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Sunday, March 22 2015

Breathing Toward Quiet


       Some days, there’s so much chatter inside that invitations toward the quiet Divine Within are difficult to honor.  I don’t like to yank myself into quiet.  I don’t want to make meditation a battle.  For times when the journey feels like a big leap, I wonder about a series of smaller steps that can assist in the movement toward quiet inner spaciousness. 


       This morning, I experimented with a structured approach that feels gentle and respectful – and was quite helpful.  It begins by breathing into, and out from, the seven energy centers called chakras:  the root (base of the body’s trunk), the sacral (lower belly), the solar plexus (upper belly), the heart, the throat, the third eye (middle of the forehead) and the crown (top of the head).


       The first step is one of clearing/cleansing.  Inhale love/light into the root chakra.  (I invite love energy to move up from Mother Earth or in from the Universe.)  Exhale with the intention of clearing the chakra, sending whatever energy is not needed back to the universe or down to the earth for composting.  (I find it helpful to say “love” on the inhalation and “clear” on the exhalation.)  Repeat with the other chakras – in ascending order – devoting a breath (or two or three) to each energy center.


       The second step is just like the first one, except that it focuses on opening.  Inhale love/light into each chakra and invite/imagine chakras opening as you exhale.  I find helpful the words “love” (as I breathe in) and “open” (as I breathe out).  Some folks imagine flowers opening.


       The third step deepens heart opening.  Inhale love/light into the heart.  Exhale love/light from the heart, radiating love outward.  For words, I use “love” when inhaling and “forth” when exhaling.   


       The final step (described with more detail in my last posting) is the movement toward the spacious, quiet Divine Within.  Inhale love/light into the heart; exhale gently toward the deep quiet at the center of being.  Here again, at first, it may help to use words like “love” and “quiet”, as you breathe in and out.  As the quiet deepens, all words fade.


       Structure is meant to help, not to confine.  No need for precision or perfection here.  Life is flexible and forgiving.  Communion with the Divine Within is natural for us.  Paths to quiet spaciousness are many and unique.  Just pay attention to what feels good/right.  


       And trust your heart.





Posted by: AT 07:41 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, March 07 2015

Divine Within


       Lately, in seated meditation, I’ve been hanging out in what I call the Divine Within – a quiet, vast spaciousness inside, where the center of individual being merges with the center of all being.  


        Mystics of all traditions speak of this spacious, silent, sacred emptiness, where all is one.  Each tradition teaches ways of journeying there.  Traveling to the deep quiet is natural for us.  We each find our own pathways.


       My recent travels begin with the breath.  I inhale universal energy – love, light, mercy, tenderness, compassion, the good stuff – into my heart and gently follow the exhalation downward toward the center.   For me, the center seems somewhere in the lower belly, in an area Qi Gong practitioners call the lower dantian.  Others may sense it elsewhere.


       As I move into the quiet, the sensation of breathing fades, along with everything else.  Only the quiet remains – sometimes as a cavernous silence, sometimes as a faint hum – often lasting only for the briefest of moments – often lasting longer. 


       Distractions, of course, visit regularly.  Once aware, I gently invite myself back to breath – inhaling the good stuff and exhaling again toward the quiet.  The more I treat myself to sacred silence, the easier it is to keep returning.  Meditation practice is more about returning than it is about staying.


       The Divine Within is home to all of us, a place of rest and re-creation, a place of quiet companionship with the universe.  From this perspective, with some practice, meditation becomes less a discipline and more a vacation – a welcome respite from fretting and doing, the delicious experience of simply being.


       Treat yourself. 











Posted by: AT 07:20 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, March 01 2015

       One of the most important principles that has guided me well – when I’ve remembered it – is the idea that if I want anything to change, in myself or in someone else, I have to first approach it with acceptance and love. 


       Here is a passage from Mark Nepo that resonates with me.



Looking with Love


“Our best chance to find the Oneness of Life is by looking with love into everything and everyone we meet.  Looking with love is a form of saying yes.  We give birth to everything we look at with love, including our own soul. This shining forth is the one gift we’re born with that is always near, though we often lose sight of it or lose faith in it. …


“Like sunlight, looking with love is a warm presence that helps everything looked upon find its strength.  The presence of love is how questions grow under the moon in the open patch of yard; how in our pain we suddenly find a way to create peace; how being with each other, in the midst of great difficulty, creates a sense of home.”


Mark Nepo, The Endless Practice, p. 65.





Posted by: AT 01:49 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email

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