The road signs caught my eye!

by James Wallace Harris, Friday, August 11, 2017 I’ve always wanted to be a person who could focus intensely on a project until it’s finished. Instead, I’m easily derailed by endless distractions. Don’t get me wrong, I love my distractions – that’s my problem – I love them too much. I have too many interests, too many […]

via Distractions! Distractions! Distractions! — Auxiliary Memory

Back to the beginning- with illumination

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So simple, so amazing: a journey into awareness

Chapter 15:  Back to the beginning- with illumination

There’s a film called Propaganda which is a North Korean film about the West.  It holds a fascinating mirror up to western society.  The deadpan narration over scenes of consumer frenzy over the new iphone and Black Friday are sobering.  It mentions how advertising uses vague slogans that that do not actually mean anything.  This reminded me of what Bill Hicks said about advertising.  It also reminded me of how I used to see signs on lorries such as ‘Reality’ or ‘Be the best’ and think they applied to my own life.

Now I notice just how many signs, instructions and ‘man made’ distractions there are just along a Norfolk road on the way to work.  It’s as if they are put there to stop you having any depth of personal thought, because as soon as you begin thinking there’s a sign that jolts you out of your train of thought and breaks your concentration:  Urban Jungle (not as my husband used to think, a rave night, but a cool garden centre (if that isn’t an oxymoron)), T junction, Take That Tribute Band, car boot, road works, even the white lines in the centre of the road, as if you wouldn’t know how to drive if there wasn’t  a line painted on there for you to follow.  The road signs look plonked down, so do the electricity pylons and telegraph wires, as if we wouldn’t be able to believe in electricity unless it was spelled out to us in wires.  Even the trees begin to look unreal, plastic, like model railway scenery.

With each new level of awareness there’s a temptation to play, to test it, to work out which rules can be bent and which can be broken.  But I soon get bored of doing things like trying to make wind turbines change direction or water change colour.  I don’t even try that hard to work it all out or understand how it all works.  Ultimately it all ends with, so what? Or, what now?  And what I am left with is, what do I want to do?  What would I do if I didn’t have to do anything?  What would I do if anything was possible?  What would I do if I could do whatever I wanted?  My horizons had been limited for so long that I had to ask myself that question many times before I could even begin to start to frame an answer.

Everything is arranged so that our biggest and best experiences are early in our lives (partying, travelling, love affairs, marriage) and this, plus the emphasis on youth in shows and advertising mean that people spend most of their lives looking back to the good old days, drawn to the past, and taking all the power away from their present.  Wedding photographs on the mantelpiece, watered down nights out (karaoke, local pubs, tribute bands) with other no longer young people, and of course alcohol, always alcohol, to give the illusory promise of fun and to keep people dumbed down.

Little tests, like my car key fob breaking in my hand at the petrol station, a diversion on the way to work as I was already late.  Someone being aggressive at work.  Testing my ability to stay neutral in the face of provocation.

Little rewards:  the receptionist at work saying you smell nice, then later me coming out of the kitchen, her saying, earlier I wanted to take you out, now I want to eat you up.  A horse walking down my road.  Realising at the traffic lights that I really don’t care if they are red or green.  Going to the Roman Fort with my friend pointing everything out, the mounds, the maps and artist’s depictions of the buildings, and me not believing any of it.  Seeing a ring with a green* stone in the window and it was half price and it fitted.

*My theory is that I am green mist come down into this body for a human experience.  We thought this world up, created the idea of it as a test, an experience, or a game.  We believed in it; this gave it life.  We had experiences with emotional content; this formed memories and attachments to things, places, people and ideas.  We forgot that we made it up.  We forgot we were ‘spiritual beings’.  We even forgot about and stopped noticing and believing in ‘spiritual’ markers and creatures e.g. giants and fairies; and so we fell asleep and stayed asleep.  The ring reminds me who I really am.

At work:  that’s the benign one whose wife left him; that’s the grumpy one; that’s the one who always makes me tea.  They are in roles.  I can’t expect anything more of them.  All the feelings, relationships, attachments I have, even to family, are all in my head.

Creating little pockets of freedom: clean white technology free spare room; not washing myself at weekends.  Keep chucking things out:  today I threw out the faded pink little nodding dog that my friend Jane gave me when I passed my driving test and which has always sat in the dashboard of every car, for the last 23 years.  Keep changing:  A few weeks ago I texted my friend who I used to do a monthly healing swap with and told her I was going through a ‘cease all spiritual practices’ phase and wouldn’t be giving or receiving healing anymore.  Today I texted my friend who I am meeting in the city to say I would meet her for coffee and a catch up only, no shopping, because I am ‘staying away from malls, too much stimulation’.  The advantage of being weird is that I can just come out with stuff like that and no one bats an eyelid.

Dismantle the illusion brick by brick.  Push where it moves, like Jenga- except I don’t know if I want it to suddenly all come crashing down- but maybe that is what happens.

Look around- people getting old- that’s what happens when you stop moving.  This ‘perfect’ space was ‘just’ to enable us to increase our frequency so we can move on.  You’re not like other people; so prove it.

And suddenly everyone’s doing it or talking about doing it: a man in my team who has just handed in his notice, bought a motor home, is going to rent his house out and go off travelling in Southern Europe in the winter and spend summers in the UK working on campsites.  My manager saying at my appraisal, are you planning to keep on working or are you thinking of going off to India or something.  A healthcare worker on the ward who is going travelling around India, Thailand and Vietnam for a year then onto New Zealand and Australia for another year, with the intention of not coming back.  Friends who are talking about selling up and going off to Morocco…  Anything is possible…

 

 

The end… and the beginning.

Lacuna

The Renegade Press

Some days are harder than others. There are times when I barely notice that you’re not around. Some days my life can seem so busy that I almost feel complete. I have a job that despite my shortcomings, I have managed to excel at. I have my writing; I run a website, and I wrote a book. It’s a love story. I think that you would like it. I have my family and friends too. I’m trying to be a better friend, brother and son, yet I know that I don’t always tell them that I love them as much as I should.

But there are also times when I reach for your hand, only to grasp at air. There are days like today when I’m surrounded by the people that I love, and they’re all married, partnered, or engaged. Some have families; or are expecting. And I’m standing there…

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The Winding Road from Christianity to Buddhism

This reminds me so much of my own journey.

Neurodivergent Rebel

I’ve been thinking about my journey into Buddhism more often in recent days, reflecting on the path and how far I’ve come.

Throughout my life, I’ve had an interesting relationship with religion. I grew up with Catholicism and attended church often as a child, but always felt out of place.

It’s never been like me to call on a higher power. The closest I ever came was in the fifth grade when I shouted up at the sky angrily, “If you are real, now would be a GREAT TIME to do something!” I wanted to believe but it all felt like a fairy tale to me. For many years I was very conflicted over this, but as I grew up the feelings faded.

Always walking to the beat of a different drum, although not intentionally, in middle school I discovered Wicca (a form of modern paganism). Finally, something self-empowering!

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Practical application

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So simple, so amazing: a journey into awareness

Chapter 14:  Practical application

As I said before, my aim and focus is to maintain and increase my awareness.  If it drops, I work to increase it again.  How?  By how I live:

I am vegan.

Look after physical health.  Don’t get involved in things that drain my energy or make me depressed.   Don’t get stressed, pace myself, don’t get tired.

I avoid a lot of the things that others are involved in such as politics.  It was hard not to vote in the EU referendum, harder still not to vote in the last general election, but I didn’t.  I had to act like it wasn’t real, even though I wasn’t totally there yet.

I don’t buy newspapers.  I haven’t managed to give up reading the headlines in shops or checking BBC news online yet but I am working on it.

I don’t have television, I only watch Netflix or occasionally Google play.  I only watch one series at a time and occasionally watch a film.  As I write this, I haven’t watched anything for several weeks.  Art is about trying to break on through to the other side.  Once you’ve done it, it has nothing to teach you.

I aim to go through my day mindfully, ensuring I use up as little energy as possible- don’t rush around, rest when need to- or before I need to- so in that way it’s like the principles that occupational therapists advocate for joint protection and energy conservation.  Use your biggest strongest joints and muscles to protect your vulnerable ones.  Use adaptive equipment to make the task lighter- e.g. cook vegetables inside a wire mesh basket you can lift out so you don’t have to lift heavy pans of boiling water.  Respect pain.  Don’t start tasks that can’t be stopped.  All this from a printed sheet from when I was a student that has survived every ruthless de-clutter of the past 20 years.

Every now and again, and especially after something intense/stressful, do something to reclaim energy and recharge yourself.  Pay attention to what YOU need to stay calm, relaxed, happy and neutral.  Make changes to your life that benefit you e.g. go to four days per week.

Most evenings John and I go for a walk together and talk.  There’s a walk near us that John discovered, Norfolk flat, quiet lanes and footpaths, yellow wheat fields, poppies, blue skies, and it’s there that we have had most of our big moments recently.  Walking along the middle stretch I said, what if it’s just us, having an adventure, and both of us really feeling that.  In moments like that everything seems to slow down, and in that moment I really believe.  Another time, driving home and talking, me saying the past doesn’t exist, it’s only this moment, and feeling the present moment expand and brighten as everything else faded away.

I have got rid of all of my books.  I have got rid of all my no longer worn vintage clothes and little bags and purses, including items from the 50s, 60s and 70s from my grandmother and mother.  I have deleted every number from my mobile phone that I don’t actually currently use or need, keeping only current friends and contacts and family phone numbers only.

Letting go of the past enables me to live in the now, and living in the now enables me to let go of the past.  Doing things that increase my awareness enables me to do more things which then increase my awareness still further.

I have cut my pension contribution by half*, partly to assist with managing the impact of dropping to four days a week, partly to take a step towards dropping my belief in/need for such things.  Right now, I still have a pension and life insurance.

*To do this I had to log into the work benefits site.  As well as the pension contributions there were loads of other things: childcare vouchers, cycle to work scheme, purchasing of electronic goods in instalments.  It reminded me that for every single thing you think of, there is layer upon layer of complexity and choice and detail designed into it.  Every layer, every aspect, every detail, is a hook for your attention.  This is why people talk about living simply, simplifying their lives, or reducing sensory input.  Just think about the natural world.  When I go for a walk along a path in the Norfolk countryside and stop by a fairly ordinary stream, there is pond weed and insects and layers of plants, and split, gnarled trees growing out of the water.  The detail is just breathtaking.  Then think of the rest of the natural world, the plants, animals and birds in the world, the natural world under the sea…  Let alone thinking about issues such as wars, global warming, recycling, and all the layers and details and complexities within every tiny aspect of those subjects.

The Time to Be Happy Is Now

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So simple, so amazing: a journey into awareness

Chapter 13:  Time to Be Happy Is Now

I used to live life looking down, you taught me to look up.  I want to say thank you.  I love you.  I see you, I believe in you, and as long as we’re together there’s nothing we can’t do.  (Sense 8)

When I lived at our old house, the light bulb reflecting on the bathroom wall made an image of a tiny high window.  Thinking the worst, I thought it was a prison cell window.  I thought that perhaps I was in prison but didn’t realise it.  Maybe that was true.  But now, instead of looking ‘down’ or ‘backwards’, to something worse than my current situation, it’s the other way around.

From where I am right now, which is good anyway, I am seeing windows and doors everywhere, windows and doors to something even better.  Walking around the town I notice haylofts, alley ways with little gates, high lit up windows and huge wooden doors.

If self analysis and ruminating about the past is like trying to untangle a ball of wool that a kitten has played with*, then it suddenly dawned on me that I could just chuck it out and buy a fresh ball.  I could forget all my mother’s conditioning about recycling and not wasting and just go out and buy a new one.  Or even decide that I don’t like knitting after all and go and do something else.

*As I was thinking this, I saw a sparrow pecking one of those mirrors people have to help them reverse out of their driveways, it kept flying around to look behind, then back again to the front and pecking, totally futile.  A much better metaphor (than I could have made up) than the tangled ball of wool, for our endless introspection (re the past) and navel gazing.

Saturday morning in bed, talking, in the moment, really in the moment, so that we felt like two Gods looking down at what we had created.  Reviewing our lives, how we got here, what we gave to each other (money and security, fun and happiness).  What we mean to each other now that we don’t need anything.  Experimenting with the idea of letting each other go, to travel separately, to take a job in another country.  Even thinking the unthinkable, the possibility of separating:  Maybe my work is done here John said, we had a good run.  Is this how divorce happens, just an idea that gets spoken aloud?  Of course not:  you fight, and make each other unhappy.  We are not like that.

Long talk with John about setting ourselves free, e.g. selling the house, moving away from the kids:  what would you do if you only had one life?  Both felt tingly all over.  Looked up properties and jobs in Scotland just to get in the zone of putting it out there, that we are up for it…

Enjoying friendships more, finding friendships more satisfying, even though one might think the opposite would be true.  Realising that this world and most of the people in it are illusionary doesn’t lessen the pleasure I get from nature or good company.

I saw a black and white cat using a zebra crossing today, the woman in the car behind me saw it and laughed too.

Where is this book going to go?  Back to the beginning, with illumination.

This is what a good man looks like:

When I was still into healing and chakras**, John had a hernia operation.  He was quite poorly in the recovery and in severe pain.  Later I looked up the emotions associated with that area according to my chakra book: anger, resentment and frustration.  He said he ‘always holds it in’ and ‘is left with it’ (this is about difficult interactions with his children’s mother).  A hernia is a hole in the wall of the intestines.  So anger, resentment and frustration had literally burned a hole inside of him?!  I thought, right, maybe the cure would be to let her have it, to say all the things he never says?

Much later, when I told him all that, and suggested letting her have it, he said:  If that’s true, if that’s why I had the hernia and if that’s the cure, and if I had the choice between letting her have it both barrels, and having the hernia and this operation, well then I’d take the hernia, because I know how much my actions hurt her.

** I have shredded my healing logs, reflections, student journals and my certificates and registration card.  Why?  I realised I don’t know what it is I am doing; that people should probably heal themselves; that I should focus on myself; but above all, to make space for newness.

I’m Going to Tell You a Secret About Me

Honest and unpretentious, spoken from the heart. Engaging and original.

Ophelia's

Ever feel like you can almost touch it?

Sometimes it’s triggered by something, sometimes it’s triggered by nothing. For me, I know there will always be a trigger. My brain ensures it always has its finger pressed softly against it, ready to trip it at a moment’s notice. I am at its mercy.

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Beyond Spirituality

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So simple, so amazing: a journey into awareness

Chapter 12:  Beyond Spirituality

It was only after having an orgasm for the first time in weeks that I realised it wasn’t good for me.  Immediately it brought me down, into my body, into the bed; infusing me with a yearning that I couldn’t shake off.  It clouded my new found awareness so that none of that higher plane existence seemed important.  All I wanted was this world physicality.  Like alcohol, like eating badly, it brought me right back down to earth and I realised I didn’t want to be there.  I’d been to, been in, another place, and that place was better.

Although it wasn’t so much an actual place, as an idea, a state of mind.  The idea was that this world we live in isn’t real.

Others have described it better, or described the theory of it better:  Bill Hicks, The Secret and the Law of Attraction, but it’s one thing reading other’s ideas, thinking about them and even believing them, it’s another thing knowing and seeing for yourself.

Seeing the commuters as my train passed through a station, everyone in grey.  A woman in a grey work outfit but with orangey pink trainers on, perhaps she got changed so she could walk to work like I would, and then she put on some orangey pink sunglasses just to complete the picture.  Meanwhile, a man dressed casually in a grey t shirt and chinos, carrying a full carrier bag, brought out of the bag a grey hoody and put it on, looking totally relaxed.  Matching but different.  I like plain clothes.  I thought, I couldn’t have designed that better.

Arriving at Nottingham train station, all the commuters, almost all in black and white, me thinking, this is all background.  Knowing, really feeling, that they weren’t real.  Creepy, almost, like being in a film.

On a walk, going past dog roses, thinking, I made that.  I even have a tattoo of it.  Maybe I also made guns, and nail polish, and fish, and shells.  Seeing the flowers; the irises, the orange colour that jumps out, peonies, gladioli, lilies, inky purple.  Thinking, some of us went crazy on the flowers, others on the birds and animals.  I like to claim ivy, and maybe twisted roots.

Thinking that the birds are on a loop; when you look up at the sky it’s only so long before a bird or usually two flies over, but how many do you watch before you stop watching?  One, two, three at the most?  So it could easily be on a loop of ten and no one would notice; you’d have to study and remember each one and watch for a long time and who would bother to do that?

I was stuck on (in?) writing about the past, so I went for walk, and all this came, written on my phone.  Standing in the sun, which I shouldn’t have done as I got too much sun the day before and made myself feel ill, but I couldn’t move, I couldn’t even walk to a shady area, I had to write it down there and then, my feet rooted to the ground.

I am focussed on the knowing, the evidence, the feeling that I know, not the intellectualising of it.

I mentioned in an earlier chapter that I had gone off the word ‘spirituality’.  Rather than think of myself as ‘being spiritual’ or not being spiritual, now I think of awareness.  It’s about awareness, losing awareness, maintaining awareness, developing awareness.

And making the darkness conscious- maybe anglers leave their lines lying around on purpose to kill birds because the birds eat the fish.  They maim and kill fish for fun, so why not?

Knowing the truth, this is what I am working on now.  It’s so hard, it’s easier to just go back, to get distracted and sucked back in.  It’s hard to maintain this awareness, it slips away, it’s hard to hold onto and the process is tiring.  I need to look for chinks in the illusionary world, to dismantle it brick by brick.  To unhook itself from me and me from it, by making my surface smooth and slippery so it can’t hook onto me, so I don’t get stuck.  How, by being neutral; I even dress neutral, grey long sleeve top, black vest, plain dark no rips jeans, simple jewellery.  Keep healthy, stay away from politics, don’t get stressed, don’t get over tired.  Live in the Now.  As much as possible stay emotionally neutral.  Remember to remember.