Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it's a feather bed.
― Terence McKenna
For the past week, I've been ending my showers with 10 seconds in freezing cold water. While this may not be as intense as meditating underneath a waterfall, I feel as though it is uncomfortable enough for it to produce the desired effects. So the point of cold water is that it's intense and more precisely, that it's intensely uncomfortable. Just like hunger, body temperature is a powerfully felt force as it is so closely tied to our survival. And our experience of our body temperature signal to us that our bodies are either in homeostasis or that something is imbalanced. One would be a sign of life and the other of death.
When a bunch of cold water is dumped on the body, the body will momentarily go into a state of shock. And this shock is immediately preceded by a flood of fear based thoughts; basically thoughts that one is going to die. And this propels one to action, in this case turning off the water. But the flip side of this level of intensity is that it is a high level of resistance that one can train with. In other words, heavier weights at the gym.
And intensity will do this, though it's wise not to over exert one's self. But in our case, what exactly is it that we are training. Will? Courage? Yes and yes but what I realized is that ultimately, you are training presence.
And what staying present during an intensely uncomfortable experience does is it shows us in real time that our fears, or more precisely, the contents of our fear based thoughts, are illusions. What I mean is that when one remains absolutely present during an uncomfortable moment, there is a shift from the suffering that comes along with believing the fear based thoughts that arise at the moment, to only the pure experience of the cold water hitting your body.
And while the latter is not necessarily a feather bed(yet), it is more importantly an experience that is bearable. And being bearable(no pun intended) is important because it is an experience that contradicts the fear based thoughts which are happening simultaneously. What may take days or weeks to realize may happen in a minute if one has the courage to remain intensely present and relaxed during intensely stressful moments as the payoff is the instant gratification of insights that one gains. Most importantly that the negative thinking, the doubts, the fears that can seem so real are often illusory.
I implore you to try this out. The "Nature Loves Courage Challenge." 🙂 All you need to do is end your showers with 10 seconds with the dial all the way to C. What I do is put my hands together in front of my chest, close my eyes, and facing away, let the shower hit the top of my head and down my body. The goal is 7 days. By remaining present, I mean don't follow the thoughts that will begin to be pop up like machine gun fire the moment your body processes the sudden change in temperature. Eckhart says that we literally follow our thoughts like a dog that follows a butterfly. And we do this for miles and miles before we realize how far we've ventured away from our origin. So be the awareness that is experiencing the moment, the thoughts, the cold water, the sounds..etc. And this is the precise shift that I was mentioning earlier.
When we are the dog that follows the butterfly, we are essentially believing what the mind is telling us at that moment. And this will naturally lead our experience to be colored by its fear based content. We may even black out and believe that we are dying or close to dead. When we create a distance between ourselves and our thoughts, we can exist in this little space or Orb we have created for ourselves. And what we realize is that when we are present in this space of our Being, even sufferable moments become bearable. And magically, when we are calm, our bodies also adapt and in a victory over the spirt over the mind, and the mind over the body, our bodies will begin to produce even more heat.
There is something to be said about that, how the spirit can govern the mind and the mind can then govern the spirit. It is perhaps one of greatest battles that are being forged on earth; the internal battle within one's self and ironically, it appears as though it is easier to govern others than your self. And sensibly, in order for the spirit to be what is paramount in our being, we must harness more and more of it. And that's what this post is about. A legitimate short cut into receiving the outpouring of grace that exists in this moment.
The shamanic dance under the waterfall symbolizes the realization that the Spirit is paramount, that it may not be able to change the circumstances but that its perception is your freedom. The abyss being a featherbed does not mean that there will be no pain or even sufferable moments along the way. It's the realization that nothing in this Universe can truly harm us at a fundamental level which is an ecstasy filled moment that gradually fades into a deep lasting inner peace. But in order for us to reach this state, courage is in order. The Path will appear as one begins to walk just like it did for Indiana Jones. 🙂
The first few step are always the most difficult, especially the first. But it's a journey you are destined to take. As Paolo once said, the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself and living our truth, no matter how doom and gloom and full of doubts our minds may be, when we conjure up enough courage to begin the journey, that individual will come face to face with God and Eternity.
Courage is the value that must be continuously practiced and reenforced until we can soar spiritually. It takes courage to live a truthful life and it takes courage to love and to forgive. And if I haven't said it enough already, courage is what is needed to see through the illusion. So in a sense, loving yourself is choosing to be courageous. Eckhart said it best, the fire of suffering becomes the light of consciousness.
Here's to hoping that there will be many more shamanic dances underneath the shower in the upcoming days. 🙂
Feel free to leave your thoughts.
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