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)


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.”