Monthly Archives: June 2013

Juice Cleanse: A Nuclear Option for Leaving My Comfort Zone

I love food. I did not realize how much until I began this little experiment.

Recently I wrote about thinking of food as a software program; if DNA is code, then the zeroes and ones you put into your system through nutrition chemically effect the information in your cells and your system “operates” differently.

This was pounded into my head by my health coach and holistic healer friend Darko Juric who used another computer analogy – “garbage in, garbage out” to drive the point home.

This week I am going a step further – I am embarking on a three day “juice cleanse” to flush out my system and remove toxins – I suppose this would be the equivalent of a virus and malware scan and presumably a system “update” for my operating system.

Day 1: Made it to my afternoon nap with lots of thinking about lunch. Took an Epson salt bath which refreshed me and gave me a bit of energy but no desire to go out and need lots of trips to the bathroom. Have Wimbledon to watch on DVR in the evening but the conditioning of building my evening around dinner is a distraction.

I watched a movie I had recorded – “The Prestige” – about two rival magicians who try to top one another, and one of them seems to do “real magic” – using advanced science – he contacts the historical figure Nicolai Tesla whose knowledge was so advanced that he was ruined by his rival, Thomas Edison.

Day 2: When I woke up I felt like crap, but then I remembered that this is the same way I feel on most days when my eyes first open–lethargic. I got moving by going out and turning on the air conditioner and PC, and cleaning the litter box, and discovered that the first water of the day was Aloe Vera – Mental Clarity.

I drank and got liquid into my system and my mood improved. I continued my routine of starting slowly and giving myself space, and noticed that the absence of “real” food was again very conditioned, and mental. My body did not feel hungry or even that weak.

I considered “normal” food and realized that the main aspects I was missing was chewing and biting – which I would be able to do again in another day and a half. There was also the issue of “taste;” but again I knew of taste mainly as a mental “concept,” as my friend Michael Jeffreys would say.

Michael had also advised me to “be the scientist” and I was approaching this experience as an experiment: what if my body is sluggish due to toxins and sludge that a cleanse would flush out? Wasn’t it worth a try? And how would “I” react in the face of discomfort, fatigue, irritability and craving for a hamburger?

I soon realized that food or “meals” were simply conditioned intervals in my day that gave it meaning and structure. Sometimes they were a container for social interaction but often they simply “filled up” other kinds of emptiness which I could notice and accept – certainly for a couple of days.

The activity of preparing the meal, planning it and even shopping again gave my day structure.

(I realize that those who work a full schedule and raise families are saying, “what is with this guy, how does he have so much time to fill” – consider how these conditioned behaviors fill your day and what might happen if they were suddenly gone. Right now I am quite fortunate, but not long ago the sudden disappearance of these structures made me very anxious).

When I was tour guide I noticed how some people were very uneasy on “vacation” unless they planned many activities which they were able to report back on their return. Only a few just soaked in freedom.

In many ways these “meal intervals” are a pointer to how much reality is “pure information” – and again mirrors the “virtual or encoded” software of our computers. How is that, you say?

Well if our life were a computer animation that was “programmed”, these intervals would be the “key frames” between we unconsciously fill space with automatic activities unless we are “present.”

Without key frames, life becomes “meaningless” but as you “deconstruct” reality you realize that all such meaning is “overlayed” onto a Life that is simply empty of “real” meaning.

For example, where are the lines of latitude and longitude, or borders between countries or states, on our actual planet?

As we look deeper, as I am trying to do in this cleanse, more and more of our habitual understanding of a world that in of itself is devoid of actual “concepts” falls away, and yet a deeper clarity of a far greater intelligence emerges. My body functions without the habitual movements—I breathe, move, eliminate and even think. And most important, without the habitual interludes of distraction, Life keeps moving.

In another day I can have a “real” breakfast.

Day 3: Upon arising I went to the fridge to see what today’s juicery looked like and decided to start with a Lavender Phenol water – having no idea what it was. I found it delightfully refreshing and got me going, with the added realization that my cleanse would end today.

For “breakfast” I am having a concoction of Kale, Cucumber, Parsley, Celery, Spinach and Romaine, while dreaming of an omelet, pancakes or bagel, lox and cream cheese…

In terms of bodily awareness, I had a headache yesterday and it got worse when my DVR failed to record Wimbledon, and the Tennis Channel gave away the results at the opening of the evening broadcast.

But I could hear rumblings all through my digestive track as my stomach asked “WTF”?

But I have a sense that my intestines, colon and kidneys were expressing a bit gratitude that the usual crud was not going through the system, and that they were getting flushed and cleaned.

At least I hope that was what was happening.

It reinforced the sense that we identify so strongly with our thoughts (and in this case my thoughts are gravitating toward FOOD) that we forget the significance of our “hardware”.

Everything internal is connected by design (let’s not get into the religious argument here) – and of course the internal and external are basically mental constructs anyway. Seen from a higher perspective, our “physical” existence is part of EVERYTHING although we tend to sense ourselves as separate, vulnerable, frail and potentially victimized entities unless we support our “selves” with sustenance – food, drugs, alcohol, sex, relationships, money, power, fame and of course, food.

And the notion of food is far reaching—embracing the social aspect of meals and all of its ramifications.

Another powerful insight on this cleanse that my female friends don’t seem to appreciate is the potential healing quality of irritability and complaining. Dark humor brings an inner smile as I realize the absurdity of various situations, and the fact that I apparently chose to do this is incredibly ironic to me.

Of course that brings up the conundrum of “who” chose, and free will. That one will give me another headache.

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A Proposed Hierarchy of Awareness

 

Thought has been getting a bad rap lately in various circles. Ever since Eckhart Tolle pointed out that there is an awareness that observes thought, so that a thought itself cannot be “me”, all hell has broken loose.

Of course a central problem is that we mainly think in words, and words form the basis for much of our conditioning, so the realization that the persistent thought “I am a mess” is not “me” is extremely helpful.

And as anyone who meditates knows, the ability to observe a series of thoughts and not attach or identify with them, creates “space” for other types of inquiry and experience. We become less and less caught up in any one thought or pattern of thinking.

Inevitably, however, the question of free will comes upas we try to discern whether the thought “I want to get up” causes the action that makes us go to the kitchen. My friend Michael Jeffreys, in his deconstruction, points out that “we don’t make any thought happen so what makes us think that a thought that happens of itself has any power?”

We can even go as far as to negate the reality of thought entirely when we again recognize that there is an awareness beyond thought, that can observe our thoughts, and it appears after the actions that seem to result from them have already occurred. Life never stands still.

We sometimes call this quality of mind “consciousness,” and there are teachings that maintain that the awareness of consciousness is in fact “all” that there is that we know for sure—that the brain does not take in but rather projects the outside world entirely.

It is difficult to refute such an argument, but when it’s time to go to Trader Joe’s it’s a lot easier to assume that we can get in the car and drive because we need food and it’s “out there.”

It seems to be much less painful to live “as if” there is a real world “out there” beyond our thoughts.

And it is also very helpful to accept the world as it presents itself, regardless of our thoughts. The entire Eastern concept of suffering, or Samsara, is based on the illusion created by an overly powerful mind that “thinks” it knows better than reality. We can see some of that in hubris of modern science which sometimes believes “Nature made a mistake” and “we” can do better.

So how can we approach these issues, using our flawed language, and understand them more deeply?

It helps immensely to look at the language we are using more closely. For example, teachers like Rupert Spira point out that when we examine the subject-object structure of the way we communicate with words, it is easy to see where the notion of “ownership” by a self came from – for every action (verb) there seems to be a doer (subject).

E.g., “I had a dream”…

Or when we say “it is raining”, what is the it? And again, when we say “I feel bad”, who is the I – when we discern that there is always an awareness that knows what is being felt, sensed or thought, we move “above” thought, as Eckhart Tolle says. When we numb ourselves with drugs or alcohol, or habitually follow conditioned patterns, we are “below” thought.

But what about thought itself. We may compare thought to software, and it has many similarities in that it seems to “trigger” events and solve problems. But where is this realization pointing?

But if we’ve used computers, we have confronted the following set of circumstances:

We have tried to perform a task, like create a report from data, and it doesn’t seem to work. We may even open the manual, but the language of the manual is obtuse and we cannot follow it. We try the task over and over but we are stuck in the realm of thought.

We think we are doing it right, and we’re attached to our concept of how it ought to be, but it is not working.

Then we go from thought to an idea that takes us “outside” of our “selves”. We’ll call an expert and we dial tech support.

This idea takes some courage to implement, as we all know. We might encounter more linguistic frustration by being connected to someone in India or the Philippines; but let’s assume we have an experienced friend who has used the software more extensively and has experienced the same issue.

This friend, or someone competent at tech support, takes us through the steps and now explains the operation from the point of view of the program (or the programmer who designed it).

Suddenly the entire process “makes sense” – we have gone from Thought – to Idea – to Insight or Realization.

In many ways we have taken our “selves” out of it in order to make space for the “solution” to unfold.

I had an epiphany along these lines last year, when I was invited to Chicago for a weekend to celebrate the marriage of a niece I had never met by a cousin with whom I had recently reunited and bonded.

I wanted to go but was anxious about getting out of my comfort zone and had many “thoughts” about what could go wrong. I could get stranded, delayed, lost, stuck on the tarmac, lose my stuff or massively inconvenienced, and these thoughts were inhibiting me from taking the trip.

When I expressed these fears (thoughts with a powerful self-attached) to Michael Jeffreys in the Santa Monica Eckhart Tolle Meetup Group, he said, “what if you went to Chicago (and none of that happened) and you had a really good time?”

This came from beyond my “self” and was a new Idea. It had not appeared among my thoughts previously, which had been all self/fear-based.

Suddenly I laughed (a common reaction to insight or realization) and said, “I never thought of that.”

Again, it seems to me that I had gone from a coarser, materially controlled sense of experience (a threatened self) to a broader perspective (someone else’s input or idea) to a “finer” realization of a much higher frequency (hence the insight and laughter): I did not know the outcome (and it could be favorable).

And in fact, I went into the trip without expectations and open, and had a blast.

A big part of the experience was the ability to meet every situation “fresh” – without the need to orchestrate or control the outcome – and accept it as it unfolded. In fact, when my cousin picked me up in the car in Chicago and told me I was going directly to dinner downtown, instead of to my hotel for a nap, I had no choice but to surrender… And nothing horrible happened.

I now find it immensely helpful to attempt to create space and use my awareness to discern the quality of thoughts that arise – and let them go unless they have the taste of an idea, or occasionally, an insight or realization.

As I’ve learned, ordinary thought is just sound in my skull, like the traffic going by, and frequently negative bringing up a “problem” that I didn’t even know I had.

And such negative, habitual low frequency thoughts can easily become obsessive.

But beginning to notice different qualities of the same energy as ideas or insights, and not “taking credit” for them as an “I”, gives me the ability to potentially effect a different outcome from one that other thoughts might have envisioned.

Is there a “me” freely doing any of this? I am now prone to dismiss this entire issue as a “word trap”.

And what about the use of the word “Divine” in the diagram above – certainly modern science would frown upon such language.

When I look out at the stars and galaxies, which can take me easily beyond thought or ideas, I have a profound realization – I don’t know. My language is incapable of grasping the “meaning” of what I perceive from “my” own limited perspective.

I can only fathom that there is Something far Greater than my own limited capacity to “think” that comprehends the vastness that is HERE and obviously EXISTS.

It is an experience beyond my mind to grasp. Neuroscience tells me it is all happening within my brain, so it in fact IS Mind, but hardly a mind for which “I” can take credit.

To “me” this becomes the ultimate insight or realization—awe and humility in the face of experience that none of my thoughts cannot comprehend, and that the “I” that I think I may be, and need to get to Trader Joe’s, is nothing in comparison to… this infinite and vast Intelligence called Life.