Thursday, September 29, 2011

Woo-Woo in a Wow-Now World:
Living As a Practical Mystic

"Only those within whose own consciousness the sun rises and sets, the leaves burgeon and wither, can be said to be aware of what living is."

~ Joseph Wood Krutch, US naturalist and writer

What does being "conscious" actually mean? My online dictionary defines it as, "awake, aware, supraliminal…". Now there's a word to roll trippingly on the tongue. Supraliminal. It's the exact opposite of the subliminal media messages we're bombarded with daily.

Supraliminal means above the threshold of normal sensation. So, instead of being anesthetized by the jackhammer rhythm of life in the third millennium, a supraliminal person moves to a different cadence. You live an aesthetic life — in tune with the beauty all around you — rather than an anesthetic one, numbed out on sensory overload and emotional angst. This is being conscious, and we get to choose whether to walk this path, every day.

It doesn't mean we have to live "woo-woo" in a wow-now world, however. There's a way to "walk the mystical path with practical feet," as one of my own great teachers, Angeles Arrien, often says. Her lucid book, The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer and Visionary draws upon her vast experience as a cross-cultural anthropologist and educator to show us how indigenous wisdom can help us live richer, more joy-filled lives, both personally and professionally. The approaching winter season corresponds to the way of the Warrior, or leader, whose challenge is the right use of power. Angeles reminds us that Native peoples use the words "power" and "medicine" synonymously. If we fully express who we are, we are "in our medicine."

Earth herself offers us a bountiful opportunity to grow, by planting ourselves in presence. Louise Hay, in many ways the founding mother of the personal growth/self help movement, says being in nature, nurturing the soil, and growing her own food is a kind of meditation for her. She lived in New York City for forty years, so she knows what it's like in the asphalt jungle, and feels especially blessed to be able to garden on her acre of land in California now.

Louise says, "My garden sustains me a lot. It is nature at its most abundant and beautiful. And what I do primarily in the garden is build soil. I do everything that I can to make the soil better. I have a big chipper shredder, and not a lettuce leaf or a leaf from a tree leaves my property. It's all ground up, nature makes it into wonderful rich soil, and I put that back into the soil. And it's the same thing with the people, with their own lives. You know if you enrich yourself, if you pull the weeds out, if you get the rocks out of the way in your consciousness and enrich yourself with good reading, good study, good meditating, understanding — then life takes care of the rest."

As the Northern Hemisphere turns inward now, it's a good time to compost any aspects of ourselves that no longer support who we're becoming. And perhaps, as we continue to build our inner soil, enrich our soul, and live a more conscious life, we'll also lose our fear of the next threshold.

Awareness Into Action:

What practical steps can you take this week to build your own soil, to live your medicine? Choose a specific action and put it into practice with everyone you meet, all week long.

No comments: