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❝ I have little to no interest in extreme mystical states—I have enough on my hands chopping wood and carrying water. I would be truly disappointed if some mystical shortcut bypassed these kind of efforts. I think I like to plod along and rub shoulders with the mundane, with its subtle surprises.❞

This quote is by a very dear friend who has a knack for clearly expressing small mysteries.

For years I scaled back the amount of stuff I owned or travelled with. I needed to declutter. A lot of it had to do with cleaning house internally—mind, body, spirit. I noticed that every single item in my life absorbed energy. Whether the objects were in my range of vision or not was irrelevant; seen or unseen, their existence drained me. Over the years I also recognised that holding onto thoughts and emotions also draws a charge. The answer, I thought, was to remove as much as possible from my life. But I learned that getting rid of everything or people in my life didn’t provide the simplicity I was looking for. There are certain elements that make the logistics of living easier. Likewise, I need and want the warmth of friendship and community.

I foolishly tried to eradicate emotions, which became nothing more than trying to ignore them as soon as they arose. Pushing emotions away or sweeping them under a virtual rug inside only created more havoc, i.e. in the form of grudges, regrets, wishes and confusion. I was using a lot of energy trying to box in or tie down feelings. It was much easier and lighter to acknowledge them, feel them, and discern that they naturally morphed as if having their own agenda. Living in the present, rather than holding on to the past or trying to schedule the future, provided a doorway to the peace I was looking for. Allowing myself to notice, experience and openly express emotions (in a safe, loving, compassionate and honest manner) increases their range and depth. The process also demands a huge level of honesty, with myself and others. It’s not always easy, but steadfast candour and integrity is the path of least resistance.

I need people and the energy exchange that comes from face-to-face interactions and heart-to-heart connection. After years of trying to be an island unto myself—a lone wolf—the emptiness inside was unbearable. I realised that by trying to establish distance from any disappointment or hassle I only caused further dissociation from the very source of love that was needed to heal wounds, and the giving of love that I so desperately wanted to share. I remember very clearly the moment, while sitting on a porch alone, that the backpack of masks that I had carried my entire life fell off my shoulders. There was no longer any energy available to hold it; every bit of remaining strength was being used just to breathe. The relief was and continues to be, boundless. Since that shift, I’ve vowed to face fears, to keep my butt firmly planted on the seat as I gaze across the table in conversation while desperately fighting previously ingrained urges to run. The reward for doing so is two-way love, support and respect. With casual acquaintances, the interactions may be brief but they are refreshing. And with close, trusted friends we constantly remind each other of what’s important while energy dances between and around us.

To be clear, there are some people I’ve let fall into the past because the interactions were not healthy. There are others that I’d like very much to become more a part of my life. What underlies both instances is that the simplicity of living in the present is much more freeing than the complications of holding and forcing.

Putting into my own words my friend’s insight quoted above, I might say that “Simplicity exists only in the present moment. And that moment is infinite because beneath every subtle layer there’s a more subtle layer.” It’s for this reason that I have a guide, one simple question that helps me feel into the moment to glean what exists. “Who feels, thinks, or experiences x,y,z?” This means: who defends, who loves, who takes personally, who regrets, who is angry, who fears, who notices, who is sad, who smiles, who laughs, who believes, etc. It’s a simple habit that brings everything back to Now—letting go of any baggage. Diane Musho Hamilton describes the vigilance as listening. “The willingness to quiet the mind, to be present in the here and now, and dropping into receptivity. When we open up and start to listen, we drop our ‘I’ reference point. Stop your rebutting mind or the mind that’s coming up with an answer, and you simply open up the territory of receiving.”

Sri Ramana Maharshi, a man of more silence than words, reduced it to, “Who am I?”

✌️ ∙ 🌱 ∙ 🙏

Me and our dog, Raskus, some years ago.
He was my first “simplicity-teacher”.