So much can happen in a split second inside the imagination.
I’m in a long-hours retreat weekend for three full days, 10 am until 11 pm-ish every day. It’s got the schedule of a hard-core zen retreat. We stand up and stretch for one minute intervals, there are two thirty minute breaks and one 90 minute meal break.
The second evening….or I should call it NIGHT since it was 11:45 pm, I decide to call my husband, hours away, on his own separate personal growth type retreat with a small group and a familiar beloved teacher for him.
As I walk to my car, my workshop day over, glancing at my text messages, emails and incoming calls missed all day, before I dial, I consider the hour.
It’s a bit late.
He might already be sleeping. He might be sleeping with a roommate or others in ear shot of the phone. He might be out of cell range. I have no idea of his environment.
Just about midnight.
I fire up the car, get the ice scraper out, clear the windshield. I begin my own drive home (for my retreat, I’m sleeping at home every night). I decide to go ahead and dial, thinking if he’s not available I’ll leave a newsy message, the kind I love to get, and wait to connect with him when we see each other again in person in a few days.
Ring Ring Ring.
I hear fumbling, a small thumping sound. Silence.
I say “hello?” Then I hear nothing. I check the phone screen. Yes, I am connected. Someone has answered his phone.
I say again “hello?”
I wait. It seems like I hear some foot steps. I imagine him quickly trying to hold the phone in a muffled position, exiting a dark room full of sleeping people, or a late-night retreat session, or a deep after-retreat-hours conversation about what’s being learned or discussed.
I better not talk, in case there’s total silence wherever he is and my voice would penetrate the room, coming out of the phone!
I wait. But then I say again….”Hello?” kind of anxious.
The phone screen shows seconds ticking by.
Then I hang up, feeling a little embarrassed.
Not that he would ever get upset about being called in the middle of something important, he’s not the sort to blame that on me, or anyone else. He’d be quite exceptional that way, actually, trusting that whatever incoming noises, rings and beeps occurred were for some good reason. He’d probably be amused about whatever went on. One of the most accepting and easy-going people I know.
And yet still. I should have known it was too late.
I should have asked him if I could call. I shouldn’t have rung his phone.
I turn on the CD and listen to a great lecture where I left off last time I was in the car, and listen to it all the way home.
In the morning, I notice….oh. There’s a voicemail.
From my husband. One minute after I phoned him last night.
He’s cheerily saying “what’s up? I saw you called but couldn’t hear anything! Call me back if you want.”
My imagination had gone through visions in tiny sparky flashes of my call causing a ring causing a disturbance causing irritation. My mind’s idea of the scene even pictured a frantic run out of a dark room, throwing a loud ringing phone out a window (what were those bump noises anyway).
My mind had even flashed on someone ELSE picking up the phone and answering it, someone who happened to be near my husband’s phone.
All that….and fortunately no intensity going anywhere. I slept well. No biggie.
But the scenes were there, the thinking had been immediately busy.
In those kinds of moments when worry starts to tweak you with pictures or creative ideas about what’s happening…
…remember to ask if it’s true.
Because, in that moment, that question was alive and well. I knew I had no idea what was happening. The movie playing was even rather entertaining.
But this is not always the case.
If you believe your worries, they turn into anxieties, then fear, then terror, then you’re flooded and overwhelmed with terrified feelings, darkness and hell.
All from not remembering to wonder “is this vision true?”
Look around. Nothing is happening.
I dialed a number. The phone on the other end was answered, apparently. There was a little sound, then silence.
That’s what actually happened.
One of my favorite things to do after learning of my mind’s capacity for fear-compulsion-addiction is to check out if things are true that I imagined, that I “guessed” were true.
When I called him back, I shared with him what I was seeing in my mind during those 46 seconds.
He chuckled and said “not even close.”
“It is this very personal relationship with thought that is the cause of all the fear, ignorance, and suffering which characterizes the human condition, and which destroys the manifestation of true Love in this life. As long as your experience of self and life is defined by the mechanical, conditioned, and compulsive movement of thought, you are bound to a very, very limited perception of what is real…..
…..Experience your eternalness, your holiness, your awakeness until you are convinced that you are never subject to the movement of thought, of fear, or of time. To be free of fear is to be full of Love.” ~ Adyashanti
Anyone can do this. You do not need to be special.
To be full of love, you need only to stop and see if what you are imagining is actually true.
See if there is something present besides thinking.
See if you are safe.
I don’t really know why and how my visions are created, and why so much believing, repeating thoughts, fixating on images and concepts has occurred in the past without questioning any of it.
One day, I found out about questioning what was real.
So now that I know about inquiry, now that I know to ask what is true….ahhhhhhh.
Drama, entertainment, and laughter for us all.
And lots of love.
You’re full of love, too. You might not see it if you’ve been scared, but I know it’s there.
Much love, Grace
P.S. There’s an opening in Year of Inquiry for our wonderful phone sessions. Gather with others and inquire every week via teleconference on a specific painful belief. Inquiry circle from anywhere in the world! Monthly fee, send an email to email@example.com for more information.