Entering the Fire with Heart
A nondual embodiment wisdom teacher, I share these heartfelt thoughts in response to current societal and global challenges, including systemic racial injustice, economic inequities, climate change, threats of nuclear war, and our global pandemic:
- We who grieve the great injustices on Earth are called not to just to change our views – but to transform at the deepest levels of our being.
- We are challenged to awake to the plurality of reality.
- Only a metanoia – a radical change of heart, mind, and spirit – will enable us to live on an Earth where all human beings flourish.
Outlined below are five spiraling stages of radical self-transformation and key practices to support cognitive, perceptual, and somatic healing. Highlighted are insights.
Stage One: Preparing your heart, body, and mind for radical self-transformation
- Find allies and wise, compassionate guides to support you in cultivating the capacity to be personally “touched” by the impact of our current societal and global challenges on others and on this Earth – e.g., systemic racial injustice, economic inequities, climate change, and our global pandemic.
- Cultivate “sacred heart space” – an internal attitude of spacious tenderness – so that you can actually experience whatever you’re experiencing – including challenging sensations, difficult emotions, forbidden thoughts..
- Practice effective breathing and skillful self-soothing strategies to relax your belly, reassure your heart, quiet your nervous system, and calm your mind.
- Learn subtle, nondual body-centered meditations to support your heart, body, and mind in growing toward wholeness – and in “seeing through” distorted perceptions and unconscious beliefs, disentangling from habituated thoughts, emotional reactivity, and painful sensations, and releasing limiting somatic, mental, emotional, perceptual, and energetic patterns..
- Recognize that what’s going on is larger than you. It’s as if the schisms in our psyches that separate us from ourselves reflect schisms that divide us from others and from this Earth..
Stage Two: Entering into the fires of sacred heart transformation
- Recognize that you can actually shift your perceptions and “see” your own distorted and limited perspectives. One thought experiment is to allow your experiences of everyone you perceive as “other” visibilize the frames through which you’re perceiving. Pay attention to your reactions. Recognize that your reactions can actually help you see distorted and limited views of yourself, others, and reality.
- Recognize that as you glimpse a multiplicity of perspectives, you may get caught in colliding or collapsing worldviews.
- Learn to take the subjective experience of the other as seriously as your own. Discover the myths and underlying assumptions of your own understandings so that distorted perceptions and limited views may be transformed.
- “Don’t think” – because “thinking” freezes Being. You can’t “think” your way out of this process. Nor can you “see” your way out of this process. That’s why we need “sacred heart space” – for deep healing.
- Become aware of the tension and discomfort in your body – clearly sensing your body’s sensations, emotions, and thoughts.
- Intentionally shift from “being aware of” to “inhabiting your body” so that you directly sense your own existence and the other’s existence. Recognize the felt-sense of your existence, your Self, your Being, your Beingness. You know. And you know that you know. You have value. You have self-worth. You belong. You are loved. Your Presence matters! Recognize the felt-sense of the “other’s” existence, Self, Being, Beingness. The “other” has value. The “other” has self-worth. The “other” belongs. The “other” is loved. Presence matters.
- Sense into the tension and discomfort in your heart, body, and mind – rather than prematurely seeking relief through an incomplete transcendence or collapsing into a resolution that precludes the deepest possible integration of difference-transcending until your whole body realizes differences are sources of learning and wisdom.
- Trust the process as it points towards oneness as a unified field of consciousness permeating us. This experience is not the innocence of childlike bliss nor a dissociative trance.
Stage Three: Integrating Cognition, Perception, Emotion, and the Body
- Dissolve obstacles to intimacy with yourself, others, and this Earth. Experience our Inter-Beingness.
- Hone your whole body as an instrument of experiencing. Allow the mind to penetrate the whole body. Completely subjectivize your body. Experience your whole body, heart, and mind simultaneously. Integrate your breath and energy; body, and mind; thinking, sensing, and feeling.
- Hone your whole body an instrument of perceiving. Refine and unify your senses. Seeing is hearing is sensing.
Stage Four: Embodying Nonduality – transforming at the deepest levels of your being
- Embodying your Humanness – feeling vibrantly alive, substantive and secure in your own body – growing towards wholeness and oneness
- Embodying your Self – experiencing the ineffable, lucid, radiant presence of your True Nature, ceaselessly manifesting
- Embodying yourself Authentically– experiniencing yourself as an undefended human – with core wounds, shadows, and vulnerabilities – unself-consiously revealed, continuously self-transfiguring
Stage Five: Living the Truth that Arises from Plumbing the Depths of Consciousness and Abiding in Sacred Heart Space
- Abiding in Sacred Heart Space, Authentically Human, we directly experience even the most challenging thoughts, emotions, and sensations, without leaving our body, merging with others, enduring, becoming aggressive, or rigid.
- Abiding in Sacred Heart Space, we experience “Our One Heart breathing” – our own, others, and this Earth.
- Recognizing with humility the profound moral obligations of this Self-Recognition:
- We speak out.
- We take action against the great injustices in our society.
- We take action against the great injustices on this Earth.
We who grieve the great injustices in our society are asked to wake up – We are One Heart. As we breathe, so do all sentient beings. So too does our living, breathing Earth. Waking up, we experience a moral imperative to live in right relationship with ourselves, others, and this Earth.
All sentient beings have the right to breathe, as does our living, life-sustaining Earth.
Musings on the terrible burden each of us faces in this society and on this Earth ….
August 28, 2020
My tender heart trembles, Reacting, the mind spins this way and that… Looking for escape. I cannot accept this. Feeling powerless Separate Broken
I can’t breathe….
This is the legacy of suffering
The wisdom, as always, is about turning towards this pain. A deep, deep wound. Admit it’s there Feel the feelings in this heart Listen Open Don’t look away Heal
This is compassion for oneself.
And then, with the steadiness that comes from unflinching, Loving awareness, Speak and act from the heart. Let it be known Protect and Serve Don’t look away Ever
This is compassion for the world.
True solidarity. A radical acceptance. That sacred space between the out breath and the in breath… Death and Rebirth No separation Them Us One.
This is a prayer for all beings
~ Mark Arthur, Black Buddhist author and meditator from the UK
Years ago, my dear friend Cleo, a young dark-skinned man of African descent, leaned towards me, a middle-aged White woman. Near tears, Cleo talked of the emotional and psychic stress he felt, as a Black man in this society. Quietly, he asked: “What does the term White supremacy mean to you? What is your relationship to it?” My heart leapt into my throat. I gasped for air. In that moment of reckoning, my Whiteness became visible to me. My body tensed. My thoughts fragmented. I took a deep breath, seeking courage. His questions challenged the world as I then knew it. My self-identity, moral character, and personal capacity for engaging in dialogue felt called into question.
We who grieve the great injustices on Earth are called not only to change our views – but to transform at the deepest levels of our being. We are challenged to awake to the plurality of Reality. Only a metanoia – a radical change of heart, mind, and spirit – will enable us to co-create a world where all human beings flourish.
Sitting in the Fire
Reality challenges us to make a strong commitment to support diversity. To co-create a more just, more sustainable world, let us form alliances