So often we rely on our senses to access reality in a way that locates reality outside ourselves. But what happens when we look within and observe reality from the outside, looking in?
Today I had another one of my epic sneezing cascades, where one sneeze leads to the next and I keep going dozens of time. With each one I took a moment to go deeper within my body. I never thought sneezing could be such a deeply transcending experience and usually try to simply withold the impulse, resist the need to sneeze and want it to be over as swiftly as possible.
An entirely different experiences arises when I set aside my resistance long enough to explore this sneezing fit from a different perspective. Through this I learned what I had always been missing out on every time I sneeze without honouring this simple bodily function with all the attention it deserves.
It only takes a brief fraction of a second to pay full attention to a sneeze. In that brief second an entire universe is born and dies. My whole body expands and contracts, becomes effortlessly filled with breath of life and, if I allow complete surrender to the experience, will release itself from anything that no longer serves its direction to grow.
What else have I been missing out on in life, if I cannot call my attention on something so simple, but so blissful as a sneeze? What else am I not paying attention to in this very moment that could yield a surreal experience of embodiment? More importantly, what is required to gain it back?
Much like many things that beg for our attention in life, a sneeze is unintentional, effortless, an imperative calling to breathe and release. Having had the opportunity to observe my breath and my capacity to release so fully, what else might I glimpse of the universe’s infinite wisdom if I continue to breath in attentively and allow myself to let go on every exhale..?
Today was a day not unlike any other aside from the simple fact which called my attention very intently to everything that happened in my surroundings. I was so intensely present for the slightest moments, sensations, feelings, thoughts, emotions and experiences.
I celebrate my birthday today, completing a full revolution around the sun by this calendar, measurably marking the passing of time, taking the opportunity to be grateful for all the lessons and challenges that have graced my life over the past 12 months.
As the day came to a close I struggled with a simple task of driving home - far beyond the city limits. The highway was blocked and after three separate attempts at getting on the highway from different access points I found myself driving much further down to get what I thought would be a sure access point, forgoing any access points between my starting point and the last possible access point to get to this highway.
I was so fixated on my route home that I even took an extra detour to avoid an alternate route. I did not want to surrender. I wanted to take my normal route.
As this was occuring I observed myself feeling frustrated, but moreso discouraged. My heart sank. I felt tears swelling. I wanted the release of a good cry, which had been mounting in me for months, and revelled at the thought of finally letting it go.
But it did not come. In fact, I gained access to the highway and breathed a sigh of relief that my plan had not been foiled. I eased into the drive home.
The rain consoled me, almost teasing me for I had not had the release I had been wanting. Then it dawned on me that I had been so fixated on the road home I had missed the point of this experience entirely. I gave up before the climax. I wanted things my way, and I missed a beautiful opportunity for complete release, settling only for a small breath of relief.
A moment of calm and stillness settles in. I merge with the rain and realize that the day is coming a close, that these many detours have eroded my time away and that I might not get a chance to finish all the things I had wanted to do in a day. My intention has once again misjudged my capacity. Or so I thought.
Instead I realized that intention is not a measuring unit. One cannot measure success or failure based on achieving any intention. Instead, I’ve come to understand that intention is the driving force that brings us to the lessons we must learn.
That love will conquer all is probably one of the most common of clichés. However, the resilience of love will overcome any resistance, melting away its force and disolving any obstacles in its way. Its power is to a subtetly which is both insidiously disarming and terrifying when uncovered for what it truly is.
It comes in all forms, unique and universal, tragic and tranversal, deep with dispersal, ripe with reveral, mythic and magic like a force of endless dismissal.
What we scarcely realize until it is too light is the great price at which it comes. Love requests of us complete surrender, acceptance, facing our deepest, darkest corners and a willingness to look at them squarely, see them as they are without dressing them up, sharply slicing costume away, breaking down our illusions and unmasking our splitting realities.
In moments of great clarity, everything that the mind seems normally able to rest on begins to split at the seems. Initially this is an uncomfortable shift, it feels ruthless, brutal, almost violent. We scream. We resist. But it persists.
I come back with my birthing metaphor, as it is so perfect an analogy for the growth that occurs and how love is the driving force which animates both the drive to expand and alleviates the pain of swelling and shifting into that expansion.
Stepping outside of our comfort zone, taking great risks and moving forward with faith is an essential component of growth. No growth can happen without this. On the flip side, the sacrifice of love is also found in accepting the discomfort of opening ourselves to unplesant experience so that we may transform ourselves, and those around us.
By allowing ourselves to be so open and vulnerable we create space for reconfiguration, reformulation, reiteration and reinterpretations of being and reality that shape newer ways of being into exalted expressions of the essential self, meeting our highest potential.
Below is a poem a beloved friend read to me recently, which emphasizes to me the stronghold love can have on us, the playfulness that can seem so harsh at moments, but in the end provides a threat to grow, ushering us into opening new spaces and flowering into higher forms of being.
To do this we must be prepared to accept our own humanity, greet it with a knowing smile that displays love and humour, occasionally dropping the sweetness of speech in favour of a tougher approach that ruffles our feathers, turns us upside down a bit and shows us the world from a new perspective. If we allow ourselves to be open to these experiences, the world upside down can suddenly awaken us into letting go of what we thought we knew and what we held so dear; reliquinshing the need to escape and stepping instead into a space of gratitude for all our silly human nonsense, where we may infinite joy and limitless love in the liminal space in between the stretch of the imagination.
Tired of speaking sweetly (quoted “The gift” - Poems by Hafiz)
Love wants to reach out and manhandle us
Break all our teacup talk of God.
If you had the courage and
Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,
He would just drag you around the room
By your hair,
Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
That bring you joy
Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
And wants to rip to shreds
All your erroneous notions of truth
That makes you fight within yourself, dear one
And with others,
Causing the world to weep
On too many fine days.
God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
And practice his dropkick.
The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor:
Hold us upside down
And shake all the nonsense out.
But when we hear
He is such a “playful druken mood”
Most everyone I know
Quickly packs teir bags and hightails it
Out of town