Holding A New Inner Space for 2011
I was blessed, along with seven others, to participate in a five-day meditation workshop over the New Year’s holiday. It was the first of three five-day workshops scheduled as part of a 10-month program for this year and was titled EmbodyBeing. This 10-month program is being led by Mary Stokes, who for a number of years was my Pathwork Helper. The five-day workshop slowed me down and helped my “mud to settle.” I was not aware of to what degree my mud had settled until I returned home and picked up the reins of my life.
My challenge now, entering 2011, is clear: holding on to the felt sense of living I dropped into during the workshop. I was so glad that in the day following the workshop, a day filled with catching up, I had awareness of this felt sense of living slipping through my fingers and noticed that with awareness I could bring some consciousness to what was taking me away from how I want to live my life as experienced during the workshop.
During this morning’s coffee-time sharing, Pat and I explored my struggle, a struggle she also faces when she gets “on task,” as she says. What characterizes the space into which I dropped during the five days of the workshop? I found myself using words like slowness, savoring, silence, listening, emptiness, knowing nothing, accepting without reacting, curiosity, receiving life on its terms. Perhaps these are words for Presence and Felt Sense. In reflection I can sit here right now and re-experience our group, its beautiful energy, and felt-sense of connection.
Another aspect of this workshop was Mary’s leadership style. Yes there were times of teaching as well as exercises to experience and practices to learn. But Mary would go with her felt sense of what was arising in the group in the moment. She might initiate a slight movement or short activity, and then follow where the group went with it. This was quite fascinating to me. I am eager to try this in some of my own group and private work.
Before we left the workshop Mary invited us to have awareness about what could take us away from our felt sense, from our core inner wisdom. I noticed several things that wanted to pull me out on my first day home. First was my need to attend to some of the financial matters at Sevenoaks for which I am responsible. Oh how easily I can get caught up in figures and spreadsheets! The time speeds by, and I almost do not notice that my mind is feeding off this mental activity and in the process is stirring up my mud. The same mud-stirring happened in a number of lengthy phone calls I had regarding matters at Sevenoaks. The calls were fun and engaging, but took me out of the space I had come to love.
And I noticed a more subtle temptation, if I may use that word. A Pathwork leader sent me a very interesting and provocative article linking Pathwork, nondual consciousness, and shadow work. All three of these topics and their interrelatedness are very interesting to my mind, and I realize that, without giving it a thought, I would want to jump into this stuff headlong. Certainly, I would rationalize, this rich spiritual material relates to my work with the Pathwork Council where we develop approaches to Pathwork workshops, our transformation program and our Pathwork training programs. All this stimulation, fitting my Pathwork Council role at the same time, could really be a pig-in-mud experience for me.
There is that word — mud — and it could be the right word to use. Part of me is so fascinated with mental frameworks for spirituality, psychology, and levels of consciousness that I could jump into this without thinking.
But wait. Yes, this mental engagement would be fun, interesting, even stimulating and useful perhaps. But from this five-day workshop experience all this mental activity does not seem to hold such a central place in my life anymore. Rather, I notice that I have actually enjoyed my first two days following the workshop doing the meditation practices offered during the workshop.
I notice that this positive attitude toward meditation is new to me. For years I have meditated, but all too often it was a matter of will, not desire. But in these first days since the workshop, meditation has seemingly taken on a new role in my life, at least for now. This recognized joy in meditation seems like an invitation, if not a call, to slow down and not jump on something just because it is engaging my mind.
In fact I am sensing that even at the workshop I could have benefitted from having more inner silence. Conversations outside of group time were most interesting and even engaging, offering opportunities to get to know each other. But with that ice now broken, maybe in subsequent workshops of this group times of silence would add to the mud-settling process.
In any case, I find I am entering 2011 from a new inner space. I am eager to see how it unfolds as life offers its experiences around, in, and through me. And as I conclude this entry I notice I am coming from a felt sense of love. Blessings on your year.