You are Not the Stream: Notes from a Drowning Woman
The purpose of meditation, she says, after 23 years of sporadic practice in a number of different traditions, is this…
NOT DROWNING IN YOURSELF.
Let me explain…
It came to me very clearly, visually, as these things tend to…
We have two streams going on constantly within us – the physical/ biological/ spiritual energy stream. This energy presents itself differently according to mood, circumstance and health – it could be the feeling of depletion and lack of energy, an aroused buzzing in the genitals, butterflies in the stomach, a burning passion and energy for a creative project, the surge of anger.
And then there is the narrative thought stream in the head. The constant words and stories we narrate to ourselves all day.
Most of the time both streams go on consistently, setting the agenda for our days. We respond to them as puppets.
Now the big we mistake we make is to feel the feelings, and connect them to the words. Match them up. Explaining the feelings with the words. Words that usually belonged to another time we felt this way. Act out the feelings, speak out the words.
This merely intensifies both streams by materialising them.
Meditation allows you to do the tricky job of detaching yourself from both streams: physical/ energetic, and mental/word based and just observe. Thereby DE-materialising them.
It creates space between them… and allows space for something else to emerge: your transcendent awareness. So that you can stop being their passive, reactive puppet and instead see them for what they are – two streams of energy and information. Not YOU. Not REALITY. Just constantly running streams. Which you don’t HAVE to respond to. Or control. You can just observe them racing… or trickling by.
Just as you would if you were sitting by a real stream.
If you were sitting on a mossy rock next to a trickling tributary you wouldn’t think that you had to do something with all the gallons of water passing by you every minute. You could just observe it.
In just the same way YOU are not identified with the streams running inside you. You don’t need to shun, reject, ignore, judge, react to these streams. They just are. And you, the bigger you who is able to observe them is not bound by them. You can dip your cup in whenever you want to enjoy the water. You can paddle or swim. But YOU ARE NOT THE STREAM!
Now this is all well and good and easy enough to get. It is meditation 101. When you’re curled up in your cosy bed with a book on meditation, nodding along sagely. Or when you’re sitting on your meditation cushion in your nicely decorated meditation room and life is good.
But when the shit hits the fan, it’s very easy for all this knowledge to go out the window. At just the time you most need it.
So last night I was feeling really anxious in my body, my heart racing, stomach churning, I wanted to run from my body. I felt like I was going to drown in the feelings and the thoughts. I have spent a summer almost drowning. Kicking hard to keep my head above the deluge. Treading water. Trying to swim against the current. Playing dead and hoping it’d wash me away. Not able to get out of the stream, which was threatening all the time to sweep me away. Except it was even more exhausting, because I WAS the stream, the whole flipping torrent, swollen by torrential downpours. I was the stream that was threatening my life. There was no escape. Which, if you’ve never been there, let me assure you feels super scary.
Not waving but drowning.
My head was telling me all the things I was anxious about, the things I wished weren’t the case, the things I couldn’t do because I was such an anxious loser, the fact that I was a pathetic shit for feeling this way, and look, congratulations Lucy, you’re letting everyone down again, and you always let everyone down, no wonder everyone hates you…
And then I decided I could freak the fuck out. Which drowning people tend to do.
Or… (Getting to the place where there is an OR is a big fecking achievement.)
I could sit with myself (not a particularly welcome option, but I am SO tired of freaking out).
So I sat. And I observed the energy swirling around inside. This terrifying whirlpool.
And I observed the word stream. And instead of join in with them, I let the words rattle on, tuning them out a little as I just watched this energy in my stomach which was writhing so much I wanted to DO something to get rid of it.
But I just kept watching.
Being my own life guard.
And suddenly I realised. It is just energy. Different in textural quality and physical location to the energy that makes me feel aroused. Or loving. Or happy. But it is really just energy. The same stuff.
Continuing this reflection a stage further for those of you who dig the metaphysical/ philosophical like me. I suddenly “got” that god, the divine, the sacred is this trinity – the life force energy, the stream of narrative consciousness and this transcendent witness awareness.
So every time we unplug ourselves from the call and response of our biology and our “advanced” word oriented mind, and allow the transcendent to connect to both of them, to interconnect to them both, then we become consciously creative… rather than unconsciously creative. We experience the divine in ourselves, as ourselves. We bring the divine consciousness into the world through our physical bodies.
And this is the point… is it not?
So excuse me for being rather slow on the uptake! You know the way you have to learn things again, and again, on different levels – mental and experiential.
So you can nod your head and say Duh! Yes Lucy I know this already… but how DEEP do you know it… how much does it IN-form your existence? Or are you still drowning in the stream of your “self”.
PS – Rather fittingly, though I didn’t know till after I’d written this, this month’s supermoon (tomorrow) is in Pisces – According to Mystic Mamma –
FULL MOON ~ SUPERMOON ~ HARVEST MOON bringing the deep and feminine waters of Pisces to cleanse our emotional realms. There is potential for deep healing.
“This Full Moon is…what I am calling a waterworks Full Moon!
The Moon in any of the water signs is already very emotional, sensitive and receptive- but I would argue that Pisces is the most sensitive of all the signs…
With the Full Moon in Pisces we have a heightened sense of sensitivity– which could bring us to the point of bliss or to the point of pain and suffering.” From Divine Harmony
PPS. A word of advice, never tell an anxious/ depressed person to think positive, snap out of it, or try meditating… Do it yourself. And stand as their loving, transcendent self when they can’t. Hold space for them to allow them to feel safe. Bear deep, loving witness as they find a way to navigate the stream. You cannot, however much you want to, do it for them, or even shortcut the process.