Lately, I’ve been doing The Work with many people on this body.
It seems like it’s our personal vehicle, it takes us everywhere, it is a living contained organism that’s only ours, no one else’s, this body.
We’ll move out of it one day, appearing to leave the world (who knows for sure), perhaps having the chance to say goodbye (maybe or maybe not).
And yet, even with all this individuality and independence and solo journeying through life (and some of us enjoy it that way)….
….there’s nothing like gathering with others and sharing the process, the mystery, the stories, the tick-tock of time passing.
Something so very precious about noticing how very Not Alone we are.
There’s a chair, a wall, a rug on the floor. There’s a tiny spider lowering itself from the ceiling.
In my particular environment at the moment of writing these words, there are two other human beings sleeping behind closed doors in bedrooms, on this early morning.
Last night I gathered with eleven other people for a Full Moon circle. A medicine circle.
An important component or structure of this particular circle (as for many circles), every single time, is each person speaking with a talking stick. There may or may not be a topic. You can speak, or not speak. The one holding the stick has the floor, with no interruptions.
Just like on retreats in gatherings to inquire into our thoughts with others, sharing happens out loud. We come together and listen.
What struck me last night, as it has before, is how we don’t know what others will say…and we don’t even know what WE will say.
There can be planning, organizing thoughts, changing our minds, “deciding” on a topic, or no planning at all.
I believe I am the one sharing. This person I am, this voice, this mouth, this “me” with this body.
But I get surprised every time.
During this time of year, we’re moving into winter where I live. The season is growing dark and colder, all the leaves falling from the trees, the heater in the house whirring, a sweater coming on over the head upon rising out of bed.
At this time, I feel the deep contentment of sharing with others in these inquiry circles that appear to have come together with Year of Inquiry and Eating Peace Process, where we are simply, deeply, regularly moving into exploring What Is over and over again with the four questions.
We’re watching this magnificent mind (or, OK, this torturous mind), and sharing it in writing or out loud. We’re listening.
I notice the mind LOVES asking and answering questions. It likes searching for answers, it likes investigating and learning so much, and making natural shifts or adjustments out of asking whether or not something is really true.
I also notice the mind loves doing this with other people. Otherwise, it can go down worm holes and wild goose chases and side bars and mazes and perhaps get lost there for weeks (years) without a flashlight.
So back to the body inquiries I’ve been privileged to be a part of lately.
We all see how we’re assigned to this particular body, and then at least if you’re like me, I wind up believing “it’s mine” and then….I’m all alone, really.
It can sometimes be quite stressful.
How do I react when I believe I’m all on my own? Self-contained? Unique? Independent? By Myself? Special? The One with This Problem (physically, emotionally, relationally)?
I see myself as vulnerable and isolated. I feel nervous that “my” body is a unique organism or vehicle, especially if it has illness, or pain or something damaged, or by comparison it’s not as good as it once was in history, or not as good as other bodies I see.
I FEEL alone when I believe the thought I’m on my own.
So who would I be without this thought that I’m all on my own, self-contained, unique, independent, by myself, special, the One with this problem?
Relieved. Sharing. Connected to other humans. Putting myself in the company of others on purpose for sharing circles (even if my mind criticizes other people or things that happen there sometimes).
Without this story, I notice the cushions in the rooms so soft and available for support, and the four walls of the room standing strong for apparently many years, long before the body I seem to live in even existed.
Without this story I notice how this mind can open up to so much more than this body–it sees other visions, places, items in the environment. It gives attention to other people. It joins with things.
Turning the thought around: I am NOT all alone. I am surrounded, merged, connected. I get in a vehicle (which puts me in the company of a machine called a car) and drive to a gathering of people with a bright moon overhead in the night sky.
I am not all alone.
On telecalls almost every day, doing The Work, I share with people wondering about their behavior with food and eating, or with their thoughts, or with the people in their lives.
I read peoples’ words as they consider their minds, from their writing online, our questions, our puzzlement. I read their answers to the four questions….so dear. I hear the voices of a whole group on the phone gathered to study this human experience, together. I read other peoples’ comments in the Eating Peace group or the Year of Inquiry group and we’re together.
Turning around the thought again: My thinking is all alone.
Sure. The mind is running, just like my heart is beating. It’s doing its thing.
And the minute I connect with other beings to ponder an idea or a concept, this isn’t even true anymore.
What I notice is how often I have had the thought I’m all alone when the world seems threatening and I’m scared.
I never have been. Only the mind says so.
Otherwise, there’s stuff, mugs, tea, furniture, grass, trees, sky, activity, animals, sounds, humans, leg, arm, computer.
I notice the surprise of what comes out of the mouth when I’m in a sharing circle. So, even the words or this writing is not “mine”!
I have this body, it is “mine”—is it true?
Can I hold this contemplation with the deepest joy of mystery?
What if it’s a good thing that nothing belongs to me….not even this body, not even this mind?
I notice, there’s something very exciting about not being able to identify For Sure that this body, this thought, these words are “mine”….and yet still be here, noticing.
What a thrilling mystery.
“A man who knows that he is neither body
nor mind cannot be selfish, for he has nothing to be selfish for. Or, you may say, he is equally ‘selfish’ on behalf of everybody he meets; everybody’s welfare is his own. The feeling ‘I am the world, the world is myself’ becomes quite natural….
“Wisdom is knowing I am nothing, Love is knowing I am everything, and between the two my life moves.” ~ Nisargadatta in I Am That
Today, I thank you for being here and reading these words.
I love you, being here in whatever way you are.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your presence matters. How do I know? Because you’re here.
P.S. In two weeks I’ll be at Breitenbush and my husband Jon will be in the retreat group with us all (he loves The Work). The forecast calls for very cold rain. Dark, cold, fresh, exquisite woods with cozy warm cabins, and optional hot springs soaking if you like, and a circle of wonderful investigating human beings all interested in looking at their stressful thinking. Dec. 6-9 (Thurs evening through Sunday lunch). Call to make your reservations 503-854-3320. Only a few spots left.
P.P.S. If you deeply desire to join one of the groups underway, there’s always room for those who want to share with others in inquiry. You could jump on the inquiry train. We’ll welcome you with open arms (in either eating peace or year of inquiry, if you have some experience in The Work). Hit reply to ask.