I was awake at 4.30 this morning, listening to the wind rattling in from the Atlantic and wondering which would be better – stay in bed, lost in hypnopompic wanderings, or get up, light the woodstove and start my day? I got up. I’ve been ill this week with a weird infection. Trouble is, when you’re on cancer immunosuppressants, this is to be expected, and I was due to get something sometime. Still shielding after two years, my immune system hasn’t had much exercise. And I’ve been in bed.
But my immune system, though under test, seems to be in good enough shape – I seem not to be under serious threat. I’m so lucky to be able to lie on a raised, built-in bed from which I can look out of my big windows, even though today I’m watching the wind strafing the trees and the birds getting blustered. I’m on Vit C, antioxidants, homoeopathics and allsorts. I lie there with a porage-head, aching body and swollen glands, though I have a normal temperature. I watch the world outside and at times get a feeling as if the folks back home are using my psyche like a camera to get a look at it.
There’s always something to gain from an illness. In the previous weeks I’d been feeling scrambled, dealing with the intricacies of being semi-disabled and mentally constrained in a busy world that has no time for folks in my state. But this illness has zeroed all those concerns. It took the past and future away, dumping me in the moment. And I’ve been travelling again. After all, I’ve lost my driving licence and I’m rather a traveller-soul, so I’ve substituted wings for wheels.
Someone wrote a while ago, asking me to talk more about my meditation methods. Thanks for that, and I’d love to. But there’s a problem. I don’t follow a method. I just follow my well-worn, habituated ways on a pretty spontaneous basis. I do what comes up. That doesn’t answer the question, but in a way it does.
You see, I started exploring consciousness on acid and other psychedelics in the late 1960s. This was a form of direct access to deeper realms, and that’s where I started. My first experience of meditation was when I was sitting in jail (as a student protester), sharing a cell with three Sikh immigrants. I asked them what they were doing when they were praying and muttering to themselves. They taught me something close to Vipassana, mindfulness. Bless them – I never saw them again. They were probably chucked out of Britain.
Then, by age 25 I was doing Buddhist meditation with the Tibetans. This is far more magical than mindfulness meditation, involving visualising the deity sitting on top of your head (in detail), repeating the mantra and making prayer, then letting the deity dissolve into light, which floods into you, so that you become the deity. Then you stay there, in stillness, being the deity. This trained up my inner sensitivities, and the lamas’ blessings, company and teaching really helped. They healed me after the trauma of being in a failed revolution and being hounded and exiled. I had also had a near-death experience at age 24 which had scrubbed much of my memory and identity, and their protection truly saved me. What memory I have of my life before age 24 is reconstructed, not direct – except, interestingly, for glimpses of spiritual and deeply moving experiences earlier in my life. Those memories seemed to have been stored in a different part of memory.
But then, later, one of the Lamas said I was not here in this life to be a Buddhist. This was a shock but, within a few days, I knew this was one of the greatest gifts they had given me. I had always been eclectic, and my psychedelic past had given me a direct experience of the world of spirit. The Lamas had plucked me from the jaws of disaster, put me back on my feet and sent me forth.
By then I had realised I was quite psychic. This isn’t special – any more than, say, making music or cooking food. There’s a burdensome side to it too. Everyone can do it, but some are brilliant at it. I wouldn’t call myself brilliant, but I’ve made deep choices to pay attention to and increasingly trust my inner promptings, funny feelings and periodic inspirations. The more you listen, the more you get it. But here’s the key bit, and this applies to meditation too. You have to choose to give yourself over to it, to learn how to set yourself aside. You have to give permission to energies and entities bigger than you to participate in your life. You have to learn to trust the capacity of your soul to learn, and trust that all will be well. You have to lose your fear. All this happens bit by bit, as you cross various thresholds. It’s a life’s work.
To get back to the question… at present, therefore, I practice a number of things. I do quiet meditation when needed – it’s important to come home to myself, escape the complex spider’s webs of human concern and see things more as they actually stand. As a cancer patient, I do a healing session with my ‘inner doctors’, once every few weeks. I let them examine me and my energy-bodies, and operate on me. I find it really works.
Sometimes I just sit there with booming brains and a never-ending stream of neuroses – though giving proper space to them can also be healing, to a point. Sometimes I do world-healing work, bringing light and healing to other cancer patients worldwide (what Tibetans call tong-len), or to trouble-spots, or I visit crisis places and surround them in light and protection (similar to lightworking), also working to unblock and unconceal things that bring darkness, pain and obstruction to the world.
Sometimes I do inner aid work, where I carry out more specific humanitarian-type work in crisis zones I’m focused on, or I pay attention to a particular issue – mainly global (I tend not to get involved in British politics with this, because of risk of personal bias). Afghanistan has had my attention recently, but I also pay a lot of attention to ignored places such as Yemen, Syria, Myanmar and the Sahel. I do not take my cues from the mass-media. Before this I do some inner prep to get myself in the right state, and if I’m not right, I don’t do it. Afterwards I try to round it up and review it. We used to have a group doing this together, and we’d send in notes of our experiences, so see what common threads were appearing and to observe our work on it.
Sometimes I practice ‘meditative availability’ – I hand myself over to ‘the management’ to let them use my psyche, to give them access to this planet, and to let them do their business through me. Sometimes I go into a stream-of-consciousness, a kind of channelling where I get occasional ‘downloads’ – a bundle of insight that suddenly comes, that sometimes can take weeks or even years to unpack.
And sometimes I sit or lie there feeling utterly useless and uninspired, but I generally keep on with it, because that’s what happens, and it’s part of the game. And sometimes more is going on underneath than we’re aware of. Either way, over a period of years you start notching up loads of inner experience, which interlocks to an extent with daily life, but also it runs independently of it. And there are paradoxes to it: for example, when I’m ill, I sometimes have particularly rich experiences.
Sometimes I scan the consciousness that lies within incoming Atlantic weather systems – in Cornwall we get them full-on, and they carry messages. Sometimes I become aware of old soul-friends, or I spend time with my family, whom I cannot meet in real life. Sometimes I talk with the ancient spirits of West Penwith, the area where I live – sort of inner research. Sometimes I float off, to have completely unexpected experiences. Yesterday, in my illness-delerium, I found myself pulled out and taken back to my home world. That hasn’t happened for a few years. It chirped me up no end to be with my people again – they’re so far away, in consciousness-reality terms.
These are the kinds of things that go on in my so-called, for want of a better word, ‘meditations’.
There’s something important here. When doing innerwork, it is crucial to avoid imposing biases and preferences on others. It’s important also to ask permission – ‘May I?‘ and ‘Can I?‘. If the answer is ‘No’, or ‘Try another approach’, then take note. This isn’t about projecting our own judgements on situations, and it isn’t about ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. The primary orientation is ‘the greatest good’, and sometimes that can mean difficult stuff. For those of you interested in this question, there are two links below that discuss the issues more fully (stuff I wrote in 1994 and 2002).
It’s time to end and I must return to bed before my energy-batteries run down. I’m quite unwell, but it’s funny how the psychoactive component in some illnesses can churn up interesting things. Besides, lying in bed all day isn’t hyper-interesting, so taking a break from it now and then, to dodder around my home doing basic chores, can be welcome. This morning, at 7am, I managed to sort out all my monthly payments – phew. The worst bit is answering those anxious messages asking why I hadn’t answered the previous message. When you read this blog you might get a different impression, but the true and short answer to the inevitable how-are-you messages is, ‘Half dead, and still alive!’. But I did manage to write a blog.
Bless us all. We need it. Then spread it around. Lots of people need it. Especially the people we don’t think of so often.