A heart meditation: letting go

 

th.jpgOf late I’ve had a number of people write about dreams that included the concept of letting go e.g. death and dying images, dropping things, toilet images, even ghosts. Many of the dreams also included images from the past such as a childhood home.

Because most of us don’t really let go of past hurts in that we tend to deny them, push them down, and gloss them over as in “what’s past is past, or then was then” that in and of themselves is appropriate if what you’re actually doing is letting go of the events and hurts. But most of us aren’t letting go.

We tend to hold on to painful resentments, feelings, disappointments, grief, betrayals, guilt, and hurts by storing them in the footlocker of our unconscious mind. After many years and as many memories we have quite a treasury of buried material built up. These buried negatives are something like radioactive waste that after time begins to leak onto the surface of our lives, poisoning much of what we do and think and feel. Most of this stuff seems to arise uninvited, in our dreams, or in troubles we find ourselves in in our waking lives.

We seem to armor ourselves against any future pains by walling parts of us off, or putting up barriers to protect ourselves from others. It’s a slow process and for most of us we don’t notice how much different we are as adults than we were as children. The free expression of the self is often subdued, or cut off, the playful part of ourselves moderated, or pasted on to make it look as though we’re being a free spirit full of fun, where in the quiet of our own homes after the party we nurse the effects of our drug or alcohol induced gaiety and wonder if anyone actually really liked us or bought into our act.

All these stored negatives over time close our hearts to ourselves and to others and weighs us down.

So what to do?

Well, following the theme of letting go i.e. of unchaining from the past, I’ve found that there is an ancient practice that can literally transform one’s relationship with the past and lighten considerably their experience of the present. In short, it heals, it dissolves obstructions, and it opens the heart to other hearts. It shifts our identification with the negative and helps us to resolve the unresolved. It can even help us to regain a positive relationship with our own bodies.

What is this magic of what I speak? It’s called, forgiveness. Really! It’s forgiveness that can heal us back into our own hearts. It’s the letting go of resentments and negative self-judgments. It opens ones heart and lessens pains from the past. It helps us to get back in touch with our soulful, playful self.

When we accept ourselves and others for what we and they are i.e. “as is” it includes even their non acceptance of us. It allows the mind to get beyond it itself.

You can’t force forgiveness, that’s just more of the same old squashing down of negatives that caused the problem in the first place.

A forgiveness meditation:

As with the technique of Active Imagining http://thedreamingwizard.com/active-imagining_291.html Close your eyes in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and bring into your mind an image of someone for whom you have resentment. Make their image as real as you can even to the smell of them if you can.

For just a moment open your heart to them and notice your own fear, or anger, or whatever feelings that seem to arise. Keep looking at them and letting whatever your feeling just sit with you.

Now, look at them and slowly say, “I forgive you, I forgive you.” Watch your feelings as you do this, don’t do anything with them, just let them be there. Now say, “ I forgive you for the pain you have caused me whether you did it on purpose or by accident. Watch your feelings as you say this. “I forgive you for what you did, or didn’t do. I forgive you. I forgive you.

Watch the pain in your heart and see if you can let some of it go. Watch the person and let a little more of them into your heart. “I forgive you.” Let them be in the surrounding stillness. “I forgive.” Let them be as they are and in their own way of being. “I forgive you.” “I forgive you.” “I forgive.” Allow the distance between your hearts to dissolve. Allow them to be touched by your blessing and the potential of your forgiveness.

Now let the person leave when they are ready to go. Just watch them go and notice what you’re feeling as they go.

Open your eyes and sit in peace for a few moments.

The forgiveness meditation works but it often takes more than once. Keeping the heart open takes work and commitment, not to others but to yourself and your own sense of well-being. After many practices over time the forgiveness will stick and the heart expands.

 

Mystical Experience

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Many people over the years have shared their unusual experiences, bidden or unbidden, eyes open or eyes closed and all having profound effects on their ordinary state of consciousness. All those who shared seemed to experience a deep sense of connectedness or union with others and/or the environment.

Some people have had these experiences while in deep meditation, through their dreams, or while just walking down the street. There is for all a sense of transcending the self i.e. the ordinary self identified by name and body to a place of communion with something much, much greater.

Some years ago when descending from a hilltop building toward the parking lot below I happened to look out at the dusky glow of the city as it was slowly being cloaked by the evening light. My focus went to the traffic on the street slightly below me and made eye contact with one of the drivers.

Suddenly something else looked out from those eyes driving by. It was a spirit so profound I could only imagine it to be that of God. As I scanned other drivers this same observer looked out and saw a man standing on a hillside about to descend toward a parking lot. I was both seeing them and seeing me through them. The boundary between us disappeared and the stress of the day melted away.

I continued down the embankment with tears in my eyes knowing that something had changed forever in the way I was seeing the world. As I climbed into my car and pulled out of the lot and into the traffic on the street the experience lasted for at least another few minutes, or longer, or shorter, I don’t know because time too had stopped. Fortunately this didn’t last too much longer or I’d no doubt have ended up in a fender-bender.

This is what some philosophers call a mystical experience, though others might label it a brain burp caused by some random misfiring of neurons.

The phenomenology of mysticism was summarized in Borg and Wright’s book The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions (Chapter 4 page 61) where a five-part description of a mystical experience was presented.

Borg suggested that the pre Easter Jesus was a mystic and that “If one takes seriously that the sacred can be experienced, and that people who have such experiences frequently and vividly may be called mystics or Spirit persons, then it seems apparent that Jesus was one of these (62-63).”

Though Borg was describing the pre Easter Jesus he was also defining the experience of mysticism and mystics in general. Borg’s description seemed spot on with my own experience as well as those shared by the many people who have written me over the years.

Mystical experience generally involves five characteristics; Ineffability: where the experience can’t really be described through ordinary words, Transiency: where the experience is somewhat brief, Passivity: in that they are usually unbidden, received rather than achieved, Noetic: produce a knowing of something not known before the experience i.e. a new reality. This may also include a sense of awe and joy. Fifth in the series is that these experiences are Transformative: they transform a person’s way of being in part because they see the world differently after the experience.

For me the experience on the hilltop above the parking lot was one of many I’ve experienced throughout my life all of which have shifted radically my vision of reality. Though my ego-self continues to insist that I view reality through a vision of separateness I know and am able to easily access the “knowing” that has grown from my experiences of the mystical.

I wish that I could share that there was some secret means for accessing the mystical spiritual but nearly all of my experiences have come unbidden though my tendency to give emphasis to such things as dreams, meditations, spiritual, psychological and emotional exploration may have left me more open to it. I have often had a dream or a meditation or rumination that I thought should have produced something deep and profound only to have it reach the level of interesting but hardly awe-inspiring. It’s one of those pieces of “magic” that can’t be made to happen but can be allowed or given room to happen.