A wonderful post, close to my heart, from Tiramit at Dhamma Footsteps.com…
POSTCARD #244: New Delhi: Early morning light, people wrapped in shawls, long scarves bound around the head and tied under the chin. Dark faces, eyes looking out and they see me for an instant in a diamond eye-lock as I struggle to look away. They look with curiosity; I think they see me as one of those lost in maya, not in the real world for them, I’m living in a dream. They might laugh to themselves, but not in a hurtful way – I’m pretty sure they see me as a naïve person, like a grown up child, dependent on support mechanisms I pay for with an impossible wealth, as far as they’re concerned, removed from everyday values. They’re right, from where they stand. It’s true, and I’m in awe of them, their existence is unreachable. The actuality of their lives, I know nothing about. My ongoing practice…
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Am I caught in a web
like a fly in a drainpipe?
Or is it summer inertia,
The lazy, hazy daze?
Could it be
I have lost it totally
to a pharmaceutical lobotomy?
Or am I processing still
retreat with Mooji?
Anger is more controlled
and that is good
but creativity has taken a vacation and
kidnapped my muse leaving
no urge to make new words or pictures?
and love flows
making me bow my head in prayer
and that is good
but what has happened to me?
I do not understand what I read
and have trouble processing
and cannot even comment.
Perhaps I am empty…
your gentle breezes
caress my physical form.
I have been sick,
for so long,
Overwhelmed by fear,
What has changed today?
How come today
I can see beyond the self
To the Self?
Is it so mundane
as to be due to a coolness waft of air?
Or is it a taste of infinity?
A wormhole to your realm?
An undeserved dollop of grace?
You are inside always
and yet so often I cannot feel you
And I lapse into despondency,
preoccupation with the self,
Why today can I see Thee
In the galaxy of stars within?
How can I keep this view
Despite problems, illness,
please take me over,
please let me see
Thee daily within.
Please let me love you
and all who live
with wild abandon
and the diamond dazzle of compassion,
for my many sins,
Oh, Zephyr of air,
wafting with the perfume
of the Divine
forever in my heart,
and blow away
fears and tears
the self forever!
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”.
Have started an online silent retreat with Mooji. My reading of your posts of late has been sporadic, my writing, non-existent. Apologies. Trying to find my way back as I said in the last post. This seems like a good time to go on a silent retreat. So for a week I will not be reading or writing posts or using the Internet and will be trying to keep talking to a minimum while still running a household. Hopefully this will break through whatever is wrong. For those curious about the retreat, click on the link below:
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.
Below is an excerpt from my book, “Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things.” In this section of my book I am describing to my therapist a theory I had researched in grad school before my psychotic break with reality at age 28, long before I was to start my life over from scratch as a conceptually-challenged yet more feeling person. Breakdowns can destroy cognitive functioning. It did for me. While I was never ever good at conceptual thinking, the breakdown has made it virtually impossible to understand even the most basic concepts. Despite being on medications for Bipolar Disorder, my mind simply does not work as it once did. This is often humiliating and frustrating though I am mostly okay with it.
Yet, in the past few months, I found Mooji and am following his path– something I thought I would never do because Buddhism was so “beyond” me. And I find myself following many Buddhist blogs. Many times reading such posts and poetry sail way above my comprehension. But this, too, is good. It is humbling and it deprives the ego of its food supply, which according to Mooji, is good. A “chop” at the ego-self is needed over and over again in order to be in the Presence. But the mind still yearns to understand.
For what it is worth here is the excerpt from a therapy session in which I describe my “theory” to my therapist. What is synchronicitous is that the theory sounds somewhat Buddhist in nature. It opens with me talking to my therapist, or rather, reading from my notebook, because I found it difficult to talk at times.
“Alpha = life in utero. Birth = the end of life in utero— death of a sort, a seeming death. Birth is entering the world of light— Reality.
“Reality is too much. People need to escape— to regress. Therefore, the mind goes into altered states of consciousness.” I look up and stop reading and explain. “I studied this when I was in graduate school. I hit upon the literature of altered states of consciousness while I was in a Psych class doing a research paper on creativity and I became obsessed with the topic. I nearly had a breakdown then because I wasn’t eating or sleeping or going to classes. All I was doing was this research and writing. A friend in the dorm used to make sure I ate something. But all that time I felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall. The material was difficult and I was afraid I was really going off the deep end and writing far out stuff. But in the end the professor gave me an A+ on the paper…”
“Anyhow,” I say as I start to read from my notebook again, “many altered states of consciousness have been found to coincide with the production of alpha brain wave patterns.” I stop reading again and say, “I know this first hand because I did biofeedback once and the feeling you get when you’re producing alpha waves is the same as the one you get in mystical experiences and meditation. Altered states of consciousness typically occur under conditions of sensory deprivation or sensory overload because overloading the system shuts it down, so in effect it becomes a condition of sensory deprivation. The first experience of sensory deprivation occurs in the womb. The ultimate form of sensory deprivation is death. Death is a return to the womb. The womb of the earth. Therefore, Alpha = Omega.”
So there it is in a nutshell. The book is mainly an emotional chronicle of relationships, and finding love, despite being very handicapped by Bipolar Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome and OCD. If you would like to purchase it for $2.95 please click on the link below:
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!