” When belief was not enough, I accepted the invitation to an experience.” ~ MaryAnn Fry
That was the first line of my book proposal for Going Naked Being Seen. It took me about a year to write that line. And, it took me another year to really comprehend it; to realize it. For alcoholics like me that follow a twelve step program of recovery, we need a Spiritual experience to recover. Not a belief, an experience. I believed in God before I recovered, and was very religious too. But, I still drank. And, my ongoing recovery is dependent on the maintenance of a fit Spiritual condition. I’ve had those experiences, and they’ve changed the way I see and experience life. But many people haven’t, even though they have years of physical sobriety. Time and time again, the subject of a Spiritual experience comes up in discussion and I wait, and hope. I hope to feel the life of a Spiritual experience. I felt alive for the first time in my life and I longed to share that feeling with others who had it too. Many remain locked in a prison of belief; old and frightening concepts about God. And, the ideas all came from someone else.
It’s humbling to experience anxiety after years of inner work, but I do. It’s just that it passes quicker these days. The first miracle, was the experience that it passed. I hadn’t even learned to observe my thoughts yet, and to know that feelings arise from thoughts. God is love, and the Universe is benevolent. I suggest to others that they choose that belief, because it is a structure that they create. My friend told me she did that at the beginning of her journey toward balance and freedom, and she is wise and happy, so I did.
Over time, when painful feelings would arise, I would believe that it was healing afoot, and not disaster. I was on a path to freedom, and these things had to be cleared. That simple belief changed the way I experienced life. I leaned into experiences that I would have resisted or run from before. And, I learned to name old and painful thoughts, and to tell them to take a hike. It was astonishing at first, when peace returned. I was more than grateful, and often felt like I’d run a marathon, and finished it too. I was finally finishing things, and not leaving because it got tough. That’s how I came to know freedom.
I read a million times that God was within, but I no more knew what that meant, than understanding how electricity worked. When I learned how to silence my thoughts, I began to have more than an experience. I had a relationship with God.
I spent several days in silence this week. It was like a vacation, really. I told my friend that people check into five-star resorts to get what I got in a room with humble provisions and a single candle. I got to the source of all life; I didn’t need anything else. And in that space, I realized how deeply fear had terrorized me all of my life, in one form or another. It’s a crafty shape-shifter you know, but I recognize it’s signature. My breath becomes shallow and rapid, my heart beats faster, and my thoughts are limiting. If it makes me feel small, not good enough, or impending doom, I know I’ve identified fear. What’s different today, is that I talk about it less. I don’t feed it the way I did before. It was awkward at first, but it works now. Peace is no little gift, and I don’t want to waste a moment in its grace.
I discovered all of this in the silence, and with a little direction from some wisdom teachings, and encouragement from loving friends. But, I sat alone in the experience, as will everyone with the courage to claim their freedom.
Breathe. Learn to concentrate on one object for several minutes. Pay attention to how many other thoughts arise as you look at the object. If they aren’t about the object, start over. It’s work, but you’ll be building a muscle that will contain your thoughts, so the real can emerge.
I sure don’t like to give advise, even when asked, but I’ve had four people come to me with terrorizing thoughts this week. Of course they thought it was the life situation that was causing them pain. I shared my experience with them, and they all said it helped. They breathed a litter easier too. So, I’m sharing the essence of it here.
Such simple things, but real discipline.
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.~ St. Teresa of Avila.
And, Dante’s Prayer, by Lorenna Mckennitt