Reflections on Stillness to Empower Your Year

Hello – It has been so long since my last post!

While many articles on this site touch on health, longevity, performance and quality of life much of the content comes back to quality of consciousness and state of being. This requires meditative reflection and opening up to inspiration for the words to flow. However, the truth of the subject matter is not in the written words is where those words come from. My hope is they inspire being present in yourself. Time away from the words can also be important to keep some perspective.

To better establish living in multiple countries with a mobile income has been taking some focus from preparing books in progress and general writing. Now I’m back, may the writing here keep the channel of writing flowing and add some value to you – this one with a possible theme for the year.

Recognition of conscious presence is where I find personal empowerment and meaningful living arises, which includes communicating that aspect of living to others who resonate with the message and enjoy developing its potential in their own life. It is an aspect that raises us beyond the purely sensory and material world and life to address the most profound aspect of who we are.

Being consciously in the moment when still or in action empowers our doing in whatever activity is going on, making it meaningful and unavoidably an expression of our values. Complete absorption in doing and thinking requires a balance of conscious being, otherwise it becomes too easy to get drawn into identification and lost in that thinking and doing.

When we are completely surrendered, still and silent – mind and body – there is more space in our personal experience to open up to and notice the subtle essence of living reality or existence. The formless consciousness that is experiencing this moment discloses nothing beyond thoughts, feelings and sensory content that we can put our finger on, yet we can feel a shift when experiencing these things as a living consciousness that transcends them.

Spacious presence here and now is where we can feel closest to a sense of absoluteness and oneness of being. Through co-operative receptivity and conscious stillness the essence of who we are finds clarity in our awareness and expression of it. At the same time we can allow a deepening experience of who we are at any time and place by our choice to be fully present. From depth of presence we can open up with intent to the formless essence of living reality in and around us.

There is an accessible and tangible essence of living consciousness to be personally known and expressed through us. It is an evolving manifestation in all others and all things. Thus we can not only feel more connected within ourselves, but also to life around us, by consciously engaging in it. With practice, we can more consistently and deeply sensitive to feeling aligned with the creative and living essence of life.

Expansive and profound consciousness is subtle yet simple and accessible. It can draw us beyond the little self which is limited to sensory pre-occupations and worldly concerns.

Reaching beyond form and opening up to a greater subtle reality is the essence of any spiritual path. Applying oneself through a feeling of authentic attunement is primary to forming concepts or beliefs that can only be useful in partial and limited ways. Applying authentic attunement to meaningful values like our own sense of love and trust, goodwill and other qualities that invoke a sense of higher purpose in all we do, are examples of this kind of conviction.

Personal experience and application of such values is beyond our sensory and thinking minds, yet can be consciously cultivated and developed. We can find inspiration in our own stillness and spacious receptivity to a personal sense of our life and consciousness, because conscious volition is inherent in our living essence. So are the values that help us feel the richness and beauty of life. This is something we all share, albeit described differently.

Through success and disappointment, joy or sense of loss, our indestructible base can be gained from faith and alignment to what is there when all of the mind, body and heart are surrendered in wakeful, knowing love and trust. This space is unaffected by the content – what is going on around us and in our minds – it is deeper than where we are affected by such things, even things that matter a lot in our life. The power of love is in love itself. The power of consciousness is in consciousness itself.

Our need to being truly fulfilled, is a need beyond the animalistic need for food, shelter, company and security. It is the natural need to resolve the tension created by consciousness itself irrepressibly expressing itself more and more fully through us as our true nature, and our own conditioned developing sense of self based on separating and defining itself to survive or thrive. Progressively resolving this tension through surrender and conscious presence can be our path to be less limited and self defined, while consciously experiencing something greater living in and through us in whatever we do and wherever we are. The are no ordinary moments and countless opportunities for spontaneity and creativity within.

Suffering and feeling limited is a calling to break beyond our own attachments and aversions, mentally and emotionally. But what do we connect with as a means of letting go from within? Faith and trust in the essence of love, compassion and connective-ness, as we can most deeply feel it, is where the answer lies. It is given many names, yet beneath the responsibilities and needs of our human life is the hidden agenda that our true essence be embodied and expressed. When this is recognised, the form it takes or doesn’t take is less important. However partially we may feel and embody this essence in our daily life provides the assuredness of progression towards meaning and purpose, versus conditioned and unconscious grasping for things or others to help us feel fulfilled.

Meditative mindfulness in simple moments in stillness or conscious actions helps develop applying these ideals during life’s ups and downs. We can enjoy ourselves, life activities and others more fully when we bring in generous openness, a transcendent wholeness to them all in shared reciprocity as unique reflections of the same living essence in oneness. This is living in and from love.

May this year unfold to be one of dissolving obstacles and barriers to abundance and peace through living and holding the space of conscious presence.

Photo on VisualHunt.com (modified with quote)

Ways “The Zone” and Mindful Presence Help You Triumph – Part II

In Part I of this article looked at a the shifts in consciousness associated with ‘the zone’ or ‘flow performance’ which are terms referred to in the sporting context. In this second part, I explore the relationship and transition of this conscious shift into ‘mindfulness’ or ‘conscious presence’, which are terms used in a spiritual context for a specific state of consciousness.

The conscious states in these various contexts can enhance wellbeing and performance not just in a demanding situation, but also in normal daily life. They are indicative of a deeper conscious state we can access that provides a deep quality of awareness and enables us to deal with life’s challenges without stress, pain and suffering. What are the elements we can incorporate into our physical activities and lifestyle to help us achieve these conscious shifts?

In this article, I cover three key elements that make physical activities most effective in shifting consciousness and releasing stress.

Shifting Consciousness and Releasing Stress

A different scenario to high acuity and elevated states of awareness during adrenaline sports and activities primarily activating the sympathetic nervous system, are the relaxing synchronised activities that activate the parasympathetic nervous system and train the mind to achieve subtle but sustained states of awareness to those discussed in Part I.

Activities like Tai Chi, Yoga, or Hiking in nature can provide prolonged experiences of this type of awareness. With the right practice and inward focus, they can provide a conscious release from the thinking mind with body movement and mind-body awareness as a transitional focus to get there.

In these instances, a ‘flow performance’ or in ‘the zone’ experience can also occur, albeit not as intense and brief, with gradual progression in stability and duration of the experience, beyond the activity that facilitates it, into normal daily life.

Nonetheless, occasional intense experiences arise at unpredictable times just as they do with more adrenaline oriented activities. I have had some peak moments of flow and awareness arise on days when I was not feeling so good and there was a need to draw more deeply into myself to focus and perform. Such unexpected peak moments may not have even correlated with an unexpected peak performance but left me with a shift that enriched more energised practice over the following days and weeks.

Three Key Elements

There are three key factors that provide a powerful combination for practicing and developing mindful awareness which are shared in a great range of disciplines like those mentioned above. They are:

  • Controlled body movement or posture, synchronised with
  • conscious and purposeful breathing, along with
  • focused but relaxed attention with full inner-body awareness.

In adrenaline sports or dangerous activities, as in high concentration work and activities, the mind is highly focused in the immediate moment and every second. Training oneself to voluntarily be fully focused in the here and now and immediate experience, body awareness and activity at hand, with a mind clear of thought and heart open in presence is the key here.

To do so with a sense of alignment and harmony (the state of mind as primary to the experience as the activity itself) is a universal theme of philosophies and spiritual teachings like zen, buddhism and other approaches that make inward focus and personal experience their primary focus. This is why Tai Chi is often associated with Zen and Taoism, or Hatha Yoga and Pranayama breathing exercises with inner Yogic meditation and Indian Vedanta.

The basic elements however, can be applied to any activity or non-activity like simply sitting which is at the essence of zen practice, or pouring a cup of tea like the more elaborate tea ceremonies of China and Japan. This is simple but subtle, which is why it is hard to conceptualise and is better to be contemplated through practice rather than theory and intellectualising.

The dimension where such practices become truly spiritual, is in the consciousness that opens the practitioner to an authentic sense of deep peace and expansive presence that can overcome suffering (emotional and mental turbulence and pain) and putting the ego in its place as servant rather than master. Becoming immune to anxiety and stress through this transcendent state is coupled with access to a sense of unity with life with a feeling of abiding peace, love and even a consistent underlying blissfulness.

From Movement to Mindfulness

The key in all of this is the super high acuity of the present moment while the sense of self is replaced with an immersion in the entire experience based in the interaction occurring between self, the environment at hand and any interaction with others without separation between them. The experience of all three is occurring within, in the conscious mind. This is where the term ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ is relative. Sages throughout the ages have communicated deep insight into the nature of everything being an experience in consciousness itself.

In this state of high acuity, identification with a self image dissolves. It is replaced with a sense of being the space in which your enhanced experience is occurring, rather than identification with the content of the present moment experience. This comes with a sense of accepting connection or unity with it all. Mental narrative and thinking is replaced with a still open receptivity, that provides for spontaneity and responsiveness that is not consciously premeditated.

This is not a zombie-like state, but a surrender to an innate intelligence and consciousness that alert and full of life. When it is found repeatedly, there is a sense of returning to a home base of consciousness that is there whether we tune into it or not. It is the life and conscious essence of our existence.

Even when a brief insight and awakening is achieved, for example with some professional athletes as discussed in Part I, if the whole focus at the time (and following) for the person is on winning or losing or some external outcome, then it may not transform into anything more than a psychological zone for optimal performance. It either becomes part of the high of winning or is discounted and negated in the disappointment of losing and the conditioned identification with mind content is not transcended.

If the focus of the experiencer is on the pleasure, connectivity and fluidness of the experience as a primary outcome in and of itself, then such a peak state can be appreciated and recognised as a deeper state of being. Being lifted from the conditioned and mundane sense of being a separate self reveals or validates a profound sense of life that many describe as spiritual.

Such peak experiences can be a time when we drop our usual familiar mental constructs and ‘points of reference’ spontaneously. Just a few, or even one experience like this, can open up a new sense of what ‘conscious’ being and doing is. It is certainly a profound shift when a person feels irreversibly, albeit subtly and obscurely changed, and peak moments like these have produced this kind of impact for many.

A sporting challenge, prolonged or extremely acute stress and suffering or a spontaneous and blissfully perfect moment can all provide for a few, an portal to those peak moments when we spontaneously experience a shift in being and awareness that translates into a new level of perceiving and performing something in our life. In a sense, it could be perceived as the purpose for the challenges and struggles of life. Meditative movement or stillness can nurture and train mind and body awareness to be more attuned and prepared for such moments.

These moments can be termed as states of heightened mindfulness or ‘the conscious practice of presence’ as they can produce a recognisably high acuity of here and now consciousness. Other benefits of this sense of higher self is that it imbues life experience, beyond good or bad, with a greater appreciation of beauty, goodness and excellence as intrinsic qualities in nature, other people and life in general.

Photo on VisualHunt <“https://visualhunt.com/re2/276d13“> (quote added)

The Backbone of Health and Happiness

When it comes to diet, stress management, dealing with any health and lifestyle issues or deepening your own personal spiritual life there is one common key factor. If you have high levels of stress, churn over repeated discussions in your head about certain things, procrastinating about certain compulsive or ingrained habitual behaviours you want to change or have a persistent ongoing concern, then the following is especially relevant.

The backbone to all of these areas is self-love, because it impacts our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Before you assume that is just rewarding and nurturing yourself, which is great, the self love I am referring to goes deeper than that.

We really cannot receive or convey love fully unless we are open and accepting within ourselves to fully experience our own love, independent of our personal and unique expression of it.

The body and mind are only fully healthy when there is an accepting and loving foundation to our state of being. Cell function, hormonal balance, brain function, immunity, digestion, the microbiome in our bodies as well as cardio vascular and nervous system health are all impacted by our emotional and mental tone and what messages we are giving ourselves each and every day. It is a feedback loop between mind and body so balance or imbalance can be self-reinforcing. Self-love is a tonic for stress, anxiety, physical imbalances and the key ingredient to personal wellbeing.

To explore our own potential in having a personal and experiential spiritual aspect to life, requires a sensitivity to frequencies of love, compassion and good-will. Our sense and expression of these can only be authentic or deep if we draw on these qualities of consciousness regularly within and towards ourselves as well as others. Our relationships or sense of connection is also empowered, as people recognise and are drawn to someone who emanates comfort and self acceptance with love in themselves.

So what is self-love at its foundation? If we contemplate love aside from specific associations with romance, love of family or friends, love of a pet or a life passion, then we must look to what all these contexts (and any others) have in common in terms of what we recognise and know as love. If love is inclusive of these different relationships and feelings, it is also deeper and more universal than what distinguishes each of them.

In line with many spiritual teachers and traditions, I relate to the essence of love as being the recognition and spontaneous sense of oneness. When we recognise a living aspect of ourselves in another living being or in nature or life around us generally, then there is a sense of connection and unity that underlies all form and differences which are temporary and changing.

We can feel a sense of oneness when on our own and it is possible in any situation with others. It may be conscious or only semi-conscious at times but we respond positively nonetheless when this feeling arises from within, and especially when it is a mutual experience with others. There is a pure beauty, happiness and goodness that comes with a deep sense of unity as our being-ness includes our own world and others.

This is where meditation or coming back to simple mindfulness can be of great assistance. The mental narratives of our conditioned mind are often negative in tone. This is a primary cause of stress or disturbance and can be tied in with chronic illnesses. Even if they are positive, identifying with our commentaries and conceptualisations is losing ourselves in a mental construct rather than being in an alert state of presence in the here and now and experiencing it as it is. Absorption in mental constructs creates a sense of disconnection from ourselves and others. It is a tension of misalignment which may have become subtle in its normality and is a root cause of underlying discontent and unhappiness.

Our mental narratives and conceptualising are generally conditioned by the past and projected onto the present or into the future. This puts us out of sync with feeling love and oneness in the here and now because true love and presence is a living and spontaneously arising feeling from the nature of our consciousness which is timeless rather than a projected concept or time-bound thought.

Being aware of our thinking and narratives then shifting gears when they are not useful or positive is a great practice of self-awareness and beginning to adjust old thinking patterns. In most cases, they are actually not that positive or useful, unless part of a creative or problem solving process. The greatest practice we can do in our busy lives, is to take opportunities every day to not think at all and just ‘Be’.

This does not mean putting pressure on ourselves to have no thoughts which is a practice of frustration and inner conflict. It means that we take time to just be and observe. If that observing includes an open hearted acceptance and mindful awareness of each thought as it arises, as well as our breath, body and immediate surroundings, then the mind will settle down and we can begin to feel a deeper peace and be restfully energised.

This is a practice of self love in and of itself. Unity and connection within ourselves wherever we are at the time arises from the conscious space in which you are reading this now. Even if there are things about ourselves or a situation we would like to change or improve in time, in any single given moment we can practice letting go of our attachment to an outcome or future-based projection we have constructed, and simply accept be here and now. Trusting issues can be resolved out of this presence is a totally different way of going about life for someone who is constantly pre-occupied.

Positive thinking can be a great means to an end, as it can make thinking more constructive and absent of self-sabotaging and limited conditioning. The thinking mind tends to focus on what distinguishes things from each other and whether they are favourable to us or not. This is the dimension of separateness where fear and concern, attachment and aversion become more activated. It is also how we get drawn in and become reactive to life.

However, settling into the essence of our living being and consciousness through mindful presence can be an end in itself. Its value is in the moment as well as being cumulatively and progressively beneficial.

Free of our narratives and concerns about past or future allows the unchanging and continual primacy of being become the foundation of our doing. Allowing time to practice and experience this regularly leads to recognition of a wonderful quality and sense of being. This spectrum of feeling is pervaded with love and compassion for it is a unified field of awareness. It does not need to be willed or manufactured, as many practitioners confirm generation after generation, because it arises spontaneously when we give it mind and heart space.

Even if you know this conceptually, it is not the same as actually allowing yourself to ‘be that space’ here and now. Applying it daily develops the art of being and doing without getting lost in the doing. When we are in conscious being, we experience the primary essence of ourselves and others as the same universal essence.

In a state of conscious being, what we may like and dislike about ourselves or others becomes transitory, relative and superficial. It doesn’t define us in any moment. When an issue arises that actually matters, it can be approached without reactivity because it no longer matters completely. The primacy of conscious being keeps things in perspective.

There is an inherent perfection in formlessness that helps us accept and work with the relativity of form. The way we face and perceive life situations may reflect aspects of our character but are not absolute truths or who we really are.

In presence we don’t become anaesthetised, but rather more perceptive, accepting and capable of acting creatively without reaction. We can more deeply love with a penetrating awareness.

Ultimately, conscious awakening is a deepening understanding through personal experience that unlimited conscious love is what we are at the core of our own living essence. Complete love is always here and now – self love is about opening up to it here and now from within, then letting it fully infuse our awareness and ‘doing’ with each breath.

Photo credit:DieselDemon on Visualhunt/CC BY

Steps That Will Lead to No Ordinary Moments

It’s been over forty years since I first put on a Gi and started martial art training. Shin Kyu Sik, my first instructor (in Tang Soo Do) many years ago said to me, “If you are unlucky these days you may get into a fight once or twice in your life, but you fight battles within yourself every day”. That simple message applying my training to the inner game of life has stayed with me all my life. Since then I have studied various forms of Karate and Kung Fu spanning soft internal styles as well as hard external styles. Martial arts for me has not been about fighting another opponent as much as training mind and body to face large and small everyday battles of life effectively with alert calmness and equanimity. Of course proficiency in techniques is part of the art, but its greatest practicality in modern life is as a vehicle for strengthening mind and character. In the last ten years especially, passing this on to others as an instructor and coach is immensely rewarding.

In these interesting times as more momentum builds in social progress, the pressure to keep up with technology and social trends. At an entrepreneurial level to stay relevant in how we communicate and offer products and services we must also keep abreast of diversification and new niches of business. Information and knowledge is becoming as much a high demand and major commodity as is any material commodity product or service. Our times are becoming characterised by designer lives, where customised controllable environments, homes, transportation, fashion and interests are more accessible faster. Our mindset is also more important in adapting and thriving among more and more options, complexities of challenges, with a greater emphasis on competing and performing with our minds rather than just working with our hands. Self-doubt, negative beliefs, emotional and mental resistance to change, susceptibility to stress and many other challenges to psycho-emotional wellbeing are things we must combat in our lives more than ever. Creative thinking and cutting edge knowledge in a particular field of interest is becoming more important. Thankfully there are also more supports and sources of information on how to combat personal obstacles and build knowledge and skills than ever before.

The growing demand for insights and skills on playing the inner game of life is beginning to catch up with the expanding demand for tools of developing the skills, processes and knowledge needed to move forward in any given industry. Many of my posts refer to ‘conscious presence’ because it is a passion I have and I believe it is at the root of mastering one’s inner game, whatever the journey, as well as providing for spiritual growth.

Ancient philosophies such as Taoism and Zen, are perhaps easier to couch in modern terms than main stream religious sources, for their minimal religious terminology and universality in presenting principles for truth, righteous living and heightened consciousness. They make a play of paradoxes and opposites to help us pierce the dualism of mind and form to get to unity of pure consciousness and presence in the moment. In this way, practice and understanding promises a better conscious observation of mind-stuff as it arises and more conscious choice as to what we take on or let go in our individual approaches to life. Conscious observation of self is transformational in itself while also providing an inner platform from which to consciously re-design our own thinking and focus.

In the meantime the age-old clues as to what that foundation is, behind thoughts and feelings – conducive or not so conducive, still provide apt guidance towards the self awareness that enables self-transformation and development. In the end, contacting and aligning with the true substance of what and who we are beneath it all becomes the most authentic and rock solid foundation to being solid, happy and empowered. It is connecting and living from a deep conscious self awareness that enables us to know who we are, what we really want and know our purpose. It is where we can find fulfilment in what we are and do, as well as create lives where we can be and do more fulfilling things.

Because this seat of ‘self’ is beyond concept (thought) and form, words like ‘space’, ‘presence’, ‘pure consciousness’ ‘mindfulness’ , ‘essence’ and ‘state-of-being’ are modern terms for an awakening experience that might have once had associations with terms like ‘spirit’ and ‘God’. Whatever the words, for words are only words, it is an authentic and immediately personal experience that is relevant, liberating and empowering, that people are increasingly looking for (knowingly or sub-consciously). The age old trend for increasing peace and prosperity is becoming real for more and more of the worlds population.

As has often been the case historically, it is often in the face of challenges and adversity where we are most likely to go beyond our familiar dependencies and escapism to get to a new depth and breadth of being, because a real crisis occurs when the old familiar ways become inadequate. It is discomfort, inner tension and real life needs that drive us to dig deeper and open up to a greater source of strength, clarity or sense of purpose and connection in life.

This is where the training I began to discuss above can come in handy, as does the way we live in general. Practical training and philosophies can offer a form of view and experience that brings us to lucid moments at times we would otherwise go into ‘flight or fight’. Certain mind training provides reference points for the formless, where our ‘aha’ moments can arise. A principle that is referred to in the paradoxes and play of opposites in martial arts, Taoism and Zen is ‘non-action in action’ and ‘action in non-action’.

It is not very ‘zen’ of me to conceptualise this principle. .. however … it applies to an experience that could be described as meditation in action. In a pure moment of being present we can perform an action with full clarity and consciousness, rooted in the space and consciousness from which the action is occurring. If we are fully aligned and attuned in an action being performed, and identifying with the space or ‘non-action’ in which it is occurring, a quality of ‘nowness’ enables purposeful, creative and fulfilling focus to occur. Also conscious alignment and attunement with the stillness and being-ness from which any given action has arisen, is an inner action in and of itself – the action of aligning and attuning the consciousness itself.

This awareness in action while knowing the reason and benefits of what we are doing at any time in the day, nourishes the consciousness of feeling in the flow of life and energisation by doing something that invigorates a sense of purpose. This is compared to the dullness of biding time, doing something for the sake of it, being in a mindset of ‘having to do’ something we don’t want to do or really care about. These negative types of mindsets take us away from being empowered and conscious individuals living in sync with life in general. Transformation of consciousness and reality occur together.

A simple example comes from Zen in the form of Zen walking. Walking can be a mundane thing we do unconsciously to get somewhere we want to be or maybe would rather not be. However, even this simple process can be used as part of enjoyment and self-mastery, especially if we try it as a conscious practice a number of times. Try this version of practice on a weekend, start or finish of the day and go barefoot on wet sand or grass to get the full benefits of earthing and restorative electron flow in and around the body in addition to the exercise for mind. This helps balance and replenish mind and body as well as practicing mindfulness:

  • allow the breath to become open, flowing and fully relaxed
  • stand still and balanced, gaze slightly down along the nose, feeling through the legs and feet into the ground, breathe in the lower belly, arms relaxed by the sides or finger interlocked comfortably at the lower abdomen where you are taking the breathe.
  • Begin to walk slowly, steadily and purposefully in a circle or straight line with a soft steady gaze and calm natural breath.
  • Allow your steps to be slow enough to feel the point of balance on each foot rolls from heel to toes and the other foot lifts and moves forwards.
  • Try adjusting the speed until the walk feels slow, steady and natural – encouraging a strong sense of balance and being with each step and the movement during each step.
  • Do this long enough (5-20 minutes) that your inner body awareness and outer awareness feel unified (no boundaries) with breath and movement.

Once you do this you can subtly do it while browsing in a shop, walking from the desk to printer or table to refrigerator – any moments through the day to train oneself towards consistent mindfulness.

Waking up in conscious presence each day and appreciating the song of birds outside my window, bringing that wakeful presence into body awareness, the living space around me and then my actions throughout the day, adds so much to what I consider my quality of living and enhances my relationships. It is an aspect of where spiritual practice and daily living are one and the same. The accumulated store of conscious moments over days, weeks and years bring you to an enriched space where (to quote Dan Millman) “there are no ordinary moments”.

Photo from Visual Hunt (quote added)

True Life Riches That Bring Love and Freedom

The Fullness of Love

Having a life full of love means being able to receive and feel love in ourselves along with a life of sharing it with others. There is an undying and causeless love we can draw on at anytime which gives our relationships and occupations meaning and purpose when we can love each other and what we do. Knowing and doing what you love with love is fulfilling in and of itself because it is embodying, expressing, sharing and channeling this love into the world as you experience it.

The Bhagavad Gita 13:27 says: “He sees truly who perceives the Supreme Lord present equally in all creatures, the Imperishable amidst the perishing.” Swami Sivananda describes someone with this view as self-realised. Sivananda likens the divine essence in us all as like the heat that is common in all kinds of fire, the gold that is the same in different ornaments and light being the same from different lamps.

Paramahansa Yogananda refers to the ground of all creatures who share the same substance of life which is the Lord as consciousness (chit in sanskrit) and existence or being (sat). Yogananda goes on to equate our identity as creatures and mortals with delusion and perishing, yet “as children of the Most High, sons of the Creator, we partake of His uncaused and indestructible nature.”

The cosmology of the Gita can be brought down to ourselves as the centre of the universe as we each experience it, not as isolated orphans, but as part of a living conscious universe with the capacity to live in a way that benefits and harmonises the rest of life. According to Easwaran, the Gita proposes the whole in each of us, as each of us is an expression of universal consciousness in which is contained the entire universe. Thus we can see ourselves in each other and in all “which is the basis of universal love”.

To put it dramatically, the whole cosmos is a setting for us to rise above it and go beyond time, place, and circumstance into the supreme reality that is God”. Easwaren (p.52)

True Freedom of the Muni

The Gita 2:55-57 describes the freedom of the muni (one who can dissolve his mind in divine presence or God) as relinquishment of worldly desires, entirely contented in the Self, not shaken by anxiety under afflictions nor attached to happiness in favourable circumstances, free from worldly loves, fears and angers – he is settled in wisdom and steady discrimination.

Part of the practice of this relinquishment can be in the small things in life. Easwaran brings it right down to basics, using eating your broccoli as an example of weakening the conditioned mind which is happy only with what it likes. With practice and maturity “you find yourself no longer compelled to do what you enjoy, but instead enjoying whatever you do.” (p.160). Another aspect is what I described in a previous post as “embracing the good, bad and the ugly”. Meanwhile, another attribute of the muni is to absorb worldly desires into oneself then dissolve them in the vast ocean of presence.

Yogananda refers to pure bliss from meditative and spiritualised actions as the source of complete satisfaction and supreme happiness of the muni. It is this that enables us to embrace all aspects of our life with equanimity and absorb all desires into a greater and stronger bliss. Yogananda gives us the ideal of the perfect sage, whose outer nature still retains some egoity as an individualised consciousness in the form of a spiritualised ego retaining the bliss of presence even after meditation and while performing actions in life.

Many of us do not realise there is no pleasures of the flesh without a soul identifying with the body for it to happen. Yet instead of identifying with soul presence, we cling to bodily and worldly pleasures for satisfaction and relief from the rigours of life – “just as a mad lover, identified with his beloved, thinks his happiness dependent on her and her alone!” The wise man perceives all bliss is contained in the inner self, the nature of the soul being different to the nature of the body. “As fear is caused by a sense of impending misfortune, the wise man, identified with the soul, knows no such desires. Anger results from the nonfulfillment of a bodily or mental desire; the muni harbours no such desires.”

Finally, Yogananda explains the neutrality of the wise in all circumstances, is not a heartless indifference but conscious control and calming of the faculties of consciousness. The conditioned mind is as a “puppet of nature”, actions and reactions an excitable yet predictable mix of delusive influences. The key is in recognising the distinction between the blessed nature of the soul and the excitable and transitory nature of body and mind.

Easwaren describes being truly free as when no mental state or “emotion can overwhelm you, no craving can drive you into action”, where dependence on others and outside circumstances and the tides of fortune no longer hold any sway, there is no compulsions or need to manipulate anyone. The “heart is full of joy and your mind full of peace” and whatever occurs you always experience true completeness. (pp.57,58). The recognition of the depth if these attributes is where we can access them through authentic and consistent practice of presence in stillness and in action.

Commenting on a similar verse in the Gita, Yogananda explains (Gita 2:70) that the ability to absorb all desires within, keeping an inner ocean of quiescence filled to the brim, does not mean abandoning good aspirations – “in spiritual life giving is receiving.” He quotes Jesus words in Matthew 25:29: “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” Actively pursuing a desire to give joy and peace, or any acts of goodness to others will bring more joy and peace to the doer. The deeper we go in drawing on inner love and peace in living and sharing our life, the more vast an ocean of divine Self is made available to one and all to commingle in the universal ocean of divine life and consciousness.

In this post I draw on the wisdom of two saints and master yogi’s Paramahansa Yogananda and Swami Sivananda as well as the wise and much loved devotee of the Gita, Eknath Easwaran. It is always good to draw on the pearls of auspicious and venerated teachers to whom I give thanks.

Recommended Reading:

God Talks To Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita, by Paramahansa Yogananda (Self Realisation Fellowship, 2nd Edition 1999)

The Bhagavad Gita, by Swami Sivananda (Divine Life Society, 15th Edition 2015)

Essence of the Bhagavad Gita: A Contemporary Guide to Yoga, Meditation and Indian Philosophy, by Eknath Easwaran (The Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, 2011).

The Purity and Trust of an Open Heart and Mind

“People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:15–17)

At Easter time, it is fitting to reflect on another message from Jesus who is not ennobling naivete, or simple-mindedness, by receiving the kingdom (spiritual awakening and experience) like a child. He points directly to purity of heart and openness of mind as keys to the kingdom. Faith and trust in a divine parent in essence is like a child’s faith and trust in the protection, care, and authority of his or her worldly parent and other adult role models. It encourages us to live in the context of a friendly universe, not defined by the disappointments and rigors of worldly life.

Children in a normal and healthy environment learn much through play, and wake up daily to a universe they trust as friendly and safe. They are often uninhibited in their enthusiastic joy and spontaneity toward life. To a mature adult, feeling and giving wholehearted faith and trust can be more difficult. Openness and good will with an indwelling sense of universal friendship are not only required for entering the kingdom but are also essential for the capacity to invite the experiential leading of God’s living presence.

Like a child in the material world, the material senses and intellect are naïve to the subjective experience of spiritual presence and have little capacity to grasp spiritual presence and truth without the recognition and subjectivity of a receptive heart and mind. Increased depth and fulfillment from within through spiritual experience, further confirmed in shared experience with others, encourages a loving and positive outlook and experience in life. Increasing freedom from material attachments and aversions, through identification with spiritual presence, offers a lightness or joy of being akin to childhood innocence and uninhibited energy. This is very healing to a soul burdened by worldly life.

It is also good while tackling the big and deep aspects of life that we don’t take ourselves too seriously, as that can lead to a self-absorbed life. Too much self-focus, driven by lack of self-acceptance, can form an egoistic identity around our spiritual path, which is counterproductive. Jesus did not teach introspection and self-evaluation other than self-honesty and love. His teachings are based more on the selflessness of one who has the treasures of the divine and is left with an urge to give wisely yet selflessly to others.

Most people recognize the need and hunger for meaningfully constructive and fulfilling lives and relationships. In modern developed countries, where survival is handled for most, our needs are more around quality of life and meaning in a society where both can be lost amid a commercial and consumer culture. The battles fought are as much about our mindset and emotional needs as any material need. Many religious paths encourage removal of worldly distractions from what true inner happiness and reality is founded upon. The adult world becomes filled with complexities of responsibilities and pursuits, status and attaining material comforts. Meanwhile, divine love and other aspects of the divine nature can only be truly embraced and experienced with an open heart and optimistic trust that can be likened to that of a child. Approaching spirituality like a child implies a pure, sincere intent and openness of heart and mind. There is a simplicity to this state of the heart implied here rather than an intellectual conceptualization of the kingdom.

Childlikeness does not mean that Jesus proposes looking to God and the kingdom of heaven as a way of avoiding life and responsibilities. Jesus’s life and teachings were and are about tackling life fully with the best and highest of principles and values intact. Thus, the kingdom provides the most certain, lasting, and authentic platform to face all of life courageously. This is because it helps us to connect to our true eternal nature in the ideal of trustworthiness and goodness with a sense of fulfilling a higher purpose.

Spiritual experience includes and yet transcends logic and reason, which is why it is founded on faith and associated with the receptiveness of a child. Yet, the subjective experience becomes a recognizable and reliable home-base that permeates all aspects of life when consciously acknowledged with conviction, openness, and willingness. If we have made that step, we easily recognize it in one another as well.

Genuinely letting go in mind and heart to just ‘be’ with an attitude of open trust and faith is like a silent prayer. It creates conscious space for Spirit to be felt and is the entrance to the ‘kingdom’ within. It is the art of allowing the spaciousness and receptivity inside ourselves to be filled while remaining empty of our own self-made content. Breaking down the mind’s resistance to letting go is best done softly, with a child’s trust and optimism. Aligning with Spirit is a two-way process, like a dance of spirit and self-will, and it can get extremely deep and subtle once the dance begins to flow and develop. Like a dance, it can become a sublime, moving, like an ever-changing yet familiar ebb and flow of harmony.

So much of our living can be captivated in ups and downs that are really part of conditioned and programmed patterns or habits of thought and perception. Material mindedness is a limited and relatively unstable consciousness mostly of conditioned thoughts and feelings exclusively relevant to partiality and linear time. Conditioned thoughts and feelings are repetitive and actually quite predictable when appraised honestly and objectively.

Therefore, the indwelling Spirit’s influence, with our will and cooperation, is to assist our intuitive mind in tuning our consciousness to the higher vibrations, where divine presence and leadings can be discerned. This is where creative and spontaneous insight occurs, even flashes of genius, along with our sense of connection and fulfillment. Less energy and mental activity is then spent on unproductive repetitive thoughts. Divine presence experienced with our whole selves allow it to make the adjustments we are ready for, over whatever time is required, to spiritually mature.

Daily living with spiritual conviction leads to consistency of conscious connection to a state of God’s presence. Passing emotions and thoughts have less and less ability to disrupt the background of super-consciousness (consciousness of consciousness), of peace and goodness, light and beauty, truth and joy.

The purity and strength in this peace and stability persist and renew moment to moment, as it is a living presence in the ‘now’. True divine presence never gets boring or stale, it has a refreshing renewal effect that contains joy with a deep inner smile, akin to the purity and openness of a child. Because it is tapping into an infinite transcendental source, we receive an endless stream of the “living waters” (John 4:14).

We can sometimes see and feel an amazing old wisdom and presence reflected in a child’s eyes. Finding that presence within brings us to a place where we don’t need to arm ourselves with a manufactured ego and self-image but rather find authenticity in facing life openly as we are, putting trust in the moment and life, in the Spirit that moves and fills us. We know we are loved and supported, and as long as we are true and connected, know that all will be okay.

An open and receptive adult mind and heart has greater affinity and rapport with children as well as people in general. When centered in the divine, we are less self-preoccupied in internal dialog and increasingly released from cycles of emotional tiredness and reaction. Therefore, we feel much more in the present moment. The thought process is more spontaneous and adapted to the needs of the moment rather than conditioned by the endless narrative of our own passing opinions, programmed associations stimulated in the brain, and past-programmed repetitive reactions to ongoing reality.

When we accept and embrace this life and world as unconditionally bestowed gifts, along with all their potential ideals and possibilities, then it follows that we embrace every moment. Valuing and appreciating these gifts will enrich our experience of them. A human child is conceived by the will and actions of its human parents co-creating with the divine source of the spark of life and consciousness. Likewise, when we are born of the Spirit of life and pure consciousness, we are progressively glimpsing ourselves as conceived by the Spirit and sharing its nature. Like the human child, it is for us as spiritual beings to be of the love of our divine parent and let our sense of the divine reveal our own divine nature. In personalizing and identifying with our divine source and parent, we become a reflection of our own experience of the beloved divine Father/Mother who is our living source and destiny.

At Easter time, it is the resurrection I feel holds the most powerful message for us and is the purpose of the suffering on the cross. As a child receives and reflects the love of the parent in full trust, so can we open our minds and hearts to receive and reflect the love of our divine source and nature. This is the resurrection within that frees us from suffering and gives it purpose.

Photo credit: Magdalena Roeseler on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA (modified w quote)

The Inevitabilities of the Evolving Self and World

Disappointments and challenges are a part of life and dealing with them positively becomes a key part of success and maturity as we get older. Many of them we create for ourselves through our decisions, our actions and their consequences. By ‘we’, I mean each of us personally as well as ‘we’ as a community or society. The relativity of life and the suffering we experience ourselves, that fills the pages of humanity’s history or we see happening in so many places around the world in current times, can make us question the justice and nature of the reality we live in.

It is only with a big picture view, while paying attention to the most profound sense of life that insight has provided us, can we appreciate that for evolving creatures of free will, free intelligence, to exist in this vast miraculous universe, there is a sense of existential purpose behind the existence of evolving life and consciousness. It is in these modern times of exponential growth in our understanding of life and reality, that we can also appreciate with that knowledge and understanding comes a greater sense of the nature of things, including ourselves and the inherent purpose to reality. Love, friendship and the beauty of nature – these things alone do so much to make life worth living.

These current times are showing us more and more clearly that we have a responsibility with real consequences as caretakers on a planet that is becoming smaller and more impacted by the things we as a civilisation. Do we learn to co-operate and do things sustainably for future generations and gain the immense gifts a global awakening promises? Or do we fall short of responding to the signs of pending crisis and the calling of evolving ideals and potential while exploitation and degeneration of each other and our world brings us to global conditions unable to sustain us further?

I have faith in the triumph of our deeper natures over the temporary and more limited conditioned mind on a personal and global scale. Crisis has always been the activator for leaps and bounds in evolution in biology, culture and intellect – and these times are no exception. In terms of our history and current challenges, themes of the battle between true righteousness versus ignorance and intentional evil is layered throughout our evolution into our psyche and continually reflected in our evolving philosophies, arts, and now all forms of modern media. It is a battle fought on subtle and gross levels, on brutal and sophisticated levels, on personal and collective levels.

However, spiritual awakening and principles remind us that none of the drama and adventure changes the divine essence from which reality arises and from which life and consciousness itself arises. In our core being is a living force we all share that is life, therefore life-affirming as are the values of goodness, beauty and truth. The process of our evolution and lives at stake is a powerful one of adventure for the spiritual warrior. As survival becomes more sorted in modern times of technology, the quality of life and consciousness will become the major factor in how well we move forward and shape our future.

A book with much controversy is the Urantia Book. Whatever readers views are of the details, what I love most about it is the sophisticated way it discusses spirit and deity and the picture it offers about how immense and grand the universes and the plan of life could be. In discussing the primacy of a unifying and central cause of all reality in this vast universe, for us on our fragile planet of many uncertainties, certain factors described as “inevitabilities of evolutionary creature life” are mentioned (Paper 3, section 5). These are listed as points of consideration in reconciling the challenges and seeming disasters of life with the concept of a universally sovereign divine and just intelligence and plan:

1. Is courage — strength of character — desirable? Then must man be reared in an environment which necessitates grappling with hardships and reacting to disappointments.

2. Is altruism — service of one’s fellows — desirable? Then must life experience provide for encountering situations of social inequality.

3. Is hope — the grandeur of trust — desirable? Then human existence must constantly be confronted with insecurities and recurrent uncertainties.

4. Is faith — the supreme assertion of human thought — desirable? Then must the mind of man find itself in that troublesome predicament where it ever knows less than it can believe.

5. Is the love of truth and the willingness to go wherever it leads, desirable? Then must man grow up in a world where error is present and falsehood always possible.

6. Is idealism — the approaching concept of the divine — desirable? Then must man struggle in an environment of relative goodness and beauty, surroundings stimulative of the irrepressible reach for better things.

7. Is loyalty — devotion to highest duty — desirable? Then must man carry on amid the possibilities of betrayal and desertion. The valour of devotion to duty consists in the implied danger of default.

8. Is unselfishness — the spirit of self-forgetfulness — desirable? Then must mortal man live face to face with the incessant clamouring of an inescapable self for recognition and honor. Man could not dynamically choose the divine life if there were no self-life to forsake. Man could never lay saving hold on righteousness if there were no potential evil to exalt and differentiate the good by contrast.

  1. Is pleasure — the satisfaction of happiness — desirable? Then must man live in a world where the alternative of pain and the likelihood of suffering are ever-present experiential possibilities.

Throughout the universe, every unit is regarded as a part of the whole. Survival of the part is dependent on co-operation with the plan and purpose of the whole, the wholehearted desire and perfect willingness to do the Father’s divine will. The only evolutionary world without error (the possibility of unwise judgment) would be a world without free intelligence. In the Havona universe there are a billion perfect worlds with their perfect inhabitants, but evolving man must be fallible if he is to be free. Free and inexperienced intelligence cannot possibly at first be uniformly wise. The possibility of mistaken judgment (evil) becomes sin only when the human will consciously endorses and knowingly embraces a deliberate immoral judgment.”

The spiritual nature in us provides a sense of altruism and universal love, not the primitive creature mind from our primitive past. From deep in our higher consciousness comes the compassion, empathy and mercy for one another’s suffering. At the same time, becoming conscious and fully present in our existential and living loving awareness, awakens us to the temporary nature of material existence and any suffering associated with it. In contrast, yet all embracing of this relative existence created for a great universal purpose, is the timeless nature of the essence of us that remains untainted and indestructible throughout life’s trials. Life experience offers to shape and develop those who would engage the best they can call on in themselves in goodwill. Through faith and our psychology we must draw on the power within to remain connected and intact to participate in this journey of life. Part of the point of the journey is to reside fully in awakened loving consciousness and thrive as we learn to embody, express and flow the unity and uniqueness of our essence into the life we live.

In compassion for ourselves and each other, it is good to remember that there are no mistakes in the greater scheme of things. All of time and the resources of the universe gather to allow us this planetary life for our greatest purpose and destiny to unfold as it is. It is up to each of us with what we are and have, and where we find ourselves, as to what it is to mean and how it is to count. Gradually, we must come to know and trust in a living and friendly universe, consciously identifying more fully in the the spiritual nature within in order to transition to the next stage of our evolution. Our technology and pursuits must better flow sustainable universal laws and we better understand the consequences of our collective and personal actions. It is then our intellects and physicality can truly blossom as reflections of our true and emerging inner nature. From this turning point, more and more people will consciously recognise the subtle light and love that beckons from within consciousness itself. The true agent of change is emerging from within us. Quality of consciousness, serving our personal and collective greater purpose and greater good more fully, are becoming primary factors that connect us to what is real and authentic.

Photo: gusdiaz on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA (modified with quote)

Energising in the Beautiful Australian Outback

I have spent much of this week in the outback desert of Australia hiking around Uluru and Kata Tjuta. These iconic monoliths in a vast open flat desert area make a powerful and spectacle and presence. The open space, simplicity and silence of the desert help create similar conditions in the mind when practicing remaining in a state of presence while walking through the striking wilderness. There are great hikes as well as sunrise and sunset viewings where mother nature puts on a beautiful display as slowly changing hues of light bring out different hues in desert and rock.

This part of the world really has a very settled and grounded energy to it. Compared to the strong heart energy of the pacific islands and Hawaii or the heady spiritual energy of the Indian Himalayas, Uluru and central Australia for me and others I know who are into the energy systems of the world, is a root chakra energy. There is an instinctual survival energy of life connecting earth and body that is highlighted here as well as the essential element of community in such a setting. You have to be attuned out here, like in any harsh conditions, to survive let alone thrive.

Managing water, heat and knowing your own limits when getting around is important in the desert. After a few hours of day hiking in my boots, it is great to come back to the resort and remove the rubber soles then spend 20 minutes or so walking barefoot in the grass. The transfer of electron charge between the earth and my body .

With its dryness and heat, this lands flora and fauna are sparse and economically designed with their own unique beauty. It is a sensitive land with an ecosystem easily unbalanced with unmanaged tourist activity. Indigenous communities have a history of managing the delicate balance of plants and animals for tens of thousands of years. The land management was threatened by white land owners and tourism for a time, but now thankfully seems handled by co-operative and clear roles developing among the indigenous and white local communities. Visitors get some education here about the inseparableness of responsibility for their own wellbeing and that of the land and precious resources.

Spending 4-5 days here has been enough for me to feel remote from normal life concerns and the pace of busy and full lives. When tuning into the inner body feeling, the lower body particularly has an expanded and open energy. Continuously relaxing the mind from chatter and just being fully present in an environment that reflects peaceful and rejuvenating spaciousness and a slow but vital throb of aliveness, is one way I am getting the most of the time and connecting with the spirit of the place. I feel touched by it and able to continue the connection after I have left.

It is my second time here. Last time was facilitating a group of 30 in week of business and awareness which was inspiring and empowered by this location. Being back here now without much else to distract me has been tremendous. Going to see sunrises and sunsets at some choice locations, and hiking during the mornings before the afternoon heat is a very therapeutic routine along with the energy and experience.

It also reinforces to me the tremendous value generally, of balancing out mind and body energy by connecting with nature in some way each day while practicing open and relaxed awareness and presence with each moment. It is best combined with ‘grounding’ by removing the concrete or rubber barriers of shoes and man made surfaces, and being barefoot on sand, earth or sea. There is much to be found online now about the measurable science and benefits of grounding.

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Combining these elements of being in nature, practicing inner body awareness and presence, and grounding will rebalance or reboot your system and can really shift mental, emotional and physical stress patterns. It reduces inflammation and chronic aches in the body and can shift negative psycho-emotionally conditioned states like anxiety and depression when done regularly. The trick is to be able to gradually put your thoughts and feelings aside and give yourself even a short and regular time to really be and connect with what is there without all the additives from conditioned thinking and preconceived perceptions.

Being mindful to opening the heart and feel grateful for the opportunities of life experiences, thankful for loved ones and the universe that makes it all possible is a nice meditation to enrich this self nurturing time. I acknowledge the Anungu culture and people of this land. Following up on International Womens Day I also acknowledge the mothers and wise elders of all peoples and the generous live giving spirit of Mother Nature herself. May we all learn to harmonise with the feminine creative spirit in life, living in life affirming respect and co-operation with each other and the precious planet that sustains us.

The Most Valuable Means to Abundance and Fulfilment

There is a common deeply imbedded key and truth in the counsel and teachings through the ages for manifesting abundance and prosperity, happiness and fulfilment, living a life purpose, the primary relationship you dreamed of, great quality friendships, or awakening to a new level of spiritual experience. It’s a message being redefined and much needed in these times.

In uncovering this critical key for fulfilling success, a few underlying principles are a necessary context for understanding it and the laws that operate around it.

The first is obvious yet an easy trap to fall into as we accumulate wealth. Many of the ‘things’ we want and dream of in life can be truly experienced, but not if we are looking to them as the source of our happiness and fulfilment. Many people who have things we dream for are still unhappy. This is the paradox, because many of us would still like more of certain things in our life, right?

However, there is a difference in the content of our life being an expression or vehicle for shared joy, love and abundance in life versus things in life being a source of validation, identity, status or security and happiness. When they are a goal in of themselves or invested with our identity, then we are not living in consciousness of what we are and the true nature of life from within. We are utilising external things to fill where there is a vacuum of meaning and identity. Yet, we give the meaning all passing or changing things have for us from within ourselves. So they cannot fill this space inside us, only be a place we externalise it as separate. The ideal is to consciously live with a sense of completeness with or without the things we have that support our true selves and provide ease or enjoyment, a life certainly tests this at times.

Of course, the tribulations of life will show us where we need to go more deeply within and place our personal investment there. Letting go of materiality is not rejecting the external world, but embracing it with a total identity and connection in the essence of the life and consciousness it actually arises from. Our conscious efforts to shape ourselves and our lives will either come from fear and need for security and a sense of belonging, or it will come from the creative urge of adventure and discovery with a sense of certainty, connection and completeness.

Living from the inside out, means we serve the true essence of ourselves, each other and life, knowing this essence cannot be lost, limited or scarce. We open ourselves up to greater abundance from the fullness of life itself rather than from relativity of circumstances and possessions. How much of our life is really spent in awareness and gratitude of the gift of life? It is the key to coming from love and not fear.

Many modern teachings and some ancient teachings like Buddhism deal with habits of thinking, beliefs and conditioning of the mind. Clearing old habits and out-dated states of mind that arose as adaptations to past fears or suffering, helps create the space for inspired and present-time creative and energised living, to come back to the fullness of who and what we are.

Clearing our negativity and old emotional baggage while developing positive thinking in alignment with life affirming consciousness, is a transformative step that changes and prepares our perceptions and awareness for this next level of conscious living. Yet, happiness, success and fulfilment doesn’t come from positive thoughts and feelings either. These do help focus us to a certain level of experience that they resonate with and from, and do this on a biological and psychological level. Thinking can only be (at best) a relative reflection of who is doing the thinking and what we can most truly and abundantly manifest in life.

The deeper heart of all teachings is that the external world and the inner world (our inner projections of ourselves with thoughts, feelings and perceptions) are both reflections or symptoms of where we are coming from and the state of being we are living at.

In all the various teachings that I have come across, what really shifts my life into another gear (as an ongoing journey of expansion) is a state of being in the experience that is left in the wake of full surrender and letting go within and without, to trust in my own sense of the consciousness and energy that I am. Then going forth and exploring how to best embody and express that in the world to me is, living with spirit.

One of the greatest ways to engage in the world is to productively do and share what you love and what makes you feel most alive. What is most authentic and core within us can then flow into our worldly lives. When we see other people doing the same, really thriving in expressing their inner self through what they do, we feel inspired and on a higher frequency. It is not just about what you do or how well, because in the end, it can be experienced in countless pursuits, careers at many levels and scales. So alignment with what we do is a factor and part of the exploration. It reflects the level to which we connect and engage our inner self in our doing.

Doing what you love and loving what you do

creates a harmony and resonance between

the greater field of love and abundance and worldly life.

Meditation, positive thinking and all the actions in the world don’t provide true awakening in and of themselves. These practices can only prepare the space for making that decisive and true shift in ourselves. They can help create the space to feel, experience and recognise true infinite and abundant being of authentic love and life in ourselves. Freeing identity and experience of the detail and content we can lose ourselves in is part of creating this space. When we find, trust and invest our identity in the space in which it is all happening, then we can find we are truly fulfilled and free just with that, then better embrace and handle all that is happening.

It is a form of inner renunciation, free of dependance on other people and things, to really align ourselves with the source and force in which it all happens. It helps to distinguish between outer appearances in the world and our own narratives about them versus the true essence of people and the common substance we share. This creates space for greater compassion and understanding, love and alignment with each other, and loving more unconditionally.

A lost, broken or worn out cherished possession has no inherent value in itself. The value we think something gives us comes from within ourselves. Our own story and experience of material life can’t be broken, lost or worn out. Practicing this when we are frustration or sadness arises from big or little material losses, allows us to truly let go of things, enjoying them without attachment while the are there and moving on.

With this understanding, comes the critical point. The laws of attraction and abundance are all based on firstly connecting with who and what we really are, which is a complete and shared experience of ‘presence’. It is in and from this presence that all our experience of life arises and occurs. The second aspect of this key is to experience our life as a unique conscious channel for the love and energy inherent in our unified presence, life force and pure consciousness. To let ‘true being’ flow into all our actions, relationships and self-expression. What ever the approach to life, this is where it becomes transformative.

When we align in conscious presence as a channel of its infinite source,

we can experience greater and deeper levels of unity

and its shared flow in the world.

Focus on a living and present essence of life also transforms egoistic tendencies. Opening up to presence becomes a more real, all-embracing and enlivening place to invest ourselves than holding fixed and changeable concepts of how life is and how we ‘should’ be. We can experience all people and things also as expressions and channels of one unified consciousness and life energy. This unified field can then flow from within us and flow to us from the reality we embrace around us. The flow works both ways. Intent and conscious participation in both directions of flow, like an exhale and inhale, allows universal consciousness and energy to fulfil the promise of fullness and abundance in our lives and with each other. Learning how to experience financial wealth as an aspect of this energy flow is easier when we understand the universal laws along with the practical knowledge of our undertakings, and operate as a channel unified with others with the attachments and power struggles of separateness and external identification.

A major transition time in my life now, where life in every way is changing and being renewed, is teaching me these truths on whole new level. Life challenges in recent years seem to have come from different areas of my life. Yet taken all together it is increasingly clear the crisis points have come from where I have needed the world to validate me and where I have put the source of meaning, value and fulfilment in other people and things. When upheaval and change leads to healing, realisation and transitioning back towards the source within, transformational adjustments and new life opportunities occur. I feel this is really what is going beneath all our crisis and breakthroughs. Out of every crisis as well as every success, we each get an opportunity to move forward more consciously.

I encourage you to open up to the life energy in and around you with an open heart and mind. Daily invite the full experience of what is already present, initially without having to do, achieve and try anything. Breath and move so that any tight, constricted or vacuous areas you sense within or immediately around you, release and you become an integrated and harmoniously unified field of energy. Dream and imagine more about how to be and what to do to more fully live and express fullness of being in joy, peace and love. What is it you do when you feel this the most and how? Is it also a strong and grounded sense where the full spectrum of highs and lows, successes and challenges, can be handled with equanimity and fullness? Aligning with and being a channel of abundant energy and life as you feel it, will gradually, or sometimes quickly, transform your world around you to reflect greater abundance and fullness.

Being in Love and the Love in Being

As the famous line goes “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved in return”. Love, the essential food for the soul, is felt and expressed in countless ways. While intensity of mutually intimate affection and companionship are sought after, the high’s pass and change. Self-validation and inner-identification must come from within ourselves, with shared love and friendship an expansion of inner beauty.

Contemporary culture puts much emphasis on sexual or romantic fulfilment when it comes to relationships. Nonetheless, life is full of an authentic diversity of relationships that touch us all. As we mature, long-term relationships take on complexity charged with the investment placed in each others lives. Challenges successfully traversed and trust built over the course of time contribute to depth and growth of love more than the less frequent magic highs.

So what is the key to keeping love alive, happy and fulfilling in relationships? We have to dig a little into the mud to find the seeds and roots of the beautiful lotus flower above. Likewise a bit of digging within ourselves is needed to find what really drives and fulfils us in relationships.

Two certainties are that we cannot determine someone else’s personal experience of reality or of a relationship, and we can only take responsibility for our own personal experience. Being fully responsible for ourselves is a key element of personal sovereignty, personal freedom from dependencies and knowing ourselves. It is part of the equation that brings needed space into ourselves and intimate relationships to maintain the spark.

We are always challenged with facing a mirror when it comes to engagement with other human minds and ego’s. The relationships we cultivate and how we deal with them say much about ourselves. There is only one effective way to cut through the complexities, and to engage with a loved one or anyone else in a way that consistently feels like you are on track, no matter what goes down. The key is learning to practice ‘presence’ within oneself and with others through the ‘Art of Being’ and the ‘Art of Listening’. Both arts are closely connected and both start within ourselves.

Drama and issues arise from conditioned programming of the mind rather than who we really are soul to soul. When identity is locked into our stream of thinking with its well entrenched opinions and personal stories, it becomes very hard to tell the difference between present awareness and perception conditioned from the past.

Our mind is a beautiful servant but a disastrous master, as many increasing modern issues of mental health, suicide, divorce and so forth indicate. Dominance and identification with mind is reinforced by our pre-occupation with thoughts, worries, concerns, and desires which are all to do with past or future. It is impossible to be and come from authentic love when we are barely in the present moment, with past pain and decisions infiltrating the present along with underlying hopes and expectations of the future. Are you consciously present and reading here and now or partially on to the next thing?

We can process specific things in therapy, but the way to break egocentric habits at the root is to be fully present in the timeless now with an awareness not dominated by thought or semi-conscious labels used to define everything. From the still and alert space between thought, we can observe thought and feeling as they arise, without being drawn in. The light of fully present consciousness, deep in us all, dissolves reactions and ‘reactions to reactions’ , like sunlight dispersing clouds of mind-forms obscuring ‘what is’. With practice we can observe our mental and emotional bodies without them defining and driving us. Conscious spaciousness can be found amidst the stream of experiences and challenges.

Mind and body are beautiful tools for self expression when we stay in the drivers seat. Ceaseless mundane and habitual thoughts and feelings become creative expressions amidst peace and stillness of mind.

Defining and interpreting things is of course necessary – writing this article for example and any purposeful mental effort. Like words themselves, mind can only point to or objectify what truly is. Once you are locked into justifying, defining and proving reality via the conceptual mind, it becomes your sense of self. Fearfulness then arises around letting go of the conceptual mind that defines you – thoughts of self, the world, likes and dislikes, what’s important and what’s not. Trouble stilling the mind is often fear of releasing this mental grip, like having to consciously release a fist you did not know was clenched. The release is as beautiful as an unfolding flower, for the stillness of being it reveals.

While it is good to stand by noble values, identifying with opinions, thoughts or feelings, can trigger conflict. Identification can lead to consciously or unconsciously manipulating or demanding validation from someone else for our mental/emotional stances, as if survival of a relationship or imagined serious outcome is at stake. While positive passion and conviction show character, this type of attachment and mental positioning is not very conscious.

The true “I” within is untouched by suffering, division and concepts. True self is not made happy or unhappy by someone else. Deep down we are indestructible and absolute, without need of “I am this” or “I am that”, we are complete as “I AM”. Past and future lose their grip when real fulfilment occurs here and now, where true self resides in the gift and outpouring of life and being.

Eckhart Tolle says that harmony is present in relationships to the degree that there is inner space in the relationship. He suggests full presence, without any agenda, be practiced with brief encounters we have with ‘strangers’ such as the ‘invisible’ shop or bank clerk, fellow shopping isle customer, or parking attendant. Tolle observes how brief seconds of presence during these connections accumulate in life to bring much richness that many of us miss out on. Being present in such encounters prepares us to bring presence to more intense and challenging engagements with loved ones we have history with.

Responding out of the stillness of mind and heart, with inner body awareness, is a gifts all involved. Holding no opinionated position while true to presence can diminish mental positioning in others without diminishing who they are. This impact of presence arises from the ability to be the space and witness of whatever is happening within ourselves as well as around us. It is not easy, and the mind can be clever by making this an ‘enlightened’ ‘superior’ mental position so it loses authenticity. This is where depth of practice in dealing with our own ego comes in.

Real life can pass by while we spend much time and energy in our role paying, navigating mental positions, fears and power games. Lao Tzu says “Do not seek the truth, only cease cherishing your opinions”. When we learn not to react to our own pain and not take stances, we can do the same listening to and beyond other peoples pain and mental positions to their true essence.

From the depth and space of absolute consciousness, relativity becomes a loving journey of adaptation, flowing the absolute presence of being into every moment and experience. Separated from the absolute, relativity sooner or later becomes suffering.

We can have sacred love and relationships with each other when we live, express and share essence of being. Relative details and content are impermanent vehicles for mastering diversity in unity, unity in diversity – they don’t define us. Loving spacious awareness is a basis for sacred love and relationships where shared living presence lies within and in our midst.

Try this!

5 Day Fast of Identification with Thought and Feelings:

  1. Daily affirm “I am not my thoughts, I am not my feelings, I am not my body and I am not my actions”. Write this out and display it where you can see it, remember and affirm it day and evening.
  2. Note your level of mental activity through the day and emotional up, downs or neutrality. It can be interesting noting this in a journal for the five-days.
  3. Take 5 minutes four times a day – morning, lunch time, arriving home end of day, before bed – for this 2 part exercise:
    • Observing: to simply sit or stand alert but relaxed – observe what you physically see, hear and feel and what you mentally see, hear and feel within as objects in the space of consciousness. All experience is occurring in the mind – no real inner or outer.
    • Grounding Your Sense of Being: include complete inner body awareness to your observing. Check in with different body parts – your feet, abdomen, spine, hands, jaw, arms, legs, heart, etc., little quick scans of non-judgemental attention only, to maintain grounding of being while you observe everything going on. If anywhere feels tight or contracted instead of relaxed and expanded, physically tighten and breath into that spot for 3 seconds then release it and breath into it again before going back to whole inner body awareness and relaxed conscious breathing.
  1. Through the five days, also practice the affirmation, the observing and grounding while doing simple things and being with people at times when you can create the space for it.

I would love to hear any feedback from anyone who does this 5-Day Fast!

Photo on VisualHunt (modified & quote added)