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On Intensity

Ah intensity! Coin of the realm for the soul.

The pure power of an experience that makes a brief moment seem like days of adventure taking months to understand, complete contact with our own essence carries the most awesome intensity. Small wonder that few ever have such experience.

All the attributes of sainthood, whatever the author of the ideals they represent, reflect the absence of fear of intensity. Perhaps sainthood is the mastery of such fear.

What is sanity, but the certainty that we can risk a greater intensity to our experience than we normally have? Without that sane certainty, we lose it entirely, don't we? We are more attractive to others when we already have a lover. We are more free with our money when we know we have enough to meet our needs. In living consciously we discover that events which are more intense than what we consider "normal" become more manageable and less deserving of our fear. In fact, we can discover that the intensity of what we think of as negative experience even leads to more intense experiences of joy and ecstasy. Sounds pretty sane to me!

I suppose I should define conscious living. For me, it is a commitment to growing awareness in each moment. Nice and succinct, right? I emphasize commitment because conscious living is not a static thing. It is a process, with some pretty wild swings at times. We must grow into our consciousness. It is much too vast to spring forth full blown into 3-dimensional reality. So, with each incremental expansion into more complete awareness, we accept more energy into our consciousness, greater charge, more intensity. We become more alive. YeeHaw! We cannot, however, try to deny our intense experiences which we call "negative" without closing ourselves also to the joyous flip side of that coin.

Energy is energy, matter how we define our perception of it. If we open ourselves to what we think of as pain, instead or struggling to make it stop, we learn to allow a commensurate amount of joy. We can also learn that pain is a definition and not an objective “fact.”

Try a little experiment. Catch yourself with a reasonably small source of pain sometime soon. You know it will happen eventually, right? Instead of responding to it reactively by quashing the experience or medicating right away, go into it. Relax around it and promise yourself there are rewards for letting it wash over you. Observe it carefully and allow it to pass through you in waves. It is fear that makes you want to tense up around it, isn't it? Listen to the message the pain carries to you. Don't try to tell it what to be, just listen. When the message finally does get through, it ceases to be pain, doesn't it? Cool, huh?

The sweet mixture of pleasure and pain that we are familiar with from orgasm exists in all experience. Only the proportions vary. Still, beneath the energy flow of distortions we call pain, lies the joy of pure movement which we can experience if we choose to. Though each instance will be unique, there is a sense of surfing the waves of energy manifested as pain. Flow along with them and find the pleasure in the release of pain and return of health in each breaking wave.

Obviously this takes some practice. However, it is a very effective way to return to health. Most often we accomplish this act unconsciously. Our higher self knows how to do this, after all. If we throw ourselves with full awareness into the act, it will take place even faster.

“Pretty words.” I can hear you thinking. OK, I'll offer an example.

One day in the weightroom (bet you haven't heard that opener often), I was working up a good lather and probably looking pretty beat up. The loudspeaker system began to play a piece of music which cast a hugely sad shadow, so pertinent to my life circumstances at the time. The song evoked images of my own emotional pain and the waves brought the flow of tears down my sweat drenched face. In a room of wet, groaning, grimacing people, my visage went unnoticed so I didn't bother to hide it. I just sat there holding a pulley and let it rain. Weeping in public makes it a much more intense experience for me and I abandoned myself to it fully while I strained at the weight attached to the pulley. For the first time, led by a poetic expression of profound sadness, I discovered that beneath the surface of strong emotion runs a deep current of joy. I could sense these opposing (?) forces concurrently, weeping and rejoicing simultaneously. I was a complete schizo! Of course, no one noticed so my secret was safe for a while.

I found all this fascinating. I began looking under each wave of sadness and grief for the current of joy. My life circumstances have provided sufficient fodder for despair, so I've been able to practice this new skill. I have indeed found that my greatest moments of bliss (many outlined in these pages) have arisen from my experiences of despondency. Each plunge into intense experience has brought both joy and pain in alternating waves. The more I allow the full awareness of pain, be it physical or emotional, the larger is the joy which accompanies it on its own wave. Makes it hard sometimes not to manufacture pain in order to reap the reward. But that would be sick, right? On the other hand, the only way past the pain is through it!

I am coming to trust that my life provides for my needs (or those of my soul at least). I am learning to have faith that the needs of the soul are really more important to me then the trivia I have been taught to value. It seems to me that this burgeoning trust is aligning me with a more divine will. It allows me to embrace my painful experiences with faith that I won't get more than I can bear. This is my weapon against fear: acceptance.

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