Integrating Spiritual Experiences into the Personality

Integrating Spiritual Experiences into the Personality

Integrating Spiritual Awakenings into the Life of the Personality

Do you see what’s going on?  I mean really? There’s a burning desire within me to write about this maybe because until now I only partially understood what’s been going on.  Maybe that’s what you are (or have been) too and that’s why this post.  Let me give a few examples of what is intended.  Let’s say you watched all three Lord of the Ring movies.  But even if you haven’t, hang in there, okay?  Remember how Sam, Frodo, Pippin, and Merry came back from their adventures returning to the Shire and the looks they got from the hobbits from those who never left?  Remember how Frodo and the others looked at one another?  They had to find some way to come back now after their long journey and live normal lives.  Right.  See where I’m going here?  Integration back into the work-a-day world with others can be difficult.

My gosh, I’ve written about my difficulties with that for years but wasn’t fully aware that its a process now in which many others are also struggling.  Increased sensitivity to sound and noxious energy is one part of it. Yet the other part is continuing to meditate in the world of men and beasts after being in true solitude and withdrawal for an extended period.

Some people go on retreat, some for as long as a year.  For myself, it was a much longer period of time overall.  Not that I didn’t have to deal with real-world concerns in spurts but for the most part, I do recall at least 2 solid years of meditation throughout the bulk of the day.  I was, for all practical purposes, withdrawn from the world of the ego/personality and spent a good deal of time in states of . . . well, let’s just say in states in which the self that deals with earth living was out of the picture.

I pictured myself remaining in that state until the end of days.  Yet, the personality/ego needed to integrate all the spiritual meditative states and bring them right into the face of loud neighbors, barking dogs, mean humans and the whole gambit of aversions.

My meditations took on a new format at that point.  My mind was being critical, judgmental, aversive, impatient, intolerant—you name it.  Woah, my spiritual practice took a huge hit!

I began to really dislike myself and felt like all my spiritual work was destroyed.  My mind, in meditation, was running in 10 different directions and it wasn’t easy to pull myself together, so-to-speak.

At that point, thoughts of becoming a nun of some type or other or hiking the Appalachian Trail on a permanent basis were prominent.  I began to resent my family to whom I came down of the mountain (literally from the high Country of the Appalachians to the flatland) to serve.  I wanted to go back, desperately.  I didn’t want to integrate.

Many times when my energy tangled with a difficult human I’d find myself really angry at myself instead of realizing it’s okay to stand up for one’s self in a way that is direct and at the same time kind.

My point in writing this is that people who view themselves as on a spiritual path upon which they might have had profound spiritual experiences feeling great love, peace, and unification/oneness in meditation or on retreats should give themselves a break.  Like Frodo and the others and even like Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, it’s a path and may take a while to come back to this temporary earth home after having really gone HOME.  No matter if that going HOME was brief or for years, it is my current understanding that our job now is to apply what we experienced to our ego/personality and integrate that within the earth world.  It’s a journey and self-acceptance is a huge part of it now as we pull the mind back into the unity consciousness it once knew.

Memories will arise triggered by life experiences and people outside of times of spiritual withdrawal and we can watch the mind and learn about our patterns and tendencies.  In that awareness, we can diffuse their energy.  But it doesn’t mean we’ve lost our prior spiritual state, nor does it mean we have done anything wrong.

It’s just a deeper level of spiritual awakening and not a failure in any way.  That’s what I’m trying to convey.

I hope these views and opinions of mine will find their way to those who might be able to understand and benefit from this little post.

Zen, Cats, Deer, the Outdoors and Meditation

Animal Zen Masters

It’s true and if you are a careful observer, you will know this for certain.  Watch any animal in nature while being in nature yourself (without your cell phone or other tech distractions) and you will see their Zen-ness.  We can find our own animal zen nature when out in the woods or even outside our back door (woods are better!).  Here’s what I mean.  Animals in nature are still and alert — this is exactly what we humans who seek to meditate and to be more Zen-like and peaceful aim for — stillness while remaining alert!  And to be beyond our ego-personality daily stressful thinking.  Just going outside achieves a disconnect from our own mental residue that bounces off the walls.

I have a one-bedroom apartment surrounded by many lunatic humans — sorry, but you could fact check this and if you lived here, you’d know the truth of that as well.  And I also feed feral cats — kittens born just feet from my back door.  (They are as big as an adult cat now.)  I watch them and think how, in their wild animal nature, they possess what I strive for in my meditation practice:  still alertness.  They perk up at any sound that they’re not accustomed to and yet right afterward they are able to return to their former peaceful stillness again, totally letting it all go and being fully present.

Watch any animal in nature; take deer for example.  They are always alert and attentive yet are able to return to a peaceful state rather quickly after they tense up or perk up due to a perceived threat.  They are alert — not hyper-alert however.

I feel so trapped and smothered living here in this city and in an apartment complex sometimes.  This is because even the outdoors here in this apartment complex can be chaotic with barking dogs and boisterous humans.  Life.  Its what we are, life itself. Rather difficult to merge with you have an aversion to, but it’s my current path here surrounded by human animals.

I am thinking soon to have a nice long hike in the woods.  My trekking poles are always in my car and unfortunately, it’s necessary to drive 20 minutes to get to a state park.  It’s not like when I lived in the mountains. But I can’t mentally “go there” today — makes me too sad.  Anyway . . . I digress.

When we are out in nature (again, without the phones, etc.) it becomes so easy to let the trees, rocks, lakes and all of nature merge with our own energy.  And then we can forget the human self and go once again into the animal self.  We have to be aware when in a natural setting — snakes and the like, you know?  Yet in the state park that I mentioned above, the greatest predators are humans and their dogs, not wild animals.  Either way, one’s tendency in the wood is to be still and alert–or at least it’s that way for me.  And that is very meditative.

Sometimes, I just want to dash out the door and get a bit of exercise when in between writing bursts or watercolor painting.  Lately, I’ve stopped walking loops in this apartment complex (for numerous reasons not to be included here) and have chosen instead to take my walks along the highway on the bike lane.  Now there is a place to be hyper-alert like in the woods!  One must be in the present moment there too!  Traffic is whizzing by 5 feet from my shoulder.  I don’t walk on the highway every day and only for about 30 minutes all together out and back usually.  It surely isn’t a pleasant walk in the woods,  but there are dangers and the necessity to be alert and present.

I find I can be much more present in a group weight lifting class at the gym, but sometimes one just wants to walk out the door, not having the time or inclination to drive off to the gym or take 40 minutes to get to and from the state park.

Well, these are thoughts that crop up today.  Being outside is expansive and meditative states are natural.  Next time you watch a wild animal, see if it isn’t true — they are zen teachers!

 

Writing, Painting, Creativity, Intention and Happiness

Hello, Greetings, Namaste!

Has it been eons since I’ve posted on this blog?  Yes, it is so but here I am today in a mood to write and have set a Pomodoro timer to put out some thoughts and words here for 25 minutes.   I’ve been attending a writing group in the community where I live and we are encouraged with a brief writing prompt to write for a timed period of time and then share what we’ve written.  We are not to correct our grammar or cross any words out but to just keep writing.  In other words, no editing or no editor.  That’s how I’m writing this blog too.  You will probably realize if you haven’t already that there’s been no editing. Writing in a group of others seems to up the anty a bit especially if you know you will be asked, as we round the table if you wish to read what you wrote or to pass.  It’s a jolly good group and we do have fun with our writing prompts.  It’s amazing what comes out of our individual and collective heads.

I’ve had book ideas floating around in my head for years and recently the leader of our group gave us an outline to follow and I’ve just started to use it and found that I’m writing a book that would include survival following a large and fast-moving CME from the Sun which knocks out power and essentially levels the playing field with regard to physical endurance, stamina, and patience.  I’ve not fully worked it all out but its a wee start of something that may completely change or alter dramatically but at least a start.

I think that my artwork helps too in that lately this has been another level of meditation and concentration for me — call it “samadhi” if you know the word’s meaning but you probably get the idea.  I am typing just what flows out of my head and keyboard right at the moment with 15 more minutes of this writing practice.

Another aspect of my life that I’d mention here since I’m sort of free-flowing letting my mind just spew it out happens to involve requisites for happiness and how to take a deeper look at that.  In other words, conditions that we believe we must have first in order to feel happy.  Why must there be conditions for happiness at all?  So this takes me back to the basic core Buddhist teachings that I hold or try to hold near and dear.

Yes, I forget at times just like even highly respected Buddhist teachers and monks admit doing, when getting pulled into the drama of life or the reactionary responses and then not remembering how I intend to live.  I’ve taken to repeating that intention to myself at the start of each day before getting out of bed and believe that this helps.

But back to the conditions for happiness or what conditions that I think I need to remain in this state — I’m looking at that and observing it in others.  Maybe idea this will be something that I work into a book that I want to write woven in with the result of what happens when people do not have any conditions that they are used to do to huge disruptions in their way of life.

Maybe it is going to be a dystopian themed book.  Who knows.  And as I even type here about my writing a book that critical part of my mind is kicking up and laughing at the idea.   Just how many times have you said you were going to write a book anyway?  huh? 

Yeah, I can feel a bit like a fraud if I contemplate that.  When one has a goal or makes the self a promise and then fails to reach the goal or keep the promise it can be . . . let’s just say challenging.

What’s life without a good challenge or two?  Well, there’s only one minute left on the Pomodoro timer and this 25-minute writing in which I’m just letting it flow is about done flowing.

Just a final thought — using creative activities (painting or writing, etc.) and exercise (weight lifting at the gym) can help develop one-pointed concentration (samadhi) like deep meditative states.  Same diff to a great degree.

Time’s up! Have a great day!