How do you deal with problems? Life is full of them. Just one problem after the other. You could argue human creativity and survival centres around finding solutions to problems. Not as physically strong as other animals? Build tools. Chilly in your cave at night? Spark a fire.
The memory resurfaced. Days-gone-by illuminated my consciousness, beckoning me to leave the present and return to the past. “I miss that time,” I thought, as I remembered a lucid summer from two years ago, a time when I felt vibrantly alive.
I’m content with where I’m at, mentally, spiritually, and creatively, but the summer of 2018 had a different quality to it. I had a powerful spiritual awakening and a huge upgrade in my reality. I’d uncovered parts of myself I didn’t know existed, including levels of creativity never before experienced, and a vitality and aliveness which had me bouncing out of bed each day, eager to get to work on my business, to explore, to adventure.
An adventure it was; those summer months felt like learning how to live again, from a different place. My receptivity was wide open, I’d stumbled across a deeper reality, and I’d never felt more awake, more connected to myself, my spirituality, the universe surrounding me. I was seeing everything with fresh eyes, as if for the first time.
Such highs are common throughout the awakening process, but they aren’t ever-lasting. Since then I’ve continued to grow and develop, with similar moments of aliveness coming and going, with plenty of shadow work thrown in for good measure. Spiritual growth is circular, and although I feel the ways I’ve grown, there’s a certain quality about these months I can’t shake.
Spiritual growth is an unlearning process. Awakening into the true nature of reality requires constant unlearning of false beliefs and a re-discovery of the direct experience of the present moment. Conceptual reality is a house of mirrors, a myriad of illusion. Of all illusions, psychological time is the trickiest to detect.
Seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years… The passage of time is seemingly objective and compatible with experience. Events appear to unfold sequentially, superimposed onto the clock. But the past is a memory. The future is imagination. Life is eternally present, an infinite succession of Nows.
As Mark Twain said, “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” So much of our attention and energy is spent on holding on to days-gone-by or worrying about things that may never materialise. How does life change, once liberated from these opposing forces?
I’m enchanted by exposed brick, arched ceilings and passionate discussions about the nondual nature of existence. The magical space I’m sitting in, this sweet July afternoon, is the cellar of Castello di Titignano, Orvieto. Its shade and air circulation offers respite from the intense Italian sun. I’m grateful. And cool.
Barrels of fermenting grapes from nearby vineyards are replaced with pop-up chairs, projector screens, speakers. A colourful poster for SAND Italy 2019 reminds me of how far I’ve come. 12:35pm. It’s my turn to present at the Science and Nonduality Conference:
Welcome to the Age of Re-Enchantment: Magic Transforming Mental Health and the World.
Here we goooooo! Months of visualising, mind-mapping and soul searching has come to this.
We are told to be aware, to pay attention, to create space. Yet conscious engagement with thoughts, with the intention to change them skillfully, has immense benefits. Although counterintuitive, it boosts the ability to be mindful and accelerates spiritual growth.
Maturing the ego and cultivating a skilled, self-serving intellect, is just as rewarding as the transcendental elements of spiritual practice. But the message in the West is often black-or-white; the ego is all bad, the solution to troubling thoughts is always being in the Now.
Living in the present is simple and impossibly hard. The complexity of mind distracts in a multitude of ways. Neglecting the quality of thoughts makes presence much harder; if your thoughts work against you, the task is greater. Yet it’s rare to see spiritual guidance on techniques adjusting the thinking mind.