website of Maria Lusitano
Visual Artist, Lecturer
"There is only one question: how to love this world." Mary Oliver
Some leaves covering the ground with all the colours of Autumn, rays of light reflected on the bark of the tree and then... presence... just presence... were the first memories of my life. No Maria ... nothing... just presence, with no name, no colour, no form. ah, also a little hand... I remember this, I was this... Also in another moment: looking at the swimming pool and the sky and being the sky... and observing with peaceful calmness... being and witnessing... as a 2, 3 year old. And then later on, with 7, looking at the mirror and staying with the presence. Presence. always there, If we pay attention. Sit, still. there.
I would spend endless hours observing the drops of the water falling down through the mirror... while again, feeling presence, sometimes in weird awe, with an open mouth and fixed gaze.
And then, life just moving on... and me forgetting about all this... I mean, just left it to the side. I was to live life, as Alejandro Jodorowsky says in his film endless poetry, tenderly pushing his son ( his younger self) while telling him how life was to be lived. "La vida es para ser vivida." I tell that my son. And he repeats it to himself.
But presence stayed... always there, protecting me. And weird knowledge, coming out in bits of texts where unexpected understandings of this world, would flow ... here and there, in manuscript papers. and a paradoxical relaxedness of having all the time in the world. And yet, anxiety, anger, rage, shame, fear ... longing for love ... and musical/mystical bliss...on demand.
So yes. My spiritual jorney, and awakenign began... when I was born! Doesn't it happen like this, to all of us ? I truly think so...
Since my childhood I also experienced all kinds of sensations in the body. A buzzing and tingly in the top of the head, as if the head was “trembling” as a 10 year old was quite disturbing, and I would tell my parents. I also listened to sounds, like bells and Gregorian chantings. I would see all kinds of snippets of films in my minds eye, since a 6/7 year old. These were quite frightening. I had no control over these intrusive thoughts/images (that I now interpret in a different way) and would just stay there, with them, fearfully bearing them... these I never told anyone. And I grew up.
As a young adult ( 19 years old) I began having spontaneous shakings and involuntary jerks, particularly when stressing with exams. The sensation in the top of the head was present too. I did a few exams (neurological) and they were all fine. And again, more invasive episodes of tough thought patterns seen as a film in technicolour.
As a young adult, in my late twenties early thirties, I began developing arrhythmia. I felt the heart just pulsating non stop, and at times, I had again the “tremblings” and also all kinds of weird sensations in my head. All the exams were normal.
In my late thirties, I had episodes of what some people call “depersonification” I was like outside of myself, and everything looked like a movie or dream. I had, again intrusive visions/thoughts. The depersonification, went away after a few months. I also learned how to deal with the “dream like” sensations. In 2011, I began meditating regularly. Very quickly all the sensations I had experienced previously came back more intensely than ever. The first was tingly in the middle of the eyebrows, then a warmth and openness in the top of the head whenever I meditated. The arrhythmia came back, but now followed by warmth and intense pulsating sensations in the area of the solar plexus. Searching the internet I finally came to recognise all this as symptoms of kundalini.
I was by then practicing Dzogchen regularly and developing my witnessing capacity. I felt presence easily and also heat and vibrations on the top of my head. In 2014 I had a first glimpse of awakening after one meditation, led by Rupert Spira, I suddenly tapped in what I'd know since little, but in a deeper way, how there is a primordial field of consciousness, in which “maria” is not there. The experience was even scary! I remember I jumped from the sofa!!
In 2016, I was by now a serious meditation practitioner, following B. Alan Wallace’s teachings of Dzogchen on a daily basis, even if I never considered myself a Buddhist I was yet, quite impressed with the inquiry tools developed by Tibetans... so precise and sharp, the way they led people into inquiring their mind, looking into how it works.
And then, one day, when eating at a restaurant, something happened that changed me! There was a collapse of me and the sensation of separation, and I was “inside the food”. This lasted for like 2 or 3 seconds, but was super profound and it changed me. The world seemed to be turning upside down. I couldn’t believe it and I was saying to myself how in my wildest imagination I had never EVER imagined that I would experience this! Wow! There was no inside or outside, up and down, left and right. Everything was like a living movie in the making... I was everywhere and unfolded moment after moment. I was consciousness in the making... which exists .. forever.
Someone then, told me that I should attend a spiritual centre here in London, called Helios, running meditation sessions from the heart and their 3 days retreats, entitled “enlightenment for all”. The process was developed by Greg Branson and later on, Robin Baldock. There, they combined practices inspired by Zen Buddhism with western mystical practices. That friend of mine thought that I needed some more embodied practices. I attended the retreat, and by the last day, I had again an episode where I collapsed into the landscape which was super blissful. Looking at a garden, I was the garden. Stopping in bliss while looking at me... as reflected in plants, trees... The days after though, my body became uncontrollable. I had twitchings and shakings, and my spine swung to the left and right. The work there was profound, it involved the body and ancestry and archetypal past life release. It was a relief for me, haunted as I was since childhood with images of myt past lives... so I kept working with them, mostly Robin, and in a second retreat, 4 months later, the day after the conclusion of the retreat, at home, I continued the silent meditation process, placing awareness in the heart. At a certain point, I had so much concentrated energy inside, as I focused in one single point... that I “exploded”.
Suddenly "I" was the cosmos, for a split second, to come back to myself, Maria, finding that I was inhabiting now a different and more flexible and lighter body. It was awesome. I would walk as if I was floating... but later on, my usual contractions in the body came back…
I kept ( and still do) working with heart centred practices with them and with balancing the centre of the heart with the centre of the sun. I did several other retreats, and a pattern began to develop which was, each time I worked with them, my experience of intimacy with the world and the letting go of Maria is deeper, but then, there are also shifts into dark/shadow material (karmic stuff) that come up into conscious awareness aiming to get healed. For 12 months I had to heal profound fear ( due to visions) in my daily life... which shifted insanely to bliss in a question of hours. The kundalini spontaneous jerkings and shakings of my youth can me back and the body began expressing loads of involuntary movements in all kinds of inopportune opportunities such as Yoga classes, and workshops. My energy increased exponentially and the episodes of merging with everything became numerous and super blissful. I began being actually able to induce that experience in myself, by slowing down a lot, letting my body become hyper loose. The experience is super blissful because it provides a profound sensation of intimacy with everything and everyone, like yes I am the buildings of London and the streets and the plants and flowers... and the garbage bin. It brings me peace and a profound relaxedness at a deep level, even if on a more superficial level I am still sometimes struggling with anxiety, and annoying thoughts.
As stated previously, the downside of all this is that I had to face shadow material, such as intrusive thoughts/visions. I ‘ve had since childhood, when I could not control them to well. Even if those visions never made me lose balance they made me suffer a lot…
Now, I keep working with different points of muscular tensions. But the energy flows very easily. As I am writing I feel it. Sometimes I used to be so tired (last year) that I had to spend days lying on the floor, while the energy moved around in me. This year I am less tired, but if I sit to write ( which is my paid job) I tend to become very still. Even if that stillness is blissful, it’s not handy at all. My practice also opened my heart tremendously. There I feel a warm centre filled with loving energy. I get into the tube and I just love everyone. I merge with the world, experiencing unity consciousness for larger moments of time, and feel love towards everyone. I lose myself, being and appreciating everything that surrounds me
It has been an amazing experience in a way, even if super difficult at times, and it has changed me and transformed me profoundly. I’ve grown a lot, healed and became more acceting towards me and others. And the journey keeps expanding.
For me, a spiritual journey and spiritual development, has to do with moral responsibility, we develop and are able to hold more and more responsibility not only towards your own stuff, your karmic stuff, your ancestors stuff, but also the world in general.. .and why ? because you develop compassion ... you see how you have the same patterns as everyone else, and you accept them fully... So you are able to become empty. Nothing. And everything.