On Not Being A Remote Cabin

On Not Being A Remote Cabin by Rick Baldwin

I am staying in a cabin in north Georgia this week while doing some artwork for a client. It’s secluded so I don’t have to deal with other people much but I do have to encounter others when I’m working on the project or when I have to go to the store for supplies. I’ve always felt a little uncomfortable interacting with people in locations I’m visiting. Sometimes I feel like an invader. Like I’ve moved into their home and they know nothing about me and I know nothing about them but we need to now, somehow, relate. It’s a dysfunctional mental habit of my own. I’m not sure what it stems from but it always lingers in the background when I’m visiting unfamiliar locations.

I received an insight into that strange energy yesterday while at the grocery store. I saw several people, felt the energy rising up and I recognized it as resistance. I noticed there was a resistance to a potential expectation I would need to defend my reason for being there. Perhaps someone would ask me who I am, where I’m from, why I’m in the neighborhood. Not in a confrontational way, mind you, simply out of curiosity. I felt the anxiety of having to come up with dialogue. I’ll need to be interesting. Charming. I’ll have to say the correct thing or perhaps I’ll be judged.

I also noticed resistance to me starting any conversation with anyone at the store. “This is their town, what right do I have to strike up a conversation with them?” I watched a few of the shoppers and they, too, seemed to be disconnected from the shoppers around them. Everyone seemed to be focused on items on the shelves and no one was making eye contact. We all seemed just as distant from each other as we would be living in our own remote cabin in the woods.

I tend to enjoy solitude and social interaction isn’t one of my strengths. I realized, though, how healing eye contact, a quick smile or a friendly word can be to people who feel disconnected. It isn’t necessary to take on the personality of a flirty, overly-familiar truck stop waitress (apologies to flirty, overly-familiar truck stop waitresses) but interaction creates an inner opening and that opening invites the revealing of a sacred silence where once there may have been resistance, fear, or judgment.

In our society, we are frequently encouraged to “Unfriend” those who have differing opinions than we do but my recent insight made me see the value of communicating with other souls, no matter how different from me they are. Bring to every interaction the gift of spiritual openness and an atmosphere of non-judgment. It is spiritual healing on a subtle but vital level and for introverts like myself, it is a transforming spiritual practice. The healing happens in us as much or more than those we connect with.

The physical manifestation of openness is listening. In listening without judgment, we connect to others beyond physical form to our spiritual essence. We bring spaciousness and silence into our encounters and we receive others with the recognition that we are one. It matters not whether we agree with anything someone says in our conversations. It matters not what type of person they appear to be or what type of behavior they seem to be manifesting at the time. Listening is a powerful spiritual practice for all people in all situations.

This isn’t a revolutionary practice or a spiritual lesson for everyone. I know many people who seem to do this naturally. But many ”socially challenged”, like myself, can find a new perspective in altering the way we relate to others, particularly those who are unfamiliar to us. After catching this insight, I suddenly found my own resistance fading and I realized I wanted to seek out others to listen to. I even began planning on visiting environments where I would have huge differences with people just to hear what they had to say and to provide the openness in which they could say it.

I have made a decision to consciously incorporate this awareness into my own interactions. What do you think? Is this a practice that is missing from your life? Will it change the way you relate to others? Can you see a way this practice can change the world we live in?

Life Through Limited Perspective

Spider

Image by Franck Barske from Pixabay

 

We have seven mammals living in our household. Each of us, it seems, has a penchant for continuous hair loss. It isn’t unusual at any given time to find areas of dog, cat, and human hair on the floor, forming temporary, interspecies carpeting.

This morning I watched a spider walking across the floor and attempting to maneuver through one particular hair jungle. Its spindly legs attracted and carried hair strands of similar leg size, causing the spider to pause every so often to shake loose the additional cargo before continuing its journey.

As I watched this little nature documentary happening live on my bathroom floor, I thought about what it would be like to live in the world of that little hiker spider. A world where one would walk across a hard, polished tile, while enormous ropes, in a multitude of sizes, shapes, and colors, clung to your legs. Not to mention, a world where you could, at any moment, be devoured by a ginormous, whiskered feline. Or inadvertently squished by shuffling slippers. It’s a completely different world than my world, yet the exact same world, isn’t it?

The only difference is in the perspective of the experiencer.

I often consider how the object I know of as “my body” appears to the bacteria and other live beings that also reside within it. What I consider my body, they also consider (so to speak) as their body. I experience my body as this large, moving shape I use as a vehicle for awareness. A host, which lives within this body, experiences it as a dark world of seeping moisture, chemicals, and nutrients. What I label as “my body,” a host might label (so to speak) as “my world.” It’s a completely different experience of the exact same object, depending upon perspective.

Even my own experience of my body ignores the reality that it is composed of many different, and seemingly separate cells, almost all of which began as things outside of my body and not things I would normally consider to be my body: food, water, air, impurities, viruses, germs, and an occasional craft beer. It’s a perfect example of how I think I know something so intimately familiar as my own body, when the reality is, I only know it from my own limited perspective.

We can get so attached to our own human, eye-level existence that we ignore the fact our own world is really an illusion. We see what we see and how we see it but we never know the reality of what we are actually experiencing. We don’t hear the variety of sounds in this world that a dog hears, nor can we see the multitudes of colors like a butterfly. Still, these “pieces” of reality exist within the world we occupy and we rarely consider it.

The error is when we believe we “know” anything as it is, or experience reality in its wholeness. Living a life of conditioned and habitual thinking has forced us to label and categorize our experience so we can comfortably believe we know the truth of our world. Actually, we only see distortions, half-truths, and illusions fabricated by our mind. A mind conditioned by our own upbringing, education, society, and opinions. In being satisfied with that mind-created reality, we never know the truth about anything.

To spiritually experience reality, it is necessary to go beyond our mental creations. We transcend our human existence of habitual thought and we experience the world with inner silence. We look at a flower without the mind telling us it is a “flower” or the color “yellow” or that it smells “sweet.” We experience the flower, and everything else, without mental labels, without descriptions and in deep silence and open awareness. It is in this atmosphere that the true nature of the reality of our experience is revealed.

Flash Meditation

Flash Meditation

Image by Shahariar Lenin from Pixabay

 

In the midst of the whirlwind of daily life, it is easy to forget that the essence of who you are is peace. That may seem laughable at times, but it is in those times especially, we should pause to discover and contact our true self, the calm beacon of light that silently never blinks in the middle of life’s storms.

Even when we are not aware of it, peace is present in the background of all of our experiences. It never goes away because it is who we are. All we need to do to experience it is to turn within in silence and be aware of our being. This is the true purpose of meditation. Meditation is not simply a technique for relaxation, but rather a connection to the presence you are. In meditation, you feel relaxed because you have connected with your peaceful nature, a nature that is beyond thoughts, beyond words, beyond the mind.

Our lives have become conditioned to being controlled by our minds. Most of us live with continual mental noise, a non-stop loop of mind stuff that distracts us from our true nature like clouds distract us from the clear blue sky. To live this way is really a form of madness. Fortunately, we have the power to slow this mental controlling down, if not bring a complete end to it.

Make it a regular practice in your life to pause at several moments during the day just to feel the presence and peace of your being. Don’t make it a mental practice. Pause, and actually feel this vibrating presence. These pauses do not have to last longer than one or two seconds. You can end it quickly before the mind even has a chance to get involved. To pause for ten seconds is wonderful! You can quickly make these flash meditations a habit. One second of peace before an important call. A brief moment of connection before you pick up the kids. A couple of seconds experiencing present peace before dinner. You will soon discover you are finding more and more opportunities to connect with the peace you are and these moments will become an increasingly sacred and transforming practice in your daily life.