A Journey of Totality

The following is a report of my journey and experiences related to the Total Solar Eclipse that crossed the United States on August 21, 2017.

On Sunday the 20th, I drove from Aspen to the path of totality in Wyoming via secondary highways. The traffic across the Western Slope of Colorado was light but the feeling of energy pressing in was intense. In fact, the subtle energies calibrated the strongest (by orders of magnitude) of any I had ever experienced. With further clarity I realized that a massive consciousness pressure was enforcing a kind of one-pointed attention and emptiness, which dovetailed beautifully with the meditation of driving through the mountains and high desert.

At some point it became clear that I needed to open completely to receive the gifts and messages of the eclipse, which were already coming through. The main messages were:

  1. The field of Vibrational Manifestation (i.e. the world, including subtle realms) is being re-seeded with new opportunities for awakening.
  2. The USA has the opportunity to be reborn from the new consciousness.
  3. The seeds are deeply planted and the opportunities for awakening will rise to the surface in the coming weeks and months. (In this moment, I’m getting through late January 2018.)
  4. By committing to awakening and AWAKENESS, we align with powerful forces of transfiguration. Doing so will greatly ease our experience of these times.

I car-camped in CBEAUTY next to the Boysen Reservoir overlooking the Wind River Reservation.

TSE - CBEAUTY 20170820

Continue reading A Journey of Totality

Advertisements

Labradorite

If I tilt this piece of labradorite just so,
when the angle’s right,
the grays of sky and sage
give way to Aurora fire.
Flames beneath the surface
blaze blue-greens
particular to this stone’s
particular sheen and qualities.
And also, uncontained, beyond containing,
deep light-lines straight as arrows
cross its face, bridges
to the something more
this piece was part of.

If you acutely angle a mind
in the geometry of surprise
enough to catch its story looking elsewhere,
a soul with the sheen of a rufous throat,
but neon-bright, shows itself,
blazing through the story’s camouflage,
and all the edgeless lines of light it holds
are pointers to the next soul and the next,
hints of the original urge
to break into so many,
and of the ache for union.

Shattered into everything, the All
reveals its fire through our faces.

IMG_3230
Photo of labradorite, by STW council member Dave Smith

Holly Thomas is a member of the Sourcing The Way Council. This post from her forthcoming collection of poems is part of a series of  “Glimpses” — brief explorations inspired by sourcing, the occasional bolt from the blue, or simply noticing.  

 

The Velcro Ego

Spoiler alert, in the highly unlikely event that it’s not already glaringly obvious: I have not left my ego behind me on my spiritual path. But I know a few folks who have. Instead of identifying with their personalities, they consciously wear them like luminous clothing. Their sense of Self as Source dons just enough cover to function in the world.

I’m not that…realized? Lately, though, I’ve had some success at more quickly recognizing what my ego is up to, and helping it relax into the background so the larger me can show up. This post is about one tool I use to do that.

First-up, definitions

In this case, by my ego, I don’t just mean the parts of my personality that inflate and deflate. And not just the ‘healthy self-image’ self. I mean something closer to the whole Sagittarian tango perceived as me. But even that’s not quite it.

Let’s say my ego is the part of or aspect of me that’s focused on 3-D reality. It favors stability and safety. It tries to handle experience by concretizing it. When I’m not paying close enough attention, it treats as solid a range of stories, memories, experiences, sensations, and states of being that aren’t solid at all. Right, wrong, good, bad, true, false, better, worse—it’s the aspect of me that knows how to cope with a world of dualities and tends to feel threatened by any suggestion that there’s something more subtly unifying and non-dual going on.

The ego isn’t wrong. Not exactly. It is important to know the difference between the bug and the windshield. Being oriented to 3-D reality helps keep me alive. But I don’t want that narrow a view of reality to define and control me.

My ego has a black belt in doubt. It gets uneasy when I experience creation in non-dual ways, but it’s too clever to try to shut down such experiences by saying they’re not real. Instead, when I let it, it casts aspersions on my sense of the meaning of such experiences. Or, switching sides in the same game, it makes me need such non-dual experiences to feel ‘worthy’ or ‘important’ or ‘special’. Either way, my ego knows exactly how to hook me if I let it make me the fish.

“Small moves, Ellie, small moves”*

I’ve forgotten exactly what I was doing, but I was being stupidly judgmental about something, feeling simultaneously self-righteous and disgusted with my self-righteousness—a particularly nasty left hook/right cross combo. So, I took a breath and noticed what my ego was up to.

Next, I stepped back to wonder why. “I” didn’t vacate the premises, I just shifted perspectives. Ego is made of stories, and I caught myself for the millionth time assuming my stories were true.

Noticing I was hooked on my stories was all it took to unhook me for a while. So I took a good look at this Holly person who’d moments before been so firmly perched on her pedestal, and all I could do was laugh. I dropped my judgments like a boring book and became intrigued by this notion of ego hooks.

Next thing I knew, an image of a strip of Velcro popped into my head.

Velcro

Analogies are like rubber bands. Stretch them too far, they snap. But stay with me while I work this Velcro analogy a bit.

Velcro is a brilliant tool for keeping things sturdy, contained, controlled, and tight. It’s
adjustable, within limits. It’s nearly indestructible. It’s easy to peel apart from the edge, very hard to pull apart by a perpendicular attack (assuming the Velcro is strong and well-enough made).

Left to its own devices, Velcro also has a remarkable ability to pick up lint and pet hairs and crumbs and other gunk that bit-by-bit clog it up. Plus, if it’s not kept fastened up or wrapped, it tangles itself with itself. In fact, it can tangle itself with pretty much everything.

Velcro works for me as an analogy for the ego first because it’s not cloaked in spiritual or religious or psychological language. No intimidation factor. No holiness needed. No incense required.

Second, because Velcro isn’t all or nothing. Yes, each hook is binary—it’s either attached or it’s not—but a whole strip of hooks presents a whole range of…let’s call them ‘degrees of attachment.’

When I was in high dudgeon as Empress Holly Judging Herself and the World, my ego was firmly attached to itself. But just noticing that much was like peeling up a small corner of a Velcro strip, then a bit more, and a bit more. I didn’t have to open the whole strip to grok what my ego was up to. I didn’t have to dislike the Velcro, resent the Velcro, love the Velcro, or become realized enough not to need the Velcro. I just had to peel it open a bit at a time.

Practice makes practice

Since then I’ve been using this Velcro image a lot. When I catch myself falling for one of my stories—the need to be right, for example—I take a breath and imagine myself peeling up a corner of a Velcro strip. Often now, all I need to do is think “Velcro” and whatever had me hooked settles back into a non-issue.

The best thing is that it’s getting easier to unhook. I catch myself sooner, so the ego doesn’t as often attach all the way before I start peeling it back open.

Here’s where the analogy stops:

Velcro doesn’t learn from experience. Holly’s ego does. It can be cunning, and it’s fully capable of at least attempting to subvert this practice. But instead, it seems to appreciate knowing it doesn’t have to alternate between locking up tight and flapping loose, frantically snagging whatever it can. Plus, my ego rests better knowing that I don’t see its penchant for attachment as a character flaw. It’s just attachment—a tightness I can loosen or release.

Maybe my path will one day rip off my ego for good, hooks, loops, stitches, and all. Maybe death does that. But meanwhile, it’s still here, and we have come to an understanding. My ego is finally learning to relax and release its hooks more quickly, sometimes even gladly. And I’m finally learning to avoid getting so tangled and snagged.

ππππππππππππ

*”Small moves, Ellie, small moves” is a line is from Contact, one of my all-time favorite movies.

This post is the third of a series in which Holly’s sharing “glimpses” that come to her through meditation, Sourcing, the occasional “bolt from the blue, ” or simply noticing. 

It’s right there

Last Saturday it topped 100 degrees in Palm Springs, and while everyone else huddled near their air conditioners, I hit the pool. It’s a fairly big, well-maintained pool for the community where I’d been staying as a friend’s guest. I had her place mostly to myself, and, at tea time on this particular day, I had the pool to myself as well. No distractions. Bliss.

I’m not a great swimmer, but I swam a set of laps in my awkward way and played with kicks and water-robics to work out some kinks. I also sat for a while in the shadier of two hot tubs and said hallelujah when I realized its jets were positioned perfectly to simultaneously massage the small of my back and my feet. Yes.

Granted, hot tubs are counterintuitive on hot days, but desert dryness makes it work. Feeling sufficiently cooked after 10 minutes, I jumped back into the pool to cool off. The sun was already working through my last layer of SPF 50, so I splashed over to a shady corner and stood up. I looked back out at the pool’s sunlit surface, and noticed the water.

That sounds weird, I know. Obviously, I was already aware of the water. But it wasn’t until I just stood there and looked that I truly saw it.

After a moment, I realized my mind has been so well-trained to interpret the water surface as “silvery” that I’d overlooked its spectacular colors. It rippled with circles of bright sunlight, deep sky blue, a nearly-neon light turquoise, a dark turquoise carried up from the pool floor, flashing rings of lavender and orange, and patches of mauve and ochre reflections of the arid hills. Every bit of the surface was alive with motion because both I and the air were breathing.

I couldn’t believe that in all these years, this was the first time I’d ever stood in a pool that particular way, with the sun at my back, “merely” watching sunlight cast such specific, amazing colors across the surface. How much else hadn’t I been seeing?

With the sun still behind me, I stepped out to the center of the pool—just 5 feet deep—and looked down at my own silhouette. Around it, sunlight rippled in bright refracted patterns over the turquoise floor. I moved my hands in the water to speed up and slow the shifting rings and lopsided ovals. In a marvelous illusion, they appeared to emanate from my shadow self and interact with every other drop of water and flash of light.

Years ago, a beloved friend wrote this on my birthday: “Life is a garden, not a road. Where you go matters less than what you notice.” For a long time, seeing has been part of my practice and my gift. But sometimes I forget and my vision dulls.

I needed the water’s reminder to keep practicing. To revel in the interconnected, restless aliveness of what’s right in front of me. So much becomes clearer when I look where the sun is pointing.

Holly Thomas is a member of the Sourcing The Way Council and a writer, editor, writing coach, and artist. This is the second of a series in which she’ll share “glimpses” that come to her through meditation, Sourcing, the occasional “bolt from the blue, ” or as in this post, simply noticing. 

 

Allium: A Glimpse of Grace

Holly Thomas is a member of the Sourcing The Way Council and a writer, editor, writing coach, and artist. This is the first of a series in which she’ll share “glimpses” that come to her through meditation, Sourcing, and the occasional “bolt from the blue.”

I was listening to a radio interview with a holocaust survivor who had decided to tell his story after 70 years of hiding his concentration camp tattoo and keeping quiet. What convinced him to speak out was seeing a picture of himself on a website that claims the holocaust never happened. The site had labeled as fake a photo of the emaciated child he’d been at Auschwitz. Every time he showers he still thinks of the gas chambers. Asked his most vivid memory of being 4 years old, he said “the smell of burning human flesh.”

The glimpse

I put my head in my hands, and for a few seconds something shifted behind my tears. I, or I AM, felt and “experienced” the immensity and range of what people go through. I felt this immensity as what Experience experiences through us. I perceived it as how Source/God/All-that-is, by any name, discovers what it’s like to be embodied in human form and to explore existence ruthlessly, beautifully, or both, in every possible variation on human life. I got a glimpse of that totality—the expanse and the intimacy, the detachment and the care.

Often when my awareness leaps to some ‘higher order’ perspective, an image appears in my mind’s eye. It usually stays just long enough for me to register it, then disappears. This time, the image was an enormous sphere made up of every human life. I could see each person as alive and distinct, standing alone inside the cupped shape of his or her own existence. The cups were crowded together, but each held only one person.

purple-1739212_1280

The result was much like the spherical cluster of individual blossoms in a giant allium. Within each blossom, the stamens and pistil have plenty of room, even though the sphere itself looks crowded.

Magnetic attraction

Zoomed in close enough to watch one person speaking, I simultaneously sensed our union within some living sphere, and the sharp necessity of our individuality. When the image zoomed back out, I saw the sphere’s entirety and felt a relentless curiosity—the Curiosity of whatever un-nameable Source we arise from.

At first that curiosity was frighteningly ‘other’, but as soon as I named my fear, compassion replaced it. Not my own compassion, but a sense of the Source’s concern for the human experience. Source may be an artist devoted to experiencing everything that is possible to experience, even when that includes vast cruelties and injustices. But in that moment, what I sensed at its center was goodwill—an affinity for love, if not love itself. Source seemed almost magnetically attracted to how we, and perhaps all sentient beings, encounter, recognize, and embody Grace. I felt Its sureness that our lives, as part of the entire living whole of individuality, somehow make Grace more real.

What I sensed is that Source, by whatever name, is not only curious, but kind. Maybe that’s because kindness fascinates it. Or maybe it’s because Source is as hopeful as it is inventive.

Perhaps what prompted the beginning of individuated consciousness was as much the yearning for company as a desire to experience and explore. Perhaps when Source set itself on a path toward embodying that consciousness, it discovered that beings capable of Grace do more to satisfy its yearning. Perhaps hope and kindness are things sentient beings inventedgifts Source cherishes and wants more of.

These many words fail to capture what it felt like for a few moments to sense into the All of us living as all of us. To connect with the potential majesty in every act of being, and the particular beauty in acts of being that offer courage, hope, forgiveness, grace, and love.

Or…

The practice of truth-seeking requires that I ask myself whether this vision was wishful thinking. Maybe there is no goodwill in some original Source of being. Maybe Source is immensely indifferent and our capacities for compassion and grace are just two flecks of color on an infinite canvas of creation. That’s not my preferred version of All That Is, but would it change anything? Each of us can still embody Grace. If Source exists but doesn’t care, our ability to look one another in the eyes and see mystery there, and to love into that mystery, is something from which even Source itself might learn.

purple-allium-806370_1280

 

Challenging the Ego – Is it worth it?

With everything that is up in this world currently – the US election circus, the roaring patriarchy, the rise of the feminine in both men and women, our disregard for mother Nature, the arising call for people’s equal inherent value, to name a few – I feel called to write this post.

So, why the question, “Challenging the ego – is it worth it?”.

In spiritual circles it is sometimes said that we need to conquer the ego. That the ego is bad, that it is only out to serve and protect itself and its interests. I take a step back and compare this with what is going on in our human collective psyche – the seeming opposing forces calling for, on the one side, the individual’s right to choose and be in charge of his/her own life, where there is a belief that the success and therefore right of an individual has precedence above everything else, and on the other side, the call for a more humane attitude as there is an awareness that we are all connected, where looking out for one another will inherently mean that we are also looking out for ourselves, where there is a belief that it is possible to thrive by supporting one another.

For the past 10 years I have challenged my ego to own up to its ways while following an unseen trajectory. It has been a fascinating journey which has involved a lot of dedication, will, and a deep desire for evolution.

When I look up the meaning of ego I find: “A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance”. In psychoanalysis it refers to “the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.” In philosophy (in metaphysics) it refers to “a conscious thinking subject“. And from the Cambridge Dictionary: “your idea or opinion of yourself, especially your feeling of your own importance and ability”.

What I have found is that I have a choice. In my own experience I have learned that my views, beliefs, judgments about the world coming from my ego, can be either very limiting or very open and expansive. That my attitude creates a frame for how I perceive the world around me and my own life experience.


Early on it became clear that the structure I had created as a result of upbringing, social circle, and personal experiences was a tightly fitted suit that did a good job at keeping things in place, but was, however, equally limiting my ability to move and gain an expanded view of life and the world we live in.

On November 6th, 2006 I asked a similar question in my then blog, “Little Green Men and Tall Angelic Beings”. I wasn’t aware then that what I was challenging was the ego, my own as well as other people’s. I blush when I think that my voice from 10 years ago will be shared here as a raw expression of innocent curiosity and in part a hurt ego. I smile as I read this early contribution to the written word. It isn’t a poetic and eloquent expression, but a heartfelt sentiment to the experience of deviating from the norm, from spilling over other people’s measuring cups:

Is it worth it?

Standing out or being different is not easy. At the beginning I had to defend myself all the time, explaining to people why I would want to move abroad again… “Hadn’t I already been there and done that?” I tried to explain that it isn’t about what I do, it’s who I am.

My mother had said to me that I’d always been extremely curious and always had the need for change and learning new things. As if moving abroad was not enough, I know some of my friends lifted an eyebrow (some of them two) when I told them about my quest for spirituality.

Why is it that people automatically judge in a negative way when something different is on the horizon? Why is it so difficult for some people to sit back and just listen, take it all in, and then give their verdict? Many times I have had to fight verdicts based more on the other person’s fear of the unknown than on the actual facts. I think it is rude to slag someone off without knowing all the facts. The world would be a better place if humanity would focus on the good instead of the bad.

So, is it worth it? Hell, YES! I wouldn’t want it any other way. I have learned so much about myself as well as about other people. And I have become a better person as a result of it.

It is worth being different. Believe in yourself!

Many rivers have floated under lots of bridges since that post… In my “quest for spirituality”, I have made it central in my life to practice forgiveness and gratitude. I understand that one aspect of who we are is the sum of our experiences, and, based on our individual lens, all of us do the best we can with what we perceive that we’ve got. This isn’t a justification for awkward behaviour or action/reaction, just an expanded perspective as we all have “our own perceived truth”.

A few key learnings from the past 10 years:

  • Everybody needs to feel seen and heard
  • Everybody does the best they can with what they’ve got
  • We are always part of someone else’s experience
  • Our ego wants us to be safe
  • We can never fall off our path

I’ll end this post with my very first blog post ever, as the questions I posed then are still very much present and “up” in the collective:

Why is it…

30/10/2006  

Why is it…
…that most people are afraid, and feel the need to only believe that which they can see, hear or touch? …that most people don’t ever stop for a moment to live in ‘the now’? …that we are terrified of finding proof that we are not alone?

What would be so terrible…
…if we were to find that we are getting help with the big as well as the little things in life? …if humanity started to believe in a higher power? …if we were to accept that the universe is there for us and all we have to do is ask? …if we were to start to think about the person behind the mask we rush past in the street? …if we started focusing on what we have instead of mucking about focusing on what we don’t have?
 

Although the above wasn’t originally written with the ego in mind, I can’t help notice how the questions do their bit to keep the challenge alive.

A Poem for My Teachers in Hawaii

The weekend of October 21–23, 2016, I was in Hana on the island of Maui, in Hawaii, for a retreat with three Polynesian elders and 11 other now-dear brothers and sisters. From the elders we received direct and powerful transmissions of embodied wisdom. Many of the experiences were, for me, initiations into a greater conscious communion with the land and the living elements.

As a result, it has become clear beyond doubt that I am in partnership with the ‘āina (land), the people, the plants, the animals, the spirits, and the subtle beings of Hawaii. I know and can now declare that these islands are home for the next chapter of my life.

img_6884
Daybreak at the Ala Kukui retreat center in Hana, Hawaii

Continue reading A Poem for My Teachers in Hawaii