Holos: The Nine Limbed Torus

getPartIn our on going explorations in embodying Sacred Geometry, we continually cycle back to the torus, and the corresponding torroidal field, one of the primary patterns of cosmic creation. It is time to add a whole new level of torroidal intelligence to our somatic journey, and to do so, we will bring in my ‘across the street in Ojai’ neighbor Brian Berman, and what he is calling a HOLOS, a symbol for one humanity.

Brian, a spiritually awakened sculptor and peace activist, had an inspirational vision in 2012. It began as the illusion of his separate self dissolving into wholeness, emptiness and deep silence. Only Being/Knowing. Then a thought arose as a spark on energy that then dissolved back into the silence. Then another. Forms coming and going. Then, an image of a torus appeared, emerging from his heart as strands of energy spiraling out from stillness, and then spiraling back into the infinite stillness at the core of his heart. He recognized at once that the torus was a symbol of unity, of many linked as one, rooted in the infinite. From his many years as a peace activist, he realized the possibility of using this image as an international unifying symbol for all engaged in bringing peace to the world. And it did not hurt that, while on a 2014 pilgrimage to Ramana Maharshi’s ashram in Tiruvannamalai, India inquiring about using art in a spiritual way, he got a clear ‘bring this into the world’ message. HOLOS-9Star-150x150

The center of the Holos represents the infinite, wholeness, stillness and silence, the Source of all creation. The nine spirals represent the emergence of any and all forms, from atoms to galaxies, and everything in between. Think of the holos as a three dimensional expression of the pranavah, the sacred syllable ‘OM’. The nine spirals can be seen as linking three equilateral triangles, each of the 9 apices being 40 degrees apart on the circle. Nine is composed of a trinity of trinities. According to Michael Schneider in ‘The Beginners’ Guide to Constructing the Universe” “nine is considered thrice sacred and most holy, representing perfection, balance and order, the supreme superlative.”

HOLOS-5-270x180We are going to take this unique torus and use it to help clear out the chakras and invite it to provide an organizing intelligence for the water and collagen molecules in the Living Matrix of the body. Finding and differentiating the nine strands may take a while, but we are all in this for the long haul, so be patient. Consider this like the Vajrayana Buddhist practice of mandala visualization meditation. Much to be revealed in the future as we play with this!

In any comfortable sitting pose, align yourself with heaven and earth and bring your attention to your heart center. Feel the spherical volume, above/below, front/back, right/left, alive, fluid, spacious. Now convert the sphere to a torus, opening the center like in a bagel, so now the center is emptiness. Stay open to heaven and earth and stillness BKS padmasanaand begin to notice how the tissue in the heart region is responding. In the holos, ascending energies move clockwise and descending energies move counterclockwise. Let the field and your imagination do the work. Try not to help muscularly. Find where your energy field is weak or distorted, or overworking. (My right posterior quadrant is challenged). Now imagine the limbs differentiating, lengthening or spiraling to help create space. Visualize the empty space between the solid limbs of the holos. Feel it from above and below as in the very top picture. Try moving it around; up and down, right and left, forward and backward. What does this do to your feeling?

If we combine the holos with a hoberman sphere, we can expand and condense both the empty center space, as well as the nine spiraling lines, in a gyroscope like action. This action really awakens new Unknownpossibilities in the holos. Feel how the centrifugal expansion increase space between the lines as they rotate outward. Feel the spirals rippling through the fluids and tissues as the chakra line stabilizes. Same with condensing centripetal action. For most of us, the heart space (prana vayu) needs more expanding and the belly space (apana) needs more condensing.

The well known sacred geometer extraordinaire, B.K.S. Iyengar, (how many different triangles can you find in this trikonasana?) describes this phenomenon in “Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali”, in his commentary to sutra II-46: “Conative action is the exertion of the organs of action. Cognitive action is the perception of the results of that action. When the two are fused together, the discriminative faculty ofiyengaintrikonasansa_000 the mind acts to guide the organs of action and perception to perform the asans more correctly; the rhythmic flow of energy and awareness is experienced evenly and without interruption, both centripetally and centrifugally throughout the channels of the body. A pure state of joy is felt in the cells and the mind. (For a deeper discussion of this, see  Samyama in Asana.)

The holos field is a fractal, so it can be found all over the body. Imagine it to help to open any place that feels restricted.IMG_8006 Take it into your limbs, head and tail until it finds its place. The center is always stillness and the energies emerge and dissolve again and again, moment to moment, day by day. Take time to help the larger field and the mini fields also, stabilize. Find the patterns in any pose, at any time. Let them settle and stabilize. No hurry, no worries.

Celtic Yoga

imagesOne of the fascinating joys of the awakening process is the discovery of another brilliant and charismatic teacher who captures this amazing moment in unique and deeply insightful ways. I am a bit late to the party with my Irish Catholic brother John O’Donohue, who very unfortunately for those of us still here, passed on in 2008. But, wow, is he is opening the eyes of my soul in unimagined ways with his amazing imagery and use of language. As his brother Pat says in the introduction to “Four Elements: Reflection on Nature, “he wrestled the terms of reference that were used to think about ‘soul’ from the religious institutions. He carried them outdoors to the landscape and let them free among the elements. Here they danced their dream of possibility…”

imgres-3He reminds me a lot of one of my other mentors, Thomas Berry.  Both were Catholic priests and scholars who found tremendous spiritual depth in Creation, the manifest world of earth, water, fire and air. While not formally a monk, John also found deep healing in solitude. The powerful forces of Mother Nature shaping the landscape on the western coast of Ireland were his inspiration, providing an invitation to plunge into the inner world of mystery beyond the seen and the known. Without needing the formality of asana, he knew the body to be a gateway to the soul, that the body is immersed in the soul, and not the other way around.

He lived a life of integral spirituality with vitality and joy. And he was at home with the deep pain of loss and despair and other afflictions of the human psyche and soul. To John, all is sacred, all holy. To lead a good life, all one requires is solitude and friendship; longing and belonging; being deeply engaged with one’s own inner world, and deeply engaged in sharing that journey of self discovery with others. And to recognize that even on the inner journey one takes alone, we can befriend all we encounter. There is no ‘other’.

Here are some of my favorite observations from John.

From Anam Cara: (Irish for ‘soul friend’ or, friend to your soul)

“The Celtic mind was not burdened by dualism. It did not separate what belongs together. The Celtic imagination articulates the inner friendship that embraces Nature, divinity, underworld and human world as one. The dualism that separates the visible from the invisible, time from eternity, the human from the divine, was totally alien to them.”

“Humans are new here. Above us, the galaxies dance out toward infinity. imgresUnder our feet is ancient earth. We are beautifully molded from this clay. Yet the smallest stone is millions of years older than us. In your thoughts, the silent universe seeks echo.”

“If we become addicted to the external, our interiority will haunt us. We will become hungry with a hunger no image, person or deed can still. To be wholesome, we must remain truthful to our vulnerable complexity. In order to keep our balance, we need to hold the interior and exterior, visible and invisible, known and unknown, temporal and eternal, ancient and new, together. No one else can undertake this task for you. You are the one and only threshold of an inner world. This wholesomeness in holiness. To be holy is to be natural, to befriend the worlds that come to balance in you. Behind the facade of image and distraction, each person is an artist in this primal and inescapable sense. Each one of us is doomed and privileged to be an inner artist who carries and shapes a unique world.”

“Human presence is a creative and turbulent sacrament, a visible sign of invisible grace. Nowhere else is there such intimate and frightening access to the mysterium. Friendship is the sweet grace that liberates us to approach, recognize and inhabit this adventure. … Friendship is a creative and subversive force. It claims that intimacy is the secret law of life and the universe. The human journey is a continuous act of transfiguration. If approached in friendship, the unknown, the anonymous, the negative and the threatening gradually yield their secret affinity with us.”

‘Silence is a great friend of the soul; it unveils the riches of solitude. It is very difficult to reach that quality of inner silence. You must make a space for it so that it may begin to work for you. In a certain sense, you do not need the whole armory and vocabulary of therapies, psychologies and spiritual programs. If you have a trust in and an expectation of your own solitude, everything that you need to know will be revealed to you.”

“At the deepest level of the human heart, there is no simple singular self. Deep within, there is a gallery of different selves. Each one of these figures expresses a different part of your nature. Sometimes they will come into contradiction and conflict with other. If you meet these contradictions only on the surface level, this could start an inner feud that could haunt you all the days of your life. They are in a permanent war zone and have never imgres-1managed to go deeper to the hearth of kinship, where the two forces are not enemies, but reveal themselves as different sides of the one belonging.”

From “Four Elements

“How can people be so sensitive to the dignity and independence of landscape?….Landscape has a vast and wonderful presence. … But landscape is not merely extensive; it is full of opaque depths. The depths of landscape reach down into eternities of silence and darkenss. But they are not the hopeless depths of a black inferno, for at their ultimate level they rest upon the imgres-2tender emptiness of the cosmos.”

From “Eternal Echoes

A Blessing

May you listen to your longing to be free,
May the frames of your belonging be large enough
   for the dreams of your soul.
May you arise each day with a voice of blessing
   whispering in your heart that something good is
   going to happen to youMay you find a harmony between your soul and
your life,

May the mansion of your soul never become a haunted place,
May you know the eternal longing which lives at the heart of time
May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within,
May you never place walls between the light and yourself.
May your angel free you from the prisons of guilt, fear, disappointment and despair
May you allow the wild beauty of the invisible world to gather you, mind you, and
   embrace you in belonging.

Differentiating the Lower 2 Chakras

As we conheart-energytinue to rest in stillness, while the universe flows through us, in the on going stream of karma and creativity, we somatic explorers can also use the yoga postures to help with the flossing the chakras, creating a more clear channel for the light. Always cycling through the heart, the energies of the asanas can be very helpful in both differentiating and integrating the various modes of energy associated with each of the seven main chakras, allowing our creativity to unfold and flower at more and more interesting levels.

For most modern humans with a confused upright posture, the bottom two chakras are squashed together with almost no Anterior-Posterior-Bony-Anatomy-Sacroiliac-Jointdifferentiation. We will use our supported bridge pose to begin the process of opening space between them and developing a sense of fluid differentiated movement. Then we will integrate this opening and new sense of space into our play in the rest of the standing poses, and then all the rest of the poses in your repertoire. The water element makes for very juicy yoga!

Structurally, the pelvic bones are the first and most obvious link, as they connect with the femurs to form the hip joints, powerful 1st chakra centers, and also with the sacrum at the sacro-illiac joints to motivate the 2nd chakra. As you can see above, there are numerous nerves, ligaments and muscle fibers here, so this is very dynamic space. There is another hidden link, the elusive joint between the sacrum and the coccyx, much more obvious in animals with a larger tail. For most, the L5 – S1 joint, where the sacrum connects to the lower lumbar,  is hypermobile, leading to excess movement and injury here. If you can ‘stabilze L5 – S1, and mobilize the sacral-coccyx joint, you will have very different spianl experience! Your imaginary tail will make this link more accessible, and this will help open up the center channel with what we will call a bit later ‘lateral space’.

Unknown-3One observation we can make, before we go further, is that chakra 1 represents the element earth and stability, while chakra 2 represents the element water and mobility. As students of asana, sthira sukham asanam comes immediately to mind. If we can find the dynamic balance of stability and mobility through the structures and energy fields of the two lower chakras, we have the perfect foundation for all subsequent movement needs. Eric Franklin’s Pelvic-Power-e1327673631846very helpful book, “Pelvic Power” is full of great imagery, exercises and education. I love the fountain!

A second observation is that one can be very integrated in structure and movement down there and still be emotionally dysfunctional. There is no shortage of highly skilled professional athletes who fit this profile. The element water is also associated with emotions, and the second chakra is also the center of sexual energy, so as we begin to release the bound energy of the second chakra, we need the grounding energy of the first chakra to stabilize us, and the wisdom of the heart chakra to make sure our actions are always expressions of the heart.

IMG_8002Place the block directly under the sacrum. I prefer a wooden block, as the feedback is clear and the block is stable. I find the foam blocks less stable unless you stack them, and then you lose the precision of the narrow edge. However, your body has to be safe and comfortable.

Feet are alive, continuing to ground the energy, even though the primary grounding is now through the block. Gently press the feet forward to create a rebound energy coming back towards your head. Channel it through the center of the pelvis. To do this, the pelvis is neither tucked, nor untucked, but floating in neutral, parallel to the floor. This pose is not about how much height you can create up to the ceiling, but about how accurately the energy flows through the core. The block gives you feed back for exactly where the sacrum is. As you press the feet, feel that action is coming from the pelvic bones reaching toward the knees, right and left evenly. This would be grounding if you were standing. Let the rebound move in the opposite direction through the sacrum so you feel the double action centered right where the hips and sacro-illiacs are located. Allow a space to emerge between the bones, without a sense of ‘stretching’ anything. Just energy flow, ground and space. Feel the diaphragm and heart expanding to receive the pelvic energy. Feel the fountain.

Now begin to grow a tail that extends out past the knees. Try a mammal tail andIMG_8007 oscillate between flexion and extension, forward and back bending actions, just with the tail, but let the fluids of the whole body respond. The other spinal vertebrae may also move in a wave like motion. Let them feel the fluid motion, but try to not help by contracting any muscles. This is the beginning of differentiating the front and back body from the center and opening up the inner ‘volume’ of the body. Inhabiting this inner space is key in the somatic awakening process.

Then take the feet up without losing the tail so there is no ‘gripping in the lumbar sacral area. There will be some engagement of the deeper muscles as they align with the flow. Experiment with slowly moving up and down to involve different regions of the spine as the legs and sacrum adapt to the changing angles, and then land gently without losing the awareness.

Next, try a fish tail with side to side wave motion. Big fish! Let the whole ‘chakra line’ feel fluid, let all the vertebrae have a chance to feel the integrated flow. The fish tail action is the beginning of finding the lateral space that opens up through the second chakra as the two pelvic bones differentiate. That the right and left feet and legs can move independently is obvious. When the two pelvic bones can differentiate, at the pubic bones and at the sacro-illiacs, the second chakra can begin to breathe and the side to side or lateral differentiation and volume awakens.

IMG_8003With one leg extending upward you can explore this new awareness. Let the pelvic bones follow the legs, leaving the sacrum floating above the block. This can help release tension in the deep spinal muscles along the length of the spine. The other leg remains in hip extension and you can begin to sense space in the center plane of the torso with the help of the tail. The legs stay alive as the fluidity supports the expanding of diaphragm, intercostals, mesentery and mediastinum. The pelvic bones and spine are often ‘confused’, meaning they are stuck together perceptually. So as the fish body awakens, the spine becomes more and more free to feel like a fish because the legs, from pelvis to feet, float away. This is more obvious in the next stage.

IMG_8006It all comes down to water, collagen, physics and sacred geometry: Now, with legs and pelvis free of the spine, play in this ‘Continuum’ exploration of the inner world that is opening. The balance of water (compression) and collagen (tension) build the tensegrity field, where every fiber feels connected fluidly and elastically to every other fiber, imgreswhether muscle, bone, organ, cell or fascia. Let the body take on any shape it desires. If the arms want o float upwards, let them go with it. Drop habits and holding and be as free as an anemone. There is a spectrum of of learning and freedom of expression, of course. It builds over time as Hebb’s Axion deepens the integration. When you are ready to carry this into other poses, retain the inner balance of fluidity and stability. Stay  grounded and sing and dance your heart away!