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08.04.2016
Apech: I have of late been having interesting sensations at the top of my head which feel like pulsing and give the image of an underwater creature like a jelly fish. Apech: I wasn't seeing the pulse as a problem - in fact its mildly pleasant - so I'll keep away from the medics! MF: I would think based on my own experience that the sensation at the top of your head is happening in conjunction with the regular cessation of habitual activity in the movement of breath, and that same cessation will bring the mind to one place or another over time to round out the involuntary activity connected with the sensation. Apech: I'm not quite sure what you mean by the 'cessation of the habitual activity in the movement of the breath' - can you explain that a little? MF: A lot of the time, the things we do by intention with our bodies dictate the movement of breath. Gautama described the cessation of habitual activity as gradual, occurring first with respect to speech, then with regard to inhalation and exhalation, and finally with regard to perception and sensation. Olaf Blanke is a Swiss neuro-biologist studying out-of-body experience, and his hypothesis is that it's the vestibular organs (sense of equalibrium), otolithic organs (sense of gravity), proprioceptors (sense of placement and motion in the muscles, joints, and ligament), and eyes that coordinate to provide the sense of self.
I think the cessation of unhappiness I experience corresponds with the role of these senses in sustaining pressure in the "fluid ball" of the abdomen (per D. Fourth state, happiness apart from equanimity ceases, and habitual activity in inhalation and exhalation ceases.
The senses fundamental to the experience of self were not a part of the vocabulary of Gautama's day, except for the eyes. The phrase "if there is ch'i, then there is no strength" refers to the effortlessness of posture that can be realized in the natural movement of breath, an effortlessness that is based on the simultaneity of equalibrioception (that sustains the posture) and proprioception (that supports it~see Simultaneity and Things). The phrase "without ch'i then essential hardness is achieved" refers to the effort involved in posture when some aspect of posture is not supported; the body will develop strength as necessary to compensate for the lack of support.
I'm never happier than when simple mindfulness of just breathing in or breathing out occurs in me. The 'feeling for the posture supported by the distinction of the senses' allows me to make an eye in the place of an eye, a hand in the place of a hand, and a foot in the place of a foot.
Let me say that I don't know whether or not the word underlying the translation 'image' has the meaning I am giving it, yet the meaning that I'm giving it is the one that has significance to me.
The writing of mine I quote from above largely concerns the emphasis some Zen teachers place on the role of the 'tanden', or 'hara' in the experience of shikantaza. The way the feeling for posture overflows from the 'tanden' to the tailbone and becomes support to the surface of the skin seems to me also a function of 'an image in the place of an image'. I have spent the last several years in an American Zen temple that by our standards is strict and intense, but my training, I am finding, seems moot here. Gautama's description of the first and third concentrative states in some ways resembles the descriptions of the "tanden" (or tan-t'ien), while his description of the second and fourth concentrative states suggests something somewhat different. I wrote to a friend and told him about my writing, and he said he looked forward to reading it.
In the parlance of the Pali Canon, the first meditative state is characterized by "thought applied and sustained", and "thought applied and sustained" ceases in the second meditative state.
Gautama taught "the setting up of mindfulness" in Satipatthana Sutta, but later (in my opinion, later) he taught that his "way of living", his "way of living in the rainy season", and "the Tathagatha's way of living" consisted of "concentration on in-breathing and out-breathing" (outlined here ).
My principal delight these days is that I perceive the sixteen to key on an interchange between activity that sustains pressure in the fluid ball of the abdomen (in support of posture) and comprehension of the long or short of inhalation or exhalation. When things get painful with regard to the stretch around that boiler in the lower abdomen, I look for a sense of the fluid ball that is pressurized by activity throughout the body, and I move to comprehending the long or short of inhalation and exhalation.
In 1931, Godel published two theorems that demonstrate that if a formal axiomatic theory is consistent, then it is necessarily incomplete (some things that are known to be true are not provable within the theory), and if a formal axiomatic theory is complete, then it is inconsistent (a contradiction can be derived within the theory). We know that as much as anything can be established in mathematics, Godel's theorems have been established.
For me, it all boils down to keeping a watchful eye whenever someone talks in terms of a "completed infinity" instead of in terms of particulars and relationships.
When I let go of my notions of "completed infinity", I am left with things just as they are; turns out, that's the domain where the logic we're all familiar with applies.
Seems clear to me that completely relaxed activity depends on reciprocal innervation in all three planes, and a lot of my writing is devoted to describing particular ligaments and muscles that reciprocate in each of the three planes. My big leap forward was applying Upledger's cranial-sacral treatment method to myself, by including gravity in my experience of where I am and things.
A little harder to bring it home on the cushion, and in fact I now rely on the comprehension of breathing in and breathing out that Gautama spoke of to do the heavy lifting. I would add to what my friend said only that, of course, finding the movement of awareness while asleep is not something a person can practice. I'm contending that normal resting activity supports pressure in the fluid ball, and the fluid ball supports the spine and the posture in general.
If you sit cross-legged, then about 25 minutes in, maybe, look for support for the fluid ball from the left and right calves in alternation, it's mostly a placement and weight thing that affects the stretch in the ilio-tibial bands but there's a fascial connector from the quads to stretch the bands above the knees so the hams and the quads are involved and it feels like breathing through the legs; walking along, riding the ox. At about 30 minutes in or 35, the stretch across behind the sacrum with the legs and the gluts and the tensor fascias involved allows the left and right of the PC to support the fluid ball, everything is wound up in the balance, the ox crosses the wooden bridge. The cessation of habitual activity in the movement of breath, the freedom of the location of awareness to shift around, like the rest really can't be done, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. To me, the mind that sits is the heart-mind, and my heart-mind feels at home when my vestibular sense comes into play right where I am; that to me is the mind sitting. If I feel as though I'm moving backward in space, I may suddenly have an acute sense of where my awareness is in my body, and that location may not be in my head. It's my understanding that the Chinese word now translated as "mind" was once translated as "heart-mind". Cheng states that once the ch'i has sunk to the tan-t'ien, it circulates through the body and accumulates at the tan-t'ien.
I can experience my eyes affecting my sense of place, yet I can also free my sense of place to move in spite of the connection with my eyes. Now I find that, like a bagpiper whose activity works the bag while they walk, my activity supports the fluid ball of the abdomen, and the location of my awareness responds as I comprehend the long or short of inhalation or exhalation.
The place where I am can "turn and move freely everywhere" (as another translator rendered "somersaults"), and the place where I am can also remain stationary; when the place where I am is free to move yet remains stationary, the rest of me may turn around the place where I am, instead. While I sometimes separate out and bring forward certain senses in the experience of place, and at those moments my ability to find where I am appears in fact to depend on the exercise, there is in the wake of such moments an awareness of where I am as contact in any sense takes place. I'm sure that the waist is a key part of how pressure is obtained in the "fluid ball" of the abdomen, and consequently of how the comprehension of the long and short of inhalation and exhalation becomes embodied as the posture; I wanted to share the excerpts from the Tai-Ch'i classics about that here. Here's the funny part: I began to comprehend the long or short of a given movement of breath. Comprehension of the long or short of breath is significant to me in that it was a part of Gautama the Buddha's "setting up of mindfulness" practice. Since I started limbering up in this way, I can sit comfortably in half-lotus for two rounds of 40 minutes, with kinhin between. In my write about Fuxi's poem, I put forward Bartilink's findings about "pressure in the fluid ball of the abdominal cavity" and support for the lower spine, including his observation that activity in the muscles of the pelvic floor and in the transverse muscles of the abdomen and chest is responsible for the "pressure in the fluid ball". As to how one goes about initiating such "pressure in the fluid ball of the abdomen", I like Fuxi's "The empty hand grasps the hoe handle"; something about the way the placement and weight of the arms and hands engages the ilio-tibial bands, and the placement and weight of the lower legs likewise at the knee- I find my hands and feet, and get my ass kicked. For me it's like working a potter's wheel with my feet while molding a lump of clay with my hands. I have seen "rapture" and "joy" translated elsewhere as "absorption" and "ease"; what I myself experience is an "absorption and ease" that amounts to a fluidity of weight, so that as consciousness arises from a part, the saturation of the sense of gravity throughout the body increases. Sometimes transverse muscles at the level of a particular vertebrae are a part of my breathing, and maybe I'm more aware of my neck and head when they are.
I devote a lot of my thought to reassuring myself that it's alright to experience depth in senses other than the eyes and the mind, particularly in the proprioceptive and vestibular senses, even when it makes me feel like a bat on a city street in the daylight. Yuanwu made a connection between "biting through here" and the ability to "cut off conditioned habits of mind", where to "cut off conditioned habits of mind" meant to cease any voluntary activity of thought or direction of the body, just as though one were letting go of life itself. This, from a guy who was once in a lab where they measured him going through states usually associated with sleep as he began his practice. I agree that a relinquishment of the mental is involved, yet I am now turning on the experience of the senses as such; in particular, the sense of equalibrium, the sense of gravity, and the sense of place associated with muscles, joints, and ligaments (proprioception), along with the sense of the mind. As to the brain waves near zero: to the extent that the phenomena of the heart-mind that moves, that shifts, and that is a part of action in the absence of volition is a phenomena of trance, I hope that the discussion of trance may be relevant to a discussion of "how do you properly drop your brain into the lower dan tien".
The place and things is the practice of "shikantaza", as Kobun Chino Otogawa once said, yet as he pointed out the range of the things that enter into the practice easily exceeds the boundaries of the senses (here, in the section "Shikantaza"). In sitting, it's my own breath that is the tide in my toes, and understanding the anatomy helps me settle into the sand (as it were). I have now added illustrations, and I hope that they will help in the visualization of the descriptions.
The key in that short description for me would be the words "the sense 'I am'"; Nisargadatta is referring to a sense. That's the introduction to a new work entitled Fuxi's Poem on the site, and any comments or suggestions with regard to the work made here on Zazen Notes will be gratefully received. I get out of balance sometimes because something's not quite comfortable in my posture and I've somehow become numb to it, and over the years I have formed a habit of checking where I left myself physically when things get weird. Indeed, it's doing something, but it is really only the recollection of the latest in a long trail of investigations that grew out of mindfulness. Ok, now see if you can add a sense of motion forward and backward at the location of awareness. For me this is effective, but I have a lot of training in connection with the induction of trance through relaxation in conjunction with inhalation and exhalation, so I don't know if you will experience what I experience. Right away you will probably come to a relationship between motion at the sacrum, regularly initiated by the psoas rocking the pelvis as it slides over the front corners, and the location of awareness.
On some level it's just where I am, and a distinction of the senses that comes of its own accord.
Well, it all seems a bit esoteric, even though I do recognize the muscle names you cite from having looked at several yoga anatomy books and I know their general locations within the body. Maybe that "sense of location" can be perceived as bobbing around those 3 axes of movement in a kind of quasi-physical sense, just as an airplane moves through air or a boat through water.
Clearly the context in that case was falling asleep, humbleone (his pseudo on Tao Bums) was having difficulty waking up and being unable to get back to sleep. A lama who lectured at Shambala Sonoma spoke of how his teacher would show him a card with a mandala on it, then turn the card over and ask him to recreate the mandala in his mind (the lama did not say how the exercise applied in his spiritual training, but the lama who was speaking clearly felt it was important). That's what I have with regard to the activity of the muscles I mentioned: an image of my body that I have built up in my mind. Yes I do sometimes isolate the action of what I believe are the muscle groups I named, and sometimes I might even contract a muscle slightly to recall how that action affects the stretch I'm in. Or under the pelvis to the hip bones in a side-to-side motion, activity pulling on the hips that seems to leverage me into the seat-- obturators? It's a trick, because the action of particular muscles described in the texts varies according to which part is held still, and they're not usually assuming you're sitting cross-legged or doing one of the poses of Tai-Chi. The PC is interesting, because it's not about contraction per se for me (what, no Kegels?)-- it's about the sense of weight and no part of the body left out, and the alignment of the tailbone and spine, that's the way it seems.
I built up an image, maybe the names are right, maybe I feel the piriformis rotating the sacrum opposite the gluts and tensors, maybe I just feel more in general when I think I can feel the piriformis rotating the sacrum and so I assume I have the description right when in fact something else is going on. Yes, some anatomy-oriented yoga teachers also emphasize the psoas, so I know where that is (deep paired left right lowest abdominal muscles on the inside of the pelvis). Other thing would be Raymond Richard's assertion in "Lesions of the Sacrum" that the ligaments and fascia that connect the sacrum to the pelvis, and the articulations of the sides of the sacrum and the edges of the pelvis, allow the sacrum to not only pivot forward and back, but on the diagonals and around the vertical plumb line. One of Erickson's approaches to trance induction bears remarkable resemblance to one of the methods of teaching employed by the Zen masters. The "turning phrase" of a Zen teacher is the result of a spontaneous pivot in the teacher's frame of reference, perhaps in response to a question or a situation; the phrase or word that expresses the pivot can invoke a transderivational search in the listener, and allow for the induction of trance.
With the "turning phrase", the Zen master leaves any listener "stopped in the middle", which allows the induction of trance and a heightened awareness of the function of the senses that provide the experience of self. That the senses are involved in the experience of self is the conclusion of scientists Olaf Blanke and Christine Mohr.
The tactil-proprioceptive-kinesthetic and vestibular senses are closely involved with the perception of a person's physical location in space; the visual sense is tightly connected to both of these senses, and can reset the perception of location. Lately I'm on a lot about proprioception in equalibrioception-- "with no part of the body left out", a singularity in the sense of location and a freedom of the sense of location to move. More correctly, though, it's got to be all of the senses including touch "with no part left out", where "with no part left out" is the extension of the mind of compassion in the ten directions to infinity. And a relinquishment of volition in activity, self-surrender the object of thought, so that when the wind blows from the realm of infinite ether the limbs can move, so to speak. It gets complicated when people like Sasaki claim that they did their misdeeds as a matter of ishinashini, that their hand was will-less. More significant maybe is the way that the experience of people on the other side of the wall creating motion in the limbs gives me some faith that it's alright to return to not knowing, because not knowing isn't necessarily not doing. Sometimes I'm aware of the obturators side to side hammocking hips from the pelvis, sometimes of piriformis and gluteous rotating sacrum and pelvis independently, sometimes of sides of the PC and rectus balancing a feeling of uprightness.
My understanding is that when awareness is allowed a freedom of location with the relaxed movement of breath, some of the phenomena described as the circulation and accumulation of chi may be felt in connection with the sense of location and the movement of breath.
You could say that the chi returns from the head-top to the skin and hair all over the body, and the freedom of the sense of location to move is suddenly like the freedom in falling asleep.
In a stationary posture, proprioception takes place as the body is relaxed with the movement of breath. John Upledger speaks of how he learned to feel what he says is the rhythm of the cranial-sacral system with his hands, about how he can feel where the rhythm is moving well and add a pressure equivalent to 5 grams of weight to that movement to open the places in the body that are stuck. Gautama's description of consciousness as the result of contact between sense organ and sense object resonates for me as a way to describe the consciousness that includes proprioception, equalibrioception, and the sense of gravity among the other senses, even though the tight connection between my eyes and my sense of location might sometimes make it seem otherwise. I've been sitting a lot with the controlling faculties of the four initial meditative states, as described in the Pali Canon sermon volumes.
This is an everyday occurrence, and I would agree with the view ascribed to the therapist Milton Erickson that "these states are so common and familiar that most people do not consciously recognize them as hypnotic phenomena" (Wikipedia for Milton Erickson). Now, as to the controlling faculties, Gautama spoke of the cessation of a particular "controlling faculty" in each of the first four meditative states. I went to a workshop at Omega Institute, Rhinebeck, New York, and I had a few early morning hours dancing seemingly alone in the moonlight, which will stay with me. It was 4:00 am on that other morning, and I had slept soundly and felt rested and excited about the learning that was occurring in me, but I also felt completely alone.
This is the day I have set aside to explore my close surroundings before I head out on my Maui adventure activities for the next seven days. As I allow the disappointment to get as big and painful as it needs too, something happens that has happened many times in my life during difficult experiences. During a recent trip to Maui, I rediscovered that beautiful child in the eyes of the aging woman Ia€™ve become. For many years, I searched to be a better person, to become wiser, and to learn how to live a full and productive life, and to be admired. Patience has been my work this year and Ia€™ve learned much about the difference between tolerance and patience. The voting was heavy and because most of us know each other in some way, our politics are often known. As Zacha€™s son-in-law returned to the inside of the voting precinct to witness the casting of Zacha€™s vote, he said two simple words: Thank you. Later heading home, fatigue turned to laughter and memory recorded these shared emotional experiences of inspiration.
The written word has often been the way spiritual messages have been received during my Life. The human survival instinct supports us in seeing what is there that needs to change or is threatening to us. Sometimes an old message said in a simple direct way can change the Life of the one who truly hears it. Since that time, I have written of the learning that came from my choice and consequently his choices.
As I was leaving the workshop, a young woman came up to me and asked me to share what meditation had meant in my life.
My deepest longing is to love and be loved and yet fear can hold me back by expecting perfection.
Michael Singer wrote a book called The Untethered Soul, and it speaks of the way to let the personality desires play out while the Seer of what is transpiring watches without judging or clinging to an outcome.
It has been some seventy-two hours since I began this essay and then stopped writing because I realized I was living in a huge story and could not write authentically from that place.
It has been seven years since this small community called to me and embraced me within its furry mountains and quiet streams. During the last few weeks, I have begun to feel that my time here in this small community is limited. The rock in the creek feels cold against my warm skin in contrast to bike riding on this hot day. When he turns, his familiar face and eyes are beaming toward me as he explains that he is looking for the rock we used in meditation the last time we visited the creek.
His love for me is visible in the steady gaze of his eyes, and it both comforts and frightens me.
It is late evening and Mark Nepoa€™s words speak to me; his writings have been an inspiration in many ways during the past few months. At first, the feeling is a bit overwhelming and tears flow as I remember Nepoa€™s request to include looking at the lighted candle as part of my meditation.
It is spring again; forty-eight years have past and yet my memories of a small toddler are as vivid as every. It is good to remember the joy of him running across the yard, small frog in hand and joy in his face, panting as he recalls how challenging it was for him to catch it. He made the team, got a new girlfriend, went off to college, had much success, and oh so many friends.
May the light in the eyes of our children remind us of the light that is possible in our own.
Mark Nepo is my author of choice the last few days, and his writing speaks to me in the silence of my being and I am changed by what I hear. Those who have poor vision, those who have less than average senses of taste and smell, those who have physical difficulties, those who have hearing challenges, what do they have in common? My friend has learned to angle his head in a certain way that tells me he is listening carefully sometimes cupping his ear with his hand. Recently Ia€™ve been seeing growing older as a limitation; an ache here, a gray hair there, a bit of fatigue at the end of the day, a need for a short rest more often, a wrinkle on the back of my hand, a need for glasses more often. As the mother, the blind childa€™s face filled with wonder inspires me to see more clearly through her blindness. As the cherry blossom, I stand in the glow of the sun knowing that I add beauty and wonder to the earth and to its inhabitants. Mark Nepo in his book, The Awakening, asked the questions: How am I different from others and how am I the same.
In this silence, the wisdom of Lamotta€™s quote is known somewhere deep in the part of me that I share with all others.
Each of us experiences death of our physical body, each of us grows physically from birth to death, each of us is capable of thought, each of us experiences the pain of physical life and the joys.
I believe deep in our core of being, we are each a small piece of the Universe, and we have manifested into this unique physical form equipped with the tools and a gift we need to create our healing part of the collective.
As I began to ride the bike, it seemed a bit big for my frame and often my back hurt after riding a long distance, so I chose to buy a new girla€™s bike. Two days ago, a new friend suggested he would like to go biking with my group, but his bike needed repairing.
On the ride back to the trailhead, my friend and I rode together; I shared that the bike had belonged to my son and he was the first to ride it besides me. A limiting beliefa€”just as it soundsa€”is having a thought about the past, present, or future that keeps you from seeing what is true in the moment you are living right now. This natural symbol of equality of day (light) and night (dark) is a reminder that light and dark are different not better or worse. Equality is a slippery word in our culture and the term is often used to compare one thing, one thought, one person, and one event to another. This search for meaning has brought me to this autumnal point, and to a knowing that equality is expressed within through an attitude of a€?non-judgmenta€? about what we can see, smell, hear, taste, and touch through our five senses. Recently in a difficult discussion with a male friend about equality between genders, I suggested that our older generation seems to have more difficulty with this deeper feeling of equality since our culture has encouraged stories about superiority vs. This experience has supported me in looking closely within me to see where I discover feelings of inequality as a part of my physical existence.
Observation of the equality of light and dark during this Fall Equinox reminds me that deep equality means no judgment or comparisons are needed. During the past few weeks, Ia€™ve spent time at the Wintergreen Nature Foundation as a volunteer. One particular Saturday, a call came that a baby rabbit had been very still in the garden for a long time and appeared injured. A few days later, I was the human contemplating the impermanence in nature and wondering what to do. Recently I met my daughter and her family to fulfill her wish to visit the two homes where she had been a baby. As I approached the door, I remembered my husband carrying me across the threshold; I remembered bringing my son and daughter home to the loving arms of an extended family that had arrived to celebrate their coming into Life.
Unbelievably, the man and woman that had bought the house from us still lived there, and it felt wonderful that they had continued to add their love of the house to ours. Neighbors dropped in yesterday and provided me with fun, friendship, and an unexpected sacred moment. It was a balmy late spring day and the hydrangeas were in full bloom and served as a backdrop as we drank smoothies, ate rice chips and salsa, and enjoyed a glass of wine on my screened porch. We shared how important it is to avoid fearful story-telling about what is happening and to simply deal with what is happening right now in the present moment.
My friend is out of town and some part of me is pleased by the freedom that gives to me and I have an authentic knowing that he is doing what enriches his life.
As I sit typing this, I realize that my day is my own creation and whether or not I act from a place of fear is all up to me.
From some people the question triggers a feeling of annoyance within me, and I sometimes give them an answer like, a€?nothing special just the usual things or therea€™s always plenty to do.a€? It is more avoidance of responding from annoyance than an answer. As I examined my feelings during these different experiences, I discovered the part of me that wants to be what the other person perceives me to be, a busy, active, interesting person. It is a reminder that I am not here to fulfill anyone elsea€™s expectations; I am here to find meaning and purpose for my own life.
This morning I awaken to the gentle sound of rain, and I snuggle down into the nighta€™s accumulated warmth under my blankets. Again no thoughts come, just an incredible presence and knowing that in each moment there is beauty and nurturing for the soul for the taking. If unused muscles and bones create a message to the brain that their dysfunction is normal until the imbalance creates pain, is that also true of emotional dysfunction? The physical discomfort is in my second energy center, which I understand to be the energy center of creativity and belonging, and it is sending me a message. A few days ago, Eckhart Tollea€™s book, called The New Earth, was mentioned in a conversation with a friend, and I had a knowing that I wanted to reread it.
In that moment, I began to look at my choices during the past few months and the intentions behind them. Tolle goes on to say that if you can neither enjoy or bring acceptance to what you doa€”stop.
In that moment, I chose to look into his clear blue eyes and said, a€?Hi.a€? He didna€™t look at me, but his eyes were alive with the joy and pure light of the incredible sun that rose through the window of the elevator. In gratitude, I left the elevator carrying the gift of pure light that had come to me from the sun through a young man that reflected it.
Consciousness, said Gautama, is followed by impact and then by feeling, with regard to each of the six senses. Sometimes I think that is why he made such a distinction between the mind and consciousness, and why dependent causation begins with ignorance: the senses most involved in the experience of the lack of any abiding self in the activity of breath (and in the activity of perception and sensation) were not known to him by name. Consciousness, said Gautama, is followed by impact and then by feeling, with regard to each of the six senses (1).
This morning I asked myself, does feeling for the posture supported by the distinction of the senses allow me to make an image in the place of an image? Shortly before the close of the forty minutes, there was a transition, something like what you speak of.
Moreover, he claimed the sixteen aspects of "concentration on in-breathing and out-breathing" were his "way of living" prior to his enlightenment, and that the sixteen constituted one instance of the mindfulness of body, feelings, mind, and state of mind. I would offer that the "spontaneous emergence of the undifferentiated mind" is one-pointed, that it involves the experience of a singular location in space, a singular location informed not only by each of the senses but by what is beyond the boundary of each sense as well. That I believe is my necessity, to apply and sustain thought in such a manner, in my case in order to simply breathe (sometimes). Hilbert conceded that the propositions of classical mathematics which involve the completed infinite go beyond intuitive evidence. It's a lot of fun, and I guess you could say that for me there's a tie-in with the martial arts, in that I learned to dance in the midst of people slamming at Mabuhay Gardens. Can't rely on anything for long, but I'm betting that his "best of ways" can be close to a second skin for all of us who find ourselves "loving our time by way of the senses, by way of the body". What I have found, though, is that it is possible to practice finding the movement of awareness just before sleep. More so if you are lifting weight (he put something in the abdomen, surgically, to measure it). So the activity when nothing seems to be doing anything, but I'm upright, supports the fluid ball; something must be doing something.
I find that my heart-mind can remain in the vicinity of the tan-t'ien if I exercise my vestibular and proprioceptive senses along with my sense of location; perhaps the experience of proprioception in connection with location is what Cheng referred to as the circulation of ch'i.
He states as an example that a person on a train who sees another train go by in the opposite direction will sometimes get the feeling they are moving when they are not. The mind not turning is the central equalibrium resulting from the sinking of ch'i to the tan-t'ien.
Action can happen when I feel like a bat; in fact for me, appropriate action is more a function of where I am than of what I think. Relaxation and relinquishment that frees the heart-mind to move, however slightly, also realizes action from the distinct elements that make up the self, without embracing the notion of a self. Yuanwu stated that as a matter of course, such a cessation of habitual activity results in a feeling that the activity of breath in the body has been cut off, and causes a person to come to their senses as though returned to life from the dead. For me, the feeling is a lot like standing out where the waves break in at the beach, and sorting out the direction and strength of the flow of each wave in order to keep my feet. If you are seated, after you read this close your eyes, and see if you can register where your awareness is in your body.
I tried your suggestion and it had some kind of tangible imaginative effect that's hard to describe. The action of the obturators to hammock the hips from the pelvis and allow a turning motion in the action of the sartorius, the gluts, the tensors, and the piriformis may cross your mind, the weight of the body "with no part left out" may focus from the lower front of the abdomen across the PC's to the tailbone (and up the spine to the head bones), the surface of the skin may come forward. He was actually able to get back to sleep consistently with this practice (allowing movement in the sense of location). The sense of location and the three motions there help me to discover the stretch I'm in at the moment, so I can relax particular activity.
So, for example, I'm contracting something between my leg and the upper wing of the pelvis that turns the pelvis ; I'm thinking "sartorius". I have taken my best guess at the names but the places and actions have been fairly consistent.
First is that if you are alert to the three directions of motion where awareness takes place with the eyes open, there can be a sense of continuity; it's a little less of what humbleone described, and a lot more like tan-t'ien with no part left out (usually). He further asserts that in the normal course of affairs the sacrum can move to a lower, more open pivot on the pelvis, and in one of my writings I mention that this is fundamental in a slight vertical stretch of the extensors so that action of the sacrum can be carried upward through the three sets of extensors to the head bones. The premise there is that changes in the volume of fluid that surrounds the spinal cord and the brain cause flexion and extension of the entire body.
It's like a pair of tin-cans with strings and washers, and the return is in the cranial-sacral rhythm and the way in which it eases the nerve exits along the spine, until the ability to feel is live throughout the body to the surface of the skin.
The T'ai-Ch'i master Chen Man-Ch'ing said that when the entire body is relaxed, including the chest, the ch'i can sink to the tan-t'ien and circulate; I would say that in Zen practice, the mind or the "heart-mind" sinks to the tan-t'ien and circulates.
I often look for specific feelings of pitch, yaw, and roll in my awareness; as my sense of location registers the movements that are always present in my balance, proprioception and the sense of gravity enter into my sense of location and exert the kind of slight pressure where things are moving that Upledger used, allowing the sense of location to act to open and align the body.


It was so incredible that I tried to write about it, because it was the perfect topic for an essay.
My room was a dorm room about seven-feet square, and I shared a bath with several men and women in similar rooms. I welcomed their company and the aloneness that I felt seemed to lift with the sound and movements of our Moon Dance. Life was hidden in the shadows and difficult to see, but it had completely surrounded me as I danced.
It is a dark starless night, the rain slashes against the window, the winds howl with 50 miles an hour gusts.
It is morning, a light rain continues, the winds are not as strong and yet the bamboo grove sways and sweeps the ground.
The week continued to have some misadventures and some spectacular adventures and the courageous and joyous parts of me lived them fully. So as this year ends, the compassionate patience I feel for myself fills my heart and it is soft with love; a love that has always been close at hand and seemingly just out of my reach.
The voters are old friends, new friends, community workers, casual acquaintances, and families coming together to express their preferences through voting. As the voting lines formed for this election, we stood together only as neighborsa€”rich and not so rich, young and not so young, extraverted and not so extraverted, highly educated and not so highly educated, multi-raced, blue voters and red votersa€”without malice or ill intent. She was adorable in her winter hat pulled down over her ears; it brought attention to her laughing eyes. He looked concerned and said to me, My father-in-law is out in my truck; he is 85 and hea€™s had a medical procedure today and wea€™ve been with the doctors.
It was an unforgettable moment; we hugged and thanked each other for making it possible for Zach to vote. Since saying a€?yesa€? is the first rule of improv, the message didna€™t seem new at first.
The need for control is strong so supporting someone elsea€™s ideas or interests each moment seems difficult at times. This one has certainly changed the content of my last two days, and the intention to expand the experiment is exciting and feels like a spiritual loving act.
As I sat on my deck looking out over the city, the leaves of fall were turning the world into bright hues of red, orange, and brown. I felt reluctant, but I had had some physical limitations during the last year that had been difficult to accept and meditation had really supported my healing. Mostly it happens when a small activity of the day seems more difficult than I judge it should be. Without being sure of outcomes or things unseen, this is my opportunity to act without attachment and with the joy of what I will learn from the experiences my actions create.
It was a time of change from working long hours to going inward to discover what was left to uncover within me.
The withdrawal I needed and the healing it has brought to me has completed this phase of my life.
The need for expansion comes from an internal voice that says explore, experiment, and do not become complacent. When the time and move is right, something within my spirit will say, a€?Get crackin.a€? The patience to wait for that insight has come as a part of the growth Ia€™ve found in this small blue house on top of a hill surrounded by mountains.
He agreed to run away for a day to escape the heat and discomfort brought on by a loss of electrical power in our homes even though his electricity had returned.
This evening he invites me to light a candle, to close my eyes, to reopen my eyes, and to see each thing before me. I stood in wonder at this amazing child so full of life and uninhibited yearning to have a good time and accomplish what he set out to do. He wanted to have the biggest paper route and he wanted to make the most sales at his part-time job. Academics didna€™t seem to be his focus, but he seemed to relish his relationships and became the life of the party and the favorite student to his teachers. Now his spirit of aliveness lives in me and the memory of his voice reminds me that Life in this physical realm is short and that what we create here lives forever within those we have truly touched.
Today in the quietness that is The Wintergreen Nature Foundation on some Wednesday mornings, my clarity about what I was to learn came. His voice stills my mind, brings me to the present, and opens my heart to listen not to the words but to the message his words point too. What Ia€™ve noticed is that they look more closely, eat more slowly, move more deliberately, and listen intently to others. A young blind childa€™s face radiates the sun in his eyes as he turns his face up to feel the warmth. So today, Ia€™m altering my thoughts about limitations and seeing opportunities everywhere.
I am sometimes impatient, but Ia€™m learning to accommodate his need for being on my right side to hear more clearly. Then he issued an invitation to sit in silence with eyes closed and contemplate these questions.
We are here together at this time, in this place, and in this specific body to understand that the essence of all Life exists in each of us humans and in all living matter.
If we examined each Life, it would not be what happens to us that would be different for pain and joy comes to everyone; it would be how we respond to what happens to us that has created our unique experience of our individual Life. Another woman loses a child and creates a charity in its name and supports the lives of many children.
To live well is to choose to grow into what we are most capable of being and be grateful for the uniqueness of the Life. I am a personality in a physical body with the power of logic and thought as is everyone else. Two years ago it was refurbished with new tires, new horns on the handlebars, and had been given a good checkup so it could be used for riding with my new bike group.
Without hesitation, I offered the unused bike in the garage, and I felt my heart open to the possibility that the bike would finally be used.
Perhaps you awaken from a long nighta€™s sleep and have the thought that you are tired; but are you really tired or just not quite alert as yet? They were planted by the property owner in the early 1900s and seem to be a symbol of welcome outside the front door of an ancient majestic medieval stone castle. To quote Wikipedia: a€¦the Sun is at one of two opposite points on the celestial sphere where the celestial equator and ecliptic intersect. Who could argue that day and night have distinct powers to aid in the Life upon planet Earth? In my youth the expression, a€?all men are created equal,a€? stirred many thoughts of disbelief in my mind: Does that include women, does that mean skill level, does that mean talent, does that mean appearance, does that meana€¦on and on? It is a deeper understanding that the Universal energy dynamic of which we are a part is without judgment. If there is a value judgment placed by me on what I see, it is sure to mean that I do not see myself as equala€”it could be a feeling of doing better or of a feeling of doing less, of being stronger or of being weaker, in control or not in control. To honor what each contributes with no value judgment added supports my intention to appreciate all that a€?isa€? because it a€?is.a€? If Ia€™m walking on eggshells, stomping heavily through a room, or withdrawing my love in a reaction to another to gain acceptance or power, it will be my challenge to ask why I do not feel equal in this moment without demanding an immediate answer. It is summer and the calls to rescue injured or troubled animals and people come in quite often. The caller stated that hawks were circling and it wouldna€™t be long before the rabbit could not be saved. What happens are visions of past experiences, people, and places that are pictures in the minda€™s album. They had added gardens, doors, patios, waterfalls, fireplace, and fisha€”just to mention a few of their creations. It is challenging to accurately describe a sacred moment and the power it contains, so Ia€™ll start slowly from the beginning. I can feel within me the need to know who is the night raider and how can I change what is happening in order to have my world be as I choose it to be. For some reason, I have doubt about whether that person is capable of caring about me just as I am in this moment.
The birds are chirping in the trees, the squirrels are trying to get into the bird feeders, the breeze is moving the leaves, the raindrops are collecting on the deck, and the mountains stand observing it all. There is no thinking only comfort and presence; it is as if I am one with my feelings and it feels like what I believe peace to be.
Ia€™ve felt that my body is trying to tell me something so each morning Ia€™ve asked the question: a€?What do I need to know that I do not want to know?a€? Without requiring an answer, Ia€™ve continued to just be open to learning. As I began, I felt I was reading it for the friend to support him in his relationship with someone he loves; but as I began to read, I knew the booka€™s message would bring me the understanding of what I needed to know that I was resisting unconsciously.
My intention is to have compassion for the part of me that feels I need all the answers to lifea€™s questions now. I dona€™t know what it is I am not aware of in this moment, but I am fully aware that I am enjoying the quietness of it. The elevator door opened and a middle-aged woman entered pushing a teenage boy in a wheelchair. He wasna€™t concerned that it was crowded or that too many obstacles were in the way of what he wanted. Roshi-sama is said to be a master of this wide practice of shikantaza, the objectless meditation characteristic of the Soto school. That others affect the place where I am, is nowhere more apparent than on a crowded dance floor. I look to where awareness is at the moment, not where the object of awareness is, but where the awareness that perceives the object is. How to get a feeling for the fluid ball of the abdomen, in relation to the activity of posture; maybe start with the arms and the hands, imagine someone sitting down to balance a house of cards warming up by shaking it out. Blanke points out that this is because the eyes have a tight connection with the sense of place. Bartilink, "No Special Effort", and the "Best of Ways", from which the quote above is taken. Returned to one's senses, the location of awareness shifts in three-dimensional space without restriction, as in empty space; activity in the body is engendered by virtue of the location of awareness and the nerve impulses generated by ligaments and fascia as they stretch in response to the relaxed necessity of breath, without volition.
I think the answer is yes, but I only have one example of it with regard to my recollections.
But now I get the sense you are applying these terms more to subtle (energy) body orientation than to physical? Are you actually able to recognize and distinguish the actions of these individually-named muscles from each other yourself? I asked him to try it in the daytime (with his eyes open), and he discovered what he described as a sense of peace when he did. I tend to forget about psoas, rocking the pelvis as it slips across the pubic bones and stretching open the ilio-sacral joints, but if I relax I do believe it does. Just as Rolf emphasizes the psoas, Heller body workers emphasize the importance of learning to contract this area. I believe this is because of the tight connection between the vestibular organ and the eyes, the eyes can reset the way the vestibular sense is read (in effect). I don't really feel the sacrum moving to a different pivot, but if I am mindful of the action of the psoas loosening the fascial connections between the sacrum and pelvis then the weight of the body (in whatever part comes to mind, no part left out) does seem eventually to set me upright, like a dunking Chinese chicken toy. The free movement of the sacrum on horizontal, diagonal, and vertical axes inherent in the structure of the joins with the pelvis is critical, as is the movement of the occiput, the sphenoid, the temporals and parietals. Here I am talking about proprioception and equalibrioception informing one another, a kind of movement and centering in the location of awareness that normally takes place with the eyes closed just before falling asleep, but in Zen practice takes place with the eyes open while waking up.
Under each tree and beneath each bush, there seemed to be an aurora of light that painted a distorted picture of each bush upon the ground below. I turned to head back to the dorm, a little wet, a little cold, and covered with the glow of Moon Dancing with my Shadows. 50 mile an hour gusts of wind in Virginia would encourage me to hunker down for protection.
The disappointment is strong and yet I can take a small step toward the bathroom and get dressed.
As I compared the pictures of me as a child and me as a grown woman, I finally could see my own beauty and it made me laugh with joy. As the New Year begins, my heart is open and I look forward to the experiences I will create.
As a poll worker, the day was long, warm inside, cold outside, enjoyable, inspiring, and at times emotional.
He is immobile at the moment and concerned because he has never missed an election since he began to vote.
Sometimes it is before an experience and during the experience the words start ringing in my ears.
As we began to practice creating scenes, it was immediately clear that it was easier for me to say a€?yes, buta€? and it was equally clear that doing so blocked the scene from expanding. Acceptance of a€?what isa€? can be challenging and this simple idea of energetically saying, a€?yes, anda€? has given me clarity about my own negative or judgmental views as Ia€™ve gone through my day.
The experiment itself has supported me in living more fully in the present, which is, of course, the only place we can live fully.
My heart seemed to stop breathing, my throat was tightly constricted, and the top of my head felt as if it would fly into the trees so great was the pressure. His choices were courageous; his experiences were dramatic examples of how to live and not to live for those who watched his progress.
It could be loading bikes on a rack, spilling milk in my new car, lateness of a friend, hot when I want it to be cool, or appreciation not shown. The deep longing for companionship thwarted by my fear of losing independence is simple but complex within my thoughts about what to allow and what not to allow into my world. Ia€™ve been living at least for the past few day in a story of my own making about what others want me to do, how they want me to live, or what they need from me.
Recently a friend was talking about his experiences and how excited he was about his hopes and dreams for the future; I recognized them as both different and similar to my own. It has been amazing and comfortable and productive in a different way than accomplishing projects. Last night as I looked around during a concert on the mountain, I saw the same people I see almost daily. It isna€™t dissatisfaction with what is; its more a wonderment of what other experiences and growth are possible for me.
There is a joyful feeling of contentment as the warm air circles close in and sweat runs down my back. Joy has not always come to me with ease, as my human need to protect myself and those I love is well practiced and vigilant at times. He talks about a concept in a book we are sharing and wonders if hea€™s got it right; if he has understood it. He encourages me to ask myself how the things Ia€™m seeing are different and how they are the same and listen to my heart speak.
It is orange and ita€™s light is a lacy hue; two triangles extending from ita€™s center one reaches toward me and the other away from me. What an awesome experience to see the love of a husband and a father reflected in the toothless grin of a new life. Memories of his birth and death have supported me in finding this place where I intend to live with compassion for others and myself and with a love of Life every day and every minute.
I cannot change it, but I can surrender to a€?what isa€? in each moment in order to respond from the healthiest part of me rather than to fearfully react.
This habit has triggered in me a new perspective about what I see as limitation and opportunity. Today that message is to consider every limitation as an opportunity and to be opened to what is most important to learn in each moment.
The woman in a wheel chair demonstrates patience as she waits to enter through a revolving door. I now move slowly enough in the morning to watch a cardinal land on the bird-feeder, my glasses magnify the beauty of the gifts that fill my home, my aches encourage me to stretch and care for my body and to find the wisdom to rest when rest is needed. My nose will tell me of ita€™s fragrance, my touch will tell me of its softness, but only through my mothera€™s tone and voice will I know what that fragrance and softness belongs too.
As I carefully describe what Ia€™m seeing, my gift to this unseeing child supports me being present enough to fully see it myself; and this level of awareness is the childa€™s gift to me. As the child, as the mother, or as the cherry blossom, my purpose is simply to live my best life and to grow.
The manifestation of that essential Life we have brought into being takes many physical forms; all different, all unique. All of these things have resulted in my becoming the a€?soul in a bodya€? that I see in my mirror this morning.
If in this Life, we do not become conscious of the power of the collective Life of the Universe, we will be given another chance. To make that possible, I pulled it out, pumped up the tires, admired ita€™s beauty, and my heart felt lighter.
As we remounted and rode on, the bike was a€?just another bikea€? racing to the song of the fall breeze. Perhaps you look in the mirror and think that you are getting older and no longer beautiful; yes you are getting older, but aging has ita€™s own beauty. The ability to bring awareness to the harsh, dramatic, judgmental, and repetitive sounds within our minds contains the freedom we think is not open to us. These points of intersection are called equinoctial points: classically, the vernal point and the autumnal point. So to carry the a€?Pointa€? into an individual Life, who could argue that pleasant (light) experiences are better or worse than difficult (dark) experiences since every experience has the potential for learning by the being that experiences it. Like the similar times of day and night in this season, we are connected by individual and collective purposes with an equal opportunity to live our best lives. As I was hearing the story, it occurred to me that we saved the rabbit or deprived the hawk of its meal. It is a beautiful spot and it was early evening as the light played its songs upon the angles of the rocks and crevices as we watched. Today if someone walks along the same path we took, there will be no hint of what occurred between the snake and the frog. Going back there did not necessarily appeal to me either since my relationship to my former husband and her Dad had become faded memories of love and pain.
As often happens with this friend, the discussion turned to nature and bird songs in particular. It was quickly replaced with a look of acceptance of what was now occurring as she described her coming treatment. Ia€™m grateful for the awareness of this part of me that continues to need challenging if I am to be at peace with what is in this moment. How do I challenge the part of me that judges his actions and wants him to be different so that I can be happy? That feels nurturing and I can feel my heart open as I consider the possibility that life is an illusion created by my thoughts, and I can choose which thoughts I will give my energy too.
For others, I just say something like, a€?planning a quiet day.a€? That answer feels authentic and supportive of the way I want to live my life. For sure, I am an active person with a wide variety of interests, but sometimes I enjoy a€?Beinga€? in my home. Today I have set an intention to answer the question, what are you doing today, with authenticity no matter who is asking. As the morning unfolds, the feeling of hunger comes and without questioning it, I stretch, arise, and move to my robe. Without thinking, there is a deep knowing that I am not a separate entity seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling this moment, but an integral part of it and without my energy and presence it would be different.
She said that I was flexible in my hips and so compensated there for the lack of flexibility in the last vertebra of my back. I begin to remember the times in my life when I have felt emotional pain and have chosen to override it with thinking. Also this week, Ia€™ve felt the need to remain quiet while reflecting with more stillness than is my normal pattern.
This morning I read Tollea€™s words I needed to hear: If you are not in the state of either acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm, look closely and you will find that you are creating suffering for yourself and others.
I will ask for guidance to accept what is happening in the moment without adding drama and fearful thoughts or intelligent explanations. I felt impatient with the loss of time and the people that swirled around in the garage seemingly in my way. He seemed challenged both mentally and physically, and my reaction was to look away so that his mom would not feel I was staring at the young boy. He wasna€™t complaining internally, he wasna€™t judging others; he was without fear and was gazing in awe at the light.
In the experience of these senses, feelings similar to those Gautama described can be found, but it's the familiarity with these senses rather than any particular modality of feeling that allows for the cessation of habitual activity in connection with breath.
But he insists, again and again, weeping at my deafness, shouting at my stubbornness, that hara focus is precisely shikantaza. And I don't want to tie my mind in knots trying to come up with some kind of discombobulated intellectual understanding either, so I'll just let it percolate. When I'm relaxed, I fall awake the way humbleone fell asleep, everything enters in with nothing left out and the place where I am sits. At the top of the head in the suture between the parietals is a set of nerves that control the changes in volume of the spinal fluid. My feet picked up speed, my fear lessened, and I began to explore the light that broke the shadows.
The lake lay in stillness and hovering above it was a wall of mist, kind of stringy, but not transparent; and above all that, hung the moon spreading its final visible glow before dawn arrived with the sunrise. Outside the window, the lily pond beyond the deck is beautiful, the deck is wet and shiny, and the door slightly open lets in a pure and sweet freshness.
I can take a small step toward my car and drive the dirt road to the main road; and if the wind is too strong, I can return to this rugged North shore bamboo farm and make the best of it.
As I gazed at the photo of the beautiful child holding the doll, I remembered that feeling of love; my heart was soft and full. The beauty had nothing to do with the physical features displayed in the photos; it was the radiance that traveled from my heart through my eyes and took in the world around them.
Let me tell you why inspiring and emotional experiences were my companions on this day in small-town America. We kissed each other, hugged each other, waved to each other, talked with each other, supported each other, and laughed and yes cried with each other. I focused on these positives as we supported him in whatever healing was possible, and eventually, supported him as his alcohol-damaged body died. As she led us in meditation, I felt the deep pain of powerlessness again, and again I invited it to get as big as it could. When Ia€™m in that centered place what happens outside me is like a movie and I can watch my personality, the actor, think and plan and wish without attachment.
It is all a a€?Storya€? from the part of me that loves stories and the justification they give for me to be less than open and less than loving.
As we parted, I heard myself say to him, looks like youa€™re on it and Ia€™m just standing beside it. It has been exciting, it has been challenging, it has been peaceful, it has been stimulating; and mostly, it has been healing. Ia€™ve come to look forward to their presence and the feeling of security and safety they trigger within me. Change for many is difficult, but for me the newness of change is invigorating and stimulating. Expansion now calls and the excitement of just what that will entail lifts my energy and makes me want to sing.
In my view as I watch the water run over the rocks, he stands with his back to me looking into the creek. His open heart is almost always constant even when he is confused or slightly annoyed with his surrounding world. As we danced I asked him, a€?What was the best thing about today?a€? And, without waiting for his answer, I laughed and said, a€?Everything.a€? He laughed out loud with complete delight and agreed.
I listen to his expressed doubt and somewhat confused words, and have a knowing that he understands it perfectly. We are many flames from the same candle, and yet, just one light; apart we are a flicker but together we make a luminous Life.
The memory fills my heart and I see a vision of him in a jaunty Easter hat and sports jacket toddling up the small hill in front of my house; two steps forward and one step back and finally falling and rolling to the bottom only to rise again and begin again with laughter and determination.
In those magical days, he marveled at the beauties of the life of which he found himself a part be they giant mountains, rock music, or the smallest of butterflies. In time he began to drink alcohol to lessen the pain of the world not always being as he wanted.
It is my full responsibility to live with presence and courage and to grow into the person I am called to be.
This act of responsible choice and the intent behind it becomes the vehicle of my creation and the consequence it brings.
It has been a life-long habit to observe closely human behavior and sometimes to judge or to give value to what I see; that is changing. They are aware that the opportunity to connect must be given their full attention and they have learned how to do that. The man whose taste and smell is not so acute takes two bites before he makes his choice of what to eat. The veins and wrinkles on the back of my hand remind me that Ia€™m dehydrated and need to drink more water today. I hear from her there are five petals close together in almost a circle; and where the petals attach in the middle of the cherry blossom, it is a deeper shade of pink that grows almost to white at the petalsa€™ edges. This delicate flower filled with color and shadow created by the warm and nurturing sun comes alive in my being and is energetically past to this curious and loving child.
My heart called me to the computer to put down my feelings, and I became distracted by email for a moment.
Each of us makes choices that create our life day-to-day, hour-to-hour, moment-to-moment, and those choices add up to a Life unlike any other. The experiences were the same; the creation process of what remained in each of them became very different. If I stood in a long line of people, those who know me would recognize me even though we all have two eyes, two arms, two legs, one nose, and one mouth.
For this Life, in this place, I have a knowing that the Life I have created has supported the Lives of others and me.
The answer for me is in what I choose to give my attention and time too; with a conscious intention to live my life fully not someone elsea€™s, just mine.
He had bought the bike as transportation when he lost his drivera€™s license because of a drunk driving charge.
Later we loaded the bike into his SUV, and I felt as feathery light as the evening air rushing across my skin. No memories flooded me for I was in the moment, and this moment was another level of healing I had not expected.
You see a friend walking and think she really wants to walk alone; but in reality when you join her on the walk she is welcoming and the walk enriches you both. In each moment, we can step back from a belief and ask one simple question: Does this thought or belief serve to expand my Life or limit my life? Since being human with the power of our minds to create stories around our experiences, it is often easier to live in an imaginary story of what happened and how we should react than to see that how we respond to an experience in this moment creates the suffering or not. Growing and aging brought new a€?judgmentsa€? about equality and how to discover what equality really meansa€”not to others, but to me. It is not always easy to carry that deep sense of equality into our relationships for we are indeed spiritual beings in physical human forms with old patterns of reactions and judgments.
The rejoicing of anothera€™s strength or my own cannot diminish or inflate my feelings about either if I am without judgment of that persona€™s or my own value as a result. It was peaceful and awe inspiring to see the effects the water has played and still plays upon the landscape as it all shifts and changes imperceptibly.


But there we were in front of a house that I had come to as a bride, altered it with the support of my dad and husband to accommodate our familya€”a house in which I had brought my children, and where I laughed and cried and planned the perfect future. I thought of a day when the world was perfect because we were exhausted together and happy. The small trees that we had planted cast some shade now, and the flowers his wife had planted added color all around them.
My friend had started them from her plants, and her husband had traveled along with her to deliver them to me and to share a few moments of time. So she and I pulled out my IPad to compare what we were hearing in my yard with the Audubon recorded bird-songs. I looked at her husband and there I saw a deep pain quickly replaced with an expression of deep love for this woman with which he has shared many years.
Only then can I make a responsible choice to support the life I want with the consequences that come from making choices within the presence of acceptance. This is not a new conflict; the difference is that I am aware of the thoughts and feelings within this dynamic that create circumstances I do not wish to occur. I alone am responsible for the experiences I create and it is those experiences that enrich my life if I choose. Of course, routine chores like making a bed, fixing food, doing dishes, caring for my home are always needed, but this question seems to be about something more.
Ia€™m reading, Ia€™m writing, Ia€™m thinking, Ia€™m dreaming, Ia€™m questioning, Ia€™m answering, but more than anything else Ia€™m simply being here now doing this and it nurtures my life.
Sometimes I will be playing golf or tennis, rushing around running a project, working to beautify my yard; but sometimes Ia€™ll simply be choosing to a€?Bea€? and for me that will be enough.
The rain is, the fruit is, the wood is, the carpet is, the chair is, the joy garden is, Jon Kabat-Zinn is, the peace is, and I am.
She said that when some part of the body is not used, the brain notices and will see the lack of movement as a€?normal.a€? She said the unused area becomes more and more unbalanced and eventually creates pain in the body. Ia€™ve told myself that life is difficult sometimes and have moved on without giving the pain its due course and attention.
As I sit with that question and just relax into the moment, I feel certain that if I remain open the question will be answered; not by the intellect, but by something deeper inside me that guides my life if I choose to listen. The light from the sun had entered his eyes and body completely and radiated outward toward anyone who chose to look.
That it makes no sense makes it no less inspiring; it is his presence, not his words, that I believe. As to "adding motion" to the "location of awareness", my experience yesterday in that little exercise was that the "location of awareness" kind of expanded in its internally-perceived "size".
But from what I had written, the reader would most certainly understand the essence of my experience. This time when movement caught my senses, I saw on the side of the Main Hall at Omega two shadows. As I glanced up, I noticed that the stars were vanishing from the sky and the moon had moved toward the lake so I let my feet dance after it. If I could remember to challenge my fearful thoughts, Moon Dancing would always be possible. Doubts about whether I should be here alone nag me and breathing deeply doesna€™t seem to help.
Many times Ia€™ve experienced that feeling over the years: when I married my new husband, when each of my children were borne, when a bond of female friendship was revealed to me, when I gave unconditional love to an amazing yet flawed man, when I held my grandsons the first time, when I witnessed my son-in-lawa€™s tears at a grave site, and so many moments in nature. Many times the circumstances of life and my thoughts about them hid my beauty from me, and I could not believe others even when they shared their love and compassion for me. May I remember to look deeply into my own eyes to find love and then freely give it away to others. She literally danced to the voting booth and then out; waving and glowing as she left the precinct. The voice in my head was still, the polling precinct was quiet, and the room filled with the light of choice I had been witnessing all day.
Of course, there are times when I have to say no to someone, and what Ia€™ve found is that even that is easier when I say yes to what is transpiring in the moment and then expand the conversation or activity to make my point or acknowledge someone elsea€™s need. But inside me deeper than even I imagined was a sense of sadness and powerlessness to change the drinking habits of my 37-year-old son.
When I could bare it no longer, it vanished and was replaced with a deep stillness of peace. My overall intention for my life is to love well, and of late, that seems more difficult than it has for the recent past years. It protects me and not in a way that is creative; it prevents me from living each moment as it is with an intention to hear the quiet voice that wisely guides my Life.
Then from deep inside me came that still small voice, that is not the Phyllis I know; I recognized the voice as me and not me.
It is a song of healing and caring for this person I am and the growing Being that awaits me with my next choice and adventure. It does not; so I reach my hand toward it and it appears as if the light is resting upon my hand.
All these objects, all those Ia€™ve loved, and all those who have loved me are part of this one light. I may need to remain silent.A I may need to speak aloud about something that is bothering me about whata€™s happening.
It is with gratitude that I accept all the parts of mea€”the difficult and the pleasanta€”and quietly surrender to the learning that my experience offers in this moment, and the next, and the next. Now more often I observe not to give value but to learn and to appreciate the insight that observing brings to me about me. As my hair grows and the gray is more visible, Ia€™m reminded of what a long and remarkably healthy life I have and the freedom that brings. From the middle of the deep pink rise varying lengths of stamens with small orangey-pink, round fluffy dots at each of their tips.
My heart aches with gratitude for this small being whose blindness first filled me with sadness; but now has added a measure of being alive that could not have been possible without what I once considered to be her handicap. There in the emails I read: We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be. They may remark that I look like someone else, but if they truly know me, they know that I am like no one else. When it came off the moving van five years ago, it went into the corner of the garage, because I was still not ready to let go of the memory of the healing I thought it would bring to my son.
It sat and sat, and I would see it with a flood of emotions triggered by the healing and loss it represented. We stopped again to sit by the river; all I felt was deep gratitude for all the extraordinary experiences of this Life lived fully. Perhaps the thought is that living alone is not as enriching as living as a couple, but the amount of freedom that comes with living alone is amazing. It takes a deep intention to look inside us and see those patterns, take a second look, and remind ourselves they are imaginary stories we have created to feel okay in this particular incarnation and perhaps others. Since the evolutionary process of physical a€?survival of the fittest,a€? has taught me to judge whether or not I am safe when with another, this approach to Life is challenging and yet interesting and exciting to me. Only the man, the boy, my friend and I will really know the changes created within us from these experiences. We took smiling pictures with a camera to add to our real photo albums of course, and we spoke of the skill and time that each family had given to this beautiful modest home.
As I watched them drive away, I knew this strong, courageous couple was focusing their attention on accepting and living Life fully in each moment, and I was grateful that they were part of mine! Simultaneously, I feel a€?less thana€? because Ia€™m choosing not to do something a€?importanta€? and a€?more thana€? because I feel at some level the other person isna€™t capable of understanding that need.
Sliding my feet along the carpet, the harder surface of my wood floor is recognized at the doorway. She continues my therapy and she comments that my pelvic area begins to move a little, but I cana€™t seem to feel it. Have I, therefore, sent a message to my intellect to override this pain and continue to function. I will not seek the answer in my mind, but I will relax into the present and observe what comes to me. It has felt really good and freeing, but Ia€™ve also had this voice in my head that says, a€?Whata€™s wrong with you?a€? I watched the thought come and go and remained quiet, peaceful, and still. I will look at my activities one by one to see if there is a second agenda lurking in the shadow of my fearful ego. As the elevator door opened, I said to his Mom that I believed he was enjoying the sunshine.
Beyond that, I'm not sure what you're onto-- I know it has much more meaning and specificity to you.
During the remainder of the week there, I edited the essay several times and eventually it morphed into a short surreal poem. As I gazed out into the darkness, I had the urge to take a walk, but felt frightened that I would be walking in an unfamiliar place in that darkness, and it might not be wise. As I entered the garden, it was a cascade of silence punctuated with the crunching sounds of my footsteps upon the path.
I remembered one of my favorite childhood poems, a€?I Have A Little Shadow That Goes In and Out With Me.a€? I remembered how much I loved giving it to my grandchildren!
I hummed a€?Que Sa Ra Sa Ra, what ever will be will be,a€? all the way back to the dorm and into the shower. The curious part of me whispers, a€?go out and take a few photos.a€? So dressed in my robe and slippers with camera in tow, my hands slide back the door, and I venture out. As I said a€?yes, anda€? to what she had to say, the profound lesson came that what she was saying would be an amazing way to not only do improv, it would change a life from a negative focus to a positive one.
Over the years, my daughter and I, had pleaded, threatened, and prayed for him to give up drinking.
He was free and it was spring one year and four months after his first healthy choice in a very long time. The last few years have been filled with the joy of living and remembering his life and what it brought to mine. Do this, dona€™t do that, go here, stay there, love this, mistrust that; the mind chatter is overwhelming in these moments. So when discontent of the kind Ia€™ve been experiencing of late is present within me, it puzzles me as to what Ia€™m to learn this time. One of me is the movie my personality creates with thinking, assessing, resisting, and this me was the Seer who watches in loving amazement at times. There was a time in the past when this need would cause me to question a€?who I am,a€? and a€?why am I like this;a€? now it feels warm with acceptance like the return of an absent and beloved friend. This slow to respond, slow to move, slow to show emotion man has a great capacity for deep joy that I admire. He wanted to hear his music uninterrupted and spit on his sister when she came into his room to chat. These moments of choice step-by-step and consequence-by-consequence truly become the Life I experience.
This year as I focus on creating more humility through patience, the experiences that I a€?m creating through what Ia€™ve viewed up to now as limitations are supporting me in doing just that. Her words say that the stamens are the pollen-bearing male part of this delicate precious flower. She never considered herself handicapped, and her acceptance has brought me bravery and added awareness that life is created by the choice to live with a€?what isa€? with courage.
This quote by Anne Lamott brought me back to my intention to explore Nepoa€™s original questions.
Another man loses his job and decides to create a different way of living and becomes a role model for others. We are a soul having a physical experience that has the opportunity to contribute to the healing of all living beings. In the peaceful stillness, I closed my eyes and let the gurgle of the racing river wash through me as the sun shared its warmth.
Perhaps your belief is that your children should behave differently, but then you see them blossom into their own lives that are very different from what you imagined. If the answer is limits, look at it and let it go for it does not serve your Life or anyonea€™s. With closer observation of the direction of the winds and of the angles of the sun, it becomes clear that the one that seems to be leaning-in has twisted, has transformed, and has become deeply rooted thereby protecting the other from the elements. Our patterned reaction may not be the healthiest response in this moment, and if it is not, it may be wise to make a different choice.
It was clear to me that as a male, he had automatically assumed that the woman in his relationship had to have been weaker or less assertive for inequality to exist. Later a call came that a skunk, which appeared to have a broken leg, was outside the restaurant by the golf course. Life is by definition impermanent and the cultivation of acceptance has been my yearlong intention since Winter Solstice of last year. I remembered a summer of disruption as Dad added the addition and my son walked in the foundation ditches and later put nails into the exposed electrical outlets. In that moment of presence, their togetherness seemed all that truly mattered, and I was touched by their love for each other.
No one knows in Life what will come next, living in this present moment is where we find our power. Ia€™ve watched the French Open and seen the victory there as a moment in time that is relevant only to the lives involved.
She says thata€™s okay because the movement is subtle, but necessary to maintain the health of the back and ultimately the nerve in that area. I will trust the Universal force to support me in my learning and relax into the pain, feel it deeply in the moment; I will no longer resist the discomfort, but welcome it in with whatever message it brings.
Ia€™ve read, baked cookies, watched the birds out my window, slept late, meditated, done yoga, watched old movies, and just stayed in my home with just me.
If I find one, I will look to see what I can learn from that situation in the present moment. What a waste of my day!a€? These thoughts were still in my head as I entered the glass elevator with a few others on the top deck of the parking garage.
I was just trying to get you to explain what the "pitch, roll and yaw" apply to since we aren't airplanes or boats. It seemed bettera€”it captured the light of my mooda€”but somehow did not convey the importance of that few hours of Moon Dancing with my Shadows.
Now and then something would move in the silence and take my attention away from the shapes and forms of the plants that lined the walkway. Now absorbed in the beauty of the ocean, focused on the view in the camera, and not feeling my feet, my body tumbles down on the lower deck, my camera flies off into the grass about one foot from the lily pond. As more new-generation voters came to exercise their right to choose along with others that had been voting for a long time, it reminded me of how precious this right is to Americans.
As he voted, we prepared to go outside to collect a€?Zacha€™sa€? vote from the truck, being careful to follow procedures that would allow his ballet to be cast privately. What I have never written about is how difficult and how painful it was to be the Mother of a dying son, and what Life was like for me when I could no longer touch his physical presence. No longer do I pretend that losing a sona€™s physical presence is easy, no longer do I need to be that strongest person in the room, no longer do I hide that losing him changed my own life in ways I could not have imagined. I smiled with the recognition that it is the Seer that I can trust and I let the Story of discontent go. The need for change calls to be embraced with wonder and welcoming; it is part of the personality that has formed my human experience for as long as I can remember. I try again; I want to catch the light and hold it, but the flame of the candle cannot be held, it must shine wherever it will or it disappears. Without judgment of how things should be, we can simply shine and bask in each othera€™s light.
His physical body left us nine years ago, but for me his spirit is in the sound of the wind through the treetops and in the light of an early Easter morning sunrise.
And as I chuckle at this thought that is now present, my perception of losing some short-term memory gives me ample time to remember the most important thing: what is the present moment offering me as an opportunity.
My mother says, behind the flower the great sun, which I feel on my face, casts a dark surrounding edge that make the blossom even more vivid and creates a shadow of the stamens on the petal itself.
The light shining in her sea foam green eyes reflects what she is seeing through my voice and her other senses.
As a physical manifestation of a living Universe with unique skills, hopes, dreams, and personalities, how much healing we contribute is up to each of us for we have free will to choose what we will create. In the words of Lamott, I am truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who I was born to be. The strength coming back into his body was coming too late for him to survive this incarnation, but he seemed to love his experiences on the bike. Because of their ages, that would be a very long time into the future, but it was the logic I used to hold on to this small symbol of my sona€™s longing for health and my own. I turned and sped away leaving him to his own period of learning since he had not ridden a bike for sometime. It was a beautiful river, a beautiful moment, a beautiful bike, another memory, and I loved and was honored to share it with this friend. Perhaps your belief is that you love to write, but that you are too old and unknown to get published; you go forward anyway and your book is published and it brings you great joy. Because they are almost 100 years old, their roots under the surrounding plants, rocks, and soil are entwined with and supportive of each other in ways that cannot be undone.
Since I did not feel he was open to the idea that this assumption was in and of itself telling about his view of equality, I just said there are many kinds of strength and the subject was ended. As this thought was taking up residence in my brain, I noticed a man and a small boy up ahead. She said, a€?He still makes me laugh.a€? He, in character, chuckled with pleasure at that thought. Ia€™ve dressed to go biking and yet I stayed in the drama unfolding at the French Open as if it had some significance in my own life. Time to make the smoothie that has become a part of my mornings of late: cantaloupe, pineapple, blueberries, yogurt, strawberries, apples, and raspberries. It has been years since I fearfully resisted emotional pain and stiffened and numbed against it.
For so long, I have worked to be conscious, to be authentic, to be present, and in that moment, the part of me that feels sorry for myself was active yet again. And you seem to be referring to those motions in relation to the muscles that come into play around the sacrum and how that affects the "location of awareness". Yes I said a€?shadows.a€? Now a week later I am at home and awake in the early hours of morning and I know it is time to write.
Out of that stillness a rabbit hopped, two deer walked slowly behind me, and the early birds of morning began to chirp.
This week as I gazed at the two photos, the child and the woman, it dawned on me that the beauty of love has always been within me patiently waiting for me to rediscover it. With the wisdom that I was changing my own life not his, I decided to offer him my support for sobriety one more time. The silence of deep meditation, the practice to live in this moment, and the awareness that we are a part of something bigger than our physical being have supported me to accept and heal from the things I can not change.
As we close our eyes and state our intentions for the week, I feel his love and send him mine.
I am filled with love and gratitude for the ability to write my thoughts and feelings down in a way that enriches and expresses my experiences. Each day the intention to live in fear of losing a physical existence that is inevitable carries us away from the love that is the essence of the Life we all share.
When I took it to be restored with new tires, etc., the repairman remarked on how well it was made and how unworn it appeared. Perhaps your belief is that your life experiences should have been different, but deep inside you know that it has been those experiences that have created you Life. This deep presence and seeing of their combined lives bring a growing appreciation of connectedness. By convention, equiluxes are the days where sunrise and sunset are closest to being exactly 12 hours apart.
His physical pain during the discussion expressed itself in a visible expressed pain in his chest as he talked about the need to live a more solitary Life to insure his freedom to be himself. I have a deep knowing that no matter what my perception is in the moment, the Universe is a friendly supportive force within me that a€?does not take sides, but seeks only balance.a€? It is my intention to have compassion for what I hear and see and to learn the lesson of impermanence as I witness it in nature.
What mattered was the memory of love and support that flowed through the energy of the house into me and then to my daughtera€™s family.
I began to think he was just bored as my friend and I turned to playing games on my IPad, so I asked if he would like to join us. Their smells mingle with the sounds of the rain and for a moment the blender whirl drowns out all other sounds.
I had forgotten this feeling of freedom that has moved my spirit since I was a child, the love of nighttime, and the magic of moonlight.
Since staying here on the deck doesna€™t seem to be an option, I pull myself up, retrieve my camera (bent but not broken), and shuffle back to my room and sit silently on the bed.
He lay in the back seat of the truck, and as I stood on my knees in the front seat to get his ID papers, Zach asked, Can I vote?
It had been a few years since we had seen him because he just never showed up to family gatherings. This time was different than before; this time I knew I could accept whatever choice he made, but he was my son and for myself I needed to offer him assistance one last time! The deep wound of loss affected many of my relationships and still I clung to the strength of knowing that I had done the a€?righta€? thing. Without the wisdom and acceptance of or a€?surrendera€? to each moment as it is, I cannot choose an appropriate action with a conscious intent and honor my need to live authentically in this moment, and the next, and the next.
Her voice falls upon my ears and her words become my thoughts, and I imagine with great specificity how the cherry blossom appears and admire its beauty. This cherry blossom is magnificent, and the glory of its connection to this growing child leaves me speechless and filled with awe for this blessed life. Perhaps your belief is that there is only one Path to God and that prevents you from appreciating all those who believe in a different God than yours. Depending on where you stand, they are framed by the sky above, or the garden below, or by the giant stone arches of the porch.
There is evidence that we are still there as surely as we are here through our choices to give of ourselves. He said, a€?No, Ia€™ll just walk up to the edge of the golf course.a€? His demeanor seemed unusual, but I dismissed it and returned to the game my friend and I were sharing.
I glide to the coffee maker and the smell of coffee is strong enough to feel like I taste it already. Just when I could hardly believe the vision my courage had co-created with the moon, a flock of wild geese cut the mist of the lake as they winged their way across in perfect formation. My body is tired, my mood is gray like the clouds above the ocean, and self-doubt seems to have taken me over. He had stopped answering his phone and his friends called me to say they thought he was dying. Perhaps your thoughts are that your thoughts are true and you do not question further how best to live your Life with yourself or in relationship to others.
The annoyance I felt in my body as I viewed his pain turned into compassion and acceptance for us both. The back legs and rear of the frog were already in the snakea€™s mouth and the froga€™s body was badly bloated as its eyes bulged, its front legs kicked, and it sought freedom from the snake.
My choice to visit the past because I love my daughter created a rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of time passing in the present, and my gratitude for my daughter and our choices to share our Life sang within my heart; a reminder and then a another memory of time passing in the present!
I smile at the wonder of just being present without thinking something should be different than it is. This need to understand everything that happens has been a recurring theme for as long as I can remember.
In that moment, under his white hair and beyond his aging body, there was the light of youth and his eyes held the same excitement I had witnessed in the young girl that morning.
The last five years had been a roller coaster ride of emotions for me as he was better and then not better over and over again.
I could do this and I began a long path of self-healing without the courage to ask for support directly.
Perhaps you have doubts about your own goodness and forget to look at the generosity that has been a major thread of your Life. Earlier that day, a dog had stumbled upon a horneta€™s nest and had been stung badly, and a staff member went looking for the nest to eliminate it so humans could walk the path without being stung. I felt the pain of the froga€™s struggle; I wanted to do something to make this stop, but what? I relived a day when my small son gave my baby daughter a drink from a cup as she rested in her crib; she almost drowned.
If I understand it then I can accept it, or more accurately change it; or so my Story goes.
Then as if a powerful director had taken over the scene, a fish danced to the ice-like surface of the lake. Meditation had supported me in staying centered enough to love my daughter and her family, support my partnera€™s interests, hold a demanding job, and attempt to just enjoy and learn about my life. Perhaps your belief is that friends and family should be more open hearted and open minded and so you close your heart and mind to them.
It is the most reoccurring event involving injury that comes to the attention of the Nature Foundation. They are delicious and colorful in contrast to the dark quiet of the room and the day outside my window. I turned to find a circle of life rippling the water and the dancing fish no longer visible.
Perhaps you have made what seems like a mistake and your belief is that you cannot be forgiven and that thought keeps you separate from someone you love. My thought was that the bees were there first and should be left alone to resettle into their lives. I chose only to stand and watch with sadness and curiosity as this unusual sighting in nature played out.
I gaze at my joy garden that is bright with purple, pink, and white against a blue-gray sky. It had the slight chill of autumn, and I could imagine the burst of color that would soon fill the trees.
On this glorious October day, I felt that I had done everything I could and my body sagged from the weight of wanting him to be different. Perhaps the belief is that if you dona€™t act in a certain way, you will not gain acceptance; but someone once said, a€?if you do not always bring with you who you truly a€?area€™ others will fall in love with who you are a€?nota€? and how limiting will that be?
It is hard to express all that I saw through the visual memory there in our first small house. It took him some time to physically fill out the ballot, and it was my honor to wait for him.
For me, Zacha€™s light infused the darkness around the truck and as I looked from my fellow poll workera€™s eyes to Zacha€™s son-in-lawa€™s eyes, they seemed to glow with something unexplainable. I could no longer watch so we turned away and continued our walk through this civilized and yet still wildly natural, tourist attraction.
In the pages, he quotes, William Stafford: What can anyone give you greater than now, starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?



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Comments to «How long it takes to learn meditation»

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