Monday, December 31, 2012

Unity Consciousness


Sometimes words get so confusing. You just have to toss them away and get quiet.

It doesn't matter what you call it when you get quiet. Call it being. Call it witnessing. Call it time-out.

The idea is to sink down beneath the layer of mind that wants to define everything and know what to expect from life before it happens.

Unity consciousness is not dualistic or exclusive. In unity consciousness, black and white are mutually valid assumptions, and there are infinite shades of gray.

People ask for a step by step approach to unity consciousness, but all you can give them is step one: get quiet.

Turn your attention inward. Breathe and be. The rest will take care of itself.

Paul Ferrini 2012

As the year draws to a close we have been reflecting upon how we have deepened our awareness in the last 12 months. There have been many events that have challenged us to stay present with unconditional love in every moment.

These are exciting times because we are given many opportunities to practice. Many teachers have come into the mainstream to give us tools and techniques that are both helpful and easy to use. Ancient wisdom has become accessible at the touch of a button and we are able to share our ideas and experiences as never before.


Christine offers once again this illustration of how we can rejoin with our Greater Knowing. It can be helpful to hold this image in our minds and breathe it into reality whenever we are tempted to forget the truth of who we are and join with fear and guilt.  

Thank you for joining us on our journey back to our Selves.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Facing Pain


Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
 
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;

…Much of your pain is self-chosen. It is the bitter potion by which the physician within heals your sick self.

Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility:

For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen.”

Kahlil Gibran (The Prophet, 1923).
 
Melanie 2012
 

As the year draws to a close, Light Tree has been reflecting upon the nature of the challenges that have arisen in our collective lives recently. Like many of you, we have felt deeply into the discomfort that arises from participation in daily life. It is clear that In order to deepen our experience of love, we inevitably feel pain too.

We have found that the way to transcend pain, (fear, guilt or anger) is to turn and face it squarely. As long as we turn away from our unseen hurts, the healing power within them remains evasive. Self pity often serves as a distraction to the unfolding of this process.

Instead, we must approach them with equanimity, neither avoiding nor clinging to their seeming selves. Yes, this takes real courage and sometimes we are gripped by confusion, but if we stand firm and keep affirming our innocence, it’s surprising how quickly we can move through it.

If we can hold an attitude of love and gratitude in our hearts while affirming that we forgive ourselves for buying into an illusion, we make room for the miracle to occur.

Deep down, if we are committed to remembering our true nature the dross of unreality falls away and we intuitively know what to do. The hand of the Unseen guides our actions and we are amused when we view the dramatic comedy that we have created to render our unhealed parts visible.

     

 

 

  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Awareness


Beneath the judgment layer of the mind
is the witness who sees what is going on
without judging it.

The witness neither resists thoughts
nor identifies with them,
but simply observes them as they come and go.

When we get quiet, we become the witness.
Thoughts come and go, but we know
that we are not those thoughts.

We rest in something larger than thought,
You can call it awareness.
You can call it silence.

It is the place from which thoughts spring
and to which they return.

There, mind is clear, like the surface of a lake
when there is no wind.
There, mind is at peace.
 

Paul Ferrini 
 
Melanie 2012
 

At Light Tree we have been sharing ways that we stay with awareness, especially when the world calls us to anger and judgement over situations that appear to be unfair. Certainly there are no shortages of opportunities to practice! 

We have come to see that it is futile to keep joining the victim-hood merry-go-round to keep the story going. The sooner we recognize what is happening and move on the better. Why keep mucking around in the pain for longer than we have to? Yes, we may need to feel the bodily sensations as fully as we can, but then we move on.

When this happens and we begin to turn our confusion and misunderstanding over to Spirit there is not always the immediate relief that we might hope for. But if we stay with our forgiveness practice we join the flow of life and choose not to join with the obstacles that appear on our screen.
 
We keep choosing love over and over until we suddenly realize there has been a shift. Just when we least expect it healing occurs and we have crossed the stream that seemed as if it was blocking the way. We laugh when we realize that we had almost convinced ourselves that we will drown this time for sure.

Nope, just another bad dream that seemed real at the time. We have become the witness and are not a victim of the world we see….What a relief. 
 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I Am Presence


“I am the light shining upon all things.
I am the sum of everything,
For everything has come forth from me,
and towards me everything unfolds.
Split a piece of wood and there I am,
Pick up a stone and you will find me there.”

Logion 77 (The Gospel of Thomas).

The quality of awareness that is demonstrated in this saying reveals how the “One-ness” that is shared by all of us is part of a dynamic whole. Our understanding is that this is part of the perfect, untouchable aspect of all living things and is eternal and omnipresent, whether we are aware of it or not.
 
 
We can always find a deep peace dwelling within ourselves if we are willing to be patient. This peace is an aspect of the eternal, living presence which some call God. Others do not perceive it as a part of a divine presence, but as a “luminous emptiness", an unknowable but vast sea of love and wisdom.
 
 
 

Regardless of the names we give it, this presence exists in all of us. For example, whenever we have an experience of peace we are calling upon this indwelling presence. We have ‘resonance’ with it because it is an aspect of our True Self already. We don’t need to name it, merely drop into the heart and as Buddha advises, ‘experience it for ourselves’.

Wow! We can simply let go of all the stories, names, meanings and symbols and simply return to our heart knowing. Religions, creeds and customs are meaningless unless we engage them as teaching devices. We can do this by sitting with the aspects that resonate with us and seeing how they bring a more expanded awareness to the surface.

In a contemplative practice the heart sends its fully formed messages to our mind. They are far more complex and complete than we can create with the efforts of past interpretations and established meanings…..Try it; it’s easier than you think.

 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A word about experience vs. belief

“Truth can only be experienced. It cannot be described and it cannot be explained”.

Frances Vaughan and Roger Walsh (Gifts from A Course In Miracles, 1995).
 
 
Recently we are having and sharing deeper experiences of One-ness, or Non-Duality. What does this mean to us?
 
 
 
 
 
 





We have been clear from the outset that we are interested only in experiencing Divine Presence, not following a specific doctrine or religion of any kind. We agree that Truth reveals itself when we are ready. It is a heart knowing, not an intellectual or pro-scribed explanation written by someone outside of ourselves. It does not aim to convince or convert.

At Light Tree we only want to know what is true. We don’t concern ourselves with established teachings unless we sit with them and they resonate within us in some way. Even then, we surrender what we think we know and ask our Divine guidance for clarity. Only by quiet contemplation and prayer can we begin to glimpse what our inner Self is conveying in each moment.

Buddhism has established a time-tested methodology for awakening. Many of us who are born in the west have longed for a way into an authentic experience of ourselves, but are disinterested in mainstream religious practices and ideologies that do not ring true for us. At Light Tree, The Course In Miracles continues to be the gold standard for non-dualism because it clearly shows us how to un-do the ego and its limited world-view.

Having said this, we have found many contemporary teachers that can be accessed through the miracle of e-technologies or books. Non-Duality reveals itself through many traditions and many teachers, our Selves included. Cynthia Bourgeault, Episcopalian Minister and established scholar of Contemplative Christianity aims to recapture the original teachings of Jesus. She ably demonstrates ways that we can apply this direct knowing in our everyday lives.

In The Wisdom Jesus and The Meaning of Mary Magdalene she reveals simple and well established practices that are accessible to those who are more familiar with the Christian tradition. Centering prayer and Lectio divina are indispensable tools for those wanting a direct experience of Divine One-ness.

In the next series of blogs we aim to explore some of the direct teachings we have experienced and hope that by discussing them we will be better able to deepen our understanding of these rich resources. We trust you will be inspired to delve deeper into your own awakening process as a result.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Falling Asleep or Waking Up


Falling Asleep or Waking Up:  Which Am I More Afraid of?

Recently in a group meditation, I found myself giggling irresistibly – hardly appropriate behaviour some might say.  In the background, we were playing a CD entitled “Holy Harmony,” an especially soft, gentle, lullingly repetitive, vocal ensemble.  For some reason, I was reminded of a skit from the Canadian SCTV comedy show popular in the 1980s. In it, one of the comedians, Eugene Levy, does a take-off of the generation of American singers called “crooners,” Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Perry Como, among others.  When I was growing up they were still household names.  Perry Como was probably the most mellow of the lot.  He took crooning to a whole new level of slow, smooth, and quiet. 

In the skit, Eugene Levy wears a silk dressing-gown with a natty cravat and carefully-styled hair.  He is reclining on a bed facing the audience.  As his musical accompaniment plays, he attempts to produce some vocals, but the effort is almost too much. He is scarcely able to lift his head off the pillow.  Occasionally, however, he rallies and utters a few barely audible notes.....  You get the picture.....  The height of mellow.   
 
 

As my giggles subsided, I wondered what it was that actually seemed so funny.  Somewhere in the laughter, I realized there was an aversion: an aversion to inertia, to not doing, to giving up, to falling asleep.

In spiritual terms, “falling asleep” means forgetting the truth of who we are, that is, our oneness.  “Falling asleep” is believing the misperception that we are separate entities.  On this occasion, however, my aversion to falling asleep felt more like an aversion to not being separate, to loosing one's identity.  So which is it?  Do I want to be separate or one? Am I more afraid of waking up than falling asleep......?  At least I can try to be honest.  Maybe that's a beginning.

Annie


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Holding Fear with Love



“The world will never be good unless you are willing to see its goodness. What you experience depends on how you look at things. When you look with judgment, life is twisted and empty. When you look with an open heart and mind, life is poignant and meaningful…

The only thing that can successfully address your fear is to hold it with love. As soon as you look with love, you see a different world.”

Paul Ferrini: Everyday Wisdom www.paulferrini.com
 
 
 
Arwen Barr
 
Our current practice at The Light Tree has brought us to some stunning conclusions. We had been labouring under the false impression that we were sincerely seeking a change in awareness in order to live from an authentic experience of ourselves.

Continued reading and meditation practice has revealed how longingly we cling to the false self with all its illusions. How we love the life we seem to have created and how reluctant we are to surrender our attachments! Like Gollum in Tolkein’s Lord of The Rings we guard our creations possessively. We don’t really want to experience the peace of our True Nature because we are too busy accumulating and guarding our precious treasures.
 
 
 
 

This kind of commitment to distraction leads us to suffering. Each time we think we are unhappy, uncomfortable, or in some kind of distress, we are ferociously hanging on to our own definition of reality. Instead, we can choose to surrender to something altogether more delicious. Instead we love to wallow. Self pity, blame and projection are our favourite tools for diversion.

We can only sit back and giggle when we sense the game is up. How crazy are we anyway??? Our Mighty Companions are helpful at this point as we sit and laugh together at how easily we can be fooled…

This kind of awareness can only come from ruthless honesty with our selves. We have to be willing to give up the game. Guilt tends to arise telling us that the lie is necessary for our well-being, but really this just keeps the blame-shame game going a bit longer. If we can sit patiently with the story as it spins its tale of woe, we can begin to sense there is something else there.

At this point only Spirit, our True Self, can point the way. If we don’t ask our Higher Self for direction we can end up spinning the tale out even further, lost in space, lost in mind, lost in ego-land. When we don’t know how to get out of our drama, it’s probably time to stop and surrender to our inner wisdom.

How we do this is up to us. Maybe a walking meditation, yoga session or another favourite grounding practice. Whatever it is, do it now, do it often and do it regularly. The results are worth it.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Waking Up with Sandra Maitri


The Light Tree has been spending time recently looking at the enneagram system of personality typing for its insights on healing and spiritual awakening.  Sandra Maitri offers an eloquent account of the process of waking up (The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram:  Nine Faces of the Soul, 2000). This occurs in a chapter devoted to the ninth of the nine enneagram personality types, which she calls the “mother of all ennea-types.”
 
Arwen Barr

Maitri explains that nines are most purely anchored in the core wound that underpins all the types in one way or another: falling asleep to one's true nature.  Nines believe that their presence and absence is not important.  They tend to inertia, indecision, passiveness; their fear of the pain of their worthlessness leads them avoid the limelight, to gloss over problems, put others before themselves, and put on a sunny, pleasant face no matter what. 

According to Maitri, the healing journey for nines and for all of us looks like this. I have bolded the bits I find particularly resonant:
 
For a Nine, this radical shift in focus—from outside of herself to what is going on within—is a huge step and is the key to her unfoldment. … Really grappling with her habitual tendency to ignore and neglect herself … will rapidly confront a Nine with her profound sense of worthlessness … and unlovability.... As she allows and feels into this extremely painful sense of inadequacy and of inferiority, memories... that gave rise to and supported this sense of herself will surface and need to be digested. …

“Simultaneously taking real action will mean connecting with and fully inhabiting her body.  Rather than skipping over and minimizing her inner sensations, she will need to become attuned to them.... Making deep experiential contact with her body will bring up all of the years of neglect, and probably much grief will be experienced.  The more that she fully abides in her body and focuses her attention within it, the more she is … contacting as well as supporting a sense of her own inherent value and self-worth.  Also, the more she pays attention to her body, the more she will begin noticing and listening to her emotions, and the sharper and clearer her mind will become.  She will increasingly feel more alive and more a part of life.

The more present she becomes, the more she will become aware of her absence of contact with her essential nature, which may feel like a huge hole in her soul.  As she allows herself to feel into this hole and to be curious about it, rather than escaping from it into sleepiness or distractions, she will find that what she had experienced as a deficient emptiness changes. ...The emptiness becomes a spaciousness, and over time all the qualities of Being [which she itemizes as: Loving Kindness, Strength, Intelligence, Joy, Peace, Impeccability, and Nourishment, among others (29)] will gradually arise in her consciousness as she makes this inner descent over and over again.  For a long time, it will seem to her that Being comes and goes, until a sort of critical mass is reached in her soul, and her identity shifts from her personality to Being.  Then Being will feel like the ground of her experience....

“Eventually, the shell of her personality will become more and more transparent to Being and … she will find herself experiencing, embodying, and manifesting the quality of Being she has tried to emulate, Living Daylight.  Her inner experience will gradually change from feeling deficient, unloved, unimportant, and overlooked to feeling sustained, taken care of, and inseparable from a beneficent  universe filled with love and blessings (62-65).

And elsewhere, Maitri explains  her reference to “Living Daylight”.  This is “the quality of  Being that Ennea-type Nine emulates....  It is called this because that is what it feels like when we contact this particular presence:  warm and life-giving sunlight.  We feel held in a sweet and gentle presence that is totally loving, beneficent, and well disposed toward us.  We feel that we can relax and let go, and that we will be held and supported by a universe that is suffused with goodness, and that is inherently kind and life affirming.  It is the gentle and loving presence that pervades and sustains all of creation [what I call “an unfathomable gentleness”], which in some traditions is referred to as Cosmic or Divine Love, and in the theistic traditions is what is meant by the concept of God. (p. 60)

Annie

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Art as Practice

There’s another route to centre: a more reckless and extravagant path, which is attained not by storing up that energy or concentrating life force, but through throwing it all away----or giving it away.  The unitive point is reached not through the concentration of being, but the free squandering of it….”

Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Jesus (2008).   

Our work at The Light Tree seems to be leading us away from our usual ways of knowing toward a deeper, easier and more fruitful path. It seems that the less we try to lead with our mind, the more we feel fully into the heart.

Cynthia Bourgeault calls this Kenosis, or ‘Self-Emptying Love’. By letting go of what we think we know, we enter into ‘Beginners mind’ a state considered essential to Buddhist teachings. We cannot be transformed if we think we know what it looks like, or how to get there.

Heart knowing is just that: our mind alone cannot know. Only by dropping down into our heart can be we begin to feel the depths of its love and wisdom. This awakened sense dissolves all our petty grievances and worldly need for fairness. We are content to let life unfold without our grasping, fearful need to control outcomes.

Creating art is a path of self-awareness for some of us; Melanie has been using it as a practice for developing compassion for her need to see instant results perfectly. Needless to say, nothing blocks the creative process more than the minds need to cling to its ideals of ‘how something should look’.

In a recent conversation with heart-centred Victoria artist Linny D. Vine, she was reminded to “use bigger brushes and more paint” whenever the urge to create something tight and small arises. Linny explained that the “magic happens” in a painting when the minds idea of perfection is set aside and spirit flows freely through the artist.
 
With this in mind, Melanie began painting this image of a tree, which was initially intended to be flowery and cartoon-like for her grand-daughter’s bedroom. She committed to sit back and be guided how the painting wanted to unfold and watch the ego-mind chatter away with all its criticisms and fear-comments. At each step she waited until it felt clear to proceed to the next stage and an image of what to do next appeared in her mind and heart.
 
 

In this process the mind is only the screen upon which the heart sends its messages to the body. For her, the heart sends  bursts of energy in ‘packets’ of fully formed ideas and simply says, its ok to make a mess. It’s ok to screw up. There are no mistakes. You are taken care of. Laugh more….. 


Monday, October 22, 2012

The Holy Comb-Over

 


At our A Course in Miracles group this morning, we were sharing about what it means to join.   Specifically, we referred to what the Course calls “the little willingness,” that moment of choice when we turn to face our aversion, our resistance, our judgment of others or ourselves, and we simply stop: stop spinning the stories, the attack thoughts, the perseverating, and just witness.  The Course refers to this as the moment of forgiveness, when we shift from fear to love, from running away to staying present.   We all acknowledged that while we can practice “the little willingness” to turn towards the truth, we can't predict when we might actually experience the shift from misperception to truth, or in Course language, the ego's undoing, or “awakening”: that part is not up to us. 

One group member, R., told a story about an early running experience he had; he entered a bliss state that was so profound, he continued running for four hours non-stop. He explained that he has often sought to recapture the experience but it is elusive, his point being that we don't control our healing process, certainly not by trying to heal.  We can only practice “the little willingness,” that is, showing up as a witness in the place we perceive as scary or challenging and waiting there for Spirit to transform our awareness.   

Laughing, R. added (I am paraphrasing):  “whole religions are built on misunderstanding this process ---- if someone happened to be combing his or her hair when he/she experienced a moment of “enlightenment,” then in an effort to recapture the experience, followers of this “enlightened one” might build up elaborate practices around the perfect hairdo needed for enlightenment.”   

After the gathering, the subject of the Holy Hairdo, which Christine and I began to call it, came irresistibly into our joint awareness, not without a lot of giggling:  we were flooded with a myriad of possible rituals, how-to-manuals, codes of conduct, and learned texts on the subject of the perfect holy “do.” 

It occurred to us that not only would it be critically important to comb and arrange one's hair perfectly in accordance with the enlightened one's coif, it would also be important to have the right tools for the task.  The right comb, and brush, the right hair gels, waxes, and/or hairspray to hold the hairdo in place would be essential.  Of course, there would be rituals also for the correct washing, conditioning, and drying of the hair, not to mention highly recommended scalp massage protocols.  Inevitably there would be desirable times of day for the rituals of haircare to be performed, with regulations that it be done in private, or only in the company of men or women. 

Many practices might grow up around the issue of hair loss, notably the pros and cons of combing-over.  Some particularly blessed individuals, despite balding, who have extremely luxuriant hair growth on their upper backs, might, with the use of sanctified hair waxes, manage to grow their back hair up and over the crowns of their heads.  This would surely be viewed as the most revered of holy comb-overs.
 
 
 
 

Then, with the passage of centuries, various sects would develop among followers, as confusion inevitably crept in over what the enlightened one's “do” originally, authentically, looked like (no photography existing at the time of the original combing, and anyway, photographs can be faked).  Debates among rival viewpoints would fracture the body of knowledge and practice surrounding enlightenment hair care.  Possibly the most divisive ideological point would turn on the issue of hair pieces and hair transplants.  One sect might be quite inclusive making a place for those deemed to be less desirable, dare we say, hairless, while the other main sect would remain committed to purity. Only those working with their own, god-given hair would qualify to be saved and hence be admitted to heaven.

Finally, of course, there would be a whole array of sacred relics: the holy comb used by the enlightened one, his (probably his not her) brush, his washing basin, his drying towels.  There would also be actual clumps of his hair to be venerated, even holy dandruff to be housed in special vials, which would allow the devoted ready viewing of the treasure, but secure it from vandals and pagans. There would also be pilgrimages made to the sites where these holy relics reside.

Needless to say, despite conscientious application of all these practices, followers of the “enlightened one” would continue to find enlightenment mysteriously elusive.  Meanwhile, a whole religion is born.

…..... Or, there is that other choice: to stop and remember to smile and perhaps occasionally belly-laugh at the ego mind and all its confections.

Annie and Christine

Monday, October 15, 2012

Intuition of the Heart

“Even when you become adept at accessing your intuition, the intellect will remain a powerful force in your life. The world pays great homage to information…In practicing this new communication with your soul, notice when you find yourself relying on your intellect. When you recognize this impulse, simply draw yourself down into your heart, as though your eyes and ears were there…The Soul’s perspective is infused with enthusiasm and fearlessness and an exquisite Love of self.” 

The Message: A Guide to Being Human. LD Thompson (2011).
 
 
Julia Day 2012
 
At The Light Tree, the four of us have experienced many life changing events over the last few weeks. We are always grateful to be reminded that is it helpful to view the experience through the lens of intuitive guidance. This has enabled us to experience a deeper sense of peace whenever we are tempted to view our life situations through the five senses and our intellect.

It is interesting to notice when we feel tired, distressed, achy or irritable. Quite often these are symptoms that we are relying on our intellect to make sense of the world. We have become over-identified with using its tiny perspective to make sense of information that appears to be coming into our field of awareness.
 
Our ego-mind tries to convince us that it is keeping us safe by projecting our concerns into the future or using references from the past to make comparisons. Any sense of discomfort is a sign that we have strayed away from the present moment which is potent with infinite possibilities.

This explanation by Paul Ferrini helps us to remember why it is essential to step out of the limitations of fear into openness and the expectation of miracles….

“It is the nature of the ego to become attached to the past, and to project the past forward into the future. The ego wants what is familiar, because it is basically uncomfortable with change. Its job is to create continuity.

If something is continuous, it is not miraculous. Miraculous events are not continuous with what happened before them. They represent a shift of energy, a movement out of past perception, past limitation. They are unpredictable, unexpected and in many cases inscrutable.

You call them miracles because God's hand is in them. But without your permission, they could not take place. Without your surrender of the past, miracles could not come into your life.

You prepare the ground for them. You create the space in which they occur.”
 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Art of Self-Acceptance


Every lesson that comes into your life asks you to open your heart and mind in a new way.
Old defense mechanisms that are no longer needed for your survival must be surrendered.
Inch by inch, the territory claimed by fear open’s to love's embrace.

Paul Ferrini Everyday Wisdom. www.paulferrini.com
 
Julia Day 2012
 

At The Light Tree this summer we have been practicing sitting with present-moment awareness and noticing our ego attempt to distract us with stories that gloss over the truth of who we are. Annie gives this account of uncovering deeply held self-loathing that was masquerading as perfectionism and esthetic good taste…
 
 
 

 
 
 
A couple of weeks ago, I took a week-long portrait painting class here in Victoria.  Although having trained and worked as an art historian for several decades, I had never made any art myself as an adult until about five years ago, when I started a weekly life-drawing class.  Drawing has been hugely challenging, but now to be tackling painting: this was on a whole other tier of difficulty.

As the portrait painting workshop unfolded, I moved from happy expectation to total frustration.  By class-end on day four, I was on the verge of tears from sheer discouragement, bafflement, and disappointment.  I started to really embrace victim mode.  It didn't help, when I got to my car, that I had the third of three hefty parking tickets in two days, despite diligently paying sizeable parking fees!  The ego was really starting to get its stride.  Over a painting class!!!   

Next day, the last day of the program, I was re-grounded (I thought), having renewed my commitment to present moment awareness.  I set the intention of simply witnessing the art-making process without attachment to outcome.  My painting teacher, a person of considerable awareness, reminded us to approach painting without self-judgment.  But by mid afternoon, I was in full-blown extremis again.  There was only one option.  I would never paint again.  I would even stop my life-drawing classes, which I have loved for five years.  My relationship with art-making was over.

Next morning, I was lying in bed when once more the feelings around my painting impasse welled up.  As I stayed present with the almost incoherent, churning brew of negative emotion:  a mixture of distaste, aversion, frustration, sense of failure....., suddenly into my awareness came a sort of big bubble of absolute self-hatred, like gas erupting from the floor of a swamp.  The self-loathing was palpable and profound. 

As someone who thinks she has a reasonable sense of self-worth, I was shocked.  Interlaced with it or an offshoot of it was also deep disgust for what I would call a flawed aesthetic sense.  I have spent decades studying the likes of Michelangelo, Leonardo, Rembrandt, Turner, Monet, and Van Gogh.  In the world of form, they're a tough act to follow.  But I knew this was simply a cover for a deep hatred of what I believed to be my own flawed-ness. 

The ugly face of perfectionism, which in the past I had glossed over as benign good taste, had revealed itself. The experience was liberating.  Over the past couple of weeks, I have simply continued to be present with the insight around self-loathing; it has sort of hovered and matured and alchemized with other teachings about our inherent wholeness and perfection. 

The hunt for perfection in the world of form seems in direct inverse relation to an awareness of our inner perfection.  I am making art again, drawing and even painting, from a different place.  All the qualities I sought to capture in my art but thought were elusive, I can now see are already there.  I feel freer to rest in the being-ness of the process.  I feel like some of the litter in the path of my own particular flavour of creative expression and aesthetic joy has been turfed and I am resting a little more in the truth of who I am, who we all are.


Monday, August 13, 2012

About us: 2012


“Never forget how swiftly this life will be over, like a flash of summer lightning or the wave of a hand. Now that you have the opportunity to practice the Dharma, do not waste a single moment on anything else, but with all your energy and effort practice the Dharma”.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (Graceful Exits: How Great Beings Die, 1997)



It has been a year since Marcy and Melanie began discussions about The Light Tree and what it might mean to those interested in following a spiritual path. They met several years earlier while attending regular meditation practice with Julia Day and a host of Mighty Companions such as Tomas Vieira, Nouk Sanchez, Gary Renard, Sarah Pilkington and David Hoffmeister.

Their common desire was to explore how they might ‘heal their minds’ of illusory thoughts, beliefs and desires. They wanted to inquire into the nature of all beliefs that were obstacles to the awareness of Love’s Presence so they might experience the peace of their True Nature. Their guiding principles came from A Course In Miracles but are deeply grounded in the teachings of Buddha, Jesus, Adyashanti, Gangaji, Pema Chodron, Paul Ferrini, Cynthia Bourgeault and a host of philosophers, writers and teachers, both ancient and modern.

In the fall of 2011 they were joined by Christine, a talented art therapist and graphic recorder, and Annie, art historian and cranio-sacral therapist. They brought a deep creative and intellectual knowledge to the Light Tree that enriched and broadened its perspective.

All four women represent a variety of experiences, from pregnancy to grandparenthood, from the professional world, to life with a chronic illness. All hold at least one university degree and bring academic as well as spiritually guided rigour to their inquiry. Most importantly, they all share the common experience of parenthood and have found that children are among our greatest teachers.

Direct experience of spiritual guidance is the hallmark of Light Tree; they have learned to ‘Rest in God’ and allow their weekly gatherings to unfold spontaneously. This allows for a deepening trust in guidance as spirit flows through them with its miraculous wisdom. They bring their daily life experiences into the sphere of pure non-judgment and delight in the insights that arise between them.

The deep love and respect they hold for each other can only have come to fruition through an agreement between their souls. None of them has ever emerged as group leader or facilitator and all share their talents and insights equally. They regard the inevitable posturing of their ego with benign good humour and give eternal thanks that they have the opportunity to practice together.

A key portion of each weekly gathering is spent in silent meditation following discussion of recent books, articles, Facebook posts and other group experiences. Direct experience of spiritual guidance and total commitment to love, their True Nature, guides them to record their insights while living in a contemporary world. This blog is their testament to living the Truth while they awaken on their journey to the pure essence of One-ness where all sentient beings reside.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Relinquishing the False Self

"The false-self is made up of millions of unrecognized judgments, beliefs, values and opinions; all from the past. Not one of these is true and none of them make up who we are; instead, they fabricate who we are not. The truth of 'who' we are, stands entirely free of any of these. In fact, we will not know who we are until these erroneous shreds of identity have been seen and willingly released. We won't know the truth of who we are, until we're willing to look within and systematically exhume and relinquish everything that we are not."

'The End of Death' by Nouk Sanchez. www.undoing-the-ego.org/articles.html



How do we stand in the Truth and release our ‘erroneous shreds of identity’ so that they can be ‘seen and willingly released?’ At the Light Tree we have been working diligently to let go of the false self and release ‘everything that we are not’ so that we free ourselves from self-limiting beliefs. This has led us to some incredibly rich discussions as we learn to view the events in our lives in a new light.

One thing is certain; our tool of transformation is forgiveness. It is helpful to witness our delusions with compassion. However, this does not mean that we wallow in self-pity or use excuses to give them false power. We stand firm in saying that they are not welcome to masquerade as meaningful parts of our lives any longer.

We have noticed that It is helpful to engage with the false images as they arise with complete non-judgment and mindful intention. If we can sit and witness these illusory aspects of self using our felt sense we can more easily forgive and release them. Yes, we agree it’s a practice that takes a great deal of dedication and commitment. There is no doubt that life presents us with myriad opportunities to try this for ourselves!

Julia recently described how bringing awareness to previously held beliefs that seemed locked in her arm revealed even deeper layers of growth and expansion. What may have been a problematic physical condition was rapidly transformed by bringing mindful, compassionate awareness to it:

“Thank you Mighty Companions for holding space for me while I explored my arm some more... afterwards it was amazing ... not a hint of fatigue, nothing, just immense Awareness in place of suffering…by allowing the witnessing to occur the whole thing was healed”. 
Time after time we are shown the value of bringing rigorous honesty to our stories and dissolving self-limiting beliefs. We are certain that surrendering of all of what we believe ourselves to be leads us to spiritual awakening. We have been shown repeatedly that it is only identification with our F.E.A.R (False Evidence Appearing Real) that leads us away from the eternal peace that is our true nature.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Ground of Daily Life

“There is always a tension to living in a physical body. Our mind and spirit are often at odds with each other and we struggle to balance their desires. The spirit within us has faith that our needs will always be met, but our mind perceives that there is not enough to go around. Our spirit inherently understands that we are all one with other people and the universe, but our minds find this difficult to maintain….

It takes a real leap in our spiritual evolution to see ourselves as one with humanity and to act in accordance with that insight.”

Carolyn Myss,

Invisible Acts of Power: Channeling Grace in Your Everyday Life  (2004).

In a recent conversation with Julia Day, the Light Tree group joined with other Mighty Companions to explore the experience of being ‘grounded’ more fully. We wanted to share ways we retain our ability stay joined with the flow of Universal Oneness when we are tempted to lose our sense of connectedness with Spirit in everyday life.

It was clear from our discussion that grounding is an experience that emerges from the heart. This is easy to accomplish while resting in deep peace and calling upon gratitude while joining with the cosmic heart, or as some call it, the Heart of the Earth.

This illustration by Christine shows how important it is to sink as deeply into the earth as possible when allowing the energies of cosmic love to flow through the physical and light bodies during meditation.



One of the simplest ways to feel grounded is to join with trees and moist earth and feel our roots sinking deep into the soil. We are reminded to be unlimited in feeling how far we can drop into the earth, or how high we can rise into the sky above us. As we surrender to the guidance that Spirit offers us, stories of fear and self-limitation may appear to emerge. This is an excellent opportunity to forgive and release them. These are simply the obstacles to the awareness of Love’s presence coming to the surface for healing.

Being grounded simply means that we rest in our true self and expand ourselves into the Oneness of all-that-is. When we surrender all our stories and accept our true nature we can easily trust that there is nothing to defend ourselves against. We become fully immersed in the Universal Love that we inherently embody by sinking ever more deeply into this truth.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Perfect Self


We come to love not by finding the perfect person, but loving an imperfect person perfectly”

Anonymous


image courtesy of facebook

A common theme in our discussions at The Light Tree is wondering why we spend so much of our time and energy projecting our unmet needs and uncomfortable feelings onto others. It’s as if by blaming or finding fault outside ourselves, we distance ourselves from hurt and find some kind of temporary relief.

Before we know it, the sick feeling comes around again. Instead of pushing it away and imagining it’s the fault of someone ‘out there’ why don’t we spend a bit more time getting to know it? After all, it shows up often enough. Everyone has feelings of fear, anger, hurt, loneliness and betrayal they just want to get rid of so they can be happy and return to peace. Its not a secret.






Quite often we are ashamed of these feelings because we judge ourselves harshly for having them in the first place. Until then, our bodies are like pyjamas we sleep in until we start to awaken from our dreams and illusions. What we resist persists, so pushing them far away, onto others or situations we don’t like just make them hang around even longer. 

For example, if we have uneasy sensations when we spend time alone, we might sit with the feeling, instead of finding something ‘to do’. Keeping busy just makes us avoid the situation even longer, only to return another day. We have found that deep feelings of dissatisfaction stem from judgements about what appears within our realm of experience. If we are honest with ourselves we are holding all sorts of grievances about some of the people and events that show up around us. Deep looking reveals they are all projections of our mind that arise to distract us.
 
When we take time to sit, many of our grievances expose themselves. It can be helpful to forgive them and let them go. “Let all my grievances be transformed into miracles” is a great way to bless them on their way out. It is likely that we have been listening to our ego and its eternal list of complaints, instead of resting in our True Self and trusting that what we need comes to us.

We can be sure that our ego is losing its grip is when we stop wanting advice and feedback from others. We don’t want to be taught. We don’t want our bullshit complaints to be validated. This only gives them permission to stick around for another ride. Rather, we can sit and honestly and ask Spirit, our true self, to show us what we need to know. It’s great to share our insights, but not so that they can be judged to be especially good, or especially bad. Just the practice of going to our own pure inner guidance whenever we feel a disturbance is all we need to do.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

“My disciples learn to look upon all that happens with an open heart and an open mind. They grow increasingly willing to surrender their narrow beliefs and prejudices.

They refrain from condemning themselves or others for the mistakes they make, but try to learn from these mistakes so that they will not repeat them.

My disciples grow more respectful and intimate in their relationship with God every day. They learn to let the indwelling God lead the way in their lives. Thinking of me and attending to my example helps them do this.”

Jesus: Love Without Conditions (Paul Ferrini, 2009)



Our practice at The Light Tree has enabled us to reflect upon what it means to be guided by Spirit in our everyday lives. We strive to take the experiences that appear before us and see them as opportunities to deepen our understanding of love. Sometimes we stumble and find ourselves treating outward events as if they were real in themselves, as opposed to opportunities for healing.

When we notice this happening we stop and notice the bodily sensations that accompany the event. The felt sense immediately brings clarity to the situation. We become curious about what is unfolding and let go of trying to make sense of it ourselves.

We call upon Spirit to show us the true meaning of events and guide us about how to proceed next. The pace of this process may seem slow because we have less of an automatic, defensive response to everything that appears before us. Insights might take milliseconds or weeks to unfold, but they always seem to reveal themselves at the perfect time.

This week we described what we noticed when we are ‘grounded’ in our True Self. We agreed that a sensation of being grounded makes being in the present moment very easy. Our mind is not racing about and trying to make up stories about what it perceives around it. We are relaxed and energized. Our attitude is open and receptive to guidance from Spirit because we are willing to learn new ways of acting and reacting to the world around us.

Being grounded in our True Self means that we are resting in our Soul body and trusting its wisdom. We are not hooked into making events in the world seem real and threatening. We only want to rest in the Peace of God which dwells within us and guides our every move. We are Whole, safe and fully protected by the projections and fears dreamed up by our minds.

We are reminded of the Buddha who saw the arrows that rained down upon him as harmless flowers. We know the world is not perfect, but with time and patience we are learning to step back and perceive it perfectly.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Leaning in

“Feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we're holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we'd rather collapse and back away. They're like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we're stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it's with us wherever we are.”

Pema Chodron

www.opentothelight.com

Our explorations using the felt sense as a guide to self-awareness have shown us the value of ‘hanging in’ when we are in physical and emotional discomfort. As Pema Chodron advises, we are learning to “perk up and lean in” rather than run, hide, or create a new story.

Sometimes we are not all that successful, and we uncover our disappointment just under the surface. We are frustrated that we missed it again, were seduced by a familiar story; got lost in its allure. We don’t like this person, or are disappointed that we sold out in that situation. We missed a chance to stay true to ourselves…AGAIN!

When we find ourselves expressing this kind of disappointment, it’s helpful to remember that all we have to do is hang out and observe what is happening. We stay present with it. We may not like it but we don’t let ourselves be hooked for another ride on the merry-go-round. We are patient and resist the urge to repeat the usual response. 

We can notice how we have felt compelled to deal with it. We don’t try and dress it up and fix it somehow. Sometimes the feelings that arise are very powerful and uncomfortable. If we just sit tight they unravel right before our eyes. No magic, no fuss, just patience.

If we can make this kind of response our default strategy we can find our peace much more quickly. Hanging out with discomfort isn’t always fun, but eventually it gets tired of the game and moves on. From here we can hang out in a place of relief and insight. We see the drama more clearly when we are not hooked into it.

Sometimes it takes a few days and we may need a trusted friend to help us make sure we are not just wallowing aimlessly in the feeling. Rather, we are sitting patiently, neutrally, trusting it will unfold. Certainly this is an opportunity to forgive ourselves for getting lost once again. We can choose peace instead of this.

We can stay alert and ‘lean in’ by being curious. We resist the urge to develop strategies to ‘deal with it’ into the mix. Insights and strategies will unfold all by themselves, effortlessly and clearly. We just have to get out of our own way.