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.”

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

what is truth?

This memory I’m about to share probably occurred about 51-53 years ago.

As a 6 to 8-year-old girl I would often watch the black and white TV set with Mom.

There was a movie, a Nazi story. I have no recall what movie it was.

I’ll set the scene as I remember it:

Nazi soldiers are looking for escaped prisoners in a convent. The nuns had hidden a bunch of folks somewhere within the convent property. A soldier is interrogating one of the nuns.

He begins to yell at her, and he slaps her really hard across the face with his hand.

I BURST INTO TEARS.

Now, as a child of this age I had a very cozy, middle income kind of cultural upbringing. There was no trauma, abuse, or anything that I could have identified with at that time that would have reactivated such a harsh emotional reaction to this (subtle, by today’s standards) act of violence.  I was sobbing. Holding back the uncontrollable emotion and tears as much as I could, but I was unable to continue watching the movie. I remember that Mom consoled me.

If Mom were still here, I’d ask her if she had any recollection of the incident. But mom passed last year and she had dementia. So her memory wouldn’t have been very helpful.

Why did that particular incident bring up so much agony and despair for me at that age?

Thinking about this today, it leads me to contemplate:

  • Is our consciousness REALLY inside our brain?
  • Is our consciousness more accurately outside of our brain which would allow access to more than this dimension, this realm, this lifetime, this world?
  • When we’re children, just prior to the unavoidable fact of cultural indoctrination, aren’t we more deeply connected to the reality of our True Conscious Being?

Here’s another childhood memory. About 49-50 years ago, I had an experience while walking home from the school bus up. I’d walk up the hill on Johanna Lane every day, but on this day I had a very sudden moment’s awareness. It was a cognitive sense of being AWARE of more than my little persona, a KNOWING that I WAS ACTUALLY AWARE of MY OWN AWARENESS. How could a 10-year-old process that? I didn’t. I simply remember a feeling as if I had something inside that was more than I could understand. And I liked the feeling. I had something special inside. I became aware of awareness itself just by being quiet, watching my feet take each single step by step along the road’s dark, wet, leafy pavement (it was Fall), and like a Zen meditation, IT appeared, it showed ITSELF, unexpectedly. I received a GIFT.

I would love to hear of any childhood experiences that any readers may have had which reveals a moments’ access to a more open truth of conscious awareness. Please do share ……

I’ll end with a beautiful piece about Truth from one of my favorite Zen masters:  

Most people think that they are basically truthful

But when you look at it for a given day,

How do I embody the truth of being?

Well, you start by telling the truth all the time,

Okay great,

What is the truth then?

What seems to be true for you?

You could look at it as being totally honest all the time

Never deceptive

Never deceiving

Not twisting the sentence where you’re not being completely honest

When you really look at this, even for a single day, you will probably be surprised, maybe even shocked by how often you find yourself shading truths, whether out of fear or out of subtle or overt deception (because you have a fear of being real, being exposed)

There’s hundreds of reason why you might not tell the truth

What is truth then?

It’s not just mere opinion.

It is not unloading your judgements on somebody.

That’s not telling the truth.

It’s more about being deeply and precisely honest, and being very open to having your truth change.

Someone else may inform you. It might alter what’s true for you.

As human beings we clutch on to what we think is true, and when we do state it we state it with a fair amount of defensiveness. So we’re often in a kind of competition, even in the most seemingly casual conversation. You will often notice a quiet, well cultured competition of ideas going on, or just a complete lack of listening. In the average conversation, usually each person is waiting for a gap to jump in and say what they want. This is common in conversation. In a truth sense, conversation is listening to what might be true in any situation. Unless you listen, you’re not going to get anywhere.

No this is not very esoteric, but it’s demanding, it’s real, kind of where the rubber hits the road.

We never like to admit to ourselves when we’re lying. We think we’re doing it for their sake.

If you have a little sensitivity, you can say something truthful or honest without being so overt.

If you want to really start to embody some of your deepest realizations of being, start by telling the truth all the time.

Will there be consequences?  Yes.

How am I delivering the truth? Am I saying what’s really true? Or am I insisting on the truth?

If you get lots of negative feedback on your truth telling, examine how am I delivering this truth, how insistent am I, or am I very simply being honest and real?

One of the ways human beings manipulate each other is by shading the truth.

It’s hard to manipulate somebody when you’re totally honest.

This practice of truth will transform your life. You can’t say how, until you do it.

You can’t control how it will work out.

How could you possibly embody the enlightened condition and be anything less than truthful?

Your experience of being tends to become richer, deeper, more profound, more connected with your human relative life. That inner private space of being and outer human existence are no longer felt as two things, that illusion that there are two things. It’s actually ONE thing.

The more truthful you are, the deeper your sense of connection becomes. That exquisite feeling of spontaneous balanced flow feeling, all of you together, your internal division has come together. If you want to be divided, tell lies. You will feel conflicted inside. Sometimes overtly and sometimes very subtle.

Truth is a unifier. It brings the force of your psychology, your emotions together.

When it’s just truth, there’s something inside of you that comes deeply together.

This is not a direct translation of the YouTube recording. It is my paraphrased excerpts from Adyashanti’s talk titled, ‘What is Truth?

morning meditation

Light moves in and out water dropping from sky

It looks like rain 

but it’s just the wind shaking water off the leaves

I’m awake to see through my eyes

Quietly

I’m Aware

I contemplate, Where am I?  …..

Am I Really?

Until I know that

I know nothing

It’s just seeing trees, rain, birds, sunlight, out my window

Nothing is what I think it is

It’s beautiful

Everything is so much more than what
I think it is

But really I know nothing

Somehow I know everything 

meditation

so busy
doing this, doing that
mind flutter
going here, going there
distractions
ooooh yes, ooooh no
The month has been kind of hectic, and I’ve lapsed in my precious quiet sitting time.
So today, I took the time to sit in awareness …… of awareness.

“It is more useful and certainly easier  to think of meditation as the art of acknowledging what is already present. This can happen when you’re sitting in meditation, which is great, but you can also do it at any time. It takes only a few seconds to notice that awareness and quiet are always and already the background of every experience. Start with little moments of meditation – ten seconds, fifteen seconds – and repeat them during the day. Gradually do nothing but this acknowledgement practice for two, ten, twenty seconds, whatever- but do not turn it into a battle, and do not turn it into something that is frustrating or makes you feel defeated. These small moments of meditation can change what you are noticing. In a certain sense, you will be changing your consciousness, opening and beginning to observe and feel and sense into – become sensitive tothe sacred and the timeless. It may or may not start out that way the first time you do it, but the sacred and the timeless are always and already present. All we need to do is take a moment to notice, and that is what meditation is.”

excerpt from the most important thing, Adyashanti (italics and bold are mine)

 

 

 

as the world turns

“If you live for the things of this world, that’s all you’re gunna get”

Lavette Hawkins

sitting in padmasana, while floating in my aerial hammock

My morning meditation ensues

intuitive sense of being inwardly stable at the core

while my physical energy form is spinning around a quiet and still inner axis

I can intuit feeling how the earth must feel wobbling on its axis

I ask myself, what is true?

I sit in Silence

no audible answer arrives

just an awareness that I exist in this moment

is that not enough?

with clarity that the awareness of this moment is beyond my understanding

I remind myself that I can’t see anything for what it really is

but there is a strong pull to look deeply at ALL relationships today (after all, it’s 12/12)

the One and the Other, the circle and the diameter, the Self and God

and I practice the last four stages of Patanjali’s 8-fold path:

Pratyahara, withdrawal of the senses

Dharana, fixing the mind to a single point

Dhyana, focused meditation where the subject and object are fully aware of each other

Samadhi, subject and object recognize each other as the same, and become One

I rest with an inner knowing that there is nothing more valuable than this thing we call Life,

even in our misunderstandings, our seeming errors, our untrue beliefs, and our non-life-enhancing actions

even these mistakes are of value although we can’t comprehend it from this perspective

I remember and re-cognize that it’s the only thing that Exists (this thing we call Life),

and that it is without beginning and without end

because the only REAL relationship is Life eternally experiencing itself as Life

“Live your life. If you have a gospel of truth, share it. And if it is true others will hear it. Be the good shepherd, and those that are supposed to hear your voice will hear it.”

Derrick, global witness