Some years ago when I was finishing off a Postgraduate degree in Education for Sustainability, I wrote a lengthy paper entitled; Cultivating the Ecological Self using Experiential learning. What a mouth-full eh! Totally locked into my left brain bias, I laboured over it for weeks. Soon after submitting the paper I met up with a group of my peers who I share a Jungian background with, to continue our experiential practice.
The first process was Sandtray work. No sooner had I touched the sand when I was inextricably drawn into the Sandtray itself and so quite naturally I climbed in. No words do this experience justice.
Silent and in awe I simply was.
Without words I knew that everything is connected. There is no separation. No Me, only We or Web. Eventually a mantra emerged, Earth Body Body Earth, Earth Body Body Earth, Earth Body Body Earth….A slow drumming of embodied knowing.
After staying suspended in this ‘not-knowing/knowing’ for some time, I climbed out of the tray. Sensing something big, my IPhone crazy buddy had taken a snap of me and whilst I still have the blurry photographic ‘proof’ of this experience, I have something far more precious. I have a deeply profound and embodied knowingness that in life and death there is no separation.
I drove home realising that weeks of academic work trying to articulate the potential of experiential work to open the doorway to Oneness, had been delivered to me, or through me, quite literally on a tray. I know it’s not the only way we can experience this sort of thing, but that’s how it was in that one moment for me.
The urge to grasp this transpersonal experience and linger in the light was really tantalising. Like many of us, I’ve done plenty of cushion sitting in pursuit of the Sacred. And yet in my heart of hearts I’ve also had a sense of the sacred being me and in life, and that all I really need to do is be love. And that love is simply energy, and we can tune-in or not.
And in all honestly, despite numerous academic accolades, that’s all I really know for sure now. It’s not quite a thesis but there it is; no separation, Be love, Earth Body Body Earth. I could never know this intellectually and so that’s the blessing and necessity of experiential work. Yet the seduction of personality and ego to take flight to the light is often immense. Who wants to do the dishes when bliss is on the menu? Mrs Buddha never got a mention.
However as always, everyday life served up the necessary call and the next day I flew to Sydney where my precious Mum had just had a major stroke. And the gift for me and maybe for her was that I went there fully present to Love, without fear of death and dying. I went with sadness and compassion about the challenges, the painfulness and difficulties for her of the dying process and for me. But also with an embodied knowingness that there is no separation, there is only Love. I had five full weeks of life and death with my Mum, and what a time of challenges and blessings it was.
Immediately after, I had another opportunity to companion someone through the dying process. Again I felt the embodied knowingness of that transpersonal experience, palpably, fearlessly anchoring me in life. And together with an extended community of Love, that next seven months was the biggest gift in my life so far, a daily practice of bringing death to life and life to death. Spirit and matter; wedded through the practice of living.
So what a mystery it all is and how contradictory it seems at times.
But what I have learnt is that life is our meditation; the rough and tumble, blessing and curse, solitude and community, light and shadow of every-day living. And that the real gift is in knowing that the seemingly ordinary is actually extraordinary. At the end of our day it’s as simple and as complex as Love.