences me quite often in my times of communion.

I wish you all a blessed week. May yours be full of signposts to bless you and remind you that your journey is important.

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And don’t forget to like us on Facebook for more frequent doses of encouragement and connection. 🙂

Month 3: The G Word

Has it really been a month since I’ve added a new post?? I’ve missed it here! If you recall, my last month of Here I Am was devoted to “putting down the crutch” (i.e., trying to break an addiction, for those of you who are just tuning in.) Well, I did…for two weeks. Honestly, I just wasn’t as vigilant as I could have been. But in the true spirit of Here I Am, I am not dwelling on excuses or failures, nor am I miring myself in guilt. The infamous lockbox remains on my list. I will tackle it again another month, with greater vigilance.

The good news is that I refuse to leave without a lesson. I’m not a huge Mraz fan, but I do like his line: “I reckon it’s again my turn to win some or learn some.” No losing, just learning. The first lesson I learned from Month 2 is that simply writing a mantra ain’t gonna cut it! I looked back and read my post from last month and realized that I had totally forgotten the beautiful and sincere mantra I had written. Next time, that mantra needs to be taped to my mirror, carried in my purse, used as my screensaver. I need to wrap myself daily in the encouraging thoughts that come from IN ME! (P.s., thank you so much to the people that encouraged my along the way last month. Don’t loose faith! I’ll be back for some more soon!)

The second lesson I learned is that I hold my crutch the tightest when I feel like there is less to rejoice for, when hopelessness begins to creep in. On those days, I am convinced by the inner voice saying, “Meh, what does it matter?” Some days I wonder how I could possibly think like that!! Others it seems to make so much sense. I realized that the times in my life when I have most easily put down my crutch are the times when I am the most connected to God. This leads me to Month 3. (Yes, the “month” is supposed to begin on the 12th. Ideally it would have. But, I am reinventing the Here I Am calendar in the freedom I have to do so and saying, “So begins Month 3 on this wonderful day, February 23rd!!”)

Now, if the big G word makes you nervous, don’t fear; I won’t be preaching to you on Life As a Wave. I know what I mean when I say, “connecting to God.” What you mean by that may look, sound, feel different than my experience. Maybe you don’t use the word “God.” The result should be the same though, right?  A sense of peace, love, hope, freedom, purpose. What I am emphasizing is an intentional, daily practice of pursuing this connection. For me that involves prayer, music, meditation, being in the moment, study and community. That is what this month is for. I cannot wait!! From my experience, there is literally nothing that can compare to connecting with that which is the highest, grandest, wisest, loveliest, mightiest, most gracious, and most boundless thing that exists. Once you invite that, and recognize that it lives within you….forget about it! You’re hooked! Now that is a kind of addiction I can get behind. You might ask why something so beautiful and empowering would need to be on my list? Wouldn’t I just want to float around in that all day every day?? What a good question. I will just quote St. John to explain the trappings of the day-to-day life on Earth that can so easily distract us from the things that are eternal:

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

There you have it. I’m human. But here’s to Month 3! A devotion to the superhuman. I hope to include more frequent updates with all of you along the way. Stay tuned and as always, thank you for your being part of Life As a Wave.

With love,

~~~S Wave~~~

the insistent articulation

In college I majored in linguistics and French. I have worked as a speech-langauge pathologist for almost a decade. I love writing. I have had a good deal of personal experiences with conflict, conflict resolution and practice in self-expression. So I think it is fair to say that language examined is a centerpiece in my life.

 

Today, during my “quiet time” which I set aside for prayer, meditation, and/or inner work I encountered the irony of calling it that. It began when, in a moment of feeling the past and future drift away and resting only in my present and constant connection to God, I had an urge to verbally express the wave of gratitude and peace that was overcoming me. I began to speak.

But instead of remaining in the motion of that beautiful moment, the feeling of connection lessened. With the words out of my mouth, I was fully in my physical body again…using my vocal folds to create sounds, my mouth to create words, my brain to put it all together in an order that makes sense to someone outside of me… I was no longer in that wave of unspoken gratitude and love where God and I meet in heart and spirit.

I thought, Okay, I’ll stop talking for now and just be in this moment. After all, I’ve done that many many times. I figured it would be easy. I returned to a place of connection and did not open my mouth to speak. But the linguistic mind is an amazing thing. We think in words. We can have an entire conversation in our heads without uttering a sound. Even though I had silenced my mouth, my mind continued to talk about what was happening.

Mind 1: What a wonderful feeling this connection is. Thank you for this moment with you, God.

Mind 2: Shhhh…. Stop talking. Just feel it! 

Mind 1: Okay. I’ll stop. I’ll stop talking so that we can just feel. Ready? Okay on the count of three we’ll just start feeling and not putting words to everything like we always do. No words. Just sensation. Wait, would it be “sensation” or “feeling?” Maybe we should just call it “experience?” No, I’ve got it. “Being.” That’s good.

Mind 2: Shhhhhhhh!!!! You’re missing it!

Eventually, I was able to be in a place of even mental non-talk. Not completely and constantly–it’s a hard habit to break!–but to a much greater degree than ever before. I just was. All feeling of gratitude or love in my heart, in the moment of being felt, was already being communicated. No words necessary. As people drifted through my mind with a feeling of connection and appreciation, I let go of the need to open my mouth to pray for them. Instead, I rested with them in that beingness and we were completely known to one another and to God. God knew all I would have prayed for them as I just let myself remain silently in that state of supplication. I could “hear” insight without processing it as language. I just knew what was being relayed.

When your sense of self is no longer tied to thought, is no longer conceptualthere is a depth of feeling, of sensing, of compassion, of loving, that was not there when you were trapped in mental concepts. You are that depth.

– Eckhart Tolle

It was new and beautiful.

There is a time for language. I hold fast to my belief that there is a time for powerful verbal prayer. There is a character that is built through the practice of careful selection of words. But there is also a time for silence, a time for our spirit to drift with the waves and just be.

In silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.

– Rumi