Your Spirit is Unbreakable

Recently, a student told me her spirit was broken. I believed her at first, she had gone through a stressful breakup and seemed a bit down. But then it occurred to me that it was impossible for the spirit to ‘break’.

I remembered an ancient saying from India about the soul …..Vasangsi jirnani yatha vihaya … meaning, “Fire cannot burn it, water cannot drench it, wind cannot dry it, weapons cannot cleave it…” Na jayate mriyate va kadacin… which means, “The soul is never born and it never dies. It has no beginning, it has no end, no past, no present, no future.” Sounds unbreakable to me.

So how can one feel their spirit is broken? Perhaps it is when the qualities of the soul are masked by the effects of stress.

Stress is truly a psychophysiological response that impacts your nervous system, and if it isn’t released in some way, stress can build up and cause disease. And when a traumatic event happens, the stress builds up even more, weakening the immune system, inhibiting the body’s intelligence to heal or bring balance back, creates stress hormones that cause depression, and somehow keeps the qualities of who we are, our soul, from shining through. That could be when we feel as if our spirit has been broken. I think the effects of stress break our lines of communion or illumination from the soul. I know that sounds weird, but bear in mind, I am writing to you from Sedona.

Take a moment to turn your attention to the one who is reading this page. Keep reading, but notice where your attention is coming from. Do you feel a presence there? A sense of awareness?

You probably already know you are not your thoughts – you are not the conversation you are having in your mind like, “What am I going to have for dinner?” Or, “I really should call so and so.” You are not your body either. If you break a leg, are you broken? No.

“Everything in your life is constantly transforming – transforming within a presence that’s always there. That presence was there when you were a newborn baby, it was there when you were a child, it was there when you were an adolescent, just as it’s there right now. And it will be there when you are very old,” says Deepak Chopra.

This presence is often called pure awareness, spirit, consciousness, the field of intelligence, the inner self, or your soul. It calls your ever-changing body, with its myriad of thoughts and roles it plays, ‘home’. And perhaps it calling you to become more intimate with it. No one else can do that for you.

You can become more intimate with who you really are – commune with your soul – in a few different ways: through silent meditation practices, by spending time in nature (without your cell phone), and by practicing non-judgement (I don’t find that very easy).

The trick is to shift your reference point in your life away from the changeable, transitory experiences (like roles, environments, thoughts, bodies, breakups) to the awareness of this presence with its many qualities: bliss, spaciousness, flexibility, infinite possibilities, silence, and so much more.

How can we culture this relationship and become intimate with this presence? Of course, meditation is my choice. That, and spending time in nature. My daily practice of meditation reorients my awareness towards this presence, and keeps the awareness of it in the forefront of my experience – in almost every situation. It also releases stress and the impact of stress in my nervous system so that I can maintain a more wholesome outlook through life. No matter what, the spirit cannot break. So don’t worry.

Advertisements

Where did Meditation come from?

Where did meditation come from?

Meditation can lead to a natural, spontaneous state of expanded awareness that has probably been around as long as humans walked the  earth. Perhaps it was first experienced by hunters, craftsmen, artists, singers, dancers, drummers, lovers, and stargazers, each in their own way. People can experience meditative states whenever they dedicate themselves with total intensity into their life’s calling.  But what is the most dependable way to reach a meditative state?

The knowledge of how to intentionally cultivate meditative states has been passed down from teacher to student for ages. Meditation does not come from Northern Europe, India, Japan, or Tibet — those are just places the knowledge was cultivated for awhile, and the sages in those places created chants to convey the knowledge that was revealed to them – as  a way too embody the knowledge and pass it along.

Human beings have been using tools for hundreds of thousands of years, according to the archaeologists. It’s probably more likely they have been using sophisticated mental tools for tens of thousands of years too. Hunters, for example, sometimes have to make themselves still for hours. They have to merge with the forest and not even think, lest they scare the prey away. Then they leap into action with total precision at a moment’s notice — that’s Zen in a nutshell. Hunters teach each other these skills, through verbal instruction and example.

Human beings are always wondering, Who am I? Why am I here? And what are the rhythms of the natural world around me? and meditation is a natural emergence of that inquisition. There are thousands of meditation techniques, and all of them are appropriate for someone, somewhere.

Yogis or rishis (seers) are the ones we have heard the most from, really because they were clear they wanted to convey the knowledge of self-discovery to others. That is why we always think of yogis in the Himalayas when we think of meditation.

In modern Western culture meditation hasn’t really been valued. First, it doesn’t seem exciting, it sure isn’t fun to watch someone meditate. Plus we want instant gratification. To get the benefits from meditation you have to do it yourself. It’s like exercise, you don’t get the benefits by hanging out with people who exercise or by reading about it. You have to do it. Meditation isn’t a talked about part of our Judeo-Christian culture either, and a lot of people are afraid of it because they don’t know what it is and they think that perhaps they might have to turn Buddhist or Hindu. And, meditation got a bad rap in the 70’s with gurus driving expensive cars and hanging out with rock stars. Scientists are now discovering proven benefits or meditation outweigh any question of its relevance in the search for psychological well being and its effectiveness in creating health.

Peace Is the Way

  
Sedona's Natural Beauty. Photo by Mel Russell

Sedona's Natural Beauty. Photo by Mel Russell

I first wrote the article Peace is the Way while serving on the board of Keep Sedona Beautiful.  I was struggling to make sense out of why some people (i.e. developers and politicians) wouldn’t want to protect the natural environment – especially in and around one of the most beautiful places, Sedona.

A few years ago, the president of Keep Sedona Beautiful, Barbara Litrell and I went to Washington DC and delivered signed petitions from thousands of citizens to Congressman Rick Renzi, and Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain .

These petitions (we carried in in suitcases) urged them to introduce legislation which would protect Sedona’s environment.  Even though these fellows helped to draft the National Scenic Area legislation, they refused to introduce it. 

Unfortunately, land developers had already gotten to them.  One call from them outshined the concerns of the 3000+ people who signed petitions.  I decided instead of trying to change people’s minds, that I would practice what I often preach, and make changes from the inside out.  I would continue to meditate and teach meditation, and that. in effect, could change the consciousness around protecting the environment  (I know that is a little woo woo, but I am writing to you from Sedona). 

In the Sedona Red Rock News  I just read that our Arizona Congressional Dist. 1 Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick [D-Ariz.] announced on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2009 that she will champion the National Scenic Area legislation to protect roughly 160,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land surrounding Sedona.

Congresswoman Kirkpatrick said she paid careful attention to the wishes of constituents in the area who wrote to encourage her to protect land situated next to Sedona in the Coconino National Forest from ever being traded to developers. 

 “The struggle for the designation has been going on for years,” said Angela LeFevre, Democrats of the Red Rocks president. “I would like to give sincere thanks to those at Keep Sedona Beautiful who have given so much of their time and energy to this cause.”

Victory…..Peace (for now).

You can visit this page to contact Ann Kirkpatrick to let her know your thoughts on the preservation of this special land. You know developers will.

World Peace via Inner Peace

Most people admit that world peace is something they’d like to see in their lifetime. However it’s not usually one of the reasons people give for wanting to learn to meditate.

Solutions to the conflict and the disasters facing the world today are on the minds of most of us. Along with hearing the news that we just might be on the brink of financial disaster, there are plenty of wars going on right now between and within nations, and then there’s the global climate change going on.

History has shown us that it’s not possible to legislate against conflict. Perhaps this is because wars are first fought in the minds of humans – and it is nearly impossible to change someone’s mind – never mind enacting legislation to change the way someone thinks.

Thoughts such as, “things should be different than they are,” “this person should act a different way,” ” they shouldn’t have done that,” “those people should believe what we believe,” or “their natural resources should be shared with us,” are the seeds of disagreement that can grow into, in extreme circumstances, war or some other calamity.

I have spent many hours trying to change people’s minds. Not only have I worked within the mind/body health field to encourage complementary medicine, I’ve lobbied for legislation to protect National Forests, conserve water, encourage commercial recycling, educate people about green building and alternative energy, and to promote humane treatment of animals. And yes, sometimes I have found myself arguing with those who don’t agree with me. Unfortunately, disagreements do not usually create peace, and they usually don’t net the results I am looking for.

Most people have heard Einstein’s assertion that goes something like this: You can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it.

This is why I always come back to meditation. Practicing it and teaching others how to meditate. It is different thinking…. literally. Through meditation a shift naturally occurs – instead of being at war with what is, I more easily experience a sense of peace with the way things are. This doesn’t mean I roll over and give up my convictions, but it simply means I can be more peaceful while advocating change.

In addition to finding more peace within, meditation has been touted as creating a more harmonious effect in our environment.

As long ago as 1974 people have been experimenting with meditation to create change in their own minds and their environment. Studies have shown that where the proportion of people in any community practicing a silent meditation, reached a particular threshold (about 1% of the population), changes started to occur in social trends. Crime, road accidents and hospital admissions decreased.

It may seem surprising that a few people meditating – simply meditating – not thinking of anything in particular – can, by the effect of their practice, influence the behavior of others in the environment, but it does make sense that our behavior is affected by the quality of our environment. This research gives great hope to those who have the vision of a better quality of life for humankind and all life.

When two nearby loudspeakers emit the same sound, these sound waves create a synergistic effect. They produce a sound volume equivalent to four loudspeakers (the square of the number of speakers, which is two). This is a universal principle of wave behavior, and commonly held knowledge in physics. When individuals meditating together in a group generate a ripple in consciousness or awareness, the power of their combined waves grows as the square of the number of individuals. So if four people were meditating, it could conceivably affect 16 people in their environment in a positive way.

Research confirms even relatively small groups can have enormous impact on their environment, and therefore their society.

Perhaps the reason that meditation as a means to peace hasn’t garnered much media attention is because with meditation there is no conflict, no drama, no winner or no loser, there is nothing to buy, and little money to be made from it. It is simple, anyone can do it, and it just might work. Here is my simple formula to increase peace in your life and in your environment.

1. Learn to meditate.

2. Meditate every day for at least 20 minutes

3. Meditate with a group whenever possible

4. Ask yourself, Who am I? What is my heart’s desire? What is my purpose in life? And listen

5. Speak your truth sweetly

6. Walk your talk

7. Don’t take anything personally

8. Live in the present moment- this is the only moment there really is.

(of course I have a lot more advice, but this is a start)

Share this Blog

Bookmark and Share