Saturday, December 10, 2011

Get Out!


This time of year, the SoMuchToDOOOO voice can amp up to screech. A frizz of hectic rush skitters on top of the vast quiet of the Northern Hemisphere's dark time. Can you feel both at once? Just below the surface, the unmeasurable stillness of this moment in the wheel of the year?

I had been inside for I don't know how many cold rainy days, my head in the screen, pushing to get something done. It felt like I couldn't quit until I reached an end point.

Suddenly, I'd had it. Before even deciding to, I'd popped out the door for a wet walk. You can, too. That end point? It's now if you say so.














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Monday, October 31, 2011

Stopping to Start

The Neuropathway Not Taken
34x46in Jude Spacks 2011 (available)

My rapid neighbor was already whizzing away after our chat, when she called back over her shoulder, "I'd like to start writing again, myself--but I never get to it. Sometime, could you tell me what to do?"

Putting on an imaginary white coat and a take-two-aspirins-and-call-me-in-the-morning tone, I answered, "Everyday for a week, write for 10 minutes or 5 sentences, whichever comes first, and then stop."

She scooted back towards me, shaking her head. "Oh, no, I have to write at least a page...that's what I used to do."

"Well, fine, but have you written that page lately? Try 10 minutes or 5 sentences, then stop. Later you can do more--you'll want to. But the first practice is the stopping."

I didn't have time to elaborate--about how she'd Stop Not-Writing (briefly) and then StopWriting OnPurpose (also briefly, til the next day). The combo might warm her up by shifting the pattern she was in and reminding her, in actual experience, of her real freedom to write or not.

She looked intrigued. As she hustled away, she said, "I can always use practice stopping!"


Most of us can use practice stopping, especially when there's some resistance to starting something.

What would you like to stop?
---------------------------

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Walk



(A version of this post appeared in Jen Louden's Savor and Serve Cafe program).

Jen Louden wrote this wonderful post asking us to walk with her in considering, "with lightness and love and curiosity," our own use of resources, bearing in mind the potent statistic that if everyone alive consumed at the rate of Americans, we'd need 8 more planets. Along with more than 100 others, I commented; Jen asked me to write a guest post expanding on what I'd said.

I got abashed and tongue-tied. I boinked my head, hard, against my tedious old writer's blocks. I so wanted to say something positive and real, something from the unified Field "out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing" that Rumi talks about.

But all that came was a brain tangle about brain tangles. The writing floundered like an oil-slicked bird with a plastic 6-pack ring round its neck. I wasn't much feeling the lightness, love and curiosity.

The Best Thing I Could Do At The Time

So I decided to go for a literal walk, to do a practice I call The Oracle of You.

Here's how it goes: You start with a question that you're willing to stop seeking answers to. Then look around and find some thing or scene that attracts your attention. You might ask this thing that tugged on your awareness your question, and listen. Or you can interpret what you saw like dream imagery, by identifying with different aspects of it and exploring personal definitions and associations about what you noticed.

My question was about how to write the piece. I let go of trying to solve it.

Do it Right and the Listener

I walked around the park, where there were many sights to see. Soon I'd forgotten all about The Oracle and my question.

Passing the basketball court, I heard a middle-aged man jeering at a teenaged boy with shoulders bunched up around a short neck. The older guy was probably a father or uncle, had a similar body type. He seemed to feel he was doing a great job of mentoring the sullen kid. He crowed, "I am now going to prove to you that you just don't have it!" as he rushed in for a basket.

Nearby, I saw a graceful younger boy sitting poised on a basketball, listening alertly to a man speaking to him from the driver's seat of an idling car through the open passenger-side window.

As I passed, I heard the man saying, "…so she just took off. That was the best thing she could do at the time…"

Around the curve of the path I could still hear the man on the court, repeating loudly to the teen, now attempting a free-throw, "Not like that! Do it like you did the other time! More control! More control! NO!"

Bright Being

Further along, a small boy appeared, sitting on a ball, smack dab in the middle of the path, with a happy, boisterous family playing nearby.

Wait. There had been another boy sitting on a ball earlier! This must be part of my answer, I thought, remembering the Oracle, which had come up with this second boy-on-a-ball as a nudge.

He saw me seeing him, as if he recognized and shyly welcomed me. I was no longer an invisible observer, a non-participant passing through.


When I got near, he picked his feet up off the ground and tried to balance on the ball for a second, his eyes twinkling. As he tipped and caught himself with the toe of one sneaker, he gave hint of a quirky smile, smaller and more filled with delight than Mona Lisa's. It transmitted a bursting happiness.

As I walked around him, I said in a gooey adult voice, "That's a neat trick!" His face fell just a little, and immediately I was sorry. I felt keenly how the reflex of praising him had interrupted a moment of communion full of acute joy with this little guru.

Out of habit, I had pretended he was showing off, seeking my approval. But really he had just invited me to join in an ordinary instant of love meeting itself--as we balance and tip, or sit in stillness, on this amazing ball of a planet together.

Waking Dream Interpretation

It was easy to see myself, with a wince, in the mirror of the Do It Right guy heckling the kid he was trying to teach. When I'm pushing myself with criticism to do the "right" thing--about what I consume or what I write about that--the motive is something about seeking "More control!" --especially over how I see myself. And I usually wind up proving to myself that I "just don't have it!"

I'm likely then to take off, to find some way to escape from the whole overwhelming mess. But I'm also that Quiet Listener--the first boy-on-a-ball--so centered, taking in the compassion of acceptance and forgiveness in "that was the best thing she could do at the time."

Seeing myself in the mirror of the second balancing boy was harder somehow. That sparkle in his eyes felt blindingly bright to fall into. It shows me a closeness, an open tenderness within myself that I fear even as I long for it.

What the Oracle Said

I took some notes about what I heard from the Oracle:

Listen very alertly to the kind voice that tells you about the best thing you could do at the time, even though you're in earshot of a voice pushing you to do better by having more control.

Trust the little complicit smile of the child balancing on the ball and enjoying falling off center. Give up on finding a formula for balance. We are always falling, always failing, and that's the play, the practice.

Don't interrupt the delight of communion and recognition by evaluating performance and offering praise, much less blame. Praise and blame are the same coin of separation.

(Am I doing this right or wrong? Well or badly? Am I doing/being enough? These questions don't serve me.)

You can accept this welcome to be here, exactly as you are. You can brave opening to full union now, being this intimate with your own beloved Self, with your whole round Planet, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.

What do you really want?

There's an ever-renewing resource of creative intelligence found, through practice, or grace, in the Field of our own innocent wholeness. It leads us beside still waters and restores us to sanity.

This intelligence moves us into fresh, useful action with the power of unresisted aliveness. It leads us into the exact next steps that harmonize our individual part in the great dance.


The old ways, of DoItRight, of individual ego blame and praise, can they meet the need we see all around us for a rapid, creative, evolutionary change of consciousness and the action that follows from it?

Let's meet ourselves in this Field, now, where the world is so full, and walk along considering together from here.
-----------------------

The Oracle of You is one of the potent practices for reconnecting with creative wisdom that we'll explore in the next MysteryMind Course in Creating program.People on my Insightments mailing list will be the first to hear when enrollment opens! (Top of right column to sign up).

Friday, July 1, 2011

Patriotic Peace-Monger


Here's a button to wear in your 4th of July parade--if you have a button machine, feel free to print and use this design!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Who's the Doer?



Just Asking


This is the second of a series on making friends (!)
with the snarky voice that demands to know

"Who Do You Think You Are?"
when you're reaching for a larger scope in your work and life.

(You can read the first article HERE.)


The Doer Image

The idea of being the Doer is built in
to a WhoDoYouThinkYouAre? snark attack.

I can't doubt my capacity or worthiness
to pull off some audacious plan
without already believing that I'm the one
who's going to do it (or be unable to).

If I imagine myself doing it badly:
shame on me--I get a worsened self-image.
If I think I did well: Gold star! Better self-idea.

That's the carrot/stick deal I've signed up for.

Either way, I get to identify more strongly
as a mental evaluation, a self-image

of being the one little ego-me who did it
(or didn't) all by myself.

-------------------

"The feeling "I work" is the hindrance.
Ask yourself, "Who works?"
Remember who you are.
Then the work will not bind you,
it will go on automatically."

--Ramana Maharhsi

Detail from fabric portrait of Ramana Maharshi by Jude Spacks

-------------------


No One Here

Have you experienced times of working at peak capacity
when you became one with the work itself
which went on automatically?

In the heat of creative inspiration we're
so present and enlivened,
so absorbed in the unbounded work,
that we lose the effortful habit of thinking-who-we-are.

There's no little-ego-me idea right then
busy taking credit or blame for the doing
which is simply happening in the moment.

Times like that, you feel complete,
like you're moving from your truest self.
And yet right then, there's no story of who that self is.


Only an open channel for the mysterious
gift of the work to flow through.

Later, a self-image might return,
along with the familiar human notion
of claiming and evaluating the doing.


But while there's no idea of the Doer,
we are that unnamable Mystery
where inspiration originates.

Then no self-idea separates us from
being and acting as universal genius
creating through our particular life-form.

-------------------
"The most beautiful thing 

we can experience
is the mysterious.

It is the source of all true art and science."

--Albert Einstein
 
-------------------

Albert Einstein, pictured in 1953.
Photograph: Ruth Orkin/Hulton Archive/Getty Images


Fear of Space

Yet,
as much as we may long to experience
that mysterious, alive, undefined, creative spaciousness,

still, we so often clutch for a role to inhabit instead--

squeezing ourselves into an identity

which we can then compare with

who we imagine others to be.


We think our shifting theater of identifications

will help us gain a sense of control and power,
or the comfort (even the discomfort)

of the known and familiar.

So we struggle to improve these self-images

to manipulate ourselves into feeling better.

This can be so habitual that
we don't realize how stressful it is.

We don't even notice that

we've tricked ourselves into believing
we are the mask we're wearing.


Miz Goody Two

No Big Deal

The work which goes on automatically
coming from no idea of Doership
may be very ordinary.

As ordinary as the work of rain
or sunlight, as sure as a leaf unfurling.

What just moved your eyes along this line of type?
Did 'you' do that? How utterly brilliant!

The endless showering of gifts from Mystery
goes on even when we're very confused,
craving more validation and approval
from other people for what we did.


Miss Understood

The Restlessness of Doership

As long as we're ego-identified as the Doer
we have to keep doing, doing our own selves,
prodding and renovating without rest.

It's fine to make self-improvements. Why not?
But can you find a peace, an at-homeness,
that's already here before you do
anything to tidy up the place?

-------------------

You might think,'Now I am going to meditate
so I can experience pure peace.'

But who said that pure peace
should be the next thing you experience?
Do you see the arrogance in this kind of thinking?

 
You will find yourself interfering,
manipulating yourself, splitting yourself.

 
Since we know this is going to happen,
we practice with it.
We see it, we let it be
and we don't do anything to it.


If you don't do anything, you might begin

to feel kindness in response to
the
suffering involved in the meddling.

--A.H. Almaas, edited from The Unfolding Now


-------------------


Just for a moment: Don't do anything

My snarky WhoDoYouThinkYouAre? voice
calls me out for arrogance.

It's got a point.

(But not because I shouldn't aspire to big
audacious doings that it fears are beyond my scope.
If those aspirations are here, who am I to deny them?)

When I'm believing who I am
is an anxious imaginary Doer
who has to single-handedly manage everything just right
so as to earn an adequate self-concept--
I have lost touch with an essential humility.

Humility grounds me in the reality that:
I don't have to know what I don't know,
I don't have to do what I can't do (of my own little ego-self),
In fact, I don't have to do anything.

And I don't have to pretend to be defined by any image.

What could be kinder than to remind me of that?


-------------------

"Humility is the celebration
of my God-given excellence"
--Bitsa Turner


-------------------





Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are?

When you set intentions, or worse,
start making actual tangible moves
towards taking on a creative challenge,

do you risk hearing
SnarkVoices jeering:

"Who Do You Think You Are?"


Voices digital self-portrait

Talking Back

Along with
WhoDoYouThinkYouAre?
my SnarkVoice likes to point out
that
I'm Too Big For My Britches.

(Where does it find these quaint expressions?)


"So?" I say defiantly, "I'll get britches that fit!"

(with an elastic waist, appropriate to
my queenly middle-aged middle).


You Will Never Amount To A Hill Of Beans, it retorts.


Queen digital self-portrait


No Way Out


But even if I score a point now and then,
it's stressful
to defend against
a
snark attack like
WhoDoYouThinkYouAre.

(Maybe not as stressful as buying into its
shaming viewpoint, but stressful nonetheless).


When I try to make it shut up and go away,
I'm fighting against a part of myself.
 
So I tense up with inner conflict.

I'm
trying to force myself feel to better while
I'm actually feeling divided, scared and small.

Uh-Oh digital self portrait


Shut-down

From that position of defensiveness,
it's harder to evolve, harder to access
originality, openness, and creative expansion.

Fighting snark makes it harder to live large and feel free.


So in the moment that I push away
WhoDoYouThinkYouAre,
I actually experience even more belittlement--
just the kind of feeling I was trying to escape.

So what to do? How to respond?


"As long as our orientation is toward perfection
or success, we will never learn about
unconditional friendship with ourselves,
nor will we find compassion."




Bright Idea digital self-portrait


Why not just answer the question?


It's a good question, a spiritual classic, even.
Try it in a tone of real curiosity:
Who DO you think you are?
(Right now?)

And are you who you think up?

Can you really be defined by the ever-changing
flickering of thoughts through your head?

 
If we're living from the standpoint of
a self-image of who we think we are

we can have a good or bad self-image,
one that feels better or worse.

As long as we're taking ourselves
to be an image in our minds,
even if the image is positive,
we don't feel completely authentic.

However you define yourself, if you see
it's just an image, it's just an idea,
and you peer underneath it,
what you find is no image, no idea of yourself.
 Not a better image, not a worse image,
but no image.

Are you willing to enter that space,
that casts no image, no idea?

Are you really willing and ready
to be that free and that open?

-- Adyashanti(condensed from Falling into Grace pgs.22-24)



It is audacious to pause,
to stop fighting snark attacks

like WhoDoYouThinkYouAre.

Without defiance or the assault 
of our therapeutic fix-it arsenal,
we're afraid that the humiliating 
mind-pattern will swamp us.

But if you do pause to consider, curiously,
the question Who do you think you are?
you might find the snark 
carries a gift, hidden in plain sight:
An open invitation to the humble freedom
of recognizing the real you beyond any image,
untouchable by any success or failure.

Continue to Part Two:
Who's the Doer?

Nobody digital self-portrait

Two High Priests were sitting on a bench.
Suddenly, one had a flash of enlightenment.
He fell to his knees, crying out,
"I just realized I'm Nobody! I'm Nobody!"

A few minutes later, the same thing
happened to the other priest.
"I finally see! I'm Nobody! What a relief!"

Then, a Lowly Streetsweeper
who'd been working nearby
dropped his broom, and shouted,
"I'm Nobody, Halleluia, I'm Nobody!"

One High Priest elbowed the other and snorted,
"Now look who thinks he's Nobody!"

--adapted from story told by Eckhart Tolle