attention

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EMBODIED AWARENESS

Spring in the Orchard 2013 By AH

Spring in the Orchard 2013 By AH

As this single bud bursts into glory in its moment, what is coming to fruition in our Time is a different means of perception. This is not a mental act. It is an embodied awareness, a way of living as an individual, and also as relationship. I invite you to experiment with two simple meditative practices. The “Spring Practice” will help you bring your sense of self into your body’s interior space, and to become fully present there. With practice, you will establish a whole-bodied Presence from which to live your life moment-by-moment—no matter what you are doing. The “Summer Practice” lets you strengthen your connection with yourself, and with all living things around you as One. It’s both/and. You might try practicing this deep sensibility alone, then imaginatively with others, and then with a group:

“Spring Practice:” Sit quietly, preferably outdoors. Take time to settle into the gift of this day; to look around and breathe . . . and as you breathe, be aware of what it’s like to be in this place, blessed by all the life around you . . . Perhaps you’re aware of birdsong . . . or the slightest movement of the trees; or the feel of the air on your cheek . . . even its fragrance. So just come into this holy moment of arrival and be here, now. Then, close your eyes and take the time to relax your body in your usual way for a few minutes . . . When you’re feeling less contracted—less defended against the moment—let your sense of self drop down inside your body. Then:

Come into your own Presence . . . and be aware of how you do that . . .  Take some time here. Can you feel the subtle sensation of your “you” inhabiting the silence, the spaciousness inside? Rest here a little while . . . Then:

Be your own Presence. Notice your initial response to that statement . . . then pay attention to Presence as your Self . . . Notice how it feels physically to inhabit that Identity. If with others, even in your imagination, then:

Come into the Presence of the group and be aware of how you do that  . . . Lastly, alone or in the group:

Come into the Stillness, the One Presence . . . and abide . . .    (End of the Spring Practice)

Energy Pool

Introduction to the “Summer Practice”: Animals think with their bodies. So let your animal body lead. Subtler than thought, this shift of orientation will help you let go into an unbroken intimacy with life. Take time first, to do the Spring Practice outdoors, alone or with others, if someone guides the group’s pace. Then alone or with the group, sit or stand with eyes open, while the guide continues with the second meditation, pausing intuitively:

“Summer Practice:” Let your body be your instrument . . . every inch of it aware . . . every inch, open . . . spacious . . . breathing from your interior bodily center. . . .Take some time . . . . Now, see if you can sense, almost as if it were reaching out from behind your back . . . a background awareness . . . softer, and more subtle than thought . . . and very alive. . . . At your own pace, notice how it moves slowly out past your skin . . . extending beyond you . . . until it surrounds and contains you . . . contains your whole body. . . . Rather than use your eyes to envision it, just let your body feel its way . . . it’s own awareness opening out all around you, like a radiant antenna. . . . Now, let your body’s awareness be like a soft, gentle . . . light . . . gradually extending outward . . . in all directions. . . Diffuse light . . . fully Present and sensing . . . inquiring into the larger Fieldof Presence all around you. You might want to imagine it as your own soul’s light . . . like a halo sensing out into a vast unknown. . . . (After a period of silence) What does this Presence of Awareness feel like in and around your body? . . . Realize that your body doesn’t feel this Presence as any different from itself. It is One with it  . . . Try to memorize the subtle sensation of being inside Awareness . . . attentive to the Presence of Awareness. . . .

Now be that Awareness. . . .                                                  (End of the Summer Practice)

Energy Pool

Dear Companions, This is the Work— not to work. Not to try to make things happen, but simply to be within your body, inhabiting a new identity as We. To attune to Life as Presence, as Embodied Awareness: to listen from it, speak from it, live from it, and take its direction for your life . . . moment . . . by moment . . . by moment. To live as relationship—inwardly connected, inwardly held, inwardly related to all that is—a possibility that’s been within us since the Beginning, waiting for us to let go of ourselves.

This letter is also my own experiment. While many of you who have participated in the last two years’ retreats have told me how profoundly the meditations have affected you, I don’t know how they’ll communicate from the printed page. I do hope you will experience their fullness, as well; they may be a little easier for daily meditators. Please let me know.

With Love,

Anne

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 WINTER 2013 ~ LIVING AS BEINGS

A Two-Thousand-Year-Old Baobob Tree at Dawn

A Two-Thousand-Year-Old Baobob Tree at Dawn

What if the Mayans were predicting, not the end of the world, but an end to the way we live our lives?

I’ve long been awed by the number of people in the last fifty years who’ve been seeking a spiritual path and practice. Surely, this inner migration is amazing. Something has been drawing us beyond the confines of thought toward a new way of being. So when a friend’s New Year’s greeting began, “Happy New Era!” it seemed the Moment to say, “It’s Time.”

If we were to step up to that challenge, to take responsibility for entering the New Era in each moment and in each day, what would that look like? Might it lead toward a new way of being? To a new identity as Being? To speak from Being . . . listen from it . . . live from it? How could we establish ourselves in that new way of life?

What if in each moment, we simply practiced one thing: we came to rest in our own Presence—our own Divinity—and didn’t judge or resist what that moment offered? It would not be easy. But each time we dropped down into our bodies, fully Present to the moment, to ourselves, and to each other—that would be a true letting go. For that moment, the old would pass away. Perhaps, in time, we’d come to realize that we are indeed, Beings—that what had dawned in this New Era is a Living Light—and that Together, we are a Shining. We manifest it, unabashed and unashamed, and pour ourselves out: our lives, our gifts and our passions. Our Light.

Photograph by Anne Hillman

See more in “Taking Root: An Unbroken Intimacy with Life” in the Fall Kosmos Journal

2013 Three Upcoming Retreats:

Toronto area, April 19-21 An Unbroken Intimacy with Life, A Weekend Retreat

Madison WI, 3 or 5-day options: April 23-25 Taking Root ~ A Depth of Intimacy with Life or with additional days, April 25-27, Depth Perception ~ The Sensation of Light

 

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Radiance

How do we find our own light? We stop. It isn’t until we really stop everything—let go of the busy-ness that buffers us from pain, stop trying, stop working so hard, stop running . . . The more we dare to enter that emptiness and stay, the more our shadow is revealed—the holy telling of the hard truth about ourselves. About reality. Rilke shows us how to live that larger life:

Take your practiced powers and stretch them out
until they span the chasm between two
contradictions . . . For the god
wants to know himself in you.

If we accept his invitation to live the paradox and not just think it, we can no longer take refuge in a single point of view; we’re meant to open our hearts to all the contradictions—the good and the bad—in ourselves, in everyone. The great gift of this shadow walk lies in the very emptiness we’ve sought, and also hoped to avoid: a quality of compassion that brings together the many opposites—the loneliness, the grief, the shame and the beauty—and holds them. Compassion then becomes a companion to the mind of thought. It’s like a marriage: We marry our human selves— for better or worse—until death do us part; we companion ourselves, keep our youngest selves in our hearts, held and comforted. Only then, can we truly marry another . . . marry all that life is . . . all that it brings . . . This is the kind of love we’re called to embody: to be with ourselves so that we can offer genuine compassion to others; so the light within the dark is made manifest; so the Radiance deep in the heart of life continues to spread throughout the world.*

 

*See more in “Taking Root: An Unbroken Intimacy with Life” in the Fall Kosmos Journal

2013 Three Upcoming Retreats:

Toronto area, April 19-21 An Unbroken Intimacy with Life, A Weekend Retreat
 
Madison WI, 3 or 5-day options: April 23-25 Taking Root ~ A Depth of Intimacy with Life or with additional days, April 25-27, Depth Perception ~ The Sensation of Light
 

Artist, Marci Graham,“Radiance” from The Cosmological Powers of the Universe Series

Filed under Alignment, attention, awareness, compassion, Consciousness, Creativity by Anne Hillman #

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There is so much more to a human life, possibilities we are normally unaware of, innate gifts we might bring to the world. To learn what they are, some of us have to be broken: confronted by something that compels us to surrender. Until then, we may have been reasonably satisfied with our lives, content with our own point of view. But when we’ve been humbled by storm or earthquake, illness or shame; by loss or just the ordinary process of aging, grace comes, and with it, opportunity after opportunity to deepen our way of perceiving, so we can ‘hear’ with more of ourselves.

 

Then, we learn to give the larger life our whole-bodied attention. We ask in the moment, What now? and listen with all our faculties. We dare to follow what allures us. This is the relationship that matters now: to move with the deeper movement ‘of the earth, of spirit, of the unknown’ in an unbroken intimacy with life. In this communion, we live in time and eternity intertwined, one day, one moment at a time.

Coyote cub allured (AH)

 

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We live in a Time of great upheaval, challenged on all fronts by conflicts in our world, our political systems, our religions and often those most difficult to see, the conflicts within ourselves. When what we know doesn’t seem to be working, life can seem dark, and we may feel lost and even afraid.

Times of darkness are choice points. They press us as individuals and as a species to choose from one of two ways to proceed: we can either change ourselves, meaning change our constant orientation to our thoughts, or render ourselves extinct.

We have in us, have had bestowed on us, everything we need to respond to the Time in which we’ve been born. We just need to know where and how to look,where to put our attention. There is no room for creativity in minds chock full of old ideas and old views. Perhaps, instead, we might let ourselves be lost and not know. When we’re lost, we can do three simple things: Create a quiet moment, a clearing in the forest of our activities. Sit in the stillness without trying to figure anything out. Turn our attention to the simple movement of our breath and let the thoughts drain away. And in the spaciousness of not knowing, allow the New to unfold.

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. Blaise Pascal

www.annehillman.net  Art by Joan Brady

 

 

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Yesterday, I went out into a summer field and was stunned once more by the immense creativity that surrounds us. What an amazing variety of trees, grasses, scents, and birdsong! The wildflowers a riot of color! It is easy to forget this glory as we reel from the many disasters in our world. Rather than awe, we may feel helpless, frustrated, or afraid. Surely, we need to make room for these feelings. But the sheer wonder of existence is that each of us also shares in the vast creativity of the universe. It is our inheritance, and the kind of creativity that is most needed in our time. Every one of us has an inborn gift to bring to the world. It may not be ‘fancy.’ But it is uniquely ours. We may be completely unaware of what our gift is; it can be different from anything we’ve ever done. Still, we’re more likely to learn about it when we’re far from the culture’s noisy demands for attention and undistracted by a mind full of thoughts: when we’re in a field, in a forest, or on the beach, simply there: no book, no computer, no iPhone. In moments like these, nothing separates us from ourselves or from the upwelling life around us:

In the wilderness

my mind spreads out like water

pools

shines

reflects green boughs

and blue sky . . .

I listen to the trees whispering

and think no thoughts

(From Awakening the Energies of Love, p. 78)

When we sit quietly and listen, not to our thoughts, but to the silence that surrounds them, we occasionally tap a vein of intelligence that clearly doesn’t belong to us as individuals. Like a hint that bubbles up from energies moving through the cosmos, it comes out of the blue like a whisper or image arising from a deeper place than imagination. The kind of prompt our inner antenna detects rarely seems like anything important. It feels more like an inclination to do something very small. But when I actually take a step in response to that inclination, I find it becomes a way of participating in the world more fully than just by following my own ideas. I call it ‘following my thread.’ I like to think of it as one of the many threads the creative energies of the cosmos are weaving into a tapestry larger than I will ever understand.

Few of us find our creative gift all at once; we come to it by degrees when we listen to the silence, prepared to say ‘Yes!’ to what emerges. Then we follow our thread. The keys to following are these: We need to know we are enough. That what we have to give is welcome. And that the more we immerse ourselves in the natural world and listen, the more we’ll find of our real selves. Then we can give to others what we alone have to give.

In celebration of the wild creativity of the universe, and with Love,

Anne

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The ground is saturated here in California. The small lake over the hill is brimming, and there’s an unmistakable scent of warm mud in the air. I know that smell in my bones: After every March thaw in New England, we’d put our lawn chairs on some bare ground between patches of snow and sunbathe. We knew it wouldn’t last: it would snow again in April. But the smell of mud held a promise of new life and we reveled in it. We lived our little bit of spring in the midst of winter.

Once in a while, we get a glimpse of something new half-seen in another person or an event, a promise of something that wants to be born. It signals a different take on things and a manner of living it fully. Even in the midst of discouragement and fear, all of us can develop skills that will lend energy and impetus to that kind of creative possibility.

It is very difficult to see the many kinds of suffering around us and to live with the infinite slowness of change. We want to solve these problems and get results. Much as we long for solutions, they don’t always happen on our watch. Then it’s easy to become disappointed, discouraged, and afraid. Fear is a powerful god. For some of us, the more natural response to fear is to recoil, give up, or get cynical. Others may be more likely to take sides and try to trounce the opposition. These old kinds of reactions, the winter we live in, are taking a huge toll on all of us. But there is a more creative way. The alternative, when things go very wrong, is learning to give our attention to two things at once: To focus directly on the pain (rather than denying, ignoring or repressing it), and at the same time, hold it in a much larger awareness than thought. This capacity to embody and live from a mind that is not divisive, but instead heals, is available to all of us. You can find several examples in Awakening the Energies of Love and The Dancing Animal Woman. Even as things fall apart, we need to hold the larger vision, together. We can hope to live spring in the midst of winter!


Filed under attention, Change, Creativity, Love, Nature of Change, overcoming fear, Vision by Anne Hillman #