In art, art as social inquiry, awakening, book, God, jackrabbit, peace, portraits

I was meditating when my world shifted the way I imagine a person feels when she finds out her marriage was just part of her partner’s CIA cover. No. What? No. You are who? Who are you? And together we are? Not real. Then what is? A paradigm shift happened. Everything about life changed.

I saw…God?SELF-PORTRAIT no copyright

All stop. Whaaaaat??

Knowing. I looked at it. It looked at me. I knew what I was looking at. It knew that I knew.

God is a jackrabbit at once still, alert, waiting in the mind-blowing pause. Waiting for what? Would it slip between the slats chased away by my impatience or fear of the unknown, and become lost to me forever?

I stared. God stared back. I raised my arm like a stealth ladybug scaling the downspout, maintaining eye contact, and careful not to be the first to blink. Wait for it … wait, raise arm s-l-o-w-l-y… Gotcha! I clenched the jackrabbit’s neck, and held its face close to get a good look. God indulged me, held still, and smirked. “Your move.” What!?!? Friendly goading from God?

~

It all started when I became aware of myself meditating like a lucid dreamer realizes she’s dreaming, and in the dream at the same time. I watched my meditating self let a really good idea get away. I was consciously watching my unconscious. And my conscious self wanted that good idea. I knew it was good. I didn’t know what it was. I knew it was for me. I did not want to lose it. I was on a reconnaissance mission for that idea skulking about in my head, and I wanted it…badly.

I started to shadow the idea with my aware mind while in deep meditation, being careful not to startle myself into becoming fully conscious. I never let that tip-of-the-tongue feeling turn into full-blown frustration. Playfulness was the trick. I had to lure the idea back to me with relaxed attentiveness, coaxing a scared kitten out from under the porch with a saucer of milk. It worked. When I was close enough, I grabbed the idea like a parent grabs a straying toddler’s leg, and heaves her close to keep her safe. Stay! I had my idea.

Then the shift happened.

The nanosecond between the deep contentment I was feeling at having secured my big idea, and then assessing what I was going to do with it, was all it took for Knowing to swoosh in. Picture that sliver of a second when a pendulum reaches its apex, pauses, then starts to swing in the opposite direction. The swoosh happened in the pause, and lasted only 3 seconds.

I was living in two minds – 1. having the experience of chasing down an idea in meditation 2. Observing and analyzing myself in the experience. Then swooooosh

This must be God? Experiential Knowing? Swoosh? There were no Souza cymbals. No attendant cherubim. (I hate the word God. So loaded and corrupted, but you know what I mean, right? The ineffable, no-gender Energy that powers Infinity, not the man-made judgmental pontificator demanding supplication and self-deprecation.)

Ideas came into my head. They were deposited fully formed. I translated the idea chunks into words. At first I found myself reading my own translations to understand what I was getting, and then reacting with a running commentary.

I heard All the answers are inside us… Really? How many times have we heard this? Look inside. The prescription is becoming as meaningless as the word gourmet, an all-purpose word now used to describe even cat food. (Does anyone really know what gourmet means? Artisanal is not far behind.)

But WHERE inside us do these answers reside? And what answers, exactly, did I get?

It took a solid year of meditating culminating with 3 hour mediations starting at 4:30 AM every morning for a six week stretch. I wasn’t looking for God. I was trying to manifest a handful of artist brushes. I was testing this idea that our thoughts create our reality. We visualize then feel the desired thing or event has already happened. By doing so we attract the desired outcomes into our lives. Success depends on bypassing intellect, and using imagination. I was visualizing 15 artist brushes tied together with red raffia. That’s when I happened upon God like finding a Roman Empire gold coin while tilling the garden for spring.

God whispers, at least the one I encountered. I know this because during meditation my body and mind were so still I could hear a crosscurrent, a soft buzz below the personality’s clamor. I became even more still, and more attentive as I tried to discern what I was hearing. The buzz became more intelligible the stiller I got.

I was hearing Knowing. No words. Pictures, yes, but they were fuzzy. I could sense the images more than see them. The content was conveyed very clearly. And all this happened in about 3 seconds, a lot shorter than the time it is taking for me to explain it here.

The decades to map out a life I thought I knew upended in 3 seconds?

3 seconds. 1-2-3. What just happened?

~

I understood that I am a universe. But what I actually know of myself could fill an espresso cup, a really small one. I just fell through the wardrobe into C.S. Lewis’s Narnia. I’m living a multi-dimensional life. I was only aware of 1/1000th of it.

I entered a no-time place in my mind where Knowing could happen instantaneously. And this non-verbal cognition was coming from inside me. Not a visitation. Inner knowing. What I was seeing was actually a feeling of the ALL of me, Energy that I am that I did not know I was. I thought I knew myself. I don’t.

I was astonished. Inside me — ME! — is a Horn & Hardart’s automat of ideas, solutions, humor, revelations, giggles, stories, surprises, adventures, dreams, consolation, wisdom, guidance, inventions, generosity, kindness, power, patience, peace, vision, satisfaction, abundance, knowledge, understanding, acceptance, love, everything…all for the taking. No charge, no stipulations, no catches, no judgment, no qualifications necessary.

I understood in those 3 seconds that this mother lode is not separate from me. Not only is it not separate from me. It’s me. And fear is nothing more than a fence that separates me from myself. This Knowing stream was as much a part of me as my own blood. I would not be me without it. I would not exist at all.

I also instantly knew that while the Knowing stream defined the physical and mental parameters I call me, it did the same for EVERYTHING just as gravity exits for everyone, not just for me when I kick my ball in the air.

How could this Knowing that IS me also NOT be me, but be you? Here comes the 3 second shift.

If you are the Knowing stream, and I am the Knowing stream, then I am you. You are me. We are not separate. My words feel like a bike with a bent wheel as I try to convey how big this realization felt.

I experienced a no-separateness. I felt how we, and every blessed thing on earth, are connected. I did not intellectualize this information, decide it made sense, and deposit it into my belief system. During meditation, I was outside the intellect’s transmitting range. The information was felt. There is a big difference. Watching a video of a guy jumping out of a plane is far different from actually jumping out of a plane. I was doing the jumping.palette

Then I got a mental flash. Oh…this is what they — yes, the infamous they: poets, mystics, sages — mean when they say that we are all connected. If you are the Knowing stream, and I am the Knowing stream, then I am you. You are me. We are not separate. Ok. Got it.

When I tripped into the rabbit hole in the back corner of my meditative state, and into the Knowing stream, I understood immediately that we cannot try to be connected or not connected to one another. There is no trying. We don’t have a choice. We just are.

Let’s just give up this notion of separateness just as there is no trying to divvy up your air and my air. We can chose to hate our neighbors, or be the biggest sons-of-bitches we want to be, but our actions are not relevant to the existence of the Knowing stream in us at all. (We might, however, choose not to be bastards because WE, not a eavesdropping overlord God, make life harder and less fun for ourselves if we are awful human beings.)

Again, we don’t have a choice about whether or not we are Knowing. We just are. Does a leaf separate itself from its own green-ness?

Then I wondered why we don’t know that we are all connected? Why aren’t we all aware of ourselves as droplets that make up the one Knowing stream? The answer swooshed into my head in another non-verbal chunk I translated for my intellect. Simultaneously, I was observing myself getting this information. I noted that just asking is a very powerful intention that gets instantaneous answers in my no-time, non-linear meditating mind.

Perhaps we are TOO familiar with our own mind space. The answers are inside us. Remember? These gems float like soap bubbles in our familiar mindscape barely noticed, and just as easily lost. Maybe that’s it. Our inner Knowing is mundane and familiar, so we don’t notice it enough to explore what we already are. We’re indifferent to the brilliance that exists in us, just as we never notice the remarkable translucent kaleidoscope color in our own eyes.

The Knowing stream can feel separate from us even in meditation when we slow our minds, and perceive more than usual. In waking life and in meditation, we cast our sights OUT there, looking for the big E, Enlightenment, and not IN here. We are always seeking to bring something to ourselves. When what we really want is the overlooked child hugging our knees. We are too close to ourselves to recognize that we ARE the Knowing stream.

We don’t believe we could possibly house what we are looking for. When the quest lands us right back at our own doorstep, we don’t believe it. With nowhere else to go, we finally see the illumination that has been in front of us from the start.

I pulled back a kind of skin from my inner eyes. Fear had formed a mesh that blurred my vision like cataracts. Fear of what?

We’ve done all the good deeds, persevered in very difficult circumstances, listened to the sages and mystics because we were expecting to be rewarded with inner peace. Instead, we find that what we thought was the noble quest for life’s meaning was really just us running away from ourselves, and our feelings of unworthiness.

Life’s journey has been long and hard. We are tired. So tired. We will face anything just as long as we can stop moving. Stop. And when we finally do, we see it — our fear of being unworthy of this life just as we are despite all our competence, success, money, charm, intelligence, wit, nice-ness.

Setting down the backpack, rubbing our sore and tired souls, and knowing that we never have to chase another thing outside ourselves again is peace. We are home. Joy is discovering the hundreds of unexplored rooms inside us we never knew existed.

Today, I have the memory (intellect), and an occasional flash (feeling) of what I glimpsed through the crack in the fence where the jackrabbit flitted after our 3 second staring contest. I know what I saw, for sure. I stared God down. And God loved it, and stared back as if to say, “It’s about time you caught me in our little game of hide-and-seek. You have LOOKED everywhere except in yourself.” Oh, and by the way, the game was not so little. Running is exhausting.

~

Do we really create our reality with our feelings and thoughts?

A recap. If our minds can feel as if a thing or event is real now, we attract it into our physical reality. We focus on the feeling we believe something will give us. We then recreate the feeling with our imaginations over and over until the desired thing or outcome manifest in our lives in ways we least expect. Or so the thinking goes. Apparently, meditation is the ideal practice for stoking feeling and imagination where the magic takes place. After 40 years of starts and stops, I decided to find out once and for all if we can consciously create our reality using visualization and manifestation. Yes or no. (This short paragraph hardly does justice to the subject. Google can help with that.) I took several workshops with Dr. Joe Dispenza, best-selling author, lecturer, researcher. I took his work in the neuroscience of change, and his teachings on the benefits of meditating as a dare to test this idea that we create reality with our thoughts. Enter artist brushes.DSC_0627

I started meditating 3 hours/day. What would happen if I entered the no-time, no intellect space for so long? Could I understand something about manifesting that had eluded me for so long? I focused on materializing artist brushes, (but not for the entire 3 hours).

For 6 weeks I visualized 15 artist brushes, 5 rounds and 10 filberts of varying sizes. I see them tied with red raffia, and presented to me like a bouquet of flowers. In my mind’s eye I am running my fingers along the long green-handled, springy, hog hair-bristled brushes. Sometimes I animate them in my mind, and do ballet turns and leaps with the brushes as my partners. I love the brushes. I feel them. I am so grateful to have them. They help me paint. I love painting. I love canvases. I love the smell of oil paints. I love artist brushes. I am using my imagination to create feelings about having artist brushes. The alchemy happens by using images or metaphors that evoke the feeling (joy) of having the brushes. OK. Doing that.

I have enjoyed varying degrees of material success over the decades as a result of my being capable. Yet, I never felt secure and peaceful about it. The times when achieving felt like shoveling to the center of the earth, I remembered what I had learned about manifesting in the 1970s. Feeling desperate and wanting to change my life, I’d give the techniques another try, and always fail to manifest changes as I visualized them. I ALWAYS got change, but sometimes the ride was very bumpy. What was I not getting? Hard life shifts, no peace, but plenty of capable, which was killing me.

My desire for peace outweighed any return my capable self could give me, and kept me on a course for parts unknown in myself. The parts of myself I did not know that I did not know, I uncovered when I started meditating regularly. In those unknown places lay the peace.

What I found in myself shocked me – a shadow self. This shadow self must have formed in childhood as a response to one situation or another that caused me to shut down a part of myself. This shadow self was going to protect the wounded me by getting me to success using intellect to overcome a feeling of unworthiness.

Unworthiness????? Unworthiness was lurking behind my capable mind? You’ve got to be kidding. My first reaction was no way. I’ve done so much.

I had been feeling unworthy? Jeeesh, kind of unbelievable and embarrassing to admit, but there you have it. My capable self was providing cover for the wounded me who had to prove herself worthy of her life on this planet. I think we are all overcompensating for wounded selves in many different ways.

Feeling myself as part of the Knowing stream in my 3 second jolt shined a spotlight on my fearful self, and set her free. I saw for the first time that I’m perfect just as I am. Not with an arms-crossed, feet planted howling declaration. Rather as a gentle giant weeping willow enjoying life’s summer breezes grazing my long thin leaves.

~

POSTSCRIPT

Did I manifest the artist brushes?

After 6 weeks of visualizing and feeling the brushes, I started to be less diligent about visualizing. Pressing life events took center stage, and I forgot about the experiment. I was still very committed to meditation, however. Daily 2-3 hour meditations continue today.

I needed the meditation to navigate the crisis, a 40-year recurring life pattern that has always made me question reality, and how we change it. Some days during the crisis I felt the dark night of the soul, a kind of futility of effort, and meaninglessness in life. I felt defeated by the impenetrable questions why do recurrent negative patterns reappear, and how to I change them. I wanted to give up.

Other times mid-crisis I observed a peace my body and mind soaked up without resistance. The phenomenon fascinated me. Was all this meditating giving me easy access to my true peaceful nature I was spontaneously accessing during a very stressful time?

Am I changed? Yes and no.DSC_0634

I still don’t like everyone, but I harbor no ill will toward anyone. Never have. So this has not changed. The laundry is still there, and I’m still doing it. The doing-ness of life is still the same.

I still don’t have conscious control of this concept that we create our realities with our thoughts. I feel I failed to manifest 15 specific artist brushes tied with red raffia. (Although a friend who knew a little about my desire for brushes sent me a handful of gorgeous brushes out of the blue. But she knew about my experiment. Does that count?)

I feel I’m close though. Discovering a shadow self crouched well out of sight behind big ol’ capable me shocked and liberated me. Self-sabotage lurking in the shadows was just a misguided kneejerk protective response to fear. And that’s gone.

I’m not seeing rainbows and singing Kumbaya. But I am changed in a big way. I’m not going anywhere in my mind. I’m there. I’m still the same capable me, but now I have nothing to prove. Everything is fine.

 

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