Beyond the Mind – Happy Mother’s Day (from England)

It is early morning, just after sunrise in England. Here it is Mother’s Day. It is a day to honour our own mothers, mothers everywhere, and to honour the often undervalued principle of nurturing. Today I also received a message from my dear friend Sarah Varcas who recently suffered a heart attack. I wanted to share Sarah’s reflections with you, I think you’ll see why when you read them. (Please see below.) Sometimes the most authentic perspectives come from those who suffer a collapse of certainties; when the unexpected strips away the carefully honed plans and assumptions we project onto life. A sudden illness, the ending of a relationship, death and divorce; these profound shifts in circumstance, unwelcome and unbidden, wake us up and offer an opportunity to listen beyond the voices of our conditioning; what we “should” be doing, what “people” think of us, what is expected of us. When all of that is stripped away, what remains?

As Sarah reconnects with her physical heart, she hears her deeper, intuitive, wise heart. She recognizes its gentle power to continually support her life while also “speaking” the truths so needed as a guide, but so often bypassed in the flurry of the minds activities. In the mirror Sarah holds for us, I see myself of course, and the pain of bypassing the heart’s promptings as I get caught in chasing after the crumbling facades the mind generates. But I also see our collective Mother that nourishes us all, our magnificent Earth.

In listening to our deeper, wise heart, we hear truth. We also hear our intimate connection with all life and with our extraordinary home which is this beautiful and beneficent Earth. As Sarah points out, we take our heart for granted and just like the mothers we take for granted, we also take our Earth for granted, that she will always be there for us. However, we are awakening to the brutal truth that if we don’t tend to her convulsions, her heart attack, we will not survive.  Just as Sarah encourages, we too are encouraged to begin our journey back to Earth, to our Mother, by listening into our Heart. The intensity of our times opens into our next collective journey, which is to hear the love of our heart, and to honour her promptings. In doing so, we are invited to reassess how we relate to our Mother Earth, to listen and love her too. The connection between Earth and Heart become clear when we listen beyond the mind,  to hear our most intimate guide. Surely, she will guide us home.

Blessings, Thanissara

Here Shariputra, balances perilous survival
twisting in the wind of our whims.
Here Shariputra, the brave leap of reclamation.
Our deepest heart implores it,
with liquid, fluid prayer.
So turn the mad mind around
from its callous scalpel to the world.
From the collapsing furnace of known lands
fierce and urgent cries mop up denial.
Millions sign: All Out Now!
Quick, before it’s too late
to walk again
in the rose-scented garden
where your soul patiently waits
among shattered fragments
of the empire
to break down your wall
of small expectations
and from nightmares
pull you awake.
Here is the faith of wild Warriors
Who leave dream-thinking far behind.
Who leap beyond the walls of the mind.
Who know the intimacy of all things.
And who return to this, our human
that feels the scream
in each mindful moment
and chooses
to soften.
To breathe the mystery.
To enter the unknown gate.
To love fiercely every living thing,
right down to the last blade of grass.
Quick, time, any time.
Here and now will do.
Move beyond your walled pastimes
to join the Awakening.
Time yourself out
from the needle of craving
and boogie down with intense
flamenco, disciplined passion
so we can crash the machine.
Soar over the edge
on the breath of our heart’s sorrow
and make a beloved circle
outside the wall
where the storehouse of untamed dreams
will decolonize our mind.

From The Heart of the Bitter Almond Hedge Sutra

From SarahHello everyone. Just wanted to check in again and let you know how things are progressing. Overall, life is good, despite the obvious challenges of recovering from a heart attack and adjusting to the meaning of my ‘new normal’. It is on the physical level that I most feel the challenge as my energy levels are still low and therefore any physical activity is severely limited at the moment. Cue a BIG lesson in patience! Okay, Universe, I GET THE MESSAGE! However, in the past week especially I have definitely noticed happiness creeping into my days and my heart has most certainly been smiling at life rather than cowering from it…

It does rather seem, from my current vantage point, that the blessings of this bizarre sequence of events are greater than the drawbacks, despite how huge those drawbacks sometimes appear (usually in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep and the poor-old mind takes it upon itself to run through the ‘doomsday scenarios’ just to keep me occupied!). Suddenly being awakened to the presence of my physical heart has triggered a process of what I can only describe as re-heartening, that is, the ‘heart’ is returning to aspects of myself, my life and my experience where it was previously absent or had withdrawn through lack of nourishment or nurturing.

There is now an echo that runs through my consciousness, a heartbeat, which reminds me that without heart in all its forms and guises, life becomes sterile and frozen. I knew this, of course, as do we all, but was I living it? Was I listening to my heart when she told me my mind was leading me off in the wrong direction? No. Well…yes, but then I’d come up with the ‘yes but’ response followed by all the reasons why I couldn’t possibly do what I knew I really needed to do. Or ‘yes I will do them but THIS and THAT need to change first’.

These days, it seems to me, my heart has found her voice, or perhaps I just hear her way more clearly now. I turn to her when I need to make a decision and I listen to her gentle prods in the right direction. Even (and especially) when my mind says something very different, which usually sounds terribly obvious and rational but comes as a harsh and echoing voice from an empty room, not as the soft tones of my warm and beating heart as she speaks into my life with every breath. During my first night in hospital I lay in bed trying to sense my heart inside my chest. I could see her activity laid out as in a foreign script on the heart monitor to which I was attached, but when I tuned in to her all I could feel was a deep sadness, as if she was weeping in there. I realised that in all of my 47 years I had paid her next to no attention whatsoever. She had beat through every minute, every hour of every day and I just took her for granted, assuming she’d continue to offer her unfailing support no matter how much I ignored her voice or hardened her shell to cope with the challenges of the outside world.

Yes, I had always had a good diet, lived a relatively healthy life, didn’t do anything that would particularly put her at risk of physical diseases, but often I neglected to listen to her, really listen, even when I knew I should. She was always relegated to a secondary role, a cameo in the drama of my life. She had the odd walk-on part, and even got a line from time to time, but mostly it was my head that told me what to do and my heart that just carried on beating away, keeping me alive to face another day in which I would pretty much ignore her again! It also became increasingly obvious to me as I lay there in the darkness of a hospital ward wondering what the heck was going to happen next, that the heart I had shared with many others I had, in fact, withheld from myself. I still wonder at the peculiar kind of martyrdom such behaviour entails!

Anyway, as I process the meaning and significance of all that has happened in these past few weeks I can come to only one conclusion that feels heartily right, and that is that my heart needs to expand (not physically, of course, because that’s never a good condition to be in!) but emotionally and spiritually. I need more heart in my life, enough to embrace everything within and without. Enough heart to know that no matter how rational the mind and ego can be, when it feels wrong to my heart it’s wrong, and whatever the outcome of walking the Heart’s Path, I can embrace it and contain it and move forward with it, remaining intact and whole no matter what needs to be let go in the process. I can hear so much clearer now the different tones of the heart and the mind. The nuance of fear and foreboding that underpins the mind’s commentary and the reassuring strength that the heart offers along with her wisdom.

I am also acutely aware that any notion of ‘protecting my heart’ feels completely wrong and out of kilter with her truth. There is nothing to protect her from. Nothing that can damage or diminish her. Any fear that I have had of opening her up to certain aspects of life and experience have been completely misplaced and born of ego that needs to feel in control and be top dog, and what better way to do that than through fear? Any damage done to my heart has been done by me, not by anything outside of me. This I see and feel extremely clearly now, hence my need to ‘say’ these words aloud in my time of clarity, so that if this clarity fades in due course I can return to its assurance of safety and truth through these words.

And on that note, I have received several messages from people who are concerned that I may have suffered this heart attack as a result of interference from outside forces with ill-intent. I would like to offer my reassurance that absolutely nothing in what I have experienced feels at all like anything has interfered with me in that way, other than myself that is! Indeed, as I listen with greater respect and love to my heart she tells me very clearly that there is nothing to fear ‘out there’, for ‘out there’ is also ‘in here’, and the more deeply I can live and breathe that truth the less the duality of ‘victim’ and ‘attacker’, or ‘self’ and ‘other’, can take a hold in my consciousness. She speaks to me very clearly on this: We are not part of the whole, we arethe whole. In embracing this fact more and more deeply I can begin to experience the peace of the heart, which truly knows no fear.

Needless to say, as I am sure is true for many people who experience a sudden health crisis such as this, the questions ‘Why me?! What made this happen?!’ have entertained me repeatedly in recent weeks. As I contemplate their demand for a satisfying logic and order in the universe I realise that true meaning is to be found not in the events themselves but in the consequences of them, in what I make of what has occurred in my life. As such, their meaning will manifest over time as the consequences of these events weave themselves through my life’s tapestry. It is all too tempting for me to find a handy ‘peg’ on which to hang my current situation, and preferably one which gives me back the perceived control I had over my life which I lost in the blink of an eye. But to do so would merely create a false and premature closure on a process which has only just begun.

For me, living with the unknown is my path right now, in terms of whether this will happen to me again, how fully I will recover, what this all means for my future, as well as the bigger questions of how this changes my understanding of and relationship with life itself. I have been plunged into deep mystery and am finding increasing peace in the knowledge that answers are not necessary when it comes to matters of the heart. She speaks in a different language which the mind may forever fail to understand.

So, yes, there are many blessings on this strange new path of mine. I am grateful to have been woken up to where I was neglecting my own growth. I don’t know what happens next. I’ve never been fond of event prediction and I don’t intend to start now! Life is a mystery and often best kept that way, revealing itself to us as it needs to in the moment, not set in stone in the form of events that can neither be avoided nor influenced. I have always used astrology to set the scene, not write the script, and as such its relevance becomes even more profound for me now as I look forward to new beginnings and different voices that guide my path. Whatever the future may hold in terms of happenings, one thing’s for sure, never have I loved my heart as much as I do right now and that can only ever be a good thing!
With much love to everyone.
Sarah Varcas