Blade like gashes bleeding through my stomach line. It’s the fifth day of the ten day vipassana meditation retreat and the only thoughts I can think are, “When in the world are these stomach pains going to go away. I am not even eating that much here. Should I not eat lunch? Should I eat normally and not give a f*ck? Am I manifesting this from anxiety? Holy shit, this is f*cking up my meditation.” The next day. “Am I being strict enough about food? Am I creating enough new habits for when I get back so I’ll have eating ‘perfectly’ under control? OMG why is food fogging up my meditation!” The next day. “This is so distracting. Why in the world is the meditation hall next to the dining hall? Now I am thinking about food again. OMG! Hold up! Wait! The food IS the meditation! The gut pain IS the meditation! The food anxiety IS the pathway to peace! It is the bridge to know thyself! There is nothing distracting me. The thoughts, anxiety, and drumming beat in my chest is pure sacredness. Every time the anxiety arises I can choose to resist or hold it within tender kindness.” This revelation penetrated through my being, into my bone. Finally I understood the essence of true meditation.
For the longest time I believed life, addictions, and the neurotic mind was ‘blocking’ me from being present. I wondered when I would be able to sit through an entire meeting without being distracted. When my to-do list would simmer down so I could be more in the now. When I could carve out two hours a day for meditation so I could finally train my mind. But even during a hundred plus hour meditation retreat, the thoughts don’t stop, it is always something else the mind fixates on. The thoughts are not what are distracting. What is distracting is being so entangled in them. Not seeing them as a perfect teacher on how to surrender to this moment as it is. Not befriending them and instead abandoning them by believing we or life ‘should’ be some other way. We can’t stop our intrinsic thoughts from screaming and shouting. We are inherently powerless over our thoughts, emotions, people, and situations in life- but what were not powerless over is how we choose to respond. We are not powerless over witnessing, feeling, accepting, embracing, and welcoming everything that comes our way. Meditation is the art of acceptance. It is non-resistance. It is trusting each moment’s divine intelligence and perfection. It is the return home over and over again. Moment by moment. To the queen and king’s throne of awareness.
Everything has wisdom in it if we allow ourselves to see it differently. The obstacles are the path themselves. Darkness is love in disguise, it is love desiring to know itself again as if it was the very first time. Every relationship holds up a mirror to witness our patterns. Every situation holds a message if we sit long enough to take a pause. The world persuades us to believe that the presence of God is something outside of the sensations within our bodies. We are taught duality. Low vibrations, high vibrations. Good thoughts, bad thoughts. Delightful situations, horrible situations. But what if they are all intelligent guides, walking us back home to the presence and warmth of love? Believing God could be anything outside of moment by moment experience is a misguided myth. It is the story of separation itself. Spirit is the now. Believing It could be anywhere else but here, is false. It is the shadow dancing with light. It is awareness making love with sensation. It is presence noticing dynamic vibration.
Within each human being is an eternal stillness, a witnessing consciousness. When we create space to meditate we sink back into the seat of the soul, the royal golden throne. We notice the fluid wave like nature of life as if it is a movie screen being projected in front of us. We begin to see it from a higher perspective. We begin to know thyself. It starts to make sense that we are not our stories or past, we are the one who is watching and feeling them. To be human is to feel. Feel everything. Feeling is richness. Feeling is magic. Being totally immersed in our senses is why we came here. We are not meant to numb our emotions and no sensation is dumb. There is a book/movie called The Giver. In this story the society strips away feeling so they can be ‘safe’. One boy ends up receiving memories, feelings. He feels war, shedding, heartbreak, dancing- and remembers this is what life is about, no matter how much aching pain- feeling is what makes life worth living. He knows he cannot be numb anymore so he embarks on a courageous hero’s journey to save his town. He ends up bringing feeling back to his community so they can return home to their colorful heart, home to the intrinsic nature of being human.
When we feel fully we cant help but to shift energy. When energy is flowing harmoniously our sacred hearts begin to blossom open. Water is soft but feels forceful at times, this is a mirror of the heart expansion process. The shackles around our heart are sometimes torn off like a hurricane sweeping through our house, only to clean us out of everything that needs to be washed away. The more cleansed we are, the more we remember who we really are. The more we tap into our heart. Behind every feeling is love patiently waiting to know thyself. The intense ones come up when they finally feel safe and don’t have to hide. We can either abandon ourselves and reject the innocent emotions or we can embody who we really are, the sweet loving observer and welcome all.. Meditation opens up the golden gateway to love. To give love. Make love. Sing love. Dance love. Laugh with love. Ache with love. Suffer with love. Die with love. Be fully alive no matter what is present with love. In each moment we are gifted another miracle to remember our true Self.
As humans we have such a limited perspective of what love is. We believe love is on our side if we get what we want. If we feel good. If there is no tension. If things are easy. We end up living from idiot’s compassion. We lack boundaries because we are afraid someone won’t think we love them. We lie instead of being authentic in the name of ‘love’. Love is sometimes like the hurricane although. What if love is the greatest high in the entire world, but it takes a bloody mess of death? What if it activates depression, deep rest, in order to discover a devotion deeper than the ocean? What if love is the process of destruction? What if love is ripping everything you thought you were and wanted to shreds in order to know the sweet innocence that lies within? What if love feels like a boulder on your back, a shattering and crack in your chest, in order to break you open genuine compassion? In this raw and tender space there often is no other choice but to turn inwards, ask for help, and get on your knees to pray for another way. Maybe when things don’t feel easeful, joyful, and colorful it is because you have distanced yourself from genuine love. Maybe you are being redirected so you can know a love deeper, sweeter, and more pleasurable than anything you have ever before.
The Jungian analyst Robert Johnson states “Sanskrit has ninety-six words for love; ancient Persian has eighty, Greek three, and English only one. This is indicative of the poverty of awareness or emphasis that we give to that tremendously important realm of feeling. Eskimos have thirty words for snow, because it is a life-and-death matter to them to have exact information about the element they live with so intimately. If we had a vocabulary of thirty words for love … we would immediately be richer and more intelligent in this human element so close to our heart. An Eskimo probably would die of clumsiness if he had only one word for snow; we are close to dying of loneliness because we have only one word for love.”
Love has many difference facets. So often when the face of lady death comes knocking, or tearing down, the door we fall into victim mentality and believe life is against us. Believe me, I have been there and still go there. The skulls, blood, and swords of death came knocking on my door with her full potency about two months ago. I prayed at my alter for two hours straight on the new moon and right after everything in my inner world felt as if it was crumbling like humpty dumptys wall. I had no motivation to do anything and constantly was questioning the purpose of life. It felt like I had no love in my heart, and I never felt so distant from my highest self. I became so afraid I was spiraling backwards. I was unconscious of the brilliant reorganization process my being was experiencing. I was unaware there was an untangling of the skeletons in my closet so I could return to a state of integration, wholeness, and purity. I went to the vipassana meditation retreat hoping I would come home feeling on fire and ineffably empowered. But when I arrived home there was still an inexplicable heaviness weighing me down, as if I had 50 pound dumbbells in my backpack. On top of still feeling dark there was about a million (okay I am over exaggerating just a wee bit) but seriously A-LOT, of intense situations thrown at me right away. I feel deeper into a depression because of my inability to ‘keep up’ with what I learned at the retreat.
One of the main teachings of vipassana meditation is awareness and equanimity. To observe sensations in the body without aversion and without craving. Simply being with whatever arises, reality as it is, with pure loving presence. When I arrived home I was well aware the- broken phone, no money in my bank account, internet not working for weeks, and passport drama- was all my guru, but it felt like too much for my nervous system to handle. I felt like a ‘failure’ because I couldn’t stay equanimous moment by moment. But what if not staying neutral with intense shit is part of the intelligent process itself? What if break downs don’t happen on accident? What if resistance to what is is just as holy as not reacting? What if we can be so gentle and sweet with ourselves for being human? What if we can trust the intelligence of each moment to deliver exactly what we need, our only duty is to stay kind to self no matter how we show up? What if true equanimity was being okay with the overall experience of me crashing after returning? What if wisdom always comes after we nurture ourselves with kindness?
There is nothing that comes our way on accident. What’s in the way is the way. What is challenging is the miracle, it’s the juiciest growth lessons. It is what matures our being and ripens the darkness into light. Maybe I needed to fall into a deeper darkness after the retreat for the lessons my soul had to receive? Maybe we don’t need to figure out what’s happening all we have to do is show up for life with the commitment to rise like the phoenix from the ashes over and over again. Mediation is constantly coming back to the revelation that it is all perfect.
The nature of being human is suffering. Weaving and integrating the threads of our loving eternal witnessing consciousness and our impermanent dynamic embodied existence is the practice and essence of meditation- of being human. In meditation we remember each moment is fleeting- the joy, the sorrow, the vulnerability, the anxiety, the inspiration- each sensation stays just for a moment in time. Meditation is a way of life. It is not just sitting criss cross apple sauced on a fluffy cushion. It is a way about moving through the world. It is noticing the colors, even in the garbage can.It is noticing when you don’t see any colors and being okay with that. It is noticing the prickling, tingly, sticky sensation within the chest when you feel embarrassed about a text you just sent. Meditation is discovering beauty in the ordinary. The beauty within pain. It is the essence of beauty. It is experiencing life as if it is a canvas you are painting. Every experience that comes your way is your paint. The uncovered wisdom brings life to the canvas and becomes your life story to help others. Meditation is becoming aware of how life is always communicating through everything. It is an intimacy with life itself. It is vibrant aliveness within every sensation. It is a mad love affair with mamma’s life/death/life cycle. It is the space where the immortal meets the mortal. The eternal gently holds hands with the dying. The blind experiences the miracle of sight. It is the process of coming back to life. Meditation is what breathes purpose into existence.
Action: Work with the mantra welcome. Every time an ‘unwanted’ vistor arises welcome them, for they are guests at your house.
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