TRIUMPH OF SPIRIT IN LOVE, NATURE & ART

Paramahansa Yogananda

Reactions to a Retreat with Sri Mooji

I went to the Zmar retreat online from New York City a week and a half ago in very bad shape. Was going through withdrawal from a psychiatric drug for Bipolar, having been on it for 20 years, and having a really tough time. But came the Zmar retreat with Mooji, and I entered in desperation, which is actually a good way to start a retreat. Had done an intensive with Mooji before and all sorts of resistances came up and a cleansing, Satsang flu, Mooji calls it. This time was different. Resistance came and went. My body cleansed itself. But there came an inkling, a little doorway into the Self. A peak into the peace felt long ago with Holy Communion in the Catholic Church and in meditation with Yogananda. For whatever reason, those doors closed to me. I wanted a guru who was still in bodily form to listen to and follow.

The retreat started auspiciously. Eager to begin, when the opening ceremony started and Mooji appeared, three separate instances of energy running up my spine told me it would be a good retreat. Mooji places no special value on the Kundalini energy. “Child’s play” he calls it. Still for me it was a sign this was the right place to be.

Up at 3 and 4 AM in the silence of pre-dawn in New York City to hear a 2-4 hour Satsang. And then came back at 2:30 for another 2-4 hour one. Mooji spoke healing words. They were like salve to a gaping wound. He spoke tough words, too, but all was done with great love.

The Zmar retreat was such a blessing. Some parts were rough. And some parts scary when the energy led to intense releases in some people.

The “person” still dominates but so many people in the Sangha expressed feelings and questions like mine. That gave me hope. And some people did awaken. As an added bonus, an answer came with a solution to a medication problem that has had positive results.

The Sangha was wonderful and staff inspirational. I desperately want my heart to open as I see it has in Mooji and his staff. Don’t know that it will. But Mooji’s self-inquiry works to help step back from the self, the ego, the person, the mind. He teaches us to be aware of the tricks the mind plays. His Being meditations bring Presence. If you are interested, he has many videos of Satsangs and guided meditations on YouTube open to all. I offer the one below as an introduction.

I love you so much, dear Mooji. You show such compassion and love. Thank you for your endless patience and outpouring of your magnificent heart. You live to help people find the Self, people tortured by “mind” and the “person/ego”.


Alternatives and Non-Pharmaceutical Aids for Bipolars, Depressives and Other Mentally Ill

I am Manic-Depressive, more specifically, Bipolar 1. Unable to take the mood stabilizers usually prescribed for Bipolar Disorder—Valproic acid, Lithium Carbonate, Tegretol, Neurontin and Depakote, my therapist had me on a cocktail of anti-psychotics. Been on an old anti-psychotic, Thiothixene, for about 20 years and a new, atypical anti-psychotic, Zyprexa, for 15 years (more on that drug later).

The anti-psychotics, however, or the neuroleptics as they are called, while keeping me out of the mental hospital and enabling to live a somewhat “normal” life, had a depressant effect on me, robbing my life of all the joy and creativity I used to enjoy, as well as, my mystical experiences in nature.

In an effort to get my spark back, I was put on practically every anti-depressant there is. From the old ones like Tofranil, Elavil, Norpramin and Pamelor, to the newer ones like Effexor, Wellbutrin, Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft. All of them were rejected for reasons as numerous as the drugs themselves. From blunted affect, severe nausea, and weight gain, to a total inability to function or outright mania, even minute doses were problematic. As were my trials of the newer anti-psychotics. And I have heard from many that they have had similar or even more severe reactions to the same medications. A friend of mine attempted suicide on Wellbutrin.

Finally a psychologist recommended St. John’s wort. I was very worried about taking that after all my bad experiences with anti-depressants. But I found a research grade St. John’s wort and gave it a try. I felt a difference the very next day despite being told the effects would kick in gradually. The change was dramatic as demonstrated in what I wrote after one day on St. John’s wort:

Ko-ko, our four-legged, faithful companion, runs into the bedroom, eager to join me on the bed, awash with pure joy. She takes a flying leap up and we lounge together like lizards basking in the sun, reclining requisitely together. It is day 2 of St. John’s wort. Am filled with a loving glow as Ko-ko nestles down to sleep beside me. The beauty of yesterday lingers in my memory—a vacation day spent with my husband in the Palisades on an early October day. The sweet, crackling autumn air filled our lungs as we climbed the Palisades for a spectacular view of the Hudson River. Our path strewn with crunchy, dry leaves. A trail leads us further upwards, the spongy ground, soft underfoot is strewn with paint box colored leaves. Yellow, crimsons, golden russets lay on the damp path, wet from yesterday’s rain. I give thanks to God in this cathedral of color. Try to experience the mysticism of my youth. Yearn to return to the photography and poetry writing of my pre-breakdown days. A revival of creativity. Thank you , God, for giving me my sight back.

As the days went by, more and more of the depression lifted. My husband was happier with me on the St. John’s wort because I was more loving. I also stopped drinking. Completely. And I had been a borderline alcoholic. The door to the prison had been opened and I was now freer. This improvement gradually leveled off and at times I found myself fighting depressions at times but nothing like the deep, black depressions before the SJW.

Still without a mood stabilizers I would cycle, but not psychotically. Next change to be made was to learn the hands on healing technique called Reiki in an attempt to recover my spirituality. Reiki continues to be a blessing as I do it daily to myself and in a prayer form for others. But I was still craving the spirituality of my youth.

Brought up Presbyterian and made to convert to Catholicism in grade school, organized religion was not working for me. I had done Transcendental Meditation in my twenties and dropped it for a reason I no longer remember. Continuing to pray rote prayers I followed Pema Chodron and Paramahansa Yogananda and others. I took about twenty of Yogananda’s lessons offered by Self-Realization Fellowship and meditated according to his teachings. I regard Yogananda as a saint, a true saint, but his path was not “doing it” for me. Tremendous anxiety would take over. And then, through Hariod Brawn on Contentedness.net, I met Mooji and I began listening to his guided meditations and watching his satsangs. Additionally, while convalescing from pneumonia recently, my husband read books written by an old friend he had while pursuing religious studies at the University of Edinburgh. A Celtic Christian minister and reformer, J. Philip Newell. Curious, I read him, too, and he helped me on the path with Mooji. Through Mooji I found that the Self is not Bipolar or OCD or Asperger’s or depressed. Those are troubles of the body/mind/ego self. The “person” in other words. If I can go into the “Presence of God” as Newell says, or into the “Self” as Mooji says, I can be well. Mooji has helped me regain my spirituality and is making me whole.

The last change I made was to get off the newer anti-psychotic, Zyprexa, for health reasons. The drug has horrid side effects including dizziness, heavy weight gain, problems with heat and more. The withdrawal from Zyprexa is very,very hard. I still have .5 mg to go to get off it completely. Meantime, the same company where I buy the research grade St. John’s wort, offers a homeopathic Lithium Orotate (not Lithium Carbonate) spray called Symmetry. Have been using that with great results. Am very even. Gone are the manic nights of insomnia and the deep, dark depressions that sometimes broke through the St. John’s wort. Gone is the rapid cycling.

The company that offers the research grade St. John’s wort (the only brand of St. John’s wort that has worked for me) is Hypericum.com. The homeopathic Lithium Ortotate is offered by the same company. I have no interest in this company and am not paid by them to offer this information. I am not saying that all these things will work for those you touched by the fire of Bipolar Disorder or the black hole of depression or any other disorder. And certainly you must consult your therapist before trying any medication. For example, you cannot mix St. John’s wort while taking certain drugs. Specially mixing St. John’s wort with other antidepressants can be very dangerous. I am just offering alternative to those of you who may have had the same experiences and presenting what has helped me in my own battles. Talk to your therapist if interested.

And last but not by any means least, is Mooji. All information about him is to be found at Mooji.org. There are many, many free Satsang and guided meditation videos available there and on YouTube.

He answered my question about being able to being “realized” despite having Bipolar Disorder and I see now what he said made all the difference in the world. The person is Bipolar but the Self is not! Through watching his satsangs and doing meditation with him daily I am returning to the spirituality of my youth, before my breakdown. I have miles to go but with his help I am more able to cope with this dream we call life.


“Awareness of Awareness”

My friend, Tiramit, over at DhammaFootsteps.com sent me a reference to the wonderful video on awareness…

To see it, CLICK ON Inner Medium.com.

Don’t be fooled by the cartoon nature at the introductory beginning of the video.  All kinds of experts on consciousness are interviewed, from academics to a homeless man, from a Self-Realization monk to a race car driver, from a scientist to a business man and from a guru to artists and a  psychic.  All speak on thinking, Awareness and consciousness. It ends with Sri Mooji, whose retreat in London I am attending online for the next 5 days.  This video is a perfect segue into the Self-Inquiry process Mooji teaches.

Meantime, till next post, enjoy the beautiful Fall!

P1120536_edited-1


Nature’s Prayers

P1020783

Still yourself

and fold your hands

P1130722_edited-1

humbly

P1130669_edited-1

stand in awe

P1130633_edited-1

radiate His light

P1020418

with eyes upwards

P1130717_edited-1

towards

P1130686_edited-1

the telephone

WP_20140518_005_edited-2

to the sky

P1130569_edited-1

and comtemplate

Wolfe.7

the glory that is He


Rapid Cycling

Patterns of the microcosm
echoed in the macrocosm
vibrating thoughts
no meditation
lots of frustration
can’t calm down
do the Hong Sau
Yogananda method
the only hope
in this mind
doing 120 mph
in a 35 mph zone

 

time soon for sleep
frogs singing
a pre-dawn high
drained at noon
rapid cycling
twilight now
back to racing
raving
raging mind
need gentility
humility
quietude
to feel awe
to ponder
hit “Pause”

love in the afternoon
a natural anti-
depressant
sent sight soaring
in space
seeing patterns
everywhere
echoing symphonically
in noisy ears
the hum of quiet
seems too loud
flashing lights
status migrainous
with all over
crawling feeling
“not-theres”

stop I say
stop I pray
stop the way
the world spins
hurling in space
the race
the pace
exhaustion
please
take this body
in your arms
work your charms
on this alarm-
ing state
with alacrity
the paucity
of peace
needs mending

Oh evening
send hope
for ending
these frantic antics
quell the panic
break the day
and bring on
the dawn
of dreams


Beyond the Stars

WP_20140514_008_edited-1

Sitting in the sun, acclimating to the gentle June heat, swatting away an annoysome fly who keeps returning over and over, I know this swatting is definitely wrong—a stirring of the killer instinct. I remember naturalist artist and writer and turtle man, David M. Carroll, keeping his hand steady, while being bitten by hordes of mosquitoes,  so as not to scare away the turtles as he paints them . Clearly he is a superior soul in his patient endurance of being bitten and as his, almost spiritual, beautifully poetic, writings and drawings reveal. I remember, too, the words of Pema Chodron, Buddhist teacher and nun, who teaches and preaches practicing compassion on little things, learning not to “bite the hook” of anger.

So I let the fly alight on my ankle and he seemingly happily stays on my leg and does not bite. I begin to try to image feeling kinship with this fly who likes my leg, fighting the idea that he is laying eggs in my skin. Pema Chodron has clearly inspired a city girl, afeared of bugs, to make friends with a fly as I watch the universe of insects beneath my feet. A Daddy Long legs crawls on my camera bag, hitches a ride to our bed when I go inside the house. I bring him back to his home outside.

This compassion things feels right, start small and grow big. As if to reinforce this point a butterfly lands on my chest when I return to my contemplation spot in our back yard. But all is not sweetness and light. Later the same fly (I swear it is) who landed on my leg now activates karma for my earlier murderous impulses towards him. He lands on my toe and bites me. A cautionary tale against getting too carried away with being virtuous. Still worse, later as I walk in the coolness of early evening, a bug lands on my arm and attempts a vigorous bite.   In an instant, a reflexive smack smooches him dead.

So it would seem I have to start even smaller with my acts of compassion. How much smaller can one start? I wonder with daunting discouragement about the many, many more lives I will have to live to learn lessons of compassion and no anger. I contemplate the prospect of how many, many more films I will have to view in this movie house of Maya we call life. When, oh when, will I learn all my lessons? When, oh, when, will the sun set for good for me on this circle of life so I can exit the orbit and rest beyond the stars??


The Hum of Life

P1130204_edited-2
The reverberations of love

jump across time and space

to another receptive heart

*

The reverberations of suffering

resound around the earth

picked up by open souls in prayer

*

The reverberations of Aum

most sacred of sounds

pulses through our minds in meditation

*

Love brings the possibility of loss

Suffering brings a totality of pain

Aum brings the reality of God within


Maya in Nature and the Nature of Maya

RSCN2965_edited-1

If one looks at nature abstractly, one can see it is made up of line, color and form. Plato spoke of “form“. And Indian philosophy talks of Maya, the consensual reality that is a dream of our mortal bodies.  Yogananda warns us not to get caught up in Maya and how easy it is to see it as real.
My photograph is a homage to the Abstract Expressionist artist, Mark Rothko, a hero of sorts for me.  He was reaching for spirituality, too, but did not follow Hindu thought.  However, in his paintings, which I try to  emulate in photography, one can see color, shape and form. This is a step away from the dream of life or “Maya” and a step towards the spiritual.
Next time, when looking at nature, try looking beyond the scene to the formal elements, and see how the dream of life is a delusion in which our minds spend most of their time.

Video

A Tribute to Paramahansa Yogananda

I wish this were my tribute to Yogananda but it is not.  Perhaps you will know of him in his”Autobiography of a Yogi”which is world famous.  That is where I first found him.  But he has written many other books and lectures.  In other posts, I have written much about how psychiatric meds for my Bipolar Disorder have destroyed my closeness to God.  Only in Yogananda’s writings have I been able to feel God– to go back to communion with God.  Interestingly enough, my husband’s best friend is a monk in Self-Realization Fellowship which Yogananda founded to bring Kriya Yoga out of India to the West.  Yogananda came to me recently when I was sick and brought me joy in my despair and rekindled my dedication to learning Kriya Yoga. Yogananda is an avatar, a man of God.  I hope these images pay him homage and inspire!