…A morning at an integral education program. You wake up at the crack of dawn, lying still for a few more minutes, the warmth of every blanket fold contrasting the cool air on face and toes, dream-time experience of subtle realms meeting the possibilities of a new day. Sunlight streams through the curtains, you hear feet pattering along the hallway, water running. Stretching out, you rise to greet the day and make your way to the window. As you pull back the curtains the morning sunlight touches you straight in the face. Squinting you grin and look out. A small group of fellow students has already gathered on the lawn for their early morning sun salutations. A silent focus is present.
Eager to join in the discoveries of the day you move swiftly – shower, clothes, drink of water, and out into the fresh air.
As part of your integral life practice you have chosen to run each morning. Seven in total you all meet at the cedar tree in front of the dining hall and get off to a brisk start.
Having run together for almost two weeks now, the last few mornings have brought with them a new, profoundly thrilling experience. As you run, feet hitting the road, heart thumping, breath visible in the cool morning air, arms rhythmically in sync, you are fully immersed in your own experience. And then, just so it seems, you become simultaneously, miraculously aware and immersed in the whole group running. As if something just falls into place, a perfect ‘place’ you didn’t even know existed. As your pulse races, deep breaths in and out, legs pumping hard and strong: you touch into, you become a part of the group’s effort, pulse, breath and rhythm. The line between you and the others is still there, but oh so much thinner, semi-permeable, it seems. It’s both an inner and an outer experience – you hear and see the breathing of the others as much as your own, you feel the hearts beating and energy streaming through, in and out, of the others’ bodies as in your own.
In your mind’s eye, for a moment, you ‘look’ at this pulsing bundle of running bodies, mind alert and present and glimpse the One Body, the One Mind and Heart, running together. Effortless, full attention, relaxed. This is very cool. And ‘cool’ doesn’t come anywhere close to describing it. The first week of running had been quite the opposite, an inner uphill experience regardless of outer terrain. It was tough. In addition you were not used to the early wake up. You had questioned, doubted, complained about the point of this whole exercise. Gratitude now tingles at your fingertips. You turn your head and catch visual snippets of hair, jogging pants and trees. Love streams forth – no fluff – raw, beautiful, not yours.
Turning around the last bend, instead of feeling depleted and limp as you had usually, you want to explode in wild leaps and jumps, the energy surging through you almost too much to contain. You all come to a slowed down pace, breathing audibly into the still chilly morning air. Did anyone else experience what just happened? You look around carefully…Cheeks are glowing, some eyes hold a definite sparkle… as you glance around the group, you get a sense that over half did experience something similar.
You decide to ask Janet, who happens to walk beside you, as you all make your way to the showers. “Janet, how was that for you, the run today?” Janet is silent for a few steps, she always seems to care about answering for real rather than for polite. “Chris,” she starts, and waits again, a gentle smile crossing her face, “Chris, what can I say…? I began running with a lot of sleep still stuck to me. I felt pretty heavy and tired. I reminded myself to focus on my breath and bring my awareness to the moment, to the ‘now’ of movement, the fresh morning air, and all of us doing this together. My mind initially kept pulling me back to bed or forwards to the day ahead. Then to help myself focus it occurred to me to look intently at Matt’s back, who was running right in front of me. I observed the movement of his back, the up and down of his head, his hair swinging slightly. And — this might sound weird – but in looking it was as if I slipped out of myself, and into the space between all of us. By being so intently focused on watching Matt run ahead of me, I tipped my awareness away from myself and plunged into this experience that….” She pauses, and stands still before we enter the dining hall. “You know Chris, it was just incredible in a gentle normal sort of way. I suddenly felt fully awake and alert, without being tense, keenly aware of both myself and all of you. Running, which just a second ago had been tedious and uncomfortable, was all of a sudden great fun, a lifting experience. That’s it really, I felt lifted” She grinned. “And right now I feel great. What about you? Why did you ask?”
You begin to share your experience as you stand in line for breakfast. Shannon, who happens to overhear your sharing and is also part of the running group, comes up and takes a seat, nodding eagerly as you speak. The conversation moves from each of you sharing bits and pieces of your experience to the topic you have been exploring during the morning sessions all last week: the exploration of the next step in consciousness evolution… One of the authors you have been studying in this context, Beatrice Bruteau, (Bruteau, B., (2001). The Grand Option: Personal Transformation and a New Creation. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.), wrote something that has stuck in your mind the last few days and felt so right, but until now you had no direct experience to hold it in:
“Each person is of such a nature that, if we give up identifying with the ‘individual ego’ and coincide with ourselves as outflowing energy, we will discover that we can freely and consciously ‘indwell’ every other person, and that every other person ‘indwells’ us.”
The conversation spirals and weaves, excitement is tangible, a palpable sense that together you are touching on something very real and extremely potent and precious. Breakfast comes and goes and before you know it your table is the only one left with people sitting around it… oops it’s your turn to help out with dishes this morning. You stand up, again a deep gratitude surging though your whole being. What a way to start the day.