Love, when it is in a reflective or contemplative mode, is able to stand back from and distance itself from entanglement with the imperatives of earning a living, from the 9 to 5 day-to-day race against time and from all the external urgencies of other people’s making.
Contemplative love can see just the person, the beauty and the light of the soul that first animated it. Love in self-contemplation has the space and time to concentrate on the protection and the nurture of the longer term relationship of the heart with the person…
This is the jewel-like and miraculous nacre, which slowly accretes on the beautiful pearl of trusted relationship with the passage of time.
It is composed of shared tendernesses and the physical tokens of affection from and towards myself over the much longer time scale than the jittery “9 to 5”.
May you drink in sweetness from reflection on and gratitude for what you already have, which I see as the long-wave state, and be ever so glad of it.
And may you ride out with studied, confident, patient acceptance, the ups and downs of what I call the shortwave ripples, so that longwave love can continue, seeing and seen, to be generously shared.
And may love seeded grow ever strong in your heart
Counterintuitively, doing nothing all summer long wasn’t so frustrating as you might imagine.
When I wish for something other than the status quo, when I don’t allow myself to accept my circumstances, the conflict of frustration begins.
I arrived home from my operation dog tired. All physical exertion caused unpleasant dramatic effects. So exercise was obviously something to avoid.
With that, fatigue held me back. Fatigue was more of a welcome than a hindrance, because I wanted to rest, to sleep. My sleeps so refreshed me, I kind of looked forward to being tired. This became a self-sustaining cycle of pleasant reward for giving in to sleep.
Everyone agreed it had been a good summer!
My daytime luxury was to sit in the sun in the garden for long periods of time. I’d photograph insects and flowers, snooze. And then photograph flowers and insects.
Knowing that I was limited to these activities, grateful I have no need of employment, and with no other obligations, these few things quickly became what I owned.
I strongly suspect there is no need for anyone to experience frustration as long as their consciencious attention is directed towards observation of the fruits of the moment.
I learned to work on this internal reward system when I was still an employee at work, most often performing to others’ orders at others’ set times of day.
The moment of my activity becomes the world of my engagement and so it becomes my engagement with the whole world.
With the most repetetive boring work tasks, I set myself miniature milestones to achieve. That way I competed for efficiency with only myself. Only I and nobody else rewarded me for reaching my own set targets as I worked through my day.
I had no need to compete with others at work. The fact was I had no time to look over my shoulder, while I was so absorbed in my keeping up with my personal best.
These principles applied to filling sacks with builder’s rubble, as much as to achieving sales targets.
This state of mind can come from fiercely focusing on what my mind is making of where my body is, with every one of my senses awake, tuned, alert and receptive.
There is nothing special or specifically prescribed to concentrate on. After all, where my body is located, it is surrounded by sights, textures, sounds, scents – an unending procession of the external stimuli of Realia!
I, or you, or any one can engage in doing this close focusing from time to time, if we like.
Radical life-enhancements that can permanently change the way I perceive the quality of my life derive from this style of applied attention when I choose to take the time to plunge myself into and practise immersion in the sensory of the moment, either by choice, or because some life event, such as illness or injury brings these choices front and centre.
In my EveryNow blog posts, I try to write about these fruits of microcosmic inspection. My motive is simply to share the joy and the sweetness they bring.
I know from my own experience, there is an uncomplicated way to release joy and open floodgates of love and peace, when I can recognise the distractions of frustration, fear and anger as illusory, irrelevant and wholly superfluous to human requirements!
What validates this leap into a blissful state, where fear has no existence and rushes of love flit and flutter about with me on stage in the moment? Well, for a start, being intensely nose-to-nose with the absence of time in the flying moment is thunderingly awesome.
Here we have the pleasures of non-attachment, where I cultivate my close attention, and it returns intensity of awareness to me without locking any part of me into what I am doing with my directed attention.
The pleasure of being released from the leg-irons of the Past, and the cheeky cheery turning of my back on the caverns of Future is hardly worth bothering to explain.
And explaining is not the thing. The thing is to be thankful. Gratitude is the right reaction. Be grateful for release into lightness of heart. Be thankful for sudden intimacy with the world of intuition.
Accept and thank my lucky stars for the oddness of being able to read hearts!
Flow in the moment helps self examination. In the moment when a fragment of birdsong triggers my smile, it triggers also my self love. The union of self with self is union with the whole of existence. What other respectful ways of being glad are there than the gladnesses of humility, awe and gratitude?
As my family and some few friends know, I suffered in my early twenties from periodic intense depressions.
I lost my opportunities to enter higher education, so carefully planned and worked for. I lost contact with my peers, who were starting university courses, establishing careers and founding nuclear families.
I lost my independence. And to a large extent, I became institutionalised during two long stays in hospitals, such that I later had to re-learn some of the most elementary routines of self-care.
I passed a couple of years in shadowland, on many medications, mostly good only to tranquillise and numb my emotions.
Finally here is where this story begins. I am being cared for by a good family friend, at her home with her young adult children.
For a number of weeks, I had been living in one small bedroom with my racing thoughts. They were not overwhelming or unfriendly thoughts, just tail-chasers. I was in unhappy disconnect from objective reality.
I surfed stories of mystery and imagination, locating myself like a Robinson Crusoe on my own island populated by innocent fantasies.
It is a documented fact. At around their late twenties, some fortunate few patients experience what medical professionals call Spontaneous Remission. This is an automatic correction or re-balancing. It is a phase-change, a transition from chaos to order. I refer to it as my second Epiphany.
I had consistently followed whatever medication regimes I was prescribed. For long periods at a time, I may well have been taking a broad spectrum of psycho-active drugs which were not relevant to my condition.
Lithium Carbonate was found to be a corrective new medication. This is an inorganic compound, related quite closely to that simple molecule commonly known as Chalk!
I dutifully accepted to take this one as I always had all the others. So much the better for me, as the events that followed were primed to take their course.
My intense experience of this event in 1969 is clear in my memory many tens of years after. It’s a short story in itself.
It happened quite literally overnight.
It coincided with and was induced by a few hours of almost unbearably intense physical pain. There was nothing other-worldly about it. It originated purely from elementary causes in my soma.
During the night-time hours of this traumatic physical trial, while the house was asleep, I began to pray as hard as I knew how, because the pain was not like anything else I could remember, not even acute appendicitis twenty years earlier. I had no way to understand it.
As the muscle spasms strengthened, it occurred to me I could not survive them at this rate. I began to prepare for when I might pass out and not wake up. I bit down hard into my pillow, because I didn’t want my teeth to smash.
Irrational as it seems to me still today, I made no attempt to alert the others in the house. This was my time. My time has come, as the saying goes.
The prayer I repeated was, “I offer my soul to you, my God. Do with me as you see fit.”
Later I learned that what I was enduring was not life threatening, but in the night hours, and after weeks out of reach of rational thought, I did believe I was most likely going to die.
I am perfectly sure my plea to God for mercy and my offering myself up to God to do with me as He wished was central to my realignment into objective reality.
Even as I grated the words of prayer through my throat, even though I knew they were the right words and that no other choice of words would do, some part of me felt slightly self-conscious.
Was this how objective rationality, with its attendant banality, was beginning to resurface?
In the grey light of morning, I woke up. I was pain-free.
I remember it in detail with crystal clarity, I was on my own wavelength again and fully aware of the frames of reference outside of myself.
In other words, for the first time in ages, I felt once more completely in touch with myself and with my thoughts. I experienced ‘normality’ like silence after a storm. I was active and present in my own quiet undramatic place in it.
I got out of bed and had a wash and a brush up. I even took a pair of nail scissors to my straggly beard and my unkempt hairline.
Then the unshaven hairy guy they had jokingly referred to in front of me as the Wild Man of Borneo, turned up in his dressing gown, to join the others and take his place, a bit sheepishly but with his usual good humour, at breakfast.
Not a word was said out of place. I noticed a few nervous incredulous and amused smiles exchanged around the table.
I never descended into this illness, or anything remotely like it again. I had travelled into, through and out of a series of Manic Depressive, or Bipolar episodes over three years.
Now I swiftly started on my return to the world of work and personal independence.
Mine is a lifetime of living in gratitude.
Gratitude for the love and trust of my Father and Mother, my family, my friends, those many people who looked after me when I could not.
And I return again and again, with an awed sense of gratitude, to be in the presence of a compassionate strength, vastly superior to my own, which reached out to me, held me, cleansed me through and through on that night of dread and dark all on my own
~ Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.
Entire oceans and ice-capped mountain ranges under midday sun reflect and/or refract and sometimes even polarise received light.
Now consider this.
Light has always been light, from the early period in the young youth of the Universe, when light began to escape.
All this light, this energy from all sources, travels and fills space in every direction all the time.
Imagine a Universe with no eyes.
No eyes to capture and focus light, and no neural receptors to sense and interpret it.
Before the existence of and without the optical receptors of animate life, there is a Universe awash with light.
In this eyeless Universe is indiscernible form and there are no bounded shapes of any kind.
In fact, in this condition of complete absence of rational observers, no information beyond light’s natural wavelengths, frequencies and amplitudes is conveyed by the omnipresent light.
Omnipresence without sentience has validity as existence, which could be thought of as an abstraction of pure innocence, but it is quantified first and only as undifferentiated.
I am reminded of the phrase in Genesis, “And the Earth was without form, and void”. This is the description of Earth before the Spirit of God moved, and before God said, “Let there be light”. The next event was, “God saw the light, that it was good”.
Precisely because we are differentiated, and because we have the innate ability to see that this is so, we have experience of animate life.
And all our love, gratitude, joys, and transcendent longings have their origin here.
Only see the light.
Light has always been light, even during the babyhood of the Universe, before light could escape!
Light has it.
It all begins all the time.
It begins with every sentient being, with you, with me.
Electromagnetic energies, of which visible light is a portion, are constituent with our human form. And these energies animate our humanity, as well as they flow us through the time-lines of our human existence.
There never is any preparation for the fact of death. When the shock of it affects our loved ones, family, friends, friends of friends or acquaintances, or those with whose names and influences we have grown up, death immediately shakes us to our very molecules.
In a strange way, because death is so extreme, so absolute, death can be trusted. This is a certainty to be grateful for.
Death never hides. It never pretends or is ambiguous. It is subject to no interpretation or comprehension other than by reference to itself alone.
That is what sets the fact of death apart from regular human business. There are no arguments, no halfway compromises. There is nothing else to do but to meet the fact of death with compassion and acceptance.
The only preparation we can offer to ourselves is to explore our innate compassion, to undertake the lengthy process of cultivation of self-love, leading to the humility of Acceptance.
Long years of making a friend of Acceptance may lessen the chaos of the shock when death visits. We can bring to our awareness over time what our natural compassionate impulses mean to us, and we can examine with care and attentiveness the sources, the origins of compassion.
It may seem of practical help to reflect on how the origins of compassion derive both their beginning and ending in death. There is a continuous cyclic flow of energy conservation, whose non-competitive, symbiotic motive forces span the axes of death and living compassion.
Respect is due in equal measure to death’s inevitability and to our ability to deepen our acceptance of death with compassion
What do I have to do to raise my happiness and attract more of it in my life?
I need do nothing new. I need to study nothing new.
When love is the lead emotion and passion has taken the steering wheel, words come into my mind the way sunshine pours down after grey rainclouds have blown away.
When in love, love and the ideas and words for love saturate my mind.
Words! The same words that we all hear in the lyrics of every single love song, classical or popular.
I don’t need to take poetry classes to find the words of love songs and love letters. The words of love they find me. My head is already full of love lyrics the way a greening meadow in March is full of jumping lambs.
What amazingly small amounts of effort does it take to bring to mind the places, events, sounds, sights, foods, scents, and the images of people who made me smile and gave me delight!
My time when goodness animates me is my most precious time.
Good times that fill up my attention, whether fleeting half-moments or long term joys, are as critically valuable to me as the droplets of nectar brought back by the honey-bee are crucial to the survival of the hive.
Every moment of pleasantness, contentment, delight or even ecstacy with which I consciously fully flood my mind and heart can become a permanent star in my mental heaven.
I know I have a mind full of Fixed Stars which will be there to guide me whenever I need them to fill my darker moments with light!
What a wealth of strength and support I can access – right there inside of me for the asking – when I go to the carefully stacked shelves in my storehouse of positive thoughts and recollections.
If I practice surrendering deep into my many tiny moments of everyday humdrum bliss, pretty soon it becomes entirely unnecessary to spend my time entertaining thoughts that are boring, miserable, painful, frustrating, distressing, ugly, fearful, or hate-filled.
When I prefer to shun bitter tastes, sights that sicken, random aggression, or when I step back from the edge of a drop, I am not alone, I am sharing my humanity with my self-preservation. But I go a step further. I extend natural self-protection, and boldly I reach deep into the heart of love.
The redirection of my full attention to anything at all that is positive is not just the simplest of methods to help me lead a life of grateful content. The practise of intense appreciation of the details of pleasure brings a steady acceleration of goodness into my daily reality.
Appreciation leads my hand to gratitude. And that impulse, considerately put into practice, leads to the equal balanced reaction – service.
I find myself rehearsing and repeating the words which describe thoughts of positive things.
I catch myself speaking with passion to my friends, and I choose all of the areas of meaning reserved for a lover, except for those specific key words.
After all, it is supremely logical to want the best for the other person, and if love is at the root of my inspiration of the moment, my reason for engaging must be to show how love distills away all contradiction and quells the fears that inflame pain.
I so enjoy letting my mind pick out with deliberate care vocabulary from the Lexicon of Positive and the Encyclopaedia of Love.
It is perfectly normal to smile under these influences. As my Mother used to tell me, to help me counter my adolescent tendency to dwell on my morose thoughts with a glum face, “Smile and the world smiles with you”.
The self I call “I” is a flat calm transparent natural boundary. Clear water is deep down, air is deep up.
The surface is almost colourless, without ripple or feature. It extends without horizon, but never leaves my sight.
In such a state I can ride and stay in balance during the time I am presented in the here and now with thoughts, feelings, distractions and discomfort.
Here, from my surface I offer this.
It is through my extraordinary journey of unanticipated heart awakening, around the time I began the regular practice of Biodanza in February 2013, that I know I can fully access healing. That, together with other understandings related to identification of ancient hurts and the resolution of previously unrecognised confusions, have granted my awareness of myself the opportunity of expansion and room in which to expand.
As I become self-aware, aware of the sanctity of the gift of life being lived and experienced more and more abundantly, so in equal measure I value the gift of life in relation to other living sentient beings.
What comes from living in such a new and richly jewelled life is a greater gratitude than I have ever known. It has far reaching implications on my remaining days of life. It is the ever-growing understanding that my life is not a discrete occurrence only in me. I am a pixel of humanity, and life is living through all things and beings, sentient and not sentient.
I am a happy ripple in a continuum of life. Life lives me as I live life.
Here’s the thing… Nothing has changed! Everything is utterly different and constantly completely new! The newness is “EveryNow”.
I begin my journey of exploration and discovery all over again from the very start every moment. Nothing existed in the previous instant of this awareness of existence to guide me to where I am. At any given moment, I look forward with barely containable excitement to the certainty of discoveries in the moment following.
I think of it like this. For the first fifty years I had been “Living to Love”, which is decorous, pretty, even beautiful, but it is an existence limited by inconsequential superficiality.
As my heart awakes and presents its face towards me to greet me, my heart starts “Loving to Live”.
This is the wholesome, plain and simple adoption of the richly textured reality of here and now, of “EveryNow”.
I am no longer secreted away in a place of safety of my own elaborate construction, but I go shining with gratitude and wonder at the mere fact of being vital and alive.
This is a state of being which is totally raw, exposed and vulnerable, but simultaneously full of living courage, and naked certainty.
Unencumbered by fear, my state of being can freely develop in its self-expression in the knowledge that it has its permanent residence in the secure environment of the heart’s pure and spectacular peace.
We are all capable of healing.
It’s about trusting love to come into close contact inside my most personal sacred space, and knowing that there, in that serene place of peace, I can heal.
For those who regularly practice Biodanza – and I am one of some few hundred thousand every week in dozens of different countries – there is a sense of coming home attaching to the word Mindfulness.
From way back, when I began to reflect on the big questions, up to today, I will almost daily catapult my mind into the Now by reference to the notion of my own death. It is a cleansing act which sharpens my gratitude and my wonder for being me being alive in this moment – right here now.
It’s with my regular practice of Biodanza that I am becoming accustomed to the practice – not only the idea – of living my daily life more and more ‘in the Moment’.
That’s to say I am going about the business of my days without tripping up over selfconscious self-referential thoughts. Less and less do I feel the need to question my motives, still less do I bother to direct my thoughts in at myself, where there’s a treadmill for thoughts with nothing better to do than trudge around and around.
What takes my mind away from mental closed circuits today is my gratitude for the pleasures of inclusive warm comradeship I feel from my fellow Biodancers.
Yes, I might still be lonely in my days and nights, but my friends in the Dance of Life have reflected my natural inner joy back to me from their integrity and respect and trust.
In Biodanza, something as simple as feeling joyful can be revealed as depending on nobody around me. I can see that the joy in the eyes of a partner in the dance spells out happiness all by itself. His or her joy doesn’t depend on me. It arises between us in the shared act of dance. We recognise it is our naked flame of humanity which each has made possible to reveal to the other in the unguarded intimacy of our moments of communion.
Biodanza to me is a spritual reawakening and a growth in potential of the whole person through wordless self expressive freestyle movement, mediated through music, under expert guidance and in the companionship of others whose integrity and trust is strong, explicit and bonding.
I have not dared to hope that Biodanza will always continue to reveal more subtleties of innerscape, more outward expanses of conscious joy, more awareness of the same upward spiralling awakening in those all around me.
I had not dared to hope until I asked Natasha, who has some eight years’ Biodanza. She says it’s perfectly clear that the beneficial effect goes on getting higher, deeper, broader both on the inside and out, and it will never end.
I’m reminded of the illusion of those lonely parallel tracks. In the experience of Busy-busy living, when I think I am alone on the path, I blink, look around and see others on parallel paths. As we face the horizon, all our different divergent paths converge, merge and blaze together in a revitalising sunrise. Or sunset.