Artist in Residence

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Dear Seamus,

Often through life we feel like we are at the mercy of experiences out of our control. Certainly that has been the case for me. I have felt great pain when I don’t have an understanding or know the meaning as to why something is happening. To think that life is merely a chain of random events and has no true meaning, can bring much despair.

That is why it was to great relief when I began to discover the ideas around being the creator of our own reality. Could it be true that everything we are currently seeing, feeling, hearing and doing, is a physical culmination of all our thoughts up to that point? This information essentially put me back in the driver’s seat, knowing that I could now choose to create something different.

I have come to learn that the mind is merely a tool. A magnificent, amazing, powerful piece of equipment. The only question you need ever ask yourself is, who is running the show? By show I mean YOUR LIFE!

Given that your life is like a movie that you are acting out, who is writing the script? Is it your ego? A mad little dictator, controlling and conducting your every move and your every mood? Or is it an omnipresent, freedom loving sense of joy and possibility?

The ego is just a poor substitute for God. In fact the ego is the embodiment of all of our negative perceptions about God. The ego judges, punishes, blames and defends. The ego tries to convince us that we can have control and especially that we can control others. These things are not of God. The ego has personified God, which is impossible because God is a not a person. God is not a thing. God is an experience.

If you want to check in with how you are creating your reality, the clue will always be in how you feel.

When we feel anxiety, struggle, pressure, depression, we are experiencing life through the filter of the mind driven by the ego. In that state we feel we are separate from God, Source and Eternity. You need only remind yourself that you were never disconnected in the first place. So retreat from that world, from that particular creative reality and go back to yourself. That space within you is HOME.

When you are in the now, you are home. When you feel happiness, you are home. When you feel filled with love, you are home.

Many people have spoken of the experience of having dreams about being naked in public. I know that I have. In those dreams I feel shame and I want to hide. I always feel wrong in some way and like everyone is looking at me in a disapproving manner. I am exposed and vulnerable.

That is the equivalent of how I have felt in the past when I am being the mental projection of who I think I am. I was dictated to by the ego. An idea was formed about who I was. It was a mash-up of multiple messages from many different origins. My family, my religion, my schooling, my society, my peers.

All I yearn to do when I feel like that is to find a safe space, in both the dream and my waking life. That safe space is inside you at all times.

Return to it. Return home.

When you are at home, at your centre, you will stand in trust. When you stand in trust you can walk forward with great confidence into the great and mysterious unknown. Know that this unfathomable and mighty soup of mass consciousness is at all times, dynamic. Ever moving. Always creating. Always giving back to you.

When you are plagued with worry and limited by worldly matters, you will be frozen with fear to the spot. That is when you tend to want to go back, to retrace old steps to see if there is something new there. There is never anything new there. You may feel temporary comfort in the familiarity of what you find but you cannot stay in that place and evolve. It is impossible. How can you lovingly create the future if you will not step forward to meet it?

Understand that you are an outlet for the creative force of this Universe. Know that you are constantly building and constructing your reality. You are fashioning your life, you are painting your own canvas. Not only that but you are adding brushstrokes to a universal composition that every one of us is adding to.

Seamus, choose God over the ego every time. Create your life with expansive consciousness. With God you stand secure in the understanding of your brilliance.

The ego may send you on a wild goose chase, seeking satisfaction and happiness and even your life purpose! The great dichotomy is that you will have the most glorious adventures and find the richest of fortunes in the moment that you go home.

“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

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Heart of the Dreaming

Uluru - Mother

Dear Seamus,

I have read a lot about the nature of duality. How the contrasts of experience afford us perspective which creates desires. If you don’t have a lot of money you usually desire to have more. If you feel tired and sick you want to be energetic and well. When I was going through chemotherapy treatment six years I spent a lot of time in bed feeling ill. Two things kept coming to my mind again and again. One was jogging. Yes, jogging. When I lived in Coogee on Sydney’s beautiful eastern beaches, I took up jogging for the first time ever. I marvelled at how with each passing day I could run that little bit further.

When you run, your whole body is engaged. I felt strong and fit and healthy. I even enjoyed the aches and pains in my knees and calf muscles. The physical evidence of my achievement earlier in the day. That was the last time I felt really healthy and my mind had bookmarked it. When you are on chemotherapy treatment your body becomes highly sensitive. My eyes could not tolerate too much light so my room was always dark. As I lay in my bed I saw the sunlight edging the blinds. I yearned for the feeling of the sun on my head and shoulders and to hear the heavy intake of my breath as I ran beside the ocean.

The other image that kept coming to me repeatedly was not an experience I had had. I saw a vast red desert, spotted with salt bushes and scrubs. In the centre of that flat landscape was the great monolith of Uluru. A rust coloured titan, steeped in a powerful spiritual endowment. This sacred place was calling me. I never knew how much my heart wanted to be there, until that moment.

From that point it was always in the back of my mind, a knowing that I would go there. The years went by and a few possibilities to travel fizzled out for one reason or another. The yearning however, did not. Last October your Father and I found ourselves frazzled and exhausted by the daily grind of life. Our relating had become strained and we acknowledged the need for some time out. Time to go somewhere together for an adventure and a well-earned rest. Time to enjoy each other without the distraction of running a household. He asked where I wanted to go and I answered before he even finished the question!

Finally I was going to Uluru. The beauty of the fact that I had waited so long was that I got to experience it with your Father. Perfect timing. When everything had been booked and all the dates locked in, we sat back and marvelled at the wonderful plans we had made!

Your Daddy has given me many first time experiences. I have also opened him to new things and I was pleased to be with him for his first ever plane flight! I spent much of my adult life on planes and in airports so to me, getting on a plane was just like boarding a bus. I watched his mixture of excitement and nerves and it delighted me!

The captain announced that we were about to make the descent to the Ayers Rock Resort airport and I closed the book I was reading. Your Fathers fear of heights meant he needed to close the blind on the window so I was craning my head towards the other side of the plane in case I should catch a glimpse. Everything was flat and the colour of the earth was amazing, so rich.

Suddenly Uluru came into view. I became overwhelmed with emotion and felt my hand go to the base of my throat.

There she was, the great Mother that had been calling me. She had enveloped me with visions when I was helpless, giving me strength and showing me the future when I would come home to her. There I was making my descent, like a little bird on the wing, returning to the protection of the tree.

Getting off the plane we were greeted by a wall of heat. After we checked into our room we quickly made our way to the pool. It was so refreshing as I bobbed around in the water with your Dad. I kissed him and smiled “We’re here”.

We attended a dinner that evening, where we sat in the desert under the stars. It was late afternoon when we arrived at the viewing platform. We enjoyed a glass of bubbly and took turns with other tourists to pose for a photo with Uluru in the background. The heat was oppressive and I felt for the wait staff who wore black outfits while they offered us refills and canapés.

As the sun hit the horizon near Kata Tjuta in the distance, we were invited to the dining area. Last in line because of my juggling a camera and the video, we actually ended up with what I thought were the best seats. With only one other couple at our table we enjoyed an unrestricted view of the desert and the rock, all the other tables were behind us. We enjoyed a delicious meal as the sun set and before we knew it, the sky was dotted with stars. Just before dessert was served a large storm rolled in. Watching the lightning bolts reach across the sky and hearing the thunder throbbing was the pure opulence of nature. However it soon became clear that the storm had a lot of ferocity so we were evacuated from the site.

The next morning I discovered that my camera didn’t work anymore. While looking for a replacement in one of the tourist shops the assistant told me it was a frequent occurrence. It seemed that this space, this place, was so powerful that it rendered equipment useless. The other thing your Daddy and I noticed was a complete inability to comprehend time. There appeared to be a ripple in the space-time continuum.

While reading the details of our morning tours, we noted the pick-up time was 4:15am. We groaned at the thought of it but the excitement of seeing Uluru and Kata Tjuta at sunrise outweighed the pain of such an early start.

The guide and your Dad got along like a house on fire. Both Bushmen with substantial beards, they nattered on like long lost friends while the rest of us helped ourselves to a hot drink and an egg and bacon damper roll at the viewing platform. We all fell quiet just before the sunrise. The smell of the desert and the fragrance of the native plants seemed to permeate me. As the colours changed in the sky, Uluru was no longer a shadowy outline. I saw the changing palette of the rock as many have described. Grey, brown and then red as she welcomed the new day.

Back on the bus we drove the 25km kilometres to Uluru. There is a road that circles the rock and as we drove around it, she changed constantly. Because of the formation of the rock sediment and how she was birthed from the earth at an angle, one side of Uluru is 50,000 years older than the other side. The Great Mother has many stories and secrets that she has kept for longer than we can possibly comprehend.

Uluru is a significant place for the Anangu women. Many rituals and ceremonies were, and still are to a lesser degree, conducted there. My favourite part of the rock was a large cave that was used for birthing. The shape of the cave is the same as a Kangaroo pouch and is named as such.

When we walked closer to the rock we were able to touch her. There was a small area at the base of the rock that we were invited to sit on by the guide. I stepped up onto the rock with all the grace of a fish out of water, under the watchful eye of your Father.

As I sat there I ran my hands across the surface and wondered about the many people and animals that had touched that same place on the rock. I thought about all the sun that had shone upon her and all the rain that had washed over her.

A friend of mine shared my excitement at the impending trip to Uluru. He said he was certain that I would be aware of all the threads of the Universe converging in that sacred place. He was right. There is something deeply religious, something so hallowed that words really cannot accurately describe my experience. Silence is the only way for me to return to that feeling.

Uluru bonded me more firmly with your Father. Uluru ate my camera. Uluru inspired me to write you the longest letter so far even though words seem so flimsy as I try to tell you the story.

Uluru has no eyes but she has seen. Uluru has no ears but she has heard. Uluru never sleeps yet she made me part of her dreaming.

She came to me so that I would go to her. I listened to her and I returned to myself, in a future that had already happened.

Uluru is like God. Constant. Unmoving. Ever present. Indescribable and only to be experienced.

If you ever get the chance to go Seamus, go to her. More importantly, go wherever you are called. What awaits you are the most glorious of gifts. Gifts only your heart can know. That is the only knowledge you will ever need.

 

“ That shift from body identification to spirit identification, that is the meaning of enlightenment. And that is the same thing as saying ‘going from the perceptions of the mind to the knowledge of the heart’ ”Marianne Williamson

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The Courage of Surrender

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Dear Seamus,

We are given many messages throughout life about what it means to be strong in the face of adversity. Of being ‘resilient’, to ‘keep ones chin up’ and to ‘carry on against the odds’. You see, to be strong like this is perceived as good. To show weakness or to be seen as not coping, is judged as bad. If you do succumb to the intense pressures of trying to keep it all together and end up falling apart emotionally, your behaviour can be viewed by others as failure. In my experience there was no harsher critic than the voice in my own head.

I have come to know now, that an extremely important part of our growth process is to surrender. Surrender is such a beautiful tool as too often we are going against the grain and creating suffering and hardship for ourselves. It is our opportunity to release the illusion of control, to step out of the tiny confinement of our minds and give ourselves over to the greater plan. To surrender is to make the space in which we can begin to create again from a sense of love and not fear.

I have clung to things so tightly in the past that when surrender finally came, there was a spectacular fall out. I remember dark hours of endless crying and feeling emotionally drained. Calling in sick for work because I felt too vulnerable to face the world. Because I am an enquirer by nature, I have tormented myself as to the reasons why I have fallen down, desperately seeking answers from an empty abyss. My experience of surrender never matched the strong willed, capable and determined concept of myself. This is where I believe, I was onto something.

Osho teaches that breakdowns are actually breakthroughs. Breakdowns, which suffer the ire of judgement, are actually the pathway to an incredible conversion which leads you back to yourself. Back to your truest nature. Back to your authenticity, which has been forgotten along the path.

We can experience ourselves conceptually or we can experience ourselves as our true nature. The closer we can get to living our truest way possible, the less we will become tied to ideas of who we are. This may conflict so strongly with who we really are, that we need to literally break down those ideas through an emotional crisis.

This is where surrender can be important, so we can make small adjustments, consciously. So we can check if and how we are honouring the experience of life that is exclusive to us. To embed ourselves back into the incomparable, unprecedented, one and only expression of our divine uniqueness.

Trust me when I say I am writing this letter to myself as much as I am writing it to you darling. I still struggle with surrender and require a reminder to be more aware of the gap that exists between the idea of who I am and who I really am. I am trying to be more gracious in allowing me to be, well, me. I catch myself swimming in the concept that I will be this super evolved, ever accepting, all-knowing, pillar of strength Mother to you. Then I falter against this version of myself by setting the bar too high and require some humbling in the form of surrender.

The best way I can explain surrender to you, is to show you how I have woven it into my life. To make it clear that to surrender can have such incredible potency for realignment. If you can observe me marking my own life with moments of ceasing to be caught up in an idea of myself, then that will be encouragement for you to celebrate the glory of you.

I continue to unlearn so that I might be able to impart to you, that everything you ever truly need to know is contained in your heart.

I am enjoying watching you grow and I adore you more than I could ever explain.

So my gorgeous little man, orchestrate your life in whatever way you choose but remember the important agent of surrender. It is more powerful than the biggest ideas about strength and it takes more courage to give up than it does to carry on.
Surrender will always guide you home.

“The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us”- A.W. Tozer

Light Minded Spirituality

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Dear Seamus,

As most of us do when we are faced with a huge life-altering challenge, we bargain. When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer I would lie awake through the night, my body frail with chemotherapy drugs, and beg for my life. I made a lot of promises to God; that I would do this and that in exchange for my survival. When I made it out the other side of cancer treatment and held my arms wide open in gratitude, I did not forget the contract I forged with the almighty in my darkest hours. I just didn’t know what it entailed. So like most things I approach in life, I go the whole hog. If the life giver of all things had spared me, then I owed it to them to spend my remaining days in prayerful meditation, communing with spirit and acknowledging with immense gratitude the fact that I was still here. Or did I ?

What does it mean to be spiritual? Is it a term that conjures up a liberation from all form and human vice? Or is it just another dualistic label? Is it yet another template to subscribe to? I have been pondering for some time how to blend my powerful moments of blissful awareness with the day to day duties of being a human being. If I pick my nose whilst reading The Power of Now, does that diminish my enlightenment? Can I experience the timelessness and weightlessness of a great meditation session in the morning, only to fling my mobile phone down the hallway in exasperation that evening?

For a short time I considered becoming a Sanga as part of the Buddhist religion. I was drawn to the simplicity of a life dedicated to compassion and service to others. I did my research and as much as it appealed to me in some aspects, I just couldn’t justify the complete commitment it required. I also had to question what that meant for my future. I had long anticipated your arrival, Seamus, but with no relationship and infertility hanging over me, it wasn’t looking promising. Yet I couldn’t shake it – and if I became a Sanga that would be a massive road block to your existence.

As I was in the process of shedding all ideas about right and wrong, good and bad, I began to question what my obligations might be. Our human training ground is delivered to us through the filters of the mind. I experience my mind in several ways and one of those ways is as a huge filing cabinet. Every piece of information coming through must be processed, labelled and filed away. When I decided to leaf through the rather large cabinet on Spirituality, there were a number of files absent. I couldn’t seem to find the folder detailing ANGER, DISAPPOINTMENT, OVERWHELMENT or IMPATIENCE. There was no ASSERTIVENESS or OPINION files either. As clear as day I could see MEDITATION, YOGA and HERBAL TEA. I could see the dog eared HAPPINESS, ACCEPTANCE and JOY and right at the front was a label with huge lettering named PIOUSNESS.

The most startling discovery I made was laying my hands on a very thick file called PERFECTION. That was a real moment of realisation. I had put spirituality and perfection together. I’m talking about the pursuit of perfection, like avoiding mistakes and presenting as sparkly white faultlessness. The true perfection, from which we are all fashioned, is a given. We are already perfect; we were born that way. Nothing can ever take that away from you Seamus, my gorgeous boy. What happens is that as we grow we start to attach layers of ideas and experiences and soon, we can’t see our perfection any longer. Things happen to us which we want to label as mistakes, failures or successes when really it is all just experience. Mistakes are experience, failures are experience, and successes are experience. Plain and simple.

So I decided to burn the whole cabinet and start over! I began the process of creating my own definition of spirituality. My home doesn’t smell of Nag Champa incense, it’s more a blend of shortbread and wet dog. I don’t spend my days sitting cross legged meditating but when I’m in bed at night I cuddle your Daddy and think of you asleep in your cot and feel gratitude fill every cell of my body. I haven’t purified my diet from wheat, dairy, sugar and animal products. I drink my coffee and eat chocolate with absolute joy.

This incredible self-acceptance has been a side effect of cancer in my life. My wish for you is that you don’t need an experience like cancer to strip you back and remind you who you are. My wish for you is that you simply will not forget in the first place. You will forge your own relationship with God, the source, the Holy Spirit, pure consciousness or whatever label you want to put on it. In the meantime, you will grow up in a home knowing without a shadow of a doubt that you are loved and that you are love itself. That to me, is what being spiritual is all about.

“The Tao is the treasure-house, the true nature, the secret source of everything” – Tao Te Ching