Fifteen years ago, a dear friend of mine gave me the three-book series, “Conversations with God,” by Neal Donald Walsch. By then, I was dabbling in the spirituality genre, although it seemed to be sinking in only at the intellectual level.
I started reading the first book and all was going well until I got to this passage:
“Love is the ultimate reality. It is the only. The all. The feeling of love is your experience of God. In highest Truth, love is all there is, all there was, and all there ever will be.”
“This is absolutely bogus,” I thought out loud.
“How could this be? Our planet is full of violence and war. And this Walsch guy is saying it’s all love? Whatever.”
Years later, I was meditating in the lush mountains of my Azorean island home when a big bird of prey suddenly appeared above. It was a windy day and yet there he was, floating with grace. As I stared at the magnificence of this creature, I felt a rush of love enter my chest. And the tears started flowing before my mind even knew what hit it.
I had been practicing meditation for over a year and at that point, most spiritual truths were now understood on a deep level. Long gone were the days where my mind lived with incessant chatter, self-judgment and self-loathing.
Yet this sudden rush of overwhelming and unconditional love was startling. And my mind began to chat.
“You’re crying at a flying bird? Pull yourself together.”
I quickly wiped the tears away, got up from meditation and went home. But the feeling of “oneness” and unconditional love that I felt on that mountain stuck with me the rest of the day. What had happened?
Why did I feel that intensity of love while looking at a bird? And more importantly, could I stay in that state of utter bliss always?
A rough intro to neuroscience
To answer the first question, we need to understand roughly how the brain works. And for that, I’ll use a scenario we’ve probably all experienced: having coffee with a friend in a crowded restaurant.
You’re sitting at the table with your friend, having a pleasant conversation. You are completely tuned in to what he/she is saying. You’re focused on them. Realize what an amazing gift it is for you to do this.
You’re completely oblivious to the passing waiters, the loud conversations taking place around you, the smells coming from the kitchen, the sight of so many people in the dining area. Your brain is being bombarded with sensory information, yet you’re comfortable having a conversation with your friend.
The reason you can do this is that the brain is not only a processor of information: it’s also a master filter.
The brain cuts off most of the information it receives from the outside world so that this information never reaches your conscious awareness. This is great to some extent because it allows your conscious mind to focus on higher level thinking. You would go insane if you were unable to filter out most of the incoming sensory stimuli.
This all sounds good so far, except…
Too much of a good thing, well, isn’t so good.
The same filtering ability that allows you to focus on your friend in a crowded restaurant is also the mechanism that can cut you off from reality. When you’re completely immersed in your mind, life passes you by. This used to happen to me so often.
I would walk down the street, thinking about something I wanted to do in the future or rehashing something from the past. And I would miss everything happening on the outside. People, smells, sights, sounds.
I would miss life itself.
I was stuck inside my mental dramas so often that life was happening without me participating in it.
But there’s hope.
Yes you can!
What if all this brain filtering can be reduced? Through meditation, we can start removing the filters. One filter after the other is gone. And what happens when the brain quiets down and stops filtering so much information?
Perhaps we start seeing reality a bit closer to what it really is.
The moment I saw that bird fly overhead, I was in the middle of my contemplative meditation session. My mind was quiet and at peace.
I felt love invade me because the filters were gone and I was experiencing what Neal Donald Walsch talked about in “Conversations with God.”
I could feel the love because it’s everywhere. The trick to accessing this plentiful love is to remove layer upon layer of filters that we all have.
Meditation is a wonderful way of accessing the reality of love but once I got up and went home, the feeling of love started diminishing slowly.
Once my mind went back “online,” the filters seemed to reappear again.
So how does one stay in this blissful love reality?
For me, the answer has been simple in theory if challenging in practice: I try to live life in a walking meditation.
I consciously pause during the day to breathe in love.
I pause while brushing my teeth, or looking at someone I cherish. It doesn’t matter when you decide to tap into reality. The point is to do it often throughout the day.
Just pause and breathe. Notice your breath and the movement of air in and out of your lungs. Listen to the sounds around you. See what surrounds you. Tune in to your senses!
Pretty soon you will notice that you aren’t really “breathing in” love anymore. You are love and everything around you is too.
Love is within and without.
Neal Donald Walsch was right all along. Love really is all there is.
So go ahead: start connecting with the plentiful love all around you! If you find it difficult, feel free to leave a comment below and I’d be happy to help out.