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)

Embracing the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It goes without saying that most religious and spiritual practices and systems have their pearls of wisdom and approaches to gaining spiritual experience and realisation. Foundational pillars for building a spiritual life, aligning our lives and actions with divine truth and presence, are initially morals and ethics. It is the positive inner response to morals and ethics as children that first initiates our spiritual journey. Later we begin to feel our personal convictions around them and let them shape and define our decisions and actions. Ethics and morals can be conditioned by beliefs and culture or they can be more universal.

Attitudes and convictions around human rights are an example of what is ethical or moral in one culture can be seen by another culture as immoral or unethical. Religion and culture, history, and how harsh or conducive life conditions are, have an effect on the mores evolved in a civilisation. Thus, we see in some cultures, a disparity between how they treat their ‘own’ compared to outsiders. This is particularly strong in those cultures and religious sects that still retain their links to a long history of tribal life and warfare, or having to have strict codes of conduct to survive harsh conditions. Similarly, attitudes of rights even within a sect, tribe or community can be in conflict with ethics and morals of outsiders when it comes to things like treatment of women, children, the old and sick, the influence of security and ware fare as well as trade.

As our personal spiritual characteristics mature, ethics and morals become part of a more integrated and universal set of convictions which is what I refer to as values. No matter what the conflicting ethics and morals between different cultures and people, there are common values of love and support within the family, codes of courage and honour, ideals of love, compassion, beauty and the sense of truth, as well as values around codes of conduct to do with honesty, goodness, and considerations of the sovereignty of the individual inclusive of consideration of the wellbeing of the group.

I am of the view that personal spiritual maturity raises an individual’s values above the conditioned mores of his or her own culture to more universal values that are the shared ideals of most major religions and globally influenced modern philosophies. The more values can be applied universally to all peoples at all times, be applied equally to all so that unity (not uniformity), wellbeing, prosperity and sustainability are promoted equally to all as well as to the resources required for the future, the more those values resonate with the true nature of life and living consciousness itself. The individual and the group must be sustained and given the opportunity to thrive on the basis of mutual co-operation, love and liberty. Obviously, if society and each of us individually compromise our codes of conduct, morality and values in order to manage the lowest denominators of human nature and conduct, then our systems and approaches to life are more limited in scope. A remedy is to uphold ideals truly set on universal values that apply in a fully harmonious and friendly universe.

Maintaining high ideals is the only way to gain insight into how they operate and apply in an evolving world. We can then better adopt insight in applying universal values to everyone at all times in our life. In this world of contrasts, where ignorance often still prevails, how do we apply our ideals and values to perceived evil in the world or as it arises even subtly within ourselves? How do we apply these values while in inner conflict or conflict with another, such as when we feel threatened? How do we apply these values when we feel common human emotions like anger, hurt, or sadness? What about other emotive states like self-absorbed pride, self-loathing, jealousy or guilt?

Love of God and all beings as brothers and sisters is the Christian golden rule as does seeking first the ‘kingdom of heaven’. Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita also teaches that oneness with the divine comes first, before the cares of the world. This is because, when we are in a state of pure presence in the moment, where our sense of being and existence transcends thoughts, feelings and actions, we are immersed in the living essence of life and consciousness itself. It is not a mindless, void that eliminates any sense of divinity, humanity, purpose or meaning. Connecting to the living essence of what we are is a connection to something profound rather than just a disconnection from the material world or from our projections of self. Being in the world but not of the world is obviously not identifying with an empty and lifeless void that leaves us robotic or zombie-like.

True awakening into the living light of our own life essence and pure consciousness does equate to connecting to spirit. When we can be immersed deeply in that place then all our feelings, thoughts and actions are external to the consciousness that is our true essence. Feelings and thoughts are inner projections, while the perceptions of the physical senses and the external world they perceive are also experienced as objective occurrences in the medium of our boundary-less consciousness.

Thus, part of spiritual practice is learning to accept all positive and negative thoughts and feelings in ourselves and perceived around us equally. Personal attachments and aversions are all by nature perceived through the conditioned mind. Spiritual identification comes with identification with the substance of who or what we are and not with the projections of self, whether they be good or bad, positive or negative. Being in true presence creates the space for abiding compassion, goodness and growing receptive understanding that is more capable of universal love and discriminating life situations by how they resonate with divine presence rather than how well our reality is conforming to conditioned ideas of good or bad or how they serve our preconceived self-biased agenda’s.

All arising feelings and thoughts can be equally witnessed in the light of clear and true consciousness with presence. A loved one, a stranger or someone causing conflict around us or within ourselves can also be experienced in undisturbed equanimity depending on the power and depth of ones own state of presence This offers greater proactive choices of response, that is not reactive or based on fear or threat.

Being able to sit with positive highs and uncomfortable or painful lows of thoughts and feelings equally is part of renunciation. Handling life in the moment this way, from the inclusive love we find in deep ‘being-ness’ itself, happens when conscious presence of being becomes an end in itself. When it becomes the core of our existence and identity it allows us to do what is termed as loving God and others universally. Progressively doing it within ourselves without being selective enables us to apply spiritual presence to the good, the bad and the ugly within and in the world. Even more, it gives us the insight that the relativity of positives and negatives is a less enduring reality than the true essence of life and consciousness in which it occurs.

In this way, as anger or grief, excitement and happiness, melancholy or disengagement occur, we can open up to these experiences honestly and consciously without identifying with them. Allowing ourselves to experience the full spectrum openly requires having a solid centre that does is inclusive, not prone to attachment or aversion, yet unaffected by the partiality perceived in the moment. That place is the pure essence of our life and consciousness in the here and now. It can be termed at some point of realisation as spirit-consciousness.

I remember once, after spending time with some remarkable yogi’s, gaining the insight that even the masters feel the full spectrum of human emotion in an exquisite way where any level of pain can be contained in an even greater bliss. It is not what we think and feel that defines us, but what we do with it reflects the level of our spiritual identification at the time.

Identifying with the living consciousness from which all emerges is the high path to gaining spaciousness of consciousness. This awareness provides more choice, greater wisdom and perspective on the nature of our human thought and feeling projections. All becomes meaningful when we deal with it in the resonance of consciousness of consciousness. Negatives and disturbances dissolve faster based on the ability to be present with them consciously. The transformation that occurs is an increasing quality and frequency of thoughts and feelings that resonate with the transcendent inner sanctum that is available to us. Conscious processing becomes less necessary.

Rather than rejecting uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, people and situations, we can embrace them as a practice rather than fighting them, or trying to find an answer or fix for them to go away. Gradually, a transformation and shift will occur where full presence is less shaken and we can respond to positive and negative elements in equanimity with the full spectrum of who we are intact , more alive and conscious.

Practicing letting go within ourselves to be present and consciously embrace all aspects of ourselves and life, builds trust in what we are without our own separate manufacture. With that progressive knowing and trust, through practice and attention, our thoughts, feelings, perceptions and actions can be offerings in this presence. As it becomes greater than our own sense of a separate self , divine providence will help us to continue and lend us strength even when we are amidst a major challenge or “the valley of death”. A deepening and expanding sense of calm alertness, an open mind, body and heart and a unified sense of connectedness are the guide posts for our progress. The thoughts, feelings, perceptions and actions that arise and harmonise with this bring abundance and happiness. Learning to conquer our own demons by practicing this in the face of our negatives and pains will bring unimaginable rewards and a sense of personal freedom.

Photo credit:jin.thai on VisualHunt.com/CC BY (modified w quote)

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)

Shine Your Inner Light of Life in the World

No one lights a lamp and puts it in a cellar or under a basket. Instead, he sets it on a lamp stand, so those who enter can see the light.

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your vision is clear, your whole body also is full of light. But when it is poor, your body is full of darkness. Be careful, then, that the light within you is not darkness. So if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it in darkness, you will be radiant, as though a lamp were shining on you.”

(Luke 11:33–36)

It is with a relaxed heart and mind, open to love, peace and connectedness that we can best share the light within. Practicing presence and meditation trains us to get beyond thoughts and feelings to the pure awareness from which they arise. When attention and identification can be maintained on this pure awareness while communicating with others, we can consciously appreciate the pure living consciousness which is the essence and living light we share in common with one another.

This light shines most brightly in our eye connection with others as well as our voice and gestures when we are fully present in mind and body with what is going on in the moment within ourselves and around us. Expressing or discussing something that is felt passionately is when many people really light up, as well as being with loved ones like a beloved partner or child.

Therefore, to shine our light more brightly, to consciously share or inspire the light in others, is to practice mindful presence which requires being open and aware on every level of our being that we can while connecting with others. Having an agenda is based on wanted outcomes and expectations based on past and future, while being fully present with another and sharing our light means being fully present with yourself and the other and allowing that to be a primary purpose in and of itself. Jesus uses the analogy of light in two other brief lessons, “the Lamp of the Body” and “the lamp on a stand,” which may be different versions of the same lesson or different lessons using this same analogy. People throughout the ages can relate to this analogy of light and the concept of the inner light of our being. In any good philosophy or spiritual teaching, there is no question that every person is here for a reason. Each person is unique and has a special quality to contribute. Inner light and inner Spirit are closely correlated, and each of us has the gift to let it shine brightly in our own lives and for others.

Jesus’s teachings of inner peace and salvation are a dynamic and practical teaching to be a positive influence to others and the world. The light he speaks of is the pure authentic light of awareness.

An indicator of spiritual progress is the degree of unconditional love, mercy, and compassion we progressively feel and express toward others in the world. Spiritual connection is like the difference between a stand-alone computer or device versus a network-connected computer or device. Thoughts and feelings constantly change, their significance to us being private to the separate ego self. Consciousness of the consciousness from which they arise is where we find a true common ground and connection from which rapport, connection and deep understanding of one another can arise.

A cause and effect of universal love for each other — friend or stranger, or enemy — is openness to insightful understanding of another’s circumstance and how they came to be who and where they are in that moment. Real understanding of unfamiliar or challenging people often requires overcoming self-interested perspectives that are often triggers for switching off our ‘light’ and disconnecting from others. Our rational mind often thinks it has a good reason to judge or take a mental position against another. But this can lead to division within and without, by identifying with fixed pre-conceived ideas of mind which condition our experience instead of the wholeness of identification with full presence.

Understanding someone’s circumstances, character, and actions from their perspective is the most effective way for getting past any preconceived judgments or biases. If there is a frustrated agenda involved, gaining such an understanding between all parties provides an authentic space to find reconciliation. Being, doing and sharing in pure awareness is the path towards a sense of oneness and universal Spirit. It is in this space we can draw on compassion in circumstances where we would have once reacted defensively or judgmentally. It is a progressive ability because we develop a deeper capacity each time we break through our own barriers and reactions.

The “whole body full of light” means expanding aware presence in the moment to every part of ourselves and our present circumstance. When we do this, through pure conscious intent we invite the divine in to take part without limit or conditions, then we can find our sense of being and doing with a “whole body full of light.” It can often be a literal description of the experience.

All aspects of our nature embraced in this light leads to transformation. Perceiving some aspects of soul and human character experience as spiritual and non-spiritual creates inner division and social stigma. The sexual nature and body identification are an example of this division of identity and source of neurosis in those seeking pure mindedness who then suppress or reject these aspects of themselves. Wholeness requires embracing the whole self in humility, love and acceptance. We need to let the divineness of pure consciousness and presence into all aspects of ourselves and allow it to reside there in each present moment. This is where transformation takes place, where we become more functional and integrated, expressing presence and higher will aligned in good ideals and values through all aspects of ourselves and life.

Suppressing or disconnecting from aspects of ourselves will result in suffering and folly. Examples of this are the modern scandals of sexual abuse within various church organizations where celibacy has obviously been practiced out of suppression, guilt, and disconnection, resulting in aberrational and perverted behaviors. Embracing our pain, anxiety, confusion, and uncertainty with the “light” of consciousness and learning to be present in equanimity with our pains and pleasures is a key to embracing our full nature and allowing the transformation of Spirit through self-love and self-acceptance do its work. There is a fine line between trying to artificially conform to ideological perspectives and practices versus applying true personal realizations of them as a spiritual practice.

Practices based on fear, guilt, self-judgment, and denial are fraught with the dangers of extremism and neurosis. Jesus’s path was not extreme and was based on inclusiveness and soulful love. While he set a high standard of spiritual mindfulness he demonstrated mercy and forgiveness. While he firmly denounced falseness and sin his love broke many taboos of his day – racism, sexism, social status and was what considered ‘clean’ – it was a love for all humanity. God’s love and ‘kingdom’ was a shared experience within as we are now, creating space for realisation and transformation. Life’s private challenges and victories are about developing a whole and balanced character. When our vision is clear, “looking” or perceiving with the light of our whole being, the body is physically and energetically illuminated with spiritual energy.

Spiritually illumined people touch others with their love and compassion. They inspire people to be better human beings, invoking peace and good faith by their presence. Thus, their words and deeds have great impact. People will feel empowered rather than intimidated or belittled. The nature of our living consciousness enables us to recognize its truth, light, and presence, sometimes in the illumined eye gaze and presence of a child or person fully present. Conscious alignment to our own inner experience, realisation, values and ideals leads to an added dimension of self and self-potential.

Great possibilities exist if we can arise from within and brighten spontaneously in our roles and communications with each other. Benefiting each other is a mindset, manifested in the smallest of moments and ways, in following our passions and sense of purpose as well as through significantly life-changing and charitable ways. Happy and productive is the person driven by love of doing right, with no fear or guilt of doing wrong. We all crave a sense of progress, purpose, and wholeness despite our frailties and faults. Our inner light is not for self-aggrandisement but to inspire and bring forth depth and profoundness in our worldly lives.

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.

A Way Through Blocks, Pain and Feeling Stuck

There are so many stories of spontaneous remissions of terminal illness and inspired flashes that are game changers in life situations that are examples of how much untapped power, insight, intelligence and transformation await us in our own consciousness. You may have your own experiences of a light coming on in your mind and everything quickly starting to feel different.

Whether we are talking to someone else about an issue or working through something in our own minds, the tone and words we use say a lot about the our mindset. Our mindset is really the key to what we pay attention to, how we perceive it and what we create from it. The surprises, inspired thoughts and realisations, and even so-called ‘miracles’ often come from left field when we are open and relaxed.

Therefore, empowering ourselves and creating more of what is important in our lives is not just about getting a more positive and open mindset, it is also about relaxing and opening our thinking minds to new possibilities while learning to engage in a deeper state of being within.

Life challenges are where we apply conscious living principles and experience transformation, while smooth running and abundance are times are for enjoying the results! If there is an ongoing feeling or situation that feels stuck and a source of mental, emotional or physical pain, then there are a few simple steps that can help shift it. Most of us have pretty good coping mechanisms on the stuff that passes as quickly as it arises. Persistent or repeated issues are times when the process is slower and can be helped by dealing with it more consciously. These can be obvious stressors or less obvious like an ongoing heaviness or chronic pain in the background.

We all need love and support from others, especially at difficult times, so obviously with a huge and intense life issue, it may be good to seek help. Otherwise, creating some quiet space away from distractions for as little as 5 to 15 minutes can be all it takes to shift something that is blocking or draining your energy or is a pain calling for your attention and adjustment on some level.

Initially you might think or feel that you know a persistent issue all too well and have had enough of it. However, often things persist because there is some resistance in us in dealing with the issue fully. In these cases there is something we still need to get, that is in our own and others interests, for a shift to occur and for us to move on.

Resistance can take the form of avoidance, dismissal, fear or anxiety, minimising or dismissing a problem, contracting and withdrawing our energy, or flat out denial. Any issue that requires our attention is going to persist in a way that our discomfort or situation gets worse, activating us to doing something different for it to resolve. If we continue to do the same thing we’ll keep getting the same results.

1. Being Present with it

Therefore, the first step is to spend some time to simply sit with full attention on the issue and observe non-judgmentally all feelings, judgements, perceptions and thoughts about the situation. This first step is not about looking for answers or ‘fixes’. It is about creating the space to first feel where you are with it fully right now. Taking some deep breathes and inviting all you feel and know about this issue is a big step, whether it be a stressful situation, physical pain or illness, business or relationship issue or anything else in your personal reality.

For intense issues, it can be good to write down all that presents itself as you tune in and open up to what is really happening in terms of this issue. Take time to breath and sit with open aware focus on the issue in between any note taking or thoughts as they come up.

Notice after 5-10 minutes of this, any changes in the way you feel or perceive it as you spend time focusing on it. Acknowledge any body sensations or perspectives that are part of the shifts and changes as you delve in to this territory. Where in the body do you feel it and what is that feeling like? What emotions and thoughts run repeatedly about this and what deeper ones arise as you go deeper? Simply observe mental, emotional or physical pain and any negative thoughts, whether or not you believe they are true or valid, as being what they are and there in that moment.

Creating the space to open up to all you think, feel and believe about the issue in itself can be a healing process. Many symptoms of stuck or neglected energy start to shift as you give it full attention. Part of the process of progress and healing in yoga for example can happen on an emotional, mental and physical level just by breathing into and being with a discomfort or feeling of resistance or reaction while holding a particular posture, then allowing it to shift and open up in the space it has been given. Similarly, this is about holding a mental, emotional and physical space in which to consciously and fully experience a challenge or issue – noting but not getting lost in the story and threads of thoughts associated with it.

Allowing conscious stillness and space around your thoughts, some good questions to focus your attention are: How does this feel? What is it like? Can I sit with this fully right now? Is feeling stuck with this proving something? What will happen if this continues or gets worse? What do I feel most deeply about this?

Once you feel you have given this enough time to really feel more present in yourself and conscious of your experience of the issue, take a few deep breathes and move to the next step.

2. Creating space for change through acceptance

Love and acceptance is extremely powerful in creating the space for energetic healing. Paradoxically, it is when we come to know and accept something for what it is that it changes. Investment in change due to rejection and resistance perpetuates the pain and conflict inherent in what makes something an issue.

Therefore, in this step, acknowledging all of the thoughts, feelings and perceptions you have come up with over the 5-15 minutes of meditating on the issue, a few mini-steps here will help continue the process:

  1. Taking some breaths, affirm and open the heart to a sense that “I love and accept myself with or without this issue”. If this is difficult then it is enough that “I am willing be able to love and accept myself with or without this issue”.
  2. Spending some moments with this, acknowledge “I am willing for wisdom and insight for whatever lesson is here for me.” Take a few breathes, or more if some added insight arises.
  3. It is at this stage in love, acceptance and openness that it is time to also acknowledge “I am now open and willing to let this go and move on”.

If by now there has been some shift but not significant, then it can be good to cycle through these two steps a few times while you are tuned in, or do the steps again each day for a few days.

3. Moving Forward – The Power of Positive Questions

Asking ourselves positive questions, just like asking someone else a good question, will draw forth an answer that comes from our truth within. The answer from presence, not the first auto-response in our head, can be more powerful than just a statement of intention if it has come spontaneously from an open and authentic place in the moment of questioning.

The final step in this healing process may occur over minutes, hours or days depending on the situation. Some questions relevant to completing on this as you move forward are: What life affirming learning has this issue been offering me? Aside from being free of the discomfort I have felt, what could I gain from moving through this and letting it go? Am I open to this situation teaching me things and having positive outcomes I have not considered? In what sense can I feel or express love and acceptance for myself and all associated with this issue?

Continue with any external situations with others involved, to consider “how can I assist a turn around here, so all concerned are better off”. This can be the basis of a strategy of action if required or how you will approach things from within yourself. Use positive questions to expand the shift within to those around you.

Self nurturing and healing is an act of self-love providing us with more to give out to others. Taking some time with yourself to consciously work through personal challenges is really powerful. So when you are complete, reward yourself in some small way, like a nice bath or warm beverage, or a walk outside. Well done!

Peace and Love 🙂

Photo credit: Sam Bald on VisualHunt / CC BY (modified with quote)

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)

The Beautiful Behind-the-Scenes of Heart and Mind

The beauty of relating to divine presence simply as ‘space’ and ‘formlessness’ beyond thinking, allows us a pure experience relatively untainted by too much human concept, such as religious preconceptions of God, expectations of enlightenment, what is spiritual and what isn’t. Freeing ourselves of conditioned thinking includes dropping dogma and historical theology in the moment.

This has benefits for direct and personal spiritual experience, yet the living presence of consciousness unfolds in the practitioner of presence as ‘a being’ not without volition, love, compassion and much more that has been attributed in religious contexts and from sages of the past as attributes of God.

There is a fine line being walked in the coming century for the systems of evolved wisdom and knowledge, and for each of us, not to obscure the living presence within and about us with idolatry loyalties to concepts, ritual, terminology and impassioned opinions that are culturally and psychologically conditioned. Meanwhile, it is the timeless essence of all these systems that can then have the space and increasing receptivity in a global society to be heard and realised anew in each individual.

The shift to getting beyond the thinking mind, beyond identification with form and objects, is a liberating awakening that is a key step to the transformation of consciousness happening in these times. Nonetheless, once we begin to settle in that space and consciousness, to experience consistently and personally the living presence of universal consciousness, free of thought streams and ego identity that used to define us and our perceptions, it becomes more apparent this universe is a vast and magnificent evolving ‘intent’.

The universe is a living ‘creation’ with purpose, meaning and reality, and this is gradually emerging in new ways for humanity in this age of new sciences, technologies and the new fluid horizons of quantum reality. Meanwhile, practitioners of conscious awakening world-wide are acquiring in unprecedented numbers, conviction and recognition of the ongoing background of consciousness, self-aware as a primordial source of arising thoughts, perceptions and feelings of mind. As shared realisation matures, so does the recognition and experience of universal consciousness and presence as source, home base point and destiny of conscious life which arises from it.

Thus, in relating to living presence, in receptive open mindedness with the faith and beginners mind of a child, we can start to feel an interaction between being-ness as a point of consciousness (our own personal experience) and the greater field of consciousness. This greater field of presence becomes a medium for the dissolving of separate identity purely in ‘the finite self’. It is clear in moments of reverie and awakening that we are part of something much more (and no less) than a vast being-ness from which our personal selves and the dualistic world of form has arisen with divine purpose and intent. Our purpose is to hear it, be it and let it flow into our minds and hearts and into our lives.

Our hearts and minds are but a mirrored doorway,

reflecting what it is opened towards.

The formless is generally associated with the mysterious eternal (with no beginning or ending) outside of the relativity of linear time. Form is associated with finiteness, finite time (having a beginning, inevitably changing, but not necessarily ending). Therefore, finite form (including matter or energy, pattern and structure, order and chaos) and time seem to be inherent in the eternal and formless as does the spark of life and consciousness.

The sense of the divine seems to be most intimate, ‘personal’ and tangible when we can drop even the vehicles of spiritual or religious concepts of the thinking mind to get a direct experience of a universal spaciousness or conscious presence in which all material and mind forms are occurring.

By keeping the awareness primarily on the living consciousness in all that is happening, we can embrace the content (all that is happening within and without) while fully present without attachment and being overly drawn into it. This is becoming free from suffering. In its place a beautiful sense of the vastness, compassion and infinite goodness through receptivity, also begins to express itself through our finite form (mind, body, voice, gestures, responses and expression). Life can become a blissful meditation in motion. We can get the same sense from others as we view them in essence, as expressions of the same universal living space or consciousness. In finding this experience in ourselves, we can all the more unconditionally love and accept others by being able to better recognise the essence in ourselves, expressing itself through others whether they are aware of it or not.

Shared stillness of heart and mind is the sacred place of relationship.

We can still function, but it is definitely different to functioning from the narrative, thought and feeling reactions, wants and fears of the egoistic self. Drama, pettiness and ego driven agenda’s are symptoms of us aligning with the world of object identification whether we play perpetrator, defender or victim. Instead we can become even more effective in worldly pursuits as teachers, learners and mediators in presence and stillness of conscious being and action. We then trust and celebrate unity in our own uniqueness and unique contributions. How is this an alignment and reflective of universal purpose?

Let’s consider or imagine universal consciousness as the primordial reality before, during and since the confirmed ‘big bang’ of manifested reality. It makes sense that manifested reality in all its diversity and bestowal of life and consciousness is the escape from Absolutism for this primordial formless singularity of consciousness and being. It is also an inevitable fulfilment of infiniteness, for if infiniteness includes all possibilities then it includes finiteness. The result of the ‘big bang’ is an improbable stable and expanding universe, improbable without the factor of inherent absolute intelligence and intent, in which we find bestowed consciousness & life.

If consciousness and life is not just on our planet, but a universal intent, then it is diversely manifested throughout the vast living universe from the Deity levels through spiritual realities, to density of complex form in material realities. Absoluteness divesting its attributes in diversified manifestation in an endless evolutionary plan that duplicates itself endlessly outward in the vastness of space. This is simultaneous with an equally endless inward journey of infinite potential as a conscious realisation for each participating conscious being. It is also both the inward and outward journey for the collective universal whole as a universal entity as an evolving reflection of the primordial absolute. Intuitively this seems such a fitting act and volition of an infinite, absolute, singularity being of infinite personality, energy & consciousness divesting itself through other life forms in an act of immaculate creativity and shared experience in true universal love and grace.

To us, the freedom from conditioned concept & thought (ego), through realisation and experience of consciousness of pure consciousness, is an achievement of spiritual awakening & insight into the formless and un-manifested for mind. On the spiritual plane, pure living consciousness is a manifested aspect of infinite spirit as the unified consciousness of creator and created. In christian terms, the Father and Son personalised in unity in the Spirit. It is only in pure consciousness or spirit that we can truly realise causeless and universal joy, peace, love along with an existence of meaning in itself. The material universe is a vast and grand stage for the absolute to experience itself becoming self aware through its gift of co-creative participation to evolving material and spiritual beings, the formless and infinite progressively present in finiteness and form.

The closest we can be to God in human form is direct experience from inner peace and stillness. Closeness, certainty and full experience requires we open all our heart and mind to what is formless to us, and un-manifested materially – the universal spirit which we experience as universal consciousness, aliveness, & presence. This fulfils the great commandment “to love God with all our heart and mind.” Love is equivalent to oneness. It is its own reward, a completion in itself – a spontaneous freedom of mind and will, transcendent yet all encompassing love, goodness, beauty, peace & joyful aliveness of existence – the I AM. It can only be felt as a living consciousness in the now, as past and future are a function of object mindedness.

We can experientially expand ourselves as far as we can realise and actualise

our true nature of living being as pure conscious presence.

Freedom is available from identification with a small limited mind & body, isolated and at the effect of a reality of form. There is a play for us to participate in, of expanding towards absolutism while evolve to express and co-create infinity and formlessness into the finite and form. To do this, we must learn to function in both dimensions together, conduits for consciousness to fulfil divine purpose and intent. This means doing and being daily in a way that this consciousness and experience flows into who we are and what we do. Many are doing it already without even knowing it, while a growing mass of people attune to living more consciously and deeply.

The down to earth love and purpose we get in our daily lives, in even the simplest things like a kind gesture or a blooming flower, contains all that vast reality has provided to enable every detail to happen. Maintaining presence while facing life challenges, transforms challenges into profound doorways to self awareness and growth. Let’s breath, be and do, mindful of the mysterious & miraculous enigma of existence!

Photo credit: blavandmaster on Visual hunt/CC BY-NC-SA (modified with quote)

Six Simple Life Enhancing Principles for an Awesome Year

The start of a new year is a good time to look at these six principles that may seem simple, yet can be applied to enhance your life and have an awesome year! Five of them are the key principles of Sivananda yoga with another one added to include life engagement with others. Identify an area you could do more of in your weekly routine, or enhance by applying a principle that stands out for you.

Proper Relaxation

There are enormous benefits for mind and body to regular practice of deep relaxation. Quality sleep with complete sleep cycles is an important aspect of rest, recovery, and balance. The practice of conscious deep relaxation supplements this and carries benefits into daily activities by teaching conservation of energy, how to let go of worry, fear and tension, as well as how to relax the mind while being focused on a single activity. The key to the yogic principle of proper relaxation is combining complete rest of mental and physical activity to fully rest the whole nervous system.

Certain systems of yoga intensify the ability to fully relax by alternating concentrated activity that is not overly stressful or over exerting (not inducing fatigue) with full relaxation in between with a deeper and longer relaxation at the end of a session. Exercises that help open up circulation and energy flow in the body are also complimentary in preparation for deep relaxation.

To completely relax, it helps to get into a posture like floating in a float tank, where there is complete comfort and no need to move for a time. This is good to do for 5-10 minutes or more after activity, once the breathing and stimulation from activity has settled right down. Lie on your back and have the arms and legs spread out enough that the feet comfortably turn out and the palms of the hands turned up with the shoulders and chest open. The spine should not be too curved, but elongated along the floor or mat with the neck also comfortably lengthened. Use auto-suggestion going through each part of your body mentally, from the feet up, that “ ____ is relaxing” and “___ is relaxed”. Finish with the internal organs and then your mind itself and let go fully into receptive stillness for a time. Autosuggestion is a technique used by masters to control body functions usually not able to be voluntarily controlled like heart and metabolic rates.

Relaxation can be the most challenging of the five principles for some people, and if that is the case then start with shorter time and lengthen it on a regular basis. The sense of rejuvenation and fullness in the body is like pressing a reset button for mind and body and is a great start or finish to the day.

Proper Exercise

A quick summary of types of exercise and benefits: Resistance training has great benefits in maintaining circulation, muscle and bone density throughout life. Cycling, running and swimming can be great for cardio-vascular health and fitness. Interval training is considered one of the best ways to keep up metabolic rate, loose weight and increase fitness with efficiency of time and energy. Dance, martial art and gymnastic practices provide great co-ordination, core strength, agility and flexibility. All exercises can help restore hormonal balance as well as stress release in mind and body. Regular exercise elevates mood and mental focus.

Yoga asanas, or postures, can work systematically on all parts of the body – strengthening, toning and stretching muscles and ligaments (including minor muscles groups that can be neglected in certain sports), enhancing and maintaining spine and joint flexibility and improving circulation. Yoga, or practices like xigong and taichi can combine meditation and exercise by synchronising movement and breath in a relaxed state of full presence and conscious release of tension.

Proper Breathing

Proper breathing is full and rhythmic breathing, making use of all of your lungs to increase oxygen intake and maintain full functioning of the respiratory system for life. Any exercise that raises the volume and rate of breathing is of benefit. Yogic breathing teaches how to utilise the three key areas of abdominal and diaphragm, chest or thoracic and clavicular breathing. Yogic systems of kriyas and pranayama also teach methods to recharge body energy and control mental states by regulating the flow of prana (chi or life energy) stored in key energy centres of the body called chakras. These centres also correlate with key points of nerve ganglia (bundles of nerves and vascular tissue) aligned in the brain and spine, associated with key organs and glands of the body.

Various breath patterns can be powerful and specific to releasing physical stress, emotional blocks and mental/emotional patterns. Techniques like anuloma viloma focus also on quietening the mind.

Proper Diet

Proper diet obviously needs to be nourishing and well balanced in nutrients and food types. Processed foods need to be eliminated from regular consumption or all together. A diet based on fresh food (not overly cooked) is a key. Whatever the diet, mounting scientific evidence is showing a number of factors determine the best diet, so that a good diet for one person may not be the best for another. While there are many diets claiming to be the best, genetics, blood and body type, level of activity, and other factors play a part in determining the best food combinations and quantities. A predisposition to over-heating or feeling cold, stiff joints, bloating or gas, headaches, allergies, lethargy or large swings in energy levels, skin or digestive disorders all indicate issues with diet. Most types of disorders can be managed or resolved through diet. Over-heating and acidic foods should also be minimised, so a predominance of vegetables (with fruit eaten separately) is a common dietary principle in many systems.

Most of us know ways we can improve our dietary habits. Practicing a new habit for 21-30 days is a great start to make it a permanent change. Aryurvedic, naturopathic or nutritionist consultations can be a very positive step to make for anyone at a point of wanting to optimise health or deal with disorders sustainably and holistically. Is this something you can do this year to improve a health or lifestyle issue you know is better addressed sooner than later?

Positive Thinking and Meditation

Being conscious of the positivity or negativity of our thinking can be a game changer. The tone, language, and subject matter of habitual thinking are all influential to our character, perception, how we respond or react and how rewarding things can be. Using affirmations or adjusting a negative train of thought to a positive one are great skills to practice. The ability to observe and adjust our thinking is enhanced with meditation which trains us to observe our thoughts and feelings as they arise. Ultimately, meditation can train us to still the mind and transcend thoughts to reach new levels of conscious being and awareness.

Finding books, courses or teachers in these areas can be a great place to start to enhance this aspect to your life. The mind is essentially the most important aspect of self to consciously train in order to achieve greater life enrichment and harmony. If you already are on a personal journey here, is there something you can do in your life to take insight and awareness to a new level this year?

Conscious Doing – Expression, Engagement, Relationships and Daily Activity

The first five points set the stage to have better awareness and mastery in how we communicate and respond in relationship to our environment and others. Bad habits and compulsive behaviours can erode the many good things we do and impact our ability to be our true self within and in relationship with others.

This year, how can you better embody balance and health in mind and body to others and inspire loved ones to do the same? Is daily attention to nurturing one or a combination of the following points a good focus for you this year? :-

  • invoke a sense of love in your actions, be they personal or professional, through focusing on relaxing into open heartedness in all circumstances,
  • listening to others more by taking a few seconds to breath, feel and understand their points of view or repeating back what they say,
  • breaking and transforming a pattern of negative or compulsive thinking or behaviour,
  • making it a focus and reviewing daily where you are reinforcing positive values and principles you stand for and where you can do better,
  • separating thoughts and ‘doing’ from ‘being’ and awareness – practicing being present more in yourself and the moment, on your own and engaging with others. Identifying with the consciousness doing the thinking and actions is a significant step in awareness and conscious interaction in the world. Eckhard Tolle’s teaching focus on this with a modern, practical and universal approach.

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