Spiritual Walkabout, Sleep Witnessing

At the bus station, heading to Logan airport in Boston.

I’m starting this post on the plane to Atlanta, heading south for the winter.

This morning I realized that the best word to describe the trip I’m heading into is “Walkabout.” At least a modern version, where I have no longer term plan and relatively few resources, at least by the modern standards of a developed country. I will have no vehicle, a low budget sufficient for groceries and a suitcase on wheels that contains some clothing, a tent, sleeping bag and pad, a wood burning cook stove, a small pot, a bowl, one set of utensils, a small Swiss Army knife and a few copies of my book, “Faith to Practice: Foundations of Happiness.” I also have the usual modern bits, like a cell phone and an iPad with an external keyboard, so I won’t have to go to the library to make these posts, or to connect with the couchsurfing.org community that I plan to engage with quite regularly.

Most everything laid out to pack. Not shown: my custom designed / built folding meditation bench.

The trip was originally envisioned as a “book tour” or trip to teach about the subject of finding beliefs that support wholesome life practices, with an emphasis on meditation and other spiritual practices. Then at the end of September a wonderful thing happened to derail my will to put energy into all the logistics and human interactions that would be required to make that happen: I realized the ability to do what I call “sleep witnessing meditation.” The depth of this new practice, the pureness of awareness that I had uncovered, was quite unprecedented for me.  I spent 4-6 weeks doing it for 1-4 hours / night and sometimes during the day as well. The improved quality of awareness during this deepest practice started to be realized during some of my other meditations, while sitting and walking. Once, doing my usual “I am the witness” practice my motorcycle (of all times) I had a glimpse of a profound sense of “knowingness” which surpassed any level of personal understanding, which I’d only read about before. All in all it has been the most “exciting” (which is kind of a strange word for a seeker who is releasing all fears and desires 🙂 thing to happen in my practice since the ecstasy period I’ve mentioned in the about the author chapter of my book and on this site.  

Custom bench, folded.

At some point I vowed make it a goal to do this new practice as much of each night as possible from then on. It seemed to me I might be getting all the stress relief benefits of deep sleep and bodily rest I needed, regardless of the amount of unconscious sleep.  Very soon thereafter, my ability to do it shrunk to 1-2 hours a day, after I’d gotten my full nights sleep. Such is the way with these awakenings, at least in my experience. They tend to be realized in “previews,” then become occluded partially or completely for a time.

Like when I realized the radiant beauty of all creation, it initially lasted about 3 months, then was mostly occluded.  I had to do 1-2 days of continuous meditation practice to see it again. Fortunately I did not take it as a problem, just a wonderful new reason to motivate practice! Later it returned “to stay” (so far!)  Similarly, when I first realized unconditional Love of All, including everyone around me, it lasted about 2 months, before the ego covered it back up. It was an even more powerful motivation for practice than ever!

These previous awakenings have been described elsewhere so enough said. The point is that the same pattern may well again happen with the sleep witnessing ability, we shall see. Certainly it is yet another wonderful motivation for practice, so I’m very, very grateful.

I’ve never experienced full Unity of all creation, or full Awareness of all creation as “Myself.” The sleep witnessing does feel like a doorway through which I’d like to go, which seems to be positioned between my smaller self and my intended destination. I’m still spending at least an hour every day in that threshold, because it is such a nice place to stand. A place I’m devoted to go until I sense a better practice, or see that doorway open more fully, so I can see if stepping through will reveal my true Self.

This trip is an exploration and a test. I’m open to anything and planing almost nothing. I’m holding the intention of a better understanding how to interact with the world, now that I’ve “fallen in Love” with it. How can I best serve? All my life I’ve preferred to make decisions based on what I love (or at least like, when I was younger) to do. But I was more discriminating then! How do I decide what to do, when I experience Love when doing so many things? It is easier to find a few things I still don’t really care to do, like working on my car, than it is to find one thing that I love the best.

As I write this, I’m realizing that I could see this trip as a prayer of devotion. “God, I’ll listen to my heart to feel which direction to go next, to make it easier for you to show me the best way(s) to serve your plan of unconditional Love.” I know that there are people suffering everywhere, so I really don’t have to go far to find them, but I still don’t know where and how I can best serve. In the end, the trip still just “felt right” to my heart, even when I had not managed to plan any stops to engage formally with people to promote the book or otherwise teach / help them. I trust the trip will be perfect, none-the-less.

I’m finishing this post after being in Atlanta a week. At this point, my main concern is of cultural distractions. Will I manage to keep my practice focused, even with an increased exposure to media and the uncertainties of my travel plans? That is the biggest test. Increased exposure to mainstream culture tempts me to return to old habits of behavior, which could engender old habits of thought and occluded awareness. So far all is going blissfully well, but we shall see!

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