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Why Slow Is Better

from stress to stillnessWith so much interest these days in mindfulness and being present, I want to put in a good word for moving slowly, for not hurrying though life. Being present is nearly impossible when we are in a hurry. Furthermore, we find that when we are present, we rarely choose to be in a hurry. Hurrying is generally motivated by the ego, by the thoughts that run through our mind. That voice pushes us to get things done asap—no matter what. The “no matter what” is the problem, because if we make life about getting things done, we are going to miss out on a lot of life.

As we hurry through our day, it’s easy to forget that being is just as important as doing, as being needs to inform our doing or life will begin to feel dry, lifeless, and joyless. If we listen solely to the egoic mind (the voice in our head), we will begin to feel like an automaton, and we will find ourselves consumed with doing things that don’t bring us joy, but only more things, more money, more power—more of what the ego wants but less of what is truly meaningful.

Slowing down our pace and just being for moments throughout our day gives us access to our true nature and its innate wisdom. Hurrying, on the other hand, keeps us tied to the ego, which barks its commands, pushes us harder, and shames us. The ego views life from a lens of fear and scarcity. It doesn’t trust life because it isn’t in touch with the truth about life. It copes with its fears and insecurities by pushing us to constantly be doing. When we are caught in the ego’s world, we can never rest and just be, and we lose touch with the deep sense that all is well.

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Noticing as a Spiritual Practice

from stress to stillnessNoticing is a profound spiritual practice in itself because it gets us in touch with what is noticing and experiencing life, with Consciousness, our true self. Consciousness notices; it is what witnesses and experiences life. It is who we are. Whenever we do what our being naturally does, we align with it. For instance, if we say something compassionate to ourselves or to someone else, we align with our true nature because our true nature is compassionate. Or if we accept ourselves or someone else, we align with our true nature because our true nature is accepting. Or if we notice our experience and fully experience it, we align with our true nature because our true nature is what is aware and experiencing life.
 
Buddhists call this practice of noticing, mindfulness. Being mindful means being aware of our present moment experience, including our thoughts, feelings, intuitions, internal experiences, bodily sensations, sounds, sights, and other sensory input. In any moment, a lot is going on, and it’s all in flux. So there’s always plenty to notice in our present moment experience. The present moment is alive with activity and experience.
 
What notices and discerns is the true self. The true self is the consciousness that makes it possible to experience life. This Consciousness is a great mystery because it can only be described by how it is experienced, since it isn’t a thing apart from everything else. The wisdom traditions say that this Consciousness is all-pervading and behind and within all creation, although it isn’t important that you believe that.
 

Notes About the Heart and Nondual Teachings

Here are some notes I made regarding the role of the heart in nondual spiritual teachings:

One of the problems with talking about the heart is that we need to define what we mean by heart. It is so often thought to be feelings, or emotions. But “follow your heart” doesn’t mean follow your feelings, such as your anger, jealousy, hatred, guilt, or sadness. As everyone intuitively knows, following your heart means following the feelings that come from your deepest Self: feelings of joy, love, peace. And yet, we talk about a broken heart. However, the broken heart is not the spiritual heart but refers to the human heart and human feelings, for the spiritual heart is not affected by the events in life.

Opening the heart is opening the spiritual heart. When the spiritual heart opens, you feel joyful, relaxed, at peace, loving, content, at one with life. This happens to everyone, sometimes many times a day or, for some, only occasionally. After awakening, when that awakening includes the heart, then the heart is open much of the time. Instead of being an occasional experience, it is more of one’s ongoing experience. In short, when you awaken, your heart opens; and when your heart opens, you awaken (at least momentarily). Awakeness and the heart are the same thing. Devotional practices are a means of opening the heart before awakening and getting to know what that experience is like. After awakening, devotional practices are a natural celebration of an already open heart.

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How Nonphysical Beings Help and Hinder

getting freeWe are not alone. If there is only Oneness and we are an expression of it (and there is and we are), then everything we see is us. All of the different life forms were created to assist each other in their evolution. We need them and they need us. This is obvious enough in observing physical reality, where life forms are so intricately connected, but it’s no less true in nonphysical realities. When we graduate from the physical reality we exist in now, we will exist in a nonphysical reality, and our purpose will be to serve both physical and nonphysical realities with whatever skills we’ve acquired thus far.
 
Until recent history, humanity lived comfortably with the notion of spirit helpers, spirit guides, and angels. Humanity depicted them in art, passed on stories about them, prayed to them, spoke to them, and gave them a voice. There have always been those who were able to see, hear, and feel nonphysical beings. For these people, nonphysical beings are as real as anything physical. To those who can see nonphysical beings, many appear to have bodies made of light instead of flesh, so they are sometimes called beings of light. They will be referred to here as beings of light or simply as beings.
 
The existence of nonphysical beings defies rationality because they can’t be experienced with the usual five senses. Since science doesn’t recognize the existence of a sixth sense, it concludes that nonphysical beings don’t exist. This is understandable. If something isn’t in your experience, it’s logical, although inaccurate in this case, to conclude that it doesn’t exist. So it’s up to those who do experience nonphysical beings to describe them and their experiences with them to others.
 

Your Favorite Things

An Excerpt from Living in the Now
 
living in the nowWhat do you like most about being alive now on planet earth? The song from “The Sound of Music” about favorite things (“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens… these are a few of my favorite things”) is an expression from Essence. When we are in Essence, we love the little things, like whiskers on kittens—what a miracle! There’s so much joy when we are really present to life and the miracle that it is. We get joy from the littlest things.

This is so unlike the ego, which disparages such things. “Oh that—I’ve seen that before!” is its attitude. The ego wants life to be about it, not about life itself. The ego loves whatever makes it feel good about itself, not what makes it feel good. This egocentricity is one of the most obvious differences between the state of ego identification and our natural state, or Essence. The ego refers whatever is happening back to itself: What will it mean to me? But when we are in Essence, we experience Essence’s joy at experiencing itself through all of creation.

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