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Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

Elisabeth

Few describe ecstatic, meditative experiences as authentic, vivid and clear as Anne-Elisabeth Lien. She is a painter living on a small farm deep in the woods in the heart of Norway, where this conversation took place in the summer of 2019. For two intense hours a rare stream of living knowledge unfolded, that can only come from a place of deep inner experience. The resulting text is unique. The combination of profound spiritual experiences and the ability to draw knowledge from them is rare. Describing what is beyond words seems logically impossible, but in consciousness beyond the mind and intellect, – even the impossible becomes possible.

The trap of dualism
An experience with an experiencer and something experienced, is still dualism. In the enlightened state, this separation disappears. Enlightenment and experience are different, – but still the same. As limitations, illusions and separation dissolves, it is not the person who becomes free, but I as consciousness am free from the person that I think I am.

This is a subtle distinction, and when overlooked sends many astray in their spiritual search. Enlightenment is not a special experience that can be attained, possessed and enjoyed for satisfaction and glorification of the ego. On the contrary, enlightenment is the ego’s ultimate disappointment. In the process of letting go of illusions and attachments, the ego as the biggest fly in the ointment has to go too.

We all have a deep longing for freedom, which sends us searching for answers, meaning and eventually final realization of our true nature, our very own Self. The ego very easily gets seduced by the idea of enlightenment and falls in love with it. Blinded and infatuated it will do anything to capture and attain the beloved. For most, this starts the long and hard climb up the spiritual mountain. It’s a tough route up the spiritual status pyramid of wannabes, cons, deluded guides, teachers, gurus and true masters to its final destination at the summit where Buddha, Jesus and other figureheads sit bathed in eternal peace and bliss. Or one becomes a spiritual collector, looking for exotic experiences in extension of the ego’s insatiable hunger for entertainment and enjoyment. Thus the spiritual quest degenerates into a circus of spiritual materialism, confusion and snobbishness, characteristic of the dominant part of today’s neo-religious scene.

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Knowing who you are
In order to navigate we are in dire need of a clear understanding of what spirituality really is. Anne-Elisabeth delivers such an understanding. She has revealed the schemes, traps and mental games of the ego and parked it where it belongs. Through her own inner process she has solved the riddle of dualism and reached states of oneness or non-dual experience where the dark clouds of the mind dissolves and the clear light of consciousness shines forth. Her process has unfolded by its inner natural force, so will her role as guide and spiritual teacher. She reaches out to give a helping hand to other seekers and shows us the road ahead.

Anne-Elisabeth describes the unspoken, in words that bring life to meditative experiences. She gives glimpses of the golden jar at the end of the spiritual rainbow, because she has touched it herself. She has walked the spiritual path closer to its destination than most. As journeys end coming home, her inner journey ends where it began. It is not so much about learning something new, but rather discovering what you already know deep inside. Now she knows who she is. She shares her realization to help you realize the same.

A sensitive child
I came into the world as a big, open heart, Ann-Elisabeth says. I was just like a big sun, happy, full of joy and my arms were wide open. I had love for everything. I talked with everyone and had wonderful contact with animals and nature. As a child I was a big open light. They called me the sunbeam.

But then life began to affect me. My parents each had their own big egos, and their emotions were quite unbalanced. The facade was great with material wealth; a nice house and expensive cars in the garage, but behind the curtains it felt unsafe and unpredictable. Gradually it shut me down. I became more and more anxious.

I was born into a spiritual family where both my grandfather and great-grandfather had clairvoyant abilities. My father often saw into the spirit world and my mother was a seeker in her own quiet way. Both my brother and sister are also highly sensitive. My mother was also artistic and creative and inspired my own artistic talents.

However, spiritual openings happened. From time to time various beings and guides appeared in my room. When I was 13, I wrote about them and the energies I had with me from the other side. We talked little about this at home, but my father understood and told me that my experiences were nothing to be afraid of.

The first awakening
At 15 I started searching for books in the library. Rauni Leena Luukanen, There is no Death, was one of the first. Shirley MacLaine were another inspiration. A spiritual book club sent a steady stream of books which I diligently consumed. At 22 I married and had two children. I continued to read but missed kindred spirits and community. My husband was very anti, held me back and often ridiculed my view on spirituality and faith. Eventually I left him thank God, and my spiritual journey went forward from there.

At an alternative fair I met a woman who gave me healing. It was like being pushed down into the floor. It was such a powerful experience that I continued going to her regularly. The healing sessions were so intense that I frequently had out of body experiences. My body regained its health. The headaches that I had been for years left me, and my stressed and hardened muscles softened up.

I enrolled in courses particularly on healing and clairvoyance. The inner journey began to take shape with some strong experiences every few years. For example; I participated in a 60 mile bike ride. In the middle of the race, it was as if time stopped. Although I had a fairly high tempo, it seemed as if I was not breathing and for a few minutes, everything ceased. A few years later something similar happened on a dance floor. In the middle of the dance my brain just stopped and time stood still. Again I experienced the same intense level of concentration.

Such experiences left me wondering, asking around without getting answers. I took these experiences with me into my meditation. When I was able to keep a high level of concentration, time and space dissolved as I broke through most natural boundaries. Many years went by where my daily yoga- and meditation practice was an important anchor and kept my journey alive.

Awakening to bliss and peaceful awareness
Four years ago I began to reap the rewards of a stable meditation practice. My body changed. I stopped eating meat and I lost interest in alcohol. I hardly watched television, and only received the most necessary news. I saw and listened to what nurtured my development. This process increases naturally. The road unfolds by itself.

Then something very significant happened. I sat on a bus and began to meditate. Suddenly the thoughts all stopped, – they just disappeared. I experienced everything around without labels. My ego is completely gone. I see everything in a new way. I look out of the window and it’s like I haven’t seen trees before. It was an incredibly pleasant experience. I thought it probably wouldn’t last, but it lasted for several hours. It left a deep impression and the experience strongly increased my commitment to meditation.

A few months later another episode occurred, but even more powerful. I sat in the lotus pose, closed my eyes and went into meditation. It’s hard to talk about, – words become so limited. It is like I am Buddha. I am such a powerful light. I can neither speak nor shape a single thought. I just sit and bathe in the Self, – to use such a description. I became embarrassed that I ever have had a single worry. Because there is absolutely nothing to worry about.

I realize how huge, expansive and limitless I am. I am connected to everything, and there is nothing to be afraid of, ever. My ego just shrinks. I understand that the ego is an object. For the first time I realize that my ego and my mind are just objects and have nothing to do with who I am. Embarrassed, – my ego just runs and hides. With the deepest humility I throw myself onto the floor and cover my head with my hands. The feeling of being humble is so sweet and delicious! I have never felt like submitting to anything, but this was with the utmost respect and joy. It is like the Self or consciousness recognizes itself when all the thoughts are gone. This was so incredibly overpowering that I could hardly speak. There wasn’t any point in saying anything because there was nothing more to say. Few will understand this. It was good for my inner life, but frustrating not to be able to share it with others.

After this meditation my kundalini awakened. I now notice and am aware of it all the time; how it moves up and down through the chakras and I am in control of it. I often fall into meditation, instead of seeking it. Now I can easily go into a state where I just rest in bliss and peaceful awareness.

Integration
This has raised many questions. Now I fully know and understand who I am. At the same time it is important to be faithful to the practice of meditation. In order to be truly present we must have a mind free of labels. It isn’t easy to be completely here without opinions and explanations. It is another way to experience. The moment we call a bird a bird, we stop experiencing the bird. We have to accommodate things as they are, but then we must clear our heads of concepts. We should have a mind like a beginner or a child. That is where innocence lies and becoming part of everything. You are constantly in contact with your surroundings if you allow everything to be as it is. It is to pull things in, as part of yourself, whether it is traffic noise, bird song or something not to your liking. It is to allow the full acceptance of everything. Everything we say no to, only increases the resistance to fully living, to being truly aware. Regular meditation, reading or listening to various masters and teachers is a way to maintain, integrate and cultivate this awareness.

Who are your sources of inspiration?
On your recommendation, I read An Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda. In many ways, it initiated the last awakening. I read and listen to everything with Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj. I study traditional texts as Bhagvad Gita and several Buddhist teachers. I am fond of Tao Teh King by Lao Tzu. It’s a gold mine of wisdom that says it all. The classic book, Zen Mind, Beginner’s mind by Suzuki is recommended. I am so in love with him, he is such a beautiful being.

When it comes to practice, I feel Buddhism has the best way to meditate. For the body, I prefer yoga, – it’s a good combination. The important thing is to focus on what I want, – my optimal desire is liberation.

I also sing mantras. It cleanses the energy, raises the frequencies and is a great tool. My heart just floods when I sing mantras. I also use bells and gongs. Sound has a profound effect and opens the silence when the sounds cease.

The biggest discovery is, as Ramana says, that silence is the greatest teacher. He taught mostly in silence and just by being. It’s really all about stopping. It is difficult to stop the thoughts and feelings because the pressure from the inner turmoil of desires, needs and wants drives us constantly to action and distraction. But if you can stop, you can break through. It’s really very simple, but at the same time so difficult.

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What about the ego as a noise factor?
A few years ago, a text came to me called: The Death of the Ego. I woke up with it in my mind, but prior I dreamt that I had to die. The dream clearly said:

– You must die!
– No, I don’t want to die, I answered.
– Yes, you must die.
– Finally, I submitted, saying:
– It’s okay, – I’m going to let myself die.
– It doesn’t serve it’s purpose the way you live anymore, says the soul, because I am here to live in peace and love, so this is what we will do from now on.
– I want freedom, says the soul.
– No, damn way, says the ego, – it’s too scary.

After this it’s been a process of grinding down the ego. I am ceasing to identify myself with who I think I am. Before, I had a strong identification with myself as Anne-Elisabeth, what I do, the way I look and the way I thought others perceived me. This has changed completely. The knowledge I have gained has changed me profoundly. Books and other sources are just confirmations of my own experience. Inner knowledge has blossomed on it’s own, more than being told. Obviously, it’s the way I’ve been shown in this life. It is to secure my inner voice. If I am going to communicate to others, I need to be sure that it truly comes from myself.

It is not possible to reach enlightenment through the intellect alone. That’s not the way. You can read till your face turns blue. But every thought is just another step away from realizing the Self. When searching for answers in your mind, you are running in the wrong direction.

But these are thoughts too? It requires knowledge and insight to understand and express exactly that?
You must be ready to understand. It is not for those without ears to hear or without intellect to understand. It is karmic. You can hear this a hundred times without getting it. There is no point in trying to tell others anything. Knowledge will come when they are ready and receptive.

Who am I?
When my body dies, my energy is still there. We exist independently of the body, – completely. The body is just a shirt I’m wearing now. It has nothing to do with me, but it’s not a threat either. It’s like a flower. It sprouts, grows, blossoms, decays and returns to earth as everything else comes and goes and has a certain life span.

Whoever is in this body is just the tip of an iceberg of who we are. We are multi-dimensional beings living on multiple levels simultaneously. We can communicate forwards and backwards in time. Everything is so different from what we like to think, because we are, in a way, trapped in this dimension. We are pure consciousness. There is only one consciousness with different expressions. There is only one reality and we are that reality.

What is love?
It is not the personal or romantic love that many immediately think of, but the love of our true oneness. We are not stronger than the weakest link. We must all work together to make everyone reach higher levels and ultimately attain realization. If I hurt someone, I only hurt myself, because we are all part of the same one love, on the same chain of being. The important thing is to serve others, to help and contribute to the best of my abilities. This understanding grows stronger within me as a profound truth. I am now touched in a much deeper way by human expression and by nature. It is a growth and development of the heart. I now have a genuine, unshakable love for everything and everyone. I see God in everyone’s eyes, big or small.

What is death?
Death, self-development and Self-realization are parts of the karmic cycle. By seeking God, the Universe and the Self one becomes free from illusions and it is possible to break this cycle. If you free yourself from addictions, emotions and attachments you will enter a completely different freedom when your body dies. If you go into that dimension with illusions, you preserve them and have to get rid of them in another lifetime. This is why it is so valuable to rid ourselves of the illusions now. This is a motivation to meditate, to make peace with everything, not hold onto things and other egocentric attachments.

Some may resist their own death and refuse to die. It can be quite dramatic if they are not prepared and know how to react when the soul leaves the body. Training how to respond in the moment of death is a part of my practice.

For the Universe this is completely uncomplicated. Everything is born and dies all the time. But it is only we humans who have such a big problem with it. But most people have no qualms that we slaughter animals by the millions in the food industry. It’s like that form of death has no value, but that people die is terrible and dramatic. We have decided that when we are here in flesh and blood, it is tragic when that costume withers and dies. I don’t think it’s tragic at all. It’s just like taking off a tight shoe when you leave your body.

Everything changes. A thought is born, lives for a while, and then dies. Life is a constant stream of change, but I as consciousness am unchanged and unaffected.

The experience of deep meditation is like being kissed by God, inside. I can’t multiply by a hundredfold that feeling which is unlike anything else. It’s inclusive, total and intense. It’s like being saved and enlightened at the same time. It contains so much knowledge and security. Should everyone know it, – no one would be afraid of death.

Death is rejected in the West in general. We do not embrace aging. We want to look like we are 20 all the time. There is so much resistance to getting old and dying. I find that sad. I wish we could take better care of the old and have much more respect for aging and less fear dying.

What is the difference between Self as consciousness and the personal self?
I’m awake now to the fact that I’m always a witness. No, matter what situation, I’m always a witness, when I behave foolishly, what state of mind I am in, whether awake, active or tired. The witness is always present, but in deep meditation the witness also goes. Then the ego is completely gone. Many believe they are the witnesses, but that’s wrong. There are even deeper layers. When you realize the Self, it’s just the Self. Everything is one; – there is not two. There is no separation.

So consciousness is conscious, independent of the brain and mind?
Yes, all of the time.

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What is the road ahead?
The problems we have on earth must be solved at a different level of vibration than what is attempted at today. It doesn’t help to be on the “good side” if it comes from an aggressive place. Many working for good causes are just as driven by fear as those on the other side. It only reinforces the concept of us and them, division and separation and it does not heighten the frequency of vibrations required for true change. In a larger perspective, there is nothing wrong with the world. Everything has a higher meaning. There’s really nothing wrong with anything. Everything is perfectly orchestrated. Everything has its own growth and evolution.

Is life predestined?
I think we live our lives to a small extent. Life lives us. We are being lived. I think most is decided or predicted. Still, it’s important to take responsibility and not look upon yourself as a victim. We are here to experience, enjoy, learn, understand and develop. The pains we experience are necessary to seek God. If we do not have pain, there is not enough interest to seek realization.

If everything is predestined, how can there be responsibility and free will?
There are several paradoxes that need to be solved and understood. I have not cracked everything and I don’t have all the answers. We must leave some room for the mystery.

When you become a seeker and enter the spiritual path, start decreasing the ego and the mind looses its grip on desires and attachments, something happens along the way. There can be many challenging stages. You can feel that you are without drive, lose motivation and everything seems meaningless. But if you manage to rest in the presence of consciousness, it is just the ego experiencing pain, depression or boredom. The ego is all about control. To create stability and security, map situations, prepare for dangers and devise solutions to protect itself from pain. Consciousness has no pain and knows that everything is safe. This battle, between these opposites most go through on the spiritual path. One must dare to live, and trust that what is predestined is to your own highest good.

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In recent years there has become an ever-increasing need to live in nature. Now she lives with her partner and two dogs far into the woods near Hønefoss in Norway. «In contact with nature and animals, I recharge my batteries and find balance in everyday life.»

Are you a spiritual teacher?
My entire being wants to communicate about this. I want to reach out to people more. I have been hibernating for a few years. I want teach meditation in ways I feel are useful and meaningful. I am working on a book; Behind the Veil of Illusion. Obviously, things are in motion.

In meditation I experience who I am. We are meditation. It is a natural state. Everything else is just layers of noise, thoughts, obligations, distractions and worries. Meditation is not really something we have to learn, but to unlearn all the patterns we have acquired.

Easier said than done?
Not much is needed to flip that coin, – and you understand everything. It’s like turning on a switch, because it’s so close. It’s here. The silence is here. Just unplug and make everything stop. My goal is to integrate this in my normal life. I can’t achieve anything higher than that. This yearning for God has always driven me. Now I understand why.

I said early on that my mission is to bring heaven down to earth, without fully understanding the scope of what I was saying. Heaven is within us and can be realized now, while we are in our earthly existence. Heaven is not when we go to the other side, but in the realization of who are.

What advice can you give to spiritual seekers?
When you begin a meditation practice you will be confronted with all the noise of the mind. Thought patterns from previous lives and past experiences are in both the body and the mind. Physical and emotional ailments must be addressed and cleansed through the process of self-inquiry and practice. You have to turn every stone and face what’s coming. There are no shortcuts. You must work successively and diligently through your own self-development. It all starts with meditation. Yoga can be used as an additional tool to release physical blockages. One must learn techniques to balance and reduce attachment and identification with the thoughts and feelings and the result of all the programming we receive throughout a lifetime. The mind is like a pre-programmed computer, – maybe we shouldn’t listen to it so intensely?

Is vegetarian food a condition?
There is no need to stop eating meat, but when the time comes, it often happens by itself. My body is quite clear on what to eat and drink or when I need rest. When you ask people to make a change, it often creates a blockage with the opposite effect. When purity emerges, the desire for more vegan food and natural changes in patterns and routines often come at the same time.

Should one follow a meditation technique?
There are many roads to Rome and it applies to meditation as well. One must find the technique where the heart resonates. It is often a karmic connection. For me, some zen-Buddhist meditations are most powerful. When I tap into this Buddha field of silence, it harmonizes well with me. There is something real, simple and authentic in Buddhism that I find very appealing, without knowing too much of all the different Buddhist directions.

You need to focus and concentrate on an object of meditation initially to quiet your mind. I often rest my awareness in my heart as I meditate. When I do yoga, I focus on the eyebrow center and body-awareness.

If you want to become a good musician, you need to practice every day. If you want to succeed in meditation, you must cultivate the mind. Do the practice for the sake of practice, – not wanting to achieve something. If you have expectations, you just create a blockage.

We must not forget the value of discipline. Our culture doesn’t encourage discipline. When I decide on something, I strive to do it. I have a lot of respect for the agreements I make with myself. To get anywhere with anything, discipline is an important key.

Do you have a guru?
Part of me has been yearning for a guru for guidance. But I have met my own inner guru. An external guru may not be necessary, but many spiritual teachers from the other side have come to me throughout my life. A monk has been following me for three years now and often shows up when I meditate.

Other insights worth mentioning?
Lately, it has become very unattractive to think. Before, I could disappear in streams of thoughts about everything. It actually is more tiring to be in my mind than to rest in awareness. It opens a more effortless intuitive knowledge and connects to deeper sources of knowing and wisdom beyond the mind and intellect. Thoughts are about the ego’s need for control. If I am impatient and try to control a situation, it’s quite tiring. But when I am patient and allow things to unfold as it is, I have far more energy.

The essence of all spirituality, which we must not forget is compassion. Often it grows naturally with the realization of all life’s interconnectedness and oneness. It can open your heart to the deep perception of pain and joy as one, and that behind the illusions of opposites, conflict and suffering all is love. If your heart is not opened enough and you do not have compassion for everything that lives, breathes, grows and exists, – your spiritual development stops.

Things are not linear. Before, I thought everything came in a specific order. Most of this wisdom I have from before. It is not so much to learn new knowledge, but it’s a process of remembering. It has been there since I was a child and has popped up on several occasions.

I want liberation on every level, and to be free from everything that chains me. If I can cultivate the best of my own practice I don’t need the rules and regulations of specific spiritual traditions. My inner knowing from consciousness itself guides me and shows me the way.

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 Who am I?

When our bodies wither and die we are still. We just change form as everything else changes in life. Everything is born and dies all the time. For the Univerese, – a completely uncomplicated affair. Everything expands and contracts. But because of our fear of change and thus death and identification with the body, we remain trapped and prisoned in this illusion.

We, – the one in this body, is just the tip of the iceberg of who we really are. Until the flow of thoughts and the needs of the ego subside, people cannot experience this intimacy of who they really are. It’s too easy for people to understand. For all escape routes must stop, – mental, physical and emotional. When all these stop, consciousness emerges. And the ego becomes impotent in the encounter with the Self. It has nothing to do with it. Humbly, it admits the Self is the master and that mind is just the servant.

Then one can be like everything else in nature, – free from illusions and no longer driven by fear and control that make people fantasize about reality instead of living it. There is nothing right or wrong, but our fear of pain and need for control destroys this view.

The truth is, without pain, there is not enough longing in man to seek God, the Universe, Brahman or the Self, and to understand who and what it is. Pain often brings the greatest blessing, – if you follow it to the end.

Om Shanti

PS. Anne-Elisabeth Lien receives clients for healing and personal guidance. She is currently building a gathering point for spiritual seekers for meditation, reflection and community.

Text and photo – Christian Paaske © 2020

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