on saving your own life

shining river


On Saving Your Own Life – November 19, 2009

Yes, it’s a paradox.  You’ve fallen into the wild knowing that the life you thought was ‘yours’, isn’t.  It isn’t yours any more than the rise and fall of your overlooked breath.  You are awake to your wild awakeness.  Well, occasionally.

And yet.

And yet the choices involved in being alive and healthy don’t go away.  It’s a lie to assert that they do, and a trap to believe that they should.  Every minute of every day choices are being made – in most cases, unconsciously.  Patterns of conditioning are playing themselves out, tirelessly.

Wild awakeness – effortless awaring – has a knack of bringing robot-mind into focus.  There’s a glimpse of the old reflexes groaning on.

And at that precise point a nanosecond window of opportunity opens – the story can change.

The ‘I’-stream, the lifestream, can flow in a fresh and unknown course.

(‘I’-stream?  Lifestream?  This language is being invented as writer-mind moves into ineffable territory.  These terms imply something utterly non-personal.  And yet wholly You.)

Life has no agenda other than its ongoing health, wellbeing and survival.  It knows the score in these matters.  And it knows when to withdraw its resources and start over.  That can be pretty tough love.

But for those of us in whom Life still has an investment, the toughest love turns out to be Self-love.  It scares us witless to ponder the ultimate unselfishness of Selfishness.

Yet Life has an awesome way of looking after itself once efforts to contain and control it are deconstructed.  Notions that life needs saving act to build a mega dam across its path – a dam that generates dis-ease and stagnation.

The paradox is only apparent: whatever you choose – whatever – is the movement of Life as it branches, eddies, streams, dances, disappears underground, springs forth, tumbles, flattens out in depression, rages, murmurs, merges, evaporates … while it pretends to be You.

– ml

I wrote the post above almost six years ago. It was early on in the life of this blog – only a few months after the departure of the beloveds whose care and wellbeing had been the focus of my life for the better part of a decade. My health was in tatters. I was receiving treatment for chronic fatigue and was enduring the nightmare of paroxysmal vertigo and nausea. I was slowly learning how to look after ‘my own self’ again.

The vertigo revisited last weekend, severe enough to warrant a little holiday in hospital. On the other side of the experience, I marvel at the way these words remain as relevant as when they were penned. I’m reposting them to remind myself that “the toughest love turns out to be Self-love.” With the world spinning and the stomach heaving it’s easy to overlook the Shining Self. Yet it’s right here, whirling like a dervish, inviting me to release, relax, weep, disappear altogether into its subterranean womb – into Rio Abajo Rio – the great river beneath the river of the world.

In Women Who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes,

Each woman has potential access to Rio Abajo Rio, this river beneath the river. She arrives there through deep meditation, dance, writing, painting, prayer making, singing, drumming, active imagination, or any activity which requires an intense altered consciousness. A woman arrives in this world-between worlds through yearning and by seeking something she can see just out of the corner of her eye. She arrives there by deeply creative acts, through intentional solitude, and by practice of any of the arts. And even with these well-crafted practices, much of what occurs in this ineffable world remains forever mysterious to us, for it breaks physical laws and rational laws as we know them.

I would add that we can also arrive there unintentionally, unexpectedly, delivered by grief or illness or any experience that knocks us out of our ‘normal’ sense of self, and that our arrival is always the necessary Grace for the deepening and widening of Love’s embrace of Itself: the ultimate Selfishness.

Image by Reuters from Google.


17 thoughts on “on saving your own life

  1. I really appreciate your willingness as well as your capacity to look deeply into this great matter! A friend some time ago suggested that one purpose of the ego was to shine a light into all the dark crevices and hidden areas of our being, in order to show us what we are really made of, and I thought of that as I read your meditation. Thank you for your efforts!

  2. Sorry to hear about the vertigo episode Miriam; I imagine it must be most debilitating. May I ask, is it a sensation of losing one’s balance constantly or some fear of being ‘up here’, as it were? As an aside, I do hope you resolved the question of your accommodation satisfactorily, and imagine you must have done so as it was a few months ago now since you mentioned it. Hariod ❤

    • You are a dear, Hariod. Thanks for your comment.

      The condition here (known as ‘Benign Positional Paroxysmal Vertigo’ – which is enough to make anyone giddy) is caused by the displacement of tiny crystals that live in the inner ear and are responsible for sending the coordinates to the brain that keep the ‘world’ appearance steady. (Wondrous, no?)

      Remember how everything would spin when we got off our childhood roundabouts? Like that. There’s no fear or phobia involved, although stress can be a factor. The spinning sends messages to the stomach… and, well, it’s pretty unpleasant!

      In my case the doctors blamed acute dehydration and topped me up again. But they confess cluelessness as to what really triggers it. Meanwhile, I’m cultivating H2O consciousness…

      Still nothing permanent on the accommodation front. House-sitting.

      • Thank you, I see. It sounds a little like an extremely unpleasant condition that an aunt of mine would suffer on occasion – Labyrinthitis. It was really quite dreadful for her, and she was reduced to crawling around the house during episodes of vertigo brought on by the condition. I very much hope the water does the trick for you before too long Miriam Louisa. With love, Hariod.

  3. Yes, this piece terrifies me as Life itself is at this moment deconstructing my efforts to control and contain it, as my own health falters. But your clarity, your pointing to the primal Fact of the Shining Self here, now, whirling regardless, endlessly offering Itself as Myself, brings a relief, a permission, an allowing of what could not be received before. I hear and feel a “Yes” that is all-inclusive. Thank you, thank you for this piercing Wake Up!!, this extremely timely LIFE saver.

    • Oh what a beautiful, heartfelt comment you have written dear Cara. I love the way you say “endlessly offering Itself as Myself”…

      It’s impossible not to use poetic language when we attempt to express the inexpressible, yet when the rubber hits the road the experience can be anything but poetic. I honour your courage and honesty, and wrap you in love, always.

  4. Such familiar terror-tory. The loss of physical control amping up the fear of not being in emotional control. I must say that at this point in my life, none of it means that I am a bad person, although the ego keeps suggesting that 🙂

    • What a joy to find you’ve visited, Vicki. I think of you often. Thank you for leaving a comment.

      Yes – nothing in creation could ever make one a “bad person”. We’d have to find a person for that to happen! Oh but the story-machine never gives up the effort. It gets humorous, eh?

      I hope you are thriving.

  5. I am around. Reading Joel Goldsmith today and he says angels are always around us and I find myself saying that out loud and it feels radical and comforting.

  6. Great words: “You’ve fallen into the wild knowing that the life you thought was ‘yours’, isn’t.” Just knowing this is enough, it’s okay to let go. Thanks for bringing this one back and the Clarissa Pinkola Estes piece.

    • Thank you Lou! How kind of you.
      I know the Epley Manoeuvre – and have found it very helpful at times. Also certain Yoga postures work well.
      The trick is to catch the symptoms early, because once the dizziness is established and vomiting begins one can’t do anything but endure – or take Stematil by injection.
      (What an interesting fellow, that Dr Epley.)

  7. Much Love and gratitude for your ever-lucid expressions. Sorry to say that I understand too well what you are experiencing. Miriam, I’m glad you have that vast-sky knowing for the background when discomfort visits. Rivers and oceans of hearts Dear One ~

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