A Window is Where the Wall is Absent
The life impulse to express and to connect arises in me and in all of us. This blog is a celebration of these life impulses. Please feel free to join in the conversation or to just visit. There is a Family Photo Album beneath the posts so you can "meet" my family and I. Welcome!
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Jack, my ten-year old son and I, were watching Weird Al Yankovic videos on YouTube like "Trapped in the Drive Thru" and just generally hanging out when a natural pause occurred.
"You wanna do a meditation?" I asked. "Sure," Jack responded.
A spontaneous guided meditation appeared that we both enjoyed. I've been interested in sensing what is most immediate and primary, what is closer than any sensation or thought. There are different words used to point to the immediacy and directness of the life that is here even prior to any sense perceptions or mind activity. Words like presence, being-ness, awareness.
So in this meditation Jack and I started with the realms of sensation and thought and then opened to the realm of simply being.
It went something like this, with huge open pauses between each sentence:
Listen to the sounds that are occurring now.
Can you hear the sound of your own breathing?
Can you feel the air touching your arms?
Notice whatever thoughts are appearing. Notice whatever feelings and emotions are present.
Now be aware of what is closest.
Can you feel your own presence?
Can you sense your own being?
Allow yourself to know fully the fact that you are here now.
When you feel your own life force here very clearly, you will notice something very interesting.
You will notice that now you can sense this same life force in everything else.
As you sense your own presence, look at the tree outside the window and feel its presence too. Trees are full of presence.
Feeling your own being, you can sense the being of another person.
Keep feeling the fact that you are here, and now sense the reality, the being, of everything in this room- the table, the walls, everything is full of presence.
Feel the life energy inside of you and at the same time feel the life energy of everything that is here.
This is oneness.
We were silent and still sitting next to each other on the couch for some time.
There was a sense of the mind slowing down, a sense of being alive, present, and real.
Then we went with Greg to see the new Steve Carrell comedy, "Dinner for Schmucks", which we thoroughly enjoyed. Now Jack is calling me so it's time to sign off. Hope you enjoyed sharing this meditation with us.
Essence is everywhere, don't try to find it, just notice the fact that you are alive and aware right now.
Sensing the alive awareness that we are is easy, it just tends to be an underused ability in a mind-dominated civilization. For an instant, stop looking away from this moment into some kind of imagined superior moment. Don't make it hard, simply feel the life that you are now- the life that doesn't need improvement and that couldn't possibly be improved.
Gratitude for photo, from this link: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.eastgwillimbury.ca/Assets/Environment/Sustainability/Green%2BTree%2BPic.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.eastgwillimbury.ca/Environment/10_Ways_to_Reduce_Greenhouse_Gases.htm&usg=__kAodJHRmoNrjwfIGFNu781Eluq4=&h=853&w=1280&sz=322&hl=en&start=150&sig2=nnj27xQ1YBjD9vFyCKQhYQ&tbnid=R3nvESuKiiIIwM:&tbnh=157&tbnw=209&ei=W6hUTOKoH8qAnwftjtSTBA&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dtree%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26biw%3D1366%26bih%3D641%26tbs%3Disch:10,3758&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=1050&vpy=214&dur=1259&hovh=183&hovw=275&tx=210&ty=77&page=8&ndsp=18&ved=1t:429,r:11,s:150&biw=1366&bih=641
Thursday, July 29, 2010
I enjoy being able to communicate with people all over the world on a one to one basis through this blog, and through email and Facebook and many websites and blogs. There is the chance to speak honestly about things that matter and to see how much we have in common.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I was getting Chris, my 16 yo son with cerebral palsy, ready for school this morning, and Barney was singing a song on the DVD, "You are my hero."
I told Chris he is my hero, and I mean that 100%.
What is a hero? Chris is a transparent window beaming sunshine effortlessly all day long. He doesn't try to be loving, he can't help but be loving- it's just who he is.
Lately I'm feeling more keenly this formless life energy that I am, that Chris is, that we all are, the invisible spring beneath the body and mind. I'm noticing that it wants to move, to go along in the invisible current of life that is right here now beneath all the mind's stories of unhappiness, and that I can feel its quiet pulse and follow it. I whisper in its ear, "What would you like to do?" and I feel it move within me.
Eckhart Tolle has said that he doesn't ask so much, "What do I want?" Rather, he asks, "What does Life want?" In the end they turn out to be the same question, for I and Life are one and the same. But due to confusions of language and mind, the word "I" is also used to mean its opposite, which is ego, the pseudo-self that is an object made out of thoughts and images, created by mind activity. The true I is anatta, egolessness, the formless being that we all share, that is one.
Chris can't walk or talk, yet he is clearly more productive and contributes more to this world than many CEO's ever will. He is the hero of my heart. Thank you Chris for Being, the greatest gift of all.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Meaning is not found in thought, but in an immediacy closer than thought. Meaning is the substance, the clay, out of which everything is made. It is the suchness of what is, before the mind pulls it into the funnel of thought.
Reality is what we are. Not what the mind says. Mooji points out that in a crowded restaurant the cacophony around us is naturally overlooked as we experience the sweet conversation with a friend, and in the same way, all the voices in the mind telling us who we are can become no more than peripheral background noise when attention is no longer fixated on them.
The uncontrived authenticity of being alive is happening right now and every moment without a single word, and it is this above all that we want- to be real. We already have what we want, we already are real and authentic. When the mind starts going (out of habit) with endless notions of "should be more," all that can be like background noise in a restaurant, easily overlooked, while the flow of consciousness is naturally present to the suchness of This Life, felt fully within and without. The flow of aliveness is felt within the body, and awareness plunges effortlessly through the eyes and ears, breath moves in and out, and there is nothing to search for but everything to enjoy and be grateful for.
"...the meaning we are experiencing is not the conceptual meaning; it is the very presence of reality."
A.H. Almass, The Unfolding Now, p. 77.
Seeing the waves and being the ocean is happening right now for everyone, it is the natural state.
The anxious restless energy pattern of "something not right" or "needing to find enlightenment" is recognized as simply a transient energy pattern and nothing more. No energy pattern can disturb the vastness in which it occurs.
Not needing to be special. Not needing to be awakened or saved or enlightened or different in any way from this as it is now. The beauty of anonymity, of being undefined and unseen and image-free even in the mind's eye.
The reality of being- this present wealth- eases the misguided longing for personal specialness or enlightenment.
"The preciousness of being is your true specialness." Eckhart Tolle
Saturday, July 17, 2010
What doesn't have to be maintained?
What doesn't have to be propped up?
What is here effortlessly?
What doesn't need to know how to do anything?
What doesn't need to know what to do?
What is comfortable not doing anything?
What is comfortable with whatever is being done?
What is all right as it is?
What doesn't need to change?
What isn't going anywhere?
What doesn't need to get somewhere?
What is here when there is no pushing against anything?
What is here in the absence of thought?
What is being here right now without the slightest effort?
Gratitude for photo:http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.newark1.com/images/beautiful-flowers.jpg&imgrefurl=http://newark1.com/2009_07_01_archive.html&usg=__OcTg9vGIUIfuK2KlH0ZdCnZ14d4=&h=285&w=409&sz=17&hl=en&start=1&sig2=zJkuNOEJfxnQl78r2KMY0Q&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=rusZ9ttB7BWBSM:&tbnh=87&tbnw=125&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dbeautiful%2Bflowers%26tbnid%3DrusZ9ttB7BWBSM:%26tbnh%3D0%26tbnw%3D0%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DX%26ndsp%3D18%26imgtype%3Di_similar%26tbs%3Disch:1&ei=ozZCTIftJOWznAeS1oCbDw
Monday, July 12, 2010
"...there is somebody here, some pulsing alive loving being, that has nothing to do with your life experience or your opinions or your value system."
It is possible to inhabit this emptiness of sheer being, even in the tumult of the busiest day.
In any case, this alive being, this true nature, is fully here at all times, whether it is noticed or not.
Gratitude to Jan Frazier, quote is from essay, "The New Adventure". http://www.janfrazierteachings.com/blog/index.php?s=The+New+Adventure&searchsubmit=Go
Gratitude for photo, from this link: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://beautiful-garden-waterfalls-screensaver.smartcode.com/images/sshots/beautiful_garden_waterfalls_screensaver_27842.jpeg&imgrefurl=http://beautiful-garden-waterfalls-screensaver.smartcode.com/screenshot.html&usg=__SBGRcCGDUF1uyZ7NKvYgiH5X8K4=&h=768&w=1024&sz=161&hl=en&start=24&sig2=crCsRQLSM2ymUT0JxenKTw&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=kJfTXyAMNv5UOM:&tbnh=113&tbnw=150&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dbeautiful%2Bimages%26start%3D18%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26ndsp%3D18%26tbs%3Disch:1&ei=4qI7TNDcCIv8nAfzuLSbAw
Thursday, July 8, 2010
A bird does not sing because it has an answer.
It sings because it has a song.
I used to feel that a moment free from thought had no particular value. I used to feel that thinking was a better way to spend time than not thinking. I used to wallpaper every moment with a million ruminations.
Thinking felt productive, like it was getting me somewhere, finding answers, figuring life out. A blank mind, free of thought, was a wasted moment. It was zoning out, vegging out, goofing off, being frivolous. Thought was the vehicle to wisdom, understanding, and insight.
I was bound and determined to think-my-way to happiness.
And every thought took me away from the realm of no-thought that is happiness itself.
It has also been a surprise to discover that alert no-thought is actually more intelligent than thought. The space of no-thought is the source of any intelligence that shows up in thought. The no-thought that is "upstream" of thought is the source of creativity and wisdom.
While thought can be a beautiful and powerful tool, a lot of thought is unnecessary and destructive. Who doesn't have a merciless voice of internalized self-criticism? Or, even worse, a secret voice of thought that whispers hopes of personal specialness? Self-hatred and narcissism are two sides of a coin that have one thing in common: me, me, me. Which is the point of the bulk of thought: to conjure and perpetuate this huge fiction of separate me-hood. Thought builds up an imagined sense of me that must be constantly maintained and expanded. It is exhausting. It is a parasite draining life energy.
The me-image is fragile and flimsy and insecure by nature, as any image is a frail and evanescent thing. An image (especially the self-image) has a bottomless craving for attention, for without attention, where is the image? Poof! It is gone that easily.
These days there is a treasuring of the space of no-thought, whether thoughts are present or not. In the morning when consciousness opens its eyes on a new day, it savors the glint of silence between thoughts. So many of the thoughts that arise are recognized as unimportant, or as luring conscious attention towards hooking into some new drama of suffering, stirring up a new pot of pain. Sometimes the unnecessary suffering cooked up by thought-stories is caught early on and the drama is side-stepped, nipped in the bud. Other times I'm swept into the waking dream of thought lock-stock-and-barrel and ride out the storm. Either way, all the while the space of no-thought gleams with fathomless presence. Attention opens from the thoughts to the space of awareness in which the thoughts occur. Such freedom here now in this space!
Gratitude for photo of Mourning Dove available at this link:
Monday, July 5, 2010
Both personally and in my work in mental health, I have come to see that the value of feeling our feelings (rather than avoiding or indulging them) cannot be overstated. The "emotion phobic" tendency that seems to be inbuilt in us drives all kinds of addiction, over-consumption, violence, etc. Therefore I love this video (which applies equally to men and women) that invites us to experience our feelings nonverbally. Thinking about feelings is the opposite of feeling them; thinking is a defense and barrier against unpleasant feelings, it is a distancing mechanism which walls us off from our own life energy. When we block out the "bad" stuff (unpleasant feelings), the "good" stuff is equally blocked out. A kinked hose blocks the flow of any fluid equally.
The body and psyche are overstuffed suitcases full of repressed emotional material. I feel this is true to some extent for every human being. How do we "unpack" the suitcase of stuffed feelings? We don't. It unpacks itself. Whatever feelings are present in this moment are all that need to be met. We don't have to worry about whatever accumulation of grief and fear is lodged in the tissues, it will surface of its own accord at exactly the right time and pace. This makes it simple: we need only meet what is here now with openness and silence. I find that the "taste" of even unpleasant feelings can be surprisingly enjoyable when they are experienced on an energetic level without labels or judgments.
Flooding feelings with the energy of consciousness is inherently beneficial.
This is very different than ruminating over feelings or trying to work out a bad mood with the thinking process- this usually backfires and embeds the feelings somewhere in the "suitcase" of body and psyche.
Thought is used as a kind of protective shield to fend off unwanted feelings through analysis, rationalization, explanation, blame, guilt, etc. In whatever way the mind can label, package, shelve, project or otherwise "get rid" of unpleasant feelings, it will do so. This is how we get tied up in knots and drive the brain-engine to an ever increasing and chaotic velocity.
From an evolutionary, biological perspective, the capacity of thought to fend off unwanted feelings through judgment, analysis, repression, etc., may have been useful. But this once helpful survival mechanism has "gone overboard" and hypertrophied to the point where thinking has become a mental disease. We don't need to "throw out the baby with the bathwater"- thinking can still be beautiful and beneficial- but when thinking is used to alienate us from our feelings, it is harmful rather than helpful. The mind and thought processes have swollen to such an extent that they cause much personal and planetary suffering.
Enjoy this wonderful video that invites us to enter the energy of present feelings.
Gratitude to Chameli Ardagh. You can read about Chameli in the outstanding book Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Wisdom, by Rita Marie Robinson.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Listening to the sound of the dishwasher and looking at the cat napping on the blue chair, something is suddenly clear (it becomes visible as if floating up to the surface of water). It is this: The mind will never be able to tell me who I am. I've searched long and hard in the mind to discover my identity and it is not there. I won't find myself in any thought or story or experience, not even in the experience or story of awakening, enlightenment, or self-realization. Identifying with mind-objects (i.e. seeking my identity in objects such as thoughts, stories, experiences) is the basic confusion that I have suffered from. It's the basic confusion we all suffer from.
Even though I am myself always (it cannot be otherwise), there can be a sense of not knowing who I am, of being strangely lost and disconnected from the reality of my being. Of being out of touch with what is most vital and real within me.
There is a longing to know directly who I am apart from any mental ideas.
What I want is some kind of fundamental, conscious contact with the being, the actuality of the life that I am in this moment.
What is prior to any mental idea of who I am? What is here in the absence of thought? What am I apart from ego, apart from any personal history? What is here right now?
The awareness or being that everything shows up in is prior to any appearance.
In seeing this, sensing this, there is a plunge into immediacy, a wake-up slap of reality.
Attention had been locked on the clouds (thoughts, appearances) and now opens to the sky (presence/essence).
This sky of awareness or presence is here at all times; inseparable from the experiences that arise but not confined to them.
I am in no way separate from my experience, but my experiences are not who I am. There is great freedom in this fact. The sky is not confined by the clouds within it, and no human being is defined by thought.
The sky is not diminished when the clouds dissolve. If anything, the sky is even more present, or more apparent, when there are no clouds. A sky naked of clouds is not less of a sky. Without all the buzz of experience and thought, what I am is not diminished, but unveiled or more readily apparent. Without a big pile of accomplishments and failures and ideas and experiences (without all these clouds in the sky), the true essence of the reality that I am- the sky of awareness- is more readily apparent. The very things I sought to define myself did just the opposite: they obscured "my" reality- the wide open sky. All the things I thought defined me were more like a mask that alienated me from my reality.
What I want to know is not so much what I am but that I am. I want to feel/sense/know my reality, that indeed I am very much alive, aware, in this instant, un-separated from life itself.
What could be more astonishing than the am-ness of anything at all, the am-ness that is typing these words, reading these words, the am-ness that is ubiquitous in the single sky that is everything?
There is a sensing/feeling/knowing that I am. I can't wrap it up in a neat little mental package, but I can be what I am- effortlessly, unceasingly, like the space of the sky.
The joy of being is something real and present and accessible, and it is more satisfying than any passing experience. Why pine after a cloud when the wealth of the sky is here?
What I want, it turns out, is what I've got: Life. Life as it is in this moment.
Not a single movement of the mind is needed to be what I am.
Not a single thing needs to be different in order for me to be fully who I am. There is no circumstance that can block the fullness of being.
The dishwasher is quiet and the cat is still napping on the blue chair. The presence that is here is alive and a great wave of benevolence moves through. Thank you for being here and sharing this space.
Gratitude to Annette Nibley for pointing out that "without a single movement of the mind" being is known. Annette's extremely lucid writing can be accessed here: http://www.whatneverchanges.com/
Thanks also to the video of Stuart Schwartz on Never Not Here TV, which powerfully points attention to the obvious. Video can be accessed here: http://www.nevernothere.com/stuart-schwartz
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- ▼ July (9)
- Colleen Loehr, M.D.
- Greetings. I am a psychiatrist working at a state hospital, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at University of Missouri Medical School. I am also a wife and mother of three grown children. Qigong has profoundly changed my life for the better. I am interested in connecting with other people interested in qigong.