Can I scream my way into silence?
Can I think my way into stillness?
Can I negotiate with my mind’s projections, hoping to settle on one that temporarily suits me?
As the mind seems stuck playing a circus tune, I remember that there’s a better way:
Laying the heavy load of the ego mind at the feet of the moment as it is, grace instantly embraces me and carries me into the silence and stillness that I mistakenly thought, yet again, I had to deserve before being allowed to experience.
Surrender is strength.
Peace is power.
Only God is real.
All I had to do to free myself from the fever dream of the ego is to forget myself for a moment. All I had to do is do nothing and remember that my power lies in undoing.
Instant relief. Immediate peace. An inspired mind is a mind that waves the white flag of surrender.
Because nothing the ego tells me is true. It never was and never will be. Truth simply is, independent of my perceptions and interpretations, and the ego’s ceaseless but futile attempts to rewrite reality.
What a joy it is to be proven wrong, over and over again, and to be shown the simplicity of freedom lies in my continued willingness to stop feeding the imagined devil on my shoulder.
The ego’s fever dream never was. And I know with perfect certainty that my happy learning of that simple lesson is my journey back home.
Can I scream my way into silence?
What word would you use to sum up 2020?
For me it’s clarity.
Just like the clear blue of the sky, the pure white of the snow and the crisp fresh of the winter air on my hike this morning, on the last day of this challenging year.
Clarity may be the last word you’d use, but consider that things may not be as they seem.
Imagine you grew up in an upside down world, so all you know comes from an upside down way of thinking. Maybe you sensed something was off but the world told you in various ways that you’re the upside down one. When things finally start to get turned right side up, you perceive chaos and want things to go back to how they used to be. And no wonder you perceive chaos because the keepers of the upside down are fighting like hell to keep things upside down. You think you want things to go back to how they used to be, but the way things used to be is upside down. In short, right side up is what you actually need and want, but you may not know it yet. That’s 2020.
But forget about the world! Maybe what you think of yourself, about your true Self, has been upside down and therefore the way you see everything has been upside down too. In 2020 you were nudged and maybe even forced to question your way of thinking and perceiving yourself and the world so that you can gradually turn yourself around by turning your mind right side up.
Now do you see how great of a gift 2020 was?
There can be no clarity in an upside down way of thinking. But the moment you answer the inner call to guide yourself toward the right side up way of being, clarity is inevitable. Even in the midst of seeming chaos, even while surrounded by messengers of fear, and despite your old self’s best attempts to drag you back into the upside down way, your freedom, your salvation and your victory are certain.
On to 2021: the year of renewal. May we all stay true to Truth as we walk ourselves from darkness to Light.
Although the whole practice of 108 sun salutations is a meditation in itself, especially with the specific dedications preceding each of the nine rounds of 12 salutations, I felt compelled to start our fall 2020 practice with this “undoing” meditation. The practice of yoga, which means union, is really a practice of undoing because never having separated from God, we don’t need to strive for union but we do, as A Course in Miracles teaches, need to remove “the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance.” I find inspiration in music, and am often moved by either the whole song or just a single line. When we truly listen, teachings and inspiration are everywhere. The Holy Spirit speaks to an open mind, a mind willing to listen, through very ordinary and everyday things. In this meditation, I used lines from some of the songs in the fall 2020 sun salutations playlist, which I included below. May this “undoing” meditation touch your heart as much as sharing it with you touches mine.
Welcome this practice of undoing.
What will be undone are the false perceptions you have of yourself, of the world, of God, of Love. The undoing of the conjured up brings about the remembrance of the Real and the Eternal.
You have been called to this practice of undoing eons ago. A still, small voice of comfort and peace has been whispering to you tirelessly, but fearful of letting go of dreams, you have ignored the call for far too long, or paid it very little attention. The world seemed too important, too harsh, too tempting, very real and tragically inescapable. But deep in your heart of hearts, you already have decided to heed the call. The undoing has already started. You have already declared:
No matter what it takes, I’m coming home.
And thus the undoing has begun. You’re about to face deeply cherished illusions about yourself head on, finally having mustered the courage to come to terms with them, reinterpret them and forgive them.
In restless dreams I walked alone.
You mistakenly believed you were this finite person, this mask, veiling your true face of Innocence and Light. You asked, and rightfully so:
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
And this question was the beginning of the answer. Something inside had shifted. You asked for help to carry on, to use your heart and not your eyes to navigate the darkness.
And the help came and will never, ever abandon you. Your call cannot be unanswered.
Once you had chosen to rise above the noise and confusion, to get a glimpse beyond this illusion, a whole new world, yet an ancient one, had opened up.
The angel opens her eyes.
And you see, and you remember that
It’s times like these you learn to live again,
It’s times like these you give, and give again,
It’s times like these you learn to love again,
It’s times like these, time and time again.
The fear is no longer the terror of knowing what this world is about.
The world is forgiven, as all your dreams pass before your eyes of curiosity. Just like dust in the wind.
Now the world has become a place where trouble melts like lemon drops. Not because the world is at peace but because your mind is. Not because you’re waiting for the world to change, demanding it become Heaven on earth, but because you have tasted Heaven within, you have touched your inner Light.
You know now that it takes an inner dark to rekindle the fire burning in you. So you welcome the fire. You welcome it all, whatever comes; and you release it all, whatever goes. Knowing that Love is the higher law, the only law, you can finally show yourself, destroy your fears and release your mask.
You have started ascending the stairway to Heaven. There’s nothing left to fear and everything left to forgive. And now your heart sings the sweetest melody of Home:
I’m free. I’m free. And freedom tastes of reality.
- Coming Home, Pt. II by Skylar Grey
- The Sound of Silence by Disturbed
- White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane
- I Can’t Escape Myself by The Sound
- Crawling in the Dark by Hoobastank
- Times Like These by Foo Fighters
- Down to the River to Pray by Alison Krauss
- Dust in the Wind by Kansas
- Stand by Me by Florence + The Machine
- You Say by Lauren Daigle
- Under Pressure by Queen & David Bowie
- One by Johnny Cash
- Carry On Wayward Son by Kansas
- The Light by Disturbed
- Lightning Crashes by LIVE
- Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
- Innuendo by Queen
- Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin
- Aad Guray by Deva Premal
- I’m Free by The Who
No yoga pose means anything in and of itself. These physical expressions are forms that were all made up by someone at some point; whether a pose was invented a hundred years ago or yesterday is irrelevant because its meaning to the person practicing the pose comes from the person practicing the pose. And that meaning always comes from the mind and has nothing to do with the body.
In the same way, no moment, circumstance or event means anything in and of itself.
Kurt Vonnegut said that everything is nothing with a twist. I have no idea what exactly that meant to him, but to me, as a student of nonduality, it makes perfect sense and serves as a reminder that I alone am responsible for my interpretation of what I see.
If I add lemon to my water, I flavored the otherwise plain water, and now have water with a twist of lemon. I’m the one who added the flavor. I’m the one responsible for the flavor. The lemon just acted on my behalf because the lemon obviously can’t decide by itself to flavor my water and then do so without my agency.
In the same way, whatever my experience is of any given moment is the flavor I added to the moment. Just like I could add peppermint or orange or any other flavor to my water instead of lemon, I can and do choose what I use to flavor my experience of what I see: peace, neutrality and compassion are some of the flavors but so are judgment, anger and blame.
The very first lesson in A Course in Miracles teaches that nothing I see means anything, and the second lesson tells me that I have given everything the meaning it has for me. In other words, I am reminded that everything is nothing with a twist. And I’m the one who gives the nothing the twist, the flavor, that makes the nothing into something for me.
I know how tempting it is to discard all this as too unrealistic to practice. Seeing the world as an objective reality and perceiving myself as a victim of circumstances beyond my control is one of ego’s favorite tricks. A few days ago I found myself in anxiety over the possibility of having to live through another war. But simultaneously, I knew that I was the one who was adding the twist of anxiety to that moment. It was old trauma coming back to lead me into the abyss of fear. And I could clearly see that adding a different twist to the nothing I made into something is my responsibility and also my freedom.
The same rule applies if I actually find myself one day in a war situation again. Or any situation. Because as persons, as the separate entities we think we are, we will always and repeatedly find ourselves in traumatic and unexpected and undesirable circumstances. Just like we will also rejoice and enjoy happy moments we feel we deserve and expect life to grant to us. So is the nature of duality.
But Truth is beyond duality and is therefore the only real source of peace. If God is perfect Love, and only God is real, then it follows that everything else is made up. What we take as the objective and independently existing world of form into which we randomly get born as bodies is much ado about nothing, as Shakespeare said, because we make it into what it is by the power of our thinking. And using that same power, we can unmake what we made by taking responsibility for how we flavor what we see.
I can add a twist of spirit, which is Truth, or a twist of ego, which is illusion, to what I see and depending on how I flavor each moment, my experience will be either that of having a peaceful dream or a nightmare.
“My heart was split and a flower appeared; and grace sprang up; and it bore fruit for my God.
You split me, tore my heart open, filled me with love.
You poured your spirit into me; I knew you as I know myself.
Blessed are the men and women who are planted on your earth, in your garden, who grow as your trees and flowers grow, who transform their darkness to light.
Their roots plunge into darkness; their faces turn toward the light.
All those who love you are beautiful; they overflow with your presence so that they can do nothing but good.
There is infinite space in your garden; all men, all women are welcome here;
All they need do is enter.”
(The Odes of Solomon, Ode 11)
Maybe our hearts have to split over and over again until we choose to have the flower appear and grace spring up. The ego’s false kingdom has to start crumbling before we can choose against it.
More than a decade ago, my heart had split, yet again, and out of pure desperation, exhausted by my perpetual war with myself, and deflated by my arrogant attempts to command life to bend the way I wanted it to, I silently waved the white flag by declaring that “there has to be more to life than this.” That echoing thought was the invitation for the Holy Spirit, hidden all along in the sane part of my mind, to finally enter the chaos of the person I thought I was and slowly and patiently lead me back to the light that I’ve always been.
Since that day, my life has been a pilgrimage toward only that which is true, eternal and beautiful. Which is not to say the journey has been without hardship, human drama, sadness, confusion, anger and judgment. My heart has split many times since then but it has split more open so that flowers can continue to appear and so that grace can keep springing up. It turns out that a simple shift made a profound difference:
Whatever pulls me back into the abyss of the ego, where I identify as the separated little me, at effect of the cruel and uncaring world, is just fertilizer for more flowers to grow as long as I step back and let Him lead the way, as A Course in Miracles teaches me. I replace ego with the Holy Spirit as my teacher, my guide, my parent, my best friend, and I’m never disappointed because I’m never left without the love that I had craved my whole life and had never found through the countless and vain attempts to walk myself home.
My heart and my life are devoted to God, which means that they are devoted to YOU, because the only goal I find worth pursuing is to see you as the perfect light that you are, no matter what the world seems to think of you and no matter what you think of you and, most of all, no matter what I, as the person, thInk of you.
“Because all those who love you are beautiful,” as this Ode of Solomon so beautifully expresses. Once we turn our faces to the light, the light reciprocates.
We keep trying to meet in the jungle of the world; the fragmented parts attempting to come together but insisting on keeping our cherished fragmented selves. But when we meet in His garden, which is infinite, we see that there is no you and me, or us and them, but just light meeting itself in eternal blossoming of the One.
I choose God’s garden.
All are welcome here, and the happy fact is, all are already here.
All we need to do is enter.
Growth is usually
and definitely not comfortable.
But is that so looking from the vantage point of the seed or from the perspective of the plant? What does the legless tadpole know about the hopping frog, although it is destined to become one? The fall of the caterpillar is the rise of the butterfly, yet is the one separate from the other?
Who knows what miraculous shifts would happen if we let ourselves freefall into the fire of growth? It is an inevitable process anyway. Only our courageous yes or our fearful no determine whether we fall freely or fight the fall.
Falling freely, we lose the fear of falling and remember that we’ve always known how to fly. The seed already contains the future plant, after all.
Fighting the fall, we also eventually remember that we know how to fly, but not until we see that fighting the unavoidable transformation only hurts us because we’ve decided to delay becoming what we already are.
I love the fallen angel yoga pose and the prep for it, which I made into a variation (see the photo) I found more challenging balance wise than fallen angel. Both look graceful, strong, fun, break dance like and joyful, AND both look like a yogi just fell and laughed about it and the whole thing became a beautiful pose.
What a lesson in itself.
Falling is not failing.
The outer does not always accurately represent the inner.
The temporary hardship is not an indication of your path to come.
The struggles of the person can in no way dim the perfect light that you already are.
Whatever breaks and disintegrates during the fall is not what you are, but that which remains intact is and always has been.