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... 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 3, 4 year old. And then later on, with 7, looking at the mirror and staying withpresence. 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 awakening began... when I was born! Doesn't it happen like this, to all of us ? I truly think so...
Since my childhood, I experienced all kinds of sensations in the body. A buzzing and tingling 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 the intrusive thoughts/images (that I now interpret in a different way) and would just stay there, with them, fearfully bearing them... I never told anyone. But I had presence with me anyway. And I grew up.
As a young adult ( 19 years old) I began having spontaneous shakings and involuntary jerks, particularly when stressing with exams. A tingling sensation in the top of the head was present quite often. I did neurological exams 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 and 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. The depersonification, went away after a few months. I also learned how to deal with the “dream like” sensations. I read later on what science calls "personification" is ofter an early sign of spiritual awakening, particularly when it happens to someone like me that never did any kind of substances expanding/altering consciousness such as drugs or alcohol.
In 2011, I began meditating regularly. Very quickly all the sensations I had experienced previously came back more intensely than ever. The first was tingling in the middle of the eyebrows, then 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 manifestations of kundalini energy.
"I was by then practising Dzogchen regularly and developing witnessing capacity. I began feeling presence increasingly and also heat and vibrations on the top of my head. In 2014 I had a first glimpse of truth after one meditation, led by Rupert Spira. I suddenly tapped in what I'd know since my childhood, but in a deeper way, how there is a primordial field of consciousness, still, transparent, eternal, 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 very drawn to Dzogchen’s self inquiry tools their sets of meditations led people into inquiring their minds, with "scientific" precision examining how awareness 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 vanished, and I was “inside the food”. This lasted for 2 or 3 seconds, but was super profound. 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 "I" unfolded moment after moment. I was consciousness in the making... existing and experiencing .. forever.
Later on, someone 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. They combined practices inspired by Zen Buddhism and western mystical traditions. I attended the retreat, and by the last day, I had again an episode where “Maria” 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 jerks and shakings, and my spine swung to the left and right. The body was not ready to hold so much energy.
The work with Helios was profound, it involved opening the heart and the body and working with our ancestry and archetypes inherited from culture, and previous timelines. With breath and embodiment, we cleared blockages hold in our bodies (in traditional spiritual traditions this is called purification of the body) enabling these to receive more energy. Working with them helped me to evolve and integrate in the body all the previous spiritual experiences. I kept participating in their retreats. I remember one particular retreat where at home, I continued the silent meditation process, placing awareness in the heart and just feeling everything there with unwavering attention. At a certain point, I had so much concentrated energy inside, while focused in one single point... I was taken by an incredible amount of energy, almost unbearable and I “exploded” into the cosmos, for a split second, to come back to myself, Maria, finding that I was inhabiting now, from one sec to the other, a different, more flexible and lighter body. It was extraordinary. I would walk as if I was floating... later on, the usual contractions in the body came back…
As my teachers told me, this was just an experience. The journey continues.
3 years along the way, the experience of intimacy with the world and the letting go of old patterns of “Maria” is deeper. At times, for a few seconds I feel I am everything and everyone, as experienced and felt, in consciousness: the buildings of London, the streets, the plants and flowers... and also the garbage bin ... this brings peace, bliss and quiet appreciation of the divine design and a profound relaxedness at a deep level, even if I am still struggling with anxiety and shadow stuff.
At the time of this writing, I keep working with different points of muscular tensions. But the energy flows more easily, even if felt day and night. 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. The stillness is blissful, but not handy at all as a working mother. My practice also opened my heart chakra tremendously. I feel it as a warm centre filled with loving energy experiencing unity consciousness for a few moments.
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 and became more accepting 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.