The creative act of cultivating 'states of being' is arguably one of the most powerful skills to learn. States of peace, strength, relaxation, intention, trust, connection.
I keep coming back to a basic principle: that life is experience, and all experience happens in the present moment, and within that moment, experience can be shifted, through types of attention, movement and sensory conditioning. In this way can these states of being be accessed and reliable.
How then to align the 'human self', the social self, the cultural self, and this 'magical self', an enchanted experiencer, tuned by practice.
Direct experience, and the attendance to it, repeatedly shows itself to be effective in this...
But humans, marvelous as we are, need a good story. We need a good reason to turn and face the heavy and un-loved parts of ourselves. It is hard to admit discomfort, and anxiety, shame and grief. Our cultural context is very quick with its story about these things. The are the markings of failure, if you believe that spiel.
In fact, its a widely spread story that our direct experience isn't valuable at all, but rather we should be putting our attention elsewhere: on acquisition, materialism, accounting, justice, being smart and attractive, being 'in the know'. Feeling and sense are suspect and so sincerity is desperately rare.
As lots of people do, I'll continue offering a different story: that by and large, our sensory information is and should be our first point of call for practice and living: an embodied life.
That through feeling the small and hidden sense of things, the softest breath, and rustle of leaves, we can connect more deeply to life. That by moving slowly, we make more time, and that by relaxing we are better able to work. We can see miracles in each color and enjoy the marvel of water. We can dance with gravity and sense into the depth and richness of each movement.
It is not easy though, sometimes it can be like looking for a needle in a hay-stack. The mind says many things in these moments. "Yeah yeah I know that and these other things", or maybe "Oh shit, I can't sit still, that is actually terrifying". "That guy does it better", "She is more in tune with the cosmic goddess than me". Indeed: "How does this pay the bills".
And so on and on does the mind tell us what it thinks it knows about what we experience. Reflex story, I think, is the great obstacle to deepening embodiment.
What does the story show, and what does it hide? This can be a good question, the tough question, when we can all get very attached to our stories. We can forget that we are not only the story, that we are a great many things, adaptable, resilient, ancient.
The solution is patience, compassion and the ability to not take our thoughts so seriously. To be able to calmly say: "noted" to the screaming thoughts, but keep the feet planted and the attention focused on the direct experience, the direct perception.
To trust our experience, to risk finding something we didn't know was there, to risk being moved.
Perhaps this is the most difficult and rewarding thing.