Asking the Oracle

When you meditate, you awaken your own personal oracle.

In ancient times, people travelled miles to consult the oracle at Delphi. Deep in a dark pit, at what was considered to be the centre of the world, were the rotting remains of a huge python, or dragon, slain by the golden god Apollo. A beautiful temple was erected above the pit, which gave off a constant smoke with a sweet, sickly smell. For several hundred years, the Delphic Oracle was the most prestigious and authoritative oracle among the Greeks. The High Priestess of the temple, who delivered prophetic poetry, was without doubt the most powerful woman in the classical world.

In modern times we can consult astrologers, Tarot readers, chierologists (sometimes called palmists), or we can use our own packs of cards, yarrow stalks for I Ching, or maybe rune stones. Even tea-leaves can be used to catch a glimpse of the future! The Angels Script, which I channelled in 1997, is another example, another method for consulting an invisible source of wisdom. These are all oracular tools. We use them to access wisdom that seems to be hidden from us – we want to ‘know’ the future. We want insights into the best way forward. We want to understand our Soul’s destiny.

Why have people, for thousands of years, consulted ‘the oracle’ – rather than just getting on with life, making their decisions as they go along, according to rational and pragmatic choices? Perhaps because we have a deep suspicion that there is some other wisdom that can be brought to bear when making important decisions. Nowadays, atheists and physicalists, who have no truck with such ‘specious nonsense’ (to quote British comedian Stephen Fry), point the finger of scorn and scepticism at people who consult astrologers or ‘fortune-tellers’. Yet, even in the 21st century, when science claims to know so much more than the Ancient Greeks, these activities have not disappeared from our culture. Many people continue to seek deeper answers, from a source that goes beyond rational thought.

Why should we imagine we can access this super-rational information, using these tools? Where does it come from? The image of a deep pit at the centre of the earth can be used as a metaphor to describe the depth of our own consciousness. We can consider the archetypal story here. Apollo is god of the Sun, which shines in the daytime. Apollo represents all that is clear and revealed to our day-to-day vision. The dragon that has been slain, whose remains are in the pit, is the unconscious mind, which is deep and mysterious to our daily awareness.

We use our tarot cards, celestial charts, hexagrams to give our unconscious mind an opportunity to communicate with our everyday self. This ancient story suggests our conscious self is actually in denial – it has been avoiding the power of the unconscious by ‘slaying’ it, tucking it away in a pit where, we had hoped it would be no trouble. But then – oh me! oh my! – we realised that what we ignored and feared, is actually the greatest source of wisdom and power. Then we have to use an oracular process to communicate with this magnificent, potent snake of true wisdom.

And what has this to do with meditation, I hear you asking? When we surrender to Divine Source we are dropping into an inner landscape – we are lowering our conscious self into a deep well of wisdom that resides within our heart and mind. But it is not a dark pit – not at all. What we find there is light! This light can expand throughout all levels of our consciousness. This means that what used to be unconscious to our everyday self, starts to become more conscious. We become en’ light’ ened, we begin to understand our own true purpose in life, because we can access the invisible content of what was once hidden in our own shadowy cupboards. Once that becomes an embedded illumination we will no longer need an outside oracle. We contain our own High Priestess and she will tell us everything we need to know.

The journey towards this illumined state of being takes time, so if you have a favoured pack of wisdom cards, or if you use astrology, don’t give them up right now. Just keep up your meditation and gradually you will begin to realise that your own core of wisdom can be your constant companion, your life guide, your personal oracle, your inner sat-nav.

Your unlimited wealth

How does meditation affect your wealth and abundance? Does ‘being spiritual’ mean you have to be poor?

When teachers encourage people to meditate, we usually list the following benefits: ‘less stress’, ‘easier problem solving’,  ‘increased joy’, ‘better relationships’, etc. But what if I told you that meditation can help you create a more substantial flow of money in your life?

King Croesus (pronounced like ‘creases’) was a real Greek monarch who lived around 6oo years before the common era (BCE). His name has become a by-word for being extremely wealthy – ‘as rich as Croesus’, the saying goes. Croesus discovered that his riches could not make him happy when his son died in an accident, and his wife committed suicide.

The god Dionysius offered another legendary king, Midas, the chance to receive a magic gift. Midas asked that everything he laid a hand on would turn to gold.  Midas rejoiced in his new power, which he hastened to put to the test. He touched an oak twig and a stone; both turned to gold. He was overjoyed and, as soon as he arrived home, he touched every rose in the rose garden and all became gold. But Midas very quickly discovered the downside of this gift. He ordered the servants to set a feast on the table but, when he tried to eat, all his food and drink turned to gold. Eventually, he begged Dionysius to reverse the magic.

Our Western mythology is full of negative stories about wealth and the desire for it. These myths lead many people to get stuck with a mindset that dismisses the importance of money and possessions, leading them to shrug their shoulders and say, “Too much money leads to selfishness” or, “Money can’t buy you love” or, “Wealth doesn’t bring happiness”. At the same time, people can be fixated on how to get more money, or more possessions. A recent newspaper article, by the novelist Joanna Trollope, suggested that J.K.Rowling is imprisoned by ‘too much wealth’, as much as she was once boxed in by lack of resources when she was struggling as a single mother. But this fixation – that excess money is spiritually and psychologically dangerous – does not bring happiness either!

So, where does meditation fit into the abundance and wealth story? First of all, take a moment to define what you mean by wealth…

  • Property ownership – just big enough to accommodate your family?
  • Property ownership – spare houses that can bring an income, or can be used for holidays?
  • A certain amount of cash in the bank? How much? A million? More?
  • A certain amount of cash flowing through your current account each month? How much?
  • Owning a luxurious car?
  • Owning a yacht?
  • Owning an island?
  • Owning a private aeroplane?

Take a moment with a calculator and work out what amount of money would make you feel truly ‘wealthy’.

When we consider what wealth means for us as individuals, we may not easily be able to identify the actual maths. It’s more likely that you will think in general terms, imagining a life-style that feels easy and comfortable. You might list the price of all the things you would like to buy when your wealth arrives. You might add up what you could spend on a yearly basis. But the calculator doesn’t tell you anything about personal satisfaction and joy. All it can tell you is the difference (in the current economy) between the cost of basic survival and having a great life that includes more than necessities, bringing you and your family delight every day.

Meditation takes you back to Divine Source. This is where true delight rests. This is the well-spring of all that is truly valuable. But, when we emerge from our heavenly home, we have to engage with worldly activities and these include finding the wherewithal to pay the rent, buy clothes, make dinner, and so forth. Meditators have an advantage in the material world: your practice will help you relax and stay calm. You will find it easier to deal with the stress-laden workplace that is a common lifestyle issue for many people. So, earning money can be less of a challenge for meditators. But there is an even bigger benefit…

Regular contact with Divine Source helps you discover your real identity – your true purpose and the real reason you are in this world in the first place. With this knowledge you will be able to identify what ‘wealth’ actually means for you. You understand that the flow of money is directly related to your Soul’s desire to reach its potential. During meditation sessions we can easily get a powerful sense of our own capacity and our innate desires. Each of us has an inner ‘seed’, or what we could call our ‘Soul’s code’. That seed of our being wants to grow, just like an acorn wants to grow into an oak.

Everything we need for growth and development is within us and money is only an outward symbol of our divinely inspired activities in the world. If you believe that worldly goods are ‘out there’, waiting to be ‘attracted’, or ‘acquired’, then you will always feel in need. When you understand that your wealth is embedded in who you are, then everything you need and require will come easily to you. Your desires will be in harmony with your Soul’s purpose and you won’t be longing for things that are not appropriate for your unique destiny. Divine Source provides abundance for everyone – there is no shortage. When we work creatively with the Divine, we will receive in plenty; when we think of life as a competition and there’s only so much to go round, that’s when the problems begin and we feel lack.

Meditation feeds your roots. Then you grow into the most beautiful plant you were meant to be; then you blossom; then your fruits appear for easy picking. After a season the cycle begins again, but there will always be fruit, because that is Nature’s way. Zera Meditators get their wishes fulfilled more easily than the average Joe, because they check in with Divine Source on a daily basis and their wishes get planted in good spiritual ‘compost’.

Smart Monkey!

Monkey Mind needs a break from constant duties. Otherwise that smart uniform will begin to look shabby and the suitcases will overflow on to the floor.

This picture offers us a great lesson about the role of Monkey Mind.

The ‘toff’ in the elegant suit and top hat is standing by, allowing the porter, a monkey in a red uniform, to carry all the baggage. Unfortunately, one of the cases has fallen open, because the monkey can’t manage such a big heap of bags. The porter is rather like us, really – we are often so overloaded with thoughts, ideas, plans, shopping lists and daily timetables that we can’t keep everything tidy. Stuff is bound to spill over, especially while we are meditating.

If we think of the monkey porter as our everyday self – looking stylish, but trying hard to cope – then the toff watching on, detached and uninvolved, is our ‘witness’, our ‘higher self’, or Soul. This is the part of us that can stand to one side, staying calm and stress-free, even while the baggage is falling apart!

It is Monkey Mind’s job to deal with the everyday stuff. And Monkey is really smart. Just like the character in the red uniform, Monkey can get on with the task, usually with a high degree of efficiency – it’s not very often that the suitcases spill out their contents. What we are learning, is how to make best use of Monkey Mind, as a servant who can supprt our daily needs. What are a smart Monkey’s duties?

  • Planning our timetable
  • Checking our shopping lists
  • Organising outings and holidays
  • Doing the money maths
  • Finding the keys
  • Remembering birthdays…  and so on.

Monkey Mind will always find something else to get smart with. Excellent work, Monkey, you deserve a tip. Now you’ve got that sorted I can get on with my meditation!

We might think, looking at this tableau, that maybe the toff could offer a helping hand – or at least offer some kind advice. Like, “there, there my friend, not to worry, everything will be fine.” But the toff stands in his own centre, at ease, feet apart, looking on unruffled. He looks as though he doesn’t really care about the untidy mess the monkey has made. He doesn’t express any sympathy with the monkey’s plight.

We do need to care about Monkey Mind, our faithful, hard-working servant. That’s why we meditate, to give Monkey a break from the constant grind of keeping up with all our twenty-first century demands. Monkey can take a sabbatical twice a day and will breathe a sigh of relief when duty calls again, and the uniform has to come out of the cupboard. If Monkey doesn’t get a respite, how will there be time to keep that smart uniform clean and tidy, ready to put on the best show for the public arriving at the hotel?

Your Brain is Not Your Mind!

Your brain states can be measured by modern scientific methods and we can learn a great deal about brain patterns during meditation, but your brain is not creating your consciousness.

Although died-in-the-wool physicalists (previously known as ‘scientific materialists’) are still clinging to their flat-earth mind set, we have plenty of evidence that our brain does not produce our consciousness, or our sense of being a unique person capable of experiencing reality, both inner and outer.

Out-of-body experiences (OBEs), near-death experiences (NDEs) and actual-death-and-return experiences (ADAREs)*, all demonstrate that the brain can be in a state of flat-line, registering no activity at all, while the brain’s owners are experiencing journeys of a life-time.

When we meditate, our brain waves gradually slow down. Along with the overall physiological slowing, we experience less hyper-activity of thoughts and what we call Monkey Mind chatter begins to fall away. This is the time when we become aware of a more spacious consciousness, where we feel expansion and a sense of joy as we free ourselves from the limitations of our usual mental state.

We can measure brain-waves during meditation, and the results can be cross-checked against what we are experiencing. But the brain-waves are not causing the experience, they are aligned with it while our consciousness is changing. We are using the brain as a facility, while we live in a human body. When we change our consciousness, then the brain-waves change, not the other way around.

The expansion we experience during our Zera Meditation sessions is blissful, because we have played a sort of trick on Monkey Mind, who has been put to bed for the time being. When we are free of monkey chatter, we step through a portal in our self-limiting wall, made of habitual thought bricks, and discover a different quality of being. Now it is time to ask: what, or who, are you – when your thoughts disappear?

After many inner ruminations, Descartes famously said cogito ergo sum, usually translated as ‘I think therefore I am’. The Latin verb we translate as ‘to think’ has other implications apart from plain thinking, such as ‘to reflect’, ‘to turn over in the mind’, ‘to intend’, and ‘to plan’. Cogito is about Monkey Mind processes, associated with activities that can be measured in the left hemisphere of the brain. But what is going on when all these cogitations are side-lined for a short time, during profound states of meditation? We experience an awareness of being that has very little to do with thinking. We are no longer, like Descartes, relying on thinking in order to know that we exist. So, who do you think you are, when you are not thinking?

  • The term ADARE was coined by my husband Will Shaman for his forthcoming book Across the Fold: what the hard problem looks like from the other side. We’ll let you know when it’s available.

 

No Human Being is an Island

A human being… experiences himself… as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness… Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature — Albert Einstein

I found this lovely banner on the website of IMERE, the Insitute for Mystical Experience Research and Education (www.imere.org). This is the US equivalent of the British RERC, Religious Experience Research Centre founded by Sir Alister Hardy, an Oxford Professor of Marine Biology. (www.studyspiritualexperiences.org). I’ve been involved with RERC for more than thirty years and studied for the Master’s degree that was established by the Centre at the University of Wales. RERC have digitised their enormous archive of spirtual experiences, available online at www.uwtsd.ac.uk/library/alister-hardy-religious-experience-research-centre/online-archive.

If you have had a profound spiritual experience, IMERE invites you to contribute to research by submitting a questionnaire. There are some beautiful examples of mystical experience on their website. I recommend reports from astronaut Edgar Mitchell and Jane Goodall, famous for research into chimpanzees – both scientists, it should be noted!

I discovered the IMERE banner when I was hunting for information about brain states, but I got distracted because the image, and especially Einstein’s remarks, prompted me to write this blog.

A human being… experiences himself… as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness… Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature – Albert Einstein

The mission of all meditation teachers is to encourage everyone to experience a sense of connection – with the whole human family, with the whole planet, with the whole cosmos! As Einstein says, this is a collective task, to free ourselves from the mind manacles that keep us feeling separate from one another. He describes this feeling as an ‘optical delusion’.

Many people know the famous poem by John Donne that begins: no man is an island. Donne describes how we are part of the same landscape:

Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.

He points out that the death of any other person diminishes us all, and closes with another famous line:

never send to know for whom the bell tolls – it tolls for thee.

Less well known is a bleak poem by Matthew Arnold, To Marguerite, in which the poet describes how we have lost our mystical connection. Arnold uses the identical image as Donne, of being an island –  with echoing straits between us thrown. He complains that we million mortals live alone. When we experience the beauty of the world, such as starry nights, springtime, the sound of the nightingales, we long for something we have lost – because surely, once we were parts of a single continent. He wonders why we should have this longing, but still be separated? Arnold’s poem ends on a bitter note: he complains that it must have been a god who made the rule that we should be separate beings, living as islands kept apart by the unplumb’d, salt, estranging sea.

I was especially taken by Arnold’s description of the sea between the islands as unplumbed – so deep we cannot hope to fathom its depth. This mysterious sea makes us strangers to each other. But I don’t believe in a ‘god’ who wants to keep us separate. We can choose. Our consciousness is like a deep ocean, and we can explore its depths. We don’t have to be estranged.  We can experience different levels of our own inner landscape and discover the underlying contintent.

We do have a sense of being separate, individual people, with timelines from birth to death, and identities based on name, gender, familial relationships, tribe, nationhood, and so on. That separate ‘island’ of our being is what we mostly spend time living in. But, much deeper, if we take time to plumb the ocean of consciousness, we will get a sense of being part of a single continent. That continent is often experienced as a land of light, where we feeled loved, protected and reassured. I call this Divine Source.

Meditation is your gateway to the Land of Light, which is your birthright.

Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature.

Getting the Glow!

Learn to let your inner sunshine bring joy and blessings into the world.

For many years, I was a ‘Friend’ at a Quaker Meeting in Somerset. Although Quakers don’t use zeras, or mantras, when they sit in Silent Worship, they do access Divine Source easily, and they know a thing or two about the profound silence and stillness we experience in meditation. When I first started attending the Meeting, I met several elderly Quakers who all seemed radiant and centred. I heard one ‘Elder’ use the expression ‘so-and-so has got the glow’.

The ‘glow’ is an aura of calm, serenity, joy and whole presence of being. When someone with the ‘glow’ walks in to a room, the atmosphere changes around them. Where does this ‘glow’ come from? It is Divine Source radiating energy through us, unhindered by our anxieties and the barriers we have constructed. Babies have the ‘glow’, but this begins to fade as they grow up and learn how to deal with school, the work place, marriage and so on.

When you dive deep into Divine Source, you will often experience a ‘mega-glow’, an immense, radiant light that invites you to bathe in its glory. Divine Source is powerful, loving and intelligent. It is present in every cell of our physical body and, when we allow it to shine through us, we ‘glow’.

Not every meditation session will open the shining gateway to Divine Source. When this doesn’t happen, it is due to resistance and habitual anxiety. The more you meditate, the more your everyday self will learn to surrender all its troubles to the spiritual sunshine. Another Quaker once said to me: ‘we have to learn how to rest in the hammock of God’. What a delicious idea!

Rest in the hammock of Divine Source and let the sunshine fill every corner of your life.

Zera: Seeds of creation

How zera can turn around our mind – and our life.

Zera Meditation offers you a unique meditation opportunity because the zera, or ‘seed’, is a powerful sound-shape that can easily help you drop into the deep, primordial place I call Divine Source.

Zera is Hebrew for seed, and the zera I introduce during the 21-day Zera Meditation Program, has a very specific meaning. Using this three-syllable sound-shape will encourage your mind to easily access Divine Source, and repeated use will mean you gradually get to experience that powerful, silent place on regular basis. Twice a day!

Why do I call the sound-shape a zera, and not a mantra, as with Indian based meditation? Because a seed is a creative possibility. Mantra is Sanskrit for ‘a sacred utterance’. Our intention when we use the zera is always sacred , of course, but it is much more than that. We not only want to connect with Divine Source, and honour that sacred part of ourselves, we want to plant new possibilities. We want to refresh the mind and open our quietest, most secret ground of being to a new way of thinking, feeling and acting in the world.

There is a special word in Greek we can find useful here: metanoia. Meta means turning, or changing. Noia comes from the Greek word nous – mind. This word is used in the Christian tradition when someone is ‘converted’. I’m not talking about a religious conversion, but a change in perception. Anyone trained or educated in the Western way of experiencing the world sees ‘reality’ as an exterior construct. We feel we have arrived ‘into’ a world that pre-exists our birth. History, geography and science lessons at school, all point us towards this way of thinking. Now, in order to create love, peace and abundance for ourselves, and for the world, we need metanoia – a turnaround in thinking. We need to be ‘converted’ to a new way of living, based on a radical change in the way we understand and perceive reality.

Zera Meditation takes a seed and drops it into your mind. The seed takes you back to the primordial place beyond thoughts. This was the place you could easily experience before you were educated, before you even learned how to speak. In this place I call Divine Source, you can experience the potential that is freely available to all people. You can change your mind here – you can turn it around. You can be ‘converted’. Not to any religion, but to a direct perception of reality as something you are co-creating, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day. This way of experiencing your reality puts you in the driving seat.

Managing Monkey Mind

What to do with that chattering little voice when you’re trying to settle down to meditate.

Even the Buddha had to deal with Monkey Mind!

Monkey Mind is a chattering little trickster who can definitely sabotage your attempts to drop into the quiet, delightful space which supports and sustains you – Divine Source.  Our friend Monkey Mind has this nickname because real monkeys do chatter, and leap from branch to branch. They are restless, playful, lively and curious, always looking for something new to engage with. Our own Monkey Mind is interested in gossip, new ideas, shopping lists, looking ahead to Friday after work, planning our summer holiday, bank balances… and the never-ending stream of possibilities that 21st century life has to offer. Like the ever-present content of modern media and social networking, our inner Monkey Mind is always on the look out for an exciting titbit of news to get chattering about.

We mustn’t make Money Mind into our enemy – this mental activity is very important for humankind! Having an inquisitive mental capacity is a significant difference between us and other creatures. That’s how we get to be smart, creative, problem-solving, walking and talking homo sapiens. So, thank you Monkey Mind, you are a good and supportive friend.

But… we must manage Monkey Mind to our advantage and not allow her – or him as the case may be – to run amok when we want to take time out, resting in the hammock of Divine Source. When we have set aside time for meditation, we need to make sure Monkey Mind knows its place, and is an obedient little pet, only showing up when we give permission. We do need to create some firm boundaries, so Monkey Mind can’t charge in to our quiet space and disturb our peaceful reverie.

Looks like Buddha had more than one Monkey Mind. After all, he was a really cool dude!

When we close our eyes to meditate, Monkey Mind gets the impression this is an opportunity for playing. Our inner landscape is like an open playground for adventures and  potential fun. Monkey Mind will seize anything that is in our mental arena and start developing and expanding the topic, very, very quickly. Lots of intrusive thoughts will tumble and rumble as if there is no tomorrow! Just when you are putting your attention on the zera, Monkey Mind can distract you with lots of shiny  baubles. After all, you haven’t given yourself time to plan what you will wear for your friend’s wedding next month. Maybe you haven’t found a menu for Easter Sunday lunch. You definitely didn’t remember to call your Dad to remind him to lend you the strimmer. The baubles can be shiny and fun – but they can also be grey and gloomy. How about the credit card interest? What about sorting the water bill?  Will the bank extend the overdraft – the gloomy ones are often about money. But they can also be about health issues for you or for people you love. Most people do have a lot ‘on their mind’, concerns and anxieties that are difficult to put to one side.

How do we let Monkey Mind know that we need our quiet space, for a limited amount of time – just twenty minutes, PLEASE!  One useful trick is to have a notepad, where you can jot down the immediate issues that Monkey Mind could seize on. Make a list of Money Mind ‘food’. For example:

  1. Must call hairdresser
  2. Remind Dad about strimmer
  3. Do credit card maths and talk to bank re overdraft
  4. Search internet for recipes
  5. Set up direct payment for water company

… and so on.  By creating your list before your meditation session, you are acknowledging that those issues do need to be addressed, and you are also promising Monkey Mind that she/he will get  a window of opportunity after your ZedMed. session…(ZeeMed if you are in the US!).

We can pretty much guarantee that, as soon as you close your eyes, Monkey Mind will pop up: “Aha! You forgot something!” So be prepared to make a promise, that whatever has been forgotten will go on the list as soon as your session has finished.

Now… breathe deeply! Breathing into your tummy is a good way to hike attention away from stuff going on in your head, and this also helps to quieten Monkey Mind. Always begin your Zera Meditation session with deep breathing. You can observe your breathing as you introduce the zera, allowing the in and out breath to become synchronised with the syllables of the zera. Once this rhythm gets established, Monkey Mind will be much less intrusive. Enjoy!