Posted by: Sarah Lidsey | December 19, 2015

The Buffalo Drum

P1010817Sometimes events happen with complete synchronicity and Grace. I had a great experience of this in 2013 when I met with Osa, an artist and drum maker who lives for part of the year on Orcas Island, one of the San Juan islands just off the west coast of the United States. That year, when I visited to attend a teaching given by sound healer, Tom Kenyon, we chatted about her work as well as my recent travels in Siberia, Mongolia and Tibet, and a space opened for me to ask her if she could make me a drum. We parted with her agreement, and an understanding that there was no immediate rush, but that I would be back to pick it up within a year.

About nine months later I contacted Osa to see how my drum was progressing. She reported that she hadn’t started the actual making of it, but she assured me that its creation was in flow in the visioning stage, and that my timing would seamlessly fit in with its construction and completion. We discussed the approaching Gathering envisioned, enabled & organized by an amazing friend, Katherine, in Montana at which Elders and open-hearted people were to join together to generate understanding and global peace and harmony. We agreed that I would come to Orcas to pick up my new drum on the way there, and that I would stay for a day to visit before I made my way north.

P1020440And so I made my plans. I flew into Seattle, staying with friends there with whom I was to drive across to Montana a few days later. Leaving my luggage with them I took the bus to the ferry to make the crossing to Orcas Island. For anyone going to the San Juan Islands this ferry trip is a treat in itself. It can feel like you are moving through time as you cross these waters, chugging past the often mist-shrouded shores of small islands, being called to another reality by the gulls and seals, greeted by the cormorants sitting like sentinels at the dock as you arrive, all taking note of your passage.

I was staying on the east side of the island, and Osa and I were to meet during the afternoon to hang out and for her to hand over the drum. But she called as I arrived to say she had just a tiny bit more to complete, and so we agreed that we would meet later so that she had time to add finishing touches. I was relaxed about it all, enjoying my time, chatting with friends, and revisiting some of my favorite places on this most magical of islands. But I was leaving on the early ferry the next morning and so when Osa called again late in the day to say that the drum was taking longer than thought and could we now meet for early breakfast at the dock as the ferry was about to load, I was a little alarmed!! My drum wasn’t ready…I could only trust that all was going to work out fine!

As the clock ticked and boarding time approached Osa arrived!…She is an extraordinarily talented person and as she talked of my drum I realized that the creation of it had been a big task. It was a drum made in a traditional Siberian way and sung into existence under the light of the moon, its deerskin bathed in elixirs made from the morganite crystal that I had asked to be part of its make-up. The distillation of moonlight and crystal energy she had made, accompanied it together with a paddle to play it with.

And then as we finished discussing my drum she said that she had this other drum that had ‘spoken’ to her, making it plain that it wanted to travel, wanted to come with me too. “Would you take it to Montana for the Gathering?” She unwrapped it – an 18in Buffalo drum, its hide mottled and dark, some strands of hair still present, almost growing still on its surface, and an area where the shadow of a small buffalo form seemed to stand.

But how was I to get it back to her, I asked? She said that if it came back that would be fine; and if it stayed with me that would also be fine; and if it wanted to travel on that would be fine too… She ended, “You will know what it wants to do”…!!!  But I didn’t feel a connection to this drum, how was I to know?

As luck would have it I was going on to spend a couple of nights on Vancouver Island with friends with great shamanic experience. As I talked to Rick & Marie about the Buffalo drum and as Rick led me in an enquiry into my relationship with the drum and my acceptance of this invitation, he suddenly and surprisingly sounded the drum loudly through the room shocking me and bringing its sound purposely to the heart of my being, the vibration of it singing deeply through me. I ‘met’ the drum in that moment and could feel my alignment to its journey crystalize within me.

We were ready, my drums and I, and I headed back to Seattle feeling the significance of the meeting ahead and looking forward to the journey across Washington State and Idaho to Whitefish, Montana. It’s a long drive, but across beautiful passes and through breath-taking countryside, and my three companions and I loved every minute of it, arriving in time to settle in before the opening ceremony.

People gathered from many countries across the globe that day in Montana including master teachers and healers, elders from many different traditions – Chiefs from Native American tribes of the East Coast of the States, as well as the Chief of the Blackfoot Nation and his wife & partner Darnell, whose traditional lands included and went beyond this northern state of America. Mamos from the Arhuaca tribe from the Santa Marta range of the Sierra Nevada mountains of Columbia had traveled out of their Mountains & out of their country for the very first time to be there. One of the Council of thirteen indigenous Grandmothers came. Teachers and spiritual leaders from America, Australia, Europe, & Mexico were present. Spiritual warriors and activists had come to be part of this momentous event including a group from Germany, accompanied by a film crew, traveling the world planting trees in the name of Peace to highlight the possibilities and paths of peace in these times.

P1010828We sat around a sunken fire pit in those initial moments and opened the fire, and each one of us was invited to take a few moments to speak our name and where we were from. The power of the spoken word as we all came together in unity was outstanding. As the last of the nearly 80 people present spoke, the Chief of the Blackfoot Nation, Smokey Rides at the Door, spoke with great heart and with humor about the need for peace and harmony, and the journey home of the Buffalo, a movement needed for the return of the heart of humanity and for the honoring of all peoples and their ways. While he spoke the wind got up and the trees rustled in the strong breeze, eagles called as they flew overhead, and an amazing circular formation of clouds formed, like a ring, reminding us that we are all part of the One Great Hoop of life and its ability to cross-connect all tribes on earth with each other.

P1010823After the main leaders of this gathering had spoken – Katherine, on whose land this Gathering was held; the Columbian Mamos; Chief Dancing Thunder of the Susquehannock tribe; and Australian teacher, Qala – the Sacred Paint Gatherer of the Blackfeet, Jimmy, EhSukYah, walked to join us all in circle. He spoke passionately about the need for unity and about the Buffalo and the move to bring the Buffalo home to his people, what that would mean on a more than literal level, how it would bring forward the life force in his people again. He spoke of a huge meeting – one that had just happened and one that would happen in the month after our gathering – where native tribes from the USA & Canada were to meet to sign pacts in an inter-tribal alliance to restore the Buffalo to parts of the rocky mountains and great plains, to open the passage for them so that they could once more roam freely. My heart was pounding. Here right at the beginning of our 10 day journey together, in sacred ceremony, the rightful place of the Buffalo drum I carried with me had been announced to me.  The call had been given clearly to hand it to the Blackfoot Nation so that it could become part of the sacred ceremonies and played to help manifest the intentions spoken before us all.

The next day, in conversation with Dancing Thunder, I shared my feelings about the drum, recounting its journey to the Gathering, and I asked for his advice on how to pass it onwards and who to pass it on to. Dancing Thunder suggested that as the Sacred Paint Gatherer, an elder at the heart of the spiritual and ceremonial life of the tribe, the drum would serve to its fullest in the hands of EhSukYah.

P1010747And so I opened the conversation with EhSukYah and offered him the drum. He was delighted and also strangely unsurprised that he was to be this drum’s next custodian. He announced that we must formally transfer the drum in ceremony and that if I would like to join him we would take it to Chief Mountain, the sacred mountain of the Blackfoot Nation in the center of what is now Glacier National Park and perform the ceremony there at its feet. A few days later we left, no more than ten of us in a small convoy of cars, to a sacred place in a beautiful spot in the rolling high plains just below the Mountain. Our group included a master drummer, Strong Bear, healers from Mexico and Europe, and part of the German film crew shooting a docufilm with the PeaceTree people, and shamans from Montana, and of course, EhSukYah, together with his young sons.

Bildschirmfoto 2014-10-08 um 23.40.24As we sat above a grove of Aspen trees in a place where earlier that year he had taken part in a ceremony in support of the restoration of the buffalo, EhSukYah took out a blanket and laid sacred items on it and spoke prayers in his own language. He then dressed himself in full ceremonial headdress, and picked up the Buffalo drum and sang to the mountain. The song he sang on the rhythm of the drum was powerful and heartfelt. Then Strong Bear took up his drum, and in a rhythm so fast that there was no room for thought, he drummed us ‘into the mountain’.

I journeyed deeply on the sound of the drum into the spiritual plains of Chief mountain.  I was brought to a seated circle of Grandmothers weaving a blanket on which they were creating the forms of all the animals of the earth. As I joined the Twelve Grandmothers the threads of their blanket rolled into a ball made of these strands of creation in all their beautiful colors, and they held this ball out to me before placing it in my heart. It was a moment full of gratitude and joy for me, coupled with a solemn understanding that I was being entrusted with a responsibility, to take this gift out into the world for the benefit of all beings.

And then, all too soon, Strong Bear drummed us back into present time and space. My meeting with the Grandmothers was complete and too quickly, in a haze of otherworldliness, I walked with the group to honor the Buffalo at another sacred spot close by, where EhSukYah played the Buffalo drum again in a completion of our ceremony.

P1010778In a time honored way we then sat down together and shared a meal, feasting on a diverse range of food that we had each brought to complete our sacred time together. As we headed home the day was ebbing and the stillness of dusk settled round us like a cloak. Our convoy divided as we moved off. EhSukYah, his sons, the film crew and I traveled very slowly, savoring the palpable power of the land, and the silence accompanying the dying moments of the day, the full moon rising in the sky, and the extraordinary colors of the rocks as the sun slowly set. We sang out our gratitude as it went down, drumming and singing our way back along the road.

The Buffalo drum has completed this part of its journey and passed into the Blackfoot Tribe in the care of one of their esteemed elders, in order to follow its destiny.

For information about the movement to restore the Buffalo go to www.buffalofieldcampaign.org

To follow the PeaceTree people go to www.friedensbaum.de. Their PeaceTree docufilm made at the Gathering in Montana was awarded 2nd place at the Berliner Stiftungswoke, April 2015

For information on Chief Dancing Thunder go to www.susquehannock.org or www.bluejay.eu

 

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Posted by: Sarah Lidsey | August 1, 2014

How to deepen your meditation with Breath

deep-breathMany of us who are exploring consciousness or looking for more peace in our busy lives have at some time or other sought out practices to quieten the mind.

There are beautiful timeless teachings out there that help to still the mind and shift one into a place of greater happiness by returning to source. Most of them include bringing awareness to the breath.

The yogic science of meditative breathing is rich in practices that alter your state of being just by changing the flow of your breath, its quality, and its pace.  You can direct it to address lack of balance or disease in your physical body, and, when you use the breath to enter into the multi-dimensional facets of your internal landscape, you can direct it to give you a tangible experience of the infinite nature of your being. Just by breathing you can change the patterns of your life, open your heart, and increase your health and wellbeing!

The practice I am offering you here is foundational to my own ongoing awakening, assisting me greatly in my meditation and awareness.  It starts and ends with one position – the tip of the tongue resting on the roof of the mouth in the ridge where the gum meets the top teeth. As the breath is directed consciously in this way, it opens up the micro-cosmic orbit through all the subtle energy channels to ignite them and feed the physical body, while simultaneously connecting heaven and earth within.

The Practice:

While all the time circulating your breath gently in a clockwise direction, breathe universal energy (chi) from outside of your own personal energy field in through the nose, sending the breath down the front of the body to the core of the earth, releasing out through the mouth to ground and center yourself.

With the next breath through the nose, breathing in from the core of the earth up the spine and out of the nose through the crown at the top of your head until your energy field is grounded, charged, and potentized with your illuminated consciousness. After a little while connect the breath, breathing in and out through the nose, so that with one breath you complete the whole orbit breathing in and down into your base, breathing out and up through the crown to your source.

The meditator’s challenge is often an overactive mind, but as the breath bathes the pineal gland in the center of your brain with light, it slows & finds its own rhythm and direction, your egoic thoughts will then drop away and you will be able to access your greater loving nature and wisdom with ease. Until this occurs just be compassionate to yourself, and when you notice the chattering don’t judge yourself, just thank the mind for sharing its thoughts and come back to a place of more tranquility.

©2014 Sarah Lidsey. All rights reserved. www.sarahlidsey.com

Posted by: Sarah Lidsey | July 1, 2014

Exactly where I need to be

From time to time I hear an inner call to stop, take stock, and appreciate where I am in my life’s journey. My awareness is drawn inward and I move into a point of quietness, like the stasis experienced between the in-breath – of gathering and transformation – and the out-breath – of taking all that has been realised back out into the world.

This invitation to reflect can easily be lost in the noise of busy’ness, but heeding it delivers such gifts of awareness, and these in turn transform one’s consciousness.

Taking the time to sit in the stillness between the inhalation and the exhalation of the breath of life is also an opportunity to take note of where balance and harmony is yet to be embodied, recognizing that those places are also part of the whole and will be returning to unity too. This acceptance that all is in divine order is very relaxing! It is knowing and trusting that we are always and ever exactly where we are meant to be in our evolution.

Amy Steinberg says it so completely in her song, ‘Exactly’. I’m posting it here. I hope it speaks to you too, encouraging an appreciation of your beautiful self and the stillness within that is rich with revelation. Taking time to observe and honestly acknowledge every aspect revealed is a great gift that you can easily give to yourself. The only thing needed is to slow down, be present, and listen. You just listen to your natural rhythm and follow it inward until you meet the vast expanse there that holds and loves all, without exception.

©2014 Sarah Lidsey. All rights reserved. www.sarahlidsey.com

Posted by: Sarah Lidsey | June 5, 2014

How to manifest your deepest desires

We all carry hopes, wishes, dreams and at times these manifest easily and life flows beautifully, but when they don’t there can be a feeling of lack that may be fueled by an underlying issue, belief or even a fear about how having our deepest desire might upset our lives.

Even though we may think that having tons of money, a gorgeous partner, or a high powered job will make everything ‘right’, under the surface we may hold a hidden ‘No!’.

The fundamentals of this manifesting practice are that for each desire we hold to change our behavior, our circumstances, or indeed to create something totally new in our lives, we need to presence any fears we hold about it and the polar-opposite quality of what we are calling for.  Taking time to flesh it out is important, so that the power of our deep rooted concerns lose their hold over us, and our intention can then emerge in its purest form.

You can create anything that you want to have in your life in this way.

Here are the steps:

1. Be clear about what it is that you want to have.

2. First connect with the polar opposite of what you wish to create. For instance, if it is Patience that you want, go first to Impatience. Name the qualities it elicits in you – perhaps thoughtlessness, anxiety, anger.

If your desire is material, for instance a loving partner, you first list what you feel may be holding you back from attracting that person, going through the concerns you have about opening up to share your life. Be super-honest about everything. Don’t skip a thing – list your intolerances, your worries and your fears.

If you meet something that you really want to turn away from…don’t. Bring it right out of the shadows and work through it. What created that fear and is it really relevant to your life now?

Get help from a spiritual guide, a healer or therapist, someone who can help you with it and neutralize its hold over your life if it feels too big to handle by yourself.  But don’t let it hold you back from your heart’s desire anymore – meet it and break the power it holds over you.

Write it all down.

It is vital to do this work before moving on to what qualities would make you supremely happy.

3. Next move on to its positive expression in your life – how it will feel to have it, and what it will bring to you.  If it’s a quality – Patience, for instance – how will that change your behavior, your demeanor, your relationships?  If it’s a loving partner, imagine all the qualities you’d like in your beloved down to the smallest detail….height, humor, interests, intellect, degrees of contact and connection…and so on. Envision everything – don’t leave anything out. This is the fun part – be really playful with it!

Write it all down.

Having thoroughly addressed all that you lack and all that you desire, you then go into the process of manifestation.

4. Drop into your heart center, and sit in meditation.

5. Call in everything that will support you – I call on Mother/Father/God, the Great Creator of All that Is, my guides, and Gaia to support me.

I Call in some of the Universal Laws that structure our existence, including the Laws of Manifestation, Love, Creation and Wisdom asking them to flow through this vision, illuminating it, and potentizing it as I connect to it.

6. Call your vision towards you using your intention.

7. Send the loving energy of your heart into it and call on it to manifest in alignment with Universal Law and your soul’s journey, according to Divine Will.

8. And then let go of any attachment to it – trusting, surrendering it to the universe lovingly, knowing that it will come to you.

9. Ask for it to manifest in present time so that you can receive it now, joyfully.

10. And then give thanks, and offer your gratitude for all that you are to receive.

 

©2014 Sarah Lidsey. All rights reserved. www.sarahlidsey.com

 

Posted by: Sarah Lidsey | May 1, 2014

Creating Balance & Harmony from the Heart

The creation of balance & harmony is, to my mind, one of the most important tasks that we have. In order to generate it in the world we first need to embody it ourselves, and it is important to do because without it all sorts of distortions can appear, spiraling out from the feelings we hold about ourselves to then color our relationships, before moving on to affect our communities and the world at large.

 

ImageAnd so this month my offering to you is a simple, profound practice of the heart that creates balance, harmony, and a deep sense of wellbeing.

Our western culture today prizes our intellectual abilities above all else, but it is really the heart that is the key to understanding the true nature of life. When the intellect alone is engaged it isn’t possible to act with 100% of our wisdom. But when coupled with the compassion that flows through an open heart, our ability to live fulfilling lives in harmony with all around us becomes our reality.

To focus on the heart chakra in the center of the chest every day, and open it by dropping into its core, brings peace to the mind and joy to the heart.

If you can, take 10 minutes, sit in meditation, and as you bring your attention to the heart and drop in, imagine there is a beautiful golden ball of light sitting there.

Breathe into it and with each breath intend for it to expand and illuminate until it ignites and becomes a vibrant golden sun, expanding and expanding with each breath you take.

And take this beautiful light and feed every cell in your body.

Nourish each cell with the pure light of your divine Being.

And as this golden sun expands take it out further until the whole of your Being sits within this beautiful light that you are.

And sit in the golden light of your Being until you feel balanced, joyful and at peace with all around you.

Now take the light that you are, expanding it into your family, into your community, and then offer it to all humanity, as you take yourself out into the world.

And notice how good you feel about life, and how positively people respond to you.

©2014 Sarah Lidsey. All rights reserved. www.sarahlidsey.com

Posted by: Sarah Lidsey | April 2, 2014

Try Mudra, to enhance your Meditation Practice

One of the first steps of offering healing to oneself or others is to be able to allow energy to flow from the metaphysical levels of Being into the physical body.

Meditation is a great vehicle to generate this. When combined with mudra, most commonly practiced as the artful positioning of the hands, the energy field can be assisted to open its subtle channels and to flow in specific ways, stimulating and strengthening all aspects of our being including our organs and tissues.

Mudra is life enhancing and easy.

ImageMudra is a beautiful healing art in itself. One of the most popular mudras for yogis and yoginis, due to its ability to generate spiritual openness,is Gyan Mudra in which the backs of the hands are placed on the thighs above the knees, with the index finger touching the thumb. This opens the flow of energy, increases brainpower and receptivity, supports all the endocrine glands, and assists in reducing anxiety and depression.

ImageGenerally, I let my intuition pick which mudra will best support me for that day. I know it is my body’s wisdom guiding me to assist in my wellbeing. I love Dyana Mudra, where I sit with my hands joined in my lap, cupped, with the right palm supporting the left hand, and the tips of my thumbs touching. This is a wonderful mudra to support balance of the mind and the emotions, creating inner calmness, as well as sustaining and circulating the light.

ImageIf I change this mudra I change both the effect and the energy flow. In Apan Mudra – with the backs of the hands resting separately at the base of my body, the tips of the 2nd & 3rd fingers touching the tips of the thumbs, – I stimulate both hemispheres of the brain, balancing the mind, and opening to creation. On a physical level I am supporting my liver, and assisting my body to eliminate toxins.

ImageIf I want to deepen my grounding I release the 2nd finger and shift into Prithvi Mudra. Now my base chakra is supported, Chi is stimulated, circulation is enhanced, and consciousness is open to flow.

The art and science of mudra is amazing. I encourage you to explore the positive effect of mudra on your health AND your meditation.

©2014 Sarah Lidsey. All rights reserved. www.sarahlidsey.com

Posted by: Sarah Lidsey | March 1, 2014

Gratitude

Words are the key to the Heart’ – Chinese proverb

Words tell people around us a lot about who we are.  They shape and affect our lives.    If we change the way we express ourselves from phrases that say ‘half empty’ to those that convey ‘half full’, we can change the quality of the relationships we have, and the experiences we attract.

The power of the word is an awesome thing.  It can build love in our hearts … and it can destroy it too.  Sometimes we bandy words about without thinking.  It is too easy to open our mouths and say something without thinking of how it will land. The feeling behind our words, their delivery, charges them with positive or negative energy.

To make a daily practice of aligning with the potent qualities carried by a positive word, I recall how grateful I am and I use it to color my words, which in turn enhances my interactions with everyone and effects how I feel about my day.

Gratitude is one of the most profound states of being that there is.   When I am in a state of gratitude I feel so connected to everything and everyone.  My interactions are warmer, the words I speak feel lighter.  It is tangible to others.  It is visceral for me.   The reason for that is that gratitude opens the heart to joy, happiness, pleasure, LOVE.

Sometimes it is not so easy to feel grateful when you are anxious, or looking for the sun to shine on you on a depressing grey day.  This simple practice brings me easily into the feeling of gratitude, and I use it almost every day.

Place your focus in the heart chakra in the center of your chest, and breathe into that area in a slow deep rhythm for a minute or so, following the breath inward. And think back to an event that really made you thankful, grateful to be alive, to be where you were at the time, to be YOU ….… like connecting to the feeling a beautiful sunset generates, or the smell of fresh baked bread, or recalling your baby’s laughter, or your favourite birthday present. And this is an important tip – you have to feel the gratitude to generate the state. And affirm the feeling with your words ….

‘I am so grateful for the roof over my head ’

‘I am so grateful for the food on my plate’

‘I am so grateful for the beauty that surrounds me’

‘I am so grateful for the love that envelopes me’

‘I am so grateful to be me’ ….

…..and there you go, into the day with a smile on your face and gratitude in your heart, transmitting it to everyone….Happy Day!!

©2014 Sarah Lidsey. All rights reserved. www.sarahlidsey.com

Posted by: Sarah Lidsey | February 5, 2012

Pilgrimage of the Heart: Kalachakra, Bodh Gaya

The Kalachakra tradition revolves around the concept of time (kāla) and cycles (chakra): from the cycles of the planets, to the cycles of human breathing, it teaches the practice of working with the most subtle energies within one’s body on the path to enlightenment.… the wheel is without beginning or end.’ -Wikipedia

In my wildest dreams I would never have imagined myself as part of a massive crowd of people, rising before dawn and sitting for days on end avidly listening to one man’s words, and yet I was, last month, in India!  I’d committed to receiving the Kalachakra teachings and initiations from His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Bodh Gaya, place of the Buddha Shakyamuni’s enlightenment.

Only six months previously I had given away an opportunity to receive the same initiations when the Dalai Lama was conferring them in Washington D.C., because I had got stuck in my own ignorance, fear, and drama.  Taking bodhisattva[1] and refuge[2] vows were at the bottom of my reluctance to attend.  I was fearful of what that might mean for me, hung up on words that freaked me out, understanding them in a narrow sense, intellectually, coloring them with my own phobias around lineages, commitments, and interconnection.  I can often feel major change coming and sometimes hold back from engaging, but the importance of change has rarely been outlined so clearly for me as it was over my decision, only a week or so before it started, not to go to the D.C. gathering. The resultant mystifyingly intense feelings of loss and grief and my subsequent promise and prayer, that if I ever received the opportunity to attend again I would take it, were the reasons that I found myself in India.  The months preceding my departure proved to be a rich time of letting go, as the penny viscerally dropped around what it really means to be compassionately linked to every living being.

The call to travel to India had come early in August.  I was contacted by a friend informing me that there was a cancellation in a group going to the Kalachakra to be held in Bodh Gaya in January.  ‘You need to make up your mind fast if you want to go’, she said.  I didn’t hesitate. By the end of the next day I was booked, and just as immediately my sub-conscious preparations started.

Bodh Gaya, a predominantly Hindu town, was teeming with people from that very first day of the Kalachakra all going to and from the teaching arena on foot, by tuk-tuk or in a rickshaw.  They presaged the long entry lines for foreigners and another for Tibetans, monks and nuns which started well before the security gates.  We’d come in droves from far and wide to receive these important teachings.

Once through security we all headed for a vast expanse of cobbled together plastic sheeting which formed one large covered area under which we were to sit for the next ten days. More covering than tent, it was divided by bamboo railings into sections that felt like sheep pens to me.  Makeshift signs suggested that we sat in specific areas for, for instance,  ‘Monks’, ‘Nuns’, ‘Koreans’, ‘Foreigners’. It didn’t always happen but it helped to create some order.  Once planted everyone tried to keep their place for the entire teaching.  It wasn’t always easy!  If you left your cushion and your precious roughly 24”squ. space unattended it was likely to be swallowed up.  If you weren’t there well before prayers started each day it was gone.  And to intensify the journey, more people arrived as we went from the preliminary preparation stage to the teachings and then finally to the initiations.  A pen that felt like a crush on the first day contained almost double the people by the last!

To sit in the vibration and sonorous beauty of the monk’s chanting as the Dalai Lama laid the energetic framework on which these teachings rest was an incredible experience.  The rhythm of the sound, and the movement of His Holiness’ hands weaving an energetic structure in sacred mudras was translated slowly into the physical by a few of the monks who completed a sand Mandala ‘palace’ for Kalachakra while his Holiness offered us the teachings.  Just before the initiations we were invited to view it over consecutive evenings, and to receive its blessing. The ferocious passion with which the Tibetan people entered into this as well as every other aspect of this ritual was amazing – they were impatient to personally see the completed Mandala; they stormed the security gates when the lines were preventing them from being present at the start of any given day; and they were overjoyed to see the Dalai Lama.  They are refreshingly open in the expression of their devotion.

The reality of life’s dual nature was everywhere.  Although we were there to participate in a very spiritual practice some of the requirements and behaviors were anything but spiritual!  There was the lavatory initiation! There seemed to be only around half a dozen western style Portaloos to service the vast crowd attending, and about the same amount of Asian-style loos, both with a real risk of long lines and a guarantee of a hideous experience.  And samsara was ever present ….I saw a woman who arrived a little late one morning hit another over the head with a radio arial, pushing her because she wanted her to move over and vacate ‘her’ space!  And she wasn’t alone, every morning there was squabbling around the foreigner’s pens as many more arrived and the increasingly tired inhabitants came to terms with their progressively limited space. In contrast, once seated, the monks and nuns never fidgeted, quietly waiting for the prayers or teachings even as we ‘foreigners’ swooped on the free offerings of bread and butter-milk tea brought round each day, and jumped up to collect free handouts of biscuits and books distributed to all by the monks.  Sometimes we momentarily forgot the needs and wants of those around us, self-interest overtaking us and highlighting the need for these teachings to be seeded and take root.  All the glorious expressions and dramas of humanity were constantly there, shining brightly on each of our shortcomings, and personally astonishing, teaching, and humbling me.

Each day from the start of the preliminary teachings to the completion of the initiation, I ended my day of learning at the Mahabodhi Temple just a short walk away.  Circling the sacred Bodhi tree with hundreds of others, and mantra’ing my gratitude or emptying my mind, I felt golden streams of pure creation vibrate through and saturate everything in and around me.  Each day in these energies the gifts of the teachings sunk more deeply into my being.  As the teachings started I felt the seed of compassion for all beings being planted in me so that compassion lives within me in a completely new way, one that isn’t event driven or personal, but that appreciates the root of what it means to be human in all its many forms and faces.  The initiations themselves were precise, almost business-like in their execution, one vow following another, and yet for me taking them was deeply emotional.  It’s an acknowledgement of and commitment to my own path of evolution, but with the sworn intention to bringing the grace of awareness and transformation to others for theirs. To do this in such a potent place felt miraculous.

Like many of the estimated 300,000+ pilgrims who lived and prayed in Bodh Gaya for those two weeks I am counting my blessings, one of which was, bizarrely, a horrendous chest infection.  It caused me to go slowly and integrate my experiences gently over several weeks. This initiation has changed me, and I live in gratitude for the opportunity that I was given to attend, and for the wisdom of my teachers, in this world and all others.

Sound bites from H.H. Dalai Lama, Bodh Gaya, 3 January 2012:

‘We all have the choice between negative emotion and negative reaction and positive emotion and positive reaction.’ 

‘It is impossible to achieve non-violence when in anger.  Non-violence is a reflection of inner peace. We need inner discernment and through that external disarmament.

©2012 Sarah Lidsey. All rights reserved. www.sarahlidsey.com


[1] ‘In the various Bodhisattva vows the Bodisattvas take a vow stating that they will strive to liberate all sentient beings from samsara and lead them to enlightenment. The Bodhisattva does not seek bodhi (Awakening) solely for him/herself, but chiefly for the sake of freeing all other beings and aiding them into the bliss of Nirvana.

This can be done by venerating all Buddhas and by cultivating supreme moral and spiritual perfection, to be placed in the service of others. In particular, Bodhisattvas promise to practice the “six perfections” of giving, moral discipline, patience, effort, concentration and wisdom in order to fulfill their bodhichitta aim of attaining enlightenment for the sake of all beings.’ – Wikipedia

[2] ‘Driven only by fear, do men go for refuge to many places — to hills, woods, groves, trees and shrines.

Such, indeed, is no safe refuge; such is not the refuge supreme. Not by resorting to such a refuge is one released from all suffering.

He who has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Teaching and his Order, penetrates with transcendental wisdom the Four Noble Truths — suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the Noble Eightfold Path leading to the cessation of suffering.

This indeed is the safe refuge, this the refuge supreme. Having gone to such a refuge, one is released from all suffering.’ Dhammapada, chapter XIV, vs.188-192

Posted by: Sarah Lidsey | December 17, 2011

Traveling Meditations: Walking as a Path of Remembering

I’ve noticed that the meditative journeys I have had while walking have dropped me into profound states of remembering, connecting me back to ancient times, other cultures and different existences. I am often surprised by the depth of the realizations that rise up to meet me when I am in the simplest of all connections – that between self, land and spirit.

In past postings I’ve shared experiences that I’ve had while walking.  In Australia I reconnected with an ancient root of myself and subsequently was able to re-integrate that into this life (Pilgrimage of the Heart: Kata Tjuta, September 2009); a pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash helped me to jettison bindings that had held me through many lifetimes (Pilgrimage of the Heart: Mt. Kailash, Tibet, January 2010); and in Africa I was taken back to a time when I was a hunter and warrior, and I experienced the total aliveness of nature and how inseparably interconnected with it I am (Pilgrimage of the Heart: Africa and the Laikipia Masai, May 2010).  Each one called aspects of my infinite nature ‘home’, making it possible to ground their lessons in this life.  Their embodiment has meant that I am now able to live a richer, freer existence.  This happened through the dynamics that were created in the act of walking.

Every walking meditation opens up the possibility of forging a deeper understanding of the never ending, infinitely creative nature of being. Primarily and most profoundly for me, with each one the doorway into my heart opens wider, and I am able to feel and express at depths that I hadn’t been aware existed.  Sometimes the lessons I’ve received have been deep and painful, but mostly they have happened with great ease, delivered to me when I was ready to receive them. My walks have shown me what it really means to be inseparable from all of life’s many and varied forms, and they’ve taught me the importance of taking all of these realizations and embodying them in order to live life in a different way.  I am constantly thinking I have reached the subtlest octave of understanding of any single one of my issues, only to find on another journey that I am being led to explore it at an even greater depth– walking new awareness into life.

Traveling Meditations on Foot

In all meditative practices it helps enormously to start with an open mind, with no expectations but with a framework that supports you as you travel multi-dimensionally, enabling the deepest connections to arise seamlessly. There can be many elements to this, some of which I’ve already shared in Traveling Meditation postings.  Here are a few more:

Organizing principles: Amongst the supports that we all have in life are the archetypes and organizing principles that structure our worlds.  These are formless aspects of creation, uniquely expressed by each one of us which then bridge our beings out of body into our physical form and influence how we resonate with all around us.  As you prepare for your walk take some time, maybe over a day or so, to connect with and acknowledge the organizing principles and archetypes that inform you and your life.  Open your eyes to how you like to relate with all around you – perhaps through joy, grace, or innocence, movement, balance, or harmony? Each of these and many more add a qualitative element that our subconscious calls for so that the life we live truly expresses us.  Whether you are aware of them or not your organizing principles are there creating a natural order, the foundational pieces that assist you to shape your life.  I like to experience life through balance and harmony, with rhythm and flow, connecting with the beauty around me. These are principles that I would find it hard to live without. They are adaptive and have many expressions, but their fundamental nature underpins my reality.

Intuition: Listen to and trust your intuition.  Your impulse to go out for a walk, or to embark on a journey to some distant place, may come to you through an invitation or perhaps through a random thought.  If you feel moved to go to a particular place, trust that and take the time to do so.  It may be your own unconscious wisdom inviting you to reconnect to one of your many ancient aspects and reunite with the wisdom accrued by your soul.

Respectful relationship: Above all, each and every day, as you start your journey take a moment to call in the guardians of the land or the place that you are traveling through introducing yourself to them clearly, stating your intention to be in peaceful, respectful relationship with them, and asking them to bless you with their grace and to provide you with safe passage.

The Meditation

As you set out, drop into a place of respectful silence.  Savor the silence and the sounds as they rise up to meet you.  Take time to stop if and when you feel called to, so that your natural internal rhythm and flow directs you on your journey.

Don’t rush.  Be aware of how you plant your feet on the earth, and as you do so send down your heartfelt blessing to the Divine Mother, Gaia, as she supports you in this moment and all others. 

Take in your surroundings and call forward the organizing principles that assist you in dropping into a place of communion with your environment. If you get distracted by your thoughts, just notice and come back to the moment.

Become aware of the Elements around you.  Notice what elements within you call to those elements outside of you – your flesh and all its minerals to the earth and all hers; your breath to the air – recognize that you are an inseparable extension of the world around you.

Notice what senses are ignited by this connectedness with everything.  An inner silence and spaciousness emerges when you are in this state.  Let the silence radiate out from your heart center to include your entire body, and all around you, and allow your walking meditation to unfurl.  Release any attachment to the way this happensBe led by your natural wisdom and follow your intuition.

Let your deepening awareness ignite your gratitude for everything that you are and for all that you experience.  As Gratitude fills your heart offer it up to the world.  If song or other sounds are part of your experience don’t be afraid to express them.

Remember, your spiritual self and your earthly self are not separate.  With each Path of Remembering allow more of the infinite wisdom held in the invisible worlds of spirit to inform you in the here and now.

Take several minutes to integrate yourself back into the present. Take in the world around you; make sure that you are fully connected in the present, grounded in the earth, and aware of your surroundings so that you can embody this experience and inhabit your life in a richer, freer, more informed way.

At the end of your journey remember to thank the guardians of the land for the gifts you have received.

©2011 Sarah Lidsey. All rights reserved. www.sarahlidsey.com

Posted by: Sarah Lidsey | November 21, 2011

Every Breath

In each moment we are creating our realities through the ways in which we respond to everything around us.  In these last months, during a process of winding up my New York-based life and moving to England, I have been particularly aware of how the power to live fully or not resides with me.  I am experiencing how my mental and emotional filters either allow me to progress easily or, like flotsam in a river, periodically stop me as I get embroiled in the landscape around and within me.  Times are a’changing!  I feel as if an old way of operating is being peeled back and another way is being revealed to me.  I am constantly being asked to trust that all is in Divine order, and to just go with the flow as I meet it, and I have come to realize that there really is no choice but to move with the tide and break free of my conditioning, to drop into the current of creation that says LIVE LIFE NOW… with every breath, in every moment, freely.  This New Way seems to me to be about allowing.  It allows each moment the space to arise freely; it allows every breath to come from the infinite nature of the Divine within; and it allows each choice to be made through the heart, without attachment, from the center of existence.

I am continually cutting this new path these days, seeing when I am falling back into my conditioning, or when I’m moving out of the familiar and into a place and a way of doing things that asks for surrender.  When I first noticed that the impulse to willfully create change for myself wasn’t there I really thought that I was either doing an excellent imitation of an ostrich, burying my head in the sand to the reality of everyday life, or that perhaps I was on a different, albeit unfamiliar track based in trust, patience, and surrender.  I’m now pretty sure it’s the latter.  As I observe it, one of the keys to this new way seems to be in witnessing where I get stuck. I’ve noticed that it is invariably when I am attached to a place, a person, a response or to an outcome.  When I move back from that place into the heart I can let go and allow the fear that seems to underlie all these things to melt away into love.  With love the whole system relaxes and it is impossible to do anything other than accept that whatever is here is what IS.  That includes the love AND it includes the fear, and it allows the movement away from the center to stop and realign in the truth of the moment which as I stop to listen invariably seems to be, ‘It is all OK’.  This new way involves living from Divine Will instead of personal will.

Alongside these realizations about how the limitations of the old way affect my life is an appreciation of how each creative impulse, each breath, is amplified by the nature of the words that I speak, both those uttered internally as thoughts or judgments, and those spoken out loud.  Not only am I noticing how speech lands, but also the effect that it has on me.  I see how the vibration of sound carried with each breath reverberates through me, and where that supports me or distorts me.  I am finding that if I follow the vibration – as thought-form or word – back into the heart, then I can change the patterns arising in my brain and move cleanly back into relationship in whatever form it is taking in the moment.  Last week I was upset with an old friend of mine, feeling it strongly within, and then I moved back to center and instead I saw how holding that current inside created immediate distortions in how I related to everything around me, not just her.  I saw my demand and that at the root of it was my history not her actions.  My own fears and limitations were stopping my life force.  In this new way it is harder to push against the current of truth and remain disharmonious for long.  As the destructive feelings that I’d projected outward melted, an unrestricted, unattached flow of life force returned to me.  It happened easily just by bringing them back to my heart for transformation so that I could be fully in relationship again.

With every breath I take I am reminded of the gift that is Life.  Each breath connects me to everything, and everything is as it should be, even at the same time that fears arise and I feel I need to know something about anything.  The truth is I haven’t a clue where I am going or what I am doing!  Felt in this way there is only laughter and joy and freedom and gratitude present.  In the moments where I forget and feel worry taking over, I know for sure that with the next breath it can all change and I will return to my heart, and to the center of existence with ease.  In Life every breath matters … Every breath.

Every Breath You Take

Every breath you take / Every Sound you make / Every single day / Every word you say / IS creating you.

Every spoken word / Uttered or unheard / In whatever way / Each and every day / It’s creating You.

Every turn you take / From your Heart you make / In the smallest Ways / Every single Day / It is creating you

……(the original lyrics are, of course, by The Police!)

©2011 Sarah Lidsey. All rights reserved. www.sarahlidsey.com

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