This morning, I woke up wondering how I make sure I stay focused on this ‘journey’ that I am on. I have slipped in the past, as is evidenced in this blog. I can slip quite easily into old habits and forget what is truly important to me. How do I stay grounded and take this further as I search for answers: as I try to find and follow my path? How do I not lose sight of my ultimate goal of peace of mind and body?
It’s been a rocky physical and mental adventure over the last ten months and while I could have never dreamed of being in a better place after the initial diagnosis, my heart tells me I can do much better. As I made my way to my meditation space this morning, my steps, like my books, felt heavy…until I sat down. I could faintly hear the rushing cars on a distant main road…I decided that they should become the sound of crashing waves on the beach; the doves and cactus wrens cooed and chirped becoming the seabirds looking for their breakfast in the surf. I longed for a cool, salty sea breeze. Closing my eyes…I tried to convert my Arizona backyard into a rocky Monterey beach cove and it wasn’t as easy as I thought. But that happens…our minds want to be one place but our bodies are stuck in another.
I have been in some form of quarantine since November and longed for a road trip away with my wife, preferably northern California where the water touched the land. A deep breath and I slipped into my breathing exercise. Cleansing and soothing and soon it didn’t matter where I was. Taking in the life-force as deep as I could and releasing it with everything I didn’t need. I am healing from the inside out. After a while, I reached for my first text, the King James Bible and opened it up to Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 40: 39-47, these verses spoke to describe a place of sacrifice and its entire focus was the specific dimensions of the space, as if providing instructions on how to build this place. I am not capturing the exact words here, but you have chapter and verse if you’re curious. I focused on what the message was giving me and this seemed to say, be aware of your space and surroundings and most of all be specific. Perhaps if I try to visualize any more like I did at the start, being specific may just be what is necessary for success…let’s see what else this brings to me…back to my breathing until that unknown moment when I felt the need to pick up my copy of Coleman Barks translation of RUMI. I opened the book to the story of, The Tanner Who Faints in the Perfume Market, Lover and Beloved Talking, BookIV, (p276)
“Do you remember the tanner who was walking through the perfumers market and fainted? He was looking for the materials of his trade, took a shortcut and blacked out when he smelled the jasmine and rosewater. Tanners rub acidic excrement into hides to soften and cure them. They get accustomed to the bitter smells they live within. They cannot tolerate sweetness. The perfumers try their medicines to revive the man. Nothing works. The skillful doctoring has no effect…” The tanners brother eventually came with excrement and held it under his brothers nose to revive him. “Give the patient what he was used to before he became ill. He is sick because of something unusual to him. The cure will come in something familiar…”
As I tried to imagine a blissful state earlier, I focused on a familiar place I love, to carry me away to a relaxation or perhaps ground me to where I was already sitting. Maybe familiarity is another key to keeping myself steady and grounded. Perhaps all this time in my home was a great thing to keep my stable and healthy as I struggled through my journey over the past ten months. I place the book on the opposite side of the table and began to breathe deeply. There is never a rush to moving through this time. I allow myself to let the process take its course and follow my instinct. I do make sure that I focus on my breath work and allow it to guide me to make the time for my reading. I believe the breathing here is the priority for me as this time is for healing both my physical state and preparation for the day.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations Book 4, # 29-30
“If he is a stranger in the universe, a person who has no knowledge of what it contains, he is no less a stranger who has no knowledge of what comes about in it. He is a fugitive, he who flees from the knowledge of what governs our social life…he who serves his own soul. But I for my part cannot gain nourishment from my studies and hold true to them.”
Connection to the universe is crucial. I must listen to hear and close my eyes to see…capture the nourishment. I must kneel to reach the sky and I must never let myself get cutoff by ignoring the voice of my heart…even when I cannot hear it, I must have faith that as long as I keep trying I will. So far it seems that my senses are being called on to guide me down my path. The sun begins to brighten the morning as more birds awaken and join me in the yard. The hummingbirds the first to arrive earlier watch the others as they begin to gather. My back straightens, my feet flatten to the ground and my hand rest gently on my thighs as my breath takes the air in deep. I progress to a state of calm for many minutes and then reach for Anam Cara (p.45) by John O’Donohue,
“Touch is such an immediate sense. It can bring you in from the false world, the famine world of exiled image. Rediscovering the sense of touch returns you to the hearth of your own spirit, enabling you to experience again warmth, tenderness and belonging. At the highest moments of human intensity, words become silent. Then the language of touch really speaks. When you are lost in the black valley of pain, words grow frail and dumb. To be embraced and held warmly brings the only shelter and consolation. Conversely, when you are happy, touch becomes an ecstatic language.”
The final text was from A Course in Miracles, Lesson #9 (p.807)
“I see nothing as it is now. While you may be able to accept it intellectually, it is unlikely that it will mean anything to you as of yet. However, understanding is not necessary at this point. In fact, the recognition that you don’t understand is a prerequisite for undoing your false ideas…it is difficult for the untrained mind to believe that what it seems to picture is not there. Each small step will clear the darkness away and understanding will come to lighten every corner of the mind that has been cleared of the debris that darkens it.”
How do I stay grounded and focused on discovering my path? How do I continue uninterrupted in my journey towards mind and body healing and eventual wellness? How do I put away the pain and struggle from not only the recent but distant past without ignoring it and slipping back into old, worldly ways? I no longer wanted the ‘blue pill’. I need to confront my demons by leveraging my senses and find my truth. Maybe todays readings were the answer.
First, I need to be honest with myself about where I am at each day. I need to be as exact as I can be and not be afraid to face what confronts me. It’s interesting how, as I watch the world in turmoil, a lot of it is because we refuse to be honest about where we are at…until we are, the struggle will never end. SO it is with myself…my honesty will maintain the integrity of my progress.
Second, I must open myself up to the knowledge provided by my surroundings and the universe. I cannot close myself off and in fact, I need to become more in tune. I have made myself a promise that breathing, listening and morning meditation must always be a priority and cannot be ignored for convenience. So far I have been able to keep my promise. I must not close myself off to the opportunity or be afraid of what I might hear.
Third, touch…I cannot be closed off and must feel the world and especially the love around me. I took this as hugging more often; more hand holding and being close to the ones I love the most. I must feel their energy directly. During my illness this was difficult. When I was constantly dizzy, nauseous and just not feeling right, I tended to recoil into my own ball and avoid everyone. Those days are in the past now and hopefully they will stay there…I need to rediscover touch.
Fourth, as much as the texts are encouraging me to leverage my senses and be keenly aware, I must not be afraid that sometimes, what I see is not really as it seems and there is either more or less there than I think at that particular time. I must trust what the universe is telling me and allow myself to experience a deeper connection, a deeper sensation of connection, a different vision that I may have been seeing. I must learn to trust and move forward down the path though it may not be all clear…trust.
I thank you for reading and I am grateful for my reading and for answers they are revealing to me that help me progress every day. I encourage your thoughts and comments, especially if you are finding these useful and they are helping you on your journey…