The Therapy Booth

resting, doodling and holding love signs

Waiting for the Big Bang

This morning I was listening to a recording of a spiritual seeker talking with a teacher, saying that he still hadn’t gotten it. He shared that he was waiting for a great and magnificent unveiling of the eyes, a Big Bang of an experience, proving that he had – at last – reached the final goal.

This final goal is fondly called by many names: enlightenment, awakening, merging with the Beloved, infinite awareness, peace, bliss, love, light . . .

The imagined experiences of it also wear many titles and costumes: rolling on the floor laughing, the earth and sky cracking open and light pouring from the body, or – my favorite – total drooling bliss.

And then there are the imagined “after” pictures: never experiencing pain, no sadness or anger or jealousy, beauty, affection, riches, never being bothered ever again by anything, ultimate kindness and compassion, the living embodiment of beatification.

So, what does all this say about you, me, or anyone who experiences pain or judgmental thoughts, who feels desire or longing or weariness, who is certain this can’t be it?

What we often miss is turning and looking right at what this it is, the one that this isn’t. What is it that we have or haven’t achieved? Is a moment of sitting in front of our teacher laughing and laughing and laughing it? Is a day when language doesn’t come and silence is all that’s needed or desired it? Is having people come to you as a teacher it? If material abundance is appearing as if miraculously, is that it? How about talking in non-dual buzzwords or commenting or a posting on Facebook? How about a YouTube video?

In a way, this is like watching lots of romantic comedy movies and holding out for the perfect Hollywood romance. And, not only holding out for that, but also being convinced that there’s something very wrong if that’s not how our relationships look. So now we have the added not-it of stewing in our wrongness about not having or being it.

Wow, no wonder we’re seeking something different.

For many years on the spiritual path, I had a vague idea of this thing called enlightenment (see total drooling bliss, above). I wanted to go off to India and meet a guru who would bop me on the head and all would be love and rainbows and fireworks and sunshine and . . . well, actually, even that may be more fully formed than what I’d actually imagined I wanted. But I wanted it (whatever it was), and I thought I was supposed to have it — or, at least, I was supposed to be going for it. Eventually I concluded this was never going to happen for me in this lifetime, even though there was still a longing. I thought that it would take twenty years of meditating in a cave, like a glowing baba I met once, to have the shift happen — yonder Big Bang. And so, I sat in longing, still looking at others who seemed to have it, and still thinking there was something wrong with these little comings and goings that signified I hadn’t made it.

big bang

Some years ago,  I came across Eckhart Tolle. I was greatly influenced by reading A New Earth and listening to Eckhart reading The Power of Now on my mp3 player. I could definitely feel something shifting and a recognition of what he seemed to be pointing seemed to happen sometimes, but I still had this sense of I got it/I lost it, or as Scott Kiloby aptly calls it, oscillation. And, I couldn’t call Eckhart on the phone to get pointers when I was going through this and that. I wanted to be like him, and didn’t believe I could, but I got these glimpses . . .

Then I met Scott, and that meeting was a game changer. Not the event of physically coming in contact with Scott but what was being pointed. Scott pointed me directly into seeing that any idea I had of how something was supposed to be was nothing but that, an idea. More specifically: words, images and sensations in the body. And sometimes tucked away thoughts – again, just words – that assign meaning to the moment, like that it means something about me that I’m experiencing X, Y, or Z. Whatever you think is being pointed in non-dual or spiritual awakening conversation is not what you think it is. It can’t be. Trust me, but don’t take my word for it. Look for yourself.

What is it that you don’t have yet? What is it you haven’t done or felt or seen? What is it about this moment right now that indicates awake or asleep? And what is awake and what is asleep?

These are all things we look into in the Living Inquiries, developed by Scott Kiloby, out of his direct experience with the clearing and falling away of ideas about achieving a spiritual goal. We aren’t fighting our ideas, we’re simply turning and looking directly into what we think is going on — usually the thing that seems to be fueling suffering. There is a good amount of suffering from the I got it/I lost it thing. I’ve experienced it and I meet with people all the time who also suffer under the weight of what they think they should be but they aren’t. Of not yet having that Big Bang experience. Or, God forbid, having had it and it didn’t stay.

What if the thing you’re waiting for is already happening, right now, no matter what?

Don’t think about that question. Let the mind rest, and let’s look.

 

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Messy Morning Bed Hair

It’s important to me to write honestly. As you know, one of my greatest passions is creative freedom and freedom of expression. Starting with the Morning Pages, coloring through the doodles, and all of the areas I haven’t yet touched on in the Free Expression series . . . for me, life is all-inclusive. And that really means all. Nothing can be left out in this sort of freedom.

After I posted a few days ago from my fever bed, my mind churning with upheaval and concern, I worried that I shouldn’t have shared that openly, that I shouldn’t have left my post to be read. What would people think of me? How would my words be interpreted? Would I be seen as a poor representative of the Living Inquiries?

I saw, though, that these fearful thoughts were also just part of life and they didn’t need to be followed or believed, any more than anything else. And, what is The Therapy Booth, if not a place for everyone to have all freedom of expression? What kind of Therapy Booth host would I be if I pretended that I’m only feeling well, happy and inspired? And, what if bearing my heart – however it looks – is inspired?

As a creative person – and I assert we all are – this is something I’ve watched and admired in other artists. It’s what gives me such awe for Joni Mitchell and her song writing. Her utter honesty and clarity of description is what has others relate so deeply with her, and it’s what has me wonder, how can she be knowing my experience so directly that she’s singing about it? It is in the details that we find the universals. We are not as alone as we may think we are with our tender hearts, moving minds and oceanic passions.

I find with all of these courses of expression that unencumbered articulation and declaration leaves me feeling more alert, clear and relaxed. To be able to pour it out on the page or on a phone call with a trusted friend or in my doodle notebook or during an inquiry session is to take the chains off of life and let it run free. And then, the direct experience of anicca (a Pali word meaning impermanence) is known. I’m as awe struck by this as I am by Joni Mitchell’s honest lyrics: that something that feels heavy, true and deep – once expressed – goes on about its way as each wave goes back into the ocean and disappears without a trace.

In the Living Inquiries, we look closely and gently at this movement and find out if any of these comings and goings actually equal “us”. Are any of those words I typed during my flu “me”? Are any of the words your friend says to you on the phone “her”? This is done from a restful position, as opposed to a mental one, and it leaves us in a space where all of the comings and goings are totally free to come and go. Life is going to happen. Happiness, delight, fear, anger, sadness, frustration, love, lust, apathy . . . all of them are so welcome to come and go here in The Therapy Booth. Express yourself! I’m gonna.

Recovering! Writing with messy morning bed hair.

Recovering! Writing with messy morning bed hair.

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Free Expression, Part 1: Morning Pages

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”

― Franz Kafka

I facilitated an inquiry session today with a friend who was looking for what she named the misogynistic control paradigm. It was unfindable, as it turned out, but the topic remains of interest to me. My friend was talking about this subtle self-defeating language that we use, culturally, to make excuses or apologies for our present state, our loves, our longings, our snackings . . . She said, “[It’s like] we’re obliged to deny ourselves certain things.”

I’ve been wanting to write a blog post about my passion for telling things exactly as they are – or exactly as they occur, right now, fully, one hundred percent, and completely unapologetically.

Then I realized I have so much to say on this topic and so many different ways that I celebrate as paths to full expression, that this would have to come as a series. Here’s the first entry.

I read the Kafka quote above on Facebook today and swooned. I have already loved his quotes for this reason and that, and, as a writer and a budding artist, these words are like sweet, sweet balm. They are the opposite of that self-defeating language my friend was pointing to today.

In the following posts, I’ll be sharing about the different venues I have – THANK GOD – for pouring out my natural, unapologetic unedited expression.

Let’s start now with the beloved Morning Pages.

Made famous by Julia Cameron in her creativity guide, The Artist’s Way, Morning Pages are simple: three handwritten pages of anything. They are uncensored, and, in fact, are a training against self-censorship. Julia writes that we usually start telling the truth around the page-and-a-half mark. I’ve been writing MPs for several years, and I’d say I’ve learned to jump right into that unleashed honesty, at least there on the sacred page. These pages are not shown to anyone ever, and, Julia recommends that we don’t read the Morning Pages, at least for two months after they’re written.

This writing is not meant to be good. It’s not meant to be something that you’ll publish. But, if you are a writer, you can enjoy the practice of flexing the muscle. Natalie Goldberg, in recommending at least twenty minutes of timed writing daily, suggests that this practice keeps us warm and healthy, so that when some official writing (whatever that is) is ready to come through, we’ve stretched and limbered up.

But Morning Pages and other timed writing exercises are NOT just for writers. In fact, Julia Cameron says that sometimes they’re harder for writers since we try to write well. Lucky for me, I don’t have that problem with my MPs. And you should see the madness that hits those pages!

Which brings me back home to the Kafka quote (“don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical”). Is it, in fact, madness, when it’s simply pouring through my heart, out my fingers, onto the page?

The first time I wrote Morning Pages, I started them with the hopes that they would affect my writing in a positive way. I got a huge surprise: I found my singing and music-playing transformed. As if through hypnosis or sneaking in through the back door, somehow I was singing in a voice I didn’t recognize. It was clearer, more honest, more warmly toned. I was like a sponge learning new songs and couldn’t wait to play them for friends who came to visit. I gave full credit to the MPs. This shift started about three months of writing them every day.

I don’t always do them first thing in the morning. Before bed is a nice time to do the clearing as well. Either way, or sometime in the middle of the day, I almost always experience a sense of relief and gratitude for the movement of the pen on the page. I’ve found the perfect kind of notebook and perfect style of pen for me, and I invite you to do the same. And, on those days when there isn’t relief, I’m still grateful to the pages for receiving my longing, my fears, my delight, my swooning love, my begging for mercy and relief, my dreamy contemplations and prayers for comfort, support and help.

Morning Pages have given me a jumping off point for this whole world of Telling It, and we’ll get to more venues soon.

Meanwhile, I invite you into your own private space where nothing but nothing is rejected. Be angry, be lustful, be dreamy, bored, desirous, delirious. Just get it out on the page.

And then see what happens.

Love,

Carin

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