“Enlightenment 101: Live Like a Window, Work Like a Mirror”

Quite the goal that, enlightenment, eh?  While part of me says “All in!”, the more rational part has a few caveats: got to make a living, be an involved aunt, write what is for me to write.  I can’t spend the rest of my earthly life cross-legged under a banyan tree.  Bet you can’t either.

So, why did I delve into Live Like a Window, Work Like a Mirror by Mark C. Brown, Ph.D.?  The endlessly curious, less rational part, of course.  But even the rational bits are glad that I did.  And even if you are not actively seeking your personal nirvana, I’ll bet this book would be helpful to you as well.

Brown warns in the introduction that the first couple of chapters will be slower going, and it was fair warning.  While definitely dense, these chapters serve as the basis for all else contained.  Not to ruin the surprise or anything but Brown sets out his understanding of Consciousness as Creator.  He views everything material to be Consciousness manifesting itself, and each developmental step, physical as well as mental, being the push toward enlightenment.  Once humans and the human brain developed, Consciousness let go of now needless physical transformations to focus all that power on mental, thought-based development.

It does get a bit boggy, but I urge you to press on till you digest it.  Everything else in Dr. Brown’s explanations and methods flow from these ideas.  And, I must add, flow logically, which can be tough to find in this area.  That logical grounding went miles in helping me to accept the more metaphysical stuff to follow.

If you fancy yourself a Buddhist, or at least well acquainted with its tenets, you won’t find great surprises here, but you will find a more reasoned presentation.  Its about learning detachment, over and over and over, deeper and deeper and deeper.  Now, while I don’t aspire to complete detachment, I was able to see a reason for developing some of these skills.

Brown describes the process of learning self-observation, the ability to step outside your self, with all its messy emotionalism and bias, and to see yourself and others engaged from an observer’s stance.  As a writer, this ability is invaluable, and I am grateful to Brown here.  I’ve never been able to wrap my head around detachment before, and he showed me that I already do this.

That is another fundamental point for Brown – we are ALREADY IN PROCESS.  Because Consciousness is constantly pushing for growth/expression, we’re all on the road to enlightenment, albeit at different points on that road.  While frustrating to my Type-A friends, we CAN’T rush enlightenment.  We are where we are, learning what we need at this point, and the best we can do is step out and observe it.  So guilt – GONE!  No need to kick yourself, cause you’re as far along as you could possibly be right now.  Lovely!

Living like a window, then, is the practice of detachment, letting the occurances of life and thought and feeling flow through you like a breeze through an open window, here and gone, here and gone.  Working like a mirror is how we deal with others, remembering to take ourselves and our tumult out of the equation, so our friends, co-workers and loved ones can more clearly see their own tumult and know what they need to open themselves to.

So, if I’m not converting to Buddhism, or devoting my life to contemplation and meditation, why bother with enlightenment?  Cause I get tired, and I bet you do as well; tired of the drama and the emotional roller coaster.  No, I don’t care to eliminate them completely, become some unfeeling aesthetic.  But I could stand to let some of the daily chaos of work or family life blow through me like an open window instead of having my view blocked by the blotches of stuff stuck to a more closed off mind.  And learning to view my conflict with others not as a personal attack requiring self-protection, but instead stepping outside the scenario to learn what I can from watching it play out and blow on through can only do my emotional and mental state good.

So take the plunge and give swimming toward nirvana a try.  If Mr. Brown is indeed correct, you already are!  Pick up Live Like a Window, Work Like a Mirror.  Lets see if we can’t help Consciousness along just a little bit.

 

 

Live Like a Window, Work Like a Mirror – Mark C. Brown Ph.D. – First Light Books – 2012

Shea Vaughn’s Breakthrough

Shea Vaughn’s Breakthrough, while useful for anyone is oriented toward women of a certain age, specifically 45 and older. At the leading edge of this precipice, and always interedted in incorporating meditation into different areas, I was curious.  Could she persuade my less than enthusiastic self to begin regular exercise?  Could it challenge my mind as well as my body?

Ms. Vaughn has taken her extensive experience in various areas of fitness and melded them into a personal mix of East/West philosophy and movement.  To my admitted surprise, and her credit, Ms. Vaughn does not skimp on the cerebral, philosophical portion of this mix.  In fact, it is 172 pages into the 226 page book before exercise is addressed with any specificity.  Shea Vaughn’s Breakthrough is far more concerned wit the mental and emotional orientation needed to gain the maximum benefit from exercise of any kind, not just the system the author has named SheaNetics.

Vaughn takes her readers on an annotated journey through her own life and the lives of some others she has worked with in order to give a real-life context to what could easily become a series of catch phrases threaded together.  She shows how her unique mix of Eastern and Western modalities came about and how it can be of use to anyone, helping the reader to breakthrough, wake up to the life they are living in the present and plot a course to move into a better future.  She then urges readers to build their new future on her five “living principles”: Commitment, Perseverance, Self-Control, Integrity, and Love.  A great deal of time is given to explaining each and illustrating the principles at work in individual lives.

As I mentioned earlier, it is only the last fifty or so pages that deal with physical conditioning moves and recipes, along with suggested “breakthrough behaviors”.  There are pictures of poses that Vaughn says are to be done in series, with flowing movements one to another.  And I gave them a concentrated effort, but found it difficult to puzzle out exactly what flowing movements were needed to transition between the poses.  I suspect it would be much easier either in person or along with a video to help those of us not already experienced in the Eastern disciplines.  When I later took at peek at her website – http://www.sheanetics.com – some of the video clips helped me to see what she was aiming at, but I couldn’t find a link to the specific poses she uses in Breakthrough.

I appreciate Vaughn’s refusal to simply prescribe a workout regimn as a cure-all for everyone.  Her emphasis on the mental and emotional needs for well-being is fantastic.  As a long-time student of the inner life, there were not great revelations hiding for me, but most folks don’t live so much in their own heads.  For the ladies out there who have spent a large part of their lives just reacting to what life throws at them, Breakthrough is a marvelous starting point, taking them step by step through a process of looking at what is, what the results have been and what they truly want their lives to be.  It can awaken them to an entirely new world of understanding and empowerment.

I would recommend that Ms. Vaughn consider creating a CD or DVD to accompany future printings, addressing the specific exercises she showcases in the book.  The slower among us could learn from her expertise in physical conditioning as well.  On her website, you can also find an entire CD or DVD series, if desired.