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Tuesday, March 27 2012

Following the Exhale


       A Tibetan practice, called the Shambhala Warrior meditation, invites the meditator to follow an exhalation to the edge of the universe.  It's a powerful, expansive practice – one of many relaxation and centering techniques that focus on the exhale.  Here are a couple more I've been using lately in my personal practice and with Thursday night's group.



Chakra Opening and Clearing


       This breath-oriented meditation mixes traditions from China and India.


       With each inhalation, we focus on drawing energy into what QiGong masters call the lower dan tien – the primary energy center of the body, located just behind and below the navel.  With each exhalation, we send forth this energy to open, clear and balance the seven chakras – the energy collection and distribution centers of the body described in ancient Hindu texts.


       In practice, as we inhale, we visualize light moving into the lower dan tien through the navel.  As we exhale, we send the light to each chakra, inviting the chakra to open like a flower bud blossoming.  I recommend devoting three or four exhalations to each energy center, in the following sequence:


1.      The root chakra at the base of the torso.

2.    The sacral chakra in the lower belly.

3.    The third chakra in the solar plexus.

4.    The heart chakra in the center of the chest.

5.    The throat chakra in the center of the throat.

6.    The third eye behind the center of the forehead.

7.    The crown chakra at the top of the head.


       In my recent practice, the chakra opening meditation served as a warm-up to the following meditation.



Journey to the Center


       Inhale light into the heart (or perhaps into the crown), then exhale down the body into the center of being.  Let your intuition guide you there.  For me, it feels like the center is somewhere in the belly and, at the same time, beyond the belly – as if the belly is a gateway to a larger space.


       This is a place of deep quiet, where the center of each being meets the center of all being – a place of profound rest and re-creation, repair and restoration, renewal and re-orientation.  I believe it's our origin and our destination - a wonderful place to hang out for a while.


       I call it home. 






Posted by: AT 10:28 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, March 17 2012

The A's of Love


       A few weeks ago in this space, I speculated about a couple books written by David Richo.  I bought one:  How to be an Adult in Relationships.  I'm glad I did.  It's a delightful blend of east and west, psychology and spirituality.  In the first chapters, he discusses five keys to mindful loving:  Attention, Acceptance, Appreciation, Affection and Allowing.  He calls them "graces of love." (p. 28)


       For any of us to develop a healthy sense of self, we need to receive these five A's.  "Attention from others leads to self-respect.  Acceptance engenders a sense of being inherently a good person.  Appreciation generates a sense of self-worth.  Affection makes us feel lovable.  Allowing gives us the freedom to pursue our own deepest needs, values and wishes…That tender and ever so gingerly ventured bid to be loved is precisely what makes us humans so lovable"  (p. 27)


       For most of us as we develop, we receive the five A's imperfectly from parents.  To the degree that our childhood needs go unmet (and they always go unmet to some degree), we enter romantic relationships from a stance of hunger, looking to our partners for fulfillment.  Here are some quotes I found interesting. 


      "The perfect partner is the mirage we see after crossing the desert of insufficient love."   (p.25)


       "The recurrent fantasy, or search for, the 'perfect partner' is a strong signal from our psyche that we have work to do on ourselves.  For a healthy adult, there is no such thing as a perfect partner … A relationship cannot be expected to fulfill all our needs; it only shows them to us and makes a modest contribution to their fulfillment."  (p. 25)


       "Moderate is the key word for giving and for receiving the five A's.  A nonstop flow of them would be quite annoying, even to an infant.  Our fantasy mindset makes us long for just what we would soon flee.  Hence, what seems like an unsatisfactory compromise is actually the adult's best deal."  (p. 25-26)


       "In healthy intimate relationships we do not seek more than 25 percent of our nurturance from a partner."  (p. 22)


       "In full maturity we do not demand perfection at all, only notice reality.  We access our resources within.  A partner who cooperates in that is a gift but no longer a necessity.  The five A's begin as needs to be fulfilled by our parents, then become needs to be fulfilled by our partners, and someday become gifts we give to others and to the world."  (p.27) 



       Richo strikes a nice balance here.  We can't kiss our own foreheads.  We all need to receive the five A's from outside ourselves in order to internalize a healthy sense of self.  If, however, in our hunger for the A's, we romanticize love and attempt to get all our needs met by a single soul mate, we choke the flow of love we seek.  


       The psychological path to an adult self requires that we find nourishment in a number of different places and that we grow to become reliable sources of sustenance for ourselves and others.  Along the way, we discover that, when we give, we have.


       The spiritual path to full maturity requires that we consciously release ourselves into a larger flow of love – the heartbeat of the universe.  And then we know:  giving and receiving are one.


Posted by: AT 03:40 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, March 04 2012

       I enjoy playing with words and am especially fond of plays on words.  For me, puns speak to the multidimensional nature of things.  Spiritual puns, in particular, resonate deeply.  During a recent meditation on Lent, this pun arrived.  Later it grew into verse.



Traveling Light


We are light beams

light beings



moving through

the kaleidoscope -

rainbow cornucopias of

particles waving -


uniquely balanced

and blended.


As traveling light

we do best

to travel light -

releasing clutter



unworthiness stories

ego attachment

the confining

boxes of thought

holding us back

weighing us down.


Traveling light

we touch lightly.

We savor

and release

each moment

embracing movement

in stillness -

lithe and

transparent to

the ever-unfolding


of hello

and goodbye.


We can't grasp

the unfolding.

We can't dam(n)

the flow.

It only hurts

to try -

only makes us


and darker.


We are

  traveling light.


travel light.

Posted by: AT 08:19 am   |  Permalink   |  Email

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