Memory and Tradition on the Spiritual Quest

This is another of my posts from earlier blogs—This one from a year and a half ago, updated for inclusion here…

Honor Yesterday Without Hanging On

One of the first roadblocks you encounter as you embark on a serious Spiritual Path is the accumulated mental, emotional and physical baggage of your own past. There’s some nasty stuff lurking in that baggage, and Memory is the key that unlocks most of it. In the course of even the most seemingly benign life, huge amounts of emotional detritus, mental garbage, as well as physical angst and imbalance, are packed away to sneak up on you at the most inopportune times. Harboring the past can and does effect every aspect of life—it can keep you from happiness and contentment, cause mental or physical illness, and stop you from achieving your goals. So why do we hang on to these Memories? It is ingrained in us from birth. We get emotionally or intellectually involved in every minute detail of our life, and we don’t Let Go when the moment has passed. Instead, we judge others and ourselves, regret actions, feel guilt or try to impose it on those we think have “hurt” us. And hold on to it all till the bitter end.

It’s not just things we think of as bad or traumatic that we cling to either. Be it a feeling, a sensation or physical gratification, we seek not only to repeat the experience but to maintain it in memory. So, if ice cream is good occasionally…eat it every day. If that magical feeling of falling in love is your panacea…enter into a series of shallow and ultimately unfulfilling relationships to keep experiencing it. The list of things we do to feed our memory banks is endless. Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll! We are a race of sensation seekers.

Just as Memory is the minefield of Spiritual attainment, it can also serve as a valuable Tool. When a very powerful memory (you know the ones—complete with cinematic soundtrack and in Technicolor) arises to bring forth the set of negative or even positive emotions associated with it, the Seeker has the opportunity to look closely at it. It is important to discover what is at the roots of these strong feelings.When you do so, it is a chance to work all of the way through this emotional gestalt and to return the Energy you have tied up in this recall to the people, place and time it belongs in. Sounds simple! And yes, the principle is really that straightforward. It just isn’t always easy. However, if we Intend to progress on our Path, and to let go of the encumbrances of the past, it will occur.

Remember

While this process (I call it Clearing) may seem complete to you at some point, usually after a period of intense Self examination (I call it the roller coaster ride through Hell; it has also been likened to peeling the layers of an onion), it is really a lifelong commitment. We can get better and better at not clinging, but the very nature of material existence lets things get by us. 

Forget

Memories Without Anchors

You may wonder if I am saying dump all of your precious memories. Not at all. But if you undertake the process of Clearing the nature of Memory will change drastically. When the attached emotions and feelings are stripped away, the accumulated bits of your past do lose their vibrancy and film-like quality. They become more like paging through an album of still photos, flat and not imbued with lives of their own, but pleasant to visit once in a while and a shared foundation for interpersonal relationships. Also, these memories are potentially useful in healing work with those you share past associations with. What comes up often points out imbalances or conflicts that need to be addressed.  You may discover as well, that one or more persons who have shared what should be the same experiences, may remember them very differently, or not at all. Our continuity is a fragile thing. We do, whether we are aware or not, rewrite our history in subtle, or not so subtle ways, on an ongoing basis. 

Forgive

Tradition can be a way of maintaining continuity and connection with both the past and other people. However, it should be treated like our Memories, as something to be maintained only if and as long as it serves us. It should not be treated as a rigid or slavish adherence to forms that have lost meaning in our present situation, but as an organic Celebration of the important passages in life. I quite enjoy our traditional family celebrations. I am not a Christian, though my antecedents and some of my contemporaries were, and some still are, but I honor Christianity and many of its traditions and trappings. I love Christmas and Easter, and celebrate them with my less than traditional, in many cases, family. Our family traditions continue to change and evolve with time and circumstance though, and that is as it should be.

I think that when we begin treating Memory and Tradition like helium balloons—buoyant and ephemeral— rather than as anchors, trapping us in the thrall of the past, we begin to experience real freedom. We find ourselves greeting each moment and celebration as a new experience rather than as a chore or obligation.

Tradition

Wabi-Sabi

Reflecting on memory and tradition brought me back to another concept that I have been exploring just recently. It is the traditional Japanese aesthetic called Wabi-Sabi. I first encountered the concept while following up on some Trend forecasts. Being an Etsy online merchant and active through my shop and blogs on various Social Media, it behooves me to keep an eye on what is catching the mass consciousness attention. From a passing fascination with the contemporary expression of this very old idea, I found a much deeper interest in researching its origins and traditional meanings. 

In traditional Japanese aesthetics, Wabi-sabi is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, roughness, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.

From Wikipedia

The concept derives from the Buddhist teaching regarding the Three Marks of Existence— Impermanence, Suffering and Emptiness (absence of Self-Nature). So, in essence, wabi-sabi can be described as beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. The root words, Wabi and Sabi have apparently evolved over time. Wabi’s original meaning referred to the loneliness of living alone in nature, remote from society. Sabi meant lean or withered. More recent connotations for Wabi involve quiet, freshness and a rustic simplicity— Sabi is the beauty and serenity that comes with age; patina, wear and visible repair.

While for many centuries Wabi-Sabi incorporated artistic and Buddhist influences from China, over time it settled into a very distinctly Japanese ideal. Though the original influence of Wabi-Sabi was toward understanding emptiness and imperfection in regard to taking the first steps toward Enlightenment, in present day Japan, it is more often condensed into “wisdom in natural simplicity” or “flawed beauty”. To sum it up: Wabi-sabi is intuitive appreciation of the transient beauty in the physical world reflecting the irreversible flow of life in the spiritual world. It is an aesthetic sensibility that finds melancholic beauty in the impermanence of all things. ( Some information excerpted From: WABI-SABI and UNDERSTANDING JAPAN)

Abandoning Perfection

I find myself fascinated with the entire concept, both its traditional roots and its contemporary interpretation. Maybe a bit strange for a self-proclaimed perfectionist. However, If I have learned nothing else these past few years, it is that I have to Let Go. While I may dream of being the woman who can have it all—business, home, family, hobbies— shiny and perfect, the Truth is I can only do so much. I can try to have a magazine worthy home, but I have come to accept that this glossy perfection seldom extends far beyond the camera frame, and that it takes an enormous amount of time and energy to achieve. I’ve quit kicking myself for not Living up to my own unrealistic goals. Let Go and Let God is my philosophy these days. The more attuned I become with my Spiritual Being and my Higher Self Guidance, the less I worry about these transient things.

 Besides, I think I have reached a stage in life where I might very well be considered Wabi-Sabi! Blessings to All…

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Memory and Tradition

LongTime SunShine

Long Time Sunshine

Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.

-Yogi Bhajan

May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you, and the pure light within you, guide your way on. (Traditional Song to Seal and Close your Kundalini Yoga session)

Thirty Years Ago

Though this is not one of my official Personal History posts, I’ll give a wee bit of background here. In spring of 1989 after having lived in a veritable Spiritual Storm for months—clearing, balancing, receiving council from Ascended Masters, and surviving one of the most traumatic periods of my life— I experienced a complete Kundalini Awakening.

For several weeks I had endured episodes of energy movement that caused my navel point and diaphragm to convulse quite painfully. I was too overwhelmed to be afraid or nervous, and Merlin told me several times to relax and let it happen.

I was in fairly good physical condition at the time. I had worked for a couple of years as manager/operator of a Lawn Service owned by my father, then months as a route person filling vending machines and emptying them of their heavy loads of change. I’m not certain what it would have been like otherwise. As it was, my entire torso was sore to the touch.

Then came an evening when my partner and I were meditating, and I felt the fiery energy rocket up from the base of my spine, encountering blocks at both sacral and solar plexus chakras. The pain was excrutiating but soon over as the energy hurtled itself up and through. It felt as though my skull was being split in two.

And then I was free of my pain wracked form and in a place of Light. I felt waves of Love and Benevolence enfolding me, and experienced a Bliss I had never felt before, nor since. I wanted to stay more than I have ever wanted anything. I felt free. I felt as though I were where I belonged.

I don’t know how long I was there. Not long. In the physical world, I had collapsed and didn’t seem to be breathing. My partner, used to the ebbs and flows of energy work, didn’t panic but waited a short time to see what would occur.

There was a voice, or at least I was communicated to — told I had to go back. That it wasn’t my time to stay there. I can’t tell you how wrenching it was to open my eyes to the mundane world.

Aftermath

Morning Light

Only the world I returned to wasn’t mundane. For weeks afterward, I saw not just auras around people, but around everything, and the energy currents that swirled through creation. Sometimes the beauty of the world swelled my heart and filled me so full that I had a hard time working and functioning. I would stop my work van ( I worked the beach side route at that time) and stare out at sky and sea, drinking in the wonder of it all. And nature responded to me. Pods of dolphins would appear and dance in the ocean before my eyes, welcoming me into their realm.

My very presence helped to heal and awaken those I encountered, or terrified those who were not ready for whatever it was I was exuding. The grandmother of one of my friends got a Priest to come exorcise both granddaughter and her house. My presence had wrought such a change in my friend that her grandmother was sure she was possessed, and that I was demonic.

There was nothing in me that was not of Love and Light though. Even the stars at night scintillated with Life and visible Energy. The sky was literally a cathedral above my head. I knew things about life, about God and about those I encountered—so many things that I no longer know or can remember. All of these wonders faded with time, though I was left with a Consciousness and Awareness much richer than that I had previously.

I grieved the passing of these miraculous abilities at first, then remembered them though a bittersweet lens that left me longing for something I was no longer certain of.

Over the years, at times of stress, upheaval and change in my life, Kundalini has stirred. She would shake me up, get me headed in the right direction, then resume her long sleep. At my initial awakening I did not know until after, what was occuring. Then I knew so many things that I didn’t even think of it as remarkable. Strangely, it was not that long ago experience that brought me to Kundalini Yoga. Earlier this year, determined to quit procrastinating about exercise and health, I started doing Rodney Yee’s beginner yoga (he does a version of Iyengar Yoga) classes with a bit of Vinyasa and Hatha thrown in. One day, more from curiosity than anything else, I tuned in to a beginner Kundalini class with Guru Jagat…

The Past Four Months

I was hooked at that first class. It felt like coming home, like undertaking something so familiar I surely must have done it before. But I hadn’t, at least not in this life. Kundalini Yoga was and is not like anything I’ve done. However, some of the breaths and postures are reminiscent of things my own body has done spontaneously when Kundalini stirred.

I am also not implying that familiarity and attraction to the practice made it anything like easy. I am not young, and I was not in particularly good shape after just a few weeks of other Yoga. Though I breathed my way through a good deal of those early sessions, joining in when I could and resting until I could again, and was actually unable to do some of the more difficult postures and repetitions— I kept at it.

Truly, after the first session I felt better, more alive than in any time in recent memory. I hurt, and my poor muscles continued to complain mightily. But there was a rush, a feeling of enlivened energy and all around fitness that I relished. I happily told everyone I encountered those first weeks that I had rediscovered my Core, because I had most certainly lost track of it over the years. Now I was quite aware of it, not only because of the complaining muscles, but because of the significant progress I made in strength and endurance in a relatively short time.

Not every session left me feeling the endorphin rush of that first set, but there was steady increase, not just physically, but in my mental focus and discipline as well. It has been years since I was able to maintain a regimen of any sort of physical exercise. I would always tell myself that, well, I was too busy, had an appointment or some other Real World distraction, but I’d get back to it. And gradually, I just wouldn’t. Somehow, my yogic and meditative sessions have become my priority —a craving I don’t care to deny.

After a few short months, I am a different woman. I look forward to waking up in the morning, to donning yoga clothes and a white head-wrap, and sweating copiously for one to two hours. Once the energy gets moving in Kundalini, it doesn’t matter whether you’re moving a great deal or not. The heat is internal. You sweat from the inside out. And in the process, your endocrine system and glands come alive, your circulatory system oxygenates every cell in your body, your consciousness ramps up, and toxins flush from your body.

For myself, I welcome the Kundalini energy once more moving through my body, clearing out old emotional blockages and activating Chakras that haven’t functioned fully in years. I would be quite happy to experience another total Awakening as I did years ago, but I am patient these days, and I am content to accept the gifts that this magical yoga gives me every day.

I don’t think that Kundalini Yoga is for everyone, but I do feel that it only just beginning to come into it’s own, that it is an invaluable tool for many Seekers, and for others who just want to live a more expansive life. I will continue to pursue this path as long as I am allowed and able, and I’ll let you know how it goes.

Kundalini Yoga

The word yoga means Union. Ultimately, the aim of the practice is to bring the practitioner into a Union with the Divine. Nobody knows for sure how long Yoga, as a spiritual or physical practice, has been around. There are visual records that go back as far as 5000 years, but it is more likely that 10,000 years or longer is more accurate. It is certainly the oldest spiritual practice still existent on Earth.

Our yoga today is, in the majority of cases, far divorced from the original practice. Many people practice the physical manipulations with little heed or understanding of its spiritual roots. Ideally, at least in my view, it should be a melding of the physical and deep meditation. Perhaps that is why I was so drawn to Kundalii Yoga.

There are literally dozens of different styles, philosophies and types of yoga. In the case of Kundalini Yoga, the aim is to awaken the divine energy that resides at the base of the spine. It was traditionally symbolized by a coiled snake or serpent, for the way it uncoils and travels in a spiral fashion up the spinal column.

Originally , Kundalini Yoga was never taught to the masses . Treated as an advanced technique, the select students were required to go through a period of initiation before they were prepared to learn the deeper mysteries of the Kundalini masters. And perhaps Kundalini would have remained shrouded in mystery if not for the intervention of a man we call Yogi Bhajan.

Meditation

His original name was Harbhajan Singh Puri, born August 26, 1929, in an area of India that became Pakistan in 1948. The son of a medical doctor, he was well educated in exclusive private schools. At just eight years old, he began his yogic training with Sant Hazara Singh and was proclaimed a Master of Kundalini Yoga at the age of sixteen. He came to the west in 1968.

Upon observing the “hippie” generation and their quest for consciousness expansion, he saw the possibility of Kundalini offering a more satisfactory route than the use of mind-altering drugs. He decided (after a visionary experience) to break the ancient silence surrounding kundalini yoga and teach it to those who wished it. Thus began a slow-building revolution that I believe may just change the world. There is much more on the fascinating history of Yogi Bahajan and Kundalini Yoga on sites like YogiBhajan.org or 3HO.org (Healthy, Happy, Holy ).

*Personal Notes

In my view, Kundalini Yoga is not for everyone. But, for the serious Seeker who wishes to embrace a philosophy that holds the possibility of reconciliation with All-That-Is—for anyone who is sincere about the desire to clear and attune the subtle bodies as well as the physical — it is a most valuable Path. Not everyone who engages in Kundalini Yoga will experience a Kundalini Awakening, but it will certainly enhance your awareness and bring greater understanding and stamina.

I would advise that anyone who embarks upon this path be prepared (and educated — read) for the possibility of intense energy experiences. There are far reaching ramifications to the sudden Spiritual Awakening.

I will be glad to answer any questions about my own practice or Kundalini Yoga in general, that I am able.

Sat Nam

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Kundalini Yoga

The Contract

Early Morning Vision June 3rd 2018

Contract With Fear

A short and very intense vision upon awakening on this particular morning. I woke up knowing I didn’t have to get up just yet, and was not quite ready to face the day. Turning over on my other side (right–I typically sleep on my left side) pulled my knees up against my body and immediately began drifting somewhere between waking and sleep. There was some scattered imagery which had meaning to me at the time, but which I did not hold onto.

The Vision

At some point I became aware of a baby elephant moving across the field of my vision. That focused my attention somewhat and I became aware of a Dark Goddess (Kali/Durga I have since been made aware) writing feverishly on a pile of parchments. Though I do not believe she ever spoke, I Heard the words being written.

At the top of the page the words… Contract With Fear.

I will no longer allow you to rule my life, or, for that matter, to maintain any Power or Control over me. I acknowledge the part you have played in my life in the Past and give you no access to my Present or Future. You are the will-o-the-wisp that limits growth and opportunity, and I am done with you.

As she finished writing the document, it was swept up high in the sky by a sudden wind and carried away in to the distant heights. She immediately began to write on the next sheet in her pile.

I saw the words… Contract with Pain

I am done with your interference in my life. I will no longer live in Fear of you, but acknowledge your presence, extract the wisdom and knowledge you carry with you, then Love you and let you go. I will not allow you to dictate my actions to conceal things I have in the past been loathe to acknowledge. Though you may continue to visit, I will not be your Victim.

I saw the paper swept from her hands, only to be consumed by a sudden flame and dispersed into the air as a cloud of ash. She continued to write on the next sheet of paper.

This one was headed… Contract with Anger.

You have long been part and parcel of my life, though often as not I refused to acknowledge you and suffered in silence for it. It is a new day, and I will no longer be at your mercy. I will use you as a tool when needed, so that I or others may learn the lessons that only you can teach. And when I am done with you, I will put you away, so that you have no place in my life.

When she was finished writing, I saw that a black tornado or whirlwind was bearing down on us. It snatched the sheet of parchment from her hand and carried it away.

I felt a great sense of lightening at that point, a release, and then found myself alert and ready to get on with my day. Since I had been in a cycle of Clearing and Realignment at that time, I felt that this was a very important step.

And then there is Hindsight–this vision occurred just nine days before I took my Mom to the hospital emergency room and we found out that she had pancreatic cancer. She never returned home and the next six weeks or so were a waking nightmare of sorts. Was I being prepared with that vision? Certainly the timing was not coincidental. Sometime over the next day or two, I had the Knowing that my Mother was going to die soon. I promptly went into a state of denial and went through all the motions of being shocked and surprised even though I wasn’t. It always amazes me that we can live so often with such dichotomy. Events did not overwhelm me as they could have though, as they might have at another time.

Make of this what you will. The Contract however makes perfect sense to me. Fear is at the base of almost every imbalance we suffer in human incarnation. Even when it is dressed up as Pain or disguised as Anger, it is still Fear. Fear of death, fear of loss, fear of disease and illness, fear of physical pain, fear of being alone, fear of being inadequate… the litany is endless. And how do you excise Fear from your life? By facing it head on and taking away it’s power.

Certainly, this is not something that can be accomplished in a day or a year. It takes an act of will, and it takes your constant vigilance to keep it from creeping back in.

Make your own Contract!

Contract With Fear

No Matter Where You Go…

Well, You Know

(Excerpted and Updated Post from my original Blog—Written in October 2013)

Letting Go!

The original version of this post was published just about a year after I moved back to Florida from North Carolina.  I think I was hoping that, having been here for a year (at that time), I would feel more settled. Instead, I was morose and depressed much of the time. When we moved I had believed that the change would jump-start my stagnant feeling life. Lots of things changed, but much remained remained uncatalyzed, while too much stayed the same. I was seeking a direction—looking for a renewal of purpose to life, and every time I thought I might have it figured out, I seemed to be blocked.

Having voluntarily released the illusion of Free Will fairly early on my Spiritual Path, I was quite accustomed to having my wings clipped when I go on flights of fancy that don’t suit the purposes of that Higher Power which guides me. At that point though, I felt completely grounded. No matter which way I tried to go, I would find myself right back where I started. I could do the day-to-day stuff, work around home, and basically fulfill all the obligations that life entails. Intermittently, I would work on my blog, the purpose of which continued to remain an enigma to me.

However, all outlets for true creativity or financial independence seemed closed to me. I ran against one wall and then another. My life was full of bizarre happenstance and complications. The harder I tried to seek employment or just sit down in my craft room and work, the more things got in the way or went wrong. Even though I have long known better, I spent a lot of mental energy worrying and brooding.

Gradually, as I became a little better at stilling my restless thoughts, that small still voice that is neither inside or out, began to whisper repeatedly that I needed to Let Go of Everything.

That seemed a tall order. I had done it before, but the woman now faced with this daunting task was not the same as the one who had undertaken much the same Path a quarter century ago. While she had no proof that the Freedom and Enlightenment she sought were possible, she had Faith, she had trust, heart and hope. I, on the other hand, did Know what can be attained, but all those other assets were tarnished and worn. It was not Spirit or God that I had lost faith in, but Myself. My heart had not been wide open in a long time. I no longer trusted that I could let go and have the sort of fearless acceptance that this journey requires.

Letting Go

There was a time in my life when I always told the Truth, to myself and to others. I do not lie now, but I learned to keep my mouth shut, to evade and circumvent. There was a time when I was utterly Fearless. Now mild fear and anxiety pervade my life. Instead of being afraid of death or illness as so many are, I am mortally afraid that I will not be good enough, wise enough or brave enough to do all this again.

Unconditional Love

It was easy to see what I needed to let go of, at least in part. But letting go of everything—this is not just a call to release the negativity in my life. The inventory of emotional baggage, whether it is perceived as good or bad, that we accumulate even in the short-term of life is staggering. What do I need to give up?

The judgment and pettiness which I have battled but still experienced these past few years—and also guilt, responsibility, regret, anger and jealousy. On the other hand, I need to cleanse myself of feeling sorry for myself or others, of the need for attention, of clinging to people, places or things. In the final reckoning, to achieve Freedom in this world we must give up Everything, trusting implicitly that what we really need will return to us on its own.

And most importantly, if I am ever to have peace in this life, I have to accept myself and hopefully at some point, Love myself again. That was the hardest part for that younger version of Self I mentioned earlier, but she did it and I think I can also. A song sung by Steve Winwood back in 1986 has been playing through my head for days now—Higher Love.

Think about it, there must be higher love
Down in the heart or hidden in the stars above
Without it, life is a wasted time
Look inside your heart, I’ll look inside mine


Higher Love
Eric ClaptonSteve Winwood

I could not agree more. A life without Love is not a life, and if Love is to have any meaning it must be unconditional and given without reservation. Unconditional Love is easy to contemplate or give lip service to, but how many of us have ever truly experienced it? And how many of us have ever achieved it? To love with no expectations, no requirements, without judgment or culpability is a tall order unless you have first opened and cleared your own heart. So few of us, even toward our own children, parents or God, are capable of loving no matter what may come.

We feel the sting of rejection, the pain of being ignored, or we suffer the affronts of disrespect or dislike on another’s part, and our first instinct is to react in kind. That is not Unconditional Love. To love unconditionally is to love the other whether that sentiment is returned or not, whether the beloved is present or away, and without judging that one’s behavior or conduct. It is Love in its simplest form, without dilution or mitigation, and it is a magnificent gift to give or receive.

I think perhaps the most difficult person to love unconditionally is yourself. In order to let go of all of the garbage that has accumulated over these past few years, I absolutely must quit finding fault with myself. I need to stop denigrating myself, feeling guilt and regret at every hint of criticism from others. Because I am not precisely where I want to be right now I have surely failed—that’s a large part of the burden I carry.

Why is it so much easier to love and forgive everyone else? Maybe because we are too close, but probably because of the obsessive self-absorption most of us indulge in constantly. I am spending a lot more of my time looking outward these days—attempting to reawaken the compassion and desire for service that make this world a better place. And I am feeling very much better for it.

I am giving it all away, knowing that Spirit will send everything I really need back my way.

I am seldom depressed or morose now. On the whole, I am more content with life than in some time, and I am working hard at being at peace with myself. While I can’t say that my Heart is as open as I ultimately want it to be, or that my love and acceptance of Self or others is even close to perfect, I have made great progress and I am taking better care of myself than I have in years.

Blessings, and may you find your own Higher Love!

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No matter where you go...
Letting Go!