"Mindfulness and Meditation allow us to open our hearts, relax our bodies, and clear our minds enough to experience the vast, mysterious, sacred reality of life directly. With Practice we come to know for ourselves that eternity is available in each moment.

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call:
Musings on Life and Practice
by a Longtime Student of Meditation

Monday, February 21, 2022

Imagine That!

"So, with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings;
Radiating kindness over the entire world, spreading upward to the skies
and downward to depths, outwards and unbounded."
--- from Karaniya Metta Sutta of the Pali Canon*
"Imagine all the people living life in peace."
--- John Lennon, Imagine 

Margo Adair 1950-2010
Good fortune had me stumble across a copy of Margo Adair's Working Inside Out: Tools for Change, in the sale section of a local store a few years ago.  I immediately grabbed it, plunked down a dollar, and put it in my pack. 
That night I dove into it for quite awhile before rolling over, turning off the lights, and meditating into sleep.  

Then, in the wee hours of the morning, I experienced a quite wonderful sequence of lucid dreams.  For the first time in quite awhile I was able to experience the thrill of consciously leaving my body and taking flight.  
Although Margo passed to the other side twelve years ago, hers is a Gift that keeps on giving. Thanks, Margo.

Outside the Box
Being a bookworm, I'm grateful to all those who were led to offer their insights and practices through books.  Just reading about altered states of consciousness, whether it be Presence in the here and now -- or a lucid out of body experience --  can sometimes set the stage for their emergence.  
Although, Mindfulness Practice has tended to focus my attention more consciously on my "in-body" experiences, the times that I've experienced lucid dreaming, "astral travel," and other OBE have been powerful events in my life.  They have allowed me to experience directly a magical and much more expansive realm of human possibility than the constraints of "conventional" consciousness.  
Let's face it, we've been conditioned to perceive our world in a society steeped in scientific materialism and capitalism for several hundred years.  Add to this mix the systematic oppression of patriarchy, racism, militarism, ageism, etc.,  and we've each developed perceptual filters that determine what we take to be true, what we believe to be "real." 
This, of course, mostly operates subconsciously.
With Practice, we not only can see reality as it is, we can develop the insight and skill to change ourselves from the inside out.  As well as produce less suffering in our own lives, this gives us more agency to consciously influence the world around us. 
Here, too, is where Margo Adair's Gift keeps giving.

Engaged Spirituality
In the mid-1980's Working Inside Out: Tools for Change brought Margo's brilliant synthesis of Spirituality and Activism to a wider public.  It made quite an impact on many of us who were -- and still are -- convinced that Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the late Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh had it right.   
Even as a teenager, before I'd ever heard of the Bodhisattva Vow, my heart was inspired by the civil rights movement.  Confronting the racism at the heart of legal segregation just seemed like the right thing to do.  As time went this led to recognizing and working to overcome other forms of systemic oppression.  As I came of age, I realized that the quest for peace, equality, and social justice was a profound and challenging spiritual practice. 
Margo Adair, was a master theorist and practitioner in this tradition.  Terming her special craft "applied meditation," her life's work was dedicated to healing the wounds of racism, sexism, homophobia and environmental degradation.   Offering a rich collection of guided visualizations and group mediation practices, Adair's work dissolved the perceived differences between inner work and outer work.  Like others who emerged in the spiritual uprising of the era, her work was grounded in a non-dual perception of being.  It emerged and returned to a space beyond 
the perceived barrier that appears to separate the self and other, real and imagery, the momentary and the eternal. 

Although Mindfulness Practice focuses on bringing our attention more fully into the present moment, there are many meditative techniques in Buddhism and other spiritual traditions that  make use of mental visualizations.  With these practices, we use words and images to consciously bring to mind states of being and events that may or may not be here -- yet.  These techniques enhance our ability to influence the future.  This is the realm of prayer, affirmations, and visualization practices.