Opening the Doors to True Pleasure Supreme
Wednesday was a great day – great coffee time with Pat, then off to the gym where, while working out, I could take in the audio version of Walter Isaacson’s biography of Einstein – something I am truly engaged in, followed by great conversations separately with two members of our Pathwork helper community, as well as conversations with my two daughters, enjoyment working some the numbers with our Sevenoaks financial administrator, working with a few cogent Pathwork quotes and putting them on my website, and so on. In all, I was in deep engagement either in person or on the phone for nearly seven hours. So with such a grand “Oh so Wonderful Day,” why did I actually miss the experience of pleasure during most of this day? It’s like eating my favorite meal, but preoccupying myself with surfing the net while eating. This question of why I do not take in the joy that is there for me in a day was what I took into my meditation time Thursday morning before coffee time.
The first thing that arose during my meditation time was fear of pleasure. My fear of pleasure keeps me from experiencing pleasure! Many of the rich conversations in the day arose spontaneously, and as energizing and delightful as they were, they were keeping me from my To Do list of things that needed to be done. And even this is not entirely true, because I got some clarity working the numbers for Sevenoaks, something that is needed and something I enjoy doing. So what really kept me from fully taking in all that arose spontaneously?
Still, fear of pleasure came to top. Even when an experience is joyful, or maybe especially when an experience is joyful, I start feeling guilty. Something isn’t right if I am enjoying it. What is worthwhile needs to be work, and work that is hard and odious, not work that is joyful and satisfying. Like practicing the piano as a kid. This seems to be an image I have, a belief about life. I have this overarching need to “get things done.” And somehow I take my pleasure in being able to check off my To Do list finishing odious or monotonous work (yes, like practicing the piano), only to go to the next (odious?) assignment. This seems to be a warped and distorted sense of pleasure. An image, Indeed! And of course, not the entire story of my life. Not for a minute. There are many areas where I allow joy to enter my life.
But this morning I am looking at yesterday and my sense of lack of joy when joy was all around me. Why could I not find joy simply being in the flow of life per se, taking in whatever arose in the moment? It seems my challenge is learning to be in the flow of life AND feeling my pleasure being in that flow, not simply feeling a spike of the “joy of satisfaction” at the end as I check it off as “done” on my To Do list. This would be an invitation to unhook from goals related to outcomes. Rather enjoy being in the flow of the river of life and let the results just be what they are.
After our mediation time, I shared these arisings with Pat during our coffee time. “Wow, wow, wow!” is all she could say. Then she went on, “This is an opening to being an instrument, a vessel, of the flow of life.” I could slow down and take in Pat’s words of reflection. Then I added, “Perhaps this ‘flowing’ IS Life.” Again I am reminded of Pathwork Lecture #1 The Sea of Life.
Pat suggested that if our question during the day would be, “Am I awake, am I present?” then when I got an unexpected phone call I could pause for a moment, and then see it not as disturbing my other work but as a calling forth to be in another place of the flow of life for a while. Perhaps this attitude would help me take in pleasure in all that arises in the day. AND I have a hunch this attitude would bring joy to others around me as well.
Pat suggested that this awakeness is hard in the best of circumstances and most challenging during difficult situations. So we need to practice presence. I noted that Pathwork would suggest that in the best of circumstances we can more easily stay asleep because we are not aware of underlying feelings, issues, and negative energies. When our patterns and life strategies seem, erroneously, to be “working,” it is hard to slow down to see that in fact they are not truly working, and that our sense of “all is well” is simply an illusion that we have a stake in holding onto.
On the other hand, when times are challenging, times of “beautiful problems,” we are no longer disillusioned that “all is well” and are, therefore, motivated to “do our inner work.” This is the familiar theme of AA and 12-Step programs. It seems we have to hit bottom before we start the journey up. Until then we can simply live our illusions, and because things really aren’t that bad, or are even somewhat “good” most of the time, we live our illusions and have a stake in not dropping them in order to check out what is really going on in our souls.
Later in the day during my helper call another dimension arose. Being spontaneous does not mean carelessly and irresponsibly bouncing around, responding to whatever comes up. We do, in fact, have life obligations, responsibilities, and jobs to get done. So it is appropriate and important to set boundaries. Yes, I can get into spontaneous calls and opportunities that come up, but I can also sent boundaries – “This is a lovely call. I have 30 minutes (not 90!), and would like to give you my undivided attention during this time. It would be very meaningful to me.” I am not obligated to spend an hour or an hour and a half just because that is what is comfortable and seems to be what the other person wants. I can see a habit in me of not setting boundaries – another image or belief that I am not entitled to have boundaries but rather obligated to just work harder to make up for not having boundaries and rather giving energy to whomever seems to want it.
This boundary setting includes my work at Sevenoaks and other areas of responsibility. What is MY Calling? Helping set strategy? I think so. But my Calling is not the myriad of administrative details into which I seem to get myself. Again, discernment as I enter 2012. Discernment that is so necessary for me if I am to remove my blocks to pleasure and open the doors to true pleasure supreme.
All rich lessons in life.
A beautiful morning. Feeling love, Gary