This Month’s Message

ON THE BALCONY 

person meditating

In the morning, before dawn, I like to sit on the balcony where I have a beautiful view of the eastern sky.  Gradually the planet Venus, a bright dot in the sky, disappears as dawn turns into early light.  The call of the owls fades into the sound of songbirds as they wake up from their sleep.

I wonder, am I different than the sky?  Am I different from the planets and the rising sun?  Am I different from the owls and the songbirds?  As I sit there on the balcony encased in my skin, I can come to no other conclusion.  I am, in essence, not different at all.

Our western culture is based on the premise that there is a “me” and then there is everything else.  This is an idea based on a notion that humankind is superior to all other beings and even to nature itself.  But, as Alan Watts famously said, “The earth peoples.”  It is just like an apple tree gives birth to apples.  It apples!  Like the apples, we come out of the world, moreover, we are not products of nature.  We are nature.  Nature is our source just as it is for the sky, the atmosphere, the birds, and the trees.  We have a commonality with all that we see, touch, hear, and taste.  The scent of rain and the scent of a rose engenders in us a feeling of calm and well-being.

Why?  It is because we are experiencing that which is a part of us.  As the Native People say, “The trees and the animals are our relatives.”  When we realize the truth of this, we can stop the restrictive, oppositional way of thinking that we engage in as denizens of western culture.  Instead, we can release from our nervous system the feeling of separateness from which emerges the illusion that so many humans experience; the feeling of alienation and separateness, the feeling of being alone and lost.

There is no need to fight with yourself.  There is no need to struggle with yourself or anyone else.  There is no need to abuse, and yes, no need to kill one another.  When we relinquish and then finally release that opposition to what we perceive as other, we can, at last, exhale with great relief.  We are no longer trapped in this feeling of being separate from everything, from being enclosed as, once again, Alan Watts called it, “the bag of skin.”  We feel as if we are stuffed into this bag of skin and, therefore, cut off from everything else in our environment.

This is not complicated.  All it involves is shedding this anxiety of separateness.  All it takes is recognizing the prison you have submitted yourself to – the prison of separateness imposed upon us by the ideas of the culture we have been indoctrinated in and hypnotized by.

There comes a time in life when something opens in your heart and you realize what is real.  We have all emerged from the same source.  You can understand this as an intellectual concept, but concepts offer only a limited view of what is real and true.  You can realize your true connection to all that is, when you feel it!

There are, undoubtedly, many ways home to this experience.  Yet, it seems to me (in my experience) that the practices of Yoga and Meditation are a clear path home.  However, I am talking here about practicing Yoga and Meditation in a particular way.  I am talking about a Yoga that has no goals or intentions.  I am talking about a practice that allows you to slow down to experience how struggle falls away and your awareness expands to reveal the deepest essence of yourself, which is also the essence of all that exists, which is who you really are.  It is a Yoga that allows the body to become deeply open and easeful.  It is the engagement with the unified Self that allows the mind to become deeply calm.

I am talking about a Meditation where you are not Meditating “on anything,” where you are not trying to stop thinking or to get “enlightened.”  You are simply being, taking it all in without judging or categorizing.  You are allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable rather than oppositional.  I am talking about sitting in your backyard, or your deck, or beside a window, or on your balcony and taking in whatever comes into you and letting go of whatever falls away.  You have the ability to take the All into yourself.  You have the ability to give yourself over to the All.  And, the All is really quite simple.  You, yourself, are the All.

– CM Brown