Posted by: bgreenwell | December 28, 2016

Awakening the Light in Troubled Times

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I am looking at the ocean in Santa Cruz on an unusally bright December day and many sparks of light are dancing over the surface. In the great depths below much activity is likely happening, but all I can see is the grey-blue rippling surface and thousands of dots of light, resting below a greyish pink sky so that the world from this view is simply a peaceful and sparkling watercolor.

As we move through a world that has many troubles, among people with worries and sorrow, we hold a potential to be a spark of light in the grey, the one who can reach out and be a friend, or a helping hand or a smile. Beneath the surface much may be going on but still that potential for light is always there. I believe non-duality is about the light available in the darkness, the wholeness of One  alive and bright ocean within the apparent separation.

Those who are spiritual “seekers” sometimes get their lives out of balance. The very longing to know Truth or God or “What is it all about?” demands a kind of passionate focus that can disturb all the normal rhythms of a life, along with slowly destabilizing the conditioned identity. We can begin to feel isolated, lonely and misunderstood, and withdraw from the opportunity to interact with others.

Perhaps your longing for Truth or awakening arose because of dissatisfaction with the cultural mindset , or because of difficulty in facing ordinary challenges of living in an intense and competitive world, or possibly you just came into the world wondering from a young age what life was all about. In some cases a major life event or a trauma or simply even a dream or a phrase in a book , can trigger the longing to know more. Although it sometimes feels like a desire to escape,  this is actually a longing to feel whole and intimate with all of life.

A few centuries ago you would have found your way to a monastery or ashram or temple to study the secret mysteries that could help you go so inward that you would move beyond yourself. Today all levels of practices and teachings, both valid and distorted, are sprouting up everywhere. No preparation required. Little understanding provided. It is easy to get lost and confused in the inner world and the phenomena it offers, and drift away from engagement with your humanity.

One of the challenges of awakened consciousness is seeing more clearly the insanity in much of human behavior, and choosing our response. We are likely the only species willing to destroy our own environment, neglect the basic human needs of one another, and become prone to self-limiting self criticism. At some point it is natural to want to escape to a deeper peace inside and try to ignore the outer world, but awakening paradoxically makes us more sensitive to human loss and trauma. We cannot refuse to see.

Many spiritually-oriented or simply compassionate people are disturbed today by the direction of our government and institutions. It appears likely values we believe in such as equality, freedom, compassion and opportunity for the poor, open-minded education, environmental protections, ending nuclear proliferation etc. are threatened. Fear and anger can overwhelm us as our minds create the possible scenario for a new and more cruel world. We have to go beyond the mind for our response.

We only need a slight glance at history to see that these same concerns, or worse, have plagued humans since the beginning of civilization. Human life has long been a struggle between opposites and each generation must find a way to stand for the light within. Our generations have dealt with WW2, Viet Nam, the Gulf wars, the Civil Rights movement, assassinations, floods and other environmental disasters – cultural trauma is nothing new – like energy it doesn’t disappear but simply changes form.

As spiritual seekers we can become attached to the light, and develop strong aversions to the cultural and political battles of our world. Generally we are not people who are adept at fighting, and prefer retreating into meditation, interior calming and prayer. Perhaps we are holding the center for those who are out on the edges demanding change, but when we are very passive, sometimes the changes generated are not the ones we seek. Perhaps there will always be waves of power-driven people creating havoc in the world – there always has been so far – and yet there has been human progress too and great inventive minds that contribute to the rising of all.  So how do we find balance and inner harmony in a world that seems to deny its value? And can we have a useful impact by offering our own light?

Here are a few quotes of Krishna speaking in the the Kula-Arnava Tantra (1.16-27) that I recently found in Georg Feuersteins book “Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy”. They remind me that we must nurture our own lives, including our bodies, and offer kindness to others, if we are to awaken to Truth. Even under a political system that is not offering the supports we think are needed, we can offer this to one another. I’ve added my own interpretation of the stanzas.

After obtaining a human body, which is difficult to obtain and which serves as a ladder to liberation, who is more sinful than he who does not cross over to the Self?(Think of sinful meaning blind or neglectful. Krishna encourages us to use the great gift of incarnation wisely)

Therefore, upon obtaining the best possible life form, he who does not know his own good is merely killing himself. (Recognize that your birth offers great opportunity! Use this precious time to awaken to Truth.)

How can one come to know the purpose of human life without a human body? Hence having obtained the gift of a human body one should perform meritorious deeds.(As humans we have a sacred purpose and can do good things for one another.)

 One should completely protect oneself by oneself. Oneself is the vessel for everything. One should make an effort in protecting oneself, Otherwise the Truth cannot be seen.(Love yourself and care for the vehicle of the body/mind. This is essential in finding the Truth of who you are.)

 One should cultivate the highest good while the senses are not yet frail, suffering is not yet firmly rooted, and adversities have not yet become overwhelming. (Life is short – seek truth from an early age. However, I would add it is never too late.)

             Of course, this was also the message of Jesus, on whom Christianity was founded. He advised us to love our selves and our neighbors and told us that heaven was all around us yet we did not see it. He even pointed out the kingdom of God is within. Although many so-called Christians seem to have lost this theme under the stress of greed or fear, it is likely many more embrace it. Christmas is a time we try to reignite generosity and renew family ties, and remind ourselves of our capacity for love and transformation.

Can we use these challenging political times to come back into balance and inner harmony – valuing our bodies, our lives, our neighbors, our families, strangers and nature?  By bringing gratitude and consciousness into our own personal environments and discovering what we each have that can be contributed to the common good we may even bring a gradual balance back to the planet.

Despite the darkness reported in the media we are the people, and what brings about the deepest change lies in how we treat one another. Politicians and corporations and criminals are not the majority of the people. Money is not the only commodity. We who seek or have found our Oneness, even briefly, can rebalance ourselves by moving beyond our personal contractions and finding our own unique way to contribute to the whole. Your way may be very quiet, touching only a few, or you may find yourself in a larger role. Truth and awakening have always been present in the world, holding the center amidst the chaos. Could this be the true message of Christmas and the life of Jesus, who himself lived in very troubled times?

 

 

Posted by: bgreenwell | December 9, 2016

Finding Our Light in Darkness

The majority of people in this country are concerned, even despairing, about where the nation is going, because of the election through the electoral college of a minority-chosen president who is impuspiritual-awakeninglsive and appears to stand against many of our better values. We don’t know what he will do – but we fear what he says. Fear and anger is arising on both sides. The anger of fear and the anger of defensiveness.

The appointments for many agency heads are people who have in the past been against the major practices of those agencies, and in many cases have no experience in the field they will be managing. There is a huge flaw in the federal government that allows people to be elected into leadership with no stated qualifications for office. Among other actions, it would help to promote changes in this model.

This political upheaval (not the first in our difficult history) is an opportunity for the majority to stand up for what we believe. We need to find a positive way to express what the majority want, but include what the “other side” needs. We need to stand for rather than against, because pushing against only strengthens resistance on the other side. We need to show these people we are afraid of that we will value them when they make choices for a healthy community, a clean environment, decent salaries, good education for everyone, or women’s rights. Money is not the problem – values are. Even rich people can love, find creative solutions, appreciate health and nature and enjoy appreciation. We need articles in the press that continually show the advantages of greater wealth and safety in the country that will follow in an educated and fully healthy society and environment.

It is easier to rage against what we fear than it is to promote inspiring change – this is why our politicians rely on fear to get voters to the polls. It is time for the people to promote creative change and mutual support of persons and environments in communities, states, businesses, schools – in time those elected would want to be part of it. Can we find in ourselves that which we want to promote and protect, and speak up creatively. I found in my past that when I was depressed it was because I was not doing what was meaningful to me. I had to act on the desires of my heart to rise above the heaviness of spirit. Eventually I found my way to a deep internal peace. Acceptance is not passivity – it is the beginning of clarity and right action. We need to encourage this evolution in one another.   We can benefit from the will to do what is good and loving for ourselves and others. And so can the country.

The Mother, a great spiritual companion of Aurobindo, believed in the evolutionary potential for transforming human minds into an awakened loving presence. She once said that “When there is a great darkness in someone, you can be assured that underneath it is a great light. “ The state of the world is primarily because we do not recognize what we really are. Today is the time to ignite this light in ourselves and others.

 

 

Posted by: bgreenwell | November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving: The Paradox of Gratitude and Standing Rock

Thanksgiving is becoming paradoxical, a dance of opposites, because while we long to bring our families together to express gratitude for our lives and appreciation for one another, for maIMG_0311ny it can also bring up tension and unresolved issues, a sense of loss and loneliness.

            At a cultural level it is  paradoxical  because while it is healing to feel gratitude and friendship in our personal lives, we now see the cracks in the mythology given school children about our friendship with the early native Americans. It is a ritual that more and more misses the point of friendship and cooperation between human tribes, especially when we recognize the violation of the rights of our American natives.

            Gratitude is the heart of Thanksgiving — the energy that stimulates love and happiness.  Too seldom do we teach our children to think about the blessings in their life and encourage them to express gratitude.  So as my family meets – we were 14 this week — we try to acknowledge what is good in our lives, and to work together and play together on this traditional day.  It is a rare time we are mostly all together.  My youngest grandson said    “This is the happiest day of my life” but then cried when it was over and he had to return home.  Love and separation is a hard lesson in life.

            At the same time that I enjoy this day of togetherness, I am acutely aware that this ought to be a day of humble apologies to the descendents of native Americans whose forebears were nearly wiped out by the invasion of the first immigrants to America.  Instead as I watch what is happening in North Dakota I am appalled that we are still pushing against their lands, turning nature into oil dollars  and using violence to prevent them from protecting the land and water we all need to survive.

            I have never been much of an activist, tending more toward introversion and seeking a universal Truth about existence.  But the standoff over the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota has touched me deeply.  The “Protectors”, most of them descendents of those who barely survived genocide, are standing in peace, ritual and silent rebuke of the values of a people who have been willing to destroy their lands and limit their rights for generations.  And they are doing  this for all of us, to bring to the surface the deep conflict in American life that values corporate profit over human health and existence.  There are many causes one could support to make this point – the rain forests, the oceans, our crops, the costs of life-saving drugs, ignoring environmental crises – many more. Their cause is water, especially the Mississippi River, and their land held by treaty.

            I don’t want to be an activist. I want to teach people to let go of their fears and concerns and experience the freedom and joy of living in this moment as their radiant true nature.  I know this is possible. My work for many years is basically as a mid-wife to people who are in a spiritual awakening process. Stepping out of the mind with all of its judgments and fears is a wonderful freedom and I believe a birthright of all.  In its natural state our consciousness is expansive and unencumbered. But a freedom that discards the needs of humans and all other species, that devalues the great gifts supplied by a healthy environment, and ignores those leaders who are willing to maim or kill for money or power is ultimately an escape and not a freedom.

            I know how easy it is to feel powerless, and how distracting our personal lives are, and how our minds generally keep us focused each on our own.  It has been taught that suffering exists because of our addiction to thoughts and to the limited view of our minds and so seeing through this is the way to get free.  This is a freedom from ourself. But if it does not make us free to do what is for the universal good then it is a limited freedom, still centered in the personal self.

            Whatever has created this world for us has created it for all of us, provided all we need to be sustained, if we hold it well.  Each of us in whatever we do impacts many if not most other lives.  Look around your house and imagine how many people were part of planting, creating, packaging, transporting the things you own, the food in your cupboards, building the home where you live.  How many people have you touched in your life with a kind word, an angry word, a demand, a service?  How many have touched you and supported you?

            We may not live in the literal kind of reality our lives have imagined (as non-dualists tend to say), but we do share this planet, each as a facet of the whole. We are each an aspect of the sacred and we each have a hand in making our world better or worse.  These are challenging days for many, fearful of the political changes we see.  But so they were for those who came before us and suffered through the anxieties and traumas of WW1 and WW2 and Viet Nam and the Gulf Wars and the Indian Wars, and the Civil War and the Revolution. We must each participate at some level if we are to rise above war, overcome our fascination with power and guns, and live in a way that supports an awakened life  — by which I mean living with peace and gratitude, creativity and love that is natural to our true nature, and offering this option to others.

            I fall into anger at times, or grief, or fear – and I know it is the work of the mind trapping me in an old, old pattern, common to our DNA.  After an awakening of consciousness it is sometimes a challenge to stay aligned with the deeper truth of our universal consciousness amid the myriad of difficult life experiences each of us goes through.  Adyashanti has pointed out the need for fidelity to Truth.  Awakening is not a blind distancing and withdrawal from all that is human.  It is consciousness perceiving what is needed and being free to respond not from our conditioning but from clarity and compassion for all.

Posted by: bgreenwell | November 9, 2016

Out of the Shadow, Into the Light

 Those who long for love, compassion, universal equality and protection of thIMG_4158e environment as a foundation of society are likely feeling despair today over an election that has forced us to see the shadow of our country in its willingness to support  fear, bigotry, misogyny, ignorance of science and lies in a man who will become the acknowledged leader of the free world.  But the worse thing we can do to ourselves is fall into the abyss of fear caused by our own projections of what will happen next.

            Each of us, no matter who we supported in this election, was born with the capacity to create the energies of fear and anger in our bodies.  This is a body/mind dynamic built in for protection in times of danger that is activated in the face of physical or psychological threats.  Even the thought of threat can make us ill, but when the threat is only in the mind’s image and not in the immediate now (when we may need to run from a bear or a flood), it festers like cancer and destroys our capacity to do anything creative in our lives.  We might feel paralyzed. We might run aimlessly even though we know we cannot successfully escape our own minds. We are part of a collective and just protecting oneself is not enough. We feel for the whole. The tragedy of 9/11 showed us we can hurt for everyone.

             I recently listened to a Sufi talk about chillas.  Chillas are challenging tasks a spiritual seeker requests from a Sufi Pir or teacher that force one to discover or develop new capacities within themselves, an inner strength they did not realize they had.  It brings forth a new perspective that serves a spiritual seeker in finding his or her inner spirit, growing inner strength and awakening to the sacred in all of life.  They are sometimes very challenging, such as going to an unfamiliar country with limited funds and finding someone, or walking through a desert. In ancient times they lasted 40 days and 40 nights but today they can be more condensed. They may be as simple as giving public talks when you are frightened of speaking or serving the poor for a few weeks.

                  It was a synchronistic talk for me because instead of falling into grief today I am seeing this event as a chilla for all of us.  It is an event that will challenge all of us to grow through our personal and collective shadows by starkly meeting them, and finding new ways to live in love and truth despite the existence of our own fear, bigotry, ignorance and dishonesty. It will challenge us to see the darkness in our own political structures and their impact on the world.  If we are all One, then this country and this world is all One, including all the shadow that we desperately wish was not there.  How do we find the will to overcome our personal and collective shadows? How do we find in our autonomy the courage to stand directly for what an awakened heart and intuition is encouraging us to express?

            Our personal darkness is fed by fear. To the extent we let this energy overwhelm us we become helpless and victims of the shadows.  Out of this victim identification we risk becoming perpetrators, when our ego claims we must destroy those who think differently than us.  But how do we stand up against our fear?

              Michael Singer, in his book “The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself” has offered some guidelines on living with fear.  He says to be free “You must  first accept the fact there is pain in your heart.”  But he points out that joy, beauty, love , peace and even ecstasy and freedom lie on the other side of fear.  He writes that freedom and greatness is available when we  find the courage to relax with the pain instead of blocking it.  It calls this the core of spiritual work.  We can use our pain to become more open rather than contracted and closed.

                This may seem paradoxical – as most true spiritual teachings are.  But think of the freedom gained with complete acceptance of tragedy and trauma, darkness and pain.  When we are able to connect with the deep center of Truth and Love within ourself no matter what the world throws into our path, we become free inside from the grinding, suffering, and resistance of our ego and let go of our personal demands that life be as we want.  Because every life will have tragedy and loss not matter how we try to protect against it, no matter how good we are, or even how awake we are.

                 Our internal survival depends on our ability to overcome the downward spiral within ourself when these events occur, and to use this new-found strength to create change where we are able, rather than falling into paralysis, hatred or revenge.  If our house burns down we must clean up the mess and create a new house.  If our environment is threatened we must find within ourselves our unique role in protecting it.  Life (or God, if you prefer) works through us but we have to let go of our noisy  demands before we can hear the whisper of what it can enable us to do

                 Our minds believe we must fight in any way we can for our beliefs or when we feel we are “right” and others are wrong.  No matter which side of politics you are on this is likely your motivation.  No one fights for someone else’s beliefs.  But this battle of the egoic stances denies wholeness, denies freedom, and energizes the fear and despair, the least helpful psychological qualities in our lives.

                 When awakening happens there is an opportunity to step out and back, to align with a sacred witness that sees the division in our human world without identifying with it.  This does not mean an awakened person has  detachment with indifference to the problems of the world.  A deep awakening brings love for the whole and asks for our deepest, most authentic, unselfish and creative response to what is needed.  We won’t find this if we succumb to fear and anger.  We have to acknowledge our human fear  – but choose not to let it be the decision maker and ruler of our spirit.  We must find something greater, more inclusive within ourselves that brings forth our contribution to the greater good.

             We have to refuse the projections of the mind about what will happen and face change day by day, acknowledging there is as much good as there is ignorance and greed in our world, there is as much light as darkness, and that both are within us, but we can choose, because we are awake, not to let the fear drag our life down into the shadows or allow despair to limit our lives and the acknowledgement of the sacred within and around us.  Only then can we move forward and face change with integrity and compassion for others, and become effective agents of positive change in our collective consciousness.

              I’ve always loved a comment  by The Mother, who was the partner in the spiritual teaching of Aurobindo, and the founding of Auroville in India. She said that if there is a great darkness within you, you can be sure that at the core is also a great light.

             Perhaps by seeing the shadow of our country with clarity and compassion we can contribute to bringing forth the light.  If it be the will of the universe it will be done. We will all do it.

 

Posted by: bgreenwell | November 6, 2016

Beyond a Foggy Mind

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Morning Fog Enfolding Ashland

Have you ever had a “foggy” mind? You just can’t think clearly.This is not uncommon at times, especially if you have raised your pranic  energy into the head, or just emerged from a transcendent or trance state, or  may be dealing with grief or other stressors. You feel you cannot think. The brain is not working as efficiently as it was. It can be a struggle to get back into your previous patterns of focusing, and this can make you feel insecure. And the struggle sometimes intensifies tension because you are afraid this fog might be a permanent condition.

The thick fog as I looked out my windows this morning reminded of this foggy condition, and of an experience early in my marriage, living in an area that was sometimes blanketed with heavy morning fog. One morning my husband was rear-ended on the short drive to work by a truck that couldn’t see him. There were no injuries, but a lot of inconveniences.

It is this way with thought as well. When we can’t think straight it can be awkward, embarrassing, and certainly inconvenient to get our usual tasks done. But when in a spiritual process it is an element of transformation and harmonization. It is a time that the brain is reorganizing, restructuring the wiring created in our past and opening new channels. It is also an opportunity to develop a more gut-level or heart-level kind of intuition, to learn to think below the neck, and discover latent resources.

Usually our thinking is so active and we are so dependent on thought that all of our attention is drawn into the head. Awareness is ensnared by what we think – but thoughts are not always logical or true. Thoughts often focus on worries about the future, self-judgments, anxiety about what others think, fears of failure, projections on those around us, or plans that do not work out well. Most of this is an imaginative interpretation of life, having little to do with truth.  In some ways our brains are like computers, indifferent to our true potential as living, expressions of the One spirit, the creative vital element of life. Thoughts trap us the way the little spinning circle in a computer keeps us from getting quickly to the data we need.

I have found that if I am willing to give up the struggle, brain fog can be an invitation to go into stillness, to rest in the deepest inner part of myself and let go of anxiety and division, to rest from thought. It can be very uncomfortable at first, just like driving when you can’t see clearly. But what if you let go attending to what is happening in your head, and bring awareness to other areas of the body from the heart down to the feet?

Awareness is always with you, even alert to dreams as you sleep, or available to the sounds of the morning that awaken you. Can you consciously become that for a while, bringing awareness down to listen to how your heart would like to spend the day, or noticing what your body needs in order to relax during this time. Usually awareness is overwhelmed by the stimulus of thought, experience or emotion, and we become identified with these dynamics in our lives. But be awareness for just a few minutes, without identifying with anything awareness sees, feels, hears, touches or tastes. Awareness was here in your field of presence before anything else was labeled or known or believed in. It is your presence. You collected many attitudes, reactions and positions as you experienced living and the personal ego is created by this movement of identification. The fogginess may be blocking these old habits; they can’t unfold to advise you in their habitual way. So drop awareness out of the part of you that is trying to hold on, and turn awareness into itself. What is this awareing that you are that you can readily move into your heart, your belly, your feet? Feel into it without thinking about it. No matter how foggy the thoughts, awareness is still present – can you turn it into itself and simply rest as that? This is a doorway to awakening into your True Nature.

Everything remains of the town and the sky when the fog lifts, and so will all the stories and concerns of your life remain. But if awareness has become more conscious and more inclusive of other parts of yourself you will have new ways to move in the world. You may even have new eyes to see what is there beneath the fog, and begin to interpret your life and experiences in a new way.

 

Posted by: bgreenwell | October 27, 2016

The Many Faces of Transformation

sky w stairs Have you had a spiritually transformative experience (STE)? I just returned from presenting at  a conference held in Palm Desert by ACISTE, focused on people who have had such events in their life — ranging from near-death experiences (NDE), kundalini activation, powerful dream sequences, shamanic openings and alien encounters. The ACISTE brochure reports a 2004 survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago indicating 35.7% of the adult US population has had at least one religious or spiritual experience that “changed their life”.   Such changes alter how people look at themselves and the world, triggering both positive and negative reactions. Whatever the cause or source you cannot comfortably retreat to an old pattern of being when you have had such an awakening. You must move forward.

In my experience with “experiencers” I believe the most important factors in this transformation are the ability to share their stories without the listener pathologizing them, the opportunity to frame the event as a positive shift or expansion in understanding of the collective Self and personal sense of self, the acceptance of an invitation to awaken the inner spirit and live from a new perspective, and the willingness to nurture Oneself. The Mother, who worked with Aurobindo to establish Integral Yoga and expand the understanding of consciousness in the world, once said that the heartfelt release of fear is the most important step on the spiritual path. Fear creates contraction and contraction blocks the free flow of physical and psychic energy, confuses thinking, and can even make us ill if it is prolonged.

Awakening is an encounter with a new perception and as our perceptions change and broaden we become transformed. If you have awakened energy in these processes, it is your own life force moving through the subtle body to clear out the cobwebs of old beliefs and patterns that are no longer useful. One is literally shaken out of complacency! Anyone who has sincerely engaged in a lengthy therapeutic or growth process, or pursued a spiritual practice or energy therapy, can look back and discover a before and after in their way of living. These process bring us into gradual change and transformation. STE’s are life’s way of suddenly and irrevocably plunging you into change, bringing you to encounters with previously unknown aspects and potentials of human consciousness. How you interpret them and how you live them forward significantly impacts every aspect of your life.

As a non-dual teacher I have seen many experiences of “no-self” — moments in meditation or unexpected awakenings of consciousness to its own expansive and unbounded nature.   No-self is the experience of One Self or the realization of the ground of our being. Many of the dramatic transformative experiences that come unbidden are showing us the vastness of the creative expression that arises from this ground, demanding we find a new center that can encompass more of creation, and learn to search for Truth in new ways.

Transformational change that reaches through the entire psyche and physical structure, depleting the identification with the separate self, is seldom recognized by therapists, who much prefer step-by-step integration. Transformation is challenging and sometimes messy. But it is time for therapists to listen with curiosity instead of hurrying to a psychiatric diagnosis of such movements, and offer support, creating approaches that encourage flexibility, grounding and inner strength to those who encounter them. It is time to recognize that these kinds of awakenings happen to much of the population, and can lead to a more rich and radiant life, rather than one reduced by a mistaken diagnosis.

My books “The Awakening Guide” and “The Kundalini Guide” (on amazon.com) address many of the issues of transformative experiences, and I am happy to say I am about to sign a contract for a new book that will explore the many ways I have seen spiritual awakening arise and transform lives over 30 years of listening to the stories of those who live this experience. I am hopeful that through conferences like ACISTE, SAND and many others, along with many new books and neuroscience research, we will as a culture begin to recognize and truly value the power of awakening to change the quality both of individual lives and the collective understanding of consciousness

Posted by: bgreenwell | September 7, 2016

Presence, Awakening and ACISTE

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I will be speaking at the ACISTE conference in Palm Springs the weekend of Oct. 20 -22 on Identifying and Supporting Spiritual Transformation. Go to http://www.aciste.com for information about this event, designed to support people who are a spiritual awakening process. ACISTE is the Assn for the Integration of Spiritually Transformative Experiences. I hope to offer a one-day workshop on Living with Kundalini the Monday following for people who want to better understand the kundalini process.. Please drop me a note at kundinfo@mindspring.com if you would like more information.

I just completed a weekend retreat called Presence at the Center, a gathering of women committed to spiritual awakening. If we wish to discover the innate happiness within us it is important to take time out of our lives to rest in our center – the deep stillness available within our hearts, but often clouded over by the demands, distractions and worries of modern life. Meditation retreats, especially those held with the added dimension of silence, offer a return to our Self.

I become very busy in those days when I have a retreat planned, especially if I am doing other events such as webinars or consulting with those who contact me with concerns related to their spiritual process. I’ve also just completed a new book on spiritual emergence and am waiting to hear from a publisher.  All of this busy-ness is like riding a fast moving train for several weeks, and then skidding to a halt at the retreat center, where I need to find my own deep silence if I am to invite others into it. Finding our Self is about Stopping!

Mental activity, emotional upheavals, multiple engagements in our lives, the many voices surrounding us with expectations – all of these can fall away if we STOP, leaving us in the pure sweet awareness that has always been waiting in the center of the cyclone of our lives. There is a place within each of us already still, accepting, and open to the quiet joy of simply being.

You may find when you are first silent there is an upheaval of mental activity, and even of unconscious material that arises. Both meditation and energy work (such as yoga or Qigong) open us to that which needs to be seen in order to be released, so that our subtle energy field can become more free. Release and insight bring growth and widen our access to inner harmony and relaxation. Be patient with what arises as it is your own consciousness inviting you to meet, release and move toward awakening. Suffering unwinds itself from our systems as we learn to meet our life experiences with equanimity and to meet ourselves with love.

Spiritual awakening has no religious preference and is open to all. It is not about a belief, or embracing a system or tradition, although for some people these may offer  initiating practices that will bring an invitation to know Yourself. Awakening is an intimate touching of our natural state of spirit embodied, a direct inner knowing of our connection with the All. It cannot be languaged clearly, although poets and sages have found ways to offer pointers. Unusual phenomena may arise when we follow our longing to know our true nature, but ultimately the outcome is an awareness that consciousness is vast and unbounded, and a return into a form that knows a deep relaxation into life.

 

 

Posted by: bgreenwell | July 7, 2016

Webinars & Retreat for People Awakening

KG IMG_4832 sml copyI now enjoy offering webinars to bring together people from diverse states and countries who would support in their spiritual awakening process. These are the upcoming webinars and programs I plan to offer between August and November through www.zoom.us.  Here are my upcoming programs.Contact me for fees and other information through email: shantiriver@gmail.com

 Awakening and Embodiment – session 2 –  4 weeks, Thursdays, August 11,25  Sept 8, 22 ( 12 noon—1:30  Pacific time )    

This is an on-line satsang and sharing for those intending to deepen their spiritual practice, support others interested in awakening to our true nature, and explore how to live from a new perspective of awakened intuition and inner autonomy.

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Living with Kundalini —  weekly for 6 weeks – Fridays Aug. 19 — Sept. 23  a.m. PST)                         

This program and supportive group is designed for people who are going through a kundalini awakening process and wish to meet others having this experience while learning classical and modern perspectives of Kundalini, the kinds of experiences and challenges this process brings, and methods of living more comfortably with it while awakening to the transformation it offers.

 Therapist and Teacher training for Kundalini Awakening – 4 Sessions Fridays Oct 14, 28, Nov, 11 and 18 (12noon – 2 p.m. PST)

 If you have taken The Living with Kundalini program at any time you are eligible for the therapist/teacher training which will focus more on identifying the kundalini process in a client or student. You will learn how to use the preliminary questionnaire to assess and understand where to focus in a consultation, the impact of the background and spiritual practices on the experience and how to support this process.  There will be time to discuss cases and learn from one another’s experience.

 A FALL RETREAT IN OREGON —  PRESENCE AT THE CENTER  -Sept 2-5, 2016

This 4-day/3-night non-dual silent meditation retreat will be held Sept 2-5 at St Rita’s Retreat Center in Gold Hill, Oregon, a few miles from the Medford OR airport. It is an opportunity for meditation and reflection on awakening, experiencing silence,  guided meditations and teachings related to awakening to the presence of our true nature, You may also hike in a beautiful  60-acre setting with a labyrinth and waterfall. Journal, or participate in Qigong and sound meditations. Retreat is designed to support your deepest intention for awakening to the Truth of your own Being, and bringing that awareness into your everyday life. We will meet at 4 p.m. Friday (arrive 2-4) and close at 2 Monday.  The fee is $275 is paid by August 15.  This includes a comfortable double room with a bath, vegetarian meals, and all expense

ACISTE CONFERENCE IN PALM DESERT, CA                                           Oct 20-22

I will be speaking on Therapeutic Issues of Spiritually Transformative Experiences at this conference  of an organization related to Spiritually Transformative Experiences at the Doubletree Inn is scheduled Oct 20-22.  Go to www.aciste.org for details.  I am considering doing a kundalini and awakening workshop following the conference in Palm Desert while I am there.  If you would be interesting in attending a program with me at that time and place – Oct. 23-24 – please let me know by sending me an email.

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Posted by: bgreenwell | June 19, 2016

Presence and Embodiment

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Presence is a full body experience of awareness. We feel it fully when we bring awareness below the neck and open the senses to this moment, this place where we stand in all of its dimensions. Awareness is present through all the senses, available to sound, touch, taste, smell and vision before you even think about it. It is the ground of all experience and when you feel it without an interpretation or thought you may feel deeply awake and connected, or even blissful and expansive, as if all the cells in the body are lighting up.

 If you have had an awakening of consciousness or energy your senses may be heightened, because awareness is more dominant, more available. Some people who awaken also feel highly sensitized to the consciousness and energy of other people, as if there are no boundaries, and for a time they need to rest more in nature, avoid intense environments and learn ways to consciously return to their body’s autonomy without losing the ability to be awake and present.

            Before awakening our attention is repeatedly diverted by thought or emotion. Our reactivity to what is happening clouds our capacity to fully be aware and respond spontaneously to what is. When the separate self feels threatened, either physically or verbally, it jumps to the forefront and begins planning a defense. When this happens presence is overcome by reactivity. Awareness is so distracted by thoughts that the senses are deadened and we may not even see what is around us.

Presence is awareness, an aware-ing not only of the mind but of the cells and the senses before the interpretations of thought. Beingness. It happens before labels, before acceptance or resistance, before the “me” takes a position. Most of the time we experience it as a flash before the thoughts enter to form an interpretation, decision or response. The brain is wired to hold concepts and memories and make judgments and choices based on past experience. This is a useful human function that supports physical survival in the world. But it also keeps us trapped in the container of our past that is flavored by misinformation, misinterpretation, the pain of rejection, loss and disappointment, and the self-image that was taken on very early in our life. All of these things form a belief in an “I” that needs to be alert all the time in order to be protected. This arises automatically and unconsciously.

Awakening cracks open this conditioning, brings all of our innate reactions and patterns to the surface to be seen clearly. This is one of the challenges of spiritual awakening — it is not comfortable to recognize those aspects of oneself that are not congruent with Truth, love and compassion and are inauthentic to how the deepest essence would live our lives. It can even feel frightening and lonely when old familiar interests and patterns fall away spontaneously, as they tend to do after a true awakening to the natural Self.

Often people who experience the freedom that arises with an awakening of energy/consciousness feel wonderful for a few hours, days and even weeks. During this time they are living as presence, openness, and a connection with the natural life force in the body. The heart may open. They feel separated from the false and misinformed little self, and instead feel part of the vast unbounded universal Self, that is always present, accepting, open and loving.

But the body and mind of the apparently separate “me” needs to become clear of conditioning so that the individual can become free to embody the wisdom and love of this universal Self. So at some point the residual conditioning that has not completely released is triggered and arises so it can be seen and awakened into the whole of life. This is part of the transformation that occurs in spiritual awakening.

We can’t just reject old habits, beliefs, memories and suffering. As the ancients pointed out “What we resist, persists,” so fighting against or ignoring what appears does not resolve the need for freedom. It becomes necessary to accept that our humanness distracted us from knowing Truth. Realizing this teaches us compassion for others entangled in their own conditioning. The old ego structure is not bad or evil, it just is not true or real in the way we assumed it was. From one perspective our foibles and failures can be met with compassionate humor, because the one who was manipulated by them was nothing substantial that needed defending. (This seeing is one reason some who awaken are said to burst out in uncontrollable laughter!) It is understood it was all a misunderstanding about who “I” am, the activity of an illusionary self.

Here are a few ways these arising shadows of self can be encouraged to move on:

In some cases they are seen through as untrue, based on assumptions made with limited understanding, and it is seen they are not related to the real Truth of who one is. Seeing clearly can release an illusion, just as we know when a fictional movie ends we were seeing illusions on a blank screen, spun out of the imagination of a writer. It helps to question if a thought is true, and sense who you might be without that thought. The spiritual teacher Byron Katie has developed a set of questions for clearing these untrue beliefs from our minds, that she calls The Work.

In some situations the person must meet the part or character inside that feels wounded and let it express itself and be met with love and compassion, so it can heal and free itself. It cautiously appears so that it too can wake up. Some therapists work from this assumption, which can help clients move past their pain.

I have observed at retreats that there are times old patterns are felt simply as energy and heat and they burn through as one is sitting in meditation. In some cases images of apparent other lives appear as well, in order to address some incompletion. A few people may see the story, but often it is only energy releasing.

I have also found that when a wave of emotion like anger or grief arises if I sit and meet it more and more fully and deeply, not as thought but as a knowing in the heart and the body, at some point it will break open and spaciousness, even love, lies underneath. Awareness returns to itself.

Presence may arise spontaneously in those moments when we have released a difficult pattern or trauma from the body. It feels like a profound relaxation into the Now — into this moment, no longer blocked by the confused lens of the past. It often is accompanied by joy, or peace, or a physical sense of love emanating from the heart. It is here and was always here in every moment — the energy of the life force and the consciousness in the body are always present until they leave the body when they pass into another dimension of being. Always trust they are there beneath the confusion, complications, and challenges of ordinary life. Spiritual realization is accompanied by a healing process not just of the personal, but of the collective unconsciousness. I believe this is what Buddha meant when he said “When I awakened, the world awakened.” If one does not enter this healing stage the awakening is truncated, and this is when you see apparently awakened people who take advantage of or cause harm to their students and communities, or who appear distant and too detached from the world, unwilling to be present with other human experiences.

The embodiment of presence, including an open heart into life, and respect for all beings, is the hallmark of an embodied, awakened spirit. Despite the rumors of a sudden and complete enlightenment, most humans get there only a step at a time, as the residue of their history falls away.

(I will be holding a silent non-dual meditation retreat Sept 2-5, 2016 in southern Oregon, and also host webinars on Living with Kundalini.  To be on an email list for my  quarterly Shanti River newsletter please contact me through http://www.awakeningguide.com)

Posted by: bgreenwell | June 5, 2016

What is Spiritual Freedom?

spiritual-awakeningThe way to become free is to recognize the freedom that already exists. Once the pure essence of being or presence is remembered and lived the mental conflicts of worthiness, desire, disappointment, guilt, depression, irritation etc. fall away because they are seen as irrelevant. The True Nature knows none of these because it knows itself as the All or the Source, or the presence of consciousness.

Many people have a touch of this realization of Oneness and turn away from it because of fear that  arises when there seems to be no ground on which to stand. Separateness feels essential to the ego structure and bounces back readily.     The sense of Oneness is not recognized in mainstream cultures that emphasize owning the uniqueness of the separate sense of self. These teachings are not saying that the body does not exist or that at the relative level there are no guidelines for living. They point to the inclusiveness and divinity of All, that everything of creation made of the five elements is Brahman (the One Indefinable Source). Existence as form is not the problem; exclusive identification with a separate form, and the beliefs that arise within it, is what keeps us blind to what we truly are, and in conflict with reality. Vedantic scriptures point to the essence, vastness and inclusivity of what we truly are, and that the world of forms is not the Truth it appears to be.

Here are a few stanzas from a sacred Vedanta scripture, the Advadhuta Gita of Dattatreya, an extreme Advaita or Nondual text. Avadhuta means a liberated soul who has shaken off worldly attachments. Vedantic scriptures are inspirational for all who wish to directly realize Truth, for they touch us beyond the mind.

“You are not born nor do you die. At no time do you have a body. The scripture declares in many different ways the well-known dictum ‘All is Brahman'”.

“You are (One) who is exterior and interior. You are the auspicious One existing everywhere at all times. Why are you running hither and thither deluded, like an unclean spirit?”

“There is no body made up of five elements; nor is there anyone who is disembodied. All is verily the Self alone. How can there be the three states and the fourth?” (note: refers to waking, sleeping, dreaming and Awakened states)”

“I am not bound, I am not indeed liberated, and I am not different from Brahman. Neither doer nor enjoyer, I am devoid of the distinctions of the pervaded and the pervader.”

“As water when water has been poured into water, has no distinctions, so purusa (soul or essence, consciousness) and prakriti ( nature or forms of appearances, energies) appear nondifferent to me.”

“You verily are Truth, devoid of change, motionless, one of the nature of freedom. You have neither attachment nor aversion. Why do you suffer, seeking the objects of desires?”

“I know that I in every way, is the one indivisible “I” which is self-sustained and full while the five elements, beginning with ether, are empty.”

“The enlightened one is a yogi devoid of yoga and absence of yoga. He is an enjoyer, devoid of enjoyment and absence of enjoyment. Thus he wanders leisurely, filled with the spontaneous joy of his own mind.”

Quotes from Avadhuta Gita of Dattateya, translated by Swami Ashokananda for the Shri Ramakrishna Math.

 

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