Experiential Existence

This section is about more of my personal experiences and what I've learned through them. Some of this dates back a few years, but I think it's good to see the growth. Everything I wrote was true for me at the time I wrote it. As I continue on my journey, my ideas and beliefs shift. This first writing sums my journey up, since I was a small girl. I've kept it at the top because it feels like my personal Lighthouse. If you care to read more please click on the Archives button.

August 2016

I understand now I have never been lost or on a search. I have always known where home is yet feel as if I was dropped on the other side of the world and have been finding my way back. Many practices & traditions have a familiar feel - like the old neighborhood - but it is onlynow that I see the light of my home. I am not there yet. But I see it from here. I will be home soon. 

MIND...to have or not...november 2019

Lately I've been keenly aware of the different "layers" of my mind/ego. Sometimes it feels to me like there are a couple of different people living inside of me. It makes me think of the old American tv show called Herman's Head. Ha haI think that show was ahead of its time! At any rate, thankfully the various voices in my head usually aren't in conflict. Mostly there is experiencing and observing going on. I've never been a big proponent of the teachings that say "Kill the ego, the ego is the enemy, etc." I've always known that this ego/mind is what gives us our experience here as humans, through the senses. For a while I thought about whether we could extract the "practical" mind from the part that creates all the stories and attachments that then creates suffering. And to a certain point it is helpful to look at it in this way so we understand that we aren't throwing the whole thing out and becoming non-functional beings. But as I go deeper and deeper into it, I realize that I can't really separate it at all.

I see now that my desire to separate it comes down to continued resistance of completely being with what is on all levels of being. This, too, is deeper than it may sound. I've gotten to be pretty stable with accepting exterior situations as they are and understanding that in the moment I may have a reaction, but I can let that pass through relatively quickly now. What I have recently been made aware of is that I still have resistance to more subtle interior happenings...thoughts & emotions that happen throughout the day beyond in-the-moment experiences. And if I “try” to rid myself of these then I potentially risk losing the experience of the moment…of life.

Being as energetically sensitive as I am, I often "pick up" on collective or individual energy that is in the field. Some of my resistance probably comes from this as it was too stimulating as a child and young person. So I learned to ignore or numb out from it. Most of the time I can now recognize when there is a disruption in my field and can let it pass through, but sometimes I question it and wonder if there is some latent energy of my own that has come up. Sometimes the thoughts and emotions last for minutes or hours and then I feel "fine" again. (Given my age, 50, there are also hormonal waves to add to the mix so that adds to the fun as well🤪) My initial reaction is to stabilize it in whatever way necessary: divert my attention, be aware of my breath, sleep (or in my 20s & 30s have a glass of wine or 3). But now on top of the emotional layer there is this observer layer of sort, and this is what has garnered my attention.

I spoke with my teacher about this...about my concern around these thoughts and emotions that I know aren’t necessary and I don’t feel attached to them, yet they still persist. I questioned whether I could get rid of these. His advice: Be It. Be it 100% at all times. 

What? I am already present. I don’t fight what “is” in the moment. How do I “be it” more than I already am?

And this is when it hit me...being present at the level he is suggesting is beyond what I for so long have been working towards. It’s so much more of an inside job than I’ve been able to let myself experience. Can I experience every moment with every change and still have an underlying current of stability intact? I realized awhile back that emotions need not have outward expression although they must be allowed to flow through me. I’ve mostly experienced this in situations in which there’s been a “trigger” of some sort. Now, I see that it has begun to happen at many other times…a constant state of observation while there are simultaneous other thoughts and emotions.

I can use the common image of the sun to help clarify. The sun is always there, shining brightly regardless of the clouds, the planes, the birds that fly through. It doesn’t stop shining even when a planet moves in front of it, it continues to shine at full force. There is no denying that these birds or planes are in the path of the sun’s rays, but it doesn’t divert, it just allows them to pass through. It may affect what we see from this level (rain, clouds, eclipse) but it has no effect on the sun itself. This analogy is often used in meditation…and when it is lived then we begin to understand that meditation is a natural state, not a technique.

I’ve also learned on this path that the question of “how do I do that?” is somewhat irrelevant. There are some things we can use techniques for, and these will help you to progress through physical ways (see my many writings around pranayama & the nervous system, etc.) but when it comes to the mind, the sure path for me is to just wait for it to happen, to shift on its own. And, in my experience, it does…quite probably not on my preferred timeline, but it will. And now that my awareness is there I can skillfully use my mind to keep it focused…not rigid focus but undistracted.

I realize that my lifestyle is more conducive to this kind of internal work than most. It’s a deliberate choice on my part. I have things I need to do every day, and when I have visitors here I need to stay attentive to them, but in general I have no excuse to not be constantly aware of my internal world. This is why I’m here, the reason for this chapter in my life. So here I go, a larger awareness of the ego and its many aspects, held steady in compassion and love.

HOME...sept 2019

“Welcome home,” I heard from the waters at my favorite purification temple during my last visit to Bali. As an adult I’ve never felt at “home” in any particular location, no matter how long I live there. When I’m with certain people I’ve experienced a feeling of “home.” And when I experience certain states of awareness I have a strong sense of “home.” I’ve come to the understanding that for me home is a state of consciousness, and some physical locations are more conducive for me to stay in that state. I used to say I am homesick for a place I don’t know. Bali felt closest to “home” more than any other place for a couple of years. The physical land of India feels this way for me now. It’s a strange thing, this sense of home.

I moved around the US quite a bit in my 20s and I never really got attached to any one location. I was always up for a move. I usually kept at least one friendship from each location going as I continued on but often that too would fade as well. I’ve never once thought about moving back to a place I’ve already lived. Even my home town in which I grew up in for 18 years and continue to visit doesn’t feel like home to me. I still like to drive through when I’m in the area but it is only the sentimentality remains.

While living in NYC my circle of girlfriends became the most stable part of my life. A few of them had family around but the others didn’t, so we all became family and were invited into the families that were there. But family doesn’t necessarily mean home to me either. Home is where I feel content. Settled, not restless. Comfortable. Quiet. At peace. I’ve learned to create a home-like environment wherever I am by allowing myself some minor luxuries no matter how low on cash I may be…plants, soft pillow, nice kitchenware…things that add to my comfort. But the inside feeling of home comes from nothing I can buy.

For a minute, in my last relationship in NYC, I told myself that I needed to just give up my idea that “home” was going to feel anything different than I was feeling. At that point, I was living with the man I loved and we had moved in together so this was home now. I tried to trick my mind into believing it. But in the corners of my heart I still didn’t believe it, no matter how much I tried or wanted to.

In August, 2016, during my first visit with my teacher in India, I wrote this in my journal:

I understand now I have never been lost or on a search. I have always known where home is yet I feel as if I was dropped on the other side of the world and have been finding my way back. Many practices & traditions have a familiar feel - like the old neighborhood - but it is only now that I see the light of my home. I am not there yet. But I see it from here. I will be home soon.

And since then I haven’t thought much about calling any location home anymore. I know where my home is and I can go there at any moment through my breath and focus. I still crave the stability of a bed and kitchen sometimes when I travel, but I no longer yearn for something I know can never be satisfied externally for me.

SUPERSTITION and old tapes ...SEPT 2019

I was recently told by my neighbor that "it doesn't matter to us, but just so you know, the big plant you are growing behind your house is considered to be bad luck." I had been told before that this particular plant was used by people in Kerala, the neighboring state from which many people now live here in Tamil Nadu, but that Tamils don’t really like it. It's a huge plant that grows quickly. It's taller than me and has thick stalks with these amazing architectural flowers lined in purple. They are used for puja by both states, but for some reason the Tamils in general don't grow it. They buy it when needed for special pujas, whereas I think Keralites let it grow and use it regularly. I like the plant and the local woman who helps me at my house is from Kerala so she likes it too. I’ve decided to keep it...perhaps just a bit more under control.

I didn’t grow up with that superstition so it doesn’t bother me. I find that most superstitions originated in some truth but through the generations and changing times, there isn't much truth left to most of them. Yet people still react to them, many without even knowing why...it’s just always been that way.

Our ego is a little bit the same with the old tapes that run through our minds. At one point in our life they were probably true to some extent. But now, years later, they are just old tapes running over and over just because that's what's always played. Abraham, through Esther Hicks, often says "Beliefs are just thoughts you think over and over again."When we are able to catch these tapes and asks ourselves "is this really true?" we often find, if we can step away from the habitual emotional reaction, that often no, it's not true any longer. 

So many people are doing the work to heal themselves and often they find that same old patterns are still showing up. My advice would be to look at whether this "problem" is still the actual problem, or if there is something else going on that is jumping onto the bandwagon of this old tape because the path is so well worn.  For instance, let's say you've always struggled with emotional eating. You've done a ton of research and you know what is good and not good for your body, so the nutritional knowledge is there. You are also aware in the moment when you are emotionally eating. Yet it seems to continue even after all these years...it’s “just what I do.” But is this your only choice now at this point in life? My suggestion is to take the focus off the reaction/eating (which is just a well-worn way of reacting to almost anything) and look at it from a different perspective. What are you trying to fulfill in that moment...is it boredom, sadness, anxiety, are you trying to push down your own voice? What just happened that triggers this reaction in you? Is that where the actual issue is?

You can begin to approach it in a couple of different ways. If eating is inevitable then you clear out your house/bag of junk food and stock it with nutritious food/snacks. So when you grab something out of desperation it is not harming you as much. This will start to change the pattern slightly due to the taste being different. Maybe keep things that aren’t as sweet or tasty...like carrots or unsweetened banana chips. You’ll be less likely to overindulge but your mouth will have something to chew. What is it that you are chewing on internally? Secondly, you stop and figure out what else you can do to fulfill that space. If it's boredom perhaps you can take a walk, clean your closet, color...find a different pathway to fulfill that need. If you realize that what you're really doing is stuffing down your own voice then it's time to look at that issue more closely.

If this pattern started as a child you probably didn’t have other resources to fulfill the need. But now as an adult you do. How would you curb your own child’s desire for sweets as emotional support? You would probably offer something else or try to distract them or ask them questions about their emotions...for their own good. You would look at the innocence of their reaction and not judge it but give them other ways to respond. Can you do this for your own inner child?  Yes, it's hard. It takes awareness and self-determination. But at this point you have all the tools  and resources to stop yourself from eating unnecessarily...it's just an old tape running habitually now. When you think of it in this way sometimes it is easier to take control.

Don’t let old tapes continue to run your life. Find the innocence in the original nature of the behavior and know now that you've matured beyond that. Step up and into your power of choice and create some new tapes.      

IT'S TIME...IT'S TIME...July 2019

I do not claim to know how anyone else should be living their life. I do not claim to be some significant being that was sent here to save humanity. I do not claim to be a spiritual teacher, as I do not believe spirituality can be taught. This mostly leaves me with a lack of words to use to describe myself…particularly when I need to do some sort of marketing for my livelihood.

Don’t mistake this for saying that I don’t think much of myself. I do.  I think I am an amazing Being who has had incredible life experiences; a risk-taker; somewhat fearless; a determined seeker of the Truth of my own being; a reluctant mirror to many; a strong independent thinker; a fully sensual woman who does not fear this aspect of herself. I like to share what I’ve learned along my journey. I like to witness the transformations of people I have guided. I like to live comfortably. I have no shame in asking for remuneration for my services, knowing my history of time, effort, blood, sweat and tears that I’ve put into my journey…and due to all of this, knowing the pureness of my heart in offering. I do things differently than most. I’m not the most intelligent, beautiful or disciplined person that I know…I do not aim to be. My only aim is to be that which I already am.

This which I am has been whispering to me for years, and now has catapulted to the forefront of my mind, screaming in my ears, choking me in my throat…”It’s time. It’s time.” I’ve struggled with how to let it out…I’ve been encouraged by so many and yet I don’t feel I have a hold on “my voice”. My voice seems to change often…I think one way, then I learn more and I think a different way. How to present My Voice if there is no guarantee that it will stand the test of time.

Stay still. Unmoving. Stagnant. None of these describe me so why would I continue to wait for this supposed stability of Voice? I cannot wait anymore. I will move through the fear of being questioned about my changing beliefs. What I write is True in the moment I write it. I take responsibility for that. It may change in a week, a month, a year, a decade…and I will take responsibility then as well

DEATH...NOTES FROM INDIA...July 2018

The call to visit Varanasi has been strong for months. There are a lot of stories around why people venture to Varanasi but the two themes that seem to keep coming up for this visit are honoring my ancestors in a way that then allows me to move beyond any energetic holdings that are ingrained in my DNA, and secondly, the idea of death.

Maybe it's my age, but death seems to be more and more a part of my life. It's no longer grandparents and distant cousins who pass, but more so parents, aunts and uncles, and now even siblings, children and peers...my own generation and those closest to them.

Dealing with death came early in life. My father passed when I was 12. He had been sick for about 3 years and in the innocence of a 12 year old mind I remember thinking, "well, he's 44, he's had a long life." At 35 my 65 year old mother passed, and the only thought was that she was much too young to be gone. At 43, my "second mother" passed away at 68, leaving a family that was still recovering from the loss of her 36 year old son 7 years prior. My brother-in-law passed just last February, at 58, only 10 years my elder. Observing my sister and her two adult children, thoughts about how much life is yet to come for them, and how much he was expected to be a part of all of it ran for days. Last week Facebook announced the sudden death of a high school friend's 19 year old son: one of life's worst nightmares for a parent. Watching loved ones currently battle disease make it impossible to not think about death and what it will be like to not have them on this physical plane of life.

Although it has been painful each time death has presented itself, there is a general sense of calm around it all, knowing there is so much more than the physical body. This comes from my feet being firmly on my path and from touching emptiness, thus knowing where my Truth lies.

The "death" that draws me to Varanasi has nothing to do with anyone's physical body. The death of my own seemingly important identity has looked me in the mirror a few times in my life, and it's doubtfully finished. Sometimes it feels like a craving - to just wipe the entire slate clean and begin again, in a different job, a new city, a new country. There's not much attachment to places, things or even people. This doesn't mean there isn't care about anything or anyone, it just means I have been blessed, in my opinion, with an understanding that nothing lasts. NOTHING. NO THING. It hasn't been that way all my life, but definitely for the past 10 years or so.

Each time the slate is cleared more of my True Nature emerges. Because the illusion about how life is "supposed" to be and the delusions about who I am "supposed" to be have diminished, it gets easier each time to let go and move on. There aren't big expectations of anything in particular happening in Varanasi, I just know I've been "dying" at top speed this past year and it almost feels like visiting the place where people go to die will be a welcoming home.

There must be death and destruction in order for there to be (re)birth and (re)creation. Each existence is part of this continuous cycle, intricately personal and vastly impersonal. It is awe-inspiring, breathtaking, heartbreaking, and deeply beautiful at a level not even consciously understood sometimes.

Friendships/relationships/community/family

I've questioned myself along the way if I am "missing out" on something by not fostering friendships or romantic relationships for the past few years. But when I really sit and be still and check in with what I feel like on the inside I always realize that I really am okay being alone. My community will grow around me in the necessary way as long as I stay present and flowing. Getting out and sharing with people and groups is good for me for integration and stabilization. It is an ego boost but more in a way of confirmation and less in the way of pride or arrogance. I understand too, that this may change, as life often does, and I may find myself nurturing relationships once again.

I don't really have any desire for a romantic relationship anymore. I also no longer have feelings of unworthiness or not being lovable. I believe the those two statements are related in some way.

Divine feminine...December 2017

It is often said Jesus had 12 disciples...this is common knowledge in Christianity. In some of my research it is stated that each male disciple was married (which seems obvious as what man in that day and time wouldn't be married?) and the wife was considered a disciple of the same caliber (which also seems obvious, yet...)...and that there were many others considered disciples including Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany and Mariam of Mount Carmel. All women were held in equal esteem and reverence and it was mutually understood the sacred roles of men and women They also understood that living life was a matter of understanding energy - feminine and masculine became labels of this energy - and that these energies were just housed in female and male bodies but that the gender of the bodies didn't really matter (other than for procreation), it was more about the different energies harmonizing and merging into divine union with Oneness, regardless of this being between man and woman, man and man or woman and woman.

I do not know if this is true or not. I wasn't there...neither was anyone reading this post. But it seems quite possibly true...if this part of the Bible story were kept and taught, this one piece, what effect would that have had on every upbringing in a Christian household? community? country? In the world as a whole? What if it was understood that both men AND women are and always have been equally necessary, respected and revered as a matter of Life and Humanity on this Earth. My how life would be different for each of us humans!

We can't go backwards in this realm...but trust youme...we are moving forward...put your seatbelts on folks, the ride has just begun...'tis the Season to celebrate the life of Jesus (as we all know he was born more around the time of April but it was easier to convert the Pagans to Christianity having a holiday closer to their solstice celebration in December) and all those involved in his life

In Hinduism there is Devi, the book about her is Devi Bhagavatam. Devi is the ultimate Creatrix. She is the ocean that Vishnu lies upon. She is there before all. In Egypt there is Sekhmet, a fierce warrior goddess. This is the one I know the least about. I am sure in most religions, somewhere back in history, there is the revered Divine Feminine. It's all coming to the surface now. Ancient texts are being discovered...and perhaps even more so, we as humans are re-membering. 2016 Bali

 

© Jnana Janani