Sunday, 25 September 2011

Waking up


The most precious

The most precious,


The Union

what is happening
in my experience
right now


my capacity to
love it
completely -

to cherish it,

to prize it beyond

Anything else.

To value
my life.


Sunday, 24 July 2011

No need to be lonely

You are either free, up against it or hiding.”

is something one of my teachers said recently that really hit home.

My understanding of what he meant was something like: in any given moment in life we are either (a) touched by our experience, not feeling separate from it and flowing easily and naturally with it, (b)  fighting with life and suffering and often realising that we are doing this, or (c) so detatched from our experience that we don’t even realise that we are distant from it, alternatively knowingly putting our heads in the sand and trying to pretend it isn't happening.

I had a profound experience of the first two very clearly recently within a very short space of time, which I’d like to share with you.  The third is very familiar to me too, but this experience was mainly about the freedom and fighting.

I had recently given notice from a job that I’d held for 15 years, which I had fallen out of love with.  I’d decided to follow my heart and devote all of my time to building work based around heartfulness and presence.  To say that I felt excited and energised was a bit of an understatement.  I was stoked.

And then I went dancing.  I went to 5 Rhythms, which is a dance practice somewhere between clubbing and meditation.  We dance for the joy of dancing and we dance to come home to ourselves and to connect to others, to connect to life.

As well as being great fun and really joyous, it can also be a challenging place to be.  It certainly is for me, and others have told me the same.  In addition to the easy, openhearted bits, I often see myself playing out all of my life patterns on the dancefloor - feeling self-conscious, comparing myself to others, judging them, sometimes even fixating on them.  It’s not pretty.  But because it is a dancing meditation, we are encourged to notice what’s going on.   We see that we are suffering, and quite often we have haven’t got a clue what do to about it.  I often haven’t got a clue about what to do about it, if in fact there is anything that actually needs to be done.

And on this particular evening for the first 30 minutes that just wasn’t happening.  My habitual patterns weren’t running.  I was simply in my experience and loving it.  I was free.

I was able to have a very conscious experience of what free felt like.  I loved my dance (though there was no ego attachment to it) there was just loving my dance.  I loved everyone else’s dances without exception.  I wasn’t judging them, I was loving them.  If I felt attraction for someone it felt simple and easy - I was able to celebrate it as my feeling of attraction and to share it with them without wanting or expecting anything back - and I could see from their response that they enjoyed receiving the simple gift of my appreciation without any of the usual strings attached.  Everything, but everything felt simple and easy.  I was flowing with life. 

It gave me a glimpse.  A glimpse of what’s possible, when I’m not run by my patterns and when I’m simply living as part of life.  As life.  Separate, but not separate.

And then, as predicted it happened.  After about 30 minutes of freedom, my patterns started to re-emerge.  I found myself feeling slightly dissatisfied with my dance, and judging and comparing others.  When I felt attraction for someone I could sometimes notice my attention becoming fixated on them, which didn’t feel nice.  (I’m guesing it didn’t feel nice for them either, but even inside me it didn’t feel too good).  Things no longer felt completely easy.  There was in fact a quiet but persistent sense that somewhere, just out of direct line of sight there was an (as yet undefined) problem.  I knew that this was something that I was doing to reality - but I didn’t know how to set myself free.  Damn! I was “up against it”.

And it was a wonderful contrast.  To be able to experience both so clearly and so fully within a 1 hour period was a great gift and allowed me to see certain things much more clearly.

After about half an hour of this general grumpiness, I was reminded of my recent insights and I started to get curious.  Were there feelings in my body that wanted to be felt and that I wasn’t feeling?  I checked.  Yup.  There they were.  I couldn’t fully feel them but I could just about see where they were hanging out.  Why couldn’t I feel them?  Most of my attention was outside on the others, liking them, disliking them, making up stories about them, obsessing over them and generally fixating on them.  Very little of my attention was on my own body.  I’d left home.  I’d abandoned myself - at least temporarily.  It felt painful and a little lonely.

I resolved just for that moment to bring all of my attention in.  To ignore everyone else and to carry on dancing but to feel the feelings.  Could I do it?  Yes.  Was it difficult?  No, not really, once I’d noticed that I needed to do it and made a firm decision that that’s what I was going to do for a bit.  

And so I did.  I carried on dancing and felt the feelings.  I let the feelings become part of my physical expression and danced the feelings.  All of them.  I danced my sadness and frustration, my anger and my joy, my grief and my delight.

In the mix there were some strong so-called “negative” feelings - sadness, anger, grief.  But there was nothing happening in my life that I felt these things about.  Where did these strong “negative” feelings come from?  My sense is/was that they are old stuff - old “stories” stored in my body, from days gone by when strong experiences happened that I wasn’t able to process, and so my body has buried them.  (A bit like the way that we currently bury radioactive waste, becuase we don’t know how to process it and make it safe).  And by not paying attention to these strong buried feelings they were leaking out all over the place, making my life and that of those around me a less pleasant place to be.

So, I just felt them these feelings.  I gave myself to it and them 100% for a little while.  And the effect was amazing.  The feelings didn’t go away, but I came home.

There I was, in my body, dancing and feeling, just dancing and feeling, eyes half closed, having my experience, no separation - once again, free.

But this was a slightly different free from earlier that evening.  Earlier it had been free with no painful feelings.  Now it was free with painful feelings.  The first one didn’t seem to take any practice to do.  The second was a little bit more challenging, because my usual pattern when there are painful feelings to be felt is not to feel them.  

And yet in some ways I noticed that it was the same free.  All I needed to do was to feel what I was feeling, to embrace my experience and life became easy again, the sense of dissatisfaction and problem disappeared and I was able to celebrate - everything.  Even though I was not in contact with others, I noticed I didn’t feel lonely, not a bit.  I felt...loved.

I noticed that along with feeling the pain, I was suddenly able to feel joy too.  Gradually I was able to open my eyes and see the others and include them.  I wasn’t judging them anymore, I was able to see them, just see them and appreciate them for who they were, as they were.  Gradually, being careful to “stay at home” with myself and my feelings I was able to make eye contact.  It was a bit vulnerable at first, because I was allowing them to see my how I was, with all of my feelings, but also felt simple and easy.  Nothing to hide.  Hello you, this is me.  I’m like this right now.  Ah, you’re like that.  Nice to meet you.

I had some exquisite dances from that place, of meeting people including all the feelings that were happening in me and by doing that being able to include them too.  I was so touched to be sharing myself with them and to be able to appreciate them as they appreciated me and I appreciated myself.  I felt such gratitude.  Gratitude to myself, gratitude to my partners, gratitude to life.  

And this was a deeper glimpse.  A glimpse of how I could be free in the world when things inside didn’t feel easy.  How I didn’t need to zone out or withdraw, but how I could completely include myself and from there relate with the world.  I didn’t need to wait for the moment that all of my “stuff” would be resolved.  I could do this in any moment.  In any moment when I was able to notice that I’d left home and when I was willing to come home, face the music and feel the feelings.

And the simple insight that I gained from this experience was I can now see the suffering and fixation as a reminder - a reminder that I’ve “left home”.

Whenever I notice my attention is out - that I’m judging others or myself - that I’m wondering whether they like me or what they are thinking, when there feels like there is a problem with life - its a sure sign that there’s something closer to home that is crying out to be felt.

All I need to do is to come in, and just for a little while give in all my attention, before being able to open out my attention and include the rest of the world.

How do I know if I’m actually feeling the feeling?  It’s not as obvious as I originally thought.

I had a craniosacral session the other day and told my craniosacral therapist that I was feeling tired.  I thought that’s what I was feeling.  And to some extent it was true.  But then she said “can you sink into the tiredness and feel what’s there?”.  I realised that I had been hovering above the tiredness, not really feeling it, somehow resisting it (and yes, that background sense of “problem” was there too).  When I sank into the tiredness and let myself feel it I contacted something else, a sense of deep sadness/grief.  And with it came a sense of relief, a sense of coming home.  It was touching.

I found myself writing the following words this morning:

*If I am getting externally fixated it’s because there’s a feeling that want’s to be felt and I’m not at home to feel it.

* If there is a sense of tiredness/contraction/resistance - I’m probably floating just above the feeling...almost feeling it but not quite.

Can I melt into the tiredness/resistance?  What is there that I’m not yet fully feeling?

* Feeling the feelings doesn’t have a scratchy resistant quality to it (that quality indicates to that I’m not quite in the place of my experience).

That resistance is probably the “self contraction” that keeps me seperate from life/oneness/unity.

Feeling the feelings has a relieving - coming home quality.

Even if it is accompanied by sadness/anger/grief.

It is touching.

(Because it is touching experience).

If there feels like there is a problem ask:

Am I touched by my experience right now?

Can I melt into my experience and let it have me, let it touch me.

If the answer is no, then can I be touched by that?

By my feeling of separation from life and the loneliness that accompanies it.

Keep gently enquiring.

Stay with yourself - not trying, but not abandoning yourself either.

You’re just up against it, that’s all.

Until you are touched by your experience.

Until you are home.





Friday, 22 July 2011

Rules of Being Human

I didn't write this and I can't quite discover who did.  I found it at the end of a great book on Craniosacral Therapy by Rollin Becker called The Stillness of Life.  I think it's rather fab.

Rules of Being Human

1.  You will receive a body.  You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period this time around.

2.  You will learn lessons.  You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called life.  Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons.  You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant or stupid.

3.  There are no mistakes, only lessons.  Growth is a process of trial and error experimentation.  The "failed" experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately "works".

4.  A lesson is repeated until it is learned.  A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it.  When you have learned it, you can go on to the next lesson.

5.  Learning lessons does not end.  There is no part of life that does not contain lessons.  If you are alive then there are lessons to be learned.

6.  "There" is no better than "here".  When your "there" has become a "here", you will simply obtain another "there" that will, again, look better than "here".

7.  Others are merely mirrors of you.  You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.

8.  What you make of your life is up to you.  You have all of the tools and resources you need.  What you do with them is up to you.  The choice is yours.

9.  Your answers lie inside you.  The answers to life's questions lie inside you.  All you need to do is look, listen and trust.

10.  You will forget all this.

Daniel Kingsley - Cranio - on Facebook

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Coming home to be healed

Amma came to me last night.  I don’t mean that she came in a dream by some sort of astral travel, if that’s the sort of thing she’s prone to do, but more that (at 3am today) I had a palpable sense of who she is and what she offers, and it opened my heart.  More importantly, I had a sense that it is something that is a potential in me, you and in everyone.  It was a profound experience and I want to share it with you.

It’s not really important for you to like or even know Amma for the purpose of this story.  Her role in proceedings here is metaphorical.  But in order to understand what I have to share it might help for you to have some idea who she is and what she does, if you haven’t met her yet yourself.

Amma is a large jolly looking Indian woman who hugs people.  Lots of people.  She goes all around the world doing it and people queue up to be hugged by her.  Many people believe that she is a living saint - an enlightened avatar, and that her hugs have mystical and healing properties.  This is why they queue up for hours and late into the night to receive her blessing and her embrace.  They come to her to experience her love, they come to her for healing.

I’ve met her and been hugged by her on 2 occasions in the past.  Actually, the hugs were not life changing experiences for me.  Frankly, I’ve had better hugs from the people I love and more transformative esoteric energetic experiences from other beings and teachers.  There is no denying, however, that the feeling of the room when you are sitting there with her and the other participants is a delightful one and it does feel to me like bathing in a sea of love.  There are many worse ways to spend a Tuesday evening, especially in Alexandra Palace.

Anyway, this story is not a discussion of Amma and her work and whether or not it is a good use of anyone’s time to seek her out for a cuddle, it’s much more about what I realised at 3am this morning and how it reminds me of what she does and what we all can do.

At 10pm yesterday I arrived back from an amazing tantra workshop with Jan Day (Living Tantra 1, since you ask) where we had spent the entire week practising saying “yes!” to all of our human experience.  Yes to the pleasure, yes to the pain, yes to our sexuality, yes to our wounding, yes to it all.  It did feel like something had started to shift in me during the workshop, that I was finally ready to start to embrace parts of my experience that in the past I had at best tolerated and at worst had actively been resisting.  I offer my deep heartfelt thanks and my gratitude to Jan for holding such a safe space for me to start this part of that journey. I sense that I will be working with her some more.

But doing it on a workshop is one thing.  Doing it in life is quite another.  And doing it at 3am in my own bed when I can’t sleep is not something I would have believed possible.  And yet it was.

I woke up at about 3am feeling intense discomfort in my body.  This is not an unfamiliar experience for me.  There are old patterns in my body (probably trauma from childhood, perhaps not) that play out at various times and whilst I’m asleep is one of their favourite times to express.  I often wake feeling internally contorted and churned up and in such physical/emotional discomfort that I’m unable to sleep.

What I usually do is try to find a way to soothe these patterns away.  Essentially finding the places that are tight and gently bringing my attention to them telling them that it’s ok for them to relax.  And they usually do, eventually.  And then I can go back to sleep.

And this is fine, up to a point.  Except it feels like a bit of a sticking plaster.  I simply relax the tense places enough for me to sleep, but the underlying patterns themselves are not addressed.  They are not addressed because I don’t really want to engage with them, to meet them and to know them.  I feel a little like a teacher who has learned to be able to calm down the children in class who are misbehaving, rather than being willing to sit down with them and really help them to work through the pain that was causing them to misbehave in the first place.

And that’s what was different last night. 

Last night when the pain came, for perhaps the first time I was willing and able to welcome it.  Not to try to soothe it away, not to try to deal with it, but simply to be genuinely curious about who had come to visit and to welcome it as a long-lost cousin from a far-away land (which in reality is not so far away at all).

The experience was incredibly moving and the response of my body was astounding.  The pain came – I said yes.  The tears came, I said yes.  My body contorted into strange shapes – I said yes.  I said welcome.

I was left after about 30 minutes feeling more relaxed than I had ever felt when I had been trying to soothe the pain away.  I felt like a little part of the pain had really been met and having really been met had been able to let go.  But even this is beside the point.  I felt that I had been really inside and celebrating my experience, even though it was a difficult one.

I was reminded of what my teacher Adam had said to me recently about the absolutely fundamental importance of really being willing to have the experience I was actually having and that when I was refusing to do so I was rejecting and devaluing my life.  I was starting to have a deeper glimpse of how it might be to really embrace all of my experience and so to be present in all of my life, celebrating it all.

I am now starting to see that there is no end-goal in life beyond this, being present in and celebrating our experience.

I was reminded of the metaphor of life as a record player that came to me recently.  (I know record players are rather old-skool now, but updating it to CD technology seems to squish the romance). Our still-conscious nature is the needle, our ever-changing experience is the vinyl.  When consciousness touches experience, there is love.  When the needle that we are as source touches the vinyl of the experience that appears and changes, we are the music that plays.

I was also reminded of something that Pamela Wilson had said when I had explored the question of pain with her.  She had said that the pain comes to you as the guru, in order to be seen and loved by you and to be set free.  I had understood what she had said at the time but had had no sense that it might actually be possible for me to do and try as I might had been able to relate in this way with my pain.  Except last night at 3am, that’s just what I did.  And it was so, so beautiful!

I was moved to pick up my pen and write some words.  These are the words that came:

Coming home to be healed.

It’s not about even allowing tension/pain to soften.

It’s about the patterns of pain coming to you, for you to love them and set them free.

Don’t ask “How can I be free from this pain?

Do ask: “Who comes to me just now for healing?”

“What is your nature?”

And then say:

“Ah!  You’re like that!”


“Welcome!  Welcome just as you are!”

“There’s no need for you (the tension, the sadness, the pain) to change”

“Welcome home”

“You are loved.”


Ask simply: “Who comes to me next for healing?”

Sit, as Amma sits, in front of the queue of beautiful hurting pieces coming to you for a hug, and one after another love them.  Say: “Yes my child, welcome home!”.  And hug them to your chest as they sob in your arms, and the two of you cry and laugh together.

Some of them have traveled many miles to be here, as they have heard that you are a saint of extraordinary power, a living embodiment of god.  You tell them: “I don’t know about that, but you are very welcome nonetheless and I love you.  Yes, my child, it’s OK to cry, mummy’s here.  Yes, sweet one, it’s all OK”.  And rock them gently in your arms as one by one you welcome them home.

Don’t play favourites, take them into your arms in the order they come to you.

Don’t try to change them.

Don’t even try to set them free.

Just ask “who comes to me for a blessing?”

And love them one after another.

Because that’s what they need.

And because you are the only one who can.