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Standing Still in the Winds of Chaos

Do you feel some days as if the world and your own life are caught up in the storms of chaos?

Mother Earth is mirroring this with mega hurricanes, fires, floods and earthquakes.  The great Native American teacher, Sun Bear, predicted decades ago these “earth changes” and told us to prepare. Many places, like Mexico City and Puerto Rico, will never be the same again.

On the world stage these days, it seems like chaos is everywhere–in wars, politics and whole populations of countries becoming internal and external refugees.

Your personal life may be mirroring these collective, outer events: you may be grappling with conflict with friends and family, the winds of divorce, illness and death, or simply the roller coaster of your own inner climate.

Where do you find the stillness in the midst of all this tumult? Do you turn off the television, stop reading papers and logging into Facebook? Do you have a meditation practice? Do you do yoga? Do you walk the beach? Or are you looking for that one thing which will help you find center like a homing beacon of light? I have been thinking a lot about chaos since I shared with you in August that I was “homeless” for a month due to housemate troubles.  As I backpacked from one friend’s home to another, I had to work hard to find and keep my ground. I was not always successful all the time, but there were days when I could rest in that centerpoint within me where I have a growing touchstone of happiness and freedom.

When I am able to to do so, I know I am benefiting from my long years’ of healing, as well as my spiritual practice rooted in Mother Earth mysticism.

A story told by Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hahn in one of his many books that I read two decades ago has long stayed with me.  I hope he will forgive me if he ever reads this, since I am sure the details are not quite right–it was a long time ago and I don’t remember the name of the book (he has thankfully written so many).  I have pieced together some historical facts here to get the essence of the story because ultimately, it is Thich Nhat Hahn’s lesson on how he strove to stay calm in the face of danger which is important.

He recounted how, not long after the end of the Vietnam War, a boat filled with Vietnamese refugees had set out across the ocean with the intention of finding asylum on the shores of Malaysia. Malaysia was very unhappy and did not want to allow them to land.  There was a standoff as the Malaysian government sent a ship to force them to go back. As the sun set, a storm was brewing.  If the refugees were turned back, they would all likely die. As it was, they were suffering and lacked food and water.

Thich Nhat recounted that several European governments were in tough negotiations with Malaysia as the clock ticked. They were willing to resettle the refugees in their countries. Nevertheless,  Malaysia was recalcitrant.  As a renowned spiritual leader among and informal representative of the Vietnamese people (he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967), he asked to be kept apprised of the negotiations.  Thich Nhat Hahn recounted that he could not sleep and struggled with fear.  He then realized that if he could not stay peaceful in the midst of this crisis in which so many lives were at stake while he himself was safe and warm in his home, then his whole spiritual practice was for nothing.  He could not truly be of service to them.  So, he did walking meditation back and forth from one side of the room to the other all night long. He reached deep down into himself and found that still point.  By morning, Malaysia had been mollified and the refugees were allowed to land.

Walking meditation was the tool in Thich Nhat Hahn’s basket that he reached for.

I reach for the heart of Mother Earth.  So can you.  Her body is like the rock which never wobbles in the midst of any storm. 

Our planet is alive and conscious.  This is not conceptual; it is experiential.  When you reach with focused intention into the body of the planet, you build a bridge of feeling between you.  Across that bridge, gifts of steadiness, comfort and love from the vibrant heart of our Earth Mother and her children–the Tree and Plant People, Stone and Mineral People, All Those Who Walk, Swim, Crawl, Fly and Creep.

In my shamanic practice, I send a cord of light from my root chakra into the earth.  I imagine that this cord is always there.  All I have to do is reconnect with it in my senses and intent. Once I have reengaged with this natural and always abundant anchor, I am like a tree less apt to be buffeted about by shifting and changing events, emotions and the incessant chatter of my mind.

What also happens is that I feel a warm, vibrant aliveness coming from Mother Earth.

It need only take 5 minutes. Keep it simple.

I also connect with her by simply stepping outside and opening my senses to her.  I breathe in the air.  I look at the trees and up to the sky. I sit by the river near where I live and feel the crystalline energy of the rushing river, and the deep steadiness of the Stone People which rise out of the rapids.

Connecting in with Mother Earth and her children, I begin to feel myself as more than whatever story of chaos or change is cycling through my life.  I recognize myself as part of this greater matrix of peace that is woven throughout the fabric of creation.  It never leaves, nor is destroyed.  It is unceasing, unchanging. I am not a lone and isolated speck in an impersonal universe; I am an essential and beautiful link in the lively weft and warp of spirit within, through and around all things.

The more I open up my feelings and heart to Mother Earth and All My Relations, the more that centerpoint of stillness grows inside of me.  My “home” then becomes both inside and outside. With each passing day of this simple practice of connecting, I know myself as greater than any turmoil around me.

This feeling experience reflects the words of the Buddhist Heart Sutra:

….no form, no feelings, perceptions, impulses, consciousness. No eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind, no smell, no taste, no touch, no object of mind, no realm of eyes…until no realm of mind consciousness.  No ignorance and also no extinction of it ….Until no old age and death and also no extinction of them.  No suffering, no origination, no stopping, no path, no cognition. Also no attainment of wisdom with nothing to attain…

The Sutra teaches that we can step beyond fear into a greater, transcendent reality where all that appears to be in conflict and chaos dissolve  into oneness.

In my mystical worldview, this does not require going to heaven; we can touch into heaven and oneness while we are here. We can find that sacred stillness in the midst of Mother Life.

My anchor, my steady stream is the mystical field of light of Mother Earth.  Through her, I grow a place of peace within to come home to.

May it be so for all beings.

Click here for a free audio recording of the Mother-Love-Light Meditation.

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