Crazy day with a hawk and a snake

Ate lunch at El Monumento with Deborah, which is an amazing mexican restaurant in Georgetown. Had the tacos and a salad and both were delicious.

el monumento

Right outside the restaurant is a nice river that winds back to Blue Hole Park.

water

There is a really cool trail that winds up above the river, and as we were walking up there this dude kind of startled us because he came out of nowhere walking in the opposite direction. He told us he had found a hawk on the ground, and it looked like it was hurt, but still alive.

So we cautiously walked over and found the hawk lying right off the path. It wasn’t moving at all, but was still blinking its eyes so we really weren’t sure what was going on. We spent a few minutes calling around trying to find who could come help, when Deborah walked around to the front of the Hawk and noticed something odd around its neck. At first she thought it was a tag, but when she got a little closer she could tell it was really a snake!

The guy had said he saw the hawk fall out of a tree, so it sounds like it thought it had dinner, but obviously didn’t have a firm enough grip and the snake had wrapped itself around its neck and was choking it out.

CRAZY!!!!

Deborah wasted no time though, and without a second thought picked up a limb lying nearby and started trying to pry the snake off. I hunted down a couple other limbs so the guy ( I think his name is Lance?) and I could also help out. With Deborah coordinating our approach, we tried our best to pry the snake off but it wasn’t moving.

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Deborah was eventually able to find the head, and thought if we could bother him enough he might let go, but he still wasn’t budging. It became apparent that the only way to get that snaked off would be to pull it off by hand, and that wasn’t gonna to happen… so reluctantly, Deb held the hawk and I smashed the snakes head with another of the branches and it eventually died and let go.

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We were afraid the hawk was going to instantly pop up and start clawing us to death, but it just laid there for a while. Lance started moving it a little bit with a branch, and it eventually hopped right up and flew away! What a relief! (for the hawk at least…)

Phew……………………..

It took us a minute to catch our breaths, and we eventually wound our way back down the trail to the historic cemetery. Deborah took a power nap to recuperate 🙂

aftermath

 

What a day!

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I don’t care what your thoughts are, what do they look like?

I think we spend an over abundance of time concerning ourselves with our thoughts. We’re told how powerful they are, and how they manifest what we see, so we better control them, right? We don’t want any negative thoughts coming in. Only positive stuff!!!

But it seems like the only thing controlling your thoughts does is drive you a little crazy. And actually, I think it can be much more serious than that. We’ve all seen people that are imprisoned by their thoughts. How compulsive and ridgid they are. I think this can lead to serious autoimmune diseases. And also to things like hoarding and OCD.

I was watching pawn stars the other day and saw someone trying to sell them an iron lung. I knew of iron lungs, but had never seen one. It made me think about how awful an existence that must have been. I spent like an hour planning out how I would have killed myself if I was trapped in one. It’s hard to imagine a more horrendous experience.

iron lung

But it occurred to me that this is exactly what most of us do to ourselves. We use our thoughts to build up an iron lung that we keep ourselves trapped in. To protect ourselves from the world. To not let people really see us. Touch us. Hear us. We just barely let ourselves breathe, which is actually true.

And this is so ingrained that we don’t even realize we’re doing it. We don’t realize there’s another option.

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I think there are two keys to unlocking us from this prison.

1. It’s necessary to separate your self from your thoughts. You are perfectly capable of functioning without them. Think of professional athletes, racecar drivers. They aren’t thinking and yet they do incredible things.

2. We’ve been trained to verbalize everything. Like when we are reading we sound out each word in our heads. This isn’t necessary. You can just scan over the words and your brain registers it just the same. Verbalizing your experience grinds everything to a halt. What we are can be so much more nimble and responsive than this. Instead try looking at things energetically. Instead of a thought just being a word you hear in your head, what does it feel like? What does it look like? Where does that energy sit in your body?

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After I got some distance from my thoughts and started paying more attention to their energetic structure, I first noticed that most of the time it felt like I was trapped inside a prison. Like I couldn’t breathe. Like I had a straitjacket on. But in seeing this I could gradually shift their structure to where my thoughts were more of a cloud. Something that I could choose to ignore and push aside. They became much less important. Much less appealing. I’d much rather sit in my body without them. This is actually enjoyable. I have room to breathe. To let things flow in and out. I can see things clearly. It’s peaceful.

I can still pull down that bubble and engage my thoughts when I need to do something analytical, but most of the time they aren’t necessary. I can just let them do their thing out there in the cloud, I don’t really need to pay attention to it.

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If you’re trapped in an iron lung, thinking positive thoughts is going to be an uphill battle. You might get a couple here or there, but you’re trapped in a fucking prison. Think about that for a second. How incredibly difficult it would be to be happy in a situation like that. You’d have to be some sort of zen master. I’d fucking lose it if I couldn’t move my body more than a couple inches.

But what if instead you’re lying in a field somewhere feeling the breeze blow through your hair, soaking in the sun. You’re going to be pretty happy without exerting a lot of effort. You can just get out of your way and let everything be.

So if you find yourself trapped in a prison, don’t try to think happy thoughts… GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE!

The-Shawshank-Redemption-Script

Where’s your head at?

I usually spend around 20 hours a day in my apartment. I work from home, and sleep here, so that makes up 17 right there.

I started noticing that it felt like I was drowning in my thoughts. I had these negative loops start, and I would just keep building them, and building them, and building them, because there really wasn’t anything to break me out of that rut. Every once in a while I would peak above the waves and get a breath of fresh air, but then plunge right back beneath the surface.

But then last week I was out of town the whole week on business. I’ve noticed the past couple times I’ve been out of town that all these thoughts immediately dissipate. I get incredibly clearheaded. I can actually breathe freely again. But then when I get back into my apartment, slowly but surely I build them back up and am back to where I was before.

Except this time it was different. When I got back I started noticing these thoughts when they were forming, before they got to the point where I was drowning in them. And it wasn’t the kind of thing where I was trying to force myself not to think these thoughts, I just shined some light on them. I asked myself “Where are these thoughts originating from? What is my motivation right now? My purpose? Does this make me feel good?”.

And just asking those questions naturally brought me out of the loops. I could clearly and effortlessly see how destructive they were. How badly I felt when I was in them.

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Chapter 9, section 7 “The Two Evaluations”, paragraph 6:

“You cannot evaluate an insane belief system from within it. It’s range precludes this. You can only go beyond it, look back from a point where sanity exists and see the contrast. With the grandeur of God in you, you have chosen to be little and to lament your littleness. Within the system that dictated this choice the lament is inevitable. Your littleness is taken for granted there and you do not ask, “who granted it?” The question is meaningless within the ego’s system, because it would open the whole thought system to question..”

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The course is always so timely… this is something I’ve been working on all week, and then I read the above passage this morning and it was just perfect. This is exactly what happened. I would get caught in these patterns and try to figure them out from within them, which would only pull me further beneath the surface. It’s like asking the ego “Hey, what’s going on here? Can you explain this to me”. Of course it’s not going to give you a straight answer, because it was the one who designed the trap. It’s like a prisoner asking a guard “Hey, it’s awful uncomfortable in here, would you mind letting me out?”

But as soon as I got a little distance, I can look back and clearly see how insane it all is. I’ve been home for a week and I’m still totally clearheaded. This is a major accomplishment.

I also love the idea of contrast. I’ve been making a list of the patterns I found myself starting, and what its opposite would be. And then just feeling into which one of these I prefer. Not making a judgement or anything. Just making a choice. Here’s some of the stuff I came up with.

Am I motivated by lack or wholeness?
Am I trying to protect what I have or express who I am?
Am I trying to get things or share things?
Am I desperate or content?
Lonely or secure in the divine?
Fast or slow?
In a panic or calm?
Resentful or grateful?
Doubtful or assured?
Trying to solve a problem which can’t be solved or seeing that there aren’t any problems?
Needing everything to adhere to my plans or releasing it to the divine?

Just establishing this range is so helpful to see how destructive and uncomfortable these patterns are. The more contrast there is, the easier it is to see what truly feeds you. And the easier it is to make a conscious decision.

I guess I’m not in control after all…

I feel like I constantly come from this place of desperation. Like I have to have certain things happen or I get frustrated, depressed, angry…

A couple weeks ago I had one of these ideas really built up, a lot of energy invested in a certain thing happening… And then it didn’t. But it was weird. It didn’t affect me like it usually does. I went for a walk afterwards and noticed that for the first time I felt like I had some weight. Some substance. Like I could actually feel my body.

And from that foundation, I no longer felt like anything really had to happen. There was a calm contentment. There were still things that I definitely wanted to happen, but this newfound groundedness wasn’t dependent on it. It was more like I just wanted to enjoy these things. Express myself through them.

I also noticed there was a feeling of expansiveness that coincided with this weight. Like I was coming through my body and then expanding outwards into my environment. I could feel the objects of the room that I was in. I had a feeling that I was occupying space in this environment. Before I had lived in a complete vacuum. Unaware of my body or what was around me.

This also fits right in with what I’ve been reading in the course.

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Chapter 8, section VII. The Body As a Means of Communication, paragraph 12:

“Learning must lead beyond the body to the reestablishment of the power of the mind in it. This can be accomplished only if the mind extends to other minds, and does not arrest itself and it’s extension. This arrest is the cause of all illness, because only extension is the minds function.”

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It’s a routine of mine to check out The Cosmic Path’s free weekly astrology forecast. It’s usually totally relevant for what I’m going through. And this week was no exception, as it was all about expansion.

Here’s a little snippet:

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“While others are struggling with challenging circumstances, you’re in major expansion mode. This may be because you have so much experience with the challenging circumstances scenario, but whatever it is, your work right now is to remain centered and neutral in your considerably empowered self, and allow your world to continue to deliver its miracles to you. “

http://www.thecosmicpath.com/category/wh-capricorn

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When I read this I was like “Hell yes! How spot on!” But didn’t put too much thought into it after that.

Then tonight while on a walk I realized something very interesting. This shift that has happened the past couple weeks, I very much felt like this was a result of all of the work I’ve been doing. Like I am getting better at releasing the ego, I’m reading the right books, have the right friends. I was priding myself on how good I’m getting at releasing control and letting the Holy Spirit take over!

But then I realized “well…. that astrology forecast said the exact same thing. So is this expansive state really just a result of the stars aligning in my favor? Is it not really me doing this after all?”.

The ego can use anything to build itself an identity to preserve its existence. Even releasing the ego to the Holy Spirit. I had built up an identity that I was “good” at doing this. It’s like I was releasing control with one hand but clinching even tighter with the other. Realizing this astrology stuff had a role in the expansiveness I’ve experienced had the effect of suddenly releasing both hands. It felt like I was floating. Still very grounded, but totally unclouded. Seeing clearly.

I see now that it’s silly to think that doing A leads to B. I have such a small picture of what’s actually going on. To think that what I’m experiencing is influenced by the stars…. Even as ambitious as the ego is, the thought of trying to control the stars is a bit beyond it 🙂

So you think I’m an asshole? Yeah… you’re probably right…

So good…

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Chapter 8, section V. The Undivided Will of the Sonship, paragraph 5:

“Whenever fear intrudes anywhere along the road to peace, it is because the ego has attempted to join the journey with us and cannot do so. Sensing defeat and angered by it, the ego regards itself as rejected and becomes retaliative. You are invulnerable to its retaliation because I am with you. On this journey you have chosen me as your companion instead of the ego. Do not attempt to hold onto both, or you will try to go in different directions and will lose the way.”

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Wow… That’s pretty ruthless. To basically say you have to abandon the ego. This brings up all sorts of unpleasant feelings. The ego usually masquerades as a helpless child, so initially it makes you seem like an unholy asshole for abandoning it. For even thinking of abandoning it. What kind of heartless creature would leave behind a child? One who needed its help? Who was desperately reaching out, crying, beaten, tormented by life? Could you possibly live with yourself if you turned your back on this?

This is obviously a trap, but it’s a damn good one. I think in a lot of ways this is a good illustration that to follow a lot of this course stuff, you could legitimately be called an asshole when being judged by the normal standards of society.

And I think the trick is that you have to be okay with this. To be okay with living outside what most people consider to be decent. To not conform to what is “right”. To be an outsider in this insane society.

And the greatest ally in maintaining this position is the Holy Spirit, and the perspective it brings into this. Like I quoted above, this is a journey to peace, to truth. You can’t bring illusion with you, it must be abandoned. But these things have no real substance. You aren’t actually abandoning anything. It’s just an illusion. The guilt that comes with this is just a trick to get you to turn around. It’s perfectly okay to feel happy as a result of this abandonment, as bizarre as this might sound when viewed through the lens of what society normally thinks…

I’ll quote one more passage which is from paragraph 6. It’s hard to describe how badass reading this makes me feel (which I’ve done probably 20 times now).

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“Never accord the ego the power to interfere with the journey. It has none, because the journey is the way to what is true. Leave all illusions behind, and reach beyond all attempts of the ego to hold you back. I go before you because I am beyond the ego. Reach, therefore, for my hand because you want to transcend the ego. My strength will never be wanting, and if you choose to share it you will do so. I give it willingly and gladly, because I need you as much as you need me.”

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Awwwwwwwwwww yeahhhhhhhhhhhh, I love that!

Progression of Correction

I’ve been doing a lot of chewing the past couple weeks on this idea of relinquishing control to the divine.

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Chapter 2, section VI. Fear and Conflict, paragraph 1:
“My control can take over everything that does not matter, while my guidance can direct everything that does, if you so choose.”

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As I’ve seen this happen, I’ve been able to experience what a relief this is. How it removes this gigantic burden off my shoulders and lets me get back into the flow of life.

The past couple days I started to realize there is a progression here. When what the course refers to as the Holy Spirit first starts correcting the ego it’s very abrupt. I go for long walks pretty much every night, and a good example of this first stage happened as I was waiting for a car to pass in front of me before crossing the street. I noticed I was trying to do this thing where I would heal the person with my gaze. Like I would look into their soul and cure whatever ailed them.

I realized this is something I’ve been doing for a long time, and the Holy Spirit interrupted this process and was like “Hey, do you see what are you doing here? Healing people is my job, you don’t need to try to shoulder that responsibility. Let me do the hard work. Just relax.” And then I was like “Oh… You’re totally right, I’m beating myself up doing this, and not really accomplishing anything.”

So there was this whole dialogue that started where I saw this habit I was engaged in, had it interrupted, and then analyzed what was going on. Why was this habit there in the first place? What does it mean for my ego? What’s the best way to correct this? And on and on and on…. I do think dialogs like this are helpful to put things into context. Make all this a little more digestible, and easier to share with others. But at the same time they can very easily lead to stagnation. They can be a trap.

Here’s where I started noticing stage 2 of the correction process. When whatever habit was disrupted in stage 1 gets disrupted again in the future, that dialogue happens less and less. At first maybe I just summarize what I had gone through in stage 1. Then maybe it’s a few sentences. Then just 1… or just a few words. The basic idea is that I transition much quicker from a stuck position to getting back into the flow of life.

And what I’m just beginning to see is actually a third stage. I started noticing that it went from a whole analysis, to a couple sentences, to a couple words, to just one word, and then it dropped down to just a feeling. I could tell when this loop was starting before I got any thoughts in my head. So the correction happened RIGHT after the disconnected thought, so fast that I couldn’t even really tell what was happening. Just a slight slowdown, a slight restricted feeling, and then back moving again. Like I had digested pretty much everything I needed to learn from that lesson.

One of the main reasons I like walking at night is it really clears my head. Gives me a different perspective on all this stuff that’s whirring through my head. And I always have a notepad with me to jot down when things start clicking (many a blog post has originated on these walks…). I realized tonight that these walks are a perfect illustration of the stages.

When I first have a correction and am in stage 1, I stop walking, pull out my notepad, and jot down my ideas. This is very restrictive because I’m not moving anymore. I’m static. My ego might be learning, but at the expense of really living. Then in stage 2 I might just stop and jot down a word. And in stage 3 I never stop walking. And I noticed that if I stay in stage 3 for a little bit, it feels like I have a force field around me. A bubble of love. That there is nothing that can distract me or slow me down, because the correction is happening before it even enters my awareness. It’s like I’ve fully released control and the Holy Spirit is holding me in its hands.

 

So the take away here should be to get out and go on walks! Improve your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health! Is there an easier, legal way to do all of this? I don’t think so…

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Split mind and “minor” miracles

This is a perfect example of how unique and valuable the course is. I originally read this a month ago, and did get quite a lot out of it, but I reread this passage in a study group this morning and had a completely different understanding. That’s why you can never really be done reading this book. After only a month this little idea has changed so much. And this book is like 1,000 pages long…

The course often talks about a split mind. On one side we have the ego, and on the other side we have our spirit. This naturally produces a lot of friction, as these two sides seem to be in direct opposition to each other.

This is a fundamental concept that is talked about in pretty much every spiritual system, and it seems like everyone has a different solution. Some say to eradicate the ego, that ego death is the ultimate goal. Some say you have to retrain the ego. Force it to produce different, loving thoughts. Others say this split is irreconcilable. That it has to be accepted for what it is and lived with.

I’ve tried all of these, but ultimately they did very little to help. They actually probably did more damage than anything else. I realize now that self attack is never a solution, which was my approach to the ego for some time.

The course lays out why trying to resolve this split on your own is a lost cause.

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Chapter 4, section 1 “Right Teaching and Right Learning”, paragraph 2:
“Nothing can reach spirit from the ego, and nothing can reach the ego from spirit. Spirit can neither strengthen the ego nor reduce the conflict within it. Your self and God’s Self are in opposition. They are fundamentally irreconcilable, because spirit cannot perceive in the ego cannot know. They are therefore not in communication and can never be in communication”

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These two minds live in completely different worlds. There is no frame of reference for either one. You can’t teach the ego anything.

The course poses a different solution.

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“If you are willing to renounce the role of guardian of your thought system and open it to me, I will correct it very gently and lead you back to God.”

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Hmmm, that’s a new one. I don’t fight the ego, I don’t try to change it, I let the divine take care of that. Another burden dropped. And this is actually something I’ve been witnessing within myself for years. Where I will start having a very ego-based thought loop start, then all of a sudden I get this completely different thought dropped in that breaks that loop and brings me out of it. It’s like a friend is reminding me “hey, you don’t have to do this, let me lift you up out of here before you get sunk in too deeply”.

Sometimes I go right back into the loop, but most of the time I smile seeing how silly it was. I’d always kind of thought this was dumb luck, or just a random coincidence. But now I see this was the divine reaching down and helping me out. This intervention has happened to me a couple times today, and afterwards there has been immense gratitude and appreciation that wells up within me. It’s such a validation that the divine is connected to me, helping me out in my day to day existence. On the surface it might not appear to be some huge miracle where I am walking on water, or emerging from an accident unscathed, but to me these gentle reminders are just as special.

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“And gratitude to God becomes the way in which He is remembered, for love cannot be far behind a grateful heart and a thankful mind.”

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This is so cool to me. For the course to explain something that is already happening. So I can consciously direct it. Put more energy towards it and see the results.

It feels like so many solutions that other spiritual systems propose are creating something out of nothing. It’s like you’re almost going against your nature. Fighting upstream. Trying to force these changes. I’d much rather just tap into something that’s already happening. Especially something that allows me to relax. Drop burdens and responsibilities instead of adding more. The more I can offload onto the divine the better… I’m tired of fighting upstream…