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Friday, June 1, 2012

Up In Smoke ~ ~ ~

I awoke Thursday with the usual feeling of “fear and dread” that constricts the body before rising.   I recognize it each morning and wonder where it comes from.  I am not conscious of what the mind must be thinking to create such a state before awakening that would leave such a residue.  It indicates to me that there must be something *before* the first thought, some automatic conditioning in the body-mind that kicks in as I awake.  There is and always has been this ever-present “Fear Gate.” 

Settling into the meditation chair, after lighting the candles, and striking the bowl – I journaled a few notes before meditation, as is my practice - noting that the “Fear Gate” had closed tight around me; also noting how it keeps me on the edge, on the surface, unable to go deeply into the core of Beingness.

As I was sitting, feeling the struggle of resistance trying to meet the fear, something caught my eye.  I had lit a stick of incense, as I always do, just outside the room I sit in, out of view, so as not to overwhelm the small room (and myself) with smoke.  But my attention was suddenly captured by swirls of smoke passing by the door, dancing in the sunlight streaming in from the skylight.  I got up to experience the phenomena more fully, and managed to “capture” a few shots of the swirling smoke.


I love how Life presents us with metaphors for the things we tend to struggle with.  And of course we can read any meaning into it that we want.  But if we listen Life speaks to us in ways that we can hear and understand.

I continued to watch in wonderment as the smoke from the incense danced in the light, leaving intricate fluid designs that changed and dissipated into haze – there and gone.  The dance of form and formlessness, taking shape and dissipating fluidly, dancing with the air currents effortlessly…  And it became clear what the “spiritual teachers” say - how solidly we *perceive* things to be – our thoughts, feelings, emotions, beliefs, opinions, our selves, life, etc.  Yet they are just smoke, forming and dissipating with the movement of life – unless – we try to hold onto them, grasping at smoke with our mind – believing them and making them solid.

After the dance of light and smoke I was pleasantly surprised to find that the sense of fear and dread was gone.  It had dissipated – like the smoke.    Curiosity and playfulness *allowed* the solidification of the fear to dissipate from the mind, from focus - even if momentarily.  Through curiosity and playfulness the “Fear Gate” released and I evidently entered a state of open Awareness.  

 
Fear is of the “me-mind” - and the “me” contracts into fear – the form of fear.  Our formless Beingness (True Nature) holds no grip on fear and is not constrained by fear’s form.  It is totally free of fear and only experiences fear through the “me-function” – the particular arrangement of thoughts, feelings, beliefs and identifications that we call “me.”   But in wide open Awareness there is no fear – only the dance of smoke and light.   I know these things to be true, hearing them all before, and yet I continue to fear – amazing.  What was understood in this phenomena of smoke was that when we occupy the space of inherent Awareness fear loses its grip – opens its gate and dissipates – if only in that moment.  But it was enough to allow me to see what I needed to see, which was that *everything* is smoke, *everything* dissipates back into the open space of fluid, formless Aware Consciousness.  We only need to bring our attention to that Space – the space of inherent Conscious Awareness that is curious and unafraid; instinctive – not reactive; intuitive – not based in mental concepts.  It is aware of *everything* but does not *identify* itself *as* or with anything, including feelings, emotions, and thoughts – or the “me” - but remains unaffected and effortlessly fluid.

Having this re-cognition does not mean that the feeling of “fear and dread” has burned away completely.  I still woke up today in the smoke swirls of fear and dread – totally disappointed that my insight wasn’t a “cure.”  It’s a deeply engrained automatic pattern.  And it feels like an ongoing process of re-orientation - of turning again and again to the awareness of  the wide open space of Aware Consciousness, remembering that what I believe to be me, my thoughts, my feelings, and “my life” are just ~ smoke ~~~~  



  


14 comments:

  1. It is very intriguing indeed; the way the light plays on the smoke.

    Darryl and Ruth :)

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  2. Beautiful metaphor and description of the Process, which---as you know, too---we must continually remind ourselves is ONGOING. There is no "cure" for being human (and my thought was "unfortunately" yet I am learning otherwise ;-).

    Thank you for taking the time to photograph the smoke and tell us all about this experience. I, too, LOVE how life presents us with the perfect metaphor for what we need in the moment. THIS is the Mystery that makes it all worthwhile!

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    1. Thank you Chris :) Yes, have to keep reminding myself of the ONGOINGNESS about it all, no quick fixes. Darn. ;) But it was a wonderful moment of insight and awareness that does make it worth it.

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  3. great observations (and photos to make it real) and reminders that whatever it is "this too shall pass". we forget this so easily and dig into things as if they were going to be here forever.

    it reminds me not to feel bothered about small things and be more open to that playfulness you speak off. great send off for a Saturday morning!

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    1. Boy do I relate to the "digging into things." When I first sat that morning, it felt like I was "digging in" to *meet* the fear, to *work* with the fear. It felt very intense. And then this delightful little incident showed up showing me another way... well, what a relief. :)

      Yes, enjoy and be playful! :)

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  4. I'm no stranger to waking up with sensations of fear. Although they have largely faded away now, the occasional one still comes to visit, often the tail end of some anxious dream, like going into an exam I didn't study for (yes at 63 I still have that one!).

    When they used to be a regular and troubling occurrence, I had a theory, which was sheer speculation, that although I could recognize irrational fears when I was awake and deal with them, when I was asleep, I couldn't, so they ran amock, and I woke with the feeling that I had been afraid most of the night.

    Because the fears, when I was aware of them, were often about the future and things I couln't do anything about, what seemed to work for me was just to be as aware as possible of being here and now and holding the present moment in a loving embrace. Not a cure, because the fear came back the next morning, but definitely a treatment. Also not a bad idea even when there isn't any fear :)

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    1. Thank you David for your in depth and heartfelt response!

      As I turn 63 this year, I keep thinking that I "should" be through all this stuff by now, which is what makes me think that there is some kind of body-mind connection/neural issue. But also, another speculation, that the mind must *continue* to think even when sleeping! No rest for the weary... :)

      I agree, awareness is the key - bringing awareness back to the present, as you say, being with what is. And also, for me - being aware of what is Aware :),in a sense the larger context in which life occurs, which takes my mental focus off the fear that preoccupies the mind... But that gets to the issues that you addressed in your wonderful post today - Blowing in the Mind. (And I don't know how to link to it from here.)

      In light of your post, I hope my para on the "me-mind" wasn't one of those that vexes the brain :0) LOL. As you may have noticed it is easy for me to get lost in words and abstractions - which once again points to the need to be in the here and now. :)

      I appreciate your comment! Christine

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  5. This is so helpful. Your intricate description of your experience and meditation is needful this morning. Yesterday I watched a Thich Nhat Hanh walking meditation, and I was struck with how he said with each footstep do not put down your troubles and worries, but put down joy. I thought, but how do you put down joy if you don't feel it? Well then I went for a walk, and of course it is about intention. As you say, fears, troubles, worries, sadness and anger still come. But the practice of intention, to replace them with joy and love and light is transformative. Eventually even experiences change, I think.

    Once when I visited the Orsay museum in Paris, there were displays behind glass of smoke. Smoke as art! I was mesmerized. What a beautiful metaphor you have shared here. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you Ruth for your lovely comment! Yes that is true, it really is about embracing everything that arises, not preferring one state over another. But just seeing what is there. But who likes to wake up in "fear and dread" every morning - right!? :) I noticed what also arose later that day was happiness and joy. That was a pleasant surprise :) They arose on their own, just like the other feelings and emotions throughout the day. I didn't have to try to be joyful - just open to it and experience it when it came. And then I noticed how that dissipated as well - interesting. I think we reach for happiness and joy trying to "remedy"/transform our painful feelings, but everything dissipates, changes on its own, as you say, including happiness and joy. It's just the natural, fluid movement of life, the ebb and flow of living. As you say, eventually every experience changes. I've noticed that too. I've also noticed that the key is really the open awareness that we bring to it all, like on your walk; noticing what is there, allowing it all to be as it is, seeing what arises and dissipates - like smoke.:)

      Smoke as Art! Incredible. But I can see it! It is totally mesmerizing! It returned me to a state of innocence and play - which of course is JOY! :)

      With deep appreciation for your insightful comment!

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  6. Your smoke images are beautiful, Christine! It is like meditation alive--the thought arise, flows and passes. As ever, your wisdom and insights give me much pause of thought. I like your expression of "Fear is of the “me-mind”. Some time ago I came to greater recognize that fear was just the "me" getting caught up in all my stories. While I can't say I'm 100% fear free all of the time. Stopping to make this connection and move on out of "me" helps! We're just back from our trip the US. Lovely to catch up here with you. :o) ((HUGS))

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    1. Thanks Tracy! :) Yes, that is so true about getting caught up in the stories we tell ourselves *about* what is happening. I do that very well :) Hopped over to your blog - wonderful pictures of your trip! Rest well!

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  7. As they say...this post is suuuhhhhmokin' :)
    Thank you Dear Christine...((♥))
    xoxo

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    1. Thank you sweet Leslie :) You always leave a smile behind ♥:)

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