All posts by Laura

About Laura

Near-death experiences and Mystical moments throughout my life have never let me forget that life is much bigger than the ever-evolving personal Identity I spend time polishing. A humbling and full-filling recognition. One that has me wishing to find a community of like-minded/hearted individuals who wish to explore life beyond the limits of enculturation and the narcissistic needs of the separate self. From there, my experience is that we learn a whole different paradigm of communication that honours the deeper Truths of our nature and the holiness of the space between us.

From Silence Practice to Inner Constellations & Sound

(This Chart may only be used with prior permission from Laura Madsen)

Silence Practice classes have increasingly focused on refining our capacity for inner-awareness through deep listening and attunement. As this function stabilizes in the group dynamic, subtle energy-movements in our nervous system become palpable and increasingly conscious. The Inner Constellation Mobile (ICM) below emerged in the most recent Silence Practice series as a map of the sacred territory of our inner life. The ICM is a simple map of the movement of two basic energy-systems within our nervous system. With a willing awareness, these movements are physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually perceptible.

This shift in Silence Practice focus is effective immediately.

Basically there are two nervous systems in the body that constantly inform us: the conditioned nervous system (through Inner-Constellations of culture, family, and human history); and the unconditioned potential  of the Soul’s movement through the Inner-Constellations of spaciousness and listening.

Both of these movements are experiential when we learn to slow down thinking and become energetically-attuned through deep listening. Both experiences “feel real.” When the conditioned nervous system is experienced as energy rather than an unconscious impulse, our nervous system experiences increased spaciousness.  This movement opens us to the uncondtioned potential as new insights, generous/uplifting emotions, and/or trusting/open sensations in the body.

Many of our life-experiences are grounded in the conditioned nervous system, and are therefore habitual. Initially, slowing down to actually feel these can be disarming and uncomfortable. As a culture we are habituated to turn away from inner-discomfort, however subtle. This makes it difficult to sustain the unconditioned potential of the “Soul’s” movement within culture. Our success in this regard depends upon our ability to consciously “be with” conditioned aspects, and to listen (pray, open) to the higher dimensions of our Soul. In order to facilitate the integration of these energy-upgrades, indiviual and group Sound vibrations are an implicit part of the PhD research thesis.

The traditional word for the coherent movement of the ICM is Grace. It is where we experience “problems” as no longer being in the way because we experience them in relationship to a larger whole (of the Soul’s movement in God/Source). It is this movement that allows us to move beyond conditioning in a compassionate and spacious way.  When we no longer reject the pain of our human conditioning (in self or other), we become increasingly available for the movement of our Soul.

The ICM Map emerged at the end of the Spring 2018 Silence Practice series. I have experienced this Group Constellation practice as deceptively simple and powerfully transformative. As with all the previous Silence Practice series, I look forward to exploring this recent emergence with you. See lauramadsen.ca for the upcoming Class description.
with love,
Laura
For contact: Please leave a comment below or call 1(604) 222-4111

Entanglement & Spaciousness: The Delicate Dance of Embodiment

Painting by Keira Madsen

Much has percolated both personally and as a facilitator following the recent Fall Silence Practice series, “Restoring Structures in Consciousness.”

Firstly, I am grateful for the structure of exploration that each Silence Practice series seems to provide for myself and for other willing “pioneers.” The most sacred gift we can give each other lies in our courage and willingness to explore together “beyond habits of the known.”

What makes this gift sacred? Because it lies within the Mystery of our innate (known/ experienced) belonging in God/Source. Why are courage and willingness required? Because this gift also comes with the most rigorous challenge of all – the challenge of “meeting ourselves” exactly where we are.

What is challenging about “meeting ourselves” exactly where we are you might ask? After all, I am a nice person, my relationships are good, and I am happy most of the time. I rather like myself the way I am and others seem to as well … except, maybe sometimes … something deep within me surfaces that … mmmm … ????

That questioning is the entry-point for the timeless spiritual question: “Who Am I”?Indian saint Ramana Maharshi offered this inquiry to his disciples as a foundational practice.

Within this wholehearted spiritual question lies the opening to the spaciousness of an authentic inner Journey. This is where our willingness and courage emerge from a previously unknown source within us, and begins to grow. As Jesus said, it only takes a “mustard seed” (a small opening/beginning) to grow Faith (and Faith exists beyond the known).

Silence Practice is always a movement towards an already-present spaciousness within. If this spacious experience is one we wish to live our life through, then we begin to engage in an “embodied spiritual practice.” Only within the rigour of an embodied spiritual practice do we begin “meeting ourselves” exactly where we are. Here we experience the inevitable entanglements of the “conditioned” or “identified” self, and how much they are at play in our life. This is the land of “shadow” (Carl Young), the unconscious, the unseen aspects of the conditioned self, all the places where we have become entangled.

In a deeper spaciousness where embodiment is also a priority, we begin to see and experience patterns of energetic entanglement that we have been participating in unconsciously. Compounding our ability to see this level of unconscious participation, is our determined identification with these entanglements as us. So the letting-go nature of Silence Practice can feel like a death-practice, depending upon where our identification is focused.

This delicate dance between entanglement and spaciousness is the razor’s edge of an embodied practice. It requires a willingness to practice in the face of fear and resistance. If we do not face this, we are likely to choose a less embodied form of practice where we do not “meet ourselves,” but rather “escape ourselves.” It has been my experience that many people who speak about spiritual practice are referring to the latter.

If I do not understand and experience that the foundation of my entangled-self is a young place of self-preservation-at-all-cost, than I may also be unaware of its endless antics of camouflage and obfuscation when faced with the naked vulnerability of inner-spaciousness.

In order to restore these entangled structures, we must first meet them and touch them exactly where they are. This becomes possible with the natural relaxation of the nervous system and increased consciousness that spaciousness provides. Only within the generosity of inner-spaciousness does the delicate and beautiful dance of embodiment begin to unfold. It can feel miraculous.

I have learned again and again, in the past 7+ years of facilitation, that this is the reason that an embodied (grounded in and through the body) spiritual practice — by its very nature — is one of deep humility and surrender. These two fundamental gate-posts of embodied spiritual practice, draw from us a willingness and courage that we didn’t know we had.

The delicate dance between entanglement and spaciousness has only one certitude: it will surprise, challenge, and delight you again and again — in increasingly new and subtle ways. In a very real sense, I am most own best student of Silence Practice. To use Richard Bach’s quote, “we teach best what we most need to learn.”

This fills my heart with gratitude. Namaste.

Please comment in the section below if you feel drawn to do so. An embodied practice is strengthened by engaging with others who share the same interest.

with love, Laura

Restoration as a Portrait of Innocence

7 year old Tara’s self-portrait

Let us perceive this self-portrait in the manner in which it was drawn: with simplicity and depth. What is its simplicity revealing? I see a portrait of Innocence that reveals volumes about our relationship with the mystery that we belong to. In times when we make ourselves available to the simplicity of Innocence, Restoration begins to flow — naturally.

The first thing we are likely to notice in the drawing is the overall openness of the body. The body is facing forward. There is nothing to hide. Innocence can trust the world because it does not view itself as separate from the world. This makes Innocence naturally available for receiving Higher-state Intelligences. These Intelligences are able to include (ground in) the manifest world, while simultaneously transcending it. (Being “in the world, but not of it.” John 15:19)

The hands are up and open. Even the individual fingers are shown as splayed open and available. The raised hands and open palms seem to be saying “There is no end to my openness.” All of this denotes a boundless trust in herself, which allows her to be available. And this allows her to have trust in the world around her. This child is happy to be relating to the world. Her heart radiates the smiling warmth of the sun, and she carries a smile on her face.

Tara chose to use a red coloured crayon — full of life force and positivity. Also, the red line depicting the body is seamless – with one flow-contact of crayon to paper, Tara expresses the unity she feels between herself and her body. She has used a denser colour red for the feet and legs., indicating a grounded quality. Her joy is embodied. The grounded quality is also emphasized in the saw-toothed shape of the dress hem.

There is a beautiful quality of vulnerability in Innocence. I believe that is where Jesus statement “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3) comes from. The Kingdom of heaven is nothing less than the Universal Sun manifesting through our own Heart — shining within us with such abundance that we naturally share it with the world around us.

And lastly, what happens in our body, emotions, and mind as we contemplate this drawing? Does our rational mind dismiss it as a “child’s drawing”? Or can we find a similar resonance in our body? If so, where do we feel this resonance? And what is the texture or quality of this resonance – hard, soft, flowing, tight, distant … allow this “portrait of Innocence” to touch you in whatever way it does in this moment.

Receiving (perceiving) Innocence requires the open availability of Innocence. The already-knowing of habitual structures in Consciousness  block the open perception of Innocence. However, it has been my experience that the practice of “being with” the (seemingly) solid structure of habit allows them to soften. The open willingness of Innocence meets these structures more skillfully than resistance or judgement or analysis. The simplicity and trust of Innocence is Restorative by nature. When we practice within a group field where the openness of Innocence is encouraged, we can feel a sort of “wonderment” open up within us.

Tara’s picture speaks to me about the unassuming nature of Innocence. The nature of Innocence is a magnet for attracting a flow of Grace — the natural conduit for Restorative energy. Thérèse of Lisieux addresses the effect of Innocence when she says that “it is enough to recognize one’s nothingness and to abandon oneself, like a child, into God’s arms.” Innocence is the part of us that is willing to “abandon” even our most “sticky” structures (of already-knowing) in order to Rest in Stillness.

“Restoring Structures in Consciousness” (the Fall SP series) begins to happen within the “letting go” nature of resting “in Silence.” Even a few precious moments of encountering the mystery of our depth in Stillness can be life-altering. Our relationship with depth can be life-altering because the conditioned structures in our Psyche (body-mind) are literally bathed within the purity of this wholesome contact. From here, we encounter an “emergent Intelligence” where nothing is expected, and much is revealed.

Even as I write this Blog post I experience the generous flow of this Intelligence. It influences both my body and mind. I feel relaxed and awake. Habitual distractions recede. A natural gratitude flows from my heart and into my throat, tears begin to collect in my eyes as an Inner Beauty reveals herself.

If you are interested in exploring in the “Vancouver” or “Virtual” groups Fall series (beginning Tuesday & Wednesday), please see http://lauramadsen.ca For private sessions please see http://lauramadsen.ca/private-sessions/

Namaste friends, Comments or questions are welcome below.

Restoring Structures in Consciousness

Art by Keira Madsen

As we choose again and again to re-align ourselves with the depth and spaciousness of Inner Silence, “structures in consciousness” naturally begin to reveal themselves. These structures within which we co-habit could be described as “constellations,” “unconscious energy-agreements,” or “morphogenic fields.”

However we choose to name them, our awareness of these structures is key to their restoration. Learning to simply “be with” the emotional, mental, and physical flavours inherent within these constellations can be a challenging practice. Intentional group practice is an ideal place for this Awareness to surface within us. It broadens our capacity for relational wholeness and depth. Conversely, lacking an of awareness of these influences tends to create fractured relationships and distance.

Our most influential constellations are established in childhood as “family constellations” and “cultural constellations.” As a result they can “feel” quite “normal” to us. (i.e., That is what life is and who I am.) We wear them naturally until we begin to realize that these constellations have a momentum of their own within which we have unconsciously participated.

Witnessing — sans judgement or reactivity — the powerful influence these patterns carry within ourselves and the collective fields we share, is a pivotal experience for both our spiritual and human development. While we respect their influence as part of our human history, and therefore our connection to our ancestors and the human condition, we begin to recognize that they are not the only story. To our surprise and delight, we discover that our increased ability to witness and presence these “structures in consciousness” is, in fact, a gateway to a Whole New Story.

The inspiration for birthing any new story throughout human history has never arisen from recipes of the “already known.” They often emerge from a spacious willingness to be influenced by something (yet) “unknown.” As we engage more regularly in the spaciousness of Silence Practice, a natural relaxing of these habitual structures occurs. Sitting still with these habits is similar to a detoxification that also activates deeper structures in Consciousness. I tend to feel this in the body as an increased sense of “place” in this moment, or an “easeful sense of belonging,” or “a flow sensation” in my body. When I work with private clients in “staying with” and “touching into” these structures, they also experience contact with them in a similar fashion. Practice like this within a group is especially powerful.

The spacious Awareness of Inner Silence grows an “experiential Perception” that emerges as a willingness to “make contact” with “what is.” The Beauty of a non-reactive “Witnessing Presence” begins to emerge in our awareness. The influence of this contact  is profound. It grows a particular capacity for Intimacy within our Heart. We notice from time to time, that we are “hearing and seeing” (responding) differently — no longer from patterns of separation, denial, or fear. or  The serene clarity of the Witnessing Presence allows deeper contact with “structures in consciousness” within ourselves first, and eventually with the world around us.

With the willingness to practice, habitual “structures in consciousness” appear less finite and real when they are witnessed within a spacious consciousness. Experiencing that these “structures in consciousness” are a conditioned or learned response and not the only reality often evokes a sense of lightness. We can have the distinct feeling that we have somehow broken through — or at least glimpsed — a different reality. Fairy tales and myths compare the limitations of these “structures in consciousness” to casting a spell.” Seeing the “spell” or habit with increased clarity allows us to move within a more spacious awareness.

As the Constellation or Structure in Consciousness becomes less fixed or solid, we find that we have more energy for exploring new territory. This is the energy of Restoration. It is a natural consequence of the “letting go” action of Silence Practice, and the discovering of the Witnessing Presence within.

The 10-week Fall Practice Series will focus on the relationship between the Spaciousness of Silence and the Restoration of Structures in Consciousness. For more detail and to register, please go to the Group Sessions menu or lauramadsen.ca. Early registration with 20% discount ends on August 29.

Namaste, Laura

Birthing Potential

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I had just turned 18 and left home for the first time, when I began to have regular sensations of being “energetically pregnant” with an “unknown potential.” Perhaps this sounds just as strange in 2016, as I judged it to be in 1972. The primary attribute of its strangeness came as an unbearable optimism that I could find little grounds for in my life at the time. How could I place my trust in something that was so unlike the reality consensus that I had come to know as “life”?

Not unlike a physical pregnancy, this strong energy in the cellular core of my body/being felt vital and engaging. It seemed to want to come into being  (be “born”) through me. Its essence was one of profound intimacy, and unspeakable joy and beauty. (Many pregnant women in supportive situations, will experience some awareness of their participation in a deeply personal,  joyous — and yet, mysteriously unknowable undertaking.)

Although this “feeling-pregnant-energy” was part of me — and full of promise and positivity — it felt foreign to everything I had come to understand about life and who I was. This made it an especially inconvenient exploration for an 18 year old. I was incapable of giving myself over to something I had so little understanding of — or external support for — at the time. So I tried my best to dial it down, and live life “normally.” My (very social) upbringing left me with a strong impression that one finds meaning by contributing through the established social order — never outside of it. In my early twenties, I even had recurring dreams about trying desperately to “fit in.” Unfailingly, the dream-characters would gently, but firmly, guide me towards the unchartered terrain within the dream scape.

Forty-four years later,  I understand this encounter to be a mystical experience. From a mystical perspective, this type of energetic/psychic experience is not uncommon or strange. A mystic always rides the unchartered froth at the edges of ordinary (conditioned) consciousness. As such, the mystic experiences “seeing and knowing” beyond the accepted (social/political) world-views of their time. This can make birthing mystical ways of relating into a materially-based world painfully confusing, and highly inconvenient — to put it mildly.

In order to birth their intuitive spiritual knowing, a mystic requires a grounded and integrated vessel (psychological, emotional, and mental alignment) that can sustain the rigours of “birthing the mystery.” For most of us living in a culture of first-world materialism, a supportive “external structure” is necessary to stabilize  the birthing and maturation of this “emergent energy.”

A sangha (spiritual community) recognizes that mystical truths are “birthed through” us, rather than “added onto” the already-known cultural, familial, political structures. This is the main emphasis for each of the Silence Practice series: the practice of “knowing” through discovering our shared depth and mutual capacity for higher-relatedness. As we learn to rest in, and relate from,  the innate mystical knowledge that we are primarily spiritual beings, habitually conditioned reflexes begin to recede.

We are ALL connected to this potential — whether we have directly experienced it or not. It is with great delight that I have been discovering that we can learn to communicate with each other “within this potential” that is wanting expression through us.  When we are willing to be still and see/hear/know beyond our own mental-emotional limits of fear and judgement,  something creative and new is born within us AND between us.

One of the most outstanding characteristics of this “unborn” potential is generosity. “It” only wants to give itself away … completely … infinitely … and precisely (uniquely through each individual). When we follow this impulse and trust it, we discover a boundless energy that delights in re-discovering itself within every life-form it encounters — again and again. The more It gives itself, the greater its capacity to receive more of “Itself.” There is no such thing as burnout in the birthing of our Divine Natures.

Until we learn to birth this innate potential,  and mobilize it in our lives, it is difficult to be in a fully trusting (open) relationship with Life. When life is lived through defense and fear, our lives remain foreign to us. We somehow stand outside of them, becoming strangers in an even stranger land. When we habitually deny our potential to birth our True Nature, we also pollute the birthing environment of our Collective Potential.

What does this birthing potential require? It requires sincere intention, steadfastness (daily practice in stillness), trust, willingness to share and discover with others — and ultimately, surrendering to the process of birthing something beyond what we have previously defined as “life.” Without birthing the potential of our mystical sensibilities, we remain strangers in the strange land of a conditioned-self. Until we are willing to discover our depth, and meet others who are also willing to discover theirs, we remain under the roof of conditioned life-habits — perhaps feeling safe, but not truly alive.

Together, we can create a new reality between us that is capable of holding a trusting space for birthing the Mystery that we are. As our world becomes increasingly global, we more than ever need stable vessels and spiritually based practice-communities to birth our individual and collective potential..

I would encourage you to post any comments and/or reflections below. Such sharing is valuable for all readers of this Blog. Namaste.

Stillness Within

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By Keira Madsen 2015

Stillness Within: A Communal Intelligence

In moments of deep stillness, it would seem that Silence surfaces from the deepest recesses of our being. By some mysterious hand of unspeakable ease, Silence offers a Knowing Intelligence that gently lifts us far beyond habits of an individuated “self.” Within a field beyond time and space, there is an inclusiveness that shatters self-imposed limitations. In these moments, I have experienced “a new world” that is both fierce and gentle: fierce in its uncompromising clarity, and gentle in its compelling generosity.

As wonderful as this sounds — and is — I also experience times of painful resistance to the direction of this authentic practice. During these times, I am torn between the desire to stake a personal claim within this field of generosity; and a deeper Knowing that everything turns to dust within its landscape.

The extraordinary edge to this Communal Intelligence is that everything belongs. Everything. Even my desire to personally manipulate it belongs. The paradoxical realization that even my egocentricity is a non-issue, brings with it a palpable heart-response that spills over into my entire body. I experience a fluid freedom that causes my body and psyche to relax. This generous field of “All is Well,” even within the struggle, must be what the mono-theistic traditions refer to as Faith, or Buddhism’s trust in the Dharma. The thrill of these mystical moments is augmented when shared in communion with others. There is no “teacher,” but rather a willingness to lean beyond our separative habits, into the communal nature of the Stillness  within.

This prose, written in December 2012, expresses some of the inclusive abundance of this Communal Intelligence, as well as my resistance to it — trying to hold on, to make the experience “something about me.” Like many of us, making life “something about me” has been encouraged and rewarded. And yet, mystical awakenings of deep connection far surpass any fulfillment I might experience within the separative paradigms we fiercely hold as reality. Deep Stillness awakens a Communal Intelligence that is uncompromisingly paradoxical: in both its glory, and in the ruthless mirror it holds before me. It shows me the nothingness of my Allness.

When I listen … deeply …

I am not alone.

Something echoes through my being,

like a distant memory …

It speaks of endless time,

 endless tenderness, endless generosity.

As I sit alert, ever more still in response to this energy,

wave after wave of Reality washes through my heart,

which is becoming The Heart,

and I lose track of the identity that entered the experience.

No wonder I have been avoiding Silence Practice lately.

It is no longer about me.

It can no longer be about me …

It is now about Love,

And Love’s story is not about me.

I don’t like the lost feeling when life is not about me,

so I make ugly scenarios in my mind.

I make things up about how much better or worse I am than others,

or what they must be thinking about me.

I really don’t believe any of it, but it keeps me busy enough

to distract me from being nothing

in this dynamic field of Love.

Love …

uncompromising, and yet wildly compelling;

disorienting, and yet gloriously up-lifting.

One can never find the separate-self identity here.

It is burned beyond recognition.

The fire of Love is strong,

uncompromising,

Liberating beyond comprehension,

and utterly unshakable.

Nothing exists but Her …

nothing

ever

did.

Scriptural References

“When a man knows the solitude of silence, and feels the joy of quietness, he is then free from fear and he feels the joy of the dharma” (Buddha)

“Be Still and Know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

Permeability

FT-Wheel-HEAD

Over the course of the last weekly Silence Practice group, the recognition of our need for “permeability” evolved quite naturally. People began to recognize their availability for something beyond the conditioned mind and heart. Like a stain-glass window, many of us began to sense our unique colour (essence) becoming more permeable to the light.

Relating to Silence through our personal willingness to “let go” into stillness, makes us more and more transparent to Divine influence. When we begin to taste (experience) the profound effects of “being permeated,”  our spiritual eyes open and we are able to see the Divine Light in another — even when they may be blind to it themselves!

The result of increasing permeability is a transformational alchemy that opens us to the experience of our true nature: which has never been — or ever could be — separate from Love. It is impossible to know this if our heart is closed by habits of unwillingness. The simple directness of Love, makes a closed heart is impermeable.

When defended habits bind the heart, we succumb to increasing levels of spiritual blindness. A classic “catch 22” situation can develop, whereby we defend our defences through constant (unconscious) habits — usually rooted in fear. We eventually become twisted in our denial habits — to the point where we will strike-out when the truth is spoken.

Many times in the Hebrew Bible ( Old Testament), “God’s people” are described as stiff-necked and/or hard-hearted. This is a story of the human condition. It is an eternal story. It is therefore a story that we cannot ignore. If we do, we do so at our own peril.  The myriad forms of global crisis are fueling a deep calling to live life from a higher dimension of conscious-relatedness.

It is profoundly humbling to recognize where we have become stiff-necked and hard-hearted.  But it is this same humility which grows our permeability — our willingness to be influenced by higher states of Consciousness.

The inter-permeability of higher states of Consciousness, makes it the only reliable path to recovering our true nature in God and in Love. Unless we experience the orchestration of  Love’s Intelligent movement within and between us, we remain stiff-necked and hard-hearted.

The defended ego likes to talk about surrender and humility, but until ego learns to be permeable, it will remain on the outside of Love. What does it take to permeate the hardened walls of a heart wounded by pride, shame, or fear? Like many, I have tried to “Love from the outside” by living up to ideals that I thought supported Love. But, ideals and concepts don’t permeate. They don’t foster the surrendered nature of the “permeable ego.” Only the permeable ego can be present in Love.

Love doesn’t need support. It needs our surrender. Surrender comes from being on the inside of Love, whereas support carries the dangerous illusion that we are somehow outside of love and able to orchestrate It! This is the primary trespass of ego-pride, and widespread in our Western culture. This creates spiritual blindness, especially within New Age spiritual movements and “liberated” Churches.

So what is to be done? What does freedom from our pride (stiff necks) and defense (hard-hearts) look like?  How do we find others who are truly interested in being transformed by Love, rather than discussing It as though it were some kind of object? How do we recognize the presence of such true Love within our relationships?

Somehow, we need to come together to practice a way of relating that is aligned with our True Nature. When we are able to be still within ourselves, we are in relationship with the Depth of Silence. This Depth is a place of undivided reality. It is not separate from the unmanifested or the manifested. The experience of this Oneness does not compute in the ordinary thinking mind with which most of us are heavily identified.

The courage it takes to be willing to practice relating from Depth cannot be overestimated. It is truly the most profound gift we can give to each other. The courage to recognize that we belong here together,  within an Intelligence of Universal Love, comes through the activation of the Permeable Heart.

The Permeable Heart is activated when we are willing to not-know. When we are more interested in discovery and inquiry then we are in defending a particular position. With time and practice, it is my experience and observation that this is when the heart begins to be permeable. We then see the world through softer eyes, which can take in the world through the heart’s compassion. It is not something we do, it is something we experience when we let go of “doing.”

It is with great delight that I have discovered my mind is also permeable! Drop by drop, like an IV-drip, the Universal Heart begins to enter and expand the personal heart-mind. Stiff-necked and hard-hearted habits begin to yield to higher influences.  We begin to truly live, and to live truly. We have become permeable to Love.

By Whose Authority?

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By whose authority do daffodils bloom?

By what magnificent hand do the soft petals of my heart respond?

One of the most challenging hurdles to spiritual transformation is the transition from “looking externally,” to “knowing (experiencing) internally.” Here, inside of that experience, there is no dogma or ideology to protect us from direct experience. The potential blossoming of our innate belonging to the whole (holiness) has space to bloom (know itself ).

When we are still, the heart has space to respond. Habits of self-concern recede. We step into a field of Consciousness that “transcends and includes” (Ken Wilber). In the Evolutionary Collective (evolutionarycollective.com) practices, we call this “being on the inside.”

Centuries of soiling Scripture with layers of dogma, has made it largely inaccessible as a “living word” (access point for direct experience). Secular groups who wish to connect “within wholeness” rather than “from conditioning,” are creating new languages to express their experiences of connection within and through Source. Scriptural phrases such as  “the kingdom of God” become “being on the inside.” Both describe something far more vast than the enmeshed conditioning of our separate selves.

I did not grow up going to church regularly, and my first exposure to Scripture came through a Bible study course at age 13. I literally “heard” Scripture through direct experience. The teacher and I continued to read Scripture together weekly, after all the other students withdrew. Each week, a golden Presence flooded the room — my body felt alive and resonant, I felt lifted and upheld, and unspeakably peaceful. Because of this profound experience,  I read the Bible each night for the next three years. How could I not? The mysterious “golden Presence” was a regular visitor. I felt at home and unafraid. At the time, nothing within me resisted it.

With no cultural or religious structure to help integrate this experience, being “on the inside” (of this vast intimacy), left me unable to ground it in everyday life.  Normal activities continued like a distant busyness around me, but my true life was on the inside of this magnificent field — appearing at night, and holding me through the day. I remember having no condemnation or judgement whatsoever — even though I knew my peers would not relate. It seemed that I was held “on the inside” of … something … more real than life.

Like many, I have learned to layer over such vulnerable openings to God/Spirit/Source. Perhaps because not doing so guaranteed becoming a cultural and/or religious “outcast.” Today, an overpowering impulse to share these words runs through me. We need to help each other remember. My deepest wish is to commune with others who also deeply wish to step beyond fear-filled habits of separateness. By engaging in this activity and exploration, we challenge the dark authority of collective and individual shadow, and its paradigm of suffering.

Relying solely on our private meditations and religious belief-paradigms cannot effectively challenge collective fear patterns. Our collective and individual shadows hide out behind unchallenged fear. From here, we resist making inroads into the shared mystery of our mutual belonging. Our only agenda is preserving the self that we have been conditioned to “think” we are.

Nonetheless, through courage and willingness, we practice dialoguing from within the truth of our inherent non-separation. Our pain becomes One pain, our Joy becomes One Joy. We slowly learn to relax and listen beyond our fear and its entourage of needs. The mind discovers alignment with the heart and its deepest Yearnings.

Internet is highlighting global teachers of this paradigm Consciousness shift. Last month, I was on a teleconference with spiritual teacher Thomas Hubl. Our number was 5,400 from around the world. I Skype weekly with a Korean woman. Her Yearning reflects my own. She calls me “sister.” She laughs at my un-integrated bits of “shadow” that surface. She cried with relief at recognizing the profound trust emerging between us.

Relating to another from within the wholeness of our being changes EVERYTHING. Where there once was mechanistic (i.e., unconscious) distancing, there is only the thrilling recognition of our awakened (liberated) hearts. There is no fear from this place of being “on the inside” or “within the Kingdom” because nothing stands outside of it. Because we choose to communicate from within the already-whole dimension of our being, false structures of authority — both internal and external — reveal their lack of substance.

Like Dorothy and her friends, we discover the Great Oz is a sham. We have been bowing to an external authority that only exists in our conditioned minds! Unchallenged fear has been the authority — collectively and personally. Our global crisis is its most visible manifestation.

But we continue to practice … together … because we have tasted the Divine within and between us. This field of mutuality carries the divine potential to birth “heaven on earth.” We are willing to be shaped, and orchestrated, by something unknowable and yet devastatingly intimate.

Relax and listen my friends. “Be Still and Know.” Something mysterious and wonderful is touching the soft petals of our hearts.

Namaste.

 

Backdoor Revelations

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Over time, the “letting go” nature of Silence Practice begins to yield “backdoor revelations.” And nothing quite prepares us for the immediate freshness of one of these transparent (open) moments. It is like discovering hidden treasures in the most unlikely places or times.

In the heightened mood of a backdoor revelation, we find ourselves in relationship to the world in radically different ways; while being more grounded and present than ever! Backdoor encounters have the paradoxical nature of being both simultaneously natural and new. While feeling deeply relaxed and at home, we also feel a sense of emergence. Something has awakened that I wasn’t aware of before.

Our absorbing frontal-self, with its accompanying world views and mental habits, leaves little space for emerging awarenesses. But through sincere and regular practices of stillness and authentic communication, we build awareness “sensitivities” within the body, and the subtle energy fields around us and between us. We learn to trust the process of leaning in to what we “don’t know,” rather than falling backwards into conditioned patterns of  already-knowing.  We do this on and off the cushion. We practice in every moment we remember. We don’t expect outcome, but we are resolute.

And yet … in the wake of a backdoor experience, we see that nothing prepares us for the vastness of that experience.  Because … a backdoor revelation takes everything we have previously “believed” about the “how-to’s, where-fores, and there-fore’s,” and turns them on their presumptuous heads. That is the simple purity of backdoor action — direct, uncomplicated, and impersonal. And did I mention devastatingly humbling?

Jesus spoke about the first being last and the last being first. He also spoke about the meek inheriting the earth. He never endorsed the known — the power structure — personally, culturally, or religiously. Backdoor revelations displace power structures in every life-facet. In many ways, Jesus’ subversive parables are reminiscent of a Crazy Wisdom teacher. He undermined cultural and religious structures almost constantly. If he were alive today, I am sure our narcissistic ideologies (secular,religious, and spiritual) would become targets for his sharp tongued uncompromising  commitment to Love.

Jesus also spoke of many being called, but few being chosen. I sense that there is a deep calling in many of us, and those “chosen” become servants to the unknown future-of-our- divine-becoming — however reluctantly that may manifest at times. (Even Jesus showed reluctance in the final hours of Gethsemane.) Servants of the not-yet-here future are pulled from familiar or recognizable paths and ways of living, into something far beyond their personal habits or “bucket list.” They are given something far more fulfilling, and yet infinitely more demanding.

The demand is for nothing less than everything. The parable of the rich man not being able to enter the kingdom of heaven addresses the reversal inherent in the backdoor landscape. Our Western tendency to live on steroids of self importance is living “richly.” This creates a certain psychic/emotional/intellectual “fatness” that removes us from direct relationship with Life. Over time, the practice of  “letting go” and choosing to align with stillness and silence, teaches us to travel lightly with our opinions, judgements, and fears — no matter how precious or founded.

The refining process of being “chosen” into servanthood, eventually means that we are available to listen more reliably from a holistic/deeper/higher dimension of Self. We become effective servants for the greater evolution of  God/Self Consciousness. We become increasingly able to see and act from beyond the slings and arrows of the personal dimension. For example, when we are offended, we refrain from throwing stones, and take 100% responsibility for what we are feeling. Moreover, we do this willingly because we know that our life — our True Life — depends upon it. As Crazy Wisdom teacher, Lee Lozowick (d. 2010) would say: “Practice like your hair’s on fire.” When we have nothing left to defend, everything can live through us. We are free to live fully engaged because nothing stands between us and the movement of life.

The evolution of consciousness into higher/more inclusive dimensions is a backdoor affair. Any knowing before hand, or intellectual prowess that might try to lead the way, needs to be released in the uncompromising rigour of backdoor revelations. The mystics paint images with their words, but they do not create very much for us to hang on to. At best, they leave a trace … a fragrance … that lingers long enough for us to realize that we’re being called by a divine reality — distant, but strangely familiar.

Backdoor Revelations might read like this:

1. We do the preparing, Grace does the choosing.

2. Backdoors are hidden when we lose ourselves to front door living only.

3. The backdoor revelation is the Truth of our Heart. We discover that we are home.

4. When we have “steeped” enough in Truth, only the backdoor exists.

5. Backyard discoveries “include,” no matter what habits of fear & judgement  “conclude.”

6. Shared Truth has always been stronger than Separate Suffering.

7. Backdoor realities are relaxing, uplifting, and aligning.

8. We are where we are going.

 

The Call of the Wild Heart

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Again, I was awakened this morning between 4:30 & 5:00 AM by the clarion call.  And again, I lay in bed for 45 minutes convincing myself that I needed more sleep. But sleep is impossible when the heart awakens. With this realization, I surrendered to the magnificent Beauty that seemed to be flowing from “my” heart centre.

Where does this come from? Who does it belong to? And what is it within me that could ever resist such Beauty? Choosing sleep over this? I find my body in a state of breathless  anticipation — like the delightful anticipation of meeting a lover, sensing that something is about to happen that is mysteriously beyond both of us. And so we lean in and make ourselves available … to the mystery. Beyond all common sense or reason: we trust in the unseen, in what has not yet fully shown itself.

I lean into the thrilling nature of this Wild Heart. My whole body feels awake.  The bottoms of my feet feel like they’ve been slapped. They vibrate and tingle. My thinking mind trys to make sense of the experience: “Not “my” heart, and yet it lives within my heart. How could it be my heart calling me beyond myself? A call going far beyond even my loftiest ‘ideas’ of enlightenment, and any self-constructed limitations of what is possible and real.”

The nature of the Wild Heart is untameable by religious tradition or secular culture.  It has a language and law all its own. Its wild unpredictability frightens me. The “me” that I identify with has no way to find its ground here. Niceties and norms fall flat. Father Thomas Keating refers to the “Divine Indwelling.”  This certainly resonates with what I am feeling. While it is not good to get stuck on definitions, it is important to name experiences.  Naming helps us grow in understanding because we are reasoning creatures. It helps us to integrate divine beauty through awareness. Like many, I have strong tendencies to claim divine experiences as my own.  To pump myself up with importance because I have “tasted” (“Taste and See that the Lord is Good” – Psalm 34:8). I have found this habit to be devastating to the alive relationship with the Wild Heart. Surrender is the only way, and then learning to listen.

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For the most part, I have let fear run my life.  Fear of being nobody, fear of not fitting in, fear of disapproval and being misunderstood. So I have turned away from the Wild Heart, the Divine Indwelling,  and the deadliest fear of all — I have claimed “Divine Tastes” as my own. But even while I have chosen to remain small and safe, throughout my life, people have continuously seen through my “straw-woman-smallness” and expressed their appreciation of who they “saw” me to be. And yet, for the most part, I have still defended against the beauty of the Wild Heart and its abundant gift of undefended freedom. Jesus taught from the Wild Heart. He also taught how to have relationship with it: “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it” (Mt. 10:39).

With 6 years of focus on the philosophy and practice of Silence behind me, habits of denial and fear are slowly weakening. I can feel it. Instead of shutting down with fear, I am simply being present with it. Such a simple practice, and yet with so much power. It seems that the Wild Heart has no problem with fear!

I am also discovering groups of people here, and around the world (internet is amazing), who are willing to learn to relate in ways that allow for the untameable Beauty, Truth, and Goodness to emerge within and between us. With time, we learn to operate from courage and trust, allowing us to bypass individual and collective fear patterns. We relax into ways of participating in something deeper/higher than the separate-self and its illusion of safety. Our willingness counts a lot. Our willingness to get out of bed at 5 AM and write a Blog Post. Our willingness to lose our life in the stillness, so that we can come alive in the Wild Beauty of the untamed Heart.

Namaste