Synchronicity and Choice (and Squirrels)

100_5561 - Version 2In my previous post I talked about some early synchronicities that I have experienced.  I suspect they came about from a deep desire to experience them even if they weren’t fully believed in initially, “Is this real or just coincidence?”  In modern terms we aren’t exactly taught to believe in such things. Yes, we get the fairy tales and fables in grade school but it’s not long till the more ‘pragmatic’ studies squeeze out any sense of wonder, mystery or magic.

So, after a barrage of ‘coincidences’ in my life, a feeling of “this really is real” began to establish itself. And the more I believed the more I experienced. And more experiences brought more belief. A delicious cycle of intention!

One such experience happened shortly after I’d moved to a small town in the Pacific North West. I have always been drawn to animals and nature but living in a big city kept the full experience of this at a distance.  My intention was to volunteer at a couple wildlife rehabilitation centers in order to help out the animals and the fine folks who care for these amazing creatures and to experience the animals closer than usually possible in the wild.

After looking into two rehabilitation centers, and signing up for training, something interesting and a bit unsettling began to happen. Injured animals started showing up in my life. Birds started flying into the the windows at the house, sometimes just being stunned other times dying. I started seeing deer with broken legs and other sights that were very disturbing for me. I seemed to be manifesting an experience of a reality that I had not anticipated and had perhaps, somewhat naively, signed up for. I wasn’t prepared for the level and concentration of suffering, injury, and death, and yet there was much life and beauty as well.

One incident of synchronicity that came up early on was a mixture of sadness, surrealism and in-credulousness.

I was driving down to the ‘big city’ to watch a movie about the poet/writer/singer Leonard Cohen. I didn’t know too much about him other than a couple songs of his that I liked and I had recently began dabbling in poetry and wanted to experience more of it. Initially hesitant to make the trip I sat and meditated on it for a bit as an eagle kept flying back and forth outside the house. I decided that was a sign for me to go.

As I was getting close to the ‘Megatropolis’, the dreaded traffic jam appeared. A complete standstill. ‘Coincidentally’ it was right at the exit of a friends house and, having some time to spare (but not wanting to sit in traffic), I pulled off the freeway. As I pulled into the gravel driveway a frantic friend greeted me in distress. A squirrel had come to her doorstep and was not doing well. It was basically unresponsive and the prognosis didn’t look good. She got a blanket and we moved the squirrel under a tree while she called the animal control people.

I sat with the little fellow for a bit looking for signs of recovery. I poked him lightly. No response, just the occasional painful sounding groan. I then decided to pray/meditate over him. As I closed my eyes and placed my hands above him a bright white light appeared in my mind. OK, I thought, standard white light experience that I’ve had countless times before. I thought I was channeling the light energy to him. Turns out I was picking up on HIS energy/experience as he was passing over into the light but I was not aware of this, yet.

My friend came back out and we sat for a bit trying to figure out if there was anything more we could do. Out of the ‘dregs of hell’ an idea came to me. Well, perhaps it was more of a “I’ve run out of ideas” response.  I said out loud, “Maybe we should get a big stick and put him out of his misery … ”  To everyone’s startled surprise, including the squirrels apparently, he jumped up with his eyes wide open and looked at me as if to say,  “NO!” “Why would you do that to me!?”  “Please don’t do that!”  As he sat staring into my eyes I immediately responded with, “Don’t worry, I won’t do that to you” to which he responded by going back into a seemingly comatose state and as far I know never waking up again.  I almost didn’t believe what I had just seen.  No … I definitely didn’t believe what I had just seen!  I turned to my friend and asked if she’d seen what I’d seen, and she said, “YES!”  A short time later animal control came by and took his physical body away.  And so began my more conscious journey into more life and death, and life again, animal experiences.

 

 

Synchronicity!

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Since it’s Fathers Day and since I just had a mini out of body/dream experience and have been wanting to write about this particular experience for a while, and well, since a lot of things have happened in this area recently, here it is.

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My Dad died in 1972 while flying in the Vietnam war. A war that conflicted with his sense of duty and his humanitarian nature (e.g., at age sixteen he risked his life to save six horses from a burning barn, getting the last horse out just as the whole structure collapsed.)  I spent 25 long years without any spirit contact from him. In the mid 90’s he decided to start ‘flying by’ for an occasional hello.

Right before my OOBE in 1997 (see previous blog: An Out of Body Experience) I started getting a lot of Synchronistic experiences. I mean a LOT.  Like several times a day for two months straight for starters.  Here is one small example ~ I met someone who lived two blocks from my ex- girlfriend, drove the same make of car,  had a mutual friend in the same neighborhood and yet had never met nor even knew of each other.  I found this odd and fascinating and exciting and a bit perplexing but it was just a primer for the things I was about to expereince.

Now, my first ‘Synchro’ experience that I can remember was somewhere around 8 years of age. It was summer vacation on my grandparents farm in Iowa and having a propensity for solitude and curiosity I spent a lot of time on my own exploring in nature.  On this particular day I had ridden my bicycle out to the rivers edge at the far end of the corn fields and was feeling pretty lost and lonely.
As I sat dejectedly in the tall grass I remember looking up at the sky and asking “Father, why have you forsaken me?” Yep, those were my exact words (thank you Sunday school). After not receiving a response I turned back to look at the river just as a big, silver, sun fish was jumping out of the water. The light of the sun reflected off the fishes scales and directly into my eyes, blinding me for a split second.  Abrubt silence.  Was this a sign from God?  If it was how come I didn’t feel any better or any more connected?  I wanted to believe it was  a direct sign but maybe it was just a coincidence? Thus began, of sorts, my life journey of seeking to connect with Spirit or, as later learned, removing my blocks to the connection.

100_9013Swooshing up to 1998/9.  A year or so after a concentrated Shynchronicity period and a ‘dreams of flying’ prelude to an Out of Body Experience, (see my last blog)  I am sitting on a mountain top I hiked frequently looking down at the air base that my Dad used to fly out of.  Quite unexpectedly, I started to feel his presence. I could ‘see’ him driving the old MG sports car with the top down, wind in his face and ‘flying free’, that he so loved. With his unflagging presence engaging me I put on my head phones and flipped through some radio stations looking for a good song to enhance the moment. ‘Daniel’ by Elton John came up. Now, this is the song that came out right around the time my dad passed over. The words plunge deep … “Daniel is flying tonight on a plane … I can see the red tail lights heading for Spain … Oh and, I can see Daniel waving goodbye … God, it looks like Daniel … must be the clouds in my eyes.” This song resonated so deeply with me back then, and even today.  As a kid I would replace the word ‘Daniel’ with ‘Daddy’ and sing along missing him so much as my tears poured out.

Well, with the eery real presence of my Dad’s spirit all around me and ‘our’ song on the radio I was feeling pretty tuned in!  But when a helicopter rose up from below the small mountain peak I was perched on and slowly hovered over to, and above, me …  I was incredulous! Then, a little window flap flops open and the pilot sticks his hand out and waves to me … OK, incredulous just went to flabbergasted! Times ten!

I somehow managed to return a feeble wave back in a sort of stunned state of WOW! with eyes as big as two harvest moons. The helicopter then flew off into the sunset (literally) and all I could say was, “Thanks for saying hello Dad, I love you!”  I was also a little sad that he never really stuck around for long, either while he was in his body or after he left it, but I had come to realize that’s who he was and that’s what I needed in this life. I needed to learn to find my own way. My mom told me once that when I was born they named me Brian because it meant ‘strong’ in Irish/Celtic. Boy, they sure had some kind of insight going on with that one.

As wild as this experience was it got even wilder ten years later.  Well, by this time it was a somewhat unsurprising event, but it was still pretty wild.

100_8007I’m sitting on a floating dock that you swim out to on a lake in Montana.  A friend, and a friend of a friend, are with me. My friend asks me to tell her friend about my Dad and the helicopter experience. I gave her the run down and she thinks it’s pretty cool.  And then … a helicopter comes sailing by!  Once was pretty convincing but twice, and while telling about the first account, well that’s times twenty … and then some.  And not just any helicopter either, but an old Vietnam era helicopter and it’s painted white (much symbolism there ) AND there is a guy standing at the open side door in an orange flight suit and white helmet. The same as in a picture I had of my dad holding me as a kid.

She said that in her 10 years living there she’d never seen a helicopter fly over the lake like that.  I just smiled and said, that’s my Dad for you. He likes to make dramatic flybys!  He did it as a young pilot and he’s still up to it in spirit as well!

As I sit here out on the deck writing this, looking over a different lake, I half expect a helicopter to fly over (actually, one did earlier!) but there is a jay perched on a limb above me tweeting the sweetest song. That’s enough for me to believe in.  Or, to put it another way, the 8 year old kid in me doesn’t have any doubts anymore!

Returning to the Light – My Out of Body Experience

100_4846In my last blog, ‘A Spiritual Practice‘ I mentioned that some people are curious about or desire out of body, or spiritual, experiences.  And, that many people aren’t consciously in their bodies in that their mundane (or everyday) minds are preoccupied with thoughts that distract them from a conscious awareness of their connection to body and spirit.  But that’s not an ‘out of body experience’ per se.

The ego mind is concerned with worries, problems to solve, old memories, projecting itself onto to others, self-aggrandizement, self-preservation, etc., and if we happen to notice that this isn’t delivering the peace of mind and happiness we desire then we may start to look for things of a ‘spiritual’ nature.  But all too often we continue to try and ‘find it’ with the same ‘mind’ that keeps us in a perpetual state of mental chatter and a feeling of disconnectedness.

Or, in other words, we continue to try and ‘think’ our way to happiness. One more teacher, one more book, one more article, modality, or … blog?  All these things can be quite helpful and necessary (even enjoyable) in forming an understanding of how to make a conscious shift in thinking but they can also become a preoccupation or an addiction. True liberation comes when we’ve learned how to observe our thoughts (meditation) and to not identify ourselves with, or become overwhelmed and controlled by, them.

The fourteenth-century Buddhist adage: “Don’t believe everything you think” comes to mind … or should I say, floats by my windows of observation?

100_5926.jpgToo often the mind becomes addicted to the thought of ‘being spiritual’ instead of actually learning to remove the blocks to our spiritual essence. If we engage our ‘mind’ with something that goes against our true nature (I’ll let you decide what that is for you) then it is quite difficult (damn near impossible?) to align with that farseeing, inexplicable state referred to as ‘spirituality’ or a ‘spiritual experience’ – which is, ultimately, our true nature.  I’ll let your ‘mind’ debate whether that statement is true or not …

The mind allows us to formulate sentences, invent stuff we don’t need (or do need, as the case may be), and to remember where we left our car keys … wait … it should help us with these things!  This same mind also allows us to project, worry and lament. These are not productive qualities folks. Stop it!

For many years and from a young age I have been a ‘seeker’ of things spiritual (and some not so ‘spiritual’). Raised with a religion that produced more angst than answers and looking to other religious edicts, psychology, self-help books … ant farming, I never felt more alone and disconnected from the sense of peace that I desired (although some self-help books helped, and the ants were pretty cool).

I discovered meditation in my mid-twenties and took it to the extreme. Hours of blissful contemplation taken to levels that would make a Himalayan monk ‘envious’. Observation of all things to the point of non-engagement in practically anything.  Except surfing. Ocean surfing that is, the internet hadn’t been invented yet, and it was pretty amazing to be part of the ocean and communing with dolphins on regular basis. A meditation / ‘spiritual experience’ in itself.

292255_10150680292930073_307055507_nFast forward a few years to a return to searching. Theater classes, and then bicycle road racing (I have eclectic interests) and all the disciplines that I bestowed upon my person ultimately left me, once again, feeling disconnected and deeply despondent. After having reached rock bottom (yes, this place exists) and a numbness that drove me to the brink of (euphemism alert!) contemplating a transition to the other side, a ‘life saving’ (unbeknownst to me at the time) decision was made. Get a mountain bike!  Turns out that leaving bleak routine and austere ambition behind and heading for the hills can be really good for you. Well, it was really good for me at least.

Discovering new places in a place that I had lived for most of my life had a profound effect on my psyche.  So profound in fact that, after a year of giddy communion with nature and soul-soothing solitude, one evening before going to bed, on a whim and having not formally done so in years, I did a conscious meditation before heading off into a deep sleep.

As the night turned into early morning a dream of painful childhood memories came up in a confusing collage of images including anger, isolation, and ultimately, self-empowerment. I awoke in the early hours of darkness, perplexed at the symbolic images presented to me.  As I soon discovered, they represented a longing for healing with my father who had passed over when I was 11 years old, a deep sadness over the emotional isolation of my youth, a desire to heal the rift with my Mom and the message that I held the key to my own happiness, or salvation if you will.

100_8069As I lay in bed contemplating these things I closed my eyes to go back to sleep and immediately a vision of light shone within my minds eye like a headlight bending around the corner of a long tunnel. I had experienced subtle and blissful encounters with light during meditations in the past but this was a ‘from the other side’ presence on a completely new level. God, Angel, Being, whatever it was was intensely vibrant, conscious, and immensely powerful. A feeling of love in it’s purest form. The experience that I had yearned for my entire life was here. Again!

Immediately I spoke to it – “If you are going to disappear on me again like that time twenty-three years ago when I reached out in a desperate attempt to grab hold of you and you consequently disappeared, then just go away now because I couldn’t handle that disappointment again. In fact it would break me.”  As soon as those words came out … the Light moved closer, doubling it’s intensity. It could hear me!  It was finally time this time!  This time, instead of grabbing … I surrendered.  I ‘threw my arms open,’ releasing years of pain, fear, walls and blocks and surrendered with my whole being. The Light promptly engulfed me like a cascading clunk of a thousand spotlights all turned on in unison!  Whoosh!

This was is it!  I had found nirvana.  I had found heaven!  Completely enmeshed in pure white light and a sense of womb-like security. I couldn’t help but think that this must be what it feels like to be on heroin, only much better as there were no perceivable negative side effects. A sense of lightness came over me as the ‘heaviness’ of my physical body began to fall away.  I remember looking down and seeing my body several feet below as my spirit floated into a state of ecstasy beyond anything I had known before. Nothing could harm me here. There was no physical body to protect, feed or take care of.  I was in ‘the arms of God.’  And I was loving it!

After what seemed like twenty minutes (the most blissful twenty minutes of my life) I rose upward to another place, feeling a spirit presence next to me and a higher power above me. I quickly knew without words that the spirit next to me was my long departed Dad.  Then, the ‘God Spirit’ above spoke – “Your father that you knew on earth is now your spiritual brother and I am Heavenly Father to the both of you.” This brought an instant sense of healing and release of the pain I had been storing in my mind and body for the past 25 years!  My dad (now my spirit brother) was still with me and so was God! This was getting better and better!  I was overwhelmed!

100_5775After a while I started ‘moving’ again. I could see stars and planets buzzing by. Traveling at what seemed like the speed of light into space, I saw Saturn with it’s beautiful rings. Then Uranus. Then Neptune. Just before Pluto everything stopped and I was suspended in pure awareness of all that had taken place. Time had ceased to exist and a feeling of being ‘One with the Universe’ came over me.  This must be what God feels like, I thought, and maybe I had even become ‘God’ on some level. ‘Eternity’ was easy to grasp and the concept of ‘no end or edges in space’ seemed completely reasonable. Everything just ‘was’.  No figuring it out.  No mystery.  It just was.

As I observed all this it started becoming apparent that I had a choice. I could stay here in ‘pure consciousness’ or I could go back and finish what I had come to earth to do (and share the experience with others).  I decided to come back to ‘Houston’ – so to speak.

As I lucidly returned to my body and opened my eyes I could not contain myself. I couldn’t wait to share this with like, everyone!  I smiled all day long for days on end.  Everything seemed like a movie that was happening all around me. I was even watching myself within this new awareness.

It took about a month to fully assimilate back into my body and to feel my feet touching the earth again but I’d found ‘enlightenment!’ and was always going to feel this way!                 Yeah, not so fast pilgrim. Turns out I still had that unfinished earth business to take care of and it wasn’t particularly pretty all the time. I sunk back into some dark, angry places and processed a lot of fear that I had suppressed over years and lifetimes.  But the Light experience changed my perception of life and gave me the ability to finally release the deeply ingrained and deeply misguided religious (and other) beliefs imprinted upon me as a child (and many lifetimes past).  Even today, as I go through the highs and lows of life on the physical plane, the Light continues to be a place of strong connection and strength. Before, like a distant memory, my mind had always been a believer.  But now, my soul had been viscerally reconnected with the divine.

100_0714I also came away from the experience with the gift of intuitive dream interpretation, the perception that ‘enlightenment’ is a dynamic (changeable) state of consciousness and that ‘God’ is just a word we use to try and describe the indescribable.

Just as the seasons change during our continuous loop around the sun, so can our perceptions of life be changed by our subjective experiences (consciously, or unconsciously).  Whether we rise or fall within that spiral is ultimately up to us (again, consciously or unconsciously).

As far as I can tell, it would seem that most of us are of spirit and light (consciousness and energy) and we are either learning to create the experiences we want or continuing to perpetuate old fears, habits and belief patterns (usually a combination of the two). The mundane mind has a powerful voice in this, but there are much greater voices. The voices of Spirit and the Heart. You know, those places that we close off with rational thinking in an effort to protect our egos. I’m not judging this as good or bad. It’s something we do tend to do in the physical world of challenge and survival, and for good reason at times. But do remember, there’s more to life than meets our physical eyes of perception as we make our way through this human experience.

 

 

A ‘Spiritual Practice’

I once read a quote, from Osho I believe, that when asked by a student how one can improve one’s spiritual practice he replied, “First you must drop the term practice and then you must drop the term spiritual.”  (Note: I am not necessarily a big fan of Osho the man, or any organized following, but he does relay some excellent observations).

To me this implies that we are inherently spiritual and that ‘practicing to be spiritual’ is akin to a lion (hypothetically speaking) taking 30 minutes out of his or her day to practice ‘being a lion.’  The adage “We are spirits having a human experience” and “You don’t have a spirit, you are a spirit. You have a body,” means just that, so to practice being ‘spiritual’ seems kind of silly considering we’re already spirits!

I believe it is more empowering to change our focus from ‘becoming more spiritual’ to removing the blocks to our awareness of being spirits. We should practice being human, not the other way around. This may seem like a semantic point but it is not, because the belief that we must become more spiritual implies that somehow we are lacking spiritually. We may be lacking as humans in some (or many) ways but since the nature of being human is to be separate and the nature of spirit is to be whole (or connected) it is our belief (the mind) that separates us and leaves us ‘lacking’. When we give up the notion that Spirit is ‘out there’ then we can release the constant searching and just focus on clearing the blocks that the mind places on our true inner nature of spirit/self.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” —Rumi

Now in one sense, and this may be what ‘trips us up’, we are like a bucket of water taken from the ocean that contains the inherent essence of the ocean, but is still not the ocean and not containing the same power, if you will. When that water is poured back into the sea it becomes part of the whole again. Our souls are much the same. We are from the collective of Spirit but are limited in our own separate ego bodies or “buckets.”

A question that many ask is, “How does one have an out of body experience?” Since we are so often in our minds (or ‘in our heads’) a more appropriate question to ask might be, “How does one have an in body experience?”  Far too many of us walk around in our heads never experiencing the sensation of having a body!  We may intellectually know or occasionally be reminded that we do or in some cases even worship our bodies in a superficial way (which is really more an ego/mind experience) but never actually have an acute awareness of our spirits in our bodies on a daily basis. When we allow our spiritual perfection to shine within we can have a ‘Spirit in a Human Body’ experience.

Which brings us to the ‘practice’ of meditation or more accurately, the purpose of meditation. Meditation helps to tone down the chatter of our thoughts so that simple, quiet, awareness and inner connection to Spirit can be felt and remembered. Think of a room full of people talking loudly and a lone, quiet voice (Spirit) in the middle of it all. With all of the other sounds (thoughts) in the room (your mind) you can’t hear that quiet voice. Meditation helps to quiet the outer voices so that we may hear the answer(s), or the peace, we seek from the voice of spirit that resides deep within us.

Often when meditating we may find that instead of waiting for the answer (or the silence) to present itself the mind will step in and try to “figure it out.” This is (a rather annoying) trick of the mind. An attempt of the small mind/ego’s desire to be in control of the situation, or to be more important than it is, or needs to be. It’s been said that if life were complicated everyone would have it figured out by now. Life is simple in the moment. The mind, far too often, makes it more complicated than it needs to be (an understatement!).

A simple meditation/reminder:  This can be done anywhere but is especially effective in a natural setting or environment. If you find yourself rushing ahead and only seeing or thinking, i.e. you are ‘in your head,’ stop what you are doing – walking, thinking, talking – and feel your body. Feel your feet on the earth. Feel the air rushing through your nose and into your lungs. Be aware of your body. Let your mind go and let awareness of these things flow down into your body. In that moment you are connected. Take it in and then release attachment to it. Just feel and experience it in the moment. Repeat often.

Nature: Feel It!

I have put off writing my first blog here for a while, waiting for the right time. Not to be confused with consistency, inspiration goes a long way with me.  Timing. Listening to, and feeling, rhythms and cycles. Heeding the call of my inner aborigine!

Well, today I woke up, looked at the water and knew I was going paddling. There was no rationalizing or trying to get motivated. It was ‘game on/let’s go!’ (so to speak).  Of course, when this happens I know a special experience awaits. A giddy excitement washes over me. A sense of spirit and fate. And yes, it was an amazing day on the water!  The connection to Spirit and Earth was deeply felt and consciously moving.

Although I have paddled this lake close to a thousand times, today it almost felt like the first time. It was joyous and exhilarating. A hot summer sun warmed the air with sparkling reflections glimmering across the surface of the water,  blending shades of green, dark and light. Warmth and magic.

An exploration of some new territory along the lake left me feeling a breakthrough in awareness and perception in a visceral way that I cannot explain with words, sorry!  An old friend/a new discovery. This feeling was heightened while standing next to a waterfall cascading down the granite cliffs. A feeling of intrinsic connectedness to the natural world, to the beauty all around, and within me.

The restlessness of the past months began to fall away  allowing that deep connection with nature to envelop me.

With these feelings washing over me came a reminder of  first moving away from a big city to this more rural area full of natural beauty. I have always been drawn to nature but I often resist change. So when my life took a different direction, ‘forcing’ me to move to a small town, I was sure it wasn’t in my best interest. Looking back now at this makes me laugh, as the very thing resisted was the very thing my soul desired most deeply .

Of course, since happiness is ultimately an inside job one can be happy in the city or unhappy in nature. If you cannot find happiness within yourself (as the adage goes) then you cannot find it anywhere. However, I have found being happy within while being immersed in nature to be among the most satisfying experiences I have ever known.

The natural world contains a subtle calling and when you get very still you can feel it’s incredibly grounding and peaceful connection within you. Taking the time to not just SEE the beauty around us (the mind) but to FEEL it (the body) allows us to experience all of the elements of life working in harmony with each other on a deeper, more profound level. Balance is achieved naturally as opposed to things developed solely by the often detached, linear thinking of the human mind. Nature can show us a lot when we open our eyes AND our hearts, and fully embrace her beauty!

A simple meditation/reminder:  This can be done anywhere but is especially effective in a natural setting or environment. If you find yourself rushing ahead and only seeing or thinking, i.e. you are “in your head,” stop what you are doing – walking, thinking, talking – and feel your body. Feel your feet on the earth. Feel the air rushing through your nose and into your lungs. Feel your body. Let your mind go and let awareness of these things flow down into your body. In that moment you are connected! Take it in and then release attachment to it. Just feel and experience it. Repeat often.