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Awakening the GIANT Within
A Personal Adventure into the Astral Realms
By Greg Doyle
Balboa PressCopyright © 2013 Greg Doyle
All rights reserved.
There's light coming from the direction of the window. I'm awake; it's woken me. But it can't be the sun. We live in a mezzanine apartment. We're too low to get the sun.
I'm out of my body and moving very fast down a tunnel. So fast, like water gushing down a hose: twisting, turning, bending.
I'm in a landscape. It's real. I'm floating, still without body. Perfect vision. Barren, dry land. I see massive structures: tall, slender towers widening out to broad disks at the top. Huge and too modern. This is real. So it exists: there are others. This is not Earth.
When you leave your physical body, it's a remarkable thing. Your senses sharpen extraordinarily. Your ability to focus your thoughts and tune in to your surroundings is both effortless and forensic. You merge with surroundings, situations, people; you know what is happening. Normal 3-D reality pales in comparison; it just lacks the clarity, the sensation. That's why, for a time, I became quite addicted to venturing into this new state of being. It became an all-consuming natural high. And it changed me—for good.
To bring this into context for you, I need to take you back a little earlier in my life and share with you some of what had shaped me up until that point of no return.
* * *
When I turned thirty—around seven years or so before the light first took me from my body—I found myself living in Vienna in the middle of a turbulent year's musical study, experiencing the peaks and troughs of a volatile relationship with the city and its culture. This included my Serbian conducting professor, a new language, and (against all good and hardy common sense) my Italian landlady, who had just happened to become my girlfriend. In a rare and lucid moment of reflection, I envisaged life as a boxer dog, with me the ever-surprised-looking rag doll caught in its jaws, being summarily and comprehensively yanked side to side, top to bottom. Sure, it appeared I was living the European cliché—the somewhat naïve and hitherto sheltered boy from Down Under, keen and shiny-faced, seduced a little too easily by the aroma of spaghetti sauces (that really do smell a little too good) and the promise of all that comes with it, in a chocolate-box setting of art and culture that really was a bit too civilized, and pretty.
In our gorgeously renovated Altbau Viennese apartment—of course, just around the corner from where Schubert once lived—silence would erupt to full fury in seconds. All it took was an errant or mislaid and misinterpreted remark, and languages would be set all a-clash midair before falling to the floor all sullen and cracked. And you could really set your watch to the tide of these performances. After yet another customary weekly bout, I came to a sudden and lucid realization: Life is what happens to you when you're planning your life! Plain and almost dismissively simple, yet nonetheless relevant and subtly profound, I sensed the merest suggestion of an opening, a crack of light, like the release of an ancient splinter that had occupied a prematurely weary and distracted mind. I knew that I was somehow separate, to a degree, from the ongoing drama of my life. On relating this revelation to friends, I would be reminded that John Lennon had said it first and that I'd actually misquoted him, in that he said "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
For some reason, this reaction doubly perplexed me. I felt it further supported the notion of the human experience standing inexplicably outside of itself. The point I was making was instantly lost to the clever and verbal world of statistical accuracy rather than actually being considered, and my realization, coming from the "mere mortal" that I was (as in: not famous), seemed somehow unable to carry enough weight to actually hit the ground and exist. What a peculiar feeling! The earth under my feet was eggshells, and I seemed to be speaking into a perpetual vacuum. Where was I?
On returning to Australia at year's end, the sensation of separation intensified, and I felt myself to be very lonely and depressed. I came to realize that I had actually been this way for a very long time, and I spent many hours alone, lying in bed in a strange and dark limbo. I was in the fortunate yet isolated position of "sitting" a house for a friend, and so I had very few bills to pay. This afforded me the luxury of time to investigate this immense and heavy state further. And it really did seem all-consuming and impenetrable.
I slowly began to make out shapes in the story of why I was "this way." I began to really hear my own breath. Certain hands and faces and names would draw genuine fear and anger from me, somewhere deep within and seemingly all at once. While I knew this to be logical and reasonable according to the particular traumas I'd experienced in the past, these energies seemed somehow different, as though enlivened by some unearthly blood to snatch at and grab and taunt me.
The beginnings of a conducting career, a new living situation, and the too-well-oiled cogs of the civilized and banal machinery—of having to work in a job that you don't necessarily want but kind of have to, to pay the bills because you've been unable to get enough of the kind of work that actually appeals to you—ever gently and forcibly took me back under its kindly concrete wing and mocking gaze to reenter the world anew: uncooked, uncorked, and decidedly unable.
And a lovely time was to be had! Sure, I was a world away from the circus of chaos and delight that had so lovingly earmarked my European debut, but why not shake a few tail feathers of my own while suffering the vast, yet captured and calculated landscape of this urbane and plenteous land? In short, it was time to shake things up; time to see who was really running the game here. It was time to play fuck-ups.
Strategy number one was to sleep, or attempt to sleep, with basically every girl I knew. That went quite well—probably about an 85 percent hit rate over the following twelve months, with a three-month interim while my Italian girlfriend came to visit. Oh, I was honest! If there was a double-up, I'd let them know. You see, by this stage, and as an essentially shy person, I'd actually all but given up on love. Not totally but almost.
Strategy number two was to strip back and intentionally under-hype any contribution I would make professionally. For example, in the world of music, it's the norm to really ham it up and overaccentuate what you actually mean to communicate. The bigger the character, the more huff and puff you exude, and the more important-sounding you make yourself out to be, the more impressive you'll come across. Not always but most of the time. I rejected all that; I was simply over the whole "emotional sham" thing and hence became ultra-minimalistic—definitely to the detriment of my career.
Strategy number three was to push my body to the limits. Just what was this whole "body suit" thing anyway? Running one day and swimming the next, plus a few weights each day would soon see both my knees taken out of action, literally within a few steps of each other.
Oh, this life—what an odd and curious play! So emotional, so real, and so bruising. So hurrying and forceful, with so little caress.
Occasionally at night, while sleeping in the old and creaky weatherboard house I was now sharing with a musician friend, I would sense an energy coming forward from the wall near the fireplace approach my bed and lean over me, in the pitch dark of that lonely and saddened bedroom. Its face would watch me for a time, and with its long curled neck hovering over my turned-deliberately-the-other-way, frightened, and too-stiff-to-breathe hunkering sweat-heap of a body, it would gently whisper: Greg ... Greg ...
Who was I?
* * *
Having effectively and neatly dismantled my life, my heart, and my self—and having left a girl I may have cared for (but was too numb to really know) sobbing and alone in my old and lost bed—I decided to brave the furnace of Europe once more. Half-heartedly and full of mock purpose, I set sail once again for Austria, to try to ignite a barely simmering conducting career and live out the continuing saga of my on-again, off-again relationship with my very own Mother Italy. Her first words spoken gently in my ear as we drove home from the airport—"Do you think this was a good idea?"—could not have been delivered to any greater effect. Punch-drunk and bewildered, I instinctively knew that I had to play this out, whatever "this" was. For some reason and as clear as day, I could see the train from Petticoat Junction blowing its smokestack (in full and glorious black-and-white) and gleefully charging my way—head on. The world has such a strange humor.
Needless to say, it was a tough landing, with all sorts of demons being hurled overhead, lassoed, and exorcised over the following year or so. Little by little, I began to realize just how stressed I really was and how much I'd fallen into the default and feverish role of the perpetual self-litigator, having to constantly prove my point or cement my standing in some way or another on any particular issue that came up between us. And come up they did! I felt like the goggle-eyed two-year-old who is utterly and obsessively immersed in the world of hammering back down those colorful and randomly popping-up blocks, while all a-dribble and head all a-shake in seeming obeisance to some mysterious source of fervor and conviction. Forget actually looking up and around at life on Earth; this was infinitely more challenging and engrossing, this strange and all-consuming need to be understood and in the right. I was in a perpetual shudder and a continuous fit, in a straightjacket of my own exquisitely suffocating tailoring.
And it was then that I saw it for the first time.
As I literally walked out of the door of that relationship, for the first and last time, I felt the tightly hemmed jacket that I'd mistaken for my life lifted and shaken from my contracted form for just the briefest of moments, to reveal a clarity and lightness of being I'd never known or at least couldn't remember knowing. I felt somehow suspended outside of myself, in that refreshing and light evening rain shower that will be forever imprinted in my memory, and something irrevocably altered within me. Through all the tears, introspection, and discomfort that were to follow, those few glittering seconds of mysterious joy would act as a beacon and unerring compass to my future bearings in this new and emerging landscape of fog and hope.
What was it really, this clarity, this glimpse into something free from any kind of suffering? And could I get it back?
A few months before the breakup, I'd had an unusual dream. Well, it was actually more than a dream; I've come to know these things as visions. They present themselves differently from dreams in that a very clear picture of something is shown to me, while sleeping, with a precise energy or message attached. And at the very moment I see it, my consciousness is somehow cleared of any mental white noise or dream interference, rather like the stillness of a Zen sand garden, tended to with all the calm and smoothness of deliberate and loving intention. In this vision, I saw the face of a very good friend of mine, Monika, in total clarity, hovering above my own, smiling easily and openly into my eyes. As I emerged gently to full waking consciousness, the vision and message remained wholly intact: I knew that I loved her—and that one day I would marry her!
From one moment to the next, my perception of a good friend I'd known for almost two years had shifted most viscerally within me. I confusedly called her the next day to ask her if she felt there was also something in her mind between us. An odd yet strangely comforting conversation followed, with us both semi-probing and semi-revealing that something serious, deep, and long-lasting might well be awaiting us at some point in the not-too-distant future. We both hung up slightly confused and embarrassed, and we never spoke of it again, remaining friends for a good six months longer (we were both still in relationships at the time) before finally coming together.
This was my first rock-solid encounter with what I have come to term guidance. An indelible etch upon the hard drive of my mind. And when I experienced that fleeting sense of joy between the pain of leaving and resolving the tumult of that most combative and engaging relationship, I knew it had sprung from this same mysterious well.
Over the next while I began to see a psychotherapist—coincidentally a friend of Moni's—who really helped clarify my situation. My face was just so lined and racked with ... something. My spirit felt so bruised and hurt, and my body so taut. And so many tears ... so many tears. I felt like I had been running against the direction of a conveyor belt for the longest time, caught in the strangest of tape loops, repeating over and over the same emotional wringing match. Why had I identified so much with this ever-warring and haunted persona? What was I really on about? Through the therapy, I could feel myself being pulled to the surface of something new and enticing. I could just make out the glimmer of a different sun through the thinning depths of a still turbulent yet receding murkiness, and I was determined to feel its touch.
I soon broke the surface and gulped my first breath of that sweet-scented and rarefied air to the sound of laughter, Moni's infectious laughter. As clichéd and overly romantic as it may sound, the intonation and texture of it woke me up from this strange and morbid stupor I'd inhabited for the longest of times. It was the sound of chimes tingling, tickling, and thawing a frozen and contracted heart. I remember actually being quite shocked at the time and thinking, What is this? It sounds so ... real.
You see, I'd finally come home.
Wormhole (noun): Physics a hypothetical connection between widely separated regions of space-time.—Oxford Dictionaries
Glimpsing into these lightened spaces was like separating calcified vertebrae. It was sudden, electric, and I knew that freedom was to be found there. It was time to reclaim my life from the addictive and life-sapping roles of reactivity and victimhood that had somehow and somewhere along the line bagged me unawares and taken me hostage. It was time to discover who I really was. For I now genuinely sensed there was more to me than I had formerly given myself credit, as strange as that may sound.
I began to meditate again and came in touch once more with the tender heart-space and stillness that had kept me afloat during those difficult earlier years of tertiary study. Once my lifeline in a time of struggle, I now realized that this state was in fact closer to who I really was than the perpetually stupefied and powerless rag doll I had identified with. It was time to "defragment" myself and see what was left.
And it was painful. To look into yourself and release pain and anger—and attempt forgiveness, whether of yourself or others—hurts. There is no other way. As you let go, you relive, and that is both the price and the potential stumbling block for so many who seek to shed the mantle of their alleged drama and heal themselves. In the end, it's a choice. My very last words to my Italian girlfriend (who was deal-making and pressing all the right guilt buttons right up until the final, fatal sword stroke) were uncommonly clear and prophetic: "I have to save my own life." Ringing from the same eternal well-spring as Moni's tinkling, thawing laughter, once voiced and set to wing, I felt an ever-so subtle loosening of the manacles around my wrists and the beginnings of something new—and infinitely more inspiring.
I began to write down everything I was feeling. That really helped. There just seemed to be so many conflicting emotions battling for higher ground within me, everything bubbling to the surface in a jostle to be released, and that included physical pains. Such a fermented, raucous brew! One fine morning, I awoke to a mysterious and agonizing body-folding stomach pain. I could barely walk. After being rushed to hospital and receiving what was presumably a relaxant shot to the area, the pain subsided, never to be experienced again. Another occasion found me doubled over in a distracted and mind-numbing moan of lower back pain, which had built up over the previous few weeks. As I exclaimed "That's it, I can't take it anymore!" the pain seemingly took heed and immediately vanished from the scene. Strange. Yet another occasion found me taking an aching right shoulder to a series of practitioners without any success, until I lucked upon a certain craniosacral/energy healer who seemingly precipitated a major energetic change within me. More about the details of that later, but it would appear that the time was ripe, and I was somehow primed for the beginning of the journey of a lifetime—or perhaps the journey to end all lifetimes.
Excerpted from Awakening the GIANT Within by Greg Doyle. Copyright © 2013 Greg Doyle. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
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