Mountain Top Road

I got my dreams back

I keep a dream journal.

It’s about a decade since the practice was first suggested by my yoga teacher, Gail (my very first teacher/guru).

I don’t think she’s aware how valuable that suggestion turned out for me.

I even created a website, The Yoga of Dreaming, where I document my dream/awake life happenings with intent to inspire a community of like-minded dreamers to participate.  The website is a work in progress, on hold at present, but I’ll return my energy to it when the time feels right.

Interestingly, about a week ago I noticed a long lapse of no dream recall. Like 3 or 4 weeks – no dreams!

What’s going on? I wondered. Could it be that Dream Tincture from the Columbia Care medical marijuana store?

The “pharmacist” at the medical marijuana store carefully selected just the right “medicine” for me based on my evaluation:

I’ve read the research on CBD’s anti-inflammatory qualities. But I hate smoking pot … I get paranoid and can’t shut my mind down … the smoke hurts my lungs … I’ve tried the chocolate marijuana and had the same problem …  I need my rest at night, and what I’ve tried so far isn’t helping.

So he prescribed the Dream Tincture liquid:

A liquid drop each night before sleep – start by taking the smallest dose. A drop under the tongue, hold in mouth for a minute, swallow and you’ll be off to a night of sweet dreams.

After about 3 or 4 weeks of religiously taking my nightly dose, I noticed that I was indeed sleeping like a baby again. Quick to fall asleep, no tossing and turning.

But no dreaming …  WTF?

Hey, if this CBD is supposed to be healing for my inflammatory breast cancer that’s great – but if I’m never gunna dream again, fuck that!

So I stopped taking it.

My husband was flabbergasted by my decision. “You’re actually going to stop taking something you believe is healing for your cancer so you can remember your dreams?”

“Yes.” And exactly 3 days later my dream life resumed.

And the dream was a gem.  

I titled this dream Overcome with Joy:

               I witness what looked like a grocery store for elderly folk. I’m inside, observing the shoppers pushing their carts. I’m sensing the feeling of community and kindness among the customers. I watch my mother as she pushes her cart. Another shopper “finds” something and places it in Mom’s cart. I am aware that this item is something “special” and it is intended to be given to me as a gift. It’s a dish of food/dessert (?) with cellophane wrapping and a ribbon. I watch from afar. I know it’s for me. I can feel Mom’s thoughts. It’s a humble gift, but she looks forward to bestow this gift upon me and feels happy that she is able to do so. I begin to cry, at first uncontrollably, then with a smile and a feeling of overwhelming joy. I say to myself out loud through my tears, I am overcome with so much JOY!

There are really no words for the depth of love this dream imparted on my consciousness. Whether it was a literal “gift” from my mother’s consciousness to mine or a message from an unknown level of existence assuring me that this is the love that is the Reality of Life – and this is what it feels like.

I don’t know. And it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that I will never forget that feeling. And it was given as a gift in my dream.

Magic green carpet

There’s a statement by Mahatma Ghandi that remains implanted in my mind. He said, “If anyone is to find writings of mine, please use the latter on the same subject.” 

For me, this token of wisdom affirms that our ideas and opinions have an infinitely changing nature. What we perceive through the mind has the unlimited capacity to change.  

Over a decade ago, I wrote about a mind-altering experience while sitting in meditation:

My interpretation of the experience was being in infinitely big space (like being in outer space). It was completely dark, as the vast night sky with no stars. The silence was so huge that it was beyond anything my imagination could create. The feeling was like having no body, no time, and no words. And so I couldn’t process this, having nothing to compare it to. I didn’t even know where to begin, so I kind of just let it go. I knew it “happened” but I couldn’t relate to any of it through my cognitive mind.

In my memoir, which is presently a work in progress, I wrote about this again and revisit the experience within context.

CHAPTER __:

 The Magic Green Carpet

I had already lived 46 years when I met Gail. It was a time of transition for me, and I felt called to do something in my typical way – unexpectedly. One day, the inner voice simply made its choice to be heard, and the body felt compelled to pursue its direction.

Sitting in my office at a desktop computer, I stared at the monitor’s screen jam-packed with the medical notes I had diligently transcribed. All of the words that I had typed became blurred.  I removed my earphones, stopped typing, and placed my attention on sitting quietly and listening to a feeling sense that arose out of nowhere. It sounded like my own voice to my thinking mind, but I recognized a quality of deeper resonance than the usual mind chatter.

It said, “You need to study yoga. It’s time to train as a yoga teacher.”

The idea appeared out of nowhere, but I didn’t question it. My mind complied, and I made a silent agreement just like that, Okay, I’ll choose a place to get my yoga certification.

My friend, Inga, often spoke about Ronda – a yoga teacher at Yoga Mountain.  

Decision made. I’ll call Yoga Mountain and apply.

The Yoga Mountain dwelling was a residential space that had turned commercial, and it looked pleasant enough, humble and welcoming from the outside. A small glass door entryway led to the reception area where I would be directed to go upstairs to the yoga studio. A narrow spiral staircase led to the studio upstairs. This struck me as wholly symbolic – a mysterious new pathway into the unknown.

At the top of the stairway what appeared to be a closet door led into the yoga studio from the rear.  I opened the door, and allowed my eyes to adapt to the dimmed lights.

A woman sitting cross-legged at the front of the room looked up, “Hello, welcome. Please come in and sit down.”

In that instant, from that 15-foot distance across the room, I could feel her immense warmth, kindness and loving presence. I knew I was in the right place.

It perhaps had not even been a full year when my yoga teacher, Gail, instructed, “It’s time for you to teach”. Her belief was, there’s no “right” time when you’re ready to teach yoga. Her method was, throw the student into the water and they’ll learn to swim- to teach what they know – from their heart.

That’s when she chose me to take on a private student. I was a new teacher, very inexperienced, and still studying with Gail for my 200-hour certification. But my foundation was strong with Gail’s guidance, and I grasped the magnitude of the breath and meditation. Though my confidence often wavered, I trusted that I possessed something of value – something I could share with another person.

The only information I was given about Dawn was that she was a 30-something year old mom who wanted private yoga instruction. On the day we met for our first yoga session, it was her timid nature that affirmed for me her reluctance to attend a group yoga class. A fair-skinned, blonde with blue-gray eyes, she was soft-spoken, a gentle soul, and I could clearly sense her fear of not being good enough. She wasn’t ready to try something she didn’t know how to do in a group setting.   

As I guided Dawn through the most basic of stretching and strengthening postures, I encouraged her to be less judgmental about the right way and the wrong way. Then I invited her to sit down. The studio had a tight-weaved wall-to-wall carpet, a dark shade of green, which was almost dowdy but strangely soothing. I stacked two folded blankets, placed them down on the carpet, and asked Dawn to sit down.  Then I placed my blankets directly across from her, and I sat down. We sat face to face.

I invited Dawn to explore a breath I had studied called 3-part breathing, also known as dirga pranayama, which can be translated as complete, or long or deep breathing from the low belly all the way up to the collar bones. We practiced the breathing together until I sensed the student had reached a deeper relaxation, and I said, “Okay, let’s return to normal breathing, close our eyes, and sit together in silent meditation”.

That’s when it happened …

Within moments of sitting quietly with my own breath, the observer (me) disappeared, and all there was to be experienced and observed was NOTHING.

Time and space completely vanished.

Yet somewhere, like an infinitesimal spec of light, the observer (me) was able to witness this huge, black, ENDLESS space with a silence I had never imagined could exist.

Then I actually MERGED with the dark, silent, space.

That is, until the spec of light that could observe this space reappeared. And that’s when the spec of light spoke.

It said, “You have to teach yoga now.”

On hearing those words, my mind became alert and aware of the physical space my body was occupying.

I wondered, How much time has passed?

I looked at Dawn. Her eyes were still closed. Everything seemed completely intact. But I had no idea how much time had passed, if any at all. I glanced at the clock on the wall – it was almost 10:30 a.m., precisely the right time for our session to conclude.

As astounded as I was over this inexplicable state of consciousness I had just experienced, there remained a calm grounding presence that continued to guide me, and so I resumed my role as teacher and gently directed Dawn to deepen her breath and slowly open her eyes.  

I ruminated, “Could she possibly know what just happened? Don’t be ridiculous, that’s impossible. She seems perfectly fine.”

But I knew something immense had occurred. However, I had no understanding what it was or what it meant to me.  

I would spend the next decade delving into every aspect of yogic esoteric knowledge to help me process what this experience could possibly mean. I studied the classics, the Vedic and Tantric philosophies, the Sutras, Taoism, Zen Buddhism, the ancient yoga masters, and the new age masters.

At the time of this writing, I persevere in recognition and gratitude that this was a moment of grace. The reality of no-time was given to me, just a glimpse, enough to spark the light of wisdom within me. I was graced to witness the reality of non-duality prior to my conditioned and learned understanding of such an idea.  It was a foresight of everything I would come to learn, study, and experience through the mastery of the yogic path.

As I write this now, I am reminded of the unchanging quality of that magic green carpet experience.  Simultaneously, I’m reminded how my understanding of it holds the potential for infinite evolution.  

As Gandhi wisely advised, “If anyone is to find writings of mine, please use the latter on the same subject.” 

Photo credit: Annie Brightstar

the center

Sit still and place your attention on the “center point” of anything in your imaginative experience.

Visualize the “point” radiating outwards concentrically, wheels within wheels.

Now, ask yourself, “How can I BE that radiating love?”

I’ve been practicing this simple exercise for several weeks, and the result is quite simply the greatest gift I’ve given myself in a long time. The moments that I take to FEEL and IMAGINE being that radiating love – and then witnessing how it looks through ME when I’m relating to others. This has lifted my spirit immensely.  

I’ll admit, it’s not easy. It takes a commitment and devotion to continually, gently bring the attention back when it wanders.

It should be obvious for everyone how easy it is for the mind to trail off, that’s what the mind does.

Nobody is exempt …

from Suffering,

and suffering is soooo easy.

But what’s difficult, and worth the battle, is Being the Love and witnessing it move through you, as you. It will appear differently for each unique being.

When we pursue placing our attention on this practice, we’ll know down to the bone,

This resonates with my deepest Truth.

Serendipitously, it was only a day or two after I contemplated this idea which inspired me to create this particular practice that I received an email which validated my feelings beautifully:

Circle of Love by Rev. Toni Petrinovich

“You are the love of God. I AM expresses through you. The only love that exists within this dimension is felt and demonstrated by and through you.

You are a circle of love. It is a wave of love that you are advancing from you into the omni-verse infinitely in all directions, all realms, all dimensions as I AM. There is nowhere that you are not capable of emitting this love – you are the center point, the focus point of the love that you give you and is then emanated out into the all.

This is why if you want love in your life, you must be love so that the frequency of love will respond to your frequency. If you don’t believe you will ever find love in your life, you will not. Plain and simple. And love does have a frequency, a wavelength.”

Trust

My soul sister, Zahara, called me from Florida today.

She always sparks something that arises as a feeling in my heart center, which I can only describe as,

I know she sees it in me, and I also see it in her (Namaste).

We talked and laughed. And she asked about how I’m doing – the cancer thing – and the words that came out of me were, “I totally TRUST it will all be okay.”

(Translation: Whether I live to experience life as an old lady, or whether inflammatory breast cancer causes my demise as a younger woman – I TRUST either path.)

I have my moments when this wavers, of course. This Trust, I mean, though I know it’s quality of omnipresence, I forget. My ego takes the reins. It wants to think it can control or it wants to think that it will find the reason for cancer, for the world’s insanity. When I remember, this immense Trust simply observes and then lets go of all these ideas.

And I empowered the Trust by listening to this talk today, which I’ve highlighted/paraphrased below. For almost 15 years I’ve been learning from this being’s wisdom, and the teaching is endlessly alive within me. It is rewarding to hear this wise soul, Adyashanti, articulate what I feel.

Namaste, Zahara.

Namaste, Adya.

“There’s a part of the mind that is almost incessantly talking to itself. Ego is kind of like the verb of self-consciousness –  I am a something that exists.

When awareness reflects back upon itself, that’s the absolute essential component for self-consciousness. It starts out in a relatively mild form, and as you grow up it becomes more dense.

Ego can also be thought of as a psychic function, a function of self-consciousness, the sense of I Am-ness, even before it becomes the narrative, I am worthy or unworthy, etc.

There’s another kind of psychic structure that’s very different from the ego. In some traditions it’s called the Self (equated often with God, Buddha nature, etc).

Sometimes we can actually be called to look within to mitigate suffering, or to have a better experience of being. It makes sense at some point that the ego would want to mitigate as much suffering as it can.

But there can also be another call. Something else which calls us to look within. A totally different domain of this immensity of the psyche – the Self. (the God-head, Buddha nature etc). The Self really knows there is no boundary. There is no experience of limitation or edge to the Self. When it’s experienced it is boundless. Therefore it’s often called the fundamental reality.  

The spiritual instinct properly belongs to the Self. When the Self begins to move within you, there is no ambiguity that you as an ego are being acted upon that’s completely beyond the ego. The spiritual impulse from the ego’s point of view is something it receives, not creates.

The ego is the recipient, not the creator of the spiritual impulse.

It’s as if you as an ego can be chasing God or enlightenment, prayer, meditation, etc., and then all of the sudden you realize that the game has shifted, its reversed. And all of the sudden it feels like you are being chased by God. You still don’t know what that is but you can feel the transition from when the spiritual instinct within the self is activated, you then have a feeling that your own spiritual search doesn’t really fundamentally belong to you as an ego. It’s kind of unsettling. You have the feeling your spiritual search is not entirely in your control.

It’s not something you’re creating but it’s something that’s calling for some kind of response from you. That’s why words like God got invented – a word for this immensity that’s infinitely bigger than the ego. The ego is experiencing this awakening impulse but it’s not just for the ego, its somehow something outside of that. Often you don’t understand it.

For me, it felt like some sort of force came and lit up this desire for Truth. I didn’t understand why I was interested in those things. Wherever that impulse came from, I knew I received it but I didn’t create it. Then there’s this transition that happens inside, if it happens at all.

Ramana (Maharshi) has a great image for this: Getting your head caught in the tiger’s mouth.

Well you’ve just gotten your head caught in something bigger and stronger than you are.

The nature of the Self being without limit. When there’s no cosmic line drawn anywhere that you can say, I’ve experienced all there is to experience about it. You can think it, feel it, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually true.

In esoteric or contemplative teachings of reality, God is within you, and that’s relatively true, but not absolutely true. It’s said in order to get us to stop looking for God out there, and to get us to look for God inside of us. But really, we exist within God (or what the word is pointing to). The same way the ego exists within the totality of the psyche/ which is limitless. The greater part of your psyche does not exist within your ego. Your ego exists as a very small portion of your psyche. To stop exteriorizing God, we shouldn’t take it literally. God doesn’t exist within the ego. The ego exists within God, within the Self, within Buddha nature. All words for the same immensity. This is all theory right up until the point that this immensity starts to impose itself, act upon the ego in a very direct way. You can understand why people would create Gods and deities “out there” because the true spiritual impulse is something that comes outside of the ego. If you’ve ever really had the spiritual impulse that comes from the totality, its abundantly clear to you that you as an ego did not create it.

Awakening is when our sense of being wakes from being contained within the limiting sense of the ego structure and suddenly becomes aware of the immensity by whatever name one gives it.   

When the Self decides that It wants to stir into consciousness through your incarnation, well you’ll feel it. You’ll start to feel this evolutionary thrust, yearning, and of course, the ego is going to coopt that to some extent or another. That’s okay, the Self will utilize the ego’s desire not to suffer, but the impulse itself transcends our own personal wants and desires.  

The true part of God existing outside of you does exist outside and beyond the ego. But it’s within you in the sense that it is all originating in the cosmic psyche. It’s not the ego that awakens; it’s the Self – in a certain sense – that awakens from the identification with the ego.  Then we realize the Self isn’t really out there, but the self isn’t even something in here. Properly speaking, the whole point isn’t to look inside as opposed to outside, because inside and outside are actually mental constructs. When those constructs fall away – when we see through the constructs – then even the idea of in and out doesn’t make sense anymore. At a certain point it no longer even fits experience or perception. It’s just something that conditions perception. Like the Buddha would call it “thus-ness” the “such-ness” of something.  When something is not dual, how do you describe it? So you really can’t describe it.  In the Self, the opposites are not even dictating perception.

Awakening is a grace. That’s simply to say it is something the ego cannot produce. The ego can’t make awakening happen, however, it can start to undermine its fixed identity. If you really get what I’m talking about, the ego can start to deeply relax. Okay, it’s participating in its awakening but it’s not the cause of it. Your true being, your total being is the Self. So it’s a kind of trust in the Self.

If you can conceive of it, it’s too small.

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT IT THAT YOU CAN TRUST.”

Adyashanti

Tree

I contemplate how I’ve always known the underlying truth

And the way it always felt even more “special” for me in some way

Because I actually knew IT was underneath all the layers of costume

And as long as I acknowledged, on occasion, the memory of IT

I could accept this life of the costumed “person” with (meaningless) opinions

In this instant – I am fully cognizant that

Attachment to a belief/opinion/perspective

Is the demise of Truth.

One cannot ever know the truth.

It’s an unspoken language.

The way a tree exists.

Well we’re not trees

but can we behave as if we were?

Recognizing and practicing our innate qualities of resilience

Yielding in all directions while remaining fully rooted to our foundation

Even being uprooted, and being okay with that too

When we’re so sure that our leaves are green, we need to remember that too can change

I used to meditate while observing a tree in my back yard through the window

It was as if the soul of that big old oak tree was placed in my view just for that purpose

To help me remember how to BE

Mystery

There I was sitting in the diner, sipping my coffee, when it happened.

I could come up with a million explanations as to why I may have had this experience. My state of mind after 4 days of being away from home; chemotherapy treatment; blood-building injections for 3 days after treatment; climbing the mountain behind Todd’s house; meditating on a rock above the world; the magnificence of autumn colors …..

Maybe all of the above, maybe none.

I quietly observed one of the servers/waitresses from afar. She was unaware that I was staring. Simply going about her routine, checking her station orders, fully attentive to the job and the moment. I could almost feel her attentiveness to her own inner thoughts.

However, something even deeper was revealed to me while watching her.

There was an aura surrounding her, in fact, it was enveloping the entire space of the diner. Not only could I sense it, I almost could see it.

It felt and appeared as connective tissue, but translucent tissue that morphed and flowed in wavelike patterns. Like being under clear water and seeing the forms floating in it.

In that moment, I was assured that this web of existence is just that. An intricate, unseen Web of Life. A complete mystery that we will never see with these eyes.

Yet I was graced with the experience to glimpse at it.

In only a few short moments of earth “time” the universe revealed its infinite connective eternity to my consciousness.

Pouf. Tah dah! Here I AM, and I AM That!

The miracle. The Mystery. In a diner of all places.

going deeper

Recently, I felt a calling to take up puzzles again. There’s a noticeable shift in awareness when I’m working on a puzzle. My dreams are more resonant, and I feel like I’ve worked things out upon awakening. I sense that the puzzles have also been helpful in shifting my perspective on Life to more of an aerial view.

This perspective becomes clearer when I trust my inner compass to guide my understanding about Life. I especially like the words/phrases below; although their meanings may be intellectually abstract, the experience they point to is becoming more Real and concrete for me.

What do these words mean for you?

  • Voice Within
  • Deeper Conscience
  • Deeper Nature
  • Higher Purpose
  • Deeper Knowledge Within
  • Higher Vantage Point
  • Power and Presence of Knowledge
  • Natural Resonance
  • Empathy Felt at a Deeper Level

I extracted the above words from an essay called Forgiveness, by Marshall Vian Summers, excerpt below:

The choice really is a choice for the individual as to what voice within themselves they will listen to. Will they listen to the power and presence of Knowledge that God has placed within them to guide them, to protect them and to lead them to a greater life? Or will they listen to the voice of their own personal mind that seeks to protect itself above all things that will meet its needs first, regardless of the consequences for other peoples?

This is not an ideological debate. It is not an intellectual problem. It is more fundamental than this. It is a question of whether you will follow your deeper conscience or your own fear and insecurity. If you see that your deeper nature is beyond your mind, then you will not become so identified with your ideas, your beliefs or your prejudices, and you will be much more reserved in judging, condemning or dismissing others.

This kind of self-awareness is so very important because when people are denied recognition of their deeper nature, their thinking becomes aberrant. They identify with their thoughts and their possessions, and their ability to recognize others and to experience compassion is limited or destroyed altogether.

From the standpoint of having a higher purpose, you realize that everyone is teaching you the value of Knowledge. Both their successes and their failures are showing you the importance of adhering to this deeper Knowledge within yourself. Why would you condemn others when they are teaching you the results of not following Knowledge within yourself? When people are making every kind of error and experiencing the consequences of these errors, why would you condemn them when they are showing you the results of your own temptation to deny the power, presence and guidance of Knowledge within yourself?

From a higher vantage point, from the perspective of recognizing that you have a higher purpose in life, you will see these things. Perhaps you could not see them before, but you will see them clearly now. You will see that life is teaching you that there is only Knowledge or the substitutes for Knowledge. There is only being true to your deeper nature, or there is betrayal in all directions.

Here you must understand that not everything that happens is beneficial. If you try to make everything wonderful and beneficial, you will be dishonest, and dishonesty leads to great errors and great difficulties. And so your evaluation must be based upon a deeper awareness within yourself that is not really ideological in nature. It is more of a natural resonance. It is beyond the intellect. It is the empathy you feel with people at a deeper level.