Dense and Subtle Energy

Dense and Subtle Energy or Embodying Evolutionary Spirituality
Notes From Detroit, January , 2017

Love and Compassion

The fundamental essence of Being is Love. Unmanifest Love is infinite awareness, vast stillness, silent, pregnant with possibility, unimaginably mysterious. In the world of form, Love manifests as cosmic harmony, the balance of complementary possibilities in a dynamic tension that drives the evolutionary journey. The multitude of forms that comprise A galaxy on the edgethe known universe are evolving, from quarks and atoms, to stars and galaxies, to deeper and deeper expressions of complexity like butterflies, rain forests and Lady Gaga. In the ‘Wholeness’ of this process, manifest and unmanifest, there is no ‘other’, no separation. The terms ‘non-dual’ or ‘advaita’ refer to this oneness, and we must continue to ‘realize’  or ‘recognize this.

When the balance is disturbed in manifest reality, the powerful energy of love seeks to restore harmony in the system and keep the evolutionary journey moving forward into deeper and more prolific expressions of itself. (See ‘The Universe Story” by Thomas Berry and Brain Swimme to see how evolution unfolds.) This process, however, becomes very complicated in the realm of human thought and activity. Because of the nature of our survival based nervous system, it is easy for the energy of love to become distorted when disharmony sets in. Here, creativity becomes stifled, chaos and stagnation, fear and anger ensue and the evolutionary journey stalls.

Rather than remaining in wholeness/love, we create ‘other’ to blame for the inevitable challenges that arise in evolutionary progress. Our own ego structures may turn on each other (I’m such a terrible person, etc), stifling pour own growth. Or we find individuals or groups to demonize collectively. We may be wise or clever enough to recognize when some of the cultural disharmony is arising, but if we do this from a place of fear and anger, more conflict is assured and the problems become more deeply entrenched in the cultural field. When disharmony is recognized from a place of love, creativity can begin the process of self healing. Adyashanti is calling this ‘Fierce Love’.

Is it possible to be fiercely for love, compassion, truth, equality and justice without becoming lost in anger or depression? Is it possible to recognize and speak out strongly for what we believe in, rather than expending energy for what we are against? Resisting comes from a sense of separation and thus can never provide a long term solution to any problem. Gandhi was not resisting the British. He was fiercely standing for satya, truth, and would not be moved from that because he had the whole cosmos with him. Is it possible to recognize the others may be operating from delusion they do not see or understand and feel compassion, meaning your heart stays open, even as you strongly disagree with specific policies and actions? These are not easy practices, which is why we have to practice….. a lot.

The great challenge of our time is to recognize that anger, fear, frustration and depression are the deeply embedded roots of the problems we are facing. This is true both individually and collectively. “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created them” observed Albert Einstein. We can also say that we cannot solve our current global challenges without changing the fear and anger based emotionally dysfunctional mind states, both personal and collective, that dominate social dialogue on all sides. That is why spiritual transformation is the foundation for healthy sociological, economic and political change.

Facilitating this spiritual transformation, ‘Awakening’,  is why we have incarnated in the present moment. ‘Incarnation’ is the here and now of spirit and soul emerging moment to moment as you, as a flesh and blood human being, awakening to its divine origins, healing its shadows and wounds, and pouring creativity into the local fields of the planet. Yoga practice is an all in commitment to fully incarnate and actualize all that your soul is capable of. To do this we need the ability to discriminate between what I am calling dense and subtle energy. To be as simple as possible, dense energy is dominated by the shadow and fear, subtle energy comes from love and cosmic harmony. In the modern yoga world, the shadow work is the most important and least recognized realm for this work.

As spiritual practice takes us deeper into the Awakening, we continually discover the layers of our shadow in the form of grief, darkness and despair that have accumulated over time. We are all experiencing, to one degree or another, anger, frustration, anxiety, fear and depression. No surprise given the insane way in which humans are treating each other and the planet. And it is obvious that there is a personal as well as a collective component to the darkness. Managing these less than pleasant domains is essential if we are to make positive contributions to the awakening.

As an ‘Spiritual Evolutionary’ my practice involves discovering and activating the resources available from as many layers and levels of creation as possible to help move forward the collective spiritual awakening and healing desperately needed by our planet. As a somatic practitioner as well, I find that in exploring ‘incarnation’, the innate and emergent intelligence of life that is the core of my being, I can discover the primary evolutionary urges and desires of the cosmos.  As a ‘Soul Man’, I also recognize the need to do the personal and collective ‘shadow work’ to transform and heal the repressed psychic wounds that bind up or misuse the energy needed for healing and growth. Both the Yogis of India and the Tao’ists of China have explored and mapped this journey of awakening and transformation for us.

The Taoists and the Yogis have slightly different ways of expressing cosmic harmony and each is helpful to our understanding of the cosmic healing process we are nurturing. In Taoism, the universe is composed of two complementary forces, Yin and Yang, that when in balance, create and sustain a healthy universe. The Taoists noticed the difference between the north and south sides of the mountains. Being in the northern hemisphere, the north face was cooler, damper, darker; the south was warmer, drier and sunnier. This was the primal origin of yin and yang which eventually expanded to include the cycles and qualities of night and day, winter and summer and so forth.

The Yogis describe two fundamental tendencies and add a third term to describe the dynamic state of balance between them. These three are the ‘gunas’, a key aspect of Samkhya philosophy. Tamas is urge for stability, Rajas is the urge for change and Sattva is urge for a dynamic and creative balance between these two. Traditional discussions on the gunas refer to tamas and rajas as unhealthy and sattva as desirable, but I find this to be misleading. It makes much more sense to see that the sattvic state is a balance of tamas and rajas. Patanjali comes right out and says in II – 46,  ‘sthira sukham asanam’, incarnation is the balance of stability and mobility. If they are out of balance, problems arise.

Dense and Subtle Energy

Subtle Energy’, as I am using the term, represents all actions and states that arise from cosmic harmony. In the Tao’ist perspective, the masculine Yang and the feminine Yin mutually support each other at every level of creation and society. For the Yogis, the need for stability, to ‘conserve’ the accumulated wisdom, is balanced by the need to ‘liberate’ ideas, beliefs and structures that are no longer serving the greater whole. This subtle energy is transparent to the infinite stillness, allowing us to rest in stillness effortlessly when centered here.
‘Dense Energy’ represents all actions and states that arise out of disharmony. When Yin and Yang are no longer in dynamic balance, either or both can be diminished or in excess.
When rajas and tamas are out of balance, too much rajas (or not enough tamas) promotes anger, aggression, forcefulness, excess will, frustration, fear, and anxiety. An excess of tamas (or a depletion of rajas) can create depression, sluggishness, heaviness, lethargy and a loss of will.
Our challenge is to feel these energies as they arise, at every level of our existence, and develop skillful means to transform the dense energies of imbalance to the harmonious energies of sattva. We embody these energies in the tissues and organs of the body, so in an embodied spiritual practice, we learn the alchemy of bio-dynamic energy fields and energy flow to create/restore/maintain harmony. The innate intelligence of the organism naturally moves toward healing, but trauma and confusion can inhibit this process. That is why human intelligence, buddhi, has to be cultivated, to sort through the trauma and confusion.
Working with Emotional Dense Energy

All spiritual practices begin in, and continually refer back to the heart as the heart is the center of all center, the ground of being, the root of the soul. In Sutra I-33, Patanjali offers clear guidance on living from the heart and healing the shadow issues. These practices of the heart, the Brahma Viharas or the ‘Four Unmeasurables’ are very important in the Buddhist teachings as well.

I-33  Maitri karuna mudita upekshanam sukha dukha punya apunya vishayanam bhavanatash citta prasadanam.
(The mind becomes purified by cultivating) love, compassion, joy, and equanimity (respectively) towards those who are successful, suffering, virtuous and not so virtuous.

Love, or metta, loving kindness as the Buddhists call it, refers to the sincere desire to see all beings up-lifted, loved, supported, and nurtured so they may also feel and live from the infinite depths of their own hearts. Is it easy to feel this deeply towards all beings? No, not at all. We all experience jealousy, anger and resentment towards certain people and situations, and have no problem directing negative energy at ourselves. These dense energy mind states obscure the pure light of the heart. It takes practice to over-ride our habits and transform the energy.

Now, it is important to note that we can strongly criticize wrong action and stand up to injustice while still holding the person or persons responsible in the light of love. This is called ‘parenting’. The natural energy of the heart is love, so this is a difficult but ultimately a straight forward practice. Can I truly feel love toward those who disagree with me, even if I know I am convinced that I am right and they are wrong. And can I truly listen to those who appear to me to be ‘wrong’, from openness and compassion, and hold the possibility that I may be lacking in perspective or information.  Like is any other strength building exercise, start with simple challenges and work your way up. Very dense energy is very resistant to change, so we need patience and subtlety to work at this level.

The basic metta practice is a simple, three phrase mantra you can repeat any time: May all beings be happy, May all beings find inner peace, may all beings be free. When you feel ready, you can be more specific in your intentions: may all politicians be happy, may all politicians find inner peace, may all politicians be free. Feel free to add your more challenging names as your practice grows, including yourself.

Compassion is a more subtle and challenging, as it requires us to have love plus  discriminating wisdom. Compassion implies deeply feeling the nature of someone’s suffering and attempting to discern what actions might possibly help alleviate this suffering. This is not pity or condescension but a heart to heart connection at the soul level. Deciding a choice of action, if there is one, is where the wisdom comes in. Dense energy is afraid of feeling someone else’s pain, because it has enough of its own to deal with, and isn’t even conscious of this. Feeling compassion toward those who are creating suffering for others is quite challenging and requires the capacity to feel the suffering that underlies their actions. There are many times when compassion calls for letting the person learn their own soul lesson by not interceding. Start slowly, and gradually expand your capacity to be compassionate. Take this at your own pace. This is not a rush to saint hood!

Being joyful when in difficult times, or in a difficult situation, is also quite challenging, so we have to practice finding joy wherever we can. Gratitude practice is a good one. There is so much to be grateful/joyous for, and yet the mind quickly and easily gravitates to negativity. The song of a bird, a flower blooming, snowflakes; Mother Nature is fundamentally an ongoing outburst of joyous activity, but for many, their world is contained in electronic devices and the spontaneous joy of being has been forgotten. Cultivate joy as often as possible, so you can access it when needed. Give yourself a vast reserve to draw from.

Equanimity (Patanjali uses the Sanskrit work ‘upeksha’ ) is a lovely word. The Bhagavad Gita calls this ‘samatvam’ and uses this as a primary definition of yoga. This is a crucial practice when working with deep shadows, both personally and collectively and is subtle energy in action. A recent excursion in the medical world has given me ample opportunity to explore this practice of ‘non-attachment’. Pema Chodron’s teachings on ‘Discomfort Resilience has been most helpful here.

Chapter 2, verse 48

yogasthah kuru karmaani sangam tyaktvaa dhananjaya
siddhyasiddhyoh samo bhuutvaa samatvam yoga ucyate

Remaining steadfast in yoga, oh Dhananjaya (Arjuna), perform actions, abandoning attachment, remaining the same to success and failure alike. This evenness of mind is called yoga.

The next time a challenging situation arises in your life, explore samatvam, equanimity, even as other aspects of the mind run around in their own patterns of fear and anxiety. The feelings will remain highly unpleasant, but the space in which you hold them will be vast and supportive, and even light and joyful in odd moments. A recent excursion into the medical world has given me a wonderful opportunity to put all this to practice. Pema Chodron’s teachings on ‘Discomfort Resilience’ has been most helpful here.

 

Working with Dense and Subtle Energy in Asana Practice

From an asana perspective, dense energy arises in the body when overworking, collapsing or some combination of the two. Remember we have structure, energy flow, and fields to work with in the realm of form or Prakriti, as well as ‘infinte spaciousness or Purusha. We will explore how gravity, (the field)  healthy alignment (structure) and the capacity to feel the subtle aspects of the breathing (energy)  combine to create energy flow connecting structure and field in a way that can heal, awaken and transform. To get the most form this, and to save me from repeating, you will be sent to other pages on the web site for the foundation work. Then return to this post.

Standing Poses: click here: Standing Poses

imagesIn all of these poses, begin with K-1, the Kidney 1 acupuncture point. Activate by pressing down through the point, which will raise you up a bit. Differentiate this action from lifting the heels, which uses the superficial calf and not the deeper muscles of the foot. The correct action grounds and lifts simultaneously, with no tightening. There will be fatigue if these new muscles are not used to working, but that should be in the feet and not the outer calf.

UnknownNext, connect this feeling of lift to the very center of the perineum and feel the springiness and elasticity in the tissue here. It should be neither too loose nor too tight, but shtira and sukham.

Now find the tip of the coccyx, just behind the center point and send a line of energy from it, forward, over the pubic Unknown-1bone and up to the base of the sternum. Return the flow from sternum to coccyx and repeat until you feel a stable and dynamic connection between them. This is not a ‘gross tucking’ action, but will create space, length and support to the whole lower body. This line tends to be very weak and leads to overworking the lower back muscles (rajasic dense energy) and weakness in the abdominal wall (tamasic dense energy.) Connect to feet and walk around without losing the connection.

Now, find the point behind your heart that sits above the center of the perineum and connect it to the two K-1 points. Let the breath flow freely without disturbing the energy flow and field connecting the points. Feel the heart floating in the chest, supported by feet and the coccyx-sternum energy line.

Now connect feet, perineum and back of the heart to your crown chakra, releasing up into the heavens as you also release down into the earth. Click here for more:  Find the balance of weight and lightness and feel its quality.

imagesImagine one more point, on the spine between the shoulder blades at the level of the heart. Connect it in a loop up to the crown chakra,  down to the mid sternum, around to the perineum and back up to the inner shoulder blades. Change direction. You may find some other points along the circuit that carry energy. This is a Tao’ist path known as the micro-cosmic orbit.

Sustain this circuit in all poses, as best possible. When you feel contraction or collapse, reconnect the points and re-establishing the energy flow and field.

Dog Pose and Variations: click here Dog Pose

 

Femur action in fwd bends: chair work:

You have dig even more deeply for this one, but there is an article from the Yoga Journal that covers the work we did in class in much more detail.  When you click here (published articles) it will take you to the page containing all the articles I wrote many years ago. It is a fun page if you have not discovered it before. Scroll down to “Froggie Yoga, from the May/June 1989 issue and click there. You get the whole magazine. The ‘hip action’ article begins on page 60 with my dear wife Kate as a relaxing frog. Amazingly enough, and I just discovered this, there is an article on Chi Gong right before mine. I love cosmic simultaniety!

bakasana+iyengarMore challenging poses from the folded groin work begin with Bakasana and its variations. Keep the groin depth and expand the chest in all directions,
especially out through the arms.

 

chair backbendsSBK_17010761-98SBK_17010761-89

for opening the deep front, organs, muscles, connective tissue, breath, without contracting the back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setu Bandha  and variations on a block.

IMG_8007IMG_8003IMG_8006

 

 

SBK_17010761-8

 

Anantasana for opening lateral line: trace from inner heels to inner ears.

 

 

 

 

Practice and Teaching a Somatic Based Spirituality

  1. Always begin, and return over and over to the heart center, nurturing and strengthening all the ways in which love can manifest: Compassion, Mercy, Gratitude, Selfless Action, Charity etc.
  2. Open channels through heart center into: Mother Earth for stability and grounded strength; Father Sky for spaciousness, lightness and openness. Know the heart as where heaven earth and you are one.
  3. Feel breathing as expanding and condensing, like the Hoberman sphere.
  4. Learn how to stand and walk from the integration of 1, 2 and 3 above.
  5. Learn how to use standing poses to refine 1 – 4 above.
  6. Awaken and discover the ‘median plane’ of the body, dividing front and back, by expanding core channel sideways. (see anantasa above).
  7. Learn how mammalian flexion/extension (fwd and back bending actions) can open up 6.
  8. Find twisting poses as spiraling patterns radiating out from median line/plane. (7)
  9. In dog pose, awaken arms as weight bearing limbs, as preparation for inversions.
  10. Learn inversions carefully, mindfully.
  11. Learn to sit in stillness, not by relentlessly seeking perfect alignment, but allowing the body to discover its own innate stillness.
  12. Learn to lie down in a supported savasana.SBK_17010761-30-Edit

Embryology For Yoga Students

Embryology for Yoga Students:
Yoga Room Berkeley, January 14 and 15, 2017
embodying the earliest days of embryological growth and development
as a yoga practice/meditation:

In: Non Dual Wholeness

where in the present moment, the unbounded infinite,
containing all, including past, present, future and parallel layers and levels of reality

we recognize forms emerging as

Yin and Yang as Egg and Sperm

Egg and Sperm merge / two become one…. then

One becomes two …

vokvcj6t

 

 

 

And two become three

And three become 30 trillion…

Out of the infinite, luminous emptiness of the present moment arises the entire cosmos, in a mind boggling multiplicity of forms. The forms to explore today are the echos of our embryological past, still emerging, available when we can be still and feel our inner depths.

Some general principles for contemplation:
1. Embryology for yogis is an investigation of the emergence and transformation of forms through fluid dynamics.
2. The morphology of the embryo is present in the adult human as possibilities of deeper integration.
3. Structures and cavities appear and disappear through time during development.
4. Growth is movement!
5. Not all cells grow/divide at the same rate. This leads to changes in both shape and function.
6. Cells grow by contact along lines of energy, like ants following a chemical trail.
7. Membranes and fluids are primary.
8. The first major differentiation of cells, known as gastrulation, gives rise to three primary types of tissue. The endodermal cells become the gut body, the mesodermal cells become connective tissue structures including the heart, and the ectodermal cells become the nervous system. Most of our explorations will be here. (See day 12 in the diagram below.)

550px-HumanEmbryogenesis.svg
Week 1: Conception, spherical energy: rolling, falling, tumbling, dividing, condensing, image_preview hatching, hollowing, fluidity, freedom.

Practice: Being Yin/Egg: Standing calmly, feel yourself as a sphere with your heart as the center. Feel the round, soft receptivity in all directions. Be patient, waiting, internal, grounded, rooted, still.

Practice: Being Yang/Sperm: Feel one of your arms coming alive like a snake waking up, undulating, pulsating. Add your other arm. Let each leg feel snake like. One at a time give each limb a direction and feel the energy surging out into the world. Feel your spine like a snake, ready to move into action,into the world.

Practice: The emergence of the poles. In any supine position like setu IMG_8375bandha, let the upper and lower bodies begin to differentiate. The block here acts as a fulcrum, allowing the pelvis/tail/feet move in the opposite direction of the head, shoulders chest. Feel the dynamic tension in the middle realm of the body – liver-stomach-spleen kidneys like the telophase above. Find vesica-pisces13the one-two-three: whole body, dividing into two with the middle opening as three. You may discover your own ‘vesica pisces emerging as the gateway to all possibilities.

Practice: Rolling and Pouring, from “How Life Moves”. Lying on your back, quietly feeling your weight, your fluidity. Feel in inner currents and tidal movements even as you lie still. Let those fluid movements invite the body respond in movement, not from the limbs, but from the fluids, like a baby exploring rolling over. Feel and find the omni-directional freedom, felt sense of weight, rotation/spinning in relaxed, supported, quiet environment. This is a very internal, meditative state. Savasana or other restorative poses can take us here as well.

Week 2: Implantation; landing, attaching, making connections, establishing roots.

Unknown-1Practice: Making a connection with floor or wall, feel how a new level of stability allows more types of growth and movement. Attach yourself in one place and allow everywhere else freedom to move. Now we are moving outside ourselves to find support from the world around us. It is a more extroverted state, discovering the ‘other’.

Week 2: Gastrulation: differentiating into front, back and middle; expanding, differential growth. This is a huge shift in perception/awareness as the biological intelligence now differentiates into three modes of being/action/perception.

Practice: Explore each of these three places and modes of being before they complexify imagesand differentiate more completely. This can be done in any pose, as all embryological moments are available at any time, as fields waiting for imagination to re-ignite them. However, new students may want to stay on the floor where you can safely surrender to gravity and feel the awakening of the fluids and membranes. The fluid filled cavities carry nutrients, sound waves, and waves of movement.

Front body as:
Endoderm – yolk sac space- nurturing – gut body, eventually to become upper, middle and lower GI track; Feel the deep support of the yolk sac before it is drawn into the body and elongated. Feel it as expansive, soft, full. Kapha in Ayurveda.

Back body as:
Ectoderm – amnion to become amniotic sac, and primitive nervous system – brain – sense organs – skin; Feel the deep support of the amniotic cavity before in encircles you, before the middle emerges as mesoderm. Feel the wide sensitivity of the future skin/brain/nerves. Vata in Ayurveda.

Middle body as:
Mesoderm: mediator; grows out from middle – all connective tissues, muscles, bones, ligaments, fascia, heart, kidneys and eventually limbs. Pitta in Ayurveda. Find the middle ground as place of balance in all planes and movements.

Week 3: Yolk sac drawn into body as amnion grows around to complete sphere. Deepening the roots. The three layers begin there next level of differentiation. The ectoderm enlarges to become the neural plate and then the neural crest and neural tube. The neural tube will later become spinal cord and various sections of the brain. Mesoderm shows beginning of head and tail, heart. Bones and muscles will emerge. Endoderm begins lengthen to mouth and anus. Lungs, intestines and bladder will emerge.

Practice: Gut body; Hu breath or Vessel breath to active gut body – hollow tubular fluid consciousness. Wake up the fluids and feel the shifts in pressure as the fluids rebound around inside the membranes containing them.

Practice: Emergence of the Mesoderm: Lying on your back, feel the entire floor as your back body/ectoderm and amnion; the ceiling and space above you as your front body/endoderm/yolk sac. Take this into your cells so that all the cells behind your median plane become the ectoderm and all the cells in front become the endoderm. Now imagine the emerging of a middle layer growing along the interphase between endo and ectoderms. This is the median plane feel it spreading sideways and also lengthening to head and tail. Finally find arm buds, leg buds, head and tail emerging.

Practice: Embryonic Folding Click to see short video)

280x157-ylfCoiling and Uncoiling pt 1:  (right image) Rolling onto your side, use the mesoderm to begin to ‘coil up’, extending through head and tail, to come into a fetal position Keep the back long and feel the yolk sac being drawn into the body as you curl. Now, again from the mesoderm, begin to uncoil, extending through head and tail as you feel the gut body lengthening, carrying the spinal column into a mild back bend. Slowly and mindfully repeat this coiling and uncoiling. Bonnie Cohen calls this physiological flexion and extension as it is driven by the gut body action.

Coiling and Uncoiling pt 2: (left image) Lying on your back, feel/imagine the back body expanding sideways and wrapping around the center mesodermal channel to close the front, as the ribs emerge from the spine and wrap around to protect the heart and lungs. Feel space and openness along the whole back body. Then, gently reverse the action, softening and opening the front body like the petals of a flower unfolding.

Practice: Bring any of these explorations into any yoga pose or sequence of poses. Find where there deep inner movements and fluid waves can support you so there is less ‘muscling’ and more surrender in the poses.

Practice: Shamanic Journeying and Active Dreaming: With the support of your guides and gatekeepers, imagine that your soul awareness can step outside of time and see the soul energy coming in at conception.

Awakening the Soul

 Awakening the Soul: A Yoga Intensive in Rochester, NY, December 2016

Key Topics Covered:

What is the Soul?
Wheel of Awareness Meditation

6 Questions to prepare for death
How to find your soul/role in an insane world
Embodied Sacred Practice:

1.Finding the heart and orienting to the seven sacred directions
2.The Sphere, the Tube and 3 Dimensional embodiment.
3. Navel Intelligence and Embryology
4. Kidney 1 and the deep front line,
5. Using the inner back heel to release the tail energy
6. Articulating all the bones of the upper limbs
7. Hanging dog alignment
8. Viloma to balance prana and apana
9. Introduction to Active Dreaming
Resources in the field of Awakening

What is the Soul?
In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Sankhya terms Purusha and Prakriti are used to point to the masculine and feminine faces of Divinity in our human experience; the masculine as unchanging, unbounded, formless and timeless is Purusha; the feminine as the changing, c2e1d3587039b334a14862a7fb13be5eimpermanent world of forms, from atoms to galaxies, thoughts to dreams, where learning and growth take place is Prakriti. In India you will also see these personalized as Shiva and Shakti.  Other cultures have used Soul and Spirit to point to the same two faces. In some Soul is unchanging wholeness and Spirit is the vehicle of growth. I am using Soul as the feminine aspect, representing our inner Divinity as an awakening growing, maturing, curious, emerging self guiding expression of life.

From this perspective, soul is very personal. Our own soul journey is absolutely unique and we must honor that uniqueness. At our deepest level is a powerful urge to express ourselves in a way never seen before in creation, and we are the only ones who can know and live this life. And, soul is also universal. Soul is a deep reflection of wholeness that is inextricably bound with all other souls, all of creation. Soul knows its connection to all existence and wants to celebrate to inspire others to discover their own uniqueness. This is known as authenticity.

All beginners imitate as a way to develop skills, but maturity brings out the uniqueness of the soul that no longer needs to imitate. Let your yoga practice and teaching be authentically your own. That is being true to your self, your soul. There will be struggles, confusion, loneliness and despair on your soul journey, but in that darkness is where the deep healing and boundless creativity can be discovered. The soul is at home in darkness as it knows the inner light of spirit is ever present, and as you radiate your own love and compassion into the cosmic field, all beings will be touched and moved. We strengthen the collective field and it strengthens us.

Dan Siegel’s Wheel of Awareness meditation sets the tone for all of our soul explorations and helps accelerate the cultivation of viveka, the ability to both discriminate between, and integrate, the ever changing phenomena of Prakriti and the unbounded, unchanging presence/Awareness of Purusha. These two fundamental expressions of non-dual wholeness each require continuous cultivation and refinement, thus allowing us to grow spiritually and participate fully in the Great Awakening emerging on Mother Earth.

One crucial skill, ‘resting in Awareness’, aka Stillness or Silence, awakens Purusha and requires discovering one or many of the portals to the ever-present infinite. The heart center is one, as is the pause between breaths, the space between two sounds, and there is always the ‘Cosmic WOW’! The Wheel of Awareness meditation is a great place to cultivate this skill. The cultivation of “Stillness” builds the deep stability and inner strength needed to withstand the inner storms, turmoil, complications and pain of the mind/body as it learns to live and love in this crazy world.

The second involves diving into the the world of change. The outer world, including Mother Nature and other humans, offers continuous challenges, The inner world of our thoughts, beliefs, memories and confusion, is even more challenging. Both inner and outer, in their moment to unknownmoment unfolding, actually follow simple rules. These are taught to children in the story of ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and to adult yogis through the gunas, or qualities of energy/Prakriti. All of creation is constantly seeking balance between what appear to be opposite tendencies.

Rather than seeing these opposites as contradictory, or in conflict, we can learn to live with contradiction by finding the link that creates a unity from two. Hot and cold are opposites, but life hovers in an amazing dance of balance between both. Same with hard and soft, fast and slow, inner and outer. The balance is always changing, and certainly varies from person to person. there is no formula to balance. It must be lived moment to moment on the razor’s edge of aliveness. We will visit this in Viloma Pranayama below where inhalation and exhalation, expanding and condensing seek balance.

In this meditation exploration, we use the wheel as a visual and spatial metaphor of the mind. Around the rim of the wheel are located the various information streams that feed the brain, which can be divided into four basic categories. 1. Exteroception includes the five outer senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch: 2. Interoception: wagon wheelnoticing the inner environment includes: kinesthesia which feeds information from the muscles, bones and joints about location and movement: proprioception, where we feel the motility or inner movements from the organs and fluids, driven by breathing, the heart beat, peristalsis and the cranio-sacral rhythms: emotional perception includes the recognition of our emotional energies percolating up from the cells and organs  and the perception of the cognitive (word based) energies including the ‘monkey mind’. 3. Relational Field: here we pick up on the exchange of energies between two, and among groups of people. This is a complex and fascination area studied in interpersonal neurobiology. 4. The Imaginal Realm where dreams and active imagination operate. These sources stream to the hub along the ‘spokes’ and we use the hub to locate ‘awareness’. (Warning! All metaphors are limited. Useful but limited. Awareness is not confined by space or time.)

From the ‘hub’ of awareness, we direct our attention out the various ‘spokes/information streams’ to observe what is arising. We may notice the the process of ‘attention’ has a mind of its own and may jump from one spoke to another. Our discipline, (abhyasa), is to help stabilize attention, by bringing it to a specific spoke (dharana), keeping it there with some mindful effort (dhyana), and eventually having this become effortless (samadhi). Also we can cultivate a flexible attention that we can use efficiently as we take in the world without being ‘distracted’ by random sensations or thoughts. (I have personally found the ‘soundscape’ a very rich field for practice. Close your eyes and notice the coming and going of the sounds that surround you. Notice the silence between sounds, and then the silence undisturbed by whatever sound is arising.)

In the ‘wheel of awareness’, we go back and forth, from the ‘hub of awareness’ to the various modalities out on the rim. What is most helpful is to really rest in the hub in between trips to the rim. Here awareness rest in itself. Awareness, not needing any information/objects of attention to sustain it, is still, open, unbounded by space and time. Patanjali calls this drashtuh svarupe’ the seer resting it its own inherent nature, and uses this to describe the result of yoga. (PYS, I-3). Eckhart Tolle use the term ‘Now’. Atman, Brahman, Presence, Primordial Being are some other ‘pointing’ words. You can also use your open heart as the silent center.

By resting in awareness, we learn to not be so reactive to what arises, so we begin to tease apart the many layers of reactivity that comprise the ‘vrttis’ Patanjali describes in the Samadhi Pada. We see the ephemeral nature of thoughts, beliefs, ideas, sensations and slowly disentangle our ‘self-sense’ from this transient world.

In a somatic based practice like hatha yoga, the information streams coming from the body/mind are cultivated, studied and refined. We learn to feel our way through the body and allow the wisdom of the body to reveal itself moment to moment. Most yoga students begin with the mind telling the body what to do because they have never been taught how to feel, how to listen to the body. As teachers we need to help the students develop the confidence to trust what they feel and to not be afraid of sensations that are less than pleasant. Those sensations are our teachers.

Centering in the Heart (click here to see Torroidal Heart Field Meditation)

6 questions to ask oneself in preparation for death: Part 1

yama_with_dandaWhen death comes knock knock knocking at your door, there will be questions that need to be answered in order to determine where, what and how your soul will continue on its cosmic journey. They must be answered honestly, as death cannot be fooled. Take you time to look deeply into your heart for your answers, and then write them down. (These questions come from Robert Moss and his work with Active Dreaming and Shamanic Journeying to the other side.)

1. As you look back over your life, what do you most regret not having done?

2. As you look back over your life, what is the moment you most regret when your courage failed you?

3. What do you most regret doing, or not doing, that caused pain and suffering to someone else?

4. Are you willing to let go of the pain and harm others have caused you?

5. Can you truly, deeply forgive yourself?

6. Despite everything else, are you willing to let go of the small self and surrender into something much larger, what we can call unconditional love?

Now, if you have been given a reprieve from death, return to the questions and come up with action plans to remediate any that need it. What can you, what will you do to let go of the regret you carry from not doing something? How can you summon the courage to face a challenge yet to come, (like dying, perhaps)? How can you make amends and/or seek forgiveness for any harm you have done? Can you forgive all the others who have caused harm to you? Can you forgive yourself? Ask you heart to help with this and the next one. Can you let go of everything and trust that you will be safe? Spend the rest of your life working to keep releasing anything in the way of your freedom.

The Role of the Soul in an Insane World

The shock of the Obama-Trump transition will continue to ripple through the planet for many years. And, as dark as it may seem, those of us in America still have it better than most of the world. The question for all of us is ‘what can I do to continue to participate in the healing and spiritual growth, both personally and collectively’? Whining and wallowing in woe drains energy and serves no useful purpose. On the individual level, find one or more issues you are passionate about and roles you can play to help work on them. Small is as important as big, maybe even more so. Pour your best energy into accomplishing something that moves life forward; towards more love, more compassion, more understanding of the issues, more safety, more delight, more awe. No more wasting energy. No more regrets.

On a collective level, recognize and tap into the larger field. In meditation, feel the power of all who are meditating with you around the planet at that moment in time. In action, feel the group strength of all the others who share a vision of healing and love and use that to empower your own actions. Feed the field with your own clarity of intention and action. No one can do this alone. It is a collective emergence we are nurturing, and simultaneously being nurtured by.

On the shamanic levels, connect with and draw strength from other levels of reality. In the upper realms find your guardian angels and any other teacher or wisdom carriers who resonate with you. Invite them in through your dreams and active imagination. In the lower levels, discover your power animals, mineral and plant allies, and any other aspect of  Mother Earth that feeds you. Your soul inhabits these realms already, so this is more of an awakening and remembering.

Remember you are human; highly imperfect and a work in progress. Cultivate, as Pema Chodron advises, discomfort resilience. Awakening from self delusion can be uncomfortable if not painful, and often personally so, but it is also liberating and bursting with creative juice. Be compassionate to yourself.

Embodied Spiritual Practice:

1. click to explore: The Seven Sacred Directions

heart-energy2. Spheres and Tubes:

Feel the sphere transforming into a torus with the emergence of a hollow tube passing along your core line, opening crown and root chakras. Spheres and tubes are fractals of nature. Find them in you body, in your field of perception, in your imagination. In sacred geometry, the circle represents the feminine and the line the masculine. In three dimensions, they become the sphere and tube.

3. Embryology 101:
Canadian-scientist-approached-to-harvest-seaweed-for-anti-aging-products1. Explore navel with imaginal umbilicus and placenta. Trace the energy and feel the fields and flow extending in and out, forward and backward.
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. Be kelp-like, dissolve boundaries and merge with the cosmic ocean. Feel the tides and currents.

543b475ae0b5a17b28edcd3e0d1173aa4. Kidney 1 and the Deep Front Line

The acupuncture point on the soles of the feet, yong quan or ‘Kidney 1’, the ‘bubbling spring’ is an amazing place to bring attention/feeling/action. This is the major energetic grounding point in the body and you can feel its power immediately in standing and moving when you are there. As an athlete you are taught to ‘be on your toes’ and not ‘back on your heels’. On your toes is more accurately described by ground image01-216x300through ‘kidney 1’ and let your heels feel alive but light. Try moving this way and notice that you can move effortlessly in any direction, and change direction easily as well. This is the root point of tadasana.

‘The Deep Front Line’, one of Tom Myer’s profound insights into the fascial continuities of the human body presented in his book ‘Anatomy Trains’, is helpful to both visualize and feel how the feet connect through the core of the body, to the organs, diaphragm and skull. When the DFL wakes up perceptually, our experience of the whole series of standing poses is transformed.

5. Using the inner back heel in standing poses to open tail/muladhara.get-attachment

Here Amy McCoy has K1 engaged,  the DFL open and is extending through her inner heel to open the core energy from the muladhara and out through her crown chakra. There is no rebound as the foot is in the air so there is freedom to keep extending forever. With the back leg grounded,trikon2 as in trikonasana, the floor gives a rebound. The trick is to still expend through the floor and out into the world without slipping. Notice how Iyengar uses the horse to extend through both front and back inner heels. With this support, trikonasana becomes a very powerful chakra opener.

6. Articulating the Bones of the Upper Limbs

img_0434-1-150x150Refining the Articulation of the Arms: Here we play with theHand dvandvas, the opposite actions to further differentiate the various bones of the hands, arms and shoulders. This will help refine both action and perception throughout the area. There are many steps, but the basic action remains the same all the way through.

To start, find the tips of the fingers, the bones furthest away from the body, as they press the wall. Keep them pressing the wall as all the other bones including torso release away from the wall. From this double action, feel arm-bones-anatomythe first set of joints joints opening as perception, as space. Next, add the next set of phalanges. From the second joints, extend into the wall, and release all other bones away from the wall. Feel the spaces opening. 3: Third set of phalanges now join all phalanges to press the wall, all others away. 4. Add metacarpals. 5. Add first row of carpals. 6. Add second row of carpals. 7. Add radius, but not ulna! A00222F01Radius and all other bones of hand to wall, ulna and all others away. 8. Add ulna, open elbow. 9. Add humerus, open shoulder joint. 10. Add scapula to open AC joint. 11. Add collar bone to open sterno-clavicular joint. 12 Add sternum to awaken ribs. 13. Add ribs to find lungs and heart. This whole process will take 10 minutes or more, especially in the beginning, when it is all new. And that is just one side! After some practice, you will be able to open all the gates more quickly.

Before you do you second side, take time to feel how different the two sides are. Notice quality as well as quantity of sensation/perception and insight. Again, before you do your second side, try dog pose and follow the connections throughout the body.

7. Hanging Dog Alignment

images-1Belts and a partner, or a rope wall, can help refine our sense of opposite action and balance. Notice how the rope creates an energy vector that mimics your imaginary tail. This grounding energy now lifts you up away from your shoulders, so now, instead of hanging out there you can very subtly lift and lengthen away from the ropes.

8. Viloma to balance prana and apana

Pranayama: Viloma I and II
Viloma breathing involves a creating a series of pauses during the flow of inhalation and exhalation, like walking up and down stairs. Viloma I is (roughly): inhale-inhale-pause-inhale-inhale-pause-inhale-inhale -pause- normal exhalation -pause- next cycle.Viloma II is (roughly): normal inhalation, pause-exhale-exhale-pause-exhale-exhale-pause-exhale-exhale- pause – next cycle. If you are a natural inhaler, Viloma I will feel easy and Viloma II more challenging. If you are a natural exhaler, vice versa. It seems to be 50 – 50 in the yoga population.

Of the 5 Prana vayus, prana and apana come first. Prana is the expanding of inhalation, engaging the ribs, intercostals and shortening the diaphragm to increase the volume of the chest cavity. Apana is the squeezing/condensing of exhalation, using the abdominal muscles to lengthen the diaphragm and expel the air. Because the chest has a constant negative pressure and the abdominal region a constant positive pressure (both relative to the outside world), years of living can create the very common collapsed chest and distended belly. Thus the belly tends to expand on inhalation (not the chest) and the chest to squeeze in and down on exhalation. This cycle is self perpetuating. We can use viloma to recharge the expanding chest energy and the squeezing of the belly energy. ( remember that the heart energy is Always expanding, independent of the breath.)

Now we can see that in Viloma we find the ‘seed of the opposite’ in the cycles. We will find apana in the pranic inhalation by maintaining and further engaging a slight squeezing of the belly. In the apanic exhalation, we will keep the chest expanding, recharging during the pauses, so the belly can squeeze more fully. Later in the asanas, we will explore how the samana vayu acts to help integrate prana and apana.

UnknownPractice 1: If you are a beginner, you may feel the the pauses to reverse direction a bit. no problem In viloma I, inhale-inhale-slight exhalation-inhale-inhale-slight exhalation etc. During the pauses you are recharging the belly squeeze which may expel some air. As you become more experienced, the squeezing of the belly in the pause opens the chest more and stretches the diaphragm and intercostals without expelling any air. You are just changing the shape of the container.

Viloma II is: exhale-exhale-slight inhalation-exhale-exhale-slight inhalation etc. I call this ‘Looping’ Viloma as the energy loops at each pause. For a beginner, you may feel some air coming in on the loop/pause. No problem. During the pause expand the chest so that the squeezing belly is doing the out breath. This will stretch the diaphragm. The average person never strethces the diaphragm, and it gets tighter and tighter with age. Viloma can reverse that.

Practice 2: If the previous practice is comfortable, use the pauses to begin to perceptually differentiate ribs and diaphragm. Inhalation is used to expand the ribs/chest/intercostals, exhalation to tone abdominal wall and stretch and lengthen the diaphragm. Viloma I: inhale-inhale-inhale-keep chest expanding as you squeeze the belly in from the sides and peel the edges of the diaphragm in away from the ribs; inhale – inhale- repeat -etc. Viloma II: exhale-exhale-exhale-expand the chest out-keeping the diaphragm squeezing inward – exhale-exhale etc.

Practice 3: When the ribs and diaphragm are in harmony, the pauses of Viloma are an opportunity to rest in deep stillness, neither inhaling nor exhaling. This is preparation for the longer kumbhakas or retentions in ujjayi pranayama.

9. Introduction to Active Dreaming
In savasana, when alignment and support are taken care of, relax everything – everywhere, as best possible and imagine yourself in a place where you can experience a deep sense of peace, safety, inner healing and continuing spiritual growth. Start simply and use all of your senses to create this imaginal world. What do you see here? A garden with flowers, a lake, the ocean, angels? What are the sounds? Birds, running water, soothing music? What do you smell? What do you feel through your skin, through your organs and fluids, in your bones? Work on this over time, every day, for the rest of your life. It will change and evolve. Invite your teachers/guides to join you. Rest there, heal there, study there.

unknownThe inner imaginal realm is a vast infinite space, open for exploration and discovery. We begin by grounding the nervous system in safety and light, and asking for support and guidance. The next steps will involve having a great gatekeeper. As yoga students, Ganeshaji is the perfect teammate to have on our inner journeys as he is the remover of obstacles and a tremendous defender.
Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha!

 

Further Resources in the Field of Awakening

Sounds True: amazing collection of audio and video recordings from many facets of the awakening. great teachers and guides you can have with you as you drive, or study at home. www.soundstrue.com

Shift Network: www.theshiftnetwork.com/ Wonderful source of on-line courses and events centered of the great awakening. The shamanic dreaming and dying courses I am taking are hosted here.

Robert Moss: http://mossdreams.com  My dream teacher and mind-boggling guide to the many layers and levels of non-local reality awaiting our discovery.

Pema Chodron http://pemachodronfoundation.org  Amazing teacher, grounded in the darkness of the human condition and the light of love and compassion. She has many books as well as audio and video teachings available.

Thomas Huebl: https://thomashueblonline.com/ Teacher who focuses on the collective awakening and the spiritual practice of being in relationships.

Resources in Movement: web site for Caryn McHose and Kevin Frank, dear friends and deeply engaged somanauts and spiritual beings. The ‘Books and Articles section has a vast library of insight for bodyworkers, yogis and lovers of the somatic journey.