When You’re Okay and Everyone Else is Not


woman2My healthy, athletic 60-year-old husband had a stroke four days ago. He collapsed while visiting his elderly parents in a a small town at least an eight hour drive from Vancouver–as the story goes, he stood up from the sofa to head toward the dining room for dinner and felt dizzy.

Next thing he knew he was regaining consciousness on the floor, bleeding from a head wound that would later require stitches. He soon realized he could not move his right arm and leg. Needless to say, his parents called an ambulance.

I got word of what was happening almost immediately–his mom called his son, who Facebook messaged me. (One of the blessings of FB, I suppose). A flurry of calls ensued: I spoke with his distraught mother. I called his daughter. I emailed a few of his closest friends. And I reached out to all the healers we know for long-distance healings.

During all of this I found myself in a state of calm.

I don’t mean post shock numbness. I have been in shock before–at the sudden death of my father, mother, near death of my son twice, sudden death of a dear friend. All of these events had a surreal quality — the gut wrenching adrenalin rush on receiving the news. The racing heart. The shallow breathing. The detachment that follows the first wave of angst.

No, this is and was simply a peaceful state of acceptance. That doesn’t mean I was not concerned for my husband’s well-being. But it does mean I was not suffering from emotional turmoil or mental anguish. I was just experiencing the what-is-happening without reaction but with measured and effective response–(I managed to contact all of my husbands family and close friends, including his ex wife).

Yet now, four days later, I am seeing how this state of equanimity does not fit people’s views of how a wife should be acting when her husband has been felled by what turned out to be a blueberry-sized node of brain death. (Thankfully, he has recovered 80 percent of his sensation and movement and continues to recover daily).

When it happened, it never occurred to me to reach out to my friends for “emotional support.”  When my husband posted from his hospital bed yesterday on FB that he’d had a stroke, my friends (I mean real life friends) saw this and soon a flurry of calls and emails hit me. Why hadn’t I called for support? How was I? Wasn’t I upset? What do you mean you’re ok?

It’s hard to explain to people (without sounding like a robot or alien) that there comes a time when you no longer find yourself tossed and churned in the storms of emotional distress. That there comes a time when the “peace that passeth all understanding” is a lived reality, not a transient state..

I mean, I’m okay. (Though I did manage to fold a whole lot of laundry as a Zen practice while I awaited new medical updates from afar–you should see how clean the house is too).

It’s not the first time I’ve noticed just how awakening can pull the plug on the habit of emotional reactivity. Just a day after my awakening in 2011, my husband wanted to call the relationship quits. He was upset. He wanted out. I remember I was simply at peace. If that is what he wanted, then that is what he wanted.

It’s hard to explain to people (without sounding like a robot or alien) that there comes a time when you no longer find yourself tossed and churned in the storms of emotional distress. That there comes a time when the “peace that passeth all understanding” is a lived reality, not a transient state.

And I am not talking about the “love and light” spiritual persona version of peaceful — I know that one all too well. I used to be it. It’s the mask of super-chill-all-is-well, while underneath a cauldron of upset seethes.

And this state of peace goes the other way too. The events in life that might have created a supercharged happiness, are met instead with a kind of serene contentment. It’s like when a friend of mine years ago read the Four Agreements book and understood the agreement to “take nothing personally” to mean to not get all bent out of shape by criticism…but I said to him: “It also means don’t get all euphoric over the compliment, none of it is personal.”

In this way, this deepening awakening has a quality about it of neutrality. But it’s not flat like soda without the fizz…rather it’s a different kind of fizz. It’s a fizz that’s there all the time, bubbling away no matter what the outer circumstances and events look like. You could say, it’s an effervescent well-being that just-is.

This bubbly well-being has been a key feature of post-awakening, but it has deepened and become even more present in the six months I have been in the presence of Igor Kufayev, a man who I consider a friend, but who I’ve discovered is my teacher at a level that fills me with wonderment. (For more on that, see my post : Why I Have a Spiritual Teacher Post Awakening.).

So, to all my lovely friends who worry that I must need support (or there might be something wrong with me), I say this: I do have support. It’s in the deep knowing that there is hidden perfection in the seeming chaos. It’s in the experience of expansive abiding peace that is always here when the noise of the contracted and fearful mind subsides. And that peace is available at all times for the simple reason that peace is an essential quality of who I am…and who you are.

On that note: Keep Calm, and Be the Peace that You Are.

~ Lori Ann

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Why I Have a Spiritual Teacher Post Awakening


loribeachbali

I’ve been mostly silent for much of last year when it comes to these ‘dispatches from beyond the dream” I’ve been playing hard to get, giving Vast Stillness the slip by being so damn busy I’ve looked a lot like a human doing, running on the old achievement treadmill at a breakneck pace.

For, one, I have been chopping a lot of wood, carrying a whole lot of water in my every day life as an editor at the Good Men Project,  heading up a new section I created called Good for the Soul.

And in the early half of the 2013, a whole six months were spent in a failed launch of a magazine called Rebelle Sex, devoted to “reclaiming our inherent sexual innocence.” In that whirlwind, I was swept up in the healing of an ancestral line rife with the whole range of shadow material, from rampaging frigidity on my mother’s side to cover-ups of the homosexual, pedophilic elements a few generations up the patriarchal line.  In that family system script, I’d cast myself in the antiscript role of the one championing “freedom of sexy speech” just to balance it all out.

Even though the foot goes off the gas pedal of “me” the vehicle of our limited self identity still has momentum..

Looking back, I can see how the orchestra of my ancestral “karma” kept on playing even as the Titanic of the Personal Identity had already sunk. It reminds me of Adyashanti’s comment that post awakening, even though the foot goes off the gas pedal of “me” the vehicle of our limited self identity still has momentum.

And then, just when I began to wonder if I’d veered into a swamp of re-identification, just when the way was looking foggy at best, I bumped into a guide. It’s Hero’s Journey 101, that moment when a wizard/good witch/wise old man or woman shows up to re-orient our hero who is lost in the maze.

In this case, the guide looks like a teacher named Igor Kufayev, who I dreamed of in great detail in March of 2012, the day before I “discovered” that this dream figure was a real life person being interviewed by Rick Archer on his Buddha at the Gas Pump show. (The show was posted the day after my dream).

And isn’t it suffering that animates the seeker seeing relief? To me, a spiritual guide or teacher seemed redundant.

In the wake of this discovery, I email corresponded with Igor (whose spiritual name is Vamadeva, or “preserving aspect of Shiva in his peaceful, graceful and poetic form”) for almost a year, on and off. I considered him an ally on the awakening journey, but as my writing and editing began to take off, and I followed up less and less wth our connection, he gently suggested perhaps I was not really seeking guidance or was not ready to engage with a teacher.

He was right. I was so sure I had it all figured out. Because for me, at least, the magnitude of the awakening had decimated the seeker in me, and had (even as I was so darn busy doing) pretty well also ended the suffering self. And isn’t it suffering that animates the seeker seeing relief? To me, a spiritual guide or teacher seemed redundant.

And yet, this teacher kept appearing in my dreams (over the months without real life contact) with messages and more. Finally, through a Facebook message from Igor’s wife suggesting I attend a retreat, we met in California in December where he was leading a three day immersion. My decision to attend was sudden– and everything lined up effortlessly, including my usually hard to book airmiles plan.

It’s six months and two retreats later as I write this. I’ve been hosting Igor and his family in my home for the last month, having brought Igor to Vancouver to teach. Having your enlightened teacher live with you is a whole other order of experience. It’s like an intensive immersion the field of Grace while at the same time, so utterly and beautifully ordinary.

What I am seeing for me, is this: There is a momentum toward integration that happens post realization of true nature (which is a doorway, not a destination), and this movement can be stopped, slowed or accelerated depending on the circumstances. Ideally, post awakening, there probably should be a spiritual nursery for newly hatched beings, but Western contemporary non-duality makes no provisions for this tender time. (In fact, the non-duality crowd like to pretend there is no awakening, because there is no-one to awaken, but more on that another time).

Having a teacher who has travelled that path of integration, who is spiritually literate and this case, a vessel for grace, is a blessing. It’s like winning the spiritual lottery and this is one jackpot of crazy good fortune that fills me with overflowing gratitude.

I will be writing about more in the next few weeks from this chapter of my story, where I get to play the role of student, a role filled with discovery, devotion and gratitude.

Awareness is here, with a guide by her side….

Photo: Igor, his beloved wife Emma, and me.

mistovermountains

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The Awakened Beauty


moondancerThis Space emptied
of him, her, this and that,
deleted of doing and wiped
clean of what ifs and should haves,
this place of thundering
silence is refuge.

Here I fall freely
into the mystery,
surrendered to the velocity
of Truth.

You see, the dream of me
has lost its enchantment
and sober among the drunken
dreamers, I wait.

For us to dance
to music only God’s
ears hear, to tango
to the tempo of angel’s
wings in full flight
and to twirl to the spent
ardour of Her heart.

Are you dazzled yet
by the majesty of this dance,
this chorus of love?

By this solo performance
so beautifully disguised,
a mirage of many
spinning in place, worlds
born from each turn?

It’s timeless time to
take your superstar bows.

The audience of  You
has leaped from the seat,
cheering.

—-

copyright Lori Ann Lothian
July 5, 2014
Dedicated to my superstar teacher, Igor Kufayev-Vamadeva

—-

Illustration/Moon Dancer Energy, art by Julia Watkins

 

 

 

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God 101: Don’t Forget to Start and Stop.


girlwater

When you are so quiet you feel like you are deep underwater, deeply removed from the noisy world above, it can’t stay that way. Like a swimmer, you surface.

October, 2011 an awakening to true nature smashed the walls of the self I imagined myself to be, and with tidal wave force turned my reality into a quiet landscape I barely recognized.

Reactive and angsty personality traits I called Lori Ann were smashed to bits. What remained was a serenity that was truly the calm of a post-apocaylptic storm. Nothing could upset “me” but nor could anything “excite me.”

I thought this silence would last forever.

But this silent stillness was not sustainable. As if God itself, could not forever hold its breath….sigh.

Eventually (about two months after a profound empty quiet) sounds began to emerge. They sounded to me like muses, whispering ideas and poems and songs and creations.

These notes sounded like life, singing to itself.

I am sure, God sings. That even as there is the in-breath, there is always the ahhhhh of the outbreath. I am telling you this because I had a dream.

In the dream, a guru came to me. Well, it looked like a man, but he had a halo. I recognized his “awake-ness” and asked, “How long have you been awake?”

He said, “Ten years. But I want you to know this.”

And then he proceeded to draw a picture for me. It looked like an hour-glass, but more angular. Like two upside down triangles meeting in a narrow waistband of a juncture.

He said. “This is how it works. You are vast wakefulness. Then you condense into a point of embodiement. And then you expand again…and so on.”

I woke in my bed, and knew he meant that each awakening to the vast stillness of being, would be followed by a contraction to the busy localized self…and then, woosh, back out again. And I suppose, in again. The breath of life, in and out. Infinite and finite. Vast and condensed.

Life.

So…I am in the midst of vasting out again after condensing in. I feel it daily, in the awe and stillness, the absolute delight in simply being. It took going through a cataclysmic phase of re-identification, to come back home to the still point. But I know this:

God is moving. Still point is simply home base in the game of life. God loves to start as much as She loves to stop.

Let me know. Have you found the joys of both the stop and the start. The empty and the full? The End and the Beginning?

Awareness is here, Learning as She Goes.

Lori Ann

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My Sex Obsession & My Lust for God


vintage

When self-proclaimed teachers and students of enlightenment say to me,  “Why are you so obsessed with sexuality, you can’t be awake if that is the case,” I think: Really?

I think first off, why is a curious, playful, engaged stance toward sexuality an obsession? And why is it not inclusive of God and the light that we are?

nunsIt’s old school beyond old school (I am thinking Jesuits or radical Islam and female-body obscuring burkahs) to imagine that our intimate humanness,  our lovely genitalia and how they connect in love and lust, is somehow excluded from our Divinity. It’s all included.

Otherwise, separation is here. What we deem as not allowed, that which we judge as wrong, is a symptom of the mind. The truth of our nature, has no such discrimination. Our true nature allows. Our mind disallows.

Sometimes, I wish I had the pithy answer to those righteous and fearful ‘awake ones’ (or teachers of awakening) who want to know why sex is here for me, the Awakened Dreamer. And trust me: No one would bother to question why I do yoga (I do); why I work at a bank (which I don’t) or why I bother to volunteer as my daughter’s soccer team manager (which I do). Money, sports, health would be somehow exempt from scrutiny. Sex. Well. Watch out.

To those who say my professional interest in sexuality is somehow at odds with my lack of suffering (which I called awakening) I want to reply without quoting sexy Osho or some wise juicy sage of sexually liberated self realization.

I know that married and likely sexually active Ganga-gi, my teacher (pre-this-apparent-awakening) had no issues talking about sex and the truth of what we are. I know that many sages and poets through the ages have used sexual imagery to invoke the truth of our union with the beloved now.

bookYet still, I get emails and public Facebook messages that condemn or snidely (yes snide in the realms of enlightened folk commentary) remark that I should not be so into the sex theme, and even one public comment of late: “Observation over many months, you seem to be totally obsessed with sex and your own sexuality as an aging woman… get over yourself.”

But what if I am over myself?

What if in being over myself, I am now blessedly into whatever arises?

(Tip: when you are surrendered, you are co-opted to serve and you don’t always if ever get to choose how and where.)

It’s hard to explain to people that the very thing that is here, is here.

That sexuality is coming to me to write about, and create a magazine about, even as I am not in real life, really all that sexual. Just ask my husband. I am damn well menopausal…and nowhere is the thought that my sex will save me, awaken me, fulfill me or even ruin me. I am just playing in this realm of sexuality, like a curiosity driven alien who wants to know: WTF is with the sex thing?

Let’s investigate it with a smile of unknowing. And above all have fun. This is after all Lila. If you are serious, you just might have missed the Laughing Buddha part of waking up.

Thank you Sheryl for this post. Your comments have been a lovely catalyst.

Lori Ann

(Sort of sexy, kinda old, still here in awareness. Please check out my FB page Rebelle Sex and look for the launch of the magazine this June! )

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New Year’s Truth: Feeling What Is, Not Feeling Better


peace

Okay. I am not feeling better. I am just feeling.

A year and two months post an awakening shift of consciousness (in which suffering more or less collapsed into non-existence) I am reporting from the front lines less and less frequently.

Part of my sporadic reportage is there is nothing new to report. I can itemize my life as it unfolds in domestic, professional and creative areas—oh yeah, Huffington Post just added me as a regular blogger columnist, woo hoo or not.

But that is not the same as reporting this experience of abiding equanimity. That gets pretty boring….unless of course, the peace is somehow disturbed and thought-driven turbulence enters stage left.

Lately, the turbulence looks like logistics. Will I be able to pay the for a condo property I bought in pre-development two years ago, due to complete this June. Or will I (with my right now job-seeking husband) be able to secure a mortgage. Or will I be forfeiting my down payment, begging family members for a bridge loan, or just saying, WTF, I think I’ll live in India for awhile. (Okay, yeah, because the sub continent feels like a spiritually romantic way to embrace being poor.)

The thing is, I have been truly surprised to find myself waking up in the middle of the night lately (now and then) with this future concern rampaging through my mind. I watch it, like a rhino in a heated charge, and think: Wow, some part of me is not experiencing equanimity. Then I laugh. The part of me watching the part of me not being at peace, even, is not my real identity.

In the deliver me from the unreal to the real, I realize any concerns about how my mind is fretting or not, is a layer of the unreal. I remember coaching a woman a year ago through a mental angst period in her year-long abiding blissful awaking, reminding her that “Hey, the you that judges the suffering you, is not you.”

As Adyashanti has said, “In order to awaken, we must break out of the paradigm of always seeking to feel better.”

I’d add to that. In order to abide in our awakening, we might remember we are not any of the layers of mind, especially the layer that judges what is. As Krishnamurti is acclaimed to have confessed in his secret to inner peace: “I don’t mind what happens.” (Of course that begs the incessant non-duality question, who is the I that does not mind. Joel Birocco, this one is for you.)

It reminds me of the Russian dolls, nested in each other. Into infinite smallness, we can search for a real me. And finally realize we were far too large to fit in that doll all along because our infinity is spaciously so.

Paradox: It’s cramped in here. It’s vast.

Or something like that.

How are all my readers (whoever you are) doing on/in the Mayan New Year.

Yours, In Awareness

Lori Ann

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Politically Incorrect Enlightenment: Being a Human Being


Ever since this awakening point of view shift, and attendant blogging about it, I’ve been under the microscope and on the pedestal of other people’s lives. Not a lot, mind you. It’s not like I’m Madonna of the Non-Duality enlightenment crowd.

Yet, in the last while, I’ve gotten interesting comments and emails from readers of my Awakened Dreamer blog, all in a dither about my writings elsewhere on sexuality. For instance, Me Jane, You Tarzan: The Politics of Sexual Polarity now buzzing up the popular charts at Good Men Project online magazine, has prompted chastisements.

One commentator from the enlightenment crowd felt the need to post on my FB page, that I’d “travelled a long way from enlightenment” and that “You could lead people in that general direction. You could stay on the same continent. You could rise above reality T.V. “

Really? Why rise above anything? And since when is sexuality, separate from enlightenment?

I keep marvelling that in the awakening crowd, there is any distinction between what is and is not okay. As if real life and all its nuances, from birth, to death to sex to money to power, are not all a part of the One Big Jigsaw Puzzle of the explicate order, emerging from the implicate. In otherwords, we are both here and not here—we are eternal unborn unchanging, (yadda yadda) and we are mortal, human and full of lovely ordinary life.

So, to those of you out there who imagine enlightenment or states of awakening (abiding or not) mean you are suddenly removed from it all and pointing the way to sainthood, picture this:  Jesus in a police outfit, directing traffic to enlightenment central.

Wake up.

Smell the roses. They are here for a reason. You have a nose.

Lori Ann (here, and there, and aware).

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