I am trying to get through a few work tasks. I need to get these out of the way so I can focus on a more ambitious and rewarding project. It is hard to focus because I just want to jump ahead to the fun stuff.
It is also hard to focus because my inner life has been a whirlwind lately.
When I’m at my computer, certain desires arise. When I’m done with work and (for example) downstairs in the kitchen, other desires arise. Same when I’m with my partner or with my son or with friends.
Usually these desires drive me away from the present moment. There is always a need to be anywhere other than where I am. Why do I feel that way? What’s so bad about being right here?
Often I’m looking for intensity. And if I perceive the current moment as lacking in intensity, then I search for conditions to create it.
Ironically, when I do create conditions resulting in intensity, it’s usually too much for me to bear. It can feel dangerous and over stimulating.
I suppose I have the thrill-seeking gene. Yet I hate roller coasters and fast cars and things like that. I seek emotional thrills.
I am a closet drama queen.
(It’s no secret to those who know me well.)
I think it’s safe to say that many people who meditate are interested in the concept of reincarnation. I like to ponder whether we’ve lived before and whether we’ll live again. Could it be true? If yes, how can we KNOW that it’s true?
I saw the movie The Master this weekend. It was about many things, but one facet of it was this:
Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Master) was a cult-ish leader who offered past life regression to his followers, a technique he called “processing”. He believed our emotional patterns stem from an initial trauma, and that anyone may uncover the source of this trauma by regressing in time, back through as many lives as needed.
As he led subjects through his technique, he would ask, “Can you recall a time when…?” Later in the movie, he changed his approach to “Can you imagine a time when…?” which prompted challenge from his most devout benefactor.
The premise is worth challenging – if you switch from recalling to imagining, aren’t you tampering with the so-called evidence?
It’s been said that eye-witness testimonies aren’t really valid since the act of recalling alters memory. Wouldn’t imagining tamper with the process even more?
Yesterday before a nap, I asked myself, “Can you imagine?” Moments later I had a vision of myself and a man. We were sitting on a wall. Judging from our clothes, it was a previous era. We passed simple notes to each other. I was dumb, I could not speak. He was deaf and could not hear. The last note I passed said, “Can we write each other long letters instead?”
Then I woke up.
Last night I dreamed I was at a sports competition. I was sitting on the bleachers with many people from my high school. A group of the popular kids were singing a song loudly and with great emotion. The lyrics were simply, “God is in us.” Everyone was so joyful, so secure in God’s love.
As I watched, I was overcome with tears of happiness. Then I felt a strong pain in my chest – as strong as the grief one might feel when a loved one has died. The pain was so unbearable that it woke me up. As I became conscious, it immediately subsided. I lay awake for a few minutes immersed in the ripple effects, pondering the dream’s meaning.
My conceptual mind reasoned that I feel disconnected from God. Observing others’ rapture underscored just how distant I’ve become.
I believe there are levels of joy and pain we don’t ordinarily access during our waking life. In dreams the shackles can loosen, and we can have a deep, pure experience.
I’ve been told that I need to be more compassionate to myself, to give myself more love. This has always seemed so abstract to me. I can easily feel love toward others, but when I try to direct that feeling toward myself, it’s all void.
Perhaps belief in God with a capital G would help. But something about it just rings false to me.
What a conundrum – conceptualizing the divine, yet believing the divine lay outside our ability conceptualize.
How can you believe in something, when you believe it’s an illusion?
Camille Eskell. Dry Bones: Anchor, EZEKIEL series, 2011. Oil Stick, Oil, Wax Pencil on Prepared Paper.
© Camille Eskell
stairway to heaven
For a long while (and perhaps even still) my meditation had been very goal-oriented. Even if I wouldn’t admit it to myself, somewhere in the back of my mind I would think, “If I do this, maybe something will happen. Maybe I’ll experience what’s known as satori. Maybe I’ll learn great truths or commune with spirits. Maybe I’ll even see the face of God.”
When I first began to meditate, I would concentrate on my “third eye” with such intensity I’m surprised I didn’t permanently damage my prefrontal cortex. I was starved for meaning, for connection.
As a result, I’ve had a good number of “enlightenment experiences”. That term isn’t mine – someone famous referred to them as such in a book (I don’t remember who).
But those experiences come and go and surprise, surprise: I am still not satiated and I am most certainly not enlightened.
Maybe because I was a competitive athlete in a former life (youth), I have this constant desire to “get ahead”.
But how does one get ahead of the present moment? It’s impossible! (And oh so silly.)
I asked my therapist, “If I continue to meditate daily for the next 20 years, where will I be?” She answered, “What do you have when you connect one moment to another on and on for decades? You have a life!”
So, it’s time to buckle down and get Real. To focus deeply on the present and nothing else.
There is nowhere else to be.
Once, when I was younger,
I was sitting with my younger wife.
She was my girlfriend at the time.
We were in a younger love.
We were intensely interested in our younger selves.
We talked over beers about immortality.
What would you do, she asked youthfully, if you could live forever?
This made me tear up.
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Not too long ago a friend of mine suffered through a series of tragic circumstances. As they were unfolding, she’d had a strong sense that everything happening was meant to happen. It was as if fate had manifested.
At different points in my life, I’ve had that feeling, too. The common denominator for her experiences and mine was an elevated intensity, resulting in complete immersion in the present moment.
For example, if you’re experiencing a car crash, you cannot project into the future or mull over the past. For the sake of survival, you surrender fully into the immediacy of the moment.
When you land there, you feel that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.
And it is actually true - where should you be other than where you are?
But is it fate? How you answer depends only on what you believe.
… on Flickr.