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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Jan Frazier

A SHIFT IN FOCUS
The sudden awakening of Jan Frazier
"No matter what was going on, fun or hard or neutral, I felt something quiet but constant running beneath it, apart from it. That something had the quality of other, of being outside the flow of familiar life. It was quiet; still, it felt more substantial than whatever was going on in the familiar realm."   Jan Frazier 
"Now there's a man with an open mind - you can feel the breeze from here!" Groucho Marx
The quotes above are much the same. While Groucho Marx intended to make us laugh, inside his remark is a profound truth. Spaciousness is much like a fresh breeze of energy flowing into the now. An open mind is a mind that isn't constantly thinking, judging, labeling. An open mind is empty, ready to accept everything. This is freedom.
Last year, I read The Power of Now and A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. I read both books long ago and they sat on my shelves for years. This time, I not only read, but practiced from them. Something inside of me shifted with each passing day.
That fall, while in Santa Barbara, I visited the Vedanta Temple bookshop and not intending to purchase anything, one book stood out from the rest - When Fear Falls Away - The Story of a Sudden Awakening, by Jan Frazier.

Jan Frazier
I read passages, here and there, and knew I was reading the story of a woman's immediate shift into enlightenment. It read much like  an instruction book by way of another's experience.
Up until then, I thought of enlightenment as something grand, special - only for those who stayed in ashrams, for those who studied important spiritual writings for many years, for those who were taken under the wing of a guru. However, as I continued reading, I discovered not only a special writer, communicating her journey with poetic phrases, but, a very ordinary person, as well. By ordinary, I refer to one who is married, has children, a dog - one who teaches, writes and deals with all the same issues of daily life we all encounter.
Jan Frazier went from woman with cancer to woman who changed so profoundly that illness was viewed from another perspective - detached, impersonal. She stepped away from her familiar self and transitioned into an aware state. And in this new state, fear departed - entirely.
Ms. Frazier writes, "Something happened today that I never would have thought possible. I went for my mammogram and wasn't terrified. Really, the significant thing came last night. I was lying in bed, thinking ahead to today, dreading the trip to Jamaica Plain. Anticipating the hyperventilating in the waiting room, the hideous anxiety. I was lying there thinking about all this, when all of a sudden I had this thought to say a little prayer, to ask for help. I said, Could I maybe do this tomorrow without being terrified?" And she continues in another paragraph, "But the moment I had that thought, I felt something happen, like something physical was lifted off of me. I felt dancing around my head, as if somebody were whirling around me in circles, clapping hands, laughing. Rejoicing."
Jan Frazier has, seamlessly, experienced this state of expanded awareness from that point. It holds and has the same strength and consistency as it did from the beginning. In her words, it "hasn't grown dull".
On page 188, Ms. Frazier writes, "The liberated state is a real thing. It is available to you. Simply acknowledging that, and living daily with that possibility, could increase your awareness of its presence within you."
And this brings me to her second book, The Freedom of Being at ease with what is. Written years later, this book teaches us how we can also enter into awareness. With the same gentle words, the same poetic prose, we are told to be still, to let go of effort, knowledge, to cease "being at the mercy of your mind."
So, if you feel there is something more to life and you are brave enough to explore and experiment - to follow your heart, non-stop, these books are a must-read. They will, if nothing else, give you another perspective on your life.
However, you might crawl into bed one night as that familiar you, and wake up in the morning, changed forever.
Jan Frazier website
Redwheel Weiser Books
Amazon - to read excerpts from, When Fear Falls Away - the Story of a Sudden Awakening
Amazon - to read excerpts from The Freedom of Being at ease with what is
A reading from Jan Frazier's, When Fear Falls Away - The Story of a Sudden Awakening - Advaita333 YouTube

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