Today is Mother’s Day – May 11, 2008, an auspicious time to be sending out this newsletter. Since returning from Emilie Conrad’s wonderful 4 day Continuum workshop, “Moving Medicine” in Seattle, I have been immersed in house hunting, a daunting task and quite a challenge to retain some of the incredible dropped down and aware state I reached through the time with Emilie and my two weeks in April at Cortes. So much of what I’m learning is how to modulate and balance the “doings” that a busy active life in Vancouver demands, with the processes that drop me in that rich inner life which we all long for.
Since embarking on my six month sabbatical, I have wanted to write an update and let you all know how my experiment was progressing. However I haven’t felt the impulse. Then towards the end of my two week stay at our cabin on Cortes, it came upon me and I wrote and wrote. Following is what emerged. I will be returning to my counseling practice at the beginning of July and also sending out another message with my Summer Continuum schedule.
Cortes Cabin, Cortes Island —- April 24, 2008 —– LET IT BE
Running through so many of my thoughts and those of the authors I have been reading, comes the theme of being fully in the present moment. Think back to Ram Das’ first book in the “60’s, “Be Here Now” and of course, Eckhardt Tolle’s “The Power of Now” (made famous by the power of Oprah Winfrey). I’m sure each of you could think of many who speak to this. Then why is it so difficult? Deepak Choprah states that 97% of our thoughts are in the past (even thoughts of the future anticipate what will happen based on the past).
When we are fully in the present moment, it’s amazingly rich and peaceful. I have been reading Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s, “The Call” and she points out that the difficulty lies in our resistance to the reality of impermanence. Everything is always moving and changing – the basic tenant of Continuum being “We do not move, we are movement.”
So to be in the fluid, present moment, we look at the nature of water – always moving, shape shifting and changing depending upon the context – from solid, to fluid to vapour. As I watch the view from the windows of our cabin, I note that while everything I see is changing, it is the water in the ocean that changes and moves rapidly from moment to moment, combined with the air and the wind. I look away and back – it’s different. The other elements – the trees, the rocks, the earth are also changing but albeit so slowly, we can’t capture it with the eye. The creatures I see – the birds, the ducks and the squirrels, are also in constant motion. They fly in, swim in, run into my view and then they’re gone. They, like us, are composed mainly of water – dynamic, alive & moving.
In Continuum, we speak of the influence of our breath on the waters inside of us. Why do we resist these organic, biological rhythms and movements of change and cling so tenaciously to what is familiar, even if it is something we hate, are bored with, or cause us incredible pain??
When I first came to our island cabin for two weeks in April, I realized quite soon that my experience this time was quite different from the month I spent here in January. For one obvious reason, I had a whole month compared to two weeks. For another, there were many “to-dos” at the cabin this time – carpenter ants to be dealt with, hydro poles needing replacement, details to be attended to with the subdivision we are planning and so on and so forth it goes.
And Yes, it is spring and January was in winter, in the composting, hibernating time, while spring is beginnings, what was hibernating coming awake, alive and needing to be tended to.
The difference – in January, I became more immersed in and attentive to the spiritual and creative parts of myself, culminating in the deep, dropped down, slowed down and aware state, where, for example, my compulsive eating habits disappeared. I was aware of being hungry, enjoying what I ate and then completely stopping because I was full, no matter what was left on my plate. I even could have a half of a square of chocolate and put the rest back because I didn’t want it. For someone who’s been a compulsive eater since 13 years of age, this was an amazing, freeing and empowering example of how I was in touch with my needs.
During the month of January, I rested a lot, I read a lot, I meditated through Continuum & sitting for 20 minutes a day, I watched my beautiful ocean view with the diving winter ducks on the water, I had periods of days Continuum silence, I exercised every day, went for short walks, I played with painting & collage & photograph and some writing. I attended to the fire (a constant in January) and so on. But mainly, I practiced following impulse and watching my response both physically and emotionally without judgment but with love and compassion and curiosity. I practiced a loving, curious attentiveness towards myself and the situation I was in.
The overall result was totally amazing! I have never felt so peaceful, so rested, so alive, so connected to myself and other. The difference was obvious to myself as well as to others. A side benefit was that I also began to feel stronger physically and more energized.
Returning home in February after a horrendous snow storm where my neighbour had to tow my car out of the driveway, I realized that the intensity of this period would diminish but not disappear as I reentered my life (but not my work) in the city. I needed to put into practice (and still do) all the things I’ve learned over the years of exploration and to trust what I know. I am so grateful for the gifts and the resources that I have accumulated from various teachers and processes and to my community of friends, family and colleagues who support me and I them.
Even though I was alone most of the time in January, I never felt alone. When we drop down and surrender deeply into silent awareness, under the emptiness, we find the fullness of being connected to self (body, soul and spirit), to our community and to our planet and universe. So I feel at all times (well, mostly) that my loved ones are with me, like microtubules supporting the skeleton of my being.
These are the main practices that I carry with me:
(1)the loving & curious attentiveness while following impulse. It is important to learn to be still enough to really feel the impulse and to move & follow it while staying attentive to self and other (context), rather than moving from habit. However, if it is a habitual impulse to move (so much is) it is important to still follow it with loving, curious attention. Soon, you will begin to learn the difference from your response, physically, energetically and emotionally.
(2)to trust myself and practice what I know now, rather than searching the next “goodie” – method, book, workshop, job, relationship, etc.
(3)to never feel alone (I never am anyway – I am intrinsically interconnected and held by my larger “Self”) and to make use of my community of friends and family—to reach out when I’m needy (having the health problems I’ve had in the last few years, especially during my surgeries has helped me to learn the benefits of receiving as well as giving).
So here I am, in a good place at the end of these two weeks of retreat and reflection, and in a different place from the end of my retreat in January. “It’s all good.” And so it is much about knowing when and for how long one needs to withdraw from our busy lives, to tap into those inner resources, to that rich inner life that we have denied ourselves so much of our life. It’s taken me over 70 years to find the place I’m in now and then to keep finding it anew in each moment which involves letting go, making space for another possibility to come in. Combining this with holding myself as part of the greater whole, the community of beings —-
More letting go – I have sold my condo and will be moving at the end of June. I finally made the decision after many back & forths, finding it difficult to let go of my home that I love. However, once I was able to say, if it is meant to be, it will sell, and if I’m not meant to move it won’t, it sold to the first person who came to see it – we didn’t even have an open house!
So too with my beloved companion of seven years, my cat Emily, I went back and forth with finding a loving home for her, and finally again surrendered – if it was meant to be, it will be. Then a wonderful couple answered my ad on Cortes. They have a lovely 5 acre waterfront property, next to a park – sort of cat heaven! She’s most happy and settled in quickly. “Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be.”
We do what we can to invoke, invite the inner wisdom, then let go of expectations and be open to whatever, give it over to the Greater Being, to the Mystery.
With love and blessings, Doris