One of the things that I have picked up in working with Maria is a cultural phenomenon that is very different to that which I was used to.
I find a lot that in the world we now live in many things are often provisional. It is all too easy to fall into the "well I might do" or "I might meet you on that day" kind of mentality.
When I look at what underlies this a few things appear.
One is a concern that there is always something better that might come up. I am often so overwhelmed with information and different possibilities that I find myself with a kind of anxiety around committing. What if something better comes up? What if i make the wrong choice and close down something that would have been better for me? There is an insecurity here about making choices, which our current information abundance serves to amplify.
Another concern is this idea that we now have in modern society that there are quick fixes. Therefore if something doesn't work immediately it's time to move on to the next. This is something that I know I fell prey to in my spiritual journey and is one of the reasons why I realised that I needed to study with one teacher over an extended period of time.
Another facet of committing to something is that I must then take responsibility for the outcomes and consequences. When you add to this the way our culture now seems to be one of blame and where it is not seen as a strength to step forward and say "Yes, I made a mistake", then it becomes even harder to fully give your self to something.
All of this can lead to behaviours of postponing, not committing etc. And yet, there is a real danger here - that of postponing life indefinitely - of never really living. If I am always trying to have a get out clause then, I have learnt, I am really missing out on the fullness of life. It is only through committing, making mistakes and finding out what works that we can truly move forward.
Which brings me to Maria. I have found in working with her that when I say I will do something I am taken seriously. I have to say that at the beginning this was pretty scary. It made me consider more carefully before I would say I would do something. But the rewards have been immense. In committing to follow through I have many times come up against an edge or a fear that in the past I would have turned away from. Commitment has led me to face these fears, move past these edges, and grow.
In doing so I have learnt more confidence and moved beyond my limited idea of what I could do. It isn't always easy but then growth sometimes isn't.
I have also found that when I do follow through there is a celebration in my community. This recognition is very confirming and helps consolidate the growth that has happened.
All of which leads me to wonder what would happen in our societies if we started taking one another a bit more seriously. If we stopped giving both ourselves and others little get out clauses. To take responsibility for our choices. When this is done with compassion and humour then I think that the transformative effects could be quite far reaching. And it's something that we can all do individually.
This issue is something that I know that some indigenous teachers have had problems with in sharing their teachings with the world. I know that in my experience this way of looking at the world, taught to me by Maria from her lineage, is one of the really beneficial things that indigenous cultures that preserve this knowledge can teach us.
One of the things I have been learning is how our goals and values lead us forward. Direction in life comes from how we orient ourselves and this is often enshrined in our goals and values.
I believe that a lot of our goals and values are picked up during our development and we can often not have much of a conscious awareness around them. A big part of a spiritual training, I find, is in bringing these to the light. In doing this we can begin to find out those that are maybe based in patterning that no longer serves us and release them. Another part of the training is of suggesting new places to place attention and to explore goals and values that are of greater benefit.
One of the things I have realised is that the goals and values that are most beneficial are those which lead us forward into expansiveness and new fields. Those with a feeling of sparkle, energy and new life. Those that open us up to the limitless sea of existence. Within my own life I have found these can be discovered through many ways - philosophy, myth, prayer, ceremony, music, dreams......
I have also found that I have needed guides, people who knew something of this territory and what is important. With their help I am discovering more and more how to orient my life in such a way that I may walk forward in beauty.
Note: the title comes from a track from Steve Roach's Future Flows album, which helped me a lot with these realisations. I recommend it very much and his other work as well. www.steveroach.com
Steven Dances the Dream