Boston Notes: 2

Microscosmic Orbit, Abdominal Breathing and
Finding Support in the Asanas

(A little more detail than we covered in May, but consider it your homework for October.

Find your root chakra, aka CV-1 or the ‘seat of yin’.
Find your crown chakra, aka GV-20 , the ‘seat of yang’ or ‘hundred convergences’.
illus3
Visualize your ‘Conception Vessel’, Yin in nature, running along the front of the body, from the center of the perineum up to the bottom lip. As we are working with the energy fields, we can visualize this as most of the front circle as shown in the hula hoop below.

Visualize the Governing Vessel, Yang in nature, running from your perineum, up the back body, around the crown chakra and down to the upper lip.

Imagine them linked in a circle like the hoop below, outside the body, except for root and crown. Because we are working with the energy field as well as specific regions of the body, we can use the getPart-3circular image. Imagine a flow of energy following the circle, beginning at CV-1, moving up the front and down the back, linking root and crown. Then reverse, from CV-1 up the back and down the front.

For a greater challenge, try the double action of both at the same time to create the sense of a suspended field of energy. Relax as much as possible and then find the chakra line, aka the ‘Thrusting Vessel’, running as a diameter connecting root and crown from the inside.

Tucking and Untucking

If we take the double action just at the root chakra, or CV-1, we have the dynamic tuck/untuck action that activates and integrates the pelvic floor with legs and core. Try in simple sitting poses at first. Then tadasana. In uttanasana, try this: In going from tadasana into uttanasana, the primary action is untucking the sitting bones as the pelvis flexes/rotates around the femur heads. At the same time let the tucking action be taken at the coccyx to complete the double action. The reverse happens when going from uttanasana back to tadasana. Here the primary action is tucking the sitting bones down, ccpt_12_16extending the pelvis around the femurs. Subtly let the tail bone untuck to complete the double action. Next feel the double action all the way through the crown as well.

So, to reiterate, all backbends fundamentally require strong pelvic extension over the femurs, or strong tucking. Counterbalance by subtly untucking the coccyx. Now, as a beginner, your sitting bones and coccxy may be stuck together and the double action is difficult. Whatever action releases the spine for you in the moment is the correct one. Tucking the coccyx may feel opening. For beginners in forward bends, tight groins and hamstrings limit the ability to untuck the sitting bones. Be careful not to contract the spine trying to untuck. All forward bends require strong untucking of the sitting bones to deepen the flexion, but this has to come from a release of the front spine/psoas. Work with the image/energy of the circles to keep from collapsing or overworking.

For many beginning students, tadasana is a back bend because the groins are short and getting the pelvis parallel to the legs is a challenge. The double action can be learned in tadadana by squeezing a block with the thighs, internally rotating the femurs rolling the block backwards to untuck. Keep the action of the legs while you extend/tuck the pelvis. This action in double action of the pelvic region in tadasana is present in every asana, which is why tasdasana is said to be the root of all the asanas.

IMG_8003In the asymetrica poses, where one hip joint flexes and one extends, the double action gets a bit tricky. In the pose to the left, the left hip is going into flexion requiring an ‘untucking of the sitting bones and a ‘tucking’ of the tail bone. The Right leg is tucking the sitting bones and untucking the tail. If you feel this deeply you ay notice that untucking opens the botton of the groin, below the pubis, and tucking opens the top of the groin, above the pubis. Ideally both top and bottom of the groins stay open to keep the energy freely flowing between torso and legs. Easier said than done!

Opening the Neck and Throat

To work with neck challenges, there is a double action between neck and skull that you can explore. In the diagram below, the base of the skull is near GV-16. When flexing the skull (bowing the head) GV-16 goes up. This will tend to push CV-22 just behind the sternal notch downward. The double action is to lift CV – 22 when flexing the neck. this keeps the throat soft and open. When looking upward and GV-16 is dropping, pull CV-22 downward as well. This keeps the back of the neck from collapsing into an isolated contraction. To help, us your fingers on the scalene muscles on the sides of the throat. Looking down, draw the scalenes up. Looking up, draw the scalenes down.

 

Qi gong Image

 

 

 

 

 

Abdominal Breathing:

In the chart above, notice the three diamonds. These correspond to the three bony cavities of the body; the skull, the rib cage, and the pelvis. Or in Tao’ist practice, three energy fields known as ‘dan tians’. In neuroscience, there are three different nervous systems corresponding to these spaces; the brain, the heart and the gut body, each with its own mode of ‘consciousness.

In general, when the breath flows freely through the lower dan tian or the region from the navel to the pelvic floor, the mind becomes quiet, the emotions settle, and the organism can store energy, like a battery being charged.

Sitting comfortably, imagining the three spaces and the energy field of the body, allow the inhalation to descend down to the pelvic floor. Feel CV-1, the seat of the yin pulling down like the subtle drawing of a bow. Feel the kidneys descending creating space for the lungs to expand. Keep the heart lifting gently, as if CV-12 is lifting as CV-1 drops. Feel the pelvis widening and deepening as well.

As you exhale, feel effortlessly CV-1 lifting and the abdominal wall slowly squeezing to release the breath. Keep your attention remaining down in the lower center during the exhalation so you strengthen your sense of ground and weight. Don’t force the breath, but invite it to expand and condense smoothly and evenly. You can practice smooth steady exhaling by adding an ‘O’ or ‘AH” sound, or blowing into a saxophone or other horn and sustaining an even tone.

The key is to keep you awareness down in to lower center and use the breath to soften and open the organs, tissues and cells. This ‘yin’ breathing is quieting and energizing.

Microcosmic Orbit Meditation.

When the abdominal breathing becomes stronger and easier, you can explore using some of the acupuncture cavities as reference points to focus your attention.

As you inhale and CV-1 descends, draw the energy up the front to CV-6. On the exhalation, let your attention flow back to CV-1. Repeat.

Or, inhale CV-1 to CV-6 to CV-12; exhale to GV-4 to CV-1, completing a small circuit. Repeat.

Or, inhale CV-1 to GV-4 to CV-12: exhale to CV-6 to CV-1. Repeat.

Use the chart to help you remember the cavities. Work your way up to CV 22 and then GV-20, up the front/down the back and then up the back and then down the front, always returning to CV-1.

Complete your practice by allowing the body to digest and integrate, either in simple sitting or savasana.

 

Yin, Yang and Beyond

IMG_0117Notes from Boston and Portland, May 2017

Intention: 1. to keep awakening to the emerging depths of love, compassion and wisdom in ourselves, by aligning with the innate intelligence of the Cosmos; and to use our own unique set of skills to make things a little bit better, as best we can. May all beings be happy; May all beings find inner peace; May all beings be free from suffering.

Intention: 2: to discover the sacred geometrical patterns of cosmic intelligence, in form and flow, within and without, and nurture and integrate them into our daily lives.

Attention: What are the key points in the human energy field that, when discovered and nurtured, allow us to bring healing and harmony to our lives and the world around us? What are the primary rhythms of life and the cosmic intelligence that allow harmony, balance, stability and flow? How can yoga postures and practice use these points and rhythms to deepen our innate sense of stillness (Being) and integration (Becoming)?

Practice 1: Personal Practice
Samyama on these points, energy patterns and the fields they generate when linked in energy flow: Samyama is the simultaneous practice of dharana, dhyana and samadhi as articulated in the the third chapter of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Vibhuti Pada. Dharana: bring your attention to the point, or energy flow between points. Dhyana: Stay there with discipline. When your attention wanders, bring it back (dharana). Samadhi: Remain there effortlessly. Stabilize the field by balancing yin and yang energies. (see below) This will take time. Eventually it gets easier and easier, but eventually distraction or fatigue comes. Begin again. This can be done in any yoga pose.

Practice 2: Practice in the Relational Field
Feel a heart-centered circle or sphere of energy surrounding the people you are interacting with. Bring in light. In a small group, feel the collective field, nurturing and being nurtured by the uniqueness of each and the communion of the whole. Out in public, expand your circle/sphere while sustaining a well defined/flexible self space.

First Seven Points:
images1. Heart Center, at the back of the physical heart.

Unknown2. Center of perineum, known as the seat of the Yin.

3. Crown of skull, known as the seat of the Yang.125739

 

 

images-3

 

4 and 5: The two Kidney 1 or K-1 points located on the soles of the feet.

 

6 and 7: The two Pericardium 8, or P-8 points located in Pericardium 8 Pointa similar place on the palms of the hands.

 

 

 

imagesPolarity, Charge and Transformation:

The fundamental energy pattern in the cosmos involves polarity. For our studies here, we will call the poles yin and yang, or negative and positive, as in the poles of a magnet. In the slide to the right we see the stages of cell division and how creativity demands polarity. In the meta and anaphases, yin and yang, or the north and south poles separate move to opposite ends of the cell. A charge builds and the chromosomes are pulled in opposite directions. This is the ‘field’ of creativity that allows two cells to emerge from one.

imgresThe Taoist yin/yang symbol expresses the relation between the poles. First, they cannot be separated into pure yin and pure yang. The seed of the opposite is always present. Secondly, they listen and respond to each other and the outer demands of the moment. If more yin is required, yang yields: 50-50, can go to 99-1 and on forever in subtlety, and the reverse is also true. When exploring this in the asana and breathing practices, always look to feel to the yielding one. In unknown-1a back bend, this is the forward bending energy and vice versa. In a twist, right and left are yin and yang. In breathing, yin and yang are the expanding and condensing, like the Hoberman sphere action.

 

 

04-waxing-waning-qian-kunExtraordinary Vessels:
In our microcosmic orbit meditation, we discover a similar pattern and field to cell division. The seat of the yin at the pelvic floor and the seat of the yang at the top of the skull act as the two poles. Yin energy grounds and roots us. It stores energy. Yang energy rises and expands. It acts, within the body and out in the world. Yin and yang are always seeking communication, integration and balance. We will use some of the extraordinary vessels to help imagine and trace the energy flow.

There are eight extraordinary vessels in Qi Gong/Chinese medicine that help integrate the flow of Qi in the body. We will use the four in the torso region in this session. The other four include legs and we will pick up in a later post.

The energy line of the front, the Conception vessel is yin. The energy line at the back, the Governing vessel is yang. If we stay in the median line, up the core from root to crown, we have the primary yin vessel know as the thrusting vessel. The forth, the Girdling Vessel we will see below wraps around the body at the pelvic region.

We add points in front and behind the heart center to root and crown to create a circle or oval shape we call the microcosmic orbit, as seen with the hula hoop below, which includes and helps integrate the governing and conception vessels. As the energy generated in the body begins to feel the patterns, the poles support and strengthen each other, building a stronger charge, and the heart center expands naturally. Meditation and asana practice support this when we begin to feel the circular energy flows and use imagination to help guide the flow.

getPart-3IMG_2249When standing we begin to feel the links to the legs through K-1 and the hands at P-8. This is especially true in down dog, where the core Qi circulates out through hands and feet and back again. In your standing pose practice, stabilize the core and add the points on the hands and feet. Wake these points up though samyama.

Coming back to the core, notice that the microcosmic orbit circle divides the body into front and back, but allows movement in the sagittal or front to back plane, where back bending and forward bending actions take place. Experiment with both imagining energy flow up the front/down the back and up the back down the front circular patterns. Notice which feels better, and where in the body is there a response to the flow. You may feel various regions of the body expanding and opening, contracting away, or remaining neutral. Then try both at once, as a yin-yang relationship.

Start standing or sitting, and then explore simple forward and back bending actions such as coming in and out of uttanasana, or going back and forth between up and down dog. Wake up the K-1 points.  As you go forward, down the front leads, so make sure the up the front is present and yielding, not collapsing. On coming into extension, down the back leads, so find the down the front for balance. It takes time and lots of practice to be able to balance the energies this way.

fish bodyWe can also imagine the circle, still centered in the heart and passing through crown and root chakras, only this time in theSBK_17010761-8 coronal plane, dividing the body into front and back, and allowing side bending or fish body action like trikonasana, parsvakonasana or anantasana. Try clockwise and counter clock wise directions, and then both at once in a yin/yang interplay, including hands and feet as well.

The third dimension brings the circle perpendicular to the first to, in what in Qi Gong i called Girdle vesselthe girdling vessel. This circuit in the transverse plane, does not run have a diameter running through the core, but brings stability to the other two circles that do. You can call this the hula hoop or tutu because this is the circle of rotational energy, which provides the stability to the vertical axis. The major region of stability centered in the navel region. It varies slightly from individual to individual, up or down, but is a felt center, known as the hara in Japanese. This is the center of gravity in the body and we might imagine that our original cell, the one from conception sits there. From there, all the other cells, tissues and organs expand out into the full human form. You can imagine two points just outside the body at the navel at the sides, one front and one back to create a circuit. Sustain the balance of flow in twisting poses by feeling the left twisting when leading to the right and vice versa.

Longitude and Latitude Lines of the Body:

We can now begin to relate our personal energy field to that of Mother Earth by seeing the images-6lines, circles and planes of each. The 3 dimensions of the human body can be described the three planes, as mentioned above and seen to the right, as well as with the hula hoop. The sagittal plane divides the body into right and left. Movement in the sagittal plane includes forward and back bending, or sagittal flexion and extension. The coronal plane divides the body into front and back. Movement in this plane is lateral flexion and extension, or ‘fish body’.  The transverse plane slices through the body perpendicular to the other two planes and allows rotational movement or twisting.

images-5On Mother Earth we see these planes as Latitude and Longitude lines (they are actually circles!)  Longitude  circles run through the north and south poles and are all the same length. In the body, the perineum or seat of the yin is the south pole, the crown point, or seat of the yang is the north pole. More than just the sagittal and coronal planes, we now have volume by rotating these around the transverse plane. The transverse plane gives us latitude circles which vary in length; very small near the poles, longest at the equator.

Linking Patterns of Energy Points, Lines and Fields:proxy

To help visualize the links between our own bio-energetic fields and the larger patterns of the Universe we can use the simple image of the gyroscope. First point to notice is the vertical line or central axis, our chakra line of ‘thrusting vessel’. Second is the circle that uses the axis as a diameter, our micro-cosmic orbit. The third gd-0045is the perpendicular circle or disc, our ‘girdling vessel’ or tutu.

The gyroscope balances stability and mobility through rotation of the perpendicular disc around the axis and this basic principle appears on Mother Earth,images-7

our Solar System,

 

 

milky_way

 

and our home galaxy, the Milky Way. (This is actually another spiral galaxy seen for above, as we cannot get ‘outside’ the Milky Way to photograph it.)

 

If we compare these planes and lines to the gyroscope, we can begin to visualize the stabilizing possibilities of the human energy field when we can access the points, lines, circles and spatial volume. Imagination, intuition and direct experience through practice are the keys to awakening your own bio-energetic field and allowing it to align with the cosmic fields of mother earth, the sun and our home base, the Milky Way.

Good luck. Practice well.

(Thanks to Stacy for the hoop photos!)

May all beings be happy.
May all beings find inner peace.
May all beings be free from suffering.

Stable Loving Presence

golden-2096942_640Notes From the workshop at Bija Yoga in San Francisco, April, 2017, and more…

Intention and Attention
2  Forest and Trees
3  Lines and Circles
4  Living in Three Dimensions

Intention and Attention

Intention and attention are the twins that help us remain rooted in the present moment. Of course, we have to begin with the intention to stay awake and present. From there we attend to whatever it is that will help us realize this intention. The interplay between intention and attention will show up anywhere and anytime we find ourselves looking to go deeper into our soul journey. Stable Loving Presence is a term I am using to help organize the focus of our intentional and attentional possibilities as we continue our work to heal ourselves, human culture and our planet.

What is our intention for this class, this moment, this lifetime? Every moment, if we are staying awake, we get to choose our intention. We have no control over what may arise, in our minds or in life, but we do have the capacity to respond to whatever arises from the spacious, open present moment and not from conditioned habit. If we want to be a vehicle of sanity and kindness in an insane world, we need the intention to choose the open spaciousness of love over contracted and unconscious fear as our base for responding to the moment, every moment. If this is our life’s intention, we need to explore just what this means. When fear, or any of its related emotions such as anxiety, anger, shame and others, arises, as they will, over and over, day after day, what determines how we respond? We have to be paying attention to find out!

In general, habit rules our responses. A common reaction to difficulty or unpleasantness is to shut down/contract our heart center as a means of self defense. These challenges can come from the outer world, or from within the depths of our own psyches. We all carry many lifetimes of psychic and emotional wounds and we have ‘learned’ to ‘close down’ to keep from revisiting the old ones, or being wounded again. Unfortunately, as we all learn sooner or later, this strategy does not work in the long run. Closing down perpetuates a sense of separation, and this alienation from wholeness, and aspects of ourselves, is the true source of our suffering. We might call this the major spiritual disease of our times. Somatically, we feel this as contracted restricted energy.

Option two is to embody the negative emotion and get lost in it. We become the anger, anxiety or fear and the fullness of our world collapses. Our strengths and resources for dealing sanely with the moment become forgotten in the unconscious passion. This is happening collectively all over the planet, as people bond with others lost in similar fears and anxieties and act out in violence and stupidity. In both of these choices, we have lost the space of the present moment.

Option three is to stay present, open and alert, holding some level of spaciousness, wisdom and compassion, even as fear, in any of its variations, arises. If necessary, we respond to the demands of the moment, as best possible, with compassion for ourselves and others, and as much wisdom as we can summon, and keep going, moment by moment. This requires a certain level of emotional and spiritual strength, cultivated through practice. A spiritual practice involves stabilizing an awakened loving presence, so just physical exercise or mental training will not be sufficient. And this practice primarily involves paying attention.

When we have as our primary intention in life to cultivate stable loving presence, every moment of our lives offers a chance to practice. We are not limited to the yoga mat or meditation cushion.  And every moment we get to start anew, to be a beginner in life, hopefully recognizing that we are children in this practice, still learning and prone to mistakes. But we have to be paying full attention to what is actually arising. Most of the time we pay just enough attention to get by, but most of our mental energy is engaged in our habitual ‘lost in thought mode’. The more we practice staying fully present, the easier it gets. Of course, the spiritual irony is that stable loving presence is our natural state; we just seem to have forgotten and have become lost in our own delusions of self, in all of its stories.

Through practice, or grace, the awakening from our delusion slowly emerges, but even if a major spiritual shift has not yet taken place, we all have access to the present moment and can practice staying present. “Being steady with mindfulness as an anchor for all the changes we go through is the way we practice forbearance. And you can employ this same method anywhere and anytime: just pay close attention to the detail of what is going on internally and externally. Don’t flinch, don’t run away. Trust what happens. Take your stand there.” sailing-home-side

Forbearance is another word for equanimity, (Yoga Sutras)  samatvam, (Bhagavad Gita) or emotional resilience (Pema Chodron) . Zen priest and poet Norman Fischer, writing in his fascinating book ‘Sailing Home” is describing basic Zen practice, but the mindfulness he discusses is the root of all spiritual practices. In the body, notice that while fear or anxiety contracts the energy, you can slow that process down moment by moment, if you hold presence. The fear dos not go away necessarily, and if there is trauma associated, there will be a lot of work to hold presence, but you can do this. Keep you intention clear and your attention sharp.

Sailing Home‘ is also a book about stories, both personal and collective, and how we can use them wisely, without ever confusing them for absolute Truth. Our spiritual journey parallels that of Odysseus on his great journey. We never know when one of the  many hidden places in our unconscious, triggered by life experience, is going to jump out and create trouble. Emotional stability and resilience is a very important skill to cultivate. I am using the expression ‘stable loving presence’ as it captures the three qualities of ground, heart and openness that are the key for this resilience.

Our somatic explorations in yoga will show how we can embody and nurture stable loving presence, (SLP), through diligent, careful practice. ‘Sthira sukham asanam‘, Patanjali’s description of asana is also a description of stable loving presence. Krishna, in chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita, calls this ‘sthitha prajna’, stable wisdom. SLP requires the brain to surrender to the heart, the entire body to deeply ground into Mother Earth, and hours and years of practice. Patanjali offers abhyasah, as the very first practice in the Yoga Sutras.

I-13  tatra sthitau yatno’bhyasah
Practice leads to stable healthy mind states and stillness.

I-14 sa tu dirgha-kala-nairantarya-satkarasevito drdha-bhumih
Stability of mind requires continuous practice, over a long period of time, without interruption, and with an attitude of devotion and love.

Deeply ingrained habits do not go away overnight, whether in an individual or a society. The neuronal connections can be strongly wired, especially if they have been repeated over and over. Laying down new neural pathways and weakening old ones take time and patience. The intention to sustain devotion and love are required to make sure the new pathways are healthy and not dysfunctional. It is quite easy to react to an unhealthy pattern by creating another unhealthy one. “”I hate myself for having all this judgment,” is a common thought/vrtti. Learning to gently and compassionately see the thought and recognize it for what it is requires discipline and patience. This then leads to the process of letting it go. This is vairagyam, described in sutra I-15. There are many vrttis floating about the mind field that are triggers for suffering. Vairagyam is sustaining a healthy and alert immune system for the mind.

Forest and Trees

We will look at what this means in life, as well as how our asana explorations can deepen the openness of our heart and the stability of our grounding. Remember to balance the view of the forest with the details of the trees in your practice. Obsessing over detail (trees) never allows you to rest in the openness of the present moment. For those of us trained in the Iyengar system, it is easy to get seduced by the endless pursuit of perfection. In the world of form there is always one more adjustment, one more instruction to remember, one more prop, one more nuance to notice. To be stuck here is the sign of a restless mind. In any asana, just choose a few points to awaken, using an energetic pattern to anchor your attention and 04-waxing-waning-qian-kunintegrate the flow, and then step back and ‘be’. If and when you become distracted, repeat the cycle. (For more detail on this way of practicing, see Samyama in Asana pt1) and pt 2.) Notice the incredible richness of the whole forest and the vast unbounded stillness at the core of our being waiting to be seen.

Getting lost in detail is a problem but to never notice the subtle possibilities available in refinement is also a great loss. Asana practice has been trivialized by most of modern culture. It is seen as a fancy exercise to complement your Pilates or spin classes, or some simple practices to get you ready for the ‘real’ yoga. To experience asana as a spiritual practice is to see asana as the whole expression of spirit in matter. How are you embodying wholeness, wisdom, compassion and delight in your organs, cells fluids, structures, moment by moment, 24/7/365? Can you feel a deep resonance in your cells with every form in the cosmos, from stars to starfish, as they embody the same depth of cosmic creativity as you? If so, you are beginning to get a sense of asana.

Practice: Roots and Stability

SBK_17010761-85Sit in any comfortable position, preferably with a slight lift to get your pelvis off the floor. Feel tall without effort. Relax the breathing and feel the heart soft, open and relaxed. Rest here momentarily, softening the facial muscles and sense organs.

Now bring your attention to the bottom of the pelvic bones and feel the contact there. Roll very slightly forward and backward on the bridge or ramus between the pubic bones and sitting bones until you find the balance point where you feel a natural effortless lifting coming up from the base of the pose. Stay here without too much effort. There will be a very subtle natural oscillation as the body uses flow to remain stable. When you feel the ‘grounded’ state of the body, there will be no urge to do anything. The body and mind can rest.

Now let your attention drop into the lower abdomen, (dharana), several inches above the imagesbottom of the pelvis, where the center of gravity of the body is located, and keep your attention here, (dhyana). Feel the breath expanding and condensing from this lower body center. Feel the brain resting and the heart open and floating above your stable base. Sit quietly and allow the body to rest in its center, its own stillness, (samadhi). Feel stable loving presence as a living vibrant state. Practice this every day. Start with 5 minutes, work up to 30 or 40.

 

IMG_7947When ready, transition to standing. Keep your attention in the lower body center with relaxed breathing. Feel tall and light. Notice that now your feet are your roots. Like the pelvic bones, roll slightly forward and backward until you find a place of balance. Although not necessary, slightly bending the knees might make it easier to feel your feet.

Now locate the points noted to the left. In Chinese medicine, these are the first points on the kidney meridian, known as K-1 or the bubbling spring. Here is where the earth element and the water element meet and these points are crucial in elegant and powerful movements of the body.images

Technically, acupuncture points are actually cavities  into which the point of the acupuncture needle is inserted, so this may help you imagine the K-1 as spaces. In athletics, ‘being on your toes’ means ‘be alert and ready to move in any direction’. When the K-1s are awake through both feeling and action, the body is relaxed and alert, stable and open. From the abdomen, breath into these points, charging them with sensitivity and alertness. Connect them to your soft open heart, feel the dynamic presence and you are now embodying stable loving presence.

Activate them further by walking and moving about the room, using the K-1 spaces as the brain of the movements. Change directions by pressing the floor at differing angles and feel how the whole body responds. Then return to tadasana and feel the breath connecting the feet and the entire body. Feel the inner stillness amidst the aliveness. We have the opportunity to cultivate stable loving presence with every step we take. How many of us walk unconsciously through life?

Take this practice into the world. The easiest is to be in nature, where every step can be nurtured by the grace of Mother Earth, if we are paying attention. From your feet, feel the trees, the rocks or mountains, the sand at the beach. Through your soft open heart take in the grace of all that surrounds you. The more time you spend in this state, the easier it is to sustain or rediscover it. (Hebb’s Axiom)

Continuing this practice in the human realm is a bit more challenging, as the collective human energy field is pretty traumatized. Practice with friends. Family members offer many delightful/frustrating/painful challenges to staying in loving presence.

Openness and Boundaries

As we bring our practice into the world, it is very important to understand that loving presence does not preclude the need for and skill in using flexible boundaries. As much as I love being in nature, I keep my distance from rattle snakes and poison oak. Although too much sun or too much cold and dampness is not conducive to good health, and I avoid those states whenever possible, my loving presence doesn’t take these personally. I realize that I can differentiate the needs of this individual organism, me, and act accordingly, without creating a feeling of separateness from wholeness.

The same is true in the realm of human relationships. Ideally, healthy parenting teaches us how to deeply and lovingly bond with another, and also how to clearly differentiate ourselves from all others. Our own authenticity is essential for soul health and a key component to this is learning how to set strong and yet flexible, and even dissolvable boundaries in our relationships.

Strengthening Our Ground.

Moment to moment practice in life helps stabilize our SLP. In asana, we can use the postures to also deepen and strengthen the nervous system’s potential to be strong, stable and open. Come back to tadasana, with the feet awake and the lower abdominal area breathing easily. To release some of the tension held in region of the pelvis and hip joints, to unlock the root chakra, and further ease the breath in the center of gravity, we can explore the effects of the standing poses. Tadasana allows us to feel our legs and feet as an extension of our root chakra and deeply bond with the gravitational field and Mother Earth. We now can discover how the other standing poses can liberate our tail energy and create a tri-furcated muladhara, where the two legs and a long imaginary tail give you three energy vectors to help create stronger grounding and more space and freedom. Click here to read more.

proxyLines and Circles

Hidden in tadasana is the horizontal circle seen here in a gyroscope. We can see the spinal axis or chakra line in the center. In the gyroscope, or any spinning topGM2434B-1, the rotation gives stability to the vertical energy. This  fundamental energetic pattern of the cosmos is seen in the solar system and the Milky Way Galaxy, both spiralic systems with a central axis. The rotation creates an expanding pull known as centrifugal force which tends to expand the circle. A complementary centripetal force gathers energy back to the center to sustain a balance and contain the energy. We can use twisting poses mentioned in the standing pose article referenced above to find this energetic field in our own bodies.

Living in Three Dimensions

If we take asana to the next level, we begin to feel our three dimensional being extends out into the cosmos in all directions, intersecting with layers and levels of reality we may never have noticed. Please click here for more on this.

Stay awake, grounded and openhearted and let life flow through you. Be the vehicle of social and spiritual change by living this, as best you can, moment to moment.

Emaho!