Continuous Conscious Connection

You and I are always connected to the Source of all living energy in the universe. The thing is we forget that connection is always with us. Humans have given it many names to remind themselves throughout the course of their existence on Earth (God, Goddess, Divinity, etc.), but then they become distracted by the details of daily life, and conscious memory slips away. This amnesia makes everything more difficult because on some level we feel untethered and lost. We think we are alone in the cosmos, without purpose or support. This is not true, but how do we find our way back to the deep-seated knowing that lives within? How do we recognize divine Presence in every moment, in everything we experience?

Traditionally, religion played that role. People regularly attended temples or churches to pray and feel connected to something greater. Today, a more free-flowing, eclectic spirituality seems to be arising. People are seeking experiences beyond the parameters of what has defined human-divine connection in the past. Still, the essence of what is being sought is a profound ongoing awareness of something sacred in our lives. In our hearts, we know it exists; we are just trying to access that elusive memory.

Currently, we are living through a time of Remembering, of coming into continuous conscious awareness of the sacred within, which spiritual teachers throughout the ages have pointed to with such certainty and unwavering vision. It is humanity’s time to fully awaken to this inner/outer experience that will individually and collectively guide us through life. But how does this occur? How do we access connection intentionally?

Meditation, prayer, or immersion in ancient teachings can spark connection to God/dess, when this becomes an ongoing practice. Consistency is key; some call it devotion. There are many other conduits to that connection to universal consciousness. One of the most powerful and direct is Nature. Walking daily in natural surroundings, such as a local park or a nature sanctuary, can keep the door to the Divine wide open. Birdsong, flowers blooming, tree branches dancing in the wind, or the drama of the sky and clouds are Nature’s way of keeping us awake and connected to something beyond the daily distractions that occupy our minds. The natural world fills the heart and soul with joy, love, and Presence. Over time, this feeling becomes continuous, a conscious part of who you are.

Personally, I find that I rely on all of these reminders. It is so easy to forget in our busy world full of conflicting personal and global dramas. Eventually I make my way to the deeper truth that only love is real. It is the living thread beneath everything in the multiverse, and it holds humanity together with a powerful vibration living at the core of our being. You yourself hold the reminder within you. You can’t lose it because it is what gives you life. The light within you can become clouded over or temporarily forgotten through the years, but it is never lost.

At this moment in time, the cloudiness is clearing. Each of us is gradually awakening to ongoing awareness of the dynamic tapestry of connection that we are one with. Every time you look up at the blue sky or into the eyes of a loved one, you wake up more fully. With every conscious breath you take, connection is present. It is a process that can’t be stopped because it is our divine destiny as humans on this Earth. We came here to awaken and fully remember who we are and where we came from. Continuous awareness of connection is on the horizon. With each sunrise, we see more clearly and love more deeply. And we step more fully into consciously living as our souls.

I Am That

The Ham-sa (or So-ham) mantra has been used by yogis and meditators for centuries to align with the breath—inhalation and exhalation—and experience divine connection, or Presence. One translation of the Sanskrit syllables is “I Am That,” meaning: all that is, or the universe. The repetition of these sacred sounds centers meditators in the stillness within and connects them to universal consciousness. With consistent daily practice (sitting or walking), an individual can increase awareness of both inner and outer Presence, ultimately discovering that they are one and the same.

At least that has been my experience in recent years, particularly in the past few months. As I moved through treatment for breast cancer, my spiritual practice deepened, and I felt a dropping away of personal identity into expansive soul awareness beyond the physical form. “I Am That,” or just “I Am,” expresses this as closely as language can. Infinite spaciousness in which there is only being without boundaries of any kind. As the weeks of post-treatment passed, I felt even more space opening up, extending out beyond me and this planet to endless galaxies with no fixed point or place within time/space. I look at the sun and the sky that surrounds it and know that I am all that I see or perceive. And more. 

I believe this is the life journey for each of us. At birth, we individuate in human form on Earth and then over the course of a lifetime we move gradually to a less defined identity which then disappears entirely at death. We return to the formless universal consciousness from which we came. If we are fortunate, we may experience some of this vast awareness before we die—through spiritual exploration or unexpected life events. Whatever our individual life course, we eventually reunite in collective beingness as we transition from this world to the next. The sharp edges of fear about death can soften as the years pass and we are prepared for that transition, which is not an end but a doorway to expansion beyond the physical body.

“I Am That” awareness comes to me most vividly in Nature. When I gaze up into the branches of a giant oak tree stretching to the sky, I sense the living wisdom of an ancient being. When a great blue heron spreads its wings and takes flight, I feel awe, watching it seamlessly navigate both Heaven and Earth. When, on a cold March day, I hear a cardinal’s spring song, I experience the joyful vibration of new beginnings. With each breath, I inhale Source energy, and everywhere I look, I see a loving Intelligence reflected in the world. Some call it the Divine Mother’s love, taking physical form around and within us.

We all are part of that love. In fact, another way of saying “I Am That” is “I Am Love.” Everything in the universe embodies shining loving Presence, more and more visibly when we let go of our identities and rest in the peace and stillness of the natural world. However you come to discover the vastness of the cosmos and the spirit within you, your heart will open so fully that you will recognize Love in all you see. Truly, there is nothing but That.
 

Wild Geese on a Winter’s Day

Often there are very subtle threads that hold us to life and to the belief that everything is ultimately worthwhile. They reveal themselves in sometimes overlooked daily details: the smell of freshly baked bread from the kitchen, the way the sun highlights the red amaryllis on the dining room table, a snatch of song from a neighbor’s apartment. All these make up life’s tapestry and fill us with delight if we are able to fully receive them. They balance out any sadness or dismay about how things are unfolding and uplift us at the most unexpected moments. This is the magic of allowing your life to carry you to the heart of all experience: Heavenly gifts are always arriving.

For me, one day last month, it was the sight and sound of wild Canada geese flying overhead against the blue winter sky as I stepped outside for my afternoon walk. And it was the unexpected sight of 8 to 10 robins in a bare tree, calling excitedly in the January air. Birds always open my heart and awaken me to full consciousness. Their place on this planet is one of such grace and beauty. So many beings and events hold this promise for each of us, in Nature or in our own homes. These are the threads; this is the tapestry of which we too are a part. The words you speak may give someone else hope or solace. Your very presence is a light in the lives of those who love you.

I remind myself of this when the gray days of winter seem endless and I can barely remember spring. Or perhaps it is God who reminds me, who shows me vibrant life (wild geese and cheery robins) even on a cold colorless day. It is the gift we carry with us always. As the French writer Albert Camus so beautifully expressed it, “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” Beauty and meaning are etched into our souls. Divine vision skates along the surface of our lives, continuously available for our inspiration and sustenance. The very air we breathe awakens us to the day before us. Our senses greet the ordinary, making it extraordinary.

All this is waiting for you if you allow the doors and windows of your life to remain open, if you allow life to flow in and touch your awareness. In those moments, there is no question about whether life is worthwhile. You are so immersed in the wonders of the present moment that thinking recedes; full-hearted beingness carries you forward through life. This is the best of living, available to each of us, if we so choose. Poet Mary Oliver, wrote a perfect description of this:

“I look; morning to night I am never done with looking.
Looking I mean not standing around, but standing around
as though with your arms open.”

These moments await you and me. Each day is a new miracle to be experienced. The more engaged you become in this way of being, the more all inner queries about purpose, reasons, or outcome fall away. Disappointment disappears, and only celebration remains. This is the life of Spirit, fully embraced and expressed.

The World Is a Garden

For many years I had a garden filled with a variety of flowers in our yard in Massachusetts. After we moved to Florida, I created a smaller “garden” of potted flowers on our lanai. Now, back home in the Boston area, the backyard we share with our downstairs neighbors really has no room for a garden like my previous one. Instead, I have begun taking long walks through the neighborhoods of our town to delight in other people’s gardens. I have found this to be an unexpected gift of my return to New England. I loved having my own garden, but now I am enjoying the entire town’s gardens, as well as those at nearby Mt. Auburn Cemetery. Suddenly, the whole world has become a garden—or I am realizing it always was.

What a beautiful truth that is. The Earth that is our home is a Garden of Eden available to all, if we could remember to see it that way. Mother Nature has no borders or boundaries, no “mine” and “yours.” Humans build fences, claim ownership, but trees, plants, and flowers have unlimited connections beneath the fenced land which we can’t even see. The strength of their living energy has a power beyond wire fences and concrete walls.  Vines can topple fences, and trees can break through sidewalks. Ultimately, life cannot be contained; it flowers everywhere.

In the 1960s we called this “flower power,” and it defined a generation’s consciousness and vision of the future. But you don’t have to call yourself a flower child to see the unity of life displayed in the gardens of the world (as well as the wilderness). Humans often think they are separate from Nature; yet all it takes is a shift in awareness to see the oneness from which we have all emerged and that links us together. And this is exactly what I experienced as I walked daily from winter to spring to summer to autumn. Every day was a blessing and a revelation. Each neighbor’s unique garden with its seasonal changes was a cause for celebration.

Beginning in March and April, I watched flower bulbs push up through the frozen ground and trees begin to bud. Crocuses, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths. Redbud, crabapple, dogwood. Forsythia and lilac bushes. What glorious colors everywhere! New growth each day. The tiny yellow-green leaves of the maple and oak trees silhouetted against the clear-blue spring sky took my breath away. In May, June, and July, the colors grew even more vivid. Rainbow reds and purples and yellows. Magentas and pinks. Azalea, rhododendron, hydrangea, rose of Sharon, columbine. Every yard I passed seemed to have different variations. I have never seen so many kinds and colors of irises and lilies as I have this past year on my walks through town.

I didn’t have to “own” these flowers to love them or to appreciate my neighbors’ creativity and imagination in the plantings. It was like looking at living versions of Monet’s paintings of the gardens at Giverny. The colors and life flowed together from yard to yard. Everything seemed to breathe and grow as one. And as I passed by, I too was a part of that living painting that Nature imagines into being each year when the seasons change. In September, the colors were still vibrant in the zinnias, black-eyed susans, marigolds, ageratum, and asters. The tree leaves turned in October to brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows, and soon the bare branches were once again silhouetted against the sky. As winter arrives with its white snows, red holly berries, and deep green pine trees, the seasonal cycles continue.

This is what I discovered in not having my own backyard garden: Everywhere I looked was Nature’s beauty, none of it “mine” but all of it a shared blessing. I was at times moved to tears by the simplest, most delicate flower or the splendor of a tree covered with blossoms, radiant in the sun. The Earth gives us these gifts every day. Open your heart and receive them. Even that small flower blooming in a crack in the sidewalk on a city street is a miraculous part of a greater whole that includes you and me.

Stillness of the Heart and Soul

The nonstop noise of the external world often keeps us from experiencing the quiet at the core of our being. There, a timeless eternal presence without sound or language awaits us, a connection to something greater than our individual, seemingly short lives. Outer distractions, both audio and visual, continuously surround us from our TVs, laptops, and cell phones and prevent a deeper relationship to all of life. Traffic sounds, machinery, and loud voices in nonstop conversation interrupt our peace of mind, even if we don’t consciously recognize the dissonance. Yet, something within each of us does know something is amiss and longs for an absence of sound within which we can feel calmer, more centered. How do we get there?

Many people have turned to meditation and yoga or quiet solitary walks in Nature for just this reason. It connects them to that inner space of quiet within. Once accessed, you may realize it is never absent, even in the noisiest surroundings. At least, that is what I have discovered over the years. There is silence beneath every sound, even the loudest, because sound arises from silence and falls back into it. There is silence between every note of music, every spoken word, and every birdcall. There is silence in my heart. If I pause, that silence rises to the surface, and I become silence itself, just peaceful presence. My soul holds the stillness of the universe and divine connection, and it is always available to me as I awaken more fully and deepen my awareness.

You and I are on this path together, this opening to the eternal stillness of all being. Every human is. It is the collective destiny of humanity, and the individual journey of each soul. The return Home after life on Earth…and a realization that Home is within us now. In silence we find it, and gradually it becomes so compelling that we choose to live the rest of our lives in conscious awareness of that divine stillness within. Sometimes world events, like a global pandemic that shuts everything down, become the catalyst for awakening to this deeper awareness. What appears on the surface to be crisis may open the doors of perception to untold universes within. In the absence of activity and noise, we find peace.

I grew up in the Midwestern countryside, an only child who spent most of my time outdoors. Nature’s quiet is part of me, and I reach out for it in my daily life. Even a small park with trees and flowers in an urban setting is enough to call me back to that inner silence of the heart and soul. I believe we all need this connection, especially now. If you feel distant from stillness in your life, it is not as far away as you may think. Don’t wait until life overwhelms you and crisis stops you to rediscover the essence of your being. Every day, take a few minutes alone to access that place of internal peace and quiet. Pause, close your eyes, breathe deeply—and there you are. As simple as that…