Saturday, December 30, 2006

I just finished reading a biography of Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake in Rome in 1600 for heresy. Again it has me thinking about the meaning and purpose of my life. I don’t want to live a meaningless and mediocre life. I want my life to serve some purpose. It doesn’t need to be a grand purpose, just some purpose.
Life is really a play set on the stage of our particular, unique moment in history. Bruno engaged fully with the set he found himself on, with all of its absurdities. He may have been before his time, but he engaged in his world on its own terms, fully accepting the consequences of that, allowing his life to play out in the only way that it could in that moment in history.
The author of the book included a quote by Bruno that talks about living full--not living in mediocre life:

Oh difficulties to be endured, cries the coward, the feather-head, the shuttlecock, the faint-heart. The task is not impossible, though hard. The craven must stand aside. Ordinary, easy tasks are for the commonplace and the herd. Rare, heroic, and divine men overcome the difficulties of the way and force an immortal palm from necessity. You may fail to reach your goals, but run the race nevertheless. Put forth your strength in so high a business. Stride on with your last breath.
Giordano Bruno

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I just realized when I woke up that we have just passed the winter solstice. I always forget whether it’s the twenty-first for twenty-second, but no matter. What’s interesting is that my spirit chose this week to do this work, which has been so much about death and renewal.

Thursday night, well actually Friday morning right before I woke up, I had a dream. Another woman and I were doing this exercise with death. It’s hard to describe because it makes no sense at all, but there was a clear tank of water we would submerge ourselves in, but each submersion was literal death. So we died every time we submerged ourselves. We each did an experiment of dying for ten seconds and then coming back. There were helpers on hand and as soon as the ten seconds were up they quickly pulled us back up. The other woman decided to go for thirty seconds, which all of the helpers thought was way too long. The instant the thirty seconds was up, the helpers anxiously pulled the woman up. She was all smiles and she said something lightheartedly to chasten them for being so uptight and worried. I knew exactly what she meant. I shared that same radiant kind of knowing that “All is well”. The helpers were stuck in their limited way of seeing.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Good morning. It’s still howling and blustery outside but the snow seems to have stopped. The storm is supposed to move out by noon today. It’s hard to say how much snow we got because it’s all blown about. They were saying sixteen to twenty-six inches for my area and eighteen to twenty-four for Denver. The ground along the side of my house is swept bare, but then I had to push against a snowdrift to open the front door.

Last night I was in a very heightened state of awareness. Reading two books in a row with Native American themes snapped something back open in me. There are certain traditions that I always circle back around to, Native American being one of them. I knew when I stumbled across those books at the library that I was meant to circle back here now.

What is it about their culture that gets me? Last night spontaneously everything in the room kept morphing into Native American objects. I truly felt like I was living in two worlds. There was my embroidered rooster with the triangle points at the bottom lying on top of some fabric. Repeatedly when I glanced that way it became a bead work design on the front of a dress--not of a rooster though--and the fabric underneath became the draping of the rest of the dress. A towel folded in half lengthwise and flung over the bathroom door looks like sweet grass that was knotted at the bottom. The room kept switching back and forth between my room and a Native American.

The other thing was that my ego largely vanished. I was looking back in this journal--I forget what I was trying to find--but everything I wrote about seemed absolutely petty and trivial. I mean, this is all I can manage to make of life, all of these trivial concerns? How have I gotten so caught up in the petty dramas of the ego?

I’m asking big questions these days. Is there a way I can be of service to humanity? Can I surrender my ego and live a life in service to the spiritual? What on earth would that look like? When I think this way I think of folks like Gandhi and Mother Teresa--these large players in this world. Can I so transcend my ego that I could really make a difference on this planet? Is that possible for me in this lifetime? If I can just break through this barrier above me I’d be able to see.

Now night has fallen and it’s day four of this spiritual retreat I had no idea I was going to take. Poor John. He’s being so patient with me when I tell him I need to be alone. This is good for me, so deeply good for me, especially the evenings, sitting here by candlelight.

I don’t know, but each night I keep getting overwhelmed by how perfect the objects in this room are. It is a beautiful space, a very nourishing space for me to do this work. I’m not exactly sure what work I’m doing but at least something seems to be stirring.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I have yet more thoughts floating around on the fringes of my awareness. I feel like I’m close to some dramatic breakthrough or new insight. Very close but not quite there. I feel like it has the potential to be some wild new way-outside-the-box paradigm shift some new way of seeing and being entirely. But there’s a barrier I have to push through to get there.

We’re in the midst of a blizzard so I wasn’t able to get Collin today as scheduled. Most of the roads are shut down so I have another night for quiet contemplation. It’s the perfect atmosphere, with the storm howling, the world outside all white and blustery, and in here it’s warm and quiet and peaceful. A candle’s burning softly and it’s about to get dark.

I’ve had a few little episodes of synchronicity the past few days. I was reading a Lynn Andrews book right after I had written about anxiety in my chest and she began talking about the exact same thin--how the anxiety was protecting her heart. Then yesterday and today I was reading Travels in a Stone Canoe and this one Lakota man said the following: “The material life isn’t worth living. Materialism without spirituality is the curse of this world. It’s our job as human beings to use the material in the service of the spiritual.” Matthew King

I feel like that’s the answer I needed, but what would that look like? It’s quite a stretch to call headboards spiritual. I know that beauty, the creation of beauty, can be a way of using the material world for spiritual good, but a beautiful headboard is just too much of a stretch. I had the thought that if I really need to work with my hands maybe building small altars for people to use in their homes, or even outside in their yards might be fulfilling. Just build beautiful altars and let people decorate with whatever fits their spiritual tradition or speaks to them. But that idea feels kind of contrived. It’s a mental two-plus-twoing, not something I feel in my heart is my path.

My path may be more radical than that if I can just break through this barrier that stands in my way and finally SEE. There’s a higher way of seeing--something much more all-encompassing. I sense it.

I know that the new insight will be a deepening of my thoughts about materialism and the bland dullness of modern life, the superficiality, the way we’ve cut ourselves off from what matters. Somehow, the shift I feel coming on will take into account a much broader account of humanity, going back to our roots, our origins. Who we think we are is just a whisper of who we really are.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I want to continue on with my train of thought from yesterday. It’s weird, but I’m coming back to knowledge I already had and it’s just a bit mind-boggling how I could have let myself forget.

I don’t know if I ever wrote about this when I originally had this insight, so forgive me if I’m repeating old information. But last night I remembered one more thing about my experience of anxiety in my chest. It’s not only a mask to protect my heart, it’s a little death, reminding me that every hardship is an opportunity to die and be reborn again. The insight that I had originally had (I don’t remember now when that was—a few years ago?) was that the feeling of stress in my chest is identical to the beginnings or the first rush of feelings you feel at the moment of death. I seem to always have had a “memory” of death. The moment of death begins with that feeling in the chest, and a wave of hot and cold, and then the feeling extends to the whole body and becomes this weird feeling of atomizing or dissolving, which at the same time is almost a feeling of falling. So, the anxiety is a mini-death and my task is to dissolve through it to a more expansive state of being. To not get stuck in the death throes, but to move through it the way you naturally would upon death.

Last night I dreamed about a mountain lion. I was with another adult, a child, and a small dog and people were after me. We hid in a small wooden shed. Something pawed at the door and then a mountain lion nudged the door open and let herself in. I felt a wave of healthy fear as she walked in and lay down at my side. I knew she would protect me and was a powerful ally. The dream ended a few moments later when the bad guys came, shot off the lock (it now had a lock!) and I had a weird numb feeling in my butt cheek…I didn’t know if I had been sitting funny and it was just asleep, or if one of the bullets had come through the door and lodged in my butt.

The dream reminded me of my experience up in the mountains when Collin was two. After I weaned him I went for my first weekend away without him and did a meditation retreat alone. I had two dreams that both brought me bolt upright in the tent. The first was of a mother bear and her cub passing through camp and moving on. The second was of a mountain lion padding into camp and lying down. I concluded that the dream meant that the mountain lion was my new totem animal for my life here in the West, as the black bear had always been my animal in Pennsylvania (and a frequent visitor in my dreams).

I think the mountain lion came into my dream last night to try to remind me again of forgotten knowledge. What does she represent?

Another way I feel I’m circling back to some same-old, same-old issues is with livelihood. I still feel an awful conflict between my belief in simplicity and treading lightly and not being overly materialistic, and the fact that in my business life what I am doing is making and selling stuff. I know I’ve been here before. I’ve had this discussion with myself in the past and I concluded that as an offspring of the Divine it is simply natural for me to want to create.
But, the conflict lives on in me. Maybe it’s with WHAT I’m creating, but why should any other sort of creation be of more value than what I do? When I sit in my living room and take in all of this man-made stuff, does anything have more value than anything else? Does it have more value the more beautiful it is, or is it more valuable if it exploited fewer resources or people or animals in the making of it? Does its function give it a higher value? I mean, after all, it’s all just stuff! What’s the point? People just mindlessly hoard stuff. How is it meaningful for me to add to that?

The question eating at me is how do I create a meaningful life? Shouldn’t that be my real job, creating a meaningful life, not creating stuff? I know I’ve said before that stuff has the potential to act as a mirror or way to see through the illusion of this world. But really, tell me how a headboard or a pair of pillows is going to enlighten anyone?

How do I create a meaningful life for myself? What is my purpose in this lifetime? I want to make a difference. I want to live more profoundly. How can I be of use in this world?

Probably it’s pointless to go round and round in circles trying to figure out some kind of ideal occupation for myself. Instead I need to find my center again and create a regular spiritual practice. Once I regain my power and further develop it, my path will unfold of its own accord. I remember one thing that I think Carolyn Myss said on her tapes-- something like, maybe your role here is to simply raise the spiritual energy in your neighborhood, maybe your high degree of evolution holds the peace in your neighborhood or raises other people’s level of god consciousness (of course I’m wildly paraphrasing but you get the general idea). Our work here on this planet may be vastly different than what we think it is.

I know I need to work on myself and I need to figure out the answers to my bigger questions.

Monday, December 18, 2006

I’m sitting in the living room writing by candlelight with incense burning and soothing music playing. Tonight is a night for quiet reflecting.

I think this is what used to be called a midlife crisis, this thing I’ve been going through. I remember back in those days when I was reading Jung, he wrote about the midlife issues that arise in one’s thirties. I should try to find his writings on the subject. It might help shed some light on my issues. I told John I had made a decision that on January 1 I would be normal again. He’s never seen me normal since I’ve been going through this crazy phase--the whole time I’ve lived out here. It’s been a long time since I felt normal. And what is normal for me? When I’m normal I’m a powerful spiritual being. I’m a force to be reckoned with. Put to use that force could do a great deal of good somehow, some way in this world. When was the last time I felt that power within me? It’s been years now. I need to come back around to embody that deeper, fuller expression of myself. I’ve become so chronically stressed that I can’t get beyond the feeling of anxiety in my chest to any experience of power. When I used to radiate power it would seem to begin in my chest, but now there’s too much stress in the way. At times, usually when I’m driving up we’re back on I-76, and I reflect on the anxiety in my chest, I get the sense that it’s a fa├žade only. The stressed feeling is only surface deep but it masks this profound grief. I have yet to have a chance to delve into it deeply, but I suspect when and if I do, and if I’m able to resolve it or come to some sort of understanding, my anxiety will vanish. What do I grieve? It seems to be tied to S. and sometimes to Grandpa. The last time I had a night like this and had also lit candles and burned incense I had this sad longing to have either S. or Grandpa just sitting in my green chair, keeping me company with their presence and conversation. At one point the scent of the incense morphed into the scent of Grandpa’s pipe tobacco. He felt so near and yet not nearly close enough. I miss having a deep soul connection with someone, someone who can come and sit in my living room in the flesh and blood.

I’ve realized also recently that I miss dancing. True, at the Dances of Universal Peace I really didn’t feel a connection to most of the people there, but energetically what we did as a whole group was absolutely amazing. I have nothing to raise my energy the way those dances did. Dancing was my spiritual practice. It kept me centered and it helped keep my energy heightened to spiritual plane. Maybe partly why I’ve lost my way is because I lost that way of keeping myself tapped it into Spirit. Even contra dancing raised my energy. Dancing is just spiritual for me, I think. I wish it were possible to start dancing again, but it’s just so impractical living out here when all of the dances are in Denver or Boulder or Fort Collins.

Back to the anxiety thing. I was remembering the time back in 1991 or 1992 when I had the same issue. I remember sitting by that stream and meditating and having a conversation with my chest and how my chest was telling me it was protecting my heart. It seems to be the same thing now. I think the stress just masks a wounded heart and I don’t think I’m just grieving S. and Grandpa, I’m grieving about the events of the past few years, all of the hardships. It seems I could never just stop and grieve each event, to break down and weep for the pain of each thing. So my chest just held it all. If I stopped holding, if I acknowledged it all and let it out, maybe my heart would open again and I’d begin to come back into my power. Cognitively all along I’ve known that “All is well.” I know I am cared for and protected and that no real harm can ever come to me. And yet I fully immerse myself in the drama of my life, reacting as if none of that were true. Why all of the fear, worry, and anxiety when I know no harm can come to me? Why do I engage in it the way I do? The important task for me, if I want to be “normal again”, is to open my heart. Then I can come back into my real power and once I do that then the rest of my life can fall into place. See, right now I’m so lost I can’t begin to see what my life’s purpose is. I want to do something worthwhile but I can’t see what that might be. I hope that once I find my center my way will become clear.

I’ve been having a lot of past life memory flashes in the past week or two and many flashes of memory from my blissful childhood, most of them of our cabin vacations. I think this is all a good sign because these types of flashes haven’t stirred in me much for very long time. Also about a week or two ago there wasn’t a day that passed when some little tidbit of a dream didn’t come true later that day. And in the waking world there are definitely some stirrings inside of me, so maybe there’s some hope yet.