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Who am I?

Recently I've been longing to spend time 'away'...  away from busyness, away from stress. Talking with my dear friend and mentor, Alima Cameron I found myself envying her life in Samasati, in the hills behind Byron Bay, a beautiful forest place. She looks out her large window onto a waterfall cascading down from an escarpment. The sound of the water, the smells of the trees and sky, the light and the air have a magical quality. Stepping out onto her deck it feels to me like being in Bali. (Here is a link to a video of Alima)

 

Ali was talking about taking time in the mornings and at dusk just to be, to be in the rainforest, to be by the cracking fireside. And I felt so drawn to be able to do that too.

 

And then I realised that I don't have to move to Byron Bay to do this, and indeed, if I can't find a way of doing it here, and now, some magical thinking of being able to relax and reflect 'out there' wasn't really going to help.

 

Being ' busy' (the list is endless) it often seems too hard to find the time to relax. Jack Kornfield recounts the story of a monk who advised his student that was too busy to meditate: "You need to meditate for half an hour a day, and if you're too busy to do that, you need to meditate for an hour".

 

Recently I've re-read Robert Johnson's book We, about the relentless search for the drama and distraction of romantic love, of the unattainable, and how we project this onto love objects, and overlook the deep grace in our lives in ordinary love. He identifies this conflict between a spiritual liufe and ordinary life and love as the greastest challenge to Western people finding consciousness. It reminded me of the absolute, non-negotiable need to priorite time and space for inner life if we are to stay balanced - indeed, to stay sane. So, every day, I've started to make time for this inquiry, this space.

 

Last night I came across this poem by John O'Donahue, which really spoke to me:

 

A  B L E S S I N G F O R  O N E  W H O  I S  E X H A U S T E D

 

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like endless, increasing weight.

 

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

 

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

 

The tide you never valued has gone out,
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

 

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken in the rush of days.

 

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept teach will frighten you.

 

You have travelled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

 

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

 

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

 

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

 

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

 

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit,
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

 

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

 

I decided to take the time to make space for enquiry every day. I do meditate, pretty much every day as part of the Diamond Essence practice, but I can also get quite distracted meditating, and I wanted to do somethong that gets me in touch with a well of deep peace I know is there, inside myself.  In the past I've felt some resonance listening to (John O'D's friend!) David Whyte's talk, but I also recognise that can make me feel quite activated, and discontent, that it triggers my structure in ways that make me feel the pain and destabilisation of divine discontent. For me this can be another version of questing after the unattainable, an infatuation with an unlived life, where I judge my life harshly (looking for some solution or change 'out-there' to feel better. So ...  I decided not to do this. I decided to take John O'Donahue's words to heart, to be 'excessively gentle with myself'.

 

Ali listens to Ekhardt Tolle in those quiet moments, but I felt drawn to find out more about the spiritual teacher Gangagi. I've liked what I've heard when I come across her talks, and I like her voice, her wisdom, clarity and gentleness, so I went on the net and started to explore more about her. I discovered this short you tube talk, which I found both helpful and inspiring, and it put me in touch with the sense of peace I was looking for. I particularly like the way she addresses the question of who she is with an answer than goes beyong biography, and thought it worth sharing.