Question and Answer:  

Q: Do you have any thoughts on the nature of this as it relates to people who are neurodivergent?

A: I am not sure if this will bring comfort or deeper forms of concern, but when it comes to the skillset of “actually” residing in the stillness and silence most of the world seems to be a bit neurodivergent. In other words, finding  that place of genuine centeredness isn’t easy for anyone, regardless of your apparent strengths or weaknesses. The best advice I can give to calibrating to that particular place of centeredness, regardless of the ground you stand upon, is to offer the full bandwidth of your attention to the emerging present moment. Stretch out your senses, and take in what you see, hear, feel, and smell around you in a really deep way. When your presence is undiluted in this posture of receptivity, you streamline the potential for aligning to the centered part of yourself. Eventually, as you learn to calibrate this form of awareness more skillfully, it becomes clear when you are moving in pace with emergence (which produces centeredness), or when you are caught up in some version of personal story, ego, or the mind (which pulls you from the moment and creates imbalance). True centeredness has a quality of awareness that is moving in perfect pace with life. It is soft yet strong, relaxed yet ready, and deeply engaged without being overly controlling. Soften into the essence of emergence. Let it speak in its own voice. And let that quality of observation be the place where you make your home.

Q: Thank you for this description, it's beautiful, and I hear you, and there's this element that I'm trying to understand. I'm a sensorily sensitive person, my senses are usually picking up a tremendous amount of information see, feel, hear,  smell, other senses beyond those as well that I don't know how to name. I find this to be a gift when I'm out in the soft, sensuous, un-concreted spaces of the Earth. I find it to be extremely destructive to my nervous system and well-being in dense cities because what my senses are experiencing is the ambient inherent violence in the body of a city, in it's bones and structures, in it's desecration of the land, in the way the people living in it are sucked into it's inhumane rhythms, in the never ending growl of traffic that can be heard even from the quiet places up on trails in the hills.

I was born and raised in East Oakland, and I'm living here still, but trying to leave. When I was little, I wasn't "aware" of these sensory inputs, even though they were passing through me all the time. But I always felt that there was something wrong with me. At some point as an adult, I deepened my relationship with plants among other things and realized that I had been living in a profoundly broken place (Oakland), and that was what I'd been sensing/feeling.

I can feel/notice when I'm being yanked around by ego and story and mind, but I feel this thing I'm trying to describe is something else, a machine producing unnatural biorhythms that cut through the heart of stillness and spirit in a way that is so deep and so complex I feel clumsy putting it to words. Desecration.

A:  I can definitely empathize and relate to what you said when it comes to the challenges of digesting some of the energetically dense expressions of life. I am also a pretty sensitive human. And when it comes to our gifts, unfortunately our greatest  strengths are almost always our greatest liabilities… and this is certainly true with the gift of heightened sensitivity. When it is a strength, this gift allows us to exist as a conscious luminous thread, inextricably woven into the majestic tapestry of life. As a liability, the nervous system can feel like an exposed nerve, ground down by the unforgiving abrasiveness of life.

The only way I have been able to navigate life when I feel like I am being broken down is to remember that the only parts of me that can be broken, are the parts of me still residing in the lower-self. And if I can learn to soften and expand in the presence of these particular forms of contraction… they expand to meet my soul, and the whole of me expands and grows. In this light, encounters with resistance become clear indicators of exactly where I need to learn to soften and make that part of me large enough for the conversation taking place around me.
Another way of saying this is... if you are able to let those parts of your personal-self go (so you are not "identifying" with them), and instead allow your identity to stretch out into the landscape itself, the container you are offering that energy to pass through is dramatically increased. Think of it in terms of volume. If you are identifying as a personal self, residing in a tiny body, is there enough space for communal tragedy to pass through you? And in contrast, if you were able to stretch out your awareness beyond the personal, and your identity was more akin to something cosmic, wouldn’t there be plenty of space to let all that pass through? Is the empty space around the sun threatened by the honking horns of traffic? Likely not as much as the personal self.
In other words, the only parts of you that will resist the density and disharmony are the parts still fixated on self-preservation. And I believe a big part of being human, if you stick around long enough, is to learn how to let go of your resistance to life (or in short, to let your “self” go). So, in the right light (if you are interested in an alternative paradigm) having these parts of you get “hit” is actually potentially positive… if you can learn to stay relaxed in their midst.
If you can learn to soften and expand, the parts of you that move into discomfort present you with very clear indicators of exactly where you have become contracted and defended, and they show you the points of greatest potential for awakening. The trick is learning how to soften, relax, and expand when the instinct of your ego’s defense system wants to contract and resist or retreat.
Everyone needs to find their own way through this. Personally, I have found the breath very helpful. Learning to deeply embrace life on the inhalation, embody it through a briefly held pause, and then to let it all go with every exhalation. Yet, whatever way you choose to dissolve… with every filament of the lower self that surrenders to life, the space for the soul to emerge gets more and more grand… eventually taking up permanent residence.

Remember patience, gentleness, forgiveness, and softness as you move forward. And if you need more direct guidance, I offer private sessions via zoom and will be teaching in California in January. Hope this helps!

Q:  Thank you for this incredibly thoughtful response, I'll need to return to it a few times and work towards interweaving these words into my understanding. This is something I've wandered around the edges of, wondering "does it hurt because  I'm resisting?". Thank you for your time and this conversation.