An Ocean of Awareness
A lifetime ago I was 17 standing on a high hill overlooking the ocean. That view from my high school always inspired me and filled me with awe. I would watch the sea daily move through its many moods. I have never stopped being grateful for the experience of being taught by the ocean. She became my “friend” as well as my teacher. It never struck me until later how strange and lovely it was to have such a powerful ally in my world.
The ocean was a source of inspiration for me as well as a curious mentor. It taught me, molded me, soothed and comforted me in ways that I only now understand. Then I merely experienced and took in what she had to share. Appreciation wells up within as I realize the many spaces she opened for me throughout my young life.
In that moment on the hill a feeling of joyful wholeness over took me. I felt so open, as if the breeze could blow through all the cells in my body. I felt a lightness of being that was strangely solid. My thought was that I wanted to remain in that state forever. Much as I enjoyed this experience I did not understand it then. It was of course fleeting not lasting more than a minute or two.
The decades have come and gone as have the ocean swells watched from that high hill. I left the sea in one of those decades but the sea has not left me. I still turn to it in my mind, perhaps from my soul, for the strength, solace and wisdom that it always shared so freely with me as well as for the remembrance of something so powerful that it both followed and led me forward.
Years later when I remembered that moment in the sun, high on the hill I realized it was grace, a gift of awareness. It was a glimpse into alignment or flow, a state of consciousness that can be cultivated. This state serves many purposes it turns out!
Intuition and Unfolding Knowledge and Perspective
A short 5 years forward in time I would discover yoga, energy healing and meditation and they would become my source of teaching and inspiration regarding awareness, energy and consciousness. My contact and experience with the ocean as a child and young adult had been a purely intuitive one. It was my subsequent education and experience that would explain, expand and help put it all into perspective.
The sea instilled a felt knowing in me about life beyond ordinary conscious awareness. Meditation, Psychology and energy work filled in some spaces with explanation and knowledge that helped further and expand my knowledge and navigation of this experience and how it fit into the complex experience of psycho-spiritual Being!
All three of the mentioned disciplines contributes something to fully embodying ourselves and being able to live life fully. Psychology helps us understand ourselves in a way that helps clear the debris that blocks the flow of healing energy and the expansion of consciousness that is offered through a meditative practice. In addition, I have found learning about the chakra system and how to navigate it to be the most comprehensive way of identifying how we are resisting life, dissolving those blocks, healing old wounds, developing True Presence and the strength to living honestly and courageously with our deep human vulnerability, as well as integrating the human and the spiritual. I’ve often referred to the Chakra system as a map of consciousness as it holds all aspects of ourselves and provides us with the ways and means of developing our best potential over a lifetime.
I have been fortunate to grow personally as well as work professionally with my passions. It has been heartening to see Mind-Body Medicine, Energy Psychology and Spirituality not only expand each in their own right, but also to see them merge and overlap. So much progress in such a short time span.
As an example….I remember teaching Stress Management at General Electric the seventies to middle managers and engineers. Various meditative techniques were a large part of the class series in addition to theoretical material about the body-mind and stress.One of the things I did at the start of the Meditation Module was to poll the group and ask for one word that sprang to mind when they heard the word, meditation. Inevitably the majority of the answers were things like weird, strange, yogi, and guru. And now Mindfulness graces the cover of Time Magazine!!
It amazes me to see how far we have come in a short few decades in understanding our human and spiritual nature. We are indeed fortunate to not only have many tools and techniques at our disposal but also to have the neuroscience research that backs up and explains not just how it all works but can demonstrate the benefits so there is no doubt.
Meditation, Metaphor and Human Experience
Meditation has many physical benefits that are now well documented and a simple search on the internet will provide a wealth of information. In addition to the physiological, meditation provides very real psychological and spiritual benefits that contribute to our stress management, creativity, spiritual connection, happiness and overall enjoyment of life. In those classes I referenced earlier, I used to tell people if they only took one thing from the class then let it be meditation as it gave the most “bang for your buck”!
A couple of the metaphors presented to me by the sea so long ago has a correlation with meditation: (1) the surface waters may be turbulent but there is a deeper underpinning that may be unseen but is undisturbed by a storm; (2) no matter how tempestuous, violent, foggy or destructive the surface is there comes a time when peace is restored, the sun glistens on the surface once more as the tiny whitecaps dance to the shore. And so it is with us if we take the time to practice meditation. Through practice we connect with our deep foundation so we are less tossed about by life and can ride the currents more gracefully and consciously contribute to peace being restored.
Another metaphor that I feel the sea offers is about the simplicity and power of being present with what is in life. The sea apparently did not take classes or instruction in that , but it certainly knows how to perfectly be itself, go with the flow and express all of itself not just the pretty parts! Of course it wreaks destruction when it does the latter. We humans have different choices as we can delve into our depths and learn how to channel our energy, our power in ways that benefit ourselves and humanity.