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Posts Tagged ‘meditation and enlightenment’

Enlightenment - WOHASU

There is a Cooper’s Hawk nesting in our pine tree. His plaintive cries ring out at various times during the day, like an avian alarm clock. Yesterday, we found a new bird sitting on the railing of the front patio: I think he was some kind of tufted nuthatch, but honestly, I can’t remember his name. I can see his bird body, firm and round, and the spectacle of him catching an insect in his beak as he sat on the railing. My husband and I played in mud puddles a few days back, because there were fairy shrimp in them, an endangered species brought to life by the copious rains of the last several weeks. Those rains are long gone, though, replaced by a heat wave that will bring up the temperature to near 100 degrees today. The fairy shrimp won’t make it, but by now, they have deposited their eggs in the mud for next year’s generation. Right now, the tadpoles and fairy shrimp are drying up in the intense sun, as they do every year. They will come around again in several months’ time, when the conditions are right for their reappearance.

The bees are almost finished with the blooming rosemary and have moved on to heartier flowers. The cabbage rose in the side yard has sent out new shoots, suckers and stems, drinking in the heat and creating more roses out of nothing, it seems. My husband has found several deer mice in his garage, and he feeds them leftover burritos until we liberate them from an old, metal bucket into the State Park, where humans cannot yet go, but mice can. My walks around the hills have become more focused, and now I see tiny flowers and withering mushrooms that would have escaped me before. I see the circling of hawks on the updrafts; sometimes, they appear not to move at all, suspended in the air like living kites, and I wonder if they are searching for food or simply enjoying the sensation of floating over the world.

Right now, a train is passing through the valley, and the sound of the horn reverberates and warps as it tunnels through the hills. The rotating fan clicks as it hits one extreme of its trajectory and heads toward the other. I feel the breeze for a moment, and then I don’t, and then I do. A dog is barking down the street, and the birds in the oak tree are singing and calling to each other. I don’t know which birds they are: goldfinch, sparrows, titmice, wren, or something else, but I do know that they sound ecstatic to my ears, as if they had been waiting for this morning forever, and it’s finally here.

There is one reality, and you are experiencing it right now. How you experience will vary tremendously. Perhaps, if you were here with me in my room, your description of reality would be totally different from mine. It is very tempting to try to experience others’ realities, but in truth, we cannot do so. We can empathize, work to improve the lives of others, strive to create a better world for us all; but we cannot inhabit someone else’s perception or know what life feels like for them. There are habits that we have developed that make us believe a lie: that we can fully understand someone else’s reality; that we can predict or control the future; and that more information will confer a sense of peace and knowledge that will fix the fear and desperation we so often feel.

Social media feeds the idea that what people post is somehow connected to a reality that affects us; the vast majority of the time, there is no connection. We think that we can ‘stay connected’ via posts that we view on a screen, but there are multiple levels of distancing happening: the written word, the technology itself, the communication gaps that naturally exist between people, and the odd, snapshot-like glimpses we absorb that lack context. News, of course, fulfills the need for information, and the using of that information as a self-soothing mechanism. However, there will never be enough information to make us feel better. Contradictory claims about Covid-19, lack of testing, lack of information, the great medical unknowns, and many other examples of our ignorance and unpreparedness guarantee that more reading on the issue will only produce a kind of vertigo that leads to depression. The news cycle seems to promise that if we keep reading, we will find that nugget of truth that will eradicate our fear and insecurity; in reality, the news cycle utterly depends on our fear and insecurity, and it will stoke these emotions with shocking headlines designed to keep you clicking and reading.

The news cycle is created to keep the reader psychologically and spiritually off balance. You believe that more reading will restore that balance, but that is not the point. The point is to keep you endlessly worried about an uncertain future and questioning what you think you know now. Social media and the news are the enemy of living in the present moment, of quiet observation, of grounding yourself in the reality of now. Peaceful existence in the present moment is the enemy of capitalism and materialism. If you are not worried about the future or uncomfortable in the present moment, why would you rush out to buy stuff, or continue consuming the news? So much of what we purchase is an attempt to soothe ourselves, to distract ourselves, so that we don’t have to make deep dives into the nature of our selves and our immediate reality.

Right now, you are reading this from somewhere. Where are you? What do you hear? What is happening around you? How does the chair or the bed feel underneath you? Can you smell the dusky coat of your cat or dog, can you hear the sounds of your partner rustling around the house, do you have a bird that makes little noises while perched on her cage? Is the air conditioner whirring, or the overhead fan spinning, moving the air around your room? Come back to yourself, to what is actually happening around you; it is then, and only then, can you take meaningful action to help others. If you come from a place of chaos, you will radiate that chaos into your environment; if you come from a solid sense of peace and grounding, you can change far more than your world.

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I decided to read some old diaries, from years back. I had expectations: I would see how much I had evolved over the last year, how truly different I had become after all of my spiritual experiences, and I would feel compassion for the Kirsten of yesterday, pre-Spiritual Awakening. Perhaps, I pondered, I could hold a ceremony for that poor woman shredded by anxiety and beaten down by depression; a ‘soul healing’ for who I used to be.

I read avidly, looking for all the signs that I had, indeed, achieved Enlightenment. The more I read, the more my spirits fell. Something’s wrong. I did not see much difference. I poured over diary after diary, hoping that I would see how much I had transformed. I didn’t see it. Instead, I saw that I was the same. THE SAME. After a year of dazzling and shocking revelations, wild visions, intense talks with God and the Universe, countless hours of meditation, regular experiences in states of altered consciousness, a total spiritual breakdown, trance states, taking to the dead, reading people’s minds, channeling, you freakin’ name it, nothing fundamental was different about me.

I read back through Soulbank, hoping that I would see evidence of my progress there. Nope. What I wrote in 2009 followed the same–or similar– themes as now. I poured over everything I wrote over the last year, looking for huge shifts in my Ascension Process. Nope. I had revelations, forgot about them, had them again; I would swear something was new and shocking, but actually it was an understanding I had arrived at years prior. This was something similar to my Nine Churches in Six Years journey, which led me from the Catholic Church to the Episcopal Church to community churches to something called New Thought. I arrived at the end where I had started out: confused. Angry. “Why,” I thought, “am I not getting anywhere?”

I ask the same question now: “WHY am I not getting anywhere?” The answer is quite plain and simple: there is nowhere to go. There is no final, spiritual destination. There is no correct path, no best way to Get There. There is, actually, no path at all. I always thought that a moment would come when you knew that you had arrived: you were happy, almost all the time, and everything–all the Big Mysteries–would be solved. You would have found peace and radiate love. Children and animals would naturally gravitate towards you, because they sensed that you contained a Buddha or Jesus-like radiance. Dammit. I was gonna be HOLY.

I started reading about monks who had spent 20 years meditating and found that they were still angry, judgmental, fearful, and confused. Sometimes they were happy and calm; sometimes they hated everything and everybody. That made no sense to me–isn’t the point of all these experiences that we come to peace with ourselves and our God? And isn’t that peace that ‘surpasses all understanding’ supposed to be permanent? What’s going on here?

I myself was very judgmental for quite some time regarding paranormal investigating. It was a pseudo science, it was pointless, it was providing no solid evidence for life after death, and so on. At some point over the last year, it hit me: just as there is no right way to figure out reality and God and the Universe and the nature of consciousness, there is no WRONG way to figure it all out, either. If the Ghost Radar and weird audio are leading you somewhere you want and need to go, then that is just as valid as attending Mass, meditating for hours, praying, chanting, spinning, or eating strange berries that make you see serpents in the clouds. Who was I, or anyone, to judge what method was best for finding yourself or discovering the secrets of the Cosmos?

Last January, I went through hell. I had traumatic memories surface, I had odd and scary thoughts that I couldn’t control, I experienced emotions that terrified me and made no sense. I truly thought that I was losing my mind. I felt energy run through my body like I was some kind of live wire or mega-charged battery. I couldn’t sleep, I felt dizzy and spacey, and I was sure that I was losing my grip on reality. I dutifully trundled off to therapy, meditated, prayed, and attended support groups for such things as Spiritual Emergencies, Kundalini rising, Spiritual Awakenings, Ascension, Light Workers, and so on and so forth. I howled at the moon and found my spirit animal. I took classes on mediumship. I pondered becoming a shaman (HA! Nobody should want to be a shaman) or at least, a spiritual guide for the nether worlds of the soul. I meditated until I entered trances and had visions. It faded away after school started in February and used up all my energy.

But my research had just begun. What had I gone through? I read thousands of pages on Kundalini openings, yoga, and other spiritual practices that scared the crap out of me–they had dire warnings about Kundalini energy making people insane or suicidal. That, of course, kicked off my anxiety. Then, I found out that menopause has the SAME SYMPTOM LIST. Yup. Perhaps everything that I experienced and labeled as deep, spiritual transformations was simply the result of hormones dropping and rising precipitously and messing with my neurotransmitters. That realization was quite sobering and more than a tad depressing. Was any of what I experienced real in any sense at all?

There are many articles that link menopause to spiritual enlightenment or Kundalini rising. For those of you who don’t know, Kundalini energy is supposedly stored at the base of your spine and rises up through the seven chakras. At least, I THINK that there are seven chakras. If you block the rising energy, it will negatively affect one of your chakras and cause physical symptoms. It is often experienced as heat spreading up the torso. If you have ever had a hot flash, assuming you’re a woman of a certain age, that’s EXACTLY what Kundalini energy is supposed to feel like. “Menopause is Enlightenment,” one website affirms. If this is Enlightenment, it kind of sucks.

I couldn’t, of course, figure out whether or not menopause was the Ultimate Cause of the difficult emotions and upsetting thoughts that plagued me for several weeks. In fact, nothing really explained it to my satisfaction: too many life situations could have caused it, and the explanations ran the gamut from psychological issues to hormonal imbalance to spiritual emergence. In the end, there was no way to define or pigeon hole it; it was weird, it was unexpected, it was inexplicable. However, I did learn one thing: the thoughts, feelings, and crazy energies were NOT the problem. My reaction to them was the problem. I panicked; I freaked out; I spent endless hours online trying to figure out what was ‘wrong’ with me.

As usual, anxiety was the villain in my story. It always is. It always has been. I could have chosen to simply let it go, observe it all, find it curious but pay it no undue attention. My need to label it, to find a box to stick it in, created pain and confusion. It has taken me a very long time to figure this out, but here it is: you don’t need to label every experience or rank it as desirable or terrible. Spirituality is a very vague concept, indeed. Everything we do and are is ‘spiritual’, if you believe that there is more to us than meat. All roads lead to Rome, if you have a sincere desire to learn and commit yourself to loving yourself and others as part of your search. Stay off the Internet. Trust me, it leads nowhere. Even therapy was mostly unhelpful, as every individual has her own take on what it is you are experiencing, and that could end up confusing or upsetting you. Don’t let other people define the experiences you are having–and don’t worry that you don’t know if your lightheadedness is the start of an Out of Body Experience or just PMS. Any experience can be interpreted as spiritual, physical, or psychological. You can convince yourself that you are going crazy in a thousand ways–that’s how anxiety works.

There is no Path. There is no destination. There is nowhere that you are supposed to end up, spiritually speaking. You are already where you need to be. You are already spiritually developed and have been since birth. The mere fact of your existence and your conscious experience is enough to prove that you ARE the mystery and the answer to the mystery. There is nothing you are missing, need to find, or have to track down. Sometimes, we remember who we really are and think that we’ll never lose that revelation. Then we forget. Life is a cycle of remembering our divinity and falling back asleep. There is no achievement, just an awareness.

I don’t even call any of this a Spiritual Awakening anymore. It’s more like a Remembering and a Forgetting. The fact that I remembered some extraordinary events from another lifetime does not mean anything in and of itself. What mattered is how I reacted and responded to the memories flooding back into my consciousness from past lives and this life. The physical effects of this old reality coming back online were quite real and often astounding–I was frequently distracted by my visions and new perceptions. But ┬áit was simply my body adjusting to the realignment of energies flowing through me. That energy might be called Kundalini or perhaps simply Spirit; in any case, we all experience this to one degree or another during transformative moments.

Spirit doesn’t change who you are. It reminds you who you are. Spirit wakes you up; it doesn’t ‘choose’ you, or confer special powers to you. You might change your circumstances, but you’re still who you always were. That’s the moment of realization: the search leads you back to yourself. The Path goes from Point A to Point A. It’s both liberating and depressing: liberating because you can engage in any spiritual practice you choose without worrying that it’s not the ‘right’ one, and depressing if you were hoping that you would be a different person after all the Experiences die down. Nope. You are always you. Always have been, always will be.

Understanding that the Universe loves you for who you are right now, is cause for celebration. That is the true spiritual epiphany.

 

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