Meet the divine Dude in this blog. This Dude has had and seen his share of sacred shit. He's not afraid of it or of its language. I can't relate to a god that's been crucified, but I can relate to one whom my government has imprisoned and humiliated. I can relate to one who's been raped by his own holy men. I can relate to one who grew up playing baseball or soccer and who dated the Prom Queen. I can relate to the god who knows the working of corporate conglomerates, pimps, and teen-age girls who are pregnant. I can relate to the god who loves alcoholics and drug addicts just a tad more than wall street hotshots. This Dude thinks all of us are mortal particles in an ocean of sacred shit. This Dude recycles.
I'm not one of those people who wake up energized and ready to face the day. Unfortunately, my biological system doesn't seem to know that and it insists on waking up the minute the early morning light seeps in around the edges of my window-darkening shades. IT is energized while my mind is full of less-than-enlightening thoughts. It seems like there should be a way to use some kind of spiritual practice to open my soul to the day.
I've tried various things. For example, I used to say at bedtime: "God, let me sleep well, have happy dreams, and wake up joyful." Since I now have a "higher power" who's supposedly in charge of my life, I am loathe to ask for anything that specific. I feel compelled to accept whatever the higher power doles out even if it's insomnia and morning dreads. As I think about this, maybe that's not quite right. Surely, a higher power would want me to sleep well and wake up joyful? Maybe I should join that loving intent and go back to that bedtime ritual. Hmmm.
I've also tried energy exercises as soon as my feet hit the floor and saying the Serenity Prayer as soon as I'm conscious. Nothing seems to alter the discomfort and dread that a new day evokes. It has to do with living alone because when I have overnight visitors, I do wake up excited and ready to be with them. As I think about it, I always liked to see my ex-husband's face in the morning even when we were near the end of our marriage. I like to go to bed alone but really would like to crawl into someone else's bed when I first wake up.
So, what spiritual practice might ease me into the day? Here's my brainstorming list:
(1) Start singing!
(2) Fake laughing out loud until you really start laughing (a Buddhist practice, believe it or not).
(3) Breathe deeply and say the Serenity Prayer until you mean it.
Do any of you, my readers, have any ways that work for you? Please share them in the comments section. I'm desperate!
Here's what actually does happen and it's not spiritual. I wake up and briefly hate the light coming in around the shades. My stomach growls and I have to go to the bathroom. I stall for awhile and then grudgingly surrender to urinary needs. I crawl back in bed and turn away from the window. I think about whatever is worrying me and eventually I drift off to sleep again. I wake and go through the same process probably 3 times before I'm willing to get up.
Notice the theme of light juxtaposed with words like hate and grudging. I was at a spiritual workshop yesterday and at the end, ironically, I drew the card that said "light." Among other wise and wonderful things, the reading that went with it said, "lighten up!" It said to reduce the clutter around me and in me including reducing negative thoughts. I'm quite sure that hating the morning light falls into the category of negative thoughts. More than that, if "light" is my spiritual mantra for this part of my life, then that light that I'm hating is my teacher, is a grace, is a gift from the universe. I need to find a way not to spit on a spiritual gift.
Here's what I'm going to do: Post a sign on the window that says--"Welcome Light." Then, I'm going to raise the shades and open the curtains. Well, maybe I'm not going to do that second thing. I'll start with the sign and see what happens.
So, I've been reading a book called Emergence by Barbara Marx Hubbard. I am struck by how similar her concepts are to those in other spiritual discourse. She speaks of our wounded children or ego or the parts of life that are the common suffering of the human condition as our "local selves." She speaks of the higher power or our essence as "Essential Self." She goes one step beyond to what she calls the "Universal Human." She thinks we are, as a species, evolving towards this universal humanhood.
Our local selves are the many voices within us that speak from the locale and timeframe during which they dominated within us. For example, my teen-age local self burst out the other day when I was being pressured and corrected publicly by a peer in the name of spirituality. She said, "No! So, back off!" That outburst, while completely understandable given the circumstances, was not what my essential self might have said. My essential self might have said, "I don't choose to respond to that question." The little girl in me might have looked to the moderator of the session to protect me.
Interestingly, the other women in the spiritual circle, resonated with my teen-age voice and felt it spoke the truth. How hard it is to do spiritual work whether we couch it in Hubbard's terms, the terms of recovery groups, or the terms of organized religions! It's hard to discern when a local self speaking from the pain and challenges of teen years still is speaking a necessary truth in our adult life. This is where Hubbard is really helpful because she believes in the integration of all those inner truths and voices. She sees the Essential Self as shepherding our inner family towards the higher good. To do this, she must gain credibility with the unruly inner children or local selves.
How does this happen? Her truth, her loving kindness towards all those parts of the self must be so compelling that, over time, all the parts want to follow her, to be one with her. She becomes the loving mother that we may never have had. Hubbard asks us to journal about a time when our mother failed us significantly. She has us write what actually happened and then re-write the story imagining our mother as HER essential self, responding with loving kindness. We relive that moment with our essential mother and a couple of things happen: (1) we see the gap between what was and what could have been; we recognize what we missed and can assess the depth of our loss; and (2) we feel the moment reconfigured as a healing moment instead of a trauma. For example, I wrote a story of my essential mother, the evolved Lucille, as getting up in the morning happy. Just writing that line, I realized the depth of HER unhappiness and that I didn't know a happy mother. That realization settled within me in a different way than my intellectual knowing of that fact has in the past. Somehow, I FELT her essential goodness and love along with her failure to manifest that in my childhood presence. It felt better to know that she, too, had not evolved to her essential self yet. I felt re-mothered in a way.
Another thing that Hubbard presents us with as do 12-step recovery systems is the dysfunction of the evolving human condition. We are hurt and dysfunctional and imperfect in our physical selves because we live in a world-wide culture that is dysfunctional. The culture doesn't value love or kindness. It doesn't take care of the weak or the sick in systematic ways. It values a hierarchy of intellectual, financial, racial, gendered dominance and weakness. It's useful to imagine our culture reconfigured as one that honors each and all with the same respect and love. It's staggering to imagine this and to realize the depth of our cultural loss.
The hope is in the evolving. I think of de Chardin here and his sense that we are evolving as a species towards the Christ, evolving as a species into god. I think of the Buddhists who believe that no one person is fully enlightened until the species has achieved enlightenment. What does this all mean? On the one hand, each of us must work towards our personal evolution, enlightenment, recovery; at the same time, we must give a hand to others in their movement towards the same. Additionally, we can support cultural efforts that support the dignity and growth of all.
And so, I apologized to the fellow traveler who had attacked my local self from her local self. Loving my inner teen that defended herself, defended the current state of our evolution in a sense, I also reached beyond when I could to a higher state. Spiritual evolution is happening. We're in it. It's both hard, hard work and grace. Roxie
I've been battling a back problem for almost a week and yesterday I pretty much cussed out the higher beings that govern my life. I slammed doors and muttered as I picked up my doggie and fed her. At the first slamming, she jumped and slunk off to her crate to wait until the storm passed. I called to her and told her I wasn't mad at her. She received my petting and assurances but went back into her crate anyhow.
Later, I was pondering her behavior and I realized suddenly that her moods are governed by mine--that everything about her little life is governed by me, not unlike how my life is governed by the gods. There's more to it than that though. I also remembered being a little person in a chaotic household and slinking away when my parents fought, trying desperately to please them and make them happy when things were calmer.
I concluded that Emma Jane came to me as a gift from those same gods that I've been cursing. She models the profound connection between each of us and our higher power or god, if we prefer. She turns her life over to me every morning and considers it a joy if I look her way. How I wish I could do that with god!
So, this morning when I woke up discouraged and lonely, I did turn my life over. I said, "It's yours, God." And then I added, "Not my life, not my problem, Dude." I came downstairs and the day looked different to me. What did my god, despite my chronic lack of trust, have in store for me? I wondered that with hope and anticipation, not dread.
Like Emma Jane, I await further developments with patience and good will. Roxie