Stepping stones to what’s more natural

 

Many practices I have explored seem to function as stepping stones to what’s more natural. They take me from a disconnected and fragmented state to what’s simpler and more natural. And that includes meditation, yoga (tai chi, chi gong, Breema), inquiry, prayer, loving kindness, gratitude, precepts and shaking (TRE, spontaneous movement, dance), and a variety of other practices.

The mental body is the newest in our human evolution, so it is perhaps natural that it’s been emphasized during the last few thousand years at least. This has led to a temporary over-emphasizing of role of the mental faculties (they are important, but function best in service to the heart), the appearance of our thoughts as more real and solid than they are, and identification with and as thought. So many or most of the practices developed over this time period are aimed at remedy and balance this. They are medicines for a temporary over-emphasis of the mental body. They are a bridge from this to seeing what’s already here, and a simpler and more natural way of being and living.

Some examples:

Precepts highlight what in us – usually fears, shoulds and beliefs – that prevent us from living with a natural and simple kindness towards ourselves and others. As with the other practices, it can feel a bit artificial at first, and then it shifts into a more natural and free living from kindness.

Natural meditation (Shikantaza) is what’s already here, although attention may be drawn to the complexities and drama of the mental and emotional bodies. It’s also how the mind naturally is when it’s less identified.

Yoga helps us connect more consciously with the body and movement, and allows us to experience ourselves as the body-mind whole. The whole is already here, although it’s not always noticed. And an experience of it can be cultivated through various movement practices.

Prayer is a giving of ourselves to God, an offering of our human self to Spirit. Again, it’s already that way, and this helps us notice it. It’s also how we naturally live when mind is less identified.

Loving kindness is again what’s here when mind is less identified. There is a natural and simple love and kindness for whatever is here in myself, others and the world. It’s what I am and life is.

Gratitude is similar. It’s what’s naturally here when mind is less identified. This may be a gratitude for what it’s easy to find gratitude for (friends, family, health, shelter, good food), and also for life itself as it shows up, with warts and calamities and all.

Inquiry is an examination of our thoughts and how it relates to emotions, sensations and our lives. Again, when mind is less identified it is naturally curious and attentive of these dynamics.

Shaking is what any mammal does to relieve stress and tension. It allows the body and mind to restore itself to a more healthy state.

With all of these, it can feel a bit artificial at first. We learn a form and a method, apply it, and it can feel clumsy. It also brings up what’s in us that prevents us from living it in a natural and simple form, it brings us face to face with identifications, wounds, fears, shoulds and more. And over time, as these soften, are held in love, and are seen through, the natural way of living this is gradually revealed. Form gives way to a very natural and simple way of living. These practices is a bridge from a temporary over-emphasizing of the mental body, with accompanying identifications, to a more simple and less identified way of being and living. (more…)

Inner smile

 

The inner smile is a very simple exercise from Taoist yoga. (See the link for more details.)

When I do it, I notice a shift into holding my body in kindness and well-wishing, and this then naturally flows into the whole of my human self, any situation I am in, and others.

My personality may not like characteristics of my body or human self, or particular situations or people, but it doesn’t touch the kindness and well-wishing there for them.

The inner smile invites in an open heart, open for whatever is happening.

From a rigid view, ambivalent heart, reactive emotions, and general contraction, tension and identification with stories, there is a shift into a more fluid view, open heart, nurturing fullness, relaxation and a softening of identification with stories.

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Kundalini description

 

I just came across this description of a kundalini awakening, which is an especially clear, honest and touching account. It doesn’t happen for everyone that way, and doesn’t have to it seems, but it is good to know about.

Kundalini awakening or bi-polar surfacing? by Kara-Leah Masina.

It has been a cautious path forward, seeking answers, observing myself. The peak of my experience was the psychosis, but after Kundalini Awakens, it still needs to integrate into your system. Over the last two years, I have continued to experience energy moving up my spine. I have had energy releases from my solar plexus. And perhaps most frightening of all, I have witnessed my body moving through mudras and asanas that I had no conscious knowledge of. […]

This sensation of energy moving up the spine started in 2000 for me, at the very base of my tailbone. I could observe it slowly rising when I was meditating, it would rise until I felt it hit a ‘block’, then the energy would spontaneously move my body around sometimes jerking it right off the ground, until I felt a ‘popping’ or releasing sensation. Then the process would begin again at my tailbone, only this time it would get a millimetre or two higher until it hit the next block. Over a four year period, this energy reached higher and higher up my spine, and the energy releases became more and more violent. Sometimes my eyes would roll back in my head as energy surged up my spine and jerked my head backwards. […]

My hope is that by speaking out about my experience, I might reach others who are under-going this process and have no idea what is happening to them. As yoga and meditation infiltrate Western society, especially if they are mixed with drugs like marijuana, LSD and mushrooms, more and more people are going to awaken Kundalini.

Nada Yoga

 

I went to the first evening of a nada yoga class last night. Apart from the obvious benefit of opening the voice, and also connecting with the chakras, releasing into spaciousness, and so on, it was interesting to notice parallels with other practices.

In koan practice, any tendency to being self-conscious and censoring oneself comes up and is seen, yet the direction of presenting the koan is in doing it wholeheartedly, and that was certainly the case here as well. In Breema, we use the principles of body comfortable, no extra, no force, and full participation, and all of those seem aligned with the nada yoga approach to using the voice: allowing the voice to rise fully and naturally, free from the force of holding back and pushing.

Earlier in the evening, I went to a kundalini yoga class where we practiced shunya listening, listening from emptiness, which – in a way – is a shortcut to what we arrive at through The Work. By allowing beliefs to unravel through inquiry, the natural spaciousness and clarity is revealed, free from attachment to any one particular idea and perspective and free to play with any idea and perspective.