Once again nature predominates in the Northeast, another winter storm creating an outer cocoon that is hard to penetrate. At times like this, there is a natural call to go inward, to hunker down, be warm and safe, and hope that the power stays on so that we are not too badly inconvenienced. During one of these recent storms, as I was shoveling the driveway for what felt like the hundredth time that week, feeling dispirited, irritated, and personally put upon by nature, I shouted out: ENOUGH! In the distant woods I heard a loud gravelly cry in reply. It got my attention.
Taking a breather, I flopped down in the snow and stared up into the sky, the snow pelting my face cooling my mood. “Don’t take it so personally,” I told myself. From the woods came a flurry of activity, the sound of wings beating and more loud calls, as if an argument or fight were taking place. In the next moment, a large black bird flew up and out of the tangle of trees, still calling loudly, its adversary shouting behind it. It flew directly overhead, a raven. Now it really had my attention.
The raven rarely shows itself. I see it only occasionally though I know it lives in the nearby woods, having heard it often enough. Its loud groveling voice is easy to distinguish. As it flies overhead I hear it still arguing with the other bird, perhaps ousting it from its territory, or perhaps it was a mate, but all I know is that this moment is meaningful. I ponder what I had been thinking when it so loudly interrupted my inner dialogue. “Who are you to complain?” it seemed to be saying, as it flew directly over me lying spread eagle in the deep snow.
It flew low enough that I could see each separate feather of its distinctly cut wedge-shaped tail, hear the flap of its wide wings, and see its beady eye staring right at me. Out of its long, sharp black beak came another string of garbled sounds, meant for me, I felt. “Don’t take it personally, Jan, but you are nothing. I see you lying down there, nothing more than a speck on the ground, so small and insignificant. I have quite a good perspective from up here you know,” it seemed to be saying. I saw the significance of the synchronicity very clearly then and, indeed, in that moment, I was released of my bad mood.
I got up, brushed the snow off my clothes, my state of mind now shifted. I chuckled at my former disgust with nature. Nature, I knew now, had quite a sense of humor. “Yes, it does!” cackled the raven, as it flew off into the deeper woods where I knew it stayed most of the time. Its chuckles pierced the air, echoing in my head for a long time afterwards.
I thought of this raven again yesterday, as I sat in meditation. I began by chanting a mantra, letting it come out of my unconscious of its own accord, falling into place. It went something like this: I allow my ancient spirit self who knows and sees to be more fully present in this life. As I sat quietly, letting both my breathing and the words take me deeper into calmness I also let the words sink in deeper, taking hold of other thoughts, pushing them away, as I stayed connected to the intent of the moment, to let my ancient self emerge more fully. I felt good. I noticed occasionally that I was not allowing other thoughts to intrude, that I was achieving a sense of detachment and emptiness, staying focused on my intent.
I use meditation in many ways and for different purposes, depending on the day or the moment. Sometimes I just want to achieve a sense of inner calm and peace. Sometimes I want to mull over difficulties, reach a resolution, or gain clarity. Sometimes I want to have an adventure of energetic proportions. Yesterday, I just wanted to see what happened as I attempted to resolve my personal inner dilemma of allowing my inner spirit—that holy/wholly self that Jeanne mentioned in the channeled message this week—to more fully live. It is my challenge, to not fall back into an old and moody self, but to keep moving forward on that path I mentioned in that same channeled message the other day.
So, as I chanted and breathed, after a while I got in touch with that inner spirit and I heard it say that it was not at all afraid to live, to be more fully present in my life, but that my ego kept getting in its way. It cannot emerge if the ego is in control, it told me. The ancient spirit self is always ready and waiting, but it cannot come forth if the ego is blocking the way. When I heard this, I gave myself a new chant: I allow my ego self to dissolve and let go of its need to control as I open to my ancient spirit self who knows and sees.
While I am having this inner conversation with what I think are my inner spirit and my ego, I hear another third voice asking me to question what is ego and what is ancient spirit. It was then that I clearly saw how totally dominant my ego was. Here I thought I was really letting myself go, feeling good about chanting in such a positive spirit-oriented way, saying: “Look at me, I’m doing it. I have successfully shut out all other voices, I am doing a good job with this meditation.” But wouldn’t you know, all I was doing was placating my ego, because that look-at-me-I’m-doing-such-a-good-job voice was really my ego talking. That third voice, so clearly coming from beyond ego pointed out what my ego was doing. This, was the voice of my ancient spirit self, telling me that in order to truly allow the ancient spirit self to more fully emerge I must consider the power of the ego.
So, what if it’s true that the ancient spirit self really does want to live but we are blocking its emergence without even realizing it? What if our ego is so attached to us and in command that we can’t access this true self? It’s something to ponder.
So, what is ego? I think it’s everything that is not ancient spirit self. And I think it dominates. It is the complaining, whining, self-important self; the inflated, so busy I can’t be disturbed self; the poor-me and why-me self. It is the self that says love me and be nice to me, world. It is the self that feels good about sitting and doing meditation and the self that wants experiences of energy and even of spirit connection. Yes, it is even the good self that seeks out the ancient spirit self. It is the self that rails against nature, against even more snow, and it is the self that may not want to hear the truths being spoken.
I had a feeling when I heard and saw that raven that it was a momentous occasion, and yesterday, when I sat down to meditate, the fact that the raven came to mind, as I chanted forth my ancient spirit self, is also significant to me. As I sit here now and once again watch the snow, sleet and freezing rain fall, the piles of snow outside growing increasingly taller, I feel more connected to the raven, showing me what the ancient spirit self is truly capable of. That ancient spirit self is like the raven, able to fly high about it all, to see and know from a different perspective what my ego self can only imagine, to call down and say, “Hey, wait a minute, what is really going on inside that controlling mind of yours?” My ancient spirit self is nature. This I understand more fully today.
And even though I cocoon myself inside my warm house and ponder these things, I know that later today I will be outside once again with my shovel, nature telling me I am nothing. But at the same time I will listen for the call of the raven telling me I am more than nothing as well, because I am also nature. And it is in nature that I will find my ancient spirit self, where I will hear its true call.
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Sending you all love and good wishes,