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Tracy Courtney

Expanded Awareness Experience

Let me begin by stating that I have never been a religious or spiritual person. I was not raised with these belief systems & these topics were never mentioned or discussed in early childhood. I was raised to be a free thinker & accept what comes through inquisitive curiosity. When this process began 10(ish) years ago, I did briefly look into religion & then spirituality for answers but turned away from them pretty quickly, as they proved to be steeped in conditioning, power, control, rules & profit margins, just like the educational system. I always strive to understand things from a practical & open mindset. When something not commonly discussed or known occurs, for which there have been many, I don't perceive or explore these things from a sense of fear. I accept them with a sense of unbiased interest & try to understand the full range of the experiences. I learned fairly quickly in the beginning of this process that to approach the unknown through fear, could set us up for some pretty frightening experiences.

One important understanding I've reached, is that when we are functioning from the narrow & contracted mind/headspace, we are predominantly reliant on our direct visual perceptions. I feel that this strong visual connection will habitually keep us confined to the mind because the connection is so strong. We can substantiate this in one of several ways, one of which is looking at most people with their horses. Most people feel it's necessary to maintain a very strong visual connection to their horse, at all times. This is the predatory or cobra stare, always poised or coiled & ready to strike. There is never any room for a smile or laughter in this frame of mind. The person is always deadly serious & all about getting down to business. I often try to lighten the mood by saying things like,” your horse will not change colour when you look away”. When being redirected to begin using less direct visual observation, people immediately begin to feel uncomfortable & anxious. This is the reason for the first experiential human exercise in parameters & one of the reasons we begin shifting to using our peripheral vision right from the start. People are such creatures of habit, that I must be very careful in establishing productive habits right from the start, otherwise people will create similar crutch habits that they are very reluctant to change later.

In relying so heavily on the habit of perceiving the world through a predominantly visual context, what is missing? We can't really feel through our visual perceptions. We can connect emotions that may make us feel a certain way, but these are not signals originating from the physical senses, they happen as a reaction, after the fact. I have come to theorize thus far that aside from conditioning, many of our commonly characteristic human (mind) traits, such as judgment, blame, comparison, competitiveness, & such, are a product of a predominantly limited feeling state. We can't feel through the mind, but we can feel everything through the body & other senses. I think that beyond the conditioning, this is also why we are so confused & reactive when things we consider abnormal occur. As experienced through the human exercises in Parameters, we are oblivious to how disconnected we are from the world until we experience it for ourselves. We think we feel everything, but I think we're only functioning through a minimal sense of feeling in relation to what's possible.

Through practice, I became accustomed to working normally through the expanded awareness while with dogs & horses. It has become so habitual now, that it automatically happens without my even having to think about it anymore. Since beginning to practice & carry this expanded awareness into normal daily life, some very interesting things have occured. Some valuable lessons happened just this morning, that will be shared here.

I've been looking after a farm while the owners are away on vacation. As we habitually do, I have created a steady routine when I go to this farm in the mornings. I bring my 4lb and 6lb Chihuahua's to the farm with me & everywhere else I possibly can. When I arrive, I always leave them in the car for several reasons. Beyond the obvious of not getting kicked or stepped on by the horses, we're also reinforcing their mental & emotional balance through being patient, relaxed & quiet when left alone. I park in front of the barn (in the shade), go around & do what's necessary on the other side of the building & then take them for a long walk when I'm done. I always leave all of the windows & sunroof wide open. As soon as I arrived on the property this morning, something felt different. I really couldn't say what it was but if I had to put it into words, I would describe it as though the air felt heavier than normal. In retrospect, I might even say there was a weight in the air that was felt through the body. It wasn't felt through any particular part of the body, just an all-encompassing feeling. A feeling & not a though, made me feel like I shouldn't leave the windows wide open on this particular occasion, so I went with this feeling because it was very strong. I had no context for what was being felt, so I went about doing what was needed. The whole time I was doing the chores, there was a slight sense that something was off. This was different than the many times I've been doing this over the past few years.

After finishing the chores & heading around the building for the car, the feeling suddenly became noticeably stronger. I paused at the door of the car & didn't open it immediately as I normally do, because the air felt really thick in this space. During the pause, the mind flashed a thought that said, maybe I should open the door. I spent several minutes just standing there trying to find a cause for the feelings & the thought & how they were in direct opposition. I felt like I should just get in the car & leave, however, this goes against my nature & I decided to ride this train as far as it would go but with heightened precaution in relation to the dogs.

After letting the dogs out & stepping only five feet away from the car, I caught a fairly large peripheral movement near the top of the tree, approximately 20 feet in front of us. I saw one of the biggest hawks I've ever seen, fly over us at a low altitude & over the top of the barn. She had been quietly sitting in the tree watching us for I don't know how long. I waited & watched to see if she would circle back around for several minutes, as I had 100% clear site between the barn & the tree on both sides, as far as the eye could see. In that moment, mind flashed another thought to say that she was gone now & everything was OK, nothing more to worry about, so we could carry on. 

I decided to start walking toward the direction of the tree & had only taken three steps when the hawk came flying over the top of the tree, in perfect stealth mode, from behind it & dove towards the dogs. There was no way I wouldn't have seen her circle around, so she must have made quite a distance to circle back around, purposely out of my view. The only thing that made her hesitate was my size, intention & proximity to the dogs. Teaching them the magnetic connection saved their life today. They know it's their responsibility to watch me & to stay within a few feet's distance from me, which they always do. Had this teaching not been solidified, I know I certainly would have lost one of my dogs today.

Some of the many lessons learned from today's experience, is a little more insight into the differences between functioning from the mind, functioning through expanded awareness & a little more insight into the application & use of the mind. The farm owners had informed me a few years prior, that they had lost their previous teacup yorkie to a hawk. I have always kept this in the back of the mind & have always tried to keep a vigilant watch for danger.

I have looked after this far many times & didn't realize until this morning, that I have always functioned through a contracted, mind awareness. Now that I'm beginning to understand the differences, I have always been relying solely on visual scanning, which is a preservation loop, in order to try to keep my dogs safe. Inevitably, using this self preservation mode of mind existence, I would sometimes get distracted, snap back into remembering I had to keep watch for the safety of the dogs & begin visual scanning again. It was a very mechanical way of existence that caused me to switch between two individual focal points like using a light switch. On & off, as opposed to all inclusive & merely shifting intensity of a particular focal point when necessary. There has never been any feeling or emotion attached to this mechanical type of functioning, that I'm aware of. I now see the miracle for what it is that I didn't lose one of these dogs before now. We have a very limited connection to the world through a strong visual perception. Another understanding I took away from this experience, is how functioning only from the mind will lead us astray if we put too much trust in its chatterings. We have grown up this way & it's all we know, so we think we can trust in it, but today solidified (through multiple experiences) that we can't. A feeling based existence in relation to the world around us is much more reliable, if we can begin to step back & not be so linked & emotionally attached to particular objects & subjects.

I will continue to experiment & see where else this new door will lead. Having already done the work to perfected a quiet state of mind, allowed these experiences to come to the forefront for a very interesting comparison. So far, I'm under the impression that the minds most useful function is for analytical dissection of creative endeavors but aside from this, it's ramblings are to be taken with a grain of salt. We'll see where this door leads as well. As an interesting sidenote, when I'm functioning from “The Zone” while working directly with animals, there is no concept of mind, time, body or the world in this space. Only when we choose to declutter what we think we know, can we step back & realize that there's infinitely more that we don't know. Silence isn't empty, it's full of answers, but we can't find those answers until we choose to empty ourselves.