A Day in a Life: Getting Out of the Maze Before the Rat Dies

In a dream last week it came to me that we live our lives as the shamans of Ancient Mexico say, like chickens in a chicken coop, endlessly pecking away, without question taking what’s thrown to us. The image of chickens did not come into my dreamworld however. Instead the rat in a maze made an appearance, though it’s really the same thing.

The shamans of Carlos Castaneda’s lineage suggest that we train our awareness to avoid repetitive behaviors. They suggest learning how to shift, both physically and mentally, out of places that keep us caught, stagnant, and overwhelmed. By studying ourselves deeply, in recapitulation, we confront the truth of the maze we actually live in. We discover that we are indeed like rats, endlessly caught, endlessly repeating our learned lives. As Simon and Garfunkel write in Patterns:

“From the moment of my birth
To the instant of my death
There are patterns I must follow
Just as I must breathe each breath
Like a rat in a maze
The path before me lies
And the pattern never alters
Until the rat dies”

These lines perfectly describe the constructed world we live in, the one the shamans of Ancient Mexico alert us to and warn us about, that we are indeed caught in. Written at a time of great energetic change in our country, similar to the energy of now, these words alert us to the fact that we tend to live out our lives as we have been taught. We are crammed full of the lessons of this world from the moment we are born, and we follow the paths laid out for us until we die, largely unaware that there are other possibilities.

What does your maze look like?

In my dream, maze after maze appeared, alerting me to the fact that even in thinking we have left the maze we must be alert to the fact that we may fall right into another maze. I woke up wondering what I was doing in my own life that made me have this dream. Was I just repeating old behaviors? Was I fooling myself by thinking I had changed? Was I really caught in another maze?

Although the Simon and Garfunkel song ends on a hopeless note and a sense that we have no control over our lives, the shamans of Ancient Mexico offer a different perspective. They suggest what I learned in my dream: that no matter where we are in our lives we have the ability to break out of our mazes by constantly training ourselves to confront our thoughts, actions, decisions, and the choices we make. In my dream, I was being taught to stay alert and aware of the fact that yes, indeed, I am always in a maze of one sort or another and the only way I will get out is by constantly challenging myself to shift my awareness.

It’s not really that hard to remain aware. It means choosing to constantly challenge myself to note the truth of my reality. A simple question may help in creating a simple shift: Is this something I learned or is this something I truly know? Is this the way I want to live my life or can I approach life in a new way? Am I falling into an old pattern here or can I see this from a new perspective? How could I live this moment differently? How can I shift myself?

As soon as I note an old habit, an old thought, an old judgment, an old idea of self or the world around me, an old fear, an old pattern of speech, an old posture, an old expectation, an old desire, an old view of the world, I know it’s time to question myself. It’s time to refuse to walk another step in the old maze. It’s time to return to the roots of what I have learned in the shaman’s world, in the world of spirit and energy, which is, that nothing is as it appears. The world is an illusion. Everything in the world is presented to help me evolve to a new level of understanding my life and my reason for being here.

The truth is that in the end I will die, just like the rat in the maze will die. I suspect I have traveled the maze a thousand times in a thousand lives, but this time I am electing to journey differently. I am taking my journey with awareness. I am challenged, each day, to break through the walls of the maze. I am challenged, each day, to shift my thoughts and awareness to a far bigger picture.

At the same time, I know that the maze is important, that we must all travel its endless pathways until we wake up to the fact that we are doing just that, walking the same path over and over again. As the season turns soon into winter, as I look forward to the coziness of turning inward, I know I must not become the old me or turn inward in an old way. I must continue my journey of change. I must go through the seasons of life as an aware being, unafraid to change my perceptions and perspectives of the world I live in. I must constantly grow by challenging myself to constantly hop out of the maze.

Recapitulation offers a means of shifting out of the maze. It’s an endless process of training awareness, of challenging the self to change. Chickens and rats that we inevitably are for long periods of time, we all do have the energy to change. It’s what makes us human. We just have to dare ourselves to tap into it.

Our true potential is unlimited, but we may only access that unlimited potential by jumping the walls of the maze and making sure we don’t get caught in another one in the process. Here’s hoping that we may all continue to face our challenges, keeping our eyes on the ultimate prize: life on our own terms, as beings of awareness.

If we can stay connected to the truth that all things are possible we offer ourselves the opportunity to live a different life, without fear, sadness, or regret. But that often means changing the path we are on in order to actualize our fuller potential. By daring ourselves to jump the walls of the maze we may truly live.

Wishing you all good journeying,

Readers of Infinity: Anchor in Truth

I go deeply quiet, into my inner space, into the familiar silence of my inner world. I open to guidance, to hearing the truth, asking only for that which is most important at this moment. I receive the following guidance, which I share with you:

Who is the shadow self? This too is the truthful self.

Go calmly forward now; planting each step firmly, taking the journey that unfolds. It is not enough to be determined and ready. One must also be calmly anchored and aligned with the truth of why one takes the journey that one elects to take.

Remind the self to take full responsibility for the personal journey. There is no room for blame. There is no room for sadness. There is only room for truth in the reality of now. This is the journey now before you.

Investigate the self deeply. Allow no other to enter or find anchor in the inner process of exploration. Inhabit the inner process alone, only the truths of the self present. Without judgment or condemnation of self or others, turn to the true knowledge that this is indeed your journey to take.

Reaffirm your commitment to self, to growth and change, but above all to completion of this journey. When it is done, you will find a new path, a new journey awaiting your first step, waiting to receive you with open arms.

You belong where you find yourself today. Be open and aware, aligned with what is right. Anchored firmly to inner truth, you will find the guidance you need. The answers lie within, calmly waiting to receive you.

Like one pool of calm water flowing into another, receive and merge with the knowledge of self as a journeyer without end. Embrace the rightness of the journey you take today and look forward to tomorrow. Each day offers greater awareness, and that is good!

Chuck’s Place: Practice Inner Silence

In meditation we learn to master our awareness. The mind is a powerful thing, a think tank that never stops. When we meditate we are confronted with the products of this ceaseless mind engine: thoughts.

Thoughts approach our awareness like vendors selling their wares on Black Friday, sales people lobbying for our attention. And just like the freedom we exercise to buy or not to buy, we have the inner ability to attach or not attach to a thought. If we attach we spend our inner capital, our energy, on the thought by giving it our attention, letting it unfold and journeying with it wherever it may take us. If we don’t attach we store our energy in deepening silence. When we surrender our awareness to the activity of the mind, we drift along on a current of free association, floating from thought to thought, our awareness completely captured by a mind-constructed world of thoughts.

With mindfulness we learn to exercise our innate freedom to attach or not to attach to thought. We learn to simply notice the inner lobbyists of thought, and choose not to attend to their wares. We decide to bring our awareness instead to our bodies—to our breathing, or to the sensations we notice as we scan our bodies in this moment.

When thoughts of varying intensities vie for our awareness, we notice them. We don’t struggle with them; we simply bring our awareness back to our bodies. In an instant we feel the vibration in our fingers or lips, or hear the sound of energy deep within our ears. We breathe; we are present. We judge nothing; there is nothing to judge.

Judgment engages the mind. It quantifies, rates, categorizes, etc. With mindfulness everything is equal, the same—no judgment, no distinction. Everything just is and we are fully present with what is without attachment.

Mastering awareness is staying present with what is, and freely, consciously, choosing where to place attention. We are no longer adrift on the sea without a paddle; we volitionally place our awareness where we want it.

If we are eating, we are not reading or watching—we are fully present in eating, in chewing, in tasting, with awareness. If we are walking, we walk without purpose or destination—we are fully present in our bodies, slowly feeling the sensation of connecting to the earth beneath us.

The shamans of Carlos Castaneda’s lineage practice magical passes to achieve inner silence. Fully mindful in their bodies, they engage the intent of inner silence and move in patterns discovered by shamans of antiquity during dreaming. These shamans don’t worry if they are doing the movements correctly. They suspend judgment and mindfully move. They know intent alone will correct the movements; they don’t fall for the tricks of the cogitating mind that seeks to interfere with the flow of silence.

Practicers of mindfulness and practitioners of shamanism alike are gentle but persevering in their practices. They know, as the I Ching so often states: perseverance furthers. Eventually, the mind desists and we become masters of awareness, fully engaged in our journeys. Without mind we experience total freedom.

Silence the mind, journey in infinity!

A Day in a Life: Three Signs

I have to make a decision. Before I fall asleep I ask for guidance. I dream. Guidance comes in my dream, repeated over and over again. I can’t deny its rightness.

Nonetheless, in the morning I struggle, so I turn to another oracle, the Tarot. I ask for guidance as I shuffle the deck and, spreading it fanlike over my heart, I pull a card. The card I pull succinctly and powerfully corroborates the dream guidance I’d received the night before. I know what to do; yet I still hesitate.

I must make a major decision that I know will impact my life, perhaps more than imaginable. I cannot help myself. I turn to yet another source of guidance. I ask my question as I flip through the pages of the I Ching. I let the book fall open. Once again, there is my answer, the same one.

Now I know I must go the next step, but before I do I take my three answers, the same and yet from different sources, and I meditate until they sit inside me, firmly planted, my intent set. It feels right.

Into the fire

Without planning to I make my move at the moment of shift from one astrological sign to another. I climb out of the deep well of contemplative Scorpio and step onto fiery ground, into the sign of Sagittarius, into the unknown. I must continue my earthly journey, on a quest for greater knowledge, awareness, and meaning. It’s all that matters. It’s right.

We all have much to deal with as we take big steps in our lives. But once we know the undeniable truth we cannot sit quietly. Our body, psyche, and spirit will not leave us alone until we face what we must, and they will not desert us either. They will bring us the gifts we need to take our rightful journeys.

We live in truth-speaking times. We must all dare ourselves to seek our own truths and then take them to a new level. It isn’t enough to simply know the truth. The energy of now asks us to act on what we know, to dare ourselves to transform our inner world and our outer world. That’s what I’ve done with an important issue in my own life.

I am calmly present now, though I sit in the fire. Fire is energy that will not stop. I wait for what comes next. It will be what I need.

As I watch the students on the campus of UC Davis getting pepper sprayed I am sick to my stomach, and yet I personally know what horrific things people can do to others. And yet I also know that the intent the students have set and act upon is so right. They too are making radical yet deeply significant decisions. The night they silently sat and watched as the UC Davis chancellor walked out of a meeting was chilling—their silence more powerful than the aggressive, abusive action of the campus police. This is the energy of now. It asks us all to be as brave as those young students, to calmly act on what is so right.

As we head into the Thanksgiving weekend, I offer thanks to the movements that will not stop what is right, no matter what comes to thwart the truth. I experience deep gratitude for those who dare to face their personal inner struggles, and a prayer that they may find the certainty that their journey matters as much as the journey the world now takes, for they offer energy to the entire movement of change. I salute my fellow human beings who dare to face the oppressor and say, no, not anymore.

We live in times of great change and I am thankful that I get to be a small part of it. I am thankful for the three signs I recently received that offered me the vision of certainty that I most needed at the moment. I wish that all may receive such visions of certainty and dare to take the next steps on their personal journeys.

It’s the time of fire. Let it burn through all doubt and denial, through the blockages and obstacles that will invariably appear. Let it clear the way for new growth. Even as we head more deeply into this season of change, we are not lacking in energy. It’s not really asleep; in fact it burns quite brightly.

The signs of change are all around us. Happy Thanksgiving!


A New Kindle Price on The Book of Us

Just wanted to make a shameless plug for The Book of Us, which is on Amazon in a new Kindle version at the very reasonable price of 99 cents. It looks better too now—Kindle having updated their digital formatting process since we first published it in 2008.

If you haven’t read it—Chuck and Jeanne’s story—you might enjoy it! There are some especially great chapters on working through the difficulties in their relationship that I think everyone should read.

To access The Book of Us, click on the icon in the left sidebar which will take you to Amazon and then click on the Kindle version. Easy enough!

Oh, and have you seen our new Main page? I’ll be back in the morning with a new blog post! -Jan