Category Archives: Consciousness

Be Still

One of the most powerful practices you can learn in your life is to be still — that is, to meditate. You might think, immediately, that sitting around doing nothing couldn’t possibly be powerful. Not so! The ability to meditate rests on the ability to concentrate and concentration is the foundation of any effective human endeavor. Deep concentration, which evolves into meditation, has profound relaxation and transformative benefits for mind, body and spirit. It creates deep relaxation, internal integration and harmony and leads to greater effectiveness in life. It can bring you into entirely new states of consciousness.

There are numerous styles of meditation many of which have, in recent times, sailed west on the waves of migrating eastern gurus. In certain sects of Buddhism the practice is Vipassana meditation, very popular in the U.S. In Yoga Philosophy there is a system called the Eight Limbed Path of Raja Yoga. In Japan the practice is Zen meditation. In Catholicism there is Centering created by Father Thomas Keating and The Interior Castle of mystic St. Teresa of Avila among others. That’s the short list. Most styles or systems of meditation have one thing in common: drawing your attention away from your physical senses and inward to stillness to begin to know and connect with your self/Self; and to create the ability to direct your mental capacity by choice rather than by habit or default.

In a culture that is based on constant distraction through the senses, being still is not easy. Your energy and attention get scattered by the many daily – even hourly –issues that you encounter, the multitude of tasks that you have to accomplish, the never ending ads that make your senses crave everything you never knew you needed, and, maybe worst of all, never ending, repetitive thoughts. Your attention is fragmented like broken glass. You are unable to focus.

So how to meditate? Learn to concentrate, choose a focus point. Concentration is an art, the art of being able to direct your mind. The process is akin to learning to ride a bicycle – you get on, you fall off, you get on, you fall off, you get on, until finally, you don’t fall off anymore. Similarly concentration is intermittent – the focus point comes and goes until, at some subtle point, an unbroken stream of focus, called meditation, finally arises after much practice. This ability to focus is key to success in meditation and any endeavor. Einstein would vouch for that!

Meditation, or uninterrupted concentration, draws all of those scattered energies back into one integrated stream of consciousness that you can then direct at your choice. You too can cultivate genius! The trick is that it requires internal self-direction or discipline, the discipline that mastering any art requires. In this case, the discipline itself is a commitment to steadfastly bring attention back to a focus point. In Yoga Philosophy this practice is called one pointedness; in the bible, “If thine eye be single….” It is the ability to focus so deeply that you go right to the heart and pulse of life.

Draw your energies inward into one location by persistently bringing your attention back to your chosen focus point. As you master this, instead of thoughts and energies being scattered all over creation, you are learning to direct your full flow of attention and are no longer a slave to distractions. In this way you begin to enter the state of meditation. An internal synergy develops that might be compared to drawing water from a reservoir and sending it through a hose. The process of constantly returning to your focus point ultimately gives you complete control of where you direct your attention and your effectiveness in using it.

Get into a comfortable sitting position but don’t slump. Choose a focus point – one that is positive, beneficial, simple and doesn’t automatically lead into story lines but into deeper stillness, peace. That focus point can be your breath, the sensations in your body, a calming word or sound, a prayer, knitting, a piece of calming music, your heart beat, watching your thoughts pass, and sundry other supports that can help you to concentrate, to anchor your attention and direct it. Whenever your mind wanders, patiently bring it back to that focus point. Let go of judgment and expectation. What you need to attain the multitude of benefits of meditation is patience and an unwavering commitment to stay the course. Practice every day!

Which Way?

How do we navigate our lives? Which guiding stars do we use? In a lucid expression of insight, Renny Sherrow has clearly articulated the essence of two of the most profound dynamics of life – love and fear. She describes the substance of each, how to discern which state you are acting from and the probable consequences. Her wisdom grows from deep contemplation and syntheses of her own both joyous and painful experiences and the works of Gary Zukov. She encapsulates those penetrating understandings below.

“Energy from the perspective of your soul is very different than energy from the perspective of your five senses. Spiritual growth requires understanding the differences between these two perspectives.

From the perspective of the five senses, energy is the ability to do work, to get things done. The more energy you have, the more things you can accomplish. The important questions from this perspective are: How much energy do you have? Are you getting enough sleep? Worrying too much? Do you need more vitamins? Are your mitochondria healthy? People who worry about these things go to physicians, nutritionists and psychologists to get more energy. They don’t want to be sleepy or tired. The problem is physical or psychological. The cure is medicine or psychotherapy.

From the perspective of your soul, the important question is not how much energy you have, but what kind of energy you have. There are only two kinds of energy. Of course, anger, jealousy, resentment, stress, cravings, addictions and compulsions feel like different energies. Each creates its own kind of physical sensations in your body (they hurt) and acting on each creates a particular kind of consequence (destructive and painful). They appear to be different energies, but they are actually different experiences of one kind of energy: fear.

The other kind of energy is love. Different experiences of love can also feel like different energies, for example, appreciation, gratitude, patience, awe of Life and contentment. Each of these also comes with its own physical sensations in your body (they feel good) and acting on each creates a particular kind of consequence (health and joyfulness). So, even though these experiences feel like different energies, they are actually different experiences of one kind of energy: love.

Now the story becomes even more interesting. Some experiences of fear can appear to be experiences of love. For example, romantic love. You long for someone (painful), try to influence this person (painful) and, at last, attract him or her into your life (feels wonderful), but intense pain follows immediately when he or she leaves, dies or falls in love with someone else. The entire drama is created by fear appearing to you as love. This drama is painful and destructive because none of it is love. Love cannot produce pain or destruction.

There are many examples of fear appearing as love. Chaplains, clergy, hospice workers, medical-care professionals and numerous others may appear to be loving, and yet not act consistently from love. Some may act in order to feel better about themselves—to create a desirable self-image, for example, as a caring, patient, philanthropic or altruistic person. When their efforts are not appreciated or are rejected, they feel disappointed (pain), unappreciated (pain) or abused (pain), then resentment (pain) grows until it becomes anger (pain).

When the bottom-line, bedrock, can’t-go-any-deeper reason for an action is to benefit another, the energy beneath your action is love. When the bottom-line, bedrock, can’t-go-any-deeper reason for action is to benefit yourself, the energy beneath your action is fear. Only you can know your real intention, and you may not know it unless you have the courage and commitment to look for it and find it.

There is more energy in love than in fear. You might say it is the highest-octane fuel available. Not love for this person or that person—love for everyone; Love is tireless, healing and inexhaustible. It brings people together. It is powerful beyond measure. It is the Great Compassion that Buddhists speak about. It is the “love that surpasses all understanding” that Christians talk about.

Have you thought about energy this way? Have you ever looked at the things you do and say and asked yourself, “Am I doing this from love, or am I doing this from fear?” This is the most important question you can ask yourself because it brings you to the most important choice you can make: the choice between love an fear. Not only is this choice possible, it is the choice you were born to make each moment. Choosing to act with love no matter what is happening inside you (such as painful experiences of fear) and around you (such as a national or international crisis) is creating authentic power. Creating authentic power depends on your choice. Choosing fear almost always happens unconsciously. Choosing love always happens consciously.

What is your energy of choice?”

You can reach Renny at: renny@rennysherrow.com

Dreamtime

Up earlier than dawn on a cool, crisp Autumn morning, I quickly pull on my breeches and a long sleeved ‘T’, eagerly anticipating a ride into the richness of another morning. I can hear Morgan whinnying in the barn — music to my ears. She knows I’m on my way. Always, at my first sighting of her, I feel a thrill at her beauty. Dark brown coat with a striking black mane and tail, well-toned muscles rippling at her slightest move, head held high, she is a perfect portrait of magnificence.

My first task is to brush her velvety smooth coat. It’s a way of silent connection and conversation between us. Morgan’s soft, brown eyes emanate kindness – unless, or course, someone takes her by surprise. Then the iris periscopes in and her look might start you thinking that it’s time to leave and quickly. We’ve been buddies for a quite a stretch of time and long ago I made the decision that I would set her free from harness and collar and ride bareback.

We exit the smell of hay in the stalwart old barn and start slowly down a steep, rocky hill to the forest path. A multi-colored collage of autumn leaves covers the trail and muffles the sound of rhythmic hooves. The smell of sweet earth rises as the day begins to warm and time dissolves into mist. As we trot along in silence, my body begins to respond synchronously with Morgan’s movements. I become conscious of a symphony of birdsong, of the silent rhythms of the forest surrounding us and of the wind whispering through the leaves. Everything in the forest seems to respond to our movement with song and sound at surprisingly appropriate and syncopated moments.

A horse is an amazing creature. Discipline along with freedom brings out their magnificence and their loyalty. I give her boundaries but don’t imprison her spirit. In such an environment, her unique and complex character has space to unfold at the same time that she learns to be responsive and dependable. That’s the reason I threw out her harness. It’s a sign of gut level cooperation between us. She is a faithful friend now, willing and happy to be a partner in any enterprise whether it be work or play.

We exit the forest into a softly rolling, flowered meadow. A sense of exhilaration begins the flow of adrenalin and Morgan’s pace quickens. I feel a cool river of wind flow over us as I braid my hands into her mane. I’m hunkered down on her back, legs gripping her sides, as if I were part of her skin and feel thrilled with the sense of both of us, now as one, flying effortlessly through the air. We rise together. Like Shamans riding the flying horse, Pegasus, Morgan and I enter into the mystery of worlds beyond worlds. I know where that myth comes from. I live it every morning.

Pet Rocks

A Psychic once suggested to me that I get my hands on a Shiva lingam — that it could change my life. I had never heard of a Shiva lingam so I researched. A lingam is a symbol and represents, among other things, the Hindu god Shiva, divine generative energy, the human subtle body and can be a catalyst for greater intuition and a Kundalini awakening. Dr. David Frawley, internationally acclaimed Yoga scholar and author says, “The Shiva linga represents the ascending energy of consciousness and life in nature.” It all sounded interesting so I went on a lingam search.

Apparently lingams can be a variety of different objects including columnar or oval stones or crystals. As a result of my search, I now have two ovoid stones. The first one I found was as smooth as a river stone, brown with gray, and gently piqued my interest. The second, a lapis lazuli, blindsided me with its beauty. Like trying on shoes, I enclosed each one into my fists. Each fit wonderfully snug into the palms of my hands. One felt like an egg, the other a sacred temple. Unexpectedly, the second felt alive – it really grabbed me. I’m told it might be a ‘talking’ stone. Who knew? The stones live with me now and insist that they belong there in my palms … as natural a part of me as my hands. They comfort me. I guess you could call them my ‘pet rocks.’

Stones can contain a lot of power and these two do! I hold the stones, one in each hand, each with the same shape and of comparable size. Although they are both similar, each has a clear-cut and potent affect on my hand and my gut. Travelling from my hand to my gut, I feel the laser like energy of a profound attraction or calling coming from deep within the center of the lapis stone. A far stronger calling than a piece of chocolate cake. I don’t know how this is happening but I can hardly resist this calling. I want to swallow the stone so I can own that power and it will radiate from within me. Quite an unexpected effect!

The lapis lazuli, my temple stone, is the deep dark blue of the sky just before night falls. Lapis has a reputation for conferring truth, enlightenment, intuition and inner peace. The mysterious, magnetic blue draws me to a part of my own being where mystic feelings reside in the mystery of silence and the upwelling energies of prayer. A sense of serenity pervades.

The other stone, which I think of as my river stone, is a warm earth brown holding soft, mellow energy with a shadowy subtle gray figure emerging — a happy Mexican spirit, a dancing figure with a sombrero. It reminds me of a carefree life in some unknown Paradise. I want to bask in it. I look at it and imagine sitting on the banks of a cool bubbling brook, my feet dangling in the healing waters of Mother Earth on a balmy, sunny day, just as the trees and flowers in Spring are beginning to blossom. All this from a rock? Hmmm…

Each of these stones is encircled with an oval ring. How curious! Does it mean anything? I don’t know. The Temple stone is ringed with a thin line of sparkling flecked gold, which enhances the splashes of blue-gray that live throughout its dark blue ocean of mystery. Within that ring emerges a vague figure resembling a whale ascending from the deepest ocean. The Mexican stone also has an oval ring, this one of gray that frames the arising, dancing Mexican. Perhaps the figures indicate the emergent Spirits of each stone and describe their essence, a certain vitality of consciousness. I begin to imagine that stones might be home to myriad creatures — angels, elves, owls, sleeping prophets. A cornucopia of beings emerging to talk with and advise me.

Everything on earth is an energy system. Every material and non-material item has an energetic frequency. Stones do, electricity does. Some have chaotic energies, others coherent. Some are higher frequency and obviously alive. Others are lower and appear dead. But everything has intelligence and is alive. Stones are very alive even though they appear to be inert. Whether we are aware of it or not, each human system is affected by the frequencies of other energy systems. As someone once said, when a butterfly flutters its wings, the whole world is affected. A Shiva lingam could change your life.