Recently a friend headed out to “find herself”. This reminded me of my own quest a few years back when I was living in Australia. I decided then I needed a nice meditation retreat where I could simply tune-out of the world’s dramas, or mine at least. I had mastered collecting dramas.
Google revealed that a 10-day silent mediation retreat called Vipassana was exactly what I needed. However, the Google data-lacking-wisdom-search did not warn me this was going to be the most gruelling 10 days of my life!
So I eagerly set off for my chill-out time in Australia’s Blue Mountains about two hours west of Sydney. A beautiful center on well-tended gardens greeted me with warmth and open arms. So far, so good. I even managed to land myself a private room with a small attached bathroom. Nice! Monastic life is looking good.
The mild panic that crept in when handing over my watch, my car keys, mobile phone, iPod and all other life-lines to my ‘normal’ world of incessant distractions was the first indicator that this retreat was not going to be about lounging by a pool sipping cocktails and waiting to be served tasty meals.
The introductory talk to me and my other 100 or so aspiring chill-out seekers announcing that the deadline to escape was about to expire was even more intimidating. “Consider it like psychic surgery” we were advised, “just as in physical surgery you would not decide midway through the procedure to get up off the surgeon’s table and go home, so too will you be expected to see the full 10-day program through. To not do so can be detrimental to your well-being”. Clang! Any further thought of an early escape was extinguished! The last thing I needed was to be some half-baked nutter looking for the unfinished piece of me, whatever all this meant. And no more talking or eye contact with another sitter from that moment on. Just my own manic monkey-mind to keep me company.
Just surrender, my inner voice soothingly whispered.
And with that I found myself obediently filing into the great hall armed with cushions and my security blanket. This is it!
An extraordinary process followed. Nine days followed of 4.30am wakeup calls, endless hours of sitting motionless (well, sort of until the agony of doing so got the better of me within the first 10 minutes), healthy food and fresh mountain air. And then bed at 9.30pm. I won’t go into any more details about the actual process as I would not want to spoil it for anyone who has not experienced it firsthand. Other than to say, it was amazing!
So what has all of this got to do with my path towards enlightenment? During one of the evening video discourses, the facilitator shared what was for me a profound teaching of the Buddha. It went something like this:
The path to enlightenment is really quite simple (not to be confused with actually becoming enlightened). All we need do is two things:
Okay, so let’s move over to the aversion to pain side then…. just the thought of the dentist’s drill screeching at me as it invades my mouth is enough to make me break into a cold sweat. As does the thought of early morning starts on a cold winter’s morning. What do you mean I can’t indulge in my inner dramas?
With dread, I got the feeling that this path to enlightenment was going to be a lot harder than I had bargained for, never mind actually attaining enlightenment. Was I doomed to live a life of sheer boredom? Where was I to channel my in-bred drama energy? Who would want to become enlightened in any event? This whole thing is a waste of time, I cursed!
And so I spent a couple of days fuming and defending my own insignificant sense of self-importance as my body became increasingly more painful and my mind roared obscenely at me. Until it became simply too exhausting and I just surrendered. A blissful peace then washed over me, the physical pains in my body from sitting so long disappeared as did the need to defend my belief that I deserved anything more than what I was experiencing in the very moment. Time stopped. Suddenly I could hear every sound around me, the breathing of other sitters, the shuffling of their own bodies, the birds outside, the wind in the tress and even the sense of my own breath flowing through every cell of my body.
Stillness overcame me. Nothing mattered. And in that moment I understood what it meant to step onto the path of enlightenment. I also knew that it did not mean that I would no longer experience pain; just that I was not to dwell on the thought of future pain as these aversions did not serve me. Likewise, I also realized that it was quite normal to fully enjoy any pleasure presented to me, provided that I did not crave it in the future as this too trapped me into a cycle of desire. My goal was to be so fully present in the moment that nothing else mattered. How simple. Bliss coursed through my vey being.
Ten days later, I collected my watch, my car keys, mobile phone and iPod. I had not missed them. We were encouraged to talk and share our experiences with fellow sitters. What is there to be said after being so intimately connected on a far deeper level than simple chatter for 10 days? That communication was 80% non-verbal now meant so much to us all. We really did know each other by then. Why ruin such profound experiences with limited words? But we slowly started to talk and permit ourselves to return to ‘normal’. I do not think that any of my fellow sitters will ever be the same again; I know that I won’t.
Having tasted what it meant to step onto the path of enlightenment has made me appreciate how unimportant anything else in life actually is. Am I enlightened? Of course not, but that does not mean I should not continue searching. Without addictions and without aversions.
Will I return for another 10-day retreat? You bet! See you there.
Donald Trump has just beaten Hilary Clinton to become the 45th President of the US. Social media and the Corporate Press is in uproar. There is outrage, anger, dismay, fear, jubilation and every emotion in between.
Instead, I am feeling an uncanny sense of inner peace. How can this be?
Trump swooped in on the promise of change. He shook the electorate to its very core which his foul mouth and inflammatory behavior, finally declaring he was going to “drain the swamp” of obstructionist politicians, regardless of party affiliation. The electorate has said they are sick and tired of an out-of-touch Washington DC which is seemingly run, or at least heavily influenced, by elites and Big Money. Trump’s victory was against the Establishment. Clinton represented the same Establishment, and virtually nothing else. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) long ago decided Clinton, and no one else, was to be their party’s nominee. The rise of populist Bernie Sanders was unforeseen and had to be dealt with aggressively and swiftly. And that was their mistake.
My clients and friends know that my ‘work’ is heavily influenced by my spirit guides, those helpers and healers in the unseen realms. Decades of spiritual and mediumship training enables me to receive very clear guidance to almost any issue at hand. About six months ago when it became clear that the DNC were interfering with the democratic process, my guides informed me that Trump would win. However, at the time, I had no idea how convincing his win would be. Nor did I want to believe it.
The guides do not judge anyone or any action. They respect free will, but they also know that for every action taken there are consequences. This is the Law of Karma. The DNC’s actions of ruthlessly eliminating Bernie Sanders also snuffed out the dreams and aspirations of millions of young voters and others seeking change at a progressive level. Consequences were bound to follow.
This election was always going to be about change, especially around respect and inclusion for those who for so long have felt disfranchised by the current political system. It was a new currency the electorate wanted. The old establishment-currency, whether this be Republican or Democrat, no longer had any intrinsic value for them, except for those who benefited from the status quo. Like all coins, the new currency had two sides, Trump on one side and Sanders on the other, each balancing each other out, but each equally appealing to their respective electorates. Both were critical to a healthy new currency called Change.
As a result of the DNC’s actions, only one candidate remained who articulated the electorate’s clear desire for change; Donald J. Trump. His victory was thus sealed in that moment. The DNC had effectively removed the counter balance that Trump needed. To believe Clinton was going to be the counter balance was ludicrous. She was of an old and irrelevant currency called Establishment.
So here we are today. It feels like I am sitting in the eye of a hurricane – very still, but deadly. The front of the storm has passed. It has blown away the structures of the DNC exposing their corrupt internal workings. There are only a few days of breathing space before the back of the storm hits. And surely it will, with full force. Except this time, the Republican Party are the ones who will be hit. For them to believe that Trump will keep them safe is just as ludicrous as to believe that Clinton was going to be a good counter balance to Trump. The winds are blowing hard. They have the full potential to destroy the Republican Party too. And they most likely will. Their voters have made it clear that the establishment Republican Party is just as despised as the establishment Democratic Party.
This hurricane will not move on quickly nor quietly. Much destruction is ahead. But lives will not be lost. Rebuilding will happen. And the US will be better for it.
So, what else did my guides tell me? That within two-and-a-half years there is a real possibility Trump will be removed from office by his own party for flagrant disregard of the Constitution. Time will tell if this is the case. In the meantime, know that each and every one of you has been instrumental in making history, regardless of which side of the political divide you find yourselves. The anti-establishment vote has won, and even without the counter balance of a Sanders, a new currency has been minted.
Whilst this date is seared into the minds of many around the world representing the moment terrorism took root firmly in the consciousness of the West, it is also the day we celebrate our grandparents. For in the dark, the light is always present.
But how do those of us who were not fortunate enough to have a relationship with our grandparents celebrate this day?
In my case, my grandparents lived on different continents and passed away soon after I was born. As I had never met them, I never missed them. However, as I grew older and embarked upon my own inner work of soul integration I became aware that my grandparents had actually not gone anywhere. They were still around and they wanted me to know them. This surprised me.
As my experiences expanded to include readings from authentic mediums, my grandparents would regularly present themselves to the medium and pass on messages of support, guidance and encouragement on very specific issues I was experiencing at the time, and which were unknown to the mediums. It did not take long before I finally got to know my grandparents.
In the meantime, I was also connecting with those amazing people who walk among us which we call "elders". They are individuals who have transcended the grumpy old man or grumpy old woman stage of growing older and instead have become the wise sages and patient teachers always wiling to support us. But we need to seek them out for they never dispense unwelcome wisdom.
Grandparents Day is thus a reminder that I am always surrounded by deep loving teachers, whether they be those from my own blood lineage or others from my soul group. It is a day when I am reminded to put aside my busyiness, check my ego and open myself up to unconditional love.
Happy Grandparents Day.