Continuing to Grow

The awakening process is fascinating, to say the least. Never what we might have imagined. Way too complex for that, and the infinite is beyond even imagination. But if there is a constant lesson, it is that awakening requires continuous growth, on as many levels as possible. These include emotionally, spiritually and in the field of expertise used by your soul to contribute to the evolution of the the planet. Another word for growth is integration where new skills and insights continue to feed a deepening complexity in our abilities to sense and respond to our world, as individuals, as communities, and as the human species discovering its place in the great stream of life.

Emotional Awakening

It would be easy argument to say that emotional growth is the most important of them all, as it is the realm of emotional confusion and dysfunction that creates all of the damage and destruction we witness daily here on Mother Earth. And it is easy to do a spiritual bypass where you throw your self so completely into your spiritual practice that you avoid or deny the shadow side of your unconscious. These emotionally traumatized parts of yourself that desperately need to be healed, but are so painful that denial seems a better option, contribute to create suffering for self and others. Communities as well as individuals can suffer from the spiritual by-pass syndrome. All the asana or meditation in the world is not going to help grow the emotional body the way therapy and a relational-field-based inter-personal spiritual exploration will.

Thomas_Huebl2_356“The internalization of our spiritual practice and the embodiment of a higher consciousness is not expressed in the experimental bubble of retreat centers, but in challenging life situations, in the marketplace, when deployed in areas of crisis, and in the confrontation with poverty, illness and conflicts.” ~ Thomas Hübl

 

Thomas Hübl is a contemporary spiritual teacher who deeply engages the emotional-relational aspect of ourselves while grounding this in the “Infinite Absolute” of spirit. He brings a mystical fire to his teachings that stems from his own continuous growth and practice in developing a collective planetary and cosmic consciousness. Thomas lives at the ‘field’ level of consciousness, where in his teachings, he connects his students to the ‘relational fields’ and the ‘collective field of information’ ever available to us if we can learn how to access it. He also uses sound in the form of solo or group ‘toning’ to generate sonic fields of coherence and healing. If you want to travel in the fast lane of growth and awakening, hitch your wagon to Thomas.

Spiritual Awakening

Spiritual awakening is the ‘realization’ that my fundamental essence, the ‘I am’, is ‘Infinite-Absolute-Stillness’, the ‘drashtuh svarupe’ of Yoga Sutra I-3. Spiritual growth is learning to rest in, and gradually stabilizing your presence here, (avasthanam), independent of whatever may be happening at any of the levels of the world of form. In the previous post the term ‘turiya’ was introduced by my dream guru, The_mandukya_upanishad_smallRobert Moss, to describe this universal presence. His quote was taken from the Spanda Karikas, a sacred text of Kashmiri Shavism and here I would like to present the root source of ‘turiya’, the Mandukya Upanishad. This is the shortest of the Upanishads, the Vedic texts that, along with the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras, constitute the basis of Vedanta philosophy. In the twelve verses of the Mandukya Upanishad, unique in the Upanishads for having no imagery, dialogue, rituals or tangible forms of worship, the individual and universal expressions of ‘Infinite-Absolute-Stillness’, Atman and Brahman are presented and equated. They are one in the same. Atman is turiya is Brahman, tat tvam asi.

The four states of consciousness, waking, dreaming, deep sleep and turiya (which is not a state, but the root source of the other three!), are related to OM, or AUM as it is spelled out in Sanskrit. A is the waking state, U the dreaming, M the deep sleep, and the silence as M dissolves is turiya. Thus the mantra OM designates both Atman and Brahman. Yoga Sutras I-27 – I-29 also discuss this.

Soul Awakening

What is ‘Soul? In a series of previous blogs beginning here I wrote about aspects of soulness. Here we will use soul to describe the unique history, creative gifts and challenges we bring to this incarnation. As such, awakening and growing the soul requires the ability to ask deep questions about our choices in life. Following someone else’s script or living someone else’s life does not nourish the soul. So the first question asked by the soul is this. “Have I given away my power to a leader, or group who claim authority?” It is easier, on a simple level, to let others have the responsibility, especially when there is a large group buying into the scene and enjoying the power. However, in the long run the soul suffers and the collective stagnates at best. A group that stifles individual creative expression cannot grow in any meaningful way. This is true in the corporate world, the artistic world and in spiritual and religious communities.

UnknownThe next question the soul asks is ” can I let go of what I know, and especially what I think I know, and rest in ‘not-knowing’? Suzuki Roshi’s classic, “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” addresses this question head on. His opening line states:

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
First, you cannot hold onto the ‘Truth’, but you can rest in it, if you let go, (see Yoga Sutras I-23 – I-29). Secondly, you will find that letting go of stuff doesn’t mean it goes away. It just floats there, and if you need it you can pick it up and use it, and if you realize it no longer serves you, than you leave it be. This is challenging for those with years of experience in a images-1subject. The history of science is filled with examples of major breakthroughs and insights that were ridiculed and rejected by ‘establishment scientists that were stuck on their own limited vision. Beginner’s mind was not included in their curriculum.

My own yoga practice has continuously been overhauled, sometimes painfully so, by insights previously un-imagined, and discovered outside the ‘yoga world’. That which is of value returns again and again, so it is not a matter of re-inventing the wheel, but of expanding our view, our horizon, the magnitude of our vision. The collective vision is extraordinarily rich, but we have to step outside of our comfort zone to see with new eyes. My own understanding of Iyengar’s practice and depth of knowledge of yoga, which is fundamentally my own soul path, has been greatly enhanced by the creative insights of explorers in other realms of somatics and spiritual practices.

Of course, the egoic structures of the mind do not like change, insecurity, not knowing, being a beginner, so stirring the soul is not always pleasant. This is why new resources of support can be very helpful. As we gain more ground in the shamanic realms and other levels of non local reality, we discover a support system used by shamans and dream travelers for millenia. As a collective, we humans are total beginners here, but our historical moment is primed for a rapid expansion of sensitivity, insight and integration, if we can summon up the patience and courage to plunge into this infinite mystery. The world we are creating begins here, and right now collective unconscious fears are driving the agendas of the political and economic powers. We can change this, now. To re-quote Thomas Hubl,

“The internalization of our spiritual practice and the embodiment of a higher consciousness is not expressed in the experimental bubble of retreat centers, but in challenging life situations, in the marketplace, when deployed in areas of crisis, and in the confrontation with poverty, illness and conflicts.”

 

Yoga and Active Dreaming

omfractalPart 1: Dream Practice

“In order to acquire continuity of consciousness, unaffected by lapses into unconscious states, you must hold yourself at the junction of all the states, which constitutes the links between sleeping, dreaming and waking:  this is turiya, the fourth state.”

­
Adapted from the S​panda Karikas​ of Vasagupta a tenth ­century Tantric text.

Robert Moss uses this quote at the beginning of one of our Quantum Dreaming sessions as it describes the essence of the dream practice. Spanda is a Sanskrit word denoting ” active, throbbing, pulsating with life” and refers to the dynamic tension between Shiva and Shakti, or between Purusha and Prakriti, the Seer and the Seen, to use UnknownPatanjali’s terminology. Another word for the immediate and personal experience of spanda is kundalini. The Spanda Karikas, along with the Shiva Sutras, are key texts in the Kashmir Shaivism tradition, and it was delightful to see this being integrated in to the Quantum Dream teaching. It’s all yoga!

This fourth state, pure awareness without attributes, is the core or foundation of the other three states.  The Yoga Sutras, in I-3, describe this as ‘drashtuh svarupe’ the the true nature of the Seer, and we experience this as the infinite ever-present dynamic stillness awakened in practice. In savasana, we begin the journey, in stillness, from waking to dream, but pause in between, in the twilight zone, where we are no longer awake, but have not dropped into sleep. Here imagination, or vikalpa, one of the five vrttis mentioned by Patanjali in I-6 and I-9, is activated.

Imagination can be seen as a creative mental process that is fed by streams of energy and information. If the only streams feeding imagination are our superficial thinking and disturbed emotions, our imagination can be self destructive. However, if our imagination 178491main_sig07-009-516can tap into a deeper stream of our own souls yearning and creative impulses, whole new worlds can open, full of healing and growth. If we go further and let our imagination tap into the stream of the creativity of the whole universe, then we become active participants in the cosmic creation process. These imaginal realms are explored in active dreaming.

An asana practice based on sensitivity and deepening perception is the foundation for the creative imagination. Being able to drop into the energy flows and fields of our body, of organs and cells and fluids, and swim around in there is great preparation for active dreaming. In active dreaming, we consciously enter the ‘savasana twilight zone’ and journey to imaginal realms to study, heal, explore and discover new levels of awareness and consciousness. We use archetypal structures as starting points for these journeys that offer an infinite number of possibilities for our own unique experiences. In the previous blog, two active dream structures were presented for your explorations. Here is another I learned from Hank Wesselman, my shamanic guide and it is well presented in his book seen below.

The Sacred Garden

51R3ZAqCVlL._SX442_BO1,204,203,200_The Sacred Garden can be a home base for our explorations in non-local consciousness. It is a place of “for personal empowerment, as well as physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual restoration.” It is also a jumping off point for further journeys. According to Hank, the garden operates under four primary rules. 1. Everything in the garden symbolizes some aspect of our lives or experience. 2. Everything in the garden can be communicated with. You can ask questions and receive answers, although the language may be a bit different from our normal daily experience. 3. You can change your garden; add structures, plants, invite visitors and full time inhabitants; or remove the same. 4. As you garden changes, some aspect of your life will change.

Sitting or lying in a comfortable position, dropping into ‘savasana’ consciousness, imagine a place where you know you are totally safe and nurtured. It may be from your child hood, or any part of your life, and we are calling it a garden, but it is a place where you can go and take refuge. Begin to notice the sensory details: how it smells, the sounds, the lighting, the structures. It can be small or large. It is your imaginary creation, but you want to begin to stabilize the basics so you can return here again and again. It may become quite elaborate over time. (Hank told us his sacred garden has a house with a house keeper and he will go there at death for the bardo phase as he decides what to do next.)  Feel free to move things around. I have towers, fountains and underground rivers in mine. Lots of water! Find a place in the garden that is the most powerful, where you can go to recharge and also begin other journeys. It may be at the foot of a tree, or inside a cave, or in the middle of a flower bed. Trust your inner psychic instincts and imagination to help you out here. Upon your return to waking consciousness, take notes to help anchor your experience. Return to it daily for practice.

Part 2: Asana Practice

Unknown-1Continue to release the spinal column in bridge, supported and unsupported, and begin to inhabit the interior of the spine. Find the spinal canal and the spinal discs, including the annular ring and the nucleus. Feel the spaces where the nerves emerge as the spine decompresses. Use breathing to help. Carry this into sitting, standing, and postures, and your daily life. Feel the physical body becoming more ethereal, even if old injuries and traumas stand out as anything but ethereal. Approach these traumatized areas form spaciousness, support and flow and find how and where more integration can arise. Enjoy your practice in whatever form it may take.

As I am being challenged by my right hip joint these days, my journeys involve the bone imagesfields of the femur head and acetabulum. image01My DFL is broken and the femur has lost an integral connection with my core. Thus my contraction and tension  between the trochanters. I have found that creating a circular flow around the rim of the acetablum helps trace the three bones: illium, ischium and pubis and help align them to each other energetically. Also, once inside my sacrum, I can adjust the illium and widen the pelvic space ala fish body. This is helping the psoas and iilicus muscles to reconnect diaphragm to feet.

There is also a spiral through each of the pelvic bones centered on the acetabulum. If you can visualize the pelvic bone beginning as a single plane, the illium rotates up and externally, while the ischium (sitting bone) rotates down ward and internally, twisting the whole bone in opposite directions. This spiral is blocked on my right side, but slowly opening back up. Working at this level, especially with an injury or trauma, is a slow process, but a gold mine for learning about energy flow, fields, and simple walking. Jump in there and play.

Notes From Boston, May 2016

Yoga, the Fluid Body and the Dream World.6f67bbddb2f7e65f-PageImage-512192-5065188-khbhk32of59

Basic things you should know and be noticing/practicing/exploring so they become integrated and intuitive. We are linking our deepening work in asana and breath with the shamanic/soul/dream practices. You have many lives to work on these so be patient! You are responsible for this life, so be diligent.

Yoga 1: meditation practice resting in the ever-present stillness. Any moment, every moment, any breath, every breath. Being in Nature is helpful.

Yoga 2: Stay awake! There are many layers and levels to discover and explore. Living in ‘unconscious habit’ inhibits creative openings.

Yoga 3: Fully inhabit the divine form of your human body. (See following suggestions (and previous blogs)). We use yoga, but any heart centered somatic practice will do.

d83fa645e28a4aac-khbhk1of1Structure 1: Know your basic anatomy and alignment principles. Start from here and then ‘feel’ your way along.

Structure 2: Key references in structure for chakras:

1st: K1 (kidney 1 in chinese medicine) in feet, center of perineum, tip of coccyx, legs
2nd: Sacrum, SI joints, Sacral canal
3rd: kidneys, liver, crura of the diaphragm, spleen, stomach, T 9, 10,11,12
4th: point behind the heart,
5th: throat, thyroid, vocal cords, base of pharynx, soft palate
6th: inner ears, top of sinuses, 3rd ventricle
7th: your open crown
Come up with your own personal inner map.

Structure 3: Anatomy Trains Deep Front Line (see Kinesiology 2)

Kinesiology 1: Know the three basic axes of movement through the hips: Mammalian flexion/extension, ie forward and backbends; fish body or lateral flexion/extension ie trikonasana and friends; rotational/spiralic, ie twisting.

Kinesiology 2: Knit and stabilize your core. Use navel as primary reference and link to arms and legs. (see embryology section below.) Glutes and hamstrings must be toned and firing to integrate legs to core. See bridge pose below.

Kinesiology 3: Integrate arms into core through dog pose and variations into inversions.

Kinesiology 4: Differentiate anterior/posterior spine and ascending and descending currents with Bhoga blocks or another rounded support in bridge pose and variations.

Kinesiology 5: Find the fulcrum(s) of your action, (aka ‘continental divide”)

Energy Lines and Fields ‘on the mat’.
1. Radial expanding and condensing (hoberman sphere). this is first fractal in the energy 89f1219146dc7867-IMG_8635world.
2. Feel the line as opposite radians moving to and from a center.

3. Feel that integration of 1 and 2 create a dynamic spiral field with pulsations.

Energetic fields in Life:
1. Relational Fields: Personal: Emotional fields, Physiological fields, embryological fields (see below)  psychological fields, Spirit fields, Soul Fields (see”Dream Work” below)
2. Relational Fields: Human: partners, family, friends, baa32c07e25d7b58-untitled32co-workers, people you encounter during the day, Sangha fields, all of humanity. (Note: Some of the most articulate and spiritually profound work on relational fields is being done by Austrian teacher Thoman Huebl.)
3. Relational Fields Nature: Pets, other animals, plants, geography (mountains, rivers, ocean, forests etc.
4. Gravity as a Cosmic Field

Embryology 101:
1. Explore navel with imaginal umbilicus and placenta. trace the energy and feel the fields.PageImage-512192-5065180-khbhk30of59
2. Find and explore the first emergence of the mesoderm as the fascial plane in the body dividing front from back.
3. Feel the fluidity of your being before the bones emerge. Be oceanic. Channel your inner squid. Dissolve boundaries and merge with the cosmic ocean.

 

More poses to use for explorations:IMG_8003IMG_8006

IMG_8007Bridge pose and variations: IMG_8375The Bhoga block, seen below, is much more effective than the traditional rectangular block shown above.

Spirals: IMG_8382This can be done facing sideways to the wall as well. Find the ascending and descending spirals as a balance of flexion and extension. In seated twists, balance both clockwise and counter-clockwise directions, no matter what direction the outer body is taking. Ask each chakra which way it wants to go. Feel the spirals as waves moving through the fluid body so there is no effort involved. You may be surprised at what happens.

Unknown-1Savasana: This is our entry point into the Imaginal World, aka Dream time. Find the state between waking and sleep and hover there. Beginners either fall asleep, or get lost in thought. Savasana is a bardo state, in between waking and deep sleep. If can learn to remain here, we can begin our explorations in the Imaginal world. This is active dreaming, which is quite different from lucid dreaming, or the dreaming we do after falling asleep.

Active Dream Explorations: In my on-line studies with Robert Moss, we are developingsearch an ‘architecture’ of dream travel which includes suggestions and imagery that allow the deep imagination to emerge and grow. Deep imagination is the source of all creativity and in our journeying/active dreaming, we hope to unite our personal imagination with the cosmic imagination, the imagination that births the universe. In our work, we create structures, find portals and negotiate with gate-keepers as part of our imaginal journeying. It takes practice to work at this level and the more time we spend here, the easier and more familiar it becomes.

A word about the inner skeptic. We love our inner skeptic, as it plays an important role in helping us discriminate and differentiate the layers and meanings of our experiences. However, the skeptic should not be allow to interfere in the journeying, but rather surrender the floor to the imaginal, and at the end of the journey, be available for commentary. Many beginners struggle to open to the active dream world because their skeptic makes too much noise!

In Boston we explored two scenarios I have discovered in my course with Robert:
“Visiting the Library”

Lying in a comfortable position, relaxing muscles, bones and breath, drop into savasana and let the mind deepen and widen. Visualize a library. It can be one you have visited in your life, current, from childhood or college, or you can make one up. But see the building. Notice its architecture, materials, windows, and plantings. Take your time, relax and observe. When you revisit the library on future journeys, there will be some familiar sites and you can stabilize some of the basic structures.

imagesNow see the door, observe it, open it and walk into the library. Look a round a bit. How many rooms are there? How large are they? What color are the walls? Where are the windows? When you find the front desk, you want to ask for a special book, your book, the book that has the story of your life. Once you are familiar with the layout you can go right up to the front desk. The librarian may know immediately where to send you, or may have to look it up. Walk through the library until you find the room with your book. Remember, this is the dream world, so sudden transformations, things appearing and disappearing, one library morphing into a totally different one are all part of the process. It is a very fluid layer of reality.

To find your book, you may have wander around a bit, or climb up or levitate to a top shelf to find it, or it may already be out on a table, but when you do find it, bring to a place where you can open it to a random page and see what is there for you to read. This may be the beginning of another layer of the dream where you are transported somewhere, or where you call in some help to translate or make sense of what your book is saying. Stay in the story for as long as possible. When you return to ‘waking’ consciousness, take some notes, draw pictures, reinforce the imagery. Record in your dream journal.

Visiting the Post Office

Lying in a comfortable position, relaxing muscles, bones and breath, drop into savasana and let the mind deepen and widen. Visualize a Post Office. It can be one form your home town, from a big city any where in the world, or one from your imagination. But see the building. What lets you know it is a Post Office? Notice its architecture, materials, windows, and plantings. Take your time, relax and observe. When you revisit the Post Office on future journeys, there will be some familiar sites and you can stabilize some of images-1the basic structures.

Like the library, walk in the door and go up to the counter. You will ask for your ‘undelivered dreams’. Many dreams get sent back because they were unable to be delivered, so you may be giving a huge bin full of undelivered dreams. Take the bin to a place where you can sit and relax and pick one to open. If it is junk mail, put it aside and open another, until something of interest shows up. This begins the second stage where the now delivered dream takes you on another journey. Follow and enjoy for as long as possible. When you return to waking consciousness, take notes, draw pictures, recall the imagery. Record in your dream journal.

In future blogs, as we build the Dream time practices, I will go into more detail how to interpret our experiences. But, first and foremost, the imagery and symbolism of your dreams is unique to you, and only you can truly interpret what they are saying. This is not to say that guidance for one with experience cannot be extremely helpful. It can. And there are many archetypal images and symbols that are relatively universal. But the dream world is uniquely yours. Trust you own intuitions, and be patient.

Photos 1 – 9 courtesy of seankilmurrayphotography.com

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