Friday, January 1, 2016

Hey 2016.

I thought about this blog recently and decided to pick it back up because I'm starting a new dietary protocol that is also turning out to be a major shift in how I view the world and the value of what I do in it.  It's just an auto-immune protocol that my doctor asked me to try; three months of heavily restricted diet removing anything that could possibly aggravate an immune or inflammatory condition.  (Props to my doc--she's a progressive sort).  She showed me gigantic book full of molecular diagrams and endless thou-shalt-not lists.  I gritted my teeth and said ok, whatever, I'm no stranger to obnoxious elimination diets and the shadowy hope they flaunt.  But as I prepared and tested, something unexpected happened:  I started realizing the extent that food and drink have on my life and on most of our lives here in America.  Even for someone like me who typically eats healthily, food and drink = sociality.  Friends in town?  Let's get sushi! Rough day?  Let's head to the local dive for a drink.  Need to get out of the house (a constant urge since I work at home)? Double americano and laptop at my favorite coffee shop.  Time to celebrate? Let's try that new restaurant downtown for a celabratory dinner, or pick up a bottle of wine on our way to the party.  Chilling at the beach?  We could hit the beach market and pick up a snack and drink.

None of that is bad, exactly.  But when all those options are stripped away--because believe me, 95% will be off limits--what will be left?  Not much, if I keep thinking in those terms.  It's a consumeristic way of participating in life, and I wonder how many other work-at-home introverts in new cities fall into this pattern.  Using online friendships and impersonal coffee shops/ restaurants to meet an already understated--but not absent--need for human contact. How will I fill the time and keep from going stir-crazy?

It strikes me how obscene it is, that I have to ask that question.  I already have a big list of more meaningful projects and activities that I'll get to "someday."  Well ... hey there, Someday.  You're looking well.

So the next three months for me will be a reconfiguring of how I approach life.  I'm planning to journal here not necessarily with the minutiae of each meal, but what I'm having to relearn about life, and living, and how I spend my time.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Ego Dissolution Feels Weird

A few nights ago I was meditating using a theta wave binaural beat, attempting to take my body back in time to a certain period of my life. To do this, I was chronologically visualizing each place I have ever lived and giving myself a brief snapshot of how I felt back then. When I came back to the present, my mind was still inclined to interpret my present-day experience in this "snapshot" way--except there was none! I could only draw from a huge conglomeration of experiences (i.e. my life) that formed no central theme. I had no story of that exact present moment.  It felt really weird, like there was no "me" underneath the experiences/life at all. Instead, I felt as though I could choose what experience to "look out from my eyes" to influence the present moment.

For example, here I am at age 23 living in an overpriced suburban apartment, wearing that velvet patchwork skirt I sometimes wore back then, talking to my long-haired and scowling boyfriend, feeling a bit in disarray due to the tight funds, the relationship drama, the job with the crazy boss, etc.  It was rough, being just out of college and entering into the adult world where people were keen on screwing over naive young girls, but also kind of cool to have found a music scene I resonated with and a circle of friends, and I always dyed my hair that crazy vermillion color ...

Or there I am at age 27, living in that godawful apartment complex with all the gang activity, but there I was with my dream boyfriend and my dream job, meditating a couple hours every day and having some very strange experiences, wearing tight t-shirts and the baggy pants, sitting in smoky coffee shops scribbling in journals because I was living a dark and wonderful life back then and was quite in touch with the mysterious side of life and ....

And here I am present day, with the following options I can choose to weave into a contrived narrative if I wish: read an article about school shooter.  Watched crabs scuttling on the beach, unrolled my soggy cuffs at home.  Hula hooped on the deck. Called the county about a water bill question. Booked a flight. Put on a red headband. Assembled a chair.  Ate a banana. Considered the likelihood of evolution of octopuses.  Meditated on the nature of nothingness. Went for sushi with friends .... I can choose to bring the experience about reading about the school shooter to the front if I want and think, "At this point in my life, I was very distressed about violence in the world."  Or I could bring the oceanic experiences front and center and think, "I lived by the ocean."  But none of those were readily assembled into a story yet.  I had the option--the very unconscious option--to choose what went into the story.

No narrative.  No story.  Nothing to identify with, just a series of experiences that my brain hasn't had time to turn into personal narratives.

But if "I" could note this lack of a narrative, then what else was in my mind that I had excluded from the narrative?  The stories I identified with, then were they even really "me" or just stories about an idea of me?  Who was the "I" choosing the experiences, and why did those old narratives feel so separate from the huge splash of experiences to choose from present-day? It also felt like the longer I lived and the more experiences I accumulated, the more dissolute "I" might become, the less of a common theme there would be.  It also felt like each experience I ever had was sentient somehow, and that I gave it a life by focusing on it, beyond its inception.

This reminds me of a recent blog post Palyne wrote about realizing that she, or at least the self-aware part of herself that identifies as Palyne, is only the "decision maker" about which of her aspects is brought forward.  She wrote, "The ME part, which I now realize has-a-something but is something more like a dynamic than a thing, is the one that says, “I choose ‘brave’ for us, out of this universe of options you guys offer.” And so ‘brave’ in that instance is what this-body, this-identity, seems to “be” in that instance, that situation or time.  But really, I am no more or less every other option as that one."

It was a very interesting experience but also a little disconcerting because the idea that my identity is ... Well, nothing at all, just a collection of experiences that have no inherent value except what I give them, and that the true me is unattached to experience at all... That feels really weird. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I suppose everything *could* happen for a reason if you adopt some essential beliefs

Last post on Cobalt Sigil was a year and a half ago. This blog was a near-casualty to a peculiar ennui I developed after being stranded in an urban energetic quagmire. I'm still adrift in a mental sense but at least my surroundings have changed to beautiful oceans, barking sea lions, and redwood forests and I can relax (if only my body would agree--my muscles have been trained into knots and hard walls, thank god for self-administered trigger point massage).

I have sand on my back still and salt on my legs.  The water was warm as this area gets. It was a good day.


Recently I was doing a series of thought experiments about why shit happens.  A lot of religions and spiritual perspectives claim some variation of a deity, along with you in some more evolved form, decided the course of your life prior to your birth.  Because of that arrangement, you're here willingly and experiencing all this crap because you want to, because in the grand cosmic scheme, you're benefiting from whatever dreadful drama you're experiencing now.

I've always found that hard to believe so I was trying to frame it in a way plausible to me.  First I would have to agree that there is some sort of deity or force influencing our lives to its own end.  So let's assume that's true for now.

Some New Agers believe that learning love is the purpose of incarnating in the third dimension. Maybe.  But what if we are here to learn ...personality.  To learn whatever makes humans distinct from animals.  To learn self-awareness and to say, "This is what I like.  This is what I want.  I prefer this variation over that."  And to learn it in ever-finer granularity so eventually we can do something like write a poem, choosing the tiniest distinctions in words to emphasize a concept we find important, except the poem is actually our lives.

That's actually hard in a sense.  We're mired in physical need and throughout our history, humanity has struggled to rise above subsistence living (near the level of animals) and focus on the abstract thinking necessary for much of human creation.  Even today, when most of the West has food, shelter, and creature comforts, most of us are still stuck on the level of what I call "put the check in the box" mentality at our jobs.  Do the tasks so you can get the money so you can get the groceries and pay the mortgage or rent and then you're so tired all you can do is zone out in front of the TV or Facebook.  Emotional subsistence living.

So what if some souls, prior to their arrival on Earth, decide they want to speed things up, like a teenager who pushes to graduate early and get the hell out of school? These souls are looking for some sort of accelerated path that will drastically shorten their time here while still getting the education and personality development they need, gaining the experiences that teach them "this, not that, is what I love, what I resonate with."

Enter shit, and its happenings.  What better way to learn, "This is what I like and don't like" by getting a massive dose of misery, and an extreme motivation to get away?  I know, how about ... I was going to list off a bunch of horrible suffering one could endure, but really, just read the news.  And say reincarnation is true (and I hope it isn't), even if you don't choose something truly horrific but instead just have a life of misfortune, perhaps every instance is reducing the number of your incarnations here not because God is sitting up there tallying up stuff and deciding whether you have suffered enough to be allowed out, but because you have suffered enough that you finally get it, that understanding of what makes you a unique human being.

You have to be careful with these kinds of thoughts.  "Everything happens for a reason" has been used for centuries to blame the victim and justify human rights abuses.  I'm not saying I believe this, just that it is the only thing I can think of to make that platitude of "everything happens for a reason" make the slightest sense.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Geographically-odd water elemental dreams

D has been watching a cartoon series called Avatar.  I haven't been watching it with him, but apparently the imagery is seeping into my dreams psychically or something, because when I tell him about my dreams, he says, "It's like Avatar!"   We tend to share dreams and dream elements so it's no surprise, but today I joked, "Ok, keep your tv shows out of my dreams!"

Apparently the show has a lot of water imagery, which is heavy in my mind lately due to my love affair with the ocean.  Here is the one I woke from this morning.

In this dream, I had traveled to  coastal Virginia, a place I've never been in waking life.  Virginia had barrier reef islands, rows and rows of these long, thin and green islands, some no more than a foot across, and others big enough to put a house on. You could jump or swim easily to each one.  They were incredibly beautiful and my vision was overlaid with imagery from an old-time map, something more suited to the South Pacific.

This was Virginia?  I was floored.

I was there with two friends, one a Virginia resident who showed us around.  The ocean water was cold but shallow in some places and safe to get into. It flowed stronger in two places.  In one, it was a small river or rushing creek curling around the sand.  We gasped because the rushing water opened its eyes and looked at us!  It was in the shape of a woman sort of bent in on herself, long hair braided and flowing.  I assumed she was a water elemental.  The other fast-moving water was a large river flowing rapidly over a perfectly flat, smooth area into the ocean. I was hesitant to enter this water, unsure of the currents.

The whole thing was astoundingly beautiful!

My friend, the Virginia girl, took us into a very old, dungeon-like building that had many underground levels.  I passed by some rednecks (?) having a conversation.  I passed by rooms with skulls and bones barely visible behind crumbling stones.  It actually wasn't creepy and was warmly lit with torches.  We were adventuring and enjoying each others' company.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Can you consciously develop passion?

Steep Ravine near Stinson Beach, Photo by Evan Blaser
I'm back from a beautiful weekend with old friends. We camped under gnarly cypresses (I think!) above Stinson Beach in Northern California. The fog hung on the hills in the early morning; dolphins jumped and seals poked their heads through the oncoming waves, either curious about us or wishing we'd get the hell off their beach. I opened my tent one morning to see a buck, two does, and two fawns staring at me. Little quails scurried away from me as I walked. At night, I could see shooting stars and the Milky Way through the clear sea air, and we spotted many satellites.

Career coaches sometimes say, "What you want to do on your day off is what you should be doing with your life." If I won the lottery, I would get myself a cabin overlooking one of the more primal beaches in this area, and then I would sleep.  When awake, I'd walk and meditate until I grew tired, and then I'd sleep again.  I try to come up with someone more productive, but I can't get past simple sleeping and observing nature. That's my deepest personal desire. I suppose this indicates that I've coped with profound exhaustion by avoiding passion.

Yikes ... let me say that again and make myself really see this:  I've coped with profound exhaustion by avoiding passion.

I don't think I'm alone. If you have lived with exhaustion and illness since childhood, you might shy away from anything that gets you too excited and uses too much energy. After awhile, it becomes default.  Consequently, you coast and do whatever takes the least amount of energy.  When you do indulge your interests, exhaustion forces you to stop before you can do anything productive.  This is a serious problem because passion is what moves people to put up with hardship required to get them where they want to be.  Passion is what distinguishes "This hobby is pretty cool and I'll work on it when I feel like it" from "I will do whatever it takes to indulge this activity as often as possible and make it my life."

How does one regain passion?  Can you regain it if you never actually had it?  Can it be consciously developed and if so, how?  How can you sidestep the exhaustion that comes from a chronic illness and regain passion?

In the meantime, I'm planning for our next excursion to a campsite on the sand, under palm trees near Santa Barbara.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lines and Stories

A random thought: if I were an alien investigating an unfamiliar Earth and its human species, I would probably not be enthralled with youthful beauty.  I would probably be more interested in very old people, viewing the lines on their faces as beautiful, intricate maps.

Also, here's an excerpt from a 2008 dream I rediscovered:

How weird it was!  It was a dark room lit by blue-green Christmas lights.  Two figures sat on thrones.  They were Auberon and Titania, the King and Queen of the Fairies.  They were surrounded by a throng of people, including many small children.  They were all asking questions and the place had a warm, friendly atmosphere but also an air of awe.

I sat down next to Titania.  She looked a lot like how Charles Vess drew her in “The Books of Magic” but when I looked closely at her, she was not ageless.  She had small lines under her eyes, making me think she was a bit older than me.  She turned to me and I understood that I could ask her a question.

“If fairies are real,” I said, “why can’t I see them?”

She laughed and I got this sense of “Oh my, that’s a loaded question, are you sure you really want to know the answer?”  She passed some technical information to me that I couldn’t quite grasp (“technical” as in “here’s the reason”).  I indicated that I wanted to see the fairies despite this.

“All right,” she said.  “We’ll try to arrange some special events and see if you notice.”

At that moment, I realized that everything around me had faded and that underneath that scene was a man’s voice speaking English but I couldn’t follow what he was saying.  It had been there all along.  That’s what the fairy encounters would be like, I realized.  It was about being aware of the voice underneath.

I suppose that's what any phenomenon is built on: a story running underneath the events.  Or perhaps story-telling is a synthesis only we humans have mastered.  Regardless, I'm trying very hard to listen for the voice underneath reality, but my monkey mind chatters so loud sometimes.  Give that monkey a banana!  It can't talk when it's eating delicious bananas.

(Photo "Cuba Camaquey" by Anja Disseldorp)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dream techniques for dealing with nastiness

I had a few recent dreams that illustrated how subtle energies affect me, and techniques I can use to lessen the effects of nasty, disturbing energy. This first one occurred while I was sick.  I snipped the beginning, in which I was showing prospective buyers around the house we live in (a bleedover from waking life).

The house's sub-basement was was incredibly creepy though I couldn’t explain why. A couple of the prospective buyers were counterculture to the extreme; one tattooed, eyelinered guy in black had what looked like wooden beads pierced all over his face.  He was saying, “And then, in that room,” (he pointed to the creepy sub-basement) “they decided to put Deborah and her baby.  Can you believe it?  You put a girl like that in there, AND the baby? You can imagine how that turned out.”

Then someone grabbed my hand and said, “Here, I need to show you this.”  He ran inside the door of the creepy room and shut it, leaving me standing outside, wondering what was going on.  Suddenly I heard voices, oily whispers, multiple beings speaking and their voices weaving in and out of each other’s.  I don’t remember now what they were saying, but something about “the girl.” It was disturbing–genuinely distressing– to hear.

Then I heard the man inside say, in a very harsh, firm voice that rose above the whispers, “I know, right? This is when you pull yourself together, and you walk right past it like you don’t even hear it.  Walk away and you’ll be just fine.” 

I got a quick flash of insight on what had happened to Deborah.  She hadn’t walked away, possibly because she was innocent and naive and no one had warned her.  She let the voices in.  As if I were her, I felt the entities rush into her body and her eyes rolled back in her head.  She had an almost orgasmic rush of energy, but it was so heavy and dark.  I woke up then.

And then this quick little fragment, which offered another solution to ugly energy:

I dreamed of beautiful blue crystal-like pinwheels in the sky, and received a message to invoke them when doing unpleasant things like paying bills.  The idea was to negate some of the unpleasantness with something beautiful.

Interestingly, paying bills isn't a particularly heinous task for me, but it was the example in the dream.  I've dreamed of gorgeous crystal-like lights in the sky before, and they had a similar effect.

(Photo "Kazaguruma Pinwheels" by Edmund Garman; this was "A display made for Child Abuse Awareness")

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