Meditation

Not only a truer knowledge,
but a greater power comes to one
in the quietude and silence of a mind
that, instead of bubbling on the surface,
can go to its own depths and listen.
~ Sri Aurobindo

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Most individuals live on the surface level of consciousness, their grasshopper minds jumping from one subject to another, one desire to another, one distraction to another.  But as the mind becomes concentrate din meditation, one learns to extend his conscious control over successively deeper realms of consciousness. ... 
In transcendental awareness, the meditator experiences that all the seeming limitations, anxieties and fears are due solely to mental constructions, attachments and desires, born out of the idea that consciousness is limited to the mind and body.
[MTBT: Meditation]

They chose ten-day retreats so people go from confusion to clarity to more confusion to working through that - so they can learn that no one state is it, and that the real learning is the balance of the mind behind the changes (not getting excited when we think we have it, not getting frustrated when we think we don't). ... When the mind becomes still, mindfulness observes that there is no watcher, there is only watching.  [MTBT: Vipassana Meditation]

Chaotic Meditation may sound contradictory, but Rajneesh's technique is consistent with the theory that meditation is a surrendering of one's separateness to the wholeness of the universe.  As an individual surrenders more and more of her separateness (ego and attachments) she becomes a clearer channel for the cosmic energy.  The chaos of the technique (breath-of-fire, whirling) facilitates letting go.  [MTBT: Chaotic Meditation]

 

If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
~ Pablo Neruda

 

The purpose of meditation is to awaken in us the sky-like nature of mind, 
and to introduce us to that which we really are, 
our unchanging pure awareness, 
which underlies the whole of life and death. 

In the stillness of meditation, 
we glimpse and return to that deep inner nature 
that we have so long ago lost sight of 
amid the busyness and distraction of our minds… 
We are fragmented into so many different aspects. 
We don’t know who we really are, 
or what aspects of ourselves we should identify or believe in. 
So many contradictory voices, dictates, and feelings fight for control 
over our inner lives that we find ourselves scattered everywhere, in all directions, leaving nobody at home. 

Meditation, then is, bringing the mind home…. 

~ Sogyal Rinpoche 



Meditation is not a matter of trying 
to achieve ecstasy, spiritual bliss or tranquility, 
nor is it attempting to be a better person. 
It is simply the creation of a space 
in which we are able to expose and undo 
our neurotic games, our self-deceptions, 
our hidden fears and hopes. 
~ Chögyam Trungpa 


Meditation opens the window to silence and in this silence we discover love. This love dissolves the anxiety of self-centeredness because the separate self has merged into silence, into love, into the sky of pure awareness. In this awareness, the true Self is liberated from conditions. Rumi tells us that "reality is a rapture that takes you out of form. You are the unconditioned spirit trapped in conditions." 
~ Robert Rabbin 
[[we are not human beings trying to be spiritual; we are spiritual beings trying to be human]]
[[The Law of Levity: I feared what would happen if I stopped believing in myself. then i collapsed and acknowledged that my 'self' was my false self, and that my true self was sad and small - no wonder I'd put so much effort into maintaining my 'self'.  Then the earth quaked again, and there it was: I've been fighting to pretend I was worthy, presuming I was not; now I see my sad 'true self' was my false self, and that my 'false self' was my true self - letting go made me fall not down, but up.
(Before, I presumed that I was irrelevant.  Letting go of my idea of my self does not mean letting go of the self I project, it means letting go of the self I presume - so I let go of my presumption that I am irrelevant.  The self I hold and project is my true self - I truly am grand.)  ???  ]]



When meditation works as it should, 
it will be a natural part of your being. 
There will no longer be anything apart from you to have faith in . . . 
Only in this silence — the silence that lies behind thought — 
can one hear the symphony of the universe, 
can one hear the whisper of the Word, 
can one approach the inner temple wherein dwells the soul. 
~ Ram Dass 


In the beginning, meditative awareness 
 is like a small flame which can be easily extinguished 
 and needs to be protected and nurtured. 
Later, it is more like a huge bonfire, 
 which consumes whatever falls into it… 
Then the more thoughts that arise, 
 the more awareness blazes up, 
 like adding logs to a bonfire. 
Emaho! 
 Everything is food for naked enlightened awareness! 
       ~ Dzogchen Master Jigme Lingpa 


It is as important to cultivate your silence power 
As it is your word power. 
~ William James 

In the attitude of silence, what is elusive and deceptive 
resolves itself into crystal clearness. 
The soul requires inward restfulness to attain its full height. 
~ Mohandas K. Gandhi 

Enter into the stillness 
inside your busy life. 
Become familiar with her ways. 
Grow to love her feel with all your heart 
and you will come to hear her silent music 
and become one with Love’s silent song, 
the song of Songs. 
~ Noel Davis 

We all have within us a center of stillness 
surrounded by silence. 
~ Dag Hammerskjöld 

To the mind that is still, 
The whole universe surrenders. 
~ Chuang Tzu

Krishnamurti's Meditation - Choiceless Awareness:
    Krishnamurti says methods of meditation, although used in order to escape conditioning, simply create another prison of methods to follow and goals to achieve: from techniques, one can only collect more knowledge; no technique can free the mind, because any effort by the mind only weaves another net. 
    He proposes "choiceless awareness", the "experiencing of what is without naming". This state is beyond thought; all thought, he says, belongs to the past, and meditation is always in the present. Then there is only meditation, and not a meditator who is meditating. Where there is attention without reactive thought, reality is.
    This process is like mindfulness training, except that, according to Krishnamurti, the process is not a technique to attain a goal, the process and goal spring spontaneously and simultaneously from the realization of one's predicament:
    When the mind realizes the totality of its own conditioning .... then all its movements come to an end: It is completely still, without any desire, without any compulsion, without any motive.
    Awakening cannot be sought; it comes uninvited.  
    Once awakened, there is no movement within the mind, rather a pure experiencing, "attention without motive".  One is free from desire for power, and loves with compassion.  Living in the eternal present, one ceases collecting impressions or experiences; the past dies for one at each moment.  Thus only the meditative mind is capable of living with clarity and reason.
    [ Is this a nihilistic rejection of engaging in the world, a rationalization for avoiding social and environmental problems?  Is this choiceless awareness what Nietzsche derided as "Tolerance: the incapacity for Yes and No"? ]

Jewish Meditation:
Joshua ben Miriam, otherwise known as Jesus, was a transmitter of Kabbalah.
(source: Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi)
The cosmology of Kabbalah posits a multileveled reality, each level a complete world in itself. ...Each level embodies a state of consciousness, and most people exist at the lowest levels, mineral, vegetable, animal.  In the Kabbalist view, normal man is incomplete, restricted as he is to these lower planes.  He lives a mechanical life, bound by the rhythms of his body and by habitual reactions and perceptions; he blindly seeks pleasure and avoids pain.  While he may have brief glimpses of higher possibilities, he has no desire to raise his level of awareness. Kabbalah seeks to awaken the student to this own limitations and to train him to enter a state of consciousness in which he becomes in tune with a higher awareness.
The Kabbalist must observe the working of the Yesod , his ordinary mind or ego, so as to see through his own foibles and self-delusions and bring into awareness the unconscious forces that shape his thoughts and actions.   To do this, he seeks to reach the level of awareness called Tiferet, a state of clarity that is witness of the Yesod.  ...
The meditator concentrates on each word of regular prayer with full attention, to the point at which the mind transcends the simple meaning of the words, thought expands and ascends to its origin, the words of the prayer become full of a divine influx.
The end of the Kabbalist's path is devekut, when he becomes a Zaddik, or saint.  The ego's will is submerged in the divine will so that one's acts serve God rather than a limited self.  When such a person speaks with someone else, his heart is not with them at all but is still before God.  He need no longer study Torah, for he has become Torah.

 

Christian Meditation:
The Desert Fathers meditated with verbal or silent repetition of a single phrase from the Scriptures, a Christian equivalent of mantra.  The most popular was the prayer of the Publican: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."   In its short form, Kyrie eleison, it was repeated silently throughout the day "until it became as spontaneous and instinctive as breathing".
Hesychius describes thoughts as "enemies who are bodiless and invisible, malicious and clever at arming us, skillful, nimble and practiced in warfare".
On awakening, sit for an hour, "collect your mind from its customary circling and wandering, and quietly lead it into the heart by way of breathing, keeping the prayer Kyrie eleison connected with the breath".

St. Isaac comments that one who has attained a state of effortless, constant prayer 
"has become the abode of the Holy Spirit ... he never ceases to pray, for the Holy Spirit constantly prays in him ... In eating or drinking, sleeping or doing, even in deep sleep his heart sends forth without effort the incense and sighs of prayer."

 

Sufi Meditation:
The main meditation among Sufis is zikr, which means "remembrance".  The zikr par excellence is La ilaha illa'llah: "There is no god but God".  A zikr always accompanies Sufi dancing.  "The dance opens a door in the soul to divine influences," wrote Sultan Walad, Rumi's son. "The dance is good when it arises from remembrance of the Beloved."
The normal state of attention - scattered and random - is the mode of the profane. Remembrance anchors the Sufi's mind on God. 
There is an interplay between effort and grace.  Purificatory acts prepare the Sufi for achieving states that are effortless - gifts from God.
When occupied with self, you are separated from God.  The way to God is but one step; the step out of yourself.
As in the Visuddhimagga and Christ's Sermon on the Mount, the novice's rules dictate: "One should not be concerned about the provisions of livelihood nor should one be occupied in seeking, gathering and storing them"  For the Prophet himself "did not store anything for the morrow".    Coveting food, clothes or shelter hinders the Sufi's purity, for God revealed: "Those hearts which were bound to their desires were screeened from Him".

Ummm ummm ummm - ze truth about meditation 
there are no assholes, only people who need love.
Desire to be devoid of desire / ayn rand's virtue of self
meditation as food; 
concentration ~ relaxation - opposites or mutually enabling?
meditation enables which of the following?:
    perpetual bliss / secret garden / mediate stimulus-response
flat earth: you'll fall off the edge!
i am not breathing, i am breath.

see also:
Butoh
Creation through Chaos


 

meditation encompasses such diverse methods as:

Formal sitting  in which the body is held immobile and the attention controlled. e.g.,  Zazen,  Vipassana

Expressive practices , in which the body is let free and anything can happen. e.g., Siddha Yoga, the Latihan, the chaotic meditation of Rajneesh.

The practice of going about one's daily round of activities mindfully. e.g.,  Mahamudra, Shikan Taza, Gurdjieff's "self-remembering".

All these practices have one thing in common - they all focus on quieting the busy mind. The intention is not to remove stimulation but rather to direct your concentration to one healing element - one sound, one word, one image, or one's breath. When the mind is "filled" with the feeling of calm and peace, it cannot take off on its own and worry, stress out, or get depressed.

According to Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., a pioneer in the field of mind/body medicine, meditation can be broadly defined as any activity that keeps the attention pleasantly anchored in the present moment. When the mind is calm and focused in the present, it is neither reacting to memories from the past nor being preoccupied with plans for the future, two major sources of chronic stress known to impact health. "Meditation," says Dr. Borysenko, "helps to keep us from identifying with the 'movies of the mind."

Next Topic: Types of Meditation - Classification

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.

Soren Kierkegaard

Selected
Prayers

Meditation does not come easily. A Beautiful tree grows slowly. One must wait for the blossom, the ripening of the fruit and the ultimate taste. The blossom of meditation is an expressible peace that permeates the entire being. Its fruit ....is indescribable." Swami Vishnu-Devananda

Meditation is the practice by which there is constant observation of the mind. It means focusing the mind on one point, stilling the mind in order to perceive the Self. By stopping the waves of thought you come to understand your true nature and discover the wisdom and tranquility within. In the same way that focusing the rays of the sun with a magnifying glass makes them hot enough to burn, so focusing the scattered rays of thought makes the mind penetrating and powerful. With the continued practice of meditation, you discover a greater sense of purpose and strength of will and your thinking becomes clearer and more concentrated, after all you do.

 

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zazen

 

One of the simplest ways of meditating, this technique involves nothing more than just being aware of your breathing. But don't be deceived by its simplicity. It is a potent tool for stilling the mind and regenerating the body. And concentrating your awareness on the breath is not as easy as it sounds.

 

 

You need to find yourself a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. You can sit cross-legged on the floor with a small cushion underneath you or you can sit in a chair if you prefer, but your back should be straight.

This straight-back position is a requirement for many meditation techniques since it creates a physical equilibrium which makes calm mental focus possible.

Let your hands rest quietly in your lap.

count your breaths

Close your eyes. Take several long, slow breaths, breathing from your abdomen so it swells out with each in-breath and sinks in again when you breathe out.

 

Now rock your body from side to side and then around in large, gentle circles from your hips to the top of your head. Rock in increasingly smaller circles until you gradually come to rest in the center.

 

Now breathe in and out through your nose quietly without doing anything to your breathing - that is, don't try to breathe deeper or slower or faster, just breathe normally. With each out-breath count silently to yourself. So it goes: in-breath, out-breath `one'...in-breath, out-breath `two'... and so on up to ten, counting only on the out-breath. When you get to ten go back and begin again at one. If you lose count halfway, it doesn't matter. Go back and start the count at one again. Counting isn't the point. It is a way of focusing your mind on your breath.

 

After fifteen minutes - sneak a look at your wristwatch if you must - stop. Sit still for a moment, then open your eyes and slowly begin to go about your everyday activities again.

 

If you are like most people, the first few times you do the exercise you will find you lose count often and you are frequently distracted by thoughts or noises. It makes no difference. It works just as well anyway. Each time some random thought distracts you, simply turn your mind gently back again to counting the breaths. Distractions don't change the effectiveness of the meditation.

 

The exercise, like most techniques, is best done twice a day, morning and evening. A beginner will usually notice positive results by the end of a week but they become increasingly apparent the longer you go on doing it. Some Buddhist monks do this exercise for two or three years before beginning any other form of meditation.

 

 

beyond relaxation

Once you are familiar with the practice of deep relaxation or meditation and with all the benefits it can bring you, you might be interested to go on to investigate other, more complex forms of meditation. There are many, for meditation is not a word that is easy to define. It takes in such different practices. Some forms such as zazen or vispassana (sometimes called insight meditation) demand complete immobility. You sit watching the rise and fall of your abdomen as you breathe, and whenever your mind wanders you gently turn it back to this observation. This simply concentrated attention which can be likened to the `continuum of awareness' in Gestalt theory, is capable of bringing up many repressed feelings and thoughts that have been stifling your full expression and of liberating them. The Siddha Yoga of Muktananda and the chaotic meditation of Rajneesh where the body is let go to move as it will, are examples of this sort. They often involve spontaneous changes in muscle tension and relaxation and in breathing, and they demand a sense of surrender to the physical body for the release of the mental, emotional and bodily tensions. These kinds of meditation can be particularly good for someone with a tendency to be physically rigid.

 

Then there are the visualization meditations such as those used in Tibetan Buddhism in which you focus your mind on a particular image, fine-tuning it to the specific beneficial energies or influences this symbol carries (the creative imagery techniques in the next section are also an example of this kind of meditation). They have been used recently to cure serious illness and also in the sports world to improve athletic performance. Another form of meditation is that of "mindfulness," where you go about your daily activities simply being aware of each thing that you do, as in Gurdjieff's "self-remembering," shikantaza or mahamudra. These are just a few of the possibilities worth investigating if you want to go further. Each has something worthwhile to offer and the mere act of learning a new method and the set of ideas and attitudes that go with it can be an exciting experience as well as tremendously beneficial.

http://www.lesliekenton.com/leslieskg/s/lkstressrelzaz.htm

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Stress & You
Stress Release
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stress release

Somewhere inside you is a center of stillness - a wordless, formless space - the home of your self or your soul. This space - your center - is a place of safety and security. You can move out of it, as you choose, to meet the outside world, form friendships, love and learn. Yet it is a permanent sanctuary to which you can always return when you feel overburdened, tired, confused or in need of new vitality and direction. The key that opens this particular door for most of us is relaxation.

Somewhere inside you is a center of stillness - a wordless, formless space - the home of your self or your soul: There seeds of creativity are sown which later become your ideas and your accomplishments. There in the silence and the darkness you can begin to listen to your own `inner voice'. You can come to know the difference between what you really want, feel and think, and what habits, false notions and other people's values have programmed into you.

By relaxation I mean learning to move at will into a state of deep stillness in which your usual concerns, your habitual thoughts, and the never-ending activity of your daily life are replaced by alert - yet totally passive - awareness. Dipping into such a state even for a few minutes allows many of the physiological changes normally experienced during sleep to take place while your body and mind are revitalized. But it is different from sleep. For, while your body is passive, your mind is highly alert.

 

passive awareness

For some people passive awareness occurs spontaneously - often between sleep and wakefulness. It is during this time that their best ideas come and that they experience a sense of harmony both within themselves and in relation to the rest of the world. Most of us, however, have a fear of letting go, thinking that if we give up control of things we won't be able to think clearly and independently or work well, or that someone is likely to put something over on us. In fact, just the opposite is true. When you are able to enter a state of deep relaxation at will, this frees you from patterns of living and thinking to which you tend to be a slave - although usually an unconscious one. It enables you to think more clearly and simply and to act more directly when action is called for.

 

Another interesting benefit from the daily practice of deep relaxation is a reduction of negative habits such as drug taking - of both prescription and mind-altering drugs - alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking. Research carried out in the United States involving 2,000 students between the ages of nineteen and twenty-three who had practiced a form of meditation for periods of between a few months to a couple of years, showed that their dependence on alcohol, drugs and cigarettes dropped sharply. In the first six months of doing the practice reduced by half the number of smokers. By twenty-one months it was down to one-third. And these changes were entirely spontaneous - at no time was any suggestion made that relaxation or meditation would change any of these habits.

bridge your inner and outer world

Harvard professor and expert in behavioral medicine, Herbert Benson MD, did the first studies into the effects of Transcendental Meditation many years ago. He has since continued to investigate this state of psychophysical relaxation and has shown that each of us has what he calls the `relaxation response' - a natural ability to experience the relaxed state with all its benefits. All we need to tap into it is a method to turn it on. The possibilities are many. They range from meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, zazen, silent repetition of a word and autogenic training to steady aerobic exercise and biofeedback. Each can be useful as a tool for silencing everyday thoughts and for temporarily shutting off habitual ways of seeing the world and doing things. Practice one regularly and you build a powerful and useful bridge between your inner and outer world. All of them are different. Some will work better for you or be more enjoyable than others. That is why it is worthwhile to try a few different techniques until you discover which ones you prefer.

 

We live in an age where discipline is often looked down upon as something which interferes with spontaneity and freedom - something old-fashioned and stifling to life. We tend to rebel against it. But the kind of discipline needed for daily practice of meditation or deep relaxation tends - far from stifling one's ability to be involved in the spontaneous business of life - actually to free it.

 

 

 

Progressive relaxation is a technique based on the work of Edmund Jacobson, this is an excellent way to begin if you have never done any sort of relaxation or meditation technique before, because it gives most people some sense of what relaxation feels like even the first time you try it. As you repeat your technique (it is best done for fifteen minutes at least twice a day), you will find you enter a state of relaxation that is progressively deeper and deeper.

 

 

 

Zazen is one of the simplest ways of meditating, this technique involves nothing more than just being aware of your breathing. But don't be deceived by its simplicity. It is a potent tool for stilling the mind and regenerating the body. And concentrating your awareness on the breath is not as easy as it sounds.

 

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"The lover and the beloved can be in a deep sexual embrace, just relaxing into each other with no hurry to ejaculate, with no hurry to end the affair. They can just relax into each other. And if this relaxation is total, they will both feel more life. They both will enrich each other."

Relax into sex, rather than excite into sex? What a novel idea, but also not so novel. There was also a familiarity to this idea of expanding, rather than contracting, in sex. And the more I read, the more strangely familiar this weird book's perspective felt.

"While making love, you are really making love to Existence itself. The woman is just a door; the man is just a door. Really, it happens that the whole of Existence becomes the other -- your beloved, your lover. One can remain in constant communion with the Existence. And you can do it in other dimensions also. Walking in the morning, you can do it. Looking at the moon you can do it. You can be in a sex act with the whole universe once you know how it happens."

"One who is interested in life and consciousness will automatically become interested in sex because sex is the source of life, of love, of all this is happening in the world of consciousness. So if a seeker is not interested in sex, he is not a seeker at all. He may be a philosopher, but he is not a seeker. And philosophy is, more or less, nonsense -- thinking about things which are of no use."

"If you know only one woman, sooner or later your attraction for that woman will wither away, but your attraction for women will remain.... If a man moves amidst women -- many women -- he will not only be beyond one: he will go beyond the opposite sex. The very knowledge of many women will help him to transcend. And this is right, but dangerous, because it gives you license. That is the problem with Tantra."

"The unreal personality is always against enjoying anything. It is always for sacrificing things, sacrificing yourself for others. But I tell you, unless you can enjoy yourself you cannot help anyone to enjoy. Unless you are overflowing with your own bliss, you are a danger to society, because a person who sacrifices always becomes a sadist."

It was like getting glasses for the first time: suddenly everything that had seemed fuzzy, vague and obscure jumped into sharp focus.

"Positions are irrelevant. The real thing is the attitude -- not the position of the body, but the position of the mind."
"Shaking is just wonderful because when you shake in the sex act the energy starts flowing all over the body. Every cell of the body is involved then. Every cell becomes alive because very cell is a sex cell."
"You can call the Tantra orgasm a valley orgasm. In it you are not coming to the peak of excitement, but to the very deepest valley of relaxation."

"All the religions are against sex, afraid of it, because it is such a great energy. Once you are in it you are no more, and then the current will take you anywhere; that is why the fear."

"Of necessity, every morality creates hypocrisy. Morality gives you the ideal and you are not the ideal. Then you start feeling that you are wrong and that this wrongness is natural. You cannot transform it; that is not so easy. You can only suppress it.... So your reality goes on moving downward into the unconscious and your unreality becomes your conscious. You are divided, and the more you try to pretend, the greater will be the gap."  [[vs jesus is the way]]

"Sex and death... are basic and deeply related. They are so deeply related that even upon entering sex you enter a certain death. The ego has disappeared, time has disappeared, your individuality has disappeared, and you are dying. If you can know that sex is a subtle death, death can become a great sexual orgasm."

"Approach the sex act as if you are approaching the temple of the Divine. That is why [Tantrics] pictured the sex act on their holy temples. Approach the sex act as if it is prayer, as if it is meditation. Feel the holiness of it."

whatsoever is done with your body reaches the mind and whatsoever is done with the mind reaches the body

When an animal gets angry, he gets angry. He has no morality about it, no teaching about it. He simply gets angry and the anger is released. When you get angry, you get angry in a way similar to any animal. But then there is society, morality, etiquette, and thousands of other things. You have to push the anger down. You have to show that you are not angry; you have to smile – a painted smile! You have to create a smile, and you push the anger down. What is happening to the body? The body was ready to fight – either to fight or to fly, to escape from the danger, either to face it or escape from it. The body was ready to do something: anger is just a readiness to do something. The body was going to be violent, aggressive.

If you could be violent and aggressive, then the energy would be released. But you cannot be – it is not convenient, so you push it down. Then what will happen to all those muscles which were ready to be aggressive? They will become crippled. The energy pushes them to be aggressive, and you push them backwards not to be aggressive. There will be a conflict. In your muscles, in your blood, in your body tissues, there will be conflict. They are ready to express something and you are pushing them not to express. You are suppressing them. Then your body becomes crippled.

This happens with every emotion and this goes on day after day for years. Then your body becomes crippled all over. All the nerves become crippled. They are not flowing, they are not liquid, they are not alive. They have become dead, they have become poisoned and they have all become entangled. They are not natural. So when you start meditating, all these poisons will be released. And wherever the body has become stagnant, it will have to melt, it will become liquid again.

Your body has to release many poisons. You have become toxic, and you will have pain because those poisons have settled down. Now I am creating a chaos again. This meditation is to create chaos within you so that you can be rearranged so that a new arrangement becomes possible. You must be destroyed as you are; only then can the new be born. As you are you have gone totally wrong. You have to be destroyed and only then can something new be created. There will be pain, but this pain is worthwhile.

So go on doing the meditation and allow the body to have pain. Allow the body not to resist; allow the body to move into this agony. This agony comes from your past but it will go. If you are ready it will go. And when it goes, then for the first time you will have a body. Right now you have only an imprisonment, a capsule…dead. You are encapsulated; you do not have an agile, alive body. Even animals have more beautiful, more alive bodies than you.

We have done much violence to our bodies. So in this chaotic meditation I am forcing your bodies to be alive again. Many blocks will be broken; many settled things will become unsettled again and many systems will become liquid again. There will be pain, but welcome it. It is a blessing and you will overcome it. Continue! There is no need to think what to do. You simply continue the meditation. I have seen hundreds and hundreds of people passing through the same process. Within a few days the pain is gone. And when the pain is gone, you will have a subtle joy around your body.

You cannot have it right now because the pain is there. You may know it or you may not know it but the pain is there all over your body. You have simply become unconscious about it because it has always been with you. Whatsoever is always there, you become unconscious about. Through meditation you will become conscious and then the mind will say, "Don’t do this; the whole body is aching." Do not listen to the mind. Simply go on doing it.

Within a certain period the pain will be thrown out. And when the pain is thrown out, when your body has again become receptive and there is no block, no poisons around it, you will always have a subtle feeling of joy wrapped around you. Whatsoever you are doing or not doing, you will always feel a subtle vibration of joy around your body.

Osho: The Supreme Doctrine, #5

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, also known as Osho.

http://www.sannyas.net/index.shtml

My mind has [castration/lobotomization] anxiety.

It fears I will cast it out in the same way some religions vilify sexuality.

The mind has value, like the major muscles have value, but they shouldn't exceed their jurisdiction.

World is Satan. Mind is Satan. Busy busy to distract. Busy busy just to be active, even if it's just noise. Why do people and stores and signs attract my attention when I bike-ride?

Problem-solving
Systems-thinking - recognizing problems as symptoms. We still trying to solve problems, but now we are working on the holistic problem. Problems cannot be solved by working on pieces of the whole.

Accept the flow? Is that the solution?

When I let my mind run, it produces thoughts of value, like this critique of mind.

Is it meditation if I am clearing the mind in order to create a more productive mental workspace?

Do man-made creations create disorder?
Is ego evil?
Is mind Satan?

'Oh! I need to figure this out before the Vipassana course or else I'll be confused and troubled so unable to progress!' 'No, mind, relax your fearful need to control, to know.'


("breathing in, I'm healing myself, breathing out, I'm clear of cancer")

The movement segment began with sitting in or chairs and doing deep breathing exercises. I gradually picked up to where we were supporting our faces with our hands and keeping our hands in touch with our bodies. At a certain point, I felt the desire to do a modified form Zen prostrations as an expression of gratitude. I continued moving about on the floor for quite a while, returning to the prostrated position quite frequently. Then the movement picked up all over the room and my energy began to accelerate. Mostly, I was dancing alone, but there were quite wonderful encounters with other dancers, and soon, most of the group was dancing together. I spontaneously moved into the third stage of the "chaotic meditation" that I learned at the Ashram from Rajneesh. This is the stage where "With raised arms, jump up and down shouting the mantra HOO!...HOO!...HOO! as deeply as possible, coming from the bottom of your belly."

 

Janov would claim that religion and the belief in a God are defenses, and that spiritual experiences employ the energy of repressed material, as in sublimation, or are reaction formations to such pain. Specifically, Janov has stated that meditation is "anti-Primal."

Basically, I differ with Janov in that I believe that primal and meditation are congruent techniques beneath their surface differences. I believe that this is evident in the similarity of the phenomena experienced in each and in the similarity of effects each has on the personality. Their congruence is further indicated by the fact that transpersonal phenomena do seem to occur to advanced primalers, contrary to Janov's claims. Though experiences of both primalers and LSD subjects seem to indicate that much of what is generally considered transpersonal phenomena is derivative of traumatic life experiences, particularly those occurring at birth or in the womb, there is much of transpersonal experience that cannot be explained away in that manner.

The alternative explanation I am presenting rests on the idea that the purpose of the spiritual disciplines is, as Castaneda has termed it, to stop the "internal dialogue." This corresponds on primal therapy to the attempts to get "below" the rationalizations, intellectualizations, and defenses that are laid down in the cortex, to the real body feelings underneath. It would seem that both methods are engaged in an attempt to delve into and experience aspects of consciousness that are nonverbal, nonsymbolic, noncortical, and nonneurotic.3

Neurosis has often been defined as a narrowing of consciousness. One way of viewing this is that it entails being cut off from large areas of awareness and experience that are tied up with painful memories and feelings. In this light it is interesting to consider a statement by Paramahansa Yogananda, who was discussing his experience of returning to a physical body in his reincarnation on earth. he writes, "Like a prodigal child, I had run away from my macrocosmic home and imprisoned myself in a narrow microcosm" (1946, p. 168).

One way of viewing the human condition, then, is as a "neurotic" state in that it entails a narrowing of consciousness. We see neurosis in the pathological sense as simply a more extreme narrowing of consciousness than what is accepted as normal.

In this way we can see the function of the spiritual disciplines, which is to increase the capacity of the individual to accept the "larger reality," as parallel to the purpose of primal therapy, which is to increase the capacity of the person to accept walled-off portions of her or his personal reality. As they apparently deal with different "levels" of reality, one might suspect that there would be differences in technique. But, conversely, I propose that primal and spiritual techniques are complementary, despite their surface differences, with either being helpful depending on the material to be worked through. Further and more specifically, i propose that primal can aid the spiritual process by clearing out negative material from the personal unconsciousness that would otherwise distort and impede that process, whereas spiritual techniques sometimes can be helpful in extending the arena of growth beyond the borders of strictly primal (or personal) reality.

 

http://www.primalspirit.com/primal_perspective_spirituality.htm

 

4. I was surprised to discover, after originally proposing this relation between catharsis and meditation, that Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh had already made the same kind of formulation coming at it from a different direction. It is described in his book, Meditation: The Art of Ecstasy (1976). See especially the chapter on "Chaotic Meditation."

 

In these descriptions of emotional discharge/release we can see similarities to what is described as occurring in primal therapy. But the descriptions of spontaneous and automatic movement are especially interesting. In many respects they recall the experiences that primalers with access to their "first-line" pain (preverbal, usually surrounding birth) frequently encounter. In fact, it is exactly this kind of relation (between the physical and emotional experiences reported by Kapleau, Kornfield, and others and "perinatal" e experiences occurring outside of the spiritual disciplines) that is noted by Bache (1981). The bliss and equanimity described in the spiritual literature are thus associated most strongly with the advanced states of meditation and should not be confused with the experiences entailed in the process of getting there.

The point is that there is more to meditation than mere relaxation. Although evidently, as Rowan (1983) put it recently, "Most of what passes for meditation has nothing much to do with mystical experiences at all -- it is just the achievement of a very calm state" (p.21). Still, as he continues, "it is possible to get small or large peak experiences through meditation" (p.21). Thus, it appears that the techniques of relaxation have to do with attempting to still the vagaries of pain-derived tension, the internal dialogue, so as to gain access to areas of consciousness that are "outside" and more fundamental than these vagaries. And contact with those areas may not be so relaxing!

This technique is in some ways exactly opposite to primal ones. Primal involves the "tossing out" of all the vagaries - the manifesting in a verbal or physical way of the tensions existing in the body at the moment. But the results of each appear the same. Characteristically, following a primal one finds oneself sinking into a serene and markedly relaxed state. It appears that spiritual techniques differ from primal in attempting to reach that state directly by conscious control over the body/mind. Once that state is reached, it allows further abatement of physiological processes and, hence, access to even subtler realms of consciousness.

A primaler also can be viewed as open to subtler energies after having reached a "cleared out" relaxed state via primaling, and could conceivably use a technique like meditation to increase that access. Primal then becomes a method of dealing with the grosser manifestations of psychobiological energy that keep the body in a tense and overdetermined state. Once these energies are dealt with and released, it becomes possible to employ a "mindfulness" type of meditation to deal with subtler energies, to connect with and dissipate those subtler energies, and thereby to gain access to subtler energies still.

Another way to look at the relation between catharsis and calmness, and the benefits that one can have for the other, is suggested by Heider (1974). He points out in his article, "Catharsis in Human Potential Encounter," that "as a rule the person actually going through catharsis reports no feelings of fear even at times when he appeared most fearful: it is as if there is a detached observer who knows that the process is natural and even necessary" (p.37). Indeed, one can let go into extreme emotional states time and time again and remain always aware of the "detached observer" part of oneself. A major benefit of catharsis is that as this continually happens one becomes increasingly conscious of a part that is unaffected by the turmoil -- the part that is there, observing at the onset of agitation, that "sits quietly by" watching in the midst of catharsis, and that is there to silently aid one through "re-entry" and into the calm state afterward.

Thus, catharsis makes us distinctly aware, through contrast, of a strong, silent, unaffected self within; it makes us aware of an "unchanging" that contrasts with all the violent changingness. In so doing it helps us to be more in contact with that self and its subtler pushes, pulls, and impulses -- its subtler pattern. We become increasingly aware of a more fundamental self that is unmoved by all the chaos of consciousness. To that extent, it corresponds to those phases of meditation that entail the encounter with disruptive material with the admonition not to get caught up in them, to refuse them energy by believing in them. Indeed this attitude can be the result of catharsis. We can release the explosive energy born of "attachment," in the Buddhist sense, and hence gain insight into the illusion of "maya," the fleeting changingness, and gain rootedness in a more inviolable self.

 Michael D. Adzema

 

 

 

Rajneesh's 'chaotic meditation" is probably the most potent-and dangerous for the naïve participants. Where he has them jump and move up and down screaming for hours at a time and then brings them to an immediate standstill in silence.

HANG LOOSE!
By Ashvina Vakil

Inhibition the crippling inability to let go, to hang loose without any thought to societal disapproval.
Almost all of us suffer from an involuntary freeze frame when it comes to dropping our everyday mask to allow underlying emotion to express itself. Rigid conditioning controls our lives and only the very brave dare to scoff at established patterns of behavior.
We seethe, we simmer, we stew helplessly but very rarely do we give in to the urge to rave and rant and generally make an exhibition of ourselves.
Our stresses get more deeply ingrained as a result, and suddenly life in a chaotic city or odious office becomes unbearable. Meditate, say the new age practitioners and other semi-enlightened souls. Sit silently and look inside. Witness. If you’re open to suggestion you might darken the room, sit in a lotus position and try to blank out all thoughts from your mind. It’s not easy. In fact it’s downright impossible. Little snatches of conversation will float in and out, unholy thoughts persist, distractions abound. All the hidden traumas rear their ugly heads. the transition from overactive mind to no-mind proves to be an absolutely arduous task.
In mid-June, a worldwide phenomenon was initiated whereby more than 200 Osho centers across the globe assisted people in the practice of Dynamic Meditation, the most effective cathartic meditation introduced by Osho. The 21-day meditation is ideally suited to modern man, burdened with the tensions of a fast life, conditioning, repressions and violence which cannot be released by merely sitting silently.
Silence is only a small part of the hour-long, 5-stage Dynamic. The first three stages are quite riotous, a total shedding of inhibitions as participants undergo ten minutes of chaotic breathing, followed by ten minutes of total let-go, during which they can laugh, scream, cry, jump or do whatever comes to mind. This is the real catharsis — an ejection of all repressions.
The third stage involves jumping with raised arms, loudly shouting the Sufi mantra ‘Hoo!’
The expiration caused by the exclamation creates a vacuum above the sex center, causing energy to flow upwards. When done with utmost totality, no energy is left static within so that the mind has no more energy left to create disturbing thoughts or dreams.
And then the fourth stage happens — meditators are required to freeze in whatever position they find themselves. The sudden stop throws a person to the inner center — he becomes an observer, a witness of his body and mind.
The final stage is a celebration — a harmonious blend of music and dance; an acceptance of grace. "You feel a wonderful weightlessness, as if you’re flying,” exclaims Swami Prem Atul, an avowed Dynamic practitioner. "Dynamic Meditation sets the stage for silent meditation.”
Dynamic meditation helps clean at all levels, ridding the self of pent-up emotions, tensions and conflicts, after which silent meditation happens. The technique causes no harm to self or others and is increasingly being used all over the world to solve stress situations. It was even introduced in the Tihar Jail in 1993!
Interestingly, effective though it may be as a form of group therapy, it is this very aspect of Dynamic that might inhibit first-time practitioners. To shout, scream or laugh insanely in a group might prove difficult to most. However while Dynamic can be practiced in solitude, the combined energy of a group of people is said to be beneficial to the process.
The Osho Commune has long tried to lead people into meditation— and they certainly know how to attune themselves to the times. It is becoming increasingly evident that a worldwide awakening is happening and more and more people are turning inwards to ‘seek answers’ or a better understanding of themselves. The accumulation of a lifetime’s baggage can weigh heavy on anyone, unnecessary obstacles that are better done away with. A catharsis may be a new beginning.

Courtesy: Society, Bombay India, July 1996

‘Chaotic Meditation’ is now called Dynamic Meditation

 

http://www.chionline.com/qigong/ground.htm

Grounding Exercise

Stand in relaxed position with the feet placed directly under your hips, knees slightly bent, ankles relaxed and the armpits open. Press the tip of the tongue against the soft palate of the mouth. This connects the energy circuit of the governing (back) channel with the energy circuit of the functional (front) channel. Breathe by pulling the diaphragm down toward navel as you inhale. Imagine a weight hanging between your legs, attached to your coccyx by a cord. As the weight pulls your coccyx toward the floor, allow your sacrum to relax and sink down and forward with it. Relax the ankles. Relax the knees. Relax the waist. Imagine there is a cord attached to the top of the head that is gently lifting your head, allowing it to float above your shoulders. Fix your gaze on the horizon to infinity.

After fulfilling the above requirements, imagine that everything inside your body is comprised of nothing but thick water molecules and that the skin is made of rubber. Feel the water molecules pressing against the skin as gravity begins to pull the water molecules down through the body, toward the floor. As the water molecules are pulled lower and lower, you can feel the arms and chest begin to swell. The fingers feel as though they are swelling to an enormous size.

As gravity pulls the water molecules even lower, the thighs become thick and heavy. The molecules flow deeper into your legs and feet until your feet feel as though they are going to burst out of your shoes. Feel the feet spread. Feel the toes spread. Your body now feels like a pyramid, heavy at the floor and light at the top.

Continue to breathe deep into the lower abdomen. Allow your attention to move to your feet and notice where the primary weight is located. It should be in the middle of each foot. If it's not, adjust the position of your pelvis until it is. An imaginary plumb line should travel through the crown point of your head, to a point just behind your ear, through your shoulder, hip, perineum and ankle. Don't forget to be aware of the imaginary weight pulling down at your coccyx and the cord pull upward on your head. Relax the waist and allow the coccyx to sink down and forward.

Once you have accomplished the feeling of being grounded well into the earth or floor, imagine that the floor is pushing up against your feet, trying to up-root you. This is one of the most important aspects of the exercise. The more relaxed and grounded you become, the harder the floor pushes up against your feet. Use your imagination to keep the floor from pushing you upward. Hold the floor down. Do not allow the floor to push you up. Your feet will now feel as though they are glued to the floor.

After about 10 minutes, your feet will feel energized and your hands will become warm. Stand in this position for 10 to 30 minutes. Be sure to keep the knees bent.

 

http://healing.about.com/cs/grounding/a/bodyground.htm

Body Grounding Exercise

From Phylameana lila Desy,
Your Guide to Holistic Healing.

Balancing the physical with the spiritual

Grounding exercises help tremendously with maintaining a balance of our physical and spiritual bodies. As a healer, I have learned that being energetically grounded allows me to be better equipped in facilitating healing for clients and also to create and maintain wellness in my own life.

I have been using a body scan technique for many years to help balance the body/spirit connection. I do this exercise each night while laying in my bed before I sleep.

Note: Bedtime works fine for people who don't fall asleep easily, but for those who tend to fall asleep quickly upon hitting the pillow, sitting upright in a chair is probably best. Basically this exercise is a body scan which can be helpful in becoming more fully aware of how your body feels.

Aside from the body scan helping to bring the body/spirit connection to balance it is also an excellent tool in identifying physical stresses and upsets.

Pain can be so overwhelming in one part of the body that the rest of the body gets neglected. The body scan is an exercise in assembling the larger hurts alongside the minutest details of stresses that you may have overlooked within your body.

Be prepared to be amazed at the discoveries that you will make about your body during this process.

For example: A headache may get temporary or permanent relief by altering the focus down to the feet, although this depends on the severity of the hurt you are experiencing in your head.

Besides getting better grounded by doing the following body scan exercise, another benefit is that sometimes painful hurts are often miraculously lifted from us while the body scan is being done in order to help bring our awareness to the less obvious.

Grounding Exercise: Body Scan

Bring your thoughts from busy mental chatter downward by focusing on your feet. Don't rush this process. Take your time moving from each part of your body. Also, you don't need to touch yourself, just allow your mind to switch focus from wherever it is. Begin with your feet and move upwards.

Notice the soles of your feet, your toes, in-between your toes, the top of your feet, the back of your ankle.

Do they feel hot? or cold? Do they hurt? Are they numb? Do you feel your blood circulating through them? Are they feeling tired?

Don't judge how they feel - just notice how they feel. Wiggle your toes. How does that feel?

Once you have made a strong connection with your feet you may then move your attention upwards to your ankle... then to your lower legs, onto your knee caps, behind your knees, your thighs, and so on.

Keep reminding yourself not to rush.

Allow yourself to breathe throughout the scanning process, especially as you come to any areas of discomfort (stressed muscles, soreness, etc.) or at any spot that feels like there may be an energy block.

Once you have moved through your torso and up to your neck, drop back down to your fingertips, move your attention to the hands, up your arms and shoulders, returning one again to your neck before finishing up with your face and scalp.

 

Chakra 1 - Root Chakra

I am your Guide From Phylameana lila Desy,
Your Guide to Holistic Healing.

Chakra One - Exploring the Major Chakras

The Base or Root Chakra is associated with the color red. This chakra is the grounding force that allows us to connect to the earth energies and empower our beings. Focusing one's attention on the color of a cherry popsicle or a juicy red apple can help bring our energetic body "down to earth" and in alignment with our physical body when we find ourselves energetically fleeting or in other words....."spacing off."

Chakra One - Associations
bullet 
bulletColor - red
bulletPhysical Location - base of the spine
bulletPurposes - kinesthetic feelings, movement
bulletSpiritual Lesson - material world lessons
bulletPhysical Dysfunctions- lower back pain, sciatica, varicose veins, rectal tumors, depression, immune related disorders
bulletMental and Emotional Issues - survival, self esteem, social order, security, family
bulletInformation Stored Inside Root Chakra - familial beliefs, superstitions, loyalty, instincts, physical pleasure or pain, touch
bulletArea of Body Governed- spinal column, kidneys, legs, feet, rectum, immune system

Gemstones and Flower Essences

Gemstones and Flower Essences that stimulate, cleanse and energize the root chakra
bulletGemstones - Hematite, Black Tourmaline, Onyx
bulletFlower Essences - Corn, Clematis, Rosemary


Learning About Chakras
Root Chakra
Sacral Chakra
Solar Plexus Chakra
Heart Chakra
Throat Chakra
Brow (Third-Eye) Chakra
Crown Chakra


Bibliography:
Anatomy of the Spirit
Flower Essence Repertory
Hands of Light
Love is in the Earth

 

GROUNDING
MEDITATION

HEAL THE PLANET
MEDITATION

Release your fears and ground yourself to the earth by listening to this meditation.  This meditation is 7 minutes long and can be downloaded by clicking the heart on a string. Get in touch with your spirit and allow yourself to be led through this guided meditation.  This meditation last 6 minutes and 30 seconds and can be downloaded by clicking the image above.

 

Ritual Grounding

The Earth is a ball of molten iron and rock covered with a thin film of crust. The crust of the earth is proportionally thinner than the skin of an apple. The continental plates that we view as ponderous are less stable than the skin in a pot of scalding milk.

The Sky is a roaring ocean of astral (star) forces. The earth in its dance with the moon is hurtling and spinning through the solar winds.

Before we can do any magic we must open ourselves up to these energies. We must make ourselves the bridge between earth and sky. When we are successful the energy flows through us in both directions and we may draw it off to direct it in the ritual. This process of building a bridge is called Grounding and centering.

Grounding is the mental process of connecting with the Earth, it is usually accomplished through a short meditation. Centering is finding your center of spiritual as well as physical balance. When you are centered the things you encounter are less likely to throw you off balance.

The grounding meditation at the beginging of the ritual should accomplish three things:
1). it should establish a vertical axes within the participants;
2). it should open channels to energy flow both up and down; and
3). it should stabilize those energy flows leaving the individual and the group on a higher plateau.

These are some methods of grounding and centering.

A simple grounding meditation to guide the group into a similar mind set. Any brief meditation that brings a sense of stillness will do. Such as:

"Let us stop a moment and find our centers,
Feel the strength of the earth that supports us
Feel the freedom of the air that surrounds us
Make yourself the tree that connects them
Rooted in the earth, branches reaching for the sky
Wiggle your toes into the dirt
Dig down into the cool ground
Comb your fingers through the wind
Reach for the sun
You are a sacred part of the cycle of life."
This is a simple poem that sets the proper tone for a ritual.

 

To this place of quiet beauty
We have come from busy things
Pausing for a while and waiting
for the thought that quiet brings
(From the Binghamton NY, UU Children's Service.)
This is a physical meditation for finding your center that I learned at a Neopagan dance workshop.

 

Rock back and forth from your left foot to your right foot until you are sure that your weight is evenly distributed. Then rock forward and backward from heel to toe until your weight is evenly distributed from front to back.
Think of a plumb bob dropped through the center of your body, dropped all the way to the center of the earth. The other end of the plumb bob reaches straight up to the sky and your body is aligned perfectly with the string stretched between Earth and Sky.
This simple repetitive chant was taught to me by my student NightSwan. It can be sung as a round with the low voices doing the down part and the high voices doing the up part, or simply recited slowly as it is.

 

Sink down, sink down, sink deeper, sink deep.
Reach up, reach up, reach higher, reach high.
Some people use grounding like the grounding wire on electrical appliances that drain off excess energy, or like a well to draw energy from.

Grounding can be like a foundation to build a sturdy house, or it can be the grounding of a tree with its roots in the earth and its branches in the sky. Starhawk's tree meditation is very good for grounding and learning to draw up energy.

The tree is a very dynamic image for the movement of energy. The roots burrow down into the earth searching for water and minerals which they send up to the leaves. the leaves bend toward the light of the sun and spread themselves out to catch the light. Which they photosynthesize and send down to the roots, and on and on. A tree is constantly working burrowing into the earth and stretching for the sun it bends and wriggles and pulses with energy. The damp earth holds our roots in safety as we reach for the sun's heat and whisper to the wind.

The tree meditation reminds me or a passage in "Wyrd Sisters" by Terry Pratchett where Magrat calls upon the vital energy of spring to make dead wood grow.

 

"It wasn't a promising place. The old planks had been down here in the darkness all these years, away from the clock of the seasons...On the other hand... Granny had said that somehow all trees were one tree, or something like that.... And it was springtime up there. The ghost of life that still lived in the wood must know that. or if it had forgotten, it must be told. She put her palms flat on the door again and shut her eyes, tried to think her way out through the stone, out of the castle, and into the air, into the sunlight...And then, without warning, the hammer that can drive a marshmallow-soft toadstool through six inches of solid pavement or an eel across a thousand miles of hostile ocean to a particular pond in an upland field, struck up through her and into the door.

"The door gave a warning creak. Several of its planks twisted in vegetable agony and there was a shower of rock splinters when nails were expelled like thorns from a wound, ricocheting off the stone work.

"The lower parts of the planks extended questing white roots, which slithered across the damp stone to the nearest crack and began to auger in. Knotholes bulged, burst and thrust out branches which hit the stones of the doorway and tumbled them aside. And all the time there was a low groan., the sound of the cells of the wood trying to contain the surge of raw life pounding through them."

© 1998 Sheherazahde, Braided Wheel Tradition
For more information contact: sheherazahde@yahoo.com
Braided Wheel Tradition

 

Grounding

(The following unpublished material comes from a group of “inner teachers”, channeled by Ellen Meredith, author of Listening In: Dialogues with the Wiser Self.Calling themselves “the Council”, these teachers invite us to consider and define our spiritual practice in very personal terms. They are non-denominational in their affinities, and generally work to promote a grounded, balanced approach to spirituality through everyday activity and creative expression. For a definition of the “three selves” - Wiser Self, Talking Self, Earth Elemental Self - click here .)

 

“The other evening a young woman physicist asked us: "Is there something weird going on in the world right now?" She had just spent a summer finishing up a scientific dissertation, while in her spare time exploring, with great fear and exhilaration, questions of spirituality, mysticism, and feminism. What had shocked her was that she kept experiencing amazing coincidences, kept meeting other scientists who confessed to such "secret" interests, and she felt that something was stirring that she couldn't quite name.

 

“Something is stirring. It is a quickening of consciousness, not only in our physicist’s personal life, but on a planetary level. It is causing seismic activity in the mental, spiritual, emotional, political and even physical realms. It is a wave of awakening, like the contractions of a womb giving birth.

 

“This moving, shifting context is one which you will be inhabiting for quite some time to come.

 

“How do you find grounding in such a world? Our physicist friend will not be able to find all her truth and grounding in her science. It is changing too rapidly, and she is impelled to question assumptions which others take as fact. And she won't be able to ground her whole being in a church or religion either. Churches may offer great solace and support at times, but they too are shifting and struggling to respond to the energetic changes radiating through your world.

 

“She, like you, needs to learn to ground herself in her elemental self. In the earth, in the energy of the sun, in the resonance of spirit which forms her. This, while shaking with the times, is the ground-note of her being and will keep her steady as she tries to create a meaningful life.

 

Grounding in the elemental self

 

“Your body is a transformer of energy. You bring in magnetic energy from the earth, and you bring in electrical energy from the cosmos, and your body mixes and uses these two energies, generally within the areas of the solar plexus and heart. The lower part of the body is the entryway for a lot of the magnetic energy. That is what you might consider to be "earth grounding" energy. And the top of your head and back of the neck is the usual doorway for the electrical or "sky grounding" energy.

 

“In you earth and sky meet and mingle. It is your nature to blend these two as fuel for your life here on the planet.

 

“You are undoubtedly familiar with electrical grounding energy and its properties, through your experience with sunshine. It is a warming, expansive kind of energy, which can make you feel open, contented, and encompassed or held. On the other hand, too much electrical energy coming in can make you feel lightheaded, disoriented, burned out ("fried"), or jumpy and irritable. Too much (or not enough) sky energy may make you crave sugar.

 

“Earth energy is also something we are sure you know well. It is heavy and solid. It is slow, stately and reassuring. If you lie on the ground for a while, feeling the solidity of earth, the support of the ground beneath you, the heaviness of being a physical creature, that is magnetic energy. Too much of it can make you feel confused, lazy, logy, or sleepy. Too much (or not enough) earth energy may announce itself through cravings for salt.

 

Balancing earth and sky energy

“The art of grounding is the art of learning to balance earth and sky energy within your body.

 

“When you find yourself feeling great turmoil, confusion, disconnection, stop what you are doing and take stock of what is happening to your energy.

 

“If you have been doing a lot of mental work, for example, and are feeling unsettled, then it makes sense to re-ground yourself in the earth. Go for a walk, or hold a rock over your solar plexus (or wherever you feel a need for it). Play with your cat or dog, allowing her elemental energy to bring you back to solid ground.

 

“If on the other hand, you have been busy with physical work, or sick and overly focussed in your body, then bringing in some sky energy can help. Listen to music, sit in the sunshine, let your thoughts take off and soar into the realms of imagination for a time.

 

“Each time you wish to undertake some spiritual exploration, it is important to ground yourself -- by which we mean make sure your electrical and magnetic energies are well balanced and mixed within you. Otherwise, you may find yourself mentally or physically knocked off balance. Meditators who do not take time to activate the flow of magnetic energy in their bodies will find their bodies signaling this fact with aches, pains, and over time, injury. Physical laborers, dancers, or healers who do not take time to cleanse and unify their sky energy, will find themselves unable to concentrate and more vulnerable to accidents.

 

What needs attention?

“The basic rule of thumb in grounding is to recognize how you are ungrounded. If you have been doing a lot of mental work (which is the most common cause of ungroundedness in your culture), then to do a grounding where you imagine the sun coming down, or where you open your chakras from the top does not make a lot of sense, because you are just bringing in more of the energy that is already unbalancing you. It is better in this case to do a grounding where you imagine that you are a plant sending roots down into the earth, or where you sit with something really earthy and let it ground you for a while.

 

“When you have just spent hours playing with children, taking care of household tasks, doing "earthy" things, that is the time to sit and call in cosmic energy for a time, allowing yourself to be bathed in sunlight, letting yourself feel the pull of the moon, imagining that there are tendrils reaching out from you in all directions, connecting you with the stars and songs of the universe.

 

“And if you have both earth and sky energy jangling around in you, but not mixing well, then get yourself into water, because water is a great conductor of energy and will help you to create a better mix. You can even put stones in your bath tub if you would like, either crystals or earth stones, to help accentuate the energy you feel you need. When your body is tensed from unexpressed emotions, and your mind is flying all over the map trying to find resolution, a water grounding is especially helpful: take a bath, cry, slowly drink a large glass of water, run until you work up a sweat, shower, water your garden, imagine yourself being dipped in a well and washed clean of your troubles.

 

“It is important to pay attention to what you are aiming for when you work with energy!

 

“If you have been zinging from too much electrical energy, don't get into a bathtub full of quartz crystals, because they are going to zing you out further. Put earth stones in your bathtub to help ground you. So many of you, and we mean this especially about those of you in the New Age culture who are trying to open up to new/old spiritual practices, pick up all kinds of techniques from various traditions, without really understanding thoroughly what they are good for, and what context best supports them. And so we see a lot of people trying to do groundings that don't really ground them.

 

Invent your own methods

“We encourage you to invent your own methods of grounding. There are some among you who just love to iron: what a lovely grounding that can be! The weight and metal of the iron bring in magnetic energy, the electrical current and heat bring in sky. And the symbolic effects of clearing out wrinkles help your mind to unfurl as well. But if you do not like to iron, then find other simple household tasks that mix energies. Sweeping is a good activity to bring in earth energy and move your air energy (spinning mind) into a more consoling rhythm. Scrubbing pots and pans is good grounding to release too much mental energy, the metal and water combining to bring in more earth.

 

“You can work with the four elements (fire, air, earth, water) to ground yourself and find balance. If you are too hot and feeling logy, bringing in air (turn on a fan) and water (drink some) will help to balance you. This is just common sense. If you are at your desk and feeling low energy, lighting a candle and gazing at it for a while can re-vitalize your energy. Do you see why many spiritual rituals begin with a bath or cleansing (water), the sweeping of the floor and arrangement of furniture (earth), the lighting of candles (fire) and music or the lighting of incense (air)?

 

“Integrate grounding rituals into your life, asking yourself if you need more sky or earth, and taking a few minutes to provide it. This is especially important for those of you who work at desks or computers all day. Take frequent breaks to bring in more earth -- stretch your muscles, walk, admire a potted plant, discuss practical details or sports with someone, bring your attention to your lower body, firmly planted on the chair, and let its weight and solidity filter into your awareness more fully, pulling you down out of your head.

 

“We encourage you to be creative and intuitive in your groundings and in your balancing. Even if you have a job where you must practice decorum, you can have toys on your desk. You can have little steel balls that you roll around like worry beads, you can keep some decorative blocks that you move around and stack, you can get yourself a Rubrik cube puzzle -- there are many things you can find that will offer you a temporary outlet for your energy and will ground you.

 

Some other ideas for grounding:

 

“Start keeping a list of activities you do that can ground and balance you. If you feel your life is out of balance, you can get yourself one of those balance scales and play with it for a time. Go back to being a three year old. They play and explore in a way that regularly balances their earth and sky energies.

 

“If you are interested in art, you can gather elements from nature, perhaps stone and plant matter and other objects that appeal to you, and create mosaics, sculptures, mobiles. In the process of arranging the elements you are aligning your intuitive forces in a way that very effectively grounds you.

 

“Stack poker chips into a high tower, then knock them over. Hit a tennis ball for ten minutes. Shake out dusty rugs and beat them. Rearrange your cupboards. Engage in a physical way with your environment, and let this activity bring you back into balance energetically, emotionally, symbolically.

“It can save you a lot of money in therapy bills to address your energy needs repeatedly throughout your day! Many of your problems are a result of energy that has built up in you and is seeking release in unhealthy ways. The more you bring play into your life, the more you bring in activities which allow you to recognize your energy and work with it, both literally and symbolically, the more securely you will feel grounded in this life, no matter what turmoil is happening "out there" in the world.”

Listening In: Dialogues with the Wiser Self, by Ellen Meredith, can be ordered through bookstores, by calling 1 (800) 442-6304(Beyond Words Bookstore),

 

http://www.healinghandsoflight.homestead.com/Grounding_Exercise.html

 

 

http://www.kundalini-teacher.com/meditations/grounding.html

 

Grounding Visualization:
   opening to universal energy.

Sit comfortably, cross legged or in a chair in a balanced position, hands apart, feet flat on the floor. Take a few deep breaths, relax your body, focus your attention.

You are sitting somewhere warm and comfortable, out of doors on a sunny day. It is high noon, and the sun is directly overhead.
   Visualize a sunbeam coming straight down from waaaay up above, shining directly on the top of your head.
   Relax into this imagining till you can feel the sunbeam warming the top of your head,
   physically or in your imagination.

Imagination is power!

When you have the warmth, imagine that the top of your head is a flower.

The crown chakra is called the thousand petaled lotus.

It is classically visualized as infinite petaled lotus that is eternally opening and opening.

You can imagine any kind of flower.

The flower opens to the warmth

and draws the sunlight down it's stem,

into your head,

sparkling, tingling,

into the third eye and throat,

flowing down inside you to fill a reservoir space in your torso,
  an oval going from your pelvis to your collarbone.

Filling with light.

Make it as bright as you can imagine.

When the space is filled
  with bright sparkling radiant light,
  brilliant as the sunrise reflecting off the ocean,
   bright like an arc welders torch

we notice the inner container has a hole in the bottom,
  and a stream of light leaks from the bottom of the reservoir,

down through your feet, down

down

down

down

down

like a laser beam drilling

down

Waaaaay down

All the way down

to the very center of the Earth.

which looks like a brilliant, fiery crystal. Gaia's heart, Her Kundalini.

When the beam hits the centre,

it seems to spark some kind of explosion down there

it sparks a volcano of light from the firey crystal

A volcano that comes rushing

up

up

    up

up through the earth

roaring back up

like "Old Faithful",

back into your feet

(feel them start to tingle?)

exploding the reservoir of light in your center

into star bright radiance, glowing, growing

Brighter, larger

into an oval bigger than you.

shooting out the top of your head

like an umbrella shaped fountain,

sun drops rolling down to describe the oval

that is the perimeter of your aura, two feet above your head

and three feet below your feet

making it an eggshell

complete and sealed against all harm.

A force field bubble defining your personal boundary.

Some of the light keeps going up

keeps going back up

waaaay up

up to where it came from

up there.

The Light above responds with more light, like soft warm rain on your shoulders.

Your center, fed and charged

by the light flowing through you down and up

up and down

increases in brilliance

bigger and brighter

to fill the whole oval of your aura completely.

Feel yourself

as an egg of light

on a thread of light

with the Earth and the Sun connecting to each other through your body.

Energy flowing both ways.

Fire rises, water flows down.

through you

and around you.

When you can hold this mental image clearly,
  (as bright and clear as you can make it)
  make an internal request for it to stay that way.

Snap your fingers,

"Circuit is Locked in".

Your unconscious will now maintain the light circuit,
  while you do other things.

You are now grounded.

How do you feel?

Do you notice:
the complete absence of negative, limiting, or fearful thoughts?
  the relaxation and sense of well being?
  the tingling of the soles of the feet and fingertips, like they have had a massage?
  the sensation of lightness of being?
  The sense of being fully present in the Now?
These are the signs of being grounded into Universal Source.

If you try to find an emotion that describes the feeling of this energy,
   you will discover that the only word that fits is

Love.

absolute, unconditional love and acceptance.

The shock of this realization sometimes completely un-grounds very insecure people.

Are your feet still tingling?

If this idea makes your feet stop tingling, you need to take a few minutes to slide on past the feelings of being unworthy, you know Source loves you... unconditionally.

Limitlessly.

Regardless of how you feel about you.

If you have become ungrounded,
  Go back to the top and start over again.
  Take your time, focus on your breathing in the light..
  Go ahead! It is very worth doing. You are worth it!

Think of how good that feels... love is supposed to feel good, right?

Think of how good it feels to be in love,
  and imagine what it is like to feel that good all of the time,

but

without needing to be fixated on another person as the source of the feeling?

Enlightenment is constantly feeling madly in love with everything and everyone in All of Creation.

 

chaos - ego/satan is tossing all nay's at me; whole body tension/depression; ego wants to be healer/leader but fears it cannot so resists pulls back to 'safety' of not trying;
affirmations - negative or positive.
notice it, let it be.
when the class is over, i will have gone through chaos, in faith, and discovered that yes, indeed, God already has sent someone to clear the path.

Why meditate?

Is it to learn relaxation? Simplest method is to put your legs up, turn on the soothing music and sip a glass of fine wine or your favourite combo. If you want a scientific method of relaxation, I'd go for a portable low cost biofeedback device for heart rate, blood pressure or Galvanic skin response. And practice progressive muscle relaxation. All simple and effective. If you have a Yoga teacher ask for Yoga Nidra, even better.

But is it's meditation you're after that's a different proposition. Meditation is not a quick fix. It's about risking and allowing life, the full bodied enormity of it - magnificent and unfathomable. It's about inviting balance into our life, mind and body. It is to be grounded and to be the best that we can be. A best friend to ourselves - open minded and open hearted in the world. It is to meet life as it is without telling ourselves a story or running our lines on it; without suppressing or indulging parts of ourselves, remaining composed and steady temperred when facing our fear and its twin temptress, our hope. And you will enjoy life, food, the washing up and a good haircut even more.

Why meditate every day? So that we meet whatever is there, not just meditating on the days when we feel good about ourselves and our world.

What's the benefit? A sense of calm spaciousness and good humour. Short term - balance, grounding, openness, a clear mind for problem solving. Long term - more bounce back from tough times - increased resilience. Greater flexibility in developing alternatives after serious loss and injury, during major illness and in life transitions. A rich store of gut level understanding about how other people face life's challenges and therefore more choices in navigating our own life. Calm when all the world has gone mad - a wise warrior. And you get to meet more synchronicities and serendipities - these are not funny little green people.

How do I start sitting meditation?

Start where you are. Happy, relaxed, tense or excited. Faced with the tough stuff, rather than pull away in fear and loathing or by hardening your heart, lean into those tender places. It might initially feel more yucky to relax into discomfort compared to an habitual - 'close it down!' and shut up shop for the day. But if you let it be, the brain will find a way to let it move on.

Give yourself about 20 minutes in a place and at a time where you are likely to be free of interruptions. In a seat or if cross legged on the floor, on a cushion or cushions with your bottom raised sufficiently for the knees to be a bit below the level of the hip bone; torso comfortably upright, chest softly open rather than tight or sunken; palms open, facing down resting on the thighs; eyes gently closed; tongue soft, ears soft, all facial muscles soft; and then, gently aware of the breath, the in and out breath either in the chest, throat, nostril or as it passes the upper lip. Just noticing. When the mind wanders, kindly, softly as if speaking to a child happily absorbed in play, name the process as 'thinking' and gently bring awareness back to the out breath.

Comment: in this mindfullness awareness practice called anapana in the Vipassana method, breath is the object of meditation. The outbreath is the nearest thing to the natural state of mind - relaxed and open. The in breath is energising. the heart beat increases with in breath, decreases with out breath. Breath is an object of meditation to return to, to bring the mind back home. In other method the object might be a candle flame or a mantra.

The instruction in a phrase is kindly 'open the mind and relax'. This practice is traditionally taught with the seven points of mind training known as the Lojong teachings. Here are some chapters on line by the Lojong teacher, Chogyam Trungpa.

Does it work?

Yes - in being open minded and open hearted in the world. The means and the ends are not separate. However, 'horses for courses' - the method has to fit the practitioner reasonably well after a fair trial of say, six months. Why does it work? Because it is straightforward - without gimmicks or gods. It is just sitting kindly in 'I am'. You might try walking meditation with the same intention.

What gets in the way of it working?

Ego.

'Ego is able to convert anything to its own use, even spirituality'. Ego can make meditation soft and cozy or stick to a good place in the practice. Ego is like the occupant of a room who's made the place just right, but stuff keeps coming through the cracks, disturbing ego's little comfort zone. So ego works to keep the stuff out and ego in. Trouble is life is full of stuff and it yanks ego out into the real world. The more ego resists the more stuff persists. Ego is like the kid who built and decorated a magnificent sand castle at the spot where the sand is just wet from the last high tide, and then goes crazy when the tide starts to come in again. Ego is the passenger on its ship's maiden voyage. Even the vessel knows it sinks at the end of the journey and ego drowns, but ego refuses to believe it, and spends the time in frantic efforts wrestling immortality from eternity, completely missing the wonder of the voyage.

Workshop Meditation

Come to our next Gourmet Yoga Meditation retreat or call me to organise one-to-one training and ongoing support for your practice. The basic intructions take about 10 minutes to convey with questions and answers. It's that simple. There is more information in the following articles on this site and on other sites. But remember, at the outset more information can be clutter and something else to depend on. The basic practice is befriending your life, mind and body. Later, when you have become somewhat aware of all that is your life, mind and body, the following will be useful. This information may allow your practice to grow and to encompass the poignant enormity of life. 'Even the best (most experienced) meditators have old wounds to heal' - Jack Kornfeld

On this site:

Embodied Meditation - being bodies and opening to the poignant enormity of life

Saraswati meditation - being one's own best friend sitting in the full catastrophe of life

Tonglen Meditation - a powerful method of applied compassion to deal with the previous two challenges

Yoga Nidra - a method of deep relaxation to recover from the previous three

The Resolve in Yoga Nidra - a gentle way of addressing core beliefs and setting life goals

Antar Mouna - a thorough method using thoughts as the focus of attention in meditation practice instead of breath alone

Forgiving - sometimes you have to let go before you can move on

Yoga Vedanta Psychology - 5000 years ago the Vedas had the logic of it all

Psychology of language - one of the reason we get in a mess, communicating and perceiving in our preferred sensory modalities

Psychology of Tantra - the Yoga Awakening of Feminine Energy and Intuition

 

On other sites:

A Carmelite view of prayer - astonishinlgy ecumenical - 'prayer is basically "the breathing of the soul"'.

Walking meditation - description and stages of the practice.

Chi Kung - meditation.

Vipassana - meditation.

"pray without ceasing" - St. Paul (1 Thess 5:17).
http://www.carmelite.com/saints/other/j_12.htm

Many erroneous or confused ideas about prayer concerning "prayer and life," for example, or "action and contemplation" arise when theology tries to go beyond its own limits into the field of anthropology and explain everything by its own principles. Although the expression "anthropology of prayer" may sound profound, the reality is quite simple: that we are composed of body and soul, but united in one substance. This simple, commonsense fact will help us with the real issues of prayer, because the most sublime realities often lie veiled in the simplicity of ordinary life.

 

We humans are composed of body and spirit, and the two elements form one being. Physically we do not differ from the other animals. Yet even though we are comparatively weak and puny in physical terms, we are endowed with a spirit that lifts us above everything in the universe. As Pascal put it, the human person is the mysterious "thinking reed"(23) Body and spirit: to place these in opposition is to assent to the Platonic concept of the body as imprisoning the mind or spirit on earth. The mystery of human nature consists not only in our intellectual superiority or in the infinite vastness and depth of our heart. We possess a noble soul that leads us to soar to shores beyond our present existence, making us ask such questions as "What is eternity?" or "Does God exist?" On the one hand, we sometimes feel joy and sometimes sadness over trivial matters. At times we writhe in anguish and are even tempted by the thought of suicide.

What is the "mystery of human existence"? From what does the "inexplicable," the "riddle of life," arise? A Japanese poem says:

From cradle to grave,

from beginning to end

the life of human beings

is nothing but an enigma.

The answer is simple: leaving aside complicated explanations, we can say that the paradox of human existence comes from the inexplicable metaphysical fact that the two opposing poles (antipodes) of body and spirit form in us a single being.

This synthesis of two contraries characterizes all human activity, including prayer we might even say, particularly prayer. Indeed, if we look at such activities as eating and sleeping, the paradox doesn't arise, since these involve only the simplest physical activities, opening our mouths or lying down. On the other hand, cultural, scientific, or artistic activities are the fruit of our intelligence, that is, manifestations of the spirit.

Prayer, however, cannot be reduced simply and easily to one or the other of these categories. According to our previously considered definitions, if prayer is "conversing with God," "a lifting up of the heart to God," an "intimate conversation between persons who love each other," then prayer could be considered a purely spiritual activity. But then the anonymous Russian pilgrim's "practice of continual prayer" constantly repeating the Sacred Name would lose its sense.

"To expect nothing, to understand nothing, merely to sit," says Dôgen.  ... Some of the learned priests of his day would ask the illiterate faithful, "Do you make the invocations because you trust in the mystery of Amida's vow to save humankind, or because you rely on the invocations themselves?" On hearing of this, Shinran, in the Tan-i-Sho, reproached the scholarly priests for placing the spiritual (the belief in the doctrine of Buddha's vow) and the material (the mere oral repetition of the name) in opposition. In his thought the two are complementary and inseparable: the mystery of Amida's vow gives power to the invocation and the invocation applies the power to our lives. The root of the relationship is, again, the unity of body and soul in the human person.

[We decry 'empty ritual', but just do it, and then you'll believe.]

We ought to be able to ask St. Paul in person what exactly he meant by saying "pray constantly"! Surely he was not recommending that we repeat the Jesus Prayer 12,000 times a day, or advocating the idea that "living daily life becomes a prayer." Nor do I think that he meant only for us to interweave short prayers into pauses between activities. In this connection Louis Evely continues: "If you must talk, wait a second and consult the Holy Spirit; be like someone receiving a visit or listening; without your knowing it, grace will be your guide. When you are questioned, swallow your reply and wait a second to hear what you should say; it is particularly when you talk that you must know how to listen. If you are going to see someone, pause for a moment so that you can take Another with you."

... To quote Evely further: "Christianity leaves the famous and false distinction between action and contemplation far behind: it is participation; its prayer is love in action and its action is inspired by love."(30) Here is a dazzlingly beautiful theory of prayer, but unfortunately not a very realistic one. It is a great error to dilute the issue of prayer versus activity by the ideological prescription that the essence of Christianity is love. The celebrated Carlyle also insisted vehemently that "essentially, all true labor is prayer". Joseph Pieper, in his well-known book Leisure, the Basis of Culture,(32) severely denounces the theory that labor itself is prayer. ...

How are we to reconcile these two apparently opposite interpretations of prayer?  We can no longer accept the simplistic idea that "prayer as one's whole life" is for contemplative religious orders and "one's whole life as prayer" is for the active orders.

Whatever its definition or form, whether it be "raising of the heart to God," an "intimate conversation with God," or "remaining silent before God," the common feature of all kinds of prayer should be its essential nature, which is the ceaseless deepening of our oneness with God. The definition of prayer as "the breath of the soul" expresses this well: whether awake or asleep, prayer (like breathing) continues without ceasing. The anonymous Russian pilgrim applied this definition literally, and tried to harmonize his prayer with his physical breathing. ...

In an everyday context, the prayers before and after meals, morning and night prayers, and even the entire range of daily expressions we use, such as "Thank you," "Pardon me," "Good morning," "Good day," "Goodbye," and so forth, become beautiful words charged with prayer.

 

... Even today there are so-called Zen Christians who practice zen while reciting the name of Christ in place of the name of Amida. ... To those who strive to retain the integrity of their own spirituality, these crossbreeds may appear very strange or even disagreeable. Yet this shows that the form of prayer is relative to the person's individual spirituality.  What is essential and universal is the common element of "total concentration in prayer."

Deviations in Prayer

We must not forget that prayer practices are subject to various "maladies."

First there is the approach that assumes that more is always better (melius abundare quam deficere), increasing the number of prayers from 100 to 1,000, then from 1,000 to 10,000, or in prolonging the time of prayer from one hour to two, from two to ten hours and from ten to twenty hours until finally the goal becomes a whole day of prayer. Such unusually severe asceticism, in which will power and physical endurance are emphasized, is conspicuous in the history of Buddhism. In these practices austerity and the pleasure of achievement are pursued intently as ends in themselves. This can lead to an idolization of asceticism for its own sake and the creation of a class of religious elite. It is easy to succumb to the illusion that such discipline automatically confirms one in holines. No sooner do we detect our error than we tend toward the opposite extreme of abandoning all ascetical forms and embracing secularism. In the bargain a subtle "reverse snobbery" arises out of the pretext of wanting not to appear holy. ...

In prayer there is the danger of falling into one of two opposite extremes: religious formalism empty of all content subtly infiltrates all religions and all spiritualities; this leads to the opposite extreme, rejecting the value of all religious exercises.

Those fall into this sad situation who do not know how to combine the external forms with sincerity of heart.  But this danger is avoided when the prayer pours out from a prayerful heart, or when we believe that the "form shapes the heart" so that we humbly and fervently pursue prayer and ascetical practices.

St. Paul's "praying without ceasing" is universal and unchangeable, but the form that prayer takes is relative and individual.

The choice of form will differ according to one's religion, personality, and spirituality, but any chosen form should become one with the body like an apple's skin with its pulp. Thus, as long as form depends on the body, a long apprenticeship will normally be necessary. This is the asceticism of prayer. Further, we must have faith or confidence in the form, be convinced that we can attain genuine prayer by means of the form chosen: "Not to become attached to the form, but to believe in it". ...

Lack of confidence in the form will render it powerless to mold the heart, but nor is it enough to trust in the form, thinking that little by little one will automatically achieve a new heart. One must abandon all self-seeking. Only then will the method become truly effective.

To submerge ourselves in the form without being able to emerge from it - without reaching the "life" to which the form should bring us - would be a pure formalism. But on the other hand, how can we exit the form without having first entered into it? It is a vain pretension to defend "all life as a prayer" (Seikatsu = Inori), prayer without any form, if that means leaving without first entering.

An Existential Understanding of Prayer

Nevertheless, the theory that "everyday life itself is prayer" contains an important truth different from that of the exaggerated emphasis on form, which is that prayer must be considered not only in its psychological or ontological levels, but also on the existential.

To say that prayer is the raising of the heart and mind to God, or that it is an intimate loving communication with God, is explaining prayer in psychological terms, just as to call prayer the mystical experience of union with God or "transforming union with God" is to identify it ontologically. Both ways of understanding prayer are correct, but they fail to arrive at the true core of Christian prayer. In fact, if we were to substitute "Buddha" for "God," the Christian prayer thus defined would not be substantially different from Buddhist prayer. True Christian prayer is not limited to the psychological and ontological dimensions, but should do something: it must include the desire to accomplish God's will and an unremitting effort to do this, a kind of "spirituality of action". We read in Matthew's Gospel: "Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven" (Mt 7:21); and again, in John, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work" (Jn 4:34); and a mystic wrote in the Middle Ages: "Those who will be in the kingdom with Christ will not be those who do great acts or the great contemplatives, but those who have been crucified with him."

 

The Christian who prays does not seek like the Buddhist solely to leave behind the "impure world" that Buddhism calls edo, in order to become immersed in a perfume of heavenly incense. Since Christ is the Light of the world, the Christian must, in turn, become light in the world, a flame capable of purifying the world by fighting evil. "I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled" (Lk 12:49). "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth: I have not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Mt 10:34). The same Christ has us say again in the prayer he himself gave us: "Your will be done, on earth as in heaven" (Mt 6:10). ...

It is this "spirituality of action" (seeking to do God's will) that provides the basis for the idea that "everyday life itself is prayer" (Seikatsu = Inori) and that we might call the "existential" dimension of prayer. The words of St. Paul aptly summarize this existential dimension of prayer, rooted in an onto-psychological unity: "Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God. ... If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord" (Rom 14:6, 8). To reach the point that all life becomes uninterrupted prayer is undoubtedly the apex of Christian prayer. However, life teaches us that the difference between the ideal and illusion is often very subtle. If to arrive at this ideal we content ourselves with "merely living," we will miss the point of those who say we must "pray without ceasing." If, as Dôgen says, nembutsu can become the vain croaking of frogs in a rice paddy, the same could be said of the Jesus Prayer practiced by the Russian pilgrim; the practice of zazen could simply transform us into plants or, better, something as senseless and inanimate as a cloud.

Prayer Like Water

The image of prayer as water, mentioned previously, will help us understand. As we noted before, the moisture found in air and food is not enough to maintain physical life. Unless we also drink a sufficient quantity of water, we will perish. The same is true of prayer, the respiration of the soul: it is not enough simply to breathe in God as we breathe in the humidity in the air, or to live off the love animating our daily activities like the water found in food. We also need special time set aside for prayer.

The necessity of special "time for prayer" stems from the corporality of prayer. If prayer were something purely spiritual, and if "unceasing prayer" simply consisted of an attitude of openness to God in order to discern God's will in each moment of the day, then we would not need special time for prayer. It would be sufficient to practice this attitude daily until it became habitual. However, Christ's practice of occasionally retiring to the mountain to pray (e.g., Mt 14:23) shows us differently. Let us not fall into the superficial explanation that, although Christ was God and did not need to take a break for prayer, he did so in order to set us an example!  No, Christ retired to pray in solitude because his own human nature required it.

The necessity of setting aside "special time" for prayer is sometimes explained as the need to pray with more fervor or to spend time in more intense union with God. ... If our intense moments of prayer refer to that perfect situation in which the absence of distractions leaves the heart tranquil and the mind is not bothered with fatigue, then when, if ever, can we be said to be praying? Or again, aren't we praying more intensely when we do so in such existential circumstances as when faced with death, catastrophe, life's various difficulties, or in a state of panic?

No, the reason for "times of prayer" has to do not only with our spiritual but our physical nature. The need for this time of prayer is based on the fact that the life of the soul is essentially conditioned by our physical life, which is divided by three meals and one or two periods of sleep within a 24-hour day. Just as the human body cannot amass a year's quantity of nutrition or a month's sleep, so is it impossible to accumulate prayer.

To visit the temple each New Year's, as is customary in Japan, to practice zazen when in the mood, or to pray during leisure moments may not be so bad, after all. To turn to God in distress is better than not appealing to God at all. Even if we remember God but once in a lifetime, this would be precious time; but such prayer is not an integral part of one's life and will never become the strong impetus capable of transforming life from its very roots. Indeed, for a prayer life to grow in which prayer is truly the source of God's strength in us, the body itself must "become prayer." This is "human" prayer. We each need to consider how much time we ought to devote to attaining this goal: whether we need several hours a day, a few days a month, or a time of prolonged prayer, such as a retreat. The decision will be made according to our individual circumstances, our age, temperament, health, and degree of initiation into prayer. For members of contemplative or active religious orders, the traditions, customs, and specific vocation of the order must be taken into account. Those living in community will find it necessary to make time for both common and personal prayer.

Returning to our tripartite analogy, we should note that, just as with the first approach to prayer, (i.e., "prayer is all life"), this third approach runs the risk of a certain formalism, making the special "time of prayer" into another idol. There is less danger, however, of falling into the excessive "activism" to which the second approach (i.e., "everyday life itself is prayer") is vulnerable, because of the insistence on "prayer time."

Contrary to the first approach, in which the persistent and prolonged repetition of one simple formula (e.g., the name of Jesus, the rosary, zazen, nembutsu) usually has efficacious results, the third approach can fill up the "prayer time" with a great variety of forms Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office), Benediction, the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, and so forth, without experiencing spiritual or psychological fatigue, until one attains a certain feeling of fulfillment. But the superabundance of different prayer forms can begin to weaken our dedication to purity of heart and surrender to the Lord; the many forms can drown spiritual vitality. Without doubt, many traditional forms of devotion, especially within the Catholic Church, and many complicated liturgical rubrics (now simplified, to be sure) have become for some an obstacle to deeper and more dynamic prayer. Contemporary movements seek to discover the dynamism of the Holy Spirit in the profound simplicity of Zen meditation or in the unrestrained prayer of the charismatic movement. What is important for contemporary Christians is not so much to argue over whether or not these new forms of prayer are acceptable, but to become aware of the problems that afflict prayer today and to remedy them.

There is a great difference between adapting something and adopting it. The essential nature of Christian prayer and its constitutive elements are constant, and should not be changed. Adaptation means that something foreign is taken in and transformed by assimilation. Thus, to adapt Asian spirituality, and the prayer methods that have arisen from it, means to assimilate these without losing the true essence of the Christian faith. The same holds true when Buddhism and other Asian spiritualities adapt Christianity. The day that both meet on the top of the mountain (rather than at the base), then from humanity's religious spirit will arise the most beautiful symphony of praise.

The Artificial Lake

Torrents often gush down the mountain slope, raging and foaming as they descend. In order to use these torrents to make an artificial lake, a dam must be built to block the flow. The water then becomes calm and deep until such time as its power is released to be converted into electricity. This visible water transformed into invisible energy builds up and becomes capable of penetrating every corner and recess of life.
... If we desire the Holy Spirit to continue maintaining the current in our heart, the lake of our soul must be kept deep and abundant. ... This water will not become a lake unless it is held back. It is the same with the water of prayer, Buddhist or Christian; it must be interrupted by a dam. In other words prayer must "interrupt" the flow of everyday life.

Obviously it is a precious thing to pray well and to have the desire for it. Here again, however, true prayer must know how to rid itself of the ambition to "pray well," since prayer is, before all else, a gratuitous gift from our Father in heaven; he does not need our strength, only our gratitude. It is especially important to learn to die, that is, to open our eyes to the depths of our own nothingness; to recognize ourselves as ephemeral creatures before God who is eternal and without limitation; even in spontaneous prayer, learning to die to self so as to live "to God"; then the feeling of "having" to pray and the ambition to pray "well" disappear. It is at this moment that one truly prays!

The Bamboo Joints

Bamboo joints give us an even better image of the "prayer that cuts" (i.e., that interrupts the course of life) than does the artificial lake. With the arrival of the month of May, the delicately green bamboos thrust themselves straight up into the clear blue sky. In the space of a few months, the plant grows several meters, and no matter how violent the hurricanes that assail it, the bamboo never breaks. Its entire strength is in its joints, the many joints that divide it into short horizontal sections.

The part of the bamboo that stretches upward symbolizes the course of life, and the joints could represent the "prayer that cuts." In the example of the artificial lake, the electrical force is comparable to the dynamism that makes the bamboo grow upward, and the joints are like the dam.

Let us spend a little more time on this comparison. Firmly welded to the trunk, the bamboo joints encircle it on the outside like a cord, thus symbolizing that prayer, too, is one with life. Prayer is that divine seed whose roots draw food from earthly existence. Like the lotus flower that does not bloom in arable ground but in marshes, prayer thrusts its roots into human misery as if into mud. But the lotus flower does not show any trace of the muddy water from which it drew life; turned toward the sky, it blooms.

Seen from the inside, the bamboo joint is but a thin horizontal division, never oblique, and herein lies the secret of its strength. If the joint were vertical, like the trunk, we would have a bamboo without joints. To say "Everyday life itself is prayer" too readily is like having a bamboo without joints. The important thing in prayer is not the duration (whether five minutes or a half-hour), but to interrupt what one is doing. That is what it means to say that to pray is "to die," that is, to interrupt the course of life. Despite ourselves, the cares of daily life will certainly find their way into our prayer, but there is quite a difference between "bringing in" and "finding," "inviting distractions" and having them "intrude."

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If we compare a bamboo plant to a typical day we will see clearly that the most urgent need in our modern life, hectic and difficult as it is, is to divide it into segments as the bamboo is divided into joints....

In religious life the main segments are generally Mass, Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office), and private prayer, to which may be added prayers before and after meals, the Angelus, the rosary, and so forth. Others can be freely added to these. Yet we must understand that it is not a matter of multiplying pious exercises or of trying to keep prayer and activity in balance with each other. What constitutes the common essence of all prayer is this state of death to self that, according to the words of St. Paul to the Romans, renders us "alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Rm 6:11).

As we have said, the bamboo joints sharply cut the branch at right angles. This is also the fundamental role of prayer. Only a sharp break will allow the whole of life to "become" prayer because life itself is not of itself a prayer! Thus the invisible power of the bamboo joint that acts on the trunk and creates a tree so sturdy that no tempest can break it symbolizes the life of prayer. Nevertheless, however important the joints, they do not constitute the whole bamboo. In human life, also, the many occupations of the day are to be found between its prayer "breaks."

Just as the human person is both body and soul but one being at the same time, so should active and passive prayer ultimately form one and the same thing ....

Time to Pray Together

Philosophically speaking, the notion of time has always been something beyond the understanding of human intelligence. We experience the existence of a past, a present, and a future, but what precise meaning, for example, can be given to the adverb "now"? This very moment cannot be grasped. The minute one thinks "now," already this "now" is gone! And yet, if the present moment did not exist, neither would time. In his Confessions, St. Augustine is himself troubled by the problem: "If I am not questioned on this subject, I know what it is, but if I am questioned, I no longer know!"(36)

In Buddhism also, we are told, the "three minds" of the past, the present, and the future cannot be grasped. The emptiness of time cannot be explained; indeed, human intelligence falters when faced with such an enigma.

... We live in time and space; God exists beyond time and space.  When we pray, we are in time that goes beyond time, and without leaving the space we occupy, we go beyond it. We are in this world, but not of it.  To pray is to live fully; it is to have body and soul in communion with God.

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