Untethered Soul, Chapter 7

It’s back! I can hardly believe it myself. But not to worry, I hadn’t actually forgotten about our chapter summaries of The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. I just got distracted by some other things in life.

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And speaking of distractions, Chapter 7 of the book is called Transcending the Tendency To Close and it also has a little do with distraction as well. It’s the last chapter of section 2 which has introduced us to the idea of energy…energies inside of us, our reactions to them, and our natural tendency to create Samskaras or blocked energies.

This chapter wraps up Singer’s introduction to energy and your ability to cling or release by giving us practical advice for how to NOT develop Samskaras. Here, Singer talks about “falling behind” the energies as they come up, meaning allowing your consciousness to not follow thoughts that enter our mind, but allowing them to pass. These might be immediate thoughts like, “I can’t believe I did that! What would it be like if I hadn’t done that? What should I do next time? I need to figure it out now!” The alternative to following all those thoughts and getting yourself worked up into a state of elevated blood pressure would just be to fall behind those thoughts. Notice them, accept them, then stay centered as they pass.

Falling behind a thought could also be something related to an event that happened a long time ago. Singer gives the example of someone taking your favorite pencil at work. It might seem like every time you have to use a different pencil, you replay their indiscretion and get agitated all over again. He says deciding to fall behind those thoughts and energies is “simply a matter of taking the risk that you are better off letting go than going with the energy.”

Personally, I’ve felt this risk very acutely in practicing this falling behind tactic. When someone hurts my feelings (or maybe I should say, “When I let myself believe that someone has hurt my feelings,”) I want to be mad and I can feel myself shutting down towards them. In some of these moments I have really asked myself if I will be better off if I let it go in the moment and not follow the tide of anger. Sometimes it’s not an answer that comes easily! My established habit of closing down and getting defensive is a strong one. Trusting that I will be better–even that I will at least be okay–if I let it go and stay centered is a challenge to me. But I keep practicing and more and more I am beginning to see that yes, it is better. It is more free.

And this freedom is what we’re talking about. Freedom from being tossed to and fro with every passing emotional reaction. If we spend our lives consciously or subconsciously trying to protect ourselves via anger or resentment or isolation, we’re not really free, we’re not really protected.

But let’s talk specifics then. How do we not follow energy? How do we fall behind it?

“The moment you feel a change, relax your shoulders and relax the area around your heart. The moment the energy moves you simply relax and release. Play with letting go and falling behind the sense of being bothered. “

Singer says this is how you make “freedom a game.”

“You don’t fight the mind. In fact you don’t even try to change it. You just make a game out of relaxing in the face of its melodrama.”

Moments where you can practice this are simply moments to grow. There will be many, many times when energy captures your attention and you flow along with the current of negative thinking. But the more you practice the easier it will become.

“Your center of consciousness is always stronger than the energy that is pulling on it. …There is nothing wrong with feeling the energies of fear, jealousy, or attraction. It’s not your fault that such energies exist. All the attractions, repulsions, thoughts, and feelings don’t make any difference. They don’t make you pure or impure. They are not you. You are the one who’s watching, and that one is pure consciousness. “

On a  personal note, I have found a particular metaphor that best helps me be able to fall behind the passing thoughts and feelings. At my mother’s house in Illinois there is a porch that looks out over her front yard with the pink-blossomed trees and large ancient oak, past a two-lane country highway, and across the expanding fields and forest on the other side. It is one of the most peaceful places I can think of. There are birds and clouds to watch and maybe a cat sleeping in the sun by your feet. It’s really the perfect place for a cup of coffee or iced tea. Everything around is green and alive.

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Even the whir of passing cars and farm trucks adds to the total comforting experience. Now, this porch has become my metaphor for falling behind. I sit in my inner seat of witness just as I sit on the porch. I acknowledge the passing traffic of thoughts and feelings just as I acknowledge the traffic on the highway. I chase not after each thought and feeling that presents itself just as I move not a muscle in response to the passing cars.

What is your metaphor? Think of your “happy place” where calm and comfort surround you as you are observant and at peace. Got it? Now what is something that passes through your line of sight as you sit in that place? Maybe they are seagulls, maybe they are bees, maybe they are airplanes or pedestrians. The next time you feel the challenging energy rising in you, imagine yourself in that happy place. That thought, reaction, emotion is nothing more than one of those seagulls or pedestrians. You are not following them, not grabbing them. You are noticing them and letting them pass.

Go get your freedom and let’s transcend the tendency to close!

~~~Simone~~~

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Travel Tuesday: Silent Meditation Retreat

Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.
― Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

It’s so fun to make a list of the places in the world you’d like to go. It’s interesting to ask yourself why you picked the places on your list. I have recently been considering the possibilities and with last week’s post about The Elephant Nature Park, I began this series: Travel Tuesdays. I would love to hear about your favorite places to travel too!

This week, I’m writing about silent meditation retreats. During some online daydreaming, I came across a list on The Huffington Post called, Silent Retreats: 10 Fantastic Retreat Centers in the U.S. For Peace and Quiet. Massachusetts and California rule the list, but there are other highly-ranked  locations in Oregon, North Carolina, and Hawaii.

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I wondered, what would be the benefits and challenges of a silent meditation retreat versus a regular meditation retreat? I can imagine the liberation of releasing the need to verbalize everything or to employ social niceties with everyone you encounter. I think for me it would be relatively easy to be silent…with the exception of the fact that I’m a chronic hummer and self-talker! I can imagine hearing new sounds you’d never noticed before. Like the quote above describes, I can imagine perceiving subtle energies in different kinds of silences. It all sounds lovely.

 "Listening to the Wind in Pines," by Ma Lin

“Listening to the Wind in Pines,” by Ma Lin

And what about the challenges? I know that sometimes when I’ve had a solitary day I feel a little stir-crazy in my own head (hence the self-talk). We are perpetually wanting to say what we think, how we feel. We want to ask questions and inquire. Being called to transcend those impulses would be quite the test. A worthy one I think! I also think there is a good chance that many hidden inner parts, seeking the ear that has suddenly become available, would present themselves and all of their needs. As long as there were skillful guides to help navigate these challenges, I would love to give this kind of retreat a try.

Have you ever been on a silent retreat? If so, where and for how long? And what did you think? Would you recommend a silent retreat to a fellow seeker?

For now, a silent retreat is officially on my list of “Get Me There!” places.

More next week. Enjoy your wanderlust and be beautiful.

~~~S Wave~~~

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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~~~

Kermit, Osho and Cherry Blossoms for a Birthday

images-2Kermit is so wise. While I was recently watching him portray Bob Cratchit in the holiday hit, “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” I was struck by one of his lines:

Life is made up of meetings and partings; that is the way of it.

Or at least that is the way it seems, isn’t it?

Today is my birthday. It has been raining in Los Angeles this week which has been beautiful and refreshing. And as I began to ruminate on the past year of life, I embraced this rain as a washing away of the mistakes and challenges and heartbreaks. What is left standing, strongly rooted, are the moments of love, learning, and redemption. Thank god for those things.

Yes, I think we meet and we part. We meet a new part of ourselves we have never understood or acknowledged; we must part with a familiar inner-me which no longer serve us. We meet a new person brought into our life for a purpose (aren’t they all?); we must part with someone else. We meet a long-sought dream as it begins finally to manifest in our lives; we must part with dreams that are no longer meant to be.

So much pull and push. Yin and Yang. Struggle and growth. Like chicks wrestling to get free from the only reality they have ever known, we keep working toward the next level of our own personal evolution. Whether we know it or not, that is what we are doing. Life is always conspiring to keep us going toward the best us we can be with the time we have. We just get caught up in old things that keep us from being, doing, and having what we need.

What worn-out shticks are blinding you to the blessings that life is conspiring to give you?

– Rob Breszny

What’s my point?

It’s my birthday and I’m not sure I have a specific point and I’m not sure where Kermit fits in, but it’s my birthday so I’m gonna let incoherence rule just this once.

I guess I think that the meetings and the partings, all of that which seems like the struggle, is for our good if we accept it as that. If we believe in interconnection at all the levels we have talked about here on Life As a Wave, then NOTHING is ever really parted with, NOTHING is ever really met except at our most simplistic level of awareness. It all exists at once and IS one. And that One is GOOD. Always good, always.

Yeah, I don’t really understand it all either. I haven’t “met” that level of my own understanding yet. 😉

But I can confidently say that I will let myself take comfort in my firm belief that all the aforementioned mistakes and challenges and heartbreaks of my last year of life were FOR GOOD. Maybe I don’t need to let this L.A. rain wash them away after all. Maybe I will choose a different metaphor….I will let this rain irrigate my life and all the GOOD SEEDS that were planted in my life with every mistake I admitted, every challenge I met, and every 1924833_10152849959783908_6217519216850494870_nheartbreak I endured.

And voila, now that I’ve let the good things be good, and added the “bad” things to the good as well, it’s all good!

It’s not always that easy of course…it’s just easy to write. And the idea that we are the only ones responsible for our experience of happiness or suffering can be a hard pill to swallow and can sure rile up some defensive parts in us. “Screw you, Osho! You don’t know what I’ve been through!”  Oh my.

But what is the alternative? To believe that we are at the whim of experiences and chance? To believe that if we are good enough we will be blessed more than someone else might be? As much as I hate to say it sometimes and with an emphasis on NOT using this to shame or embarrass anyone else, I do think that we create our experience. But the “choosing” to be happy can be one of the hardest assignments ever…could take a lifetime in fact.

With all that, I am choosing the irrigation, not the cleansing flood. I am waiting with expectation to see what blossoms in this next year of life. It’s going to be another zinger I’m sure!

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A HUGE thank you to all the Life As a Wave friends out there all over the world. I appreciate colliding with you in this weird cyber way that we do. It makes my life happier!

If you are not already following Life As a Wave on Facebook you can do so here: www.facebook.com/lifeasawave

Remember to keep seeing the good. No matter how impossible it might seem.

My Birthday Love to You!

~~~S Wave~~~

Don’t Stress Over the Stressors!

A stressor is an outside agent, such as a death in the family, math problem or an exam, boring job, and so on. Stress is how a person reacts or responds to a stressor, which means what mental meaning he or she puts to the stressor and how he or she mentalizes the feeling associated with the reaction to the stressor.

Amit Goswami, The Quantum Doctor

Let’s agree to savor this holiday season as much as we can. Life is too short to let stressors lead to stress. Here is a quick guide to staying zen during the holidays.

Happy Thanksgiving preparations everyone!

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Untethered Soul: Introduction

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Happy November everyone!

The past month has been full of a lot of learning. It’s been very busy here and even though I haven’t written much, my Life As a Wave family is always on my mind.

I’ve been doing more and more energy therapy and prayer support with people, both friends and family, and with NEW friends that come my way via word-of-mouth. I’ve been taking some new classes to hone these skills and am still holding down my fabulous 9-5. Walking more and more in my passion and purpose and loving it! But more on that later…

One resource from which I’ve gotten a lot of peace and power during this time of growth is a book I read recently. It is called The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. It is the kind of book I want to go back and read again and again. And so, instead of doing that by myself, I want to invite all of you to join me in a week by week “reading” of the untethered soul. I know it’s hard to sit down and read the kinds of encouraging, inspiring, nourishing books on our wish list. But you deserve that encouragement, inspiration and nourishment! So let me make it easier for you!

Each week I will summarize one chapter and propose ways that we can take the ideas from that chapter and bring them into our “real” lives. I hope you will follow along with us and through this process I hope we can each experience some measure of benefit in.

For today, let me introduce, well, the introduction. 🙂 It opens with a quote from William Shakespeare: “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Singer uses this quote to pose the conundrum to us of what the “self” really is. (Buckle up, because this is the heart of the book!) Is it Freud’s ego, superego, id? Is it the part of us that feels strong emotions? Is it our mind? Is it our ethics?

Here, the author unveils that in this book the real meaning of self is determined by one expert alone… You. To be clear, you are not an expert based on your studies, on your philosophies. It is based on your “direct experience,” the “intuitive experience of what it is like to be you. ” Through the chapters to come, Singer will elaborate on the premise that when all the distractions and opinions and voices are pulled away and you are guided to realize your true self, then you are also therefore able to free your own self. This is a matter of empowerment. Clarity. For now, embrace the idea that you are the best expert on knowing what your self is, you just might not know that yet.

And so, for this first week let us ruminate on that question: What is your “self?” To thine own self be true… What is that? What does that really mean? And let’s not only ponder it with our minds, but also with our hearts. In existential meditation one poses a question and allows that question to repeat itself in the heart and mind as the person remains still and receptive. Let the question marinate, let it rest in your awareness throughout the week and see what kinds of responses you get from the world. 

Next week I will begin summarizing Part 1 with Chapter 1, “The Voice Inside Your Head.” It’s a good one! Stay tuned!

 

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I Am Because WE Are

Mural Project led by David Genszler

Silohuette Mural Project led by David Genszler

In Charles Eisenstein’s book, The Ascent of Humanity, he writes:

“Interdependency,” which implies a conditional relationship, is far too weak a word … the self is not absolute or discrete but contingent, relationally defined, and blurrily demarcated. There is no self except in relationship to the other. The economic man, the rational actor, the Cartesian “I am” is a delusion that cuts us off from most of what we are, leaving us lonely and small. (p. 20)

I remember learning to see language as a dialogic process as opposed to a linear process during my graduate studies. Dialogic in the Bakhtinian sense that the meaning of a written or verbal message is not formulaically determined by syntax, semantics, and neurological language processing but that meaning is constantly constructed and reconstructed based on the speaker/listener/past messages/anticipated messages. Language can NEVER be decontextualized. Even the “decontextualized” testing items we administer to measure language skill are actually reverberating and being redefined within the very real “context” involving teacher/student/testing environment/etc.

The above quote reminds me that maybe we are dialogic in a way too. We are not actually individuals at all but are (as I have obviously said before 🙂 ) like the waves of the ocean: contingent, relationally defined, and blurrily demarcated.  I am only because WE are.