28 04, 2008

Balancing the centers of your body, part 2

April 28th, 2008|counseling, exercises, love, spectrum, spirituality, transformation|0 Comments

This is second of a two part series. For the preceding article, see part 1.


To summarize the previous article, having an imbalance of centers will restrict the perception of what choices are available. If you are imbalanced towards one center, you will only see possibilities based in that center, even if they are inappropriate ones. The imbalance creates a buildup of energy that can fixate into patterns of behavior that may not always be appropriate. Thus in the example of the person insisting on being ‘rational’ above, there is usually no awareness that there is another way to be. The consciousness is seated entirely in one center and has no easy routes to other centers, and so only sees the options from that place.

So let’s get on to… Techniques for Balancing.

Focusing on the trap


To continue the example in the first part of this series, the solution to the downward spiral of the trap (when you’re in an obsessive loop that just gets more and more dysfunctional) is to bypass this trap by using other centers in your body. What is normally recommended is moving over to the actual center instead of the part. In the case of the Moving part of the Intellectual Center (which is still in the Intellectual Center) this would mean fully Moving centered activity: going for a walk, exercise, dancing, cleaning, or certain forms of energy work. However, utilizing any other center can often help break this pattern, including higher centers.

 

Doing non regular activities (e.g., going for a walk in a forest) can often help anyone stop circular thought or emotional patterns. Likewise, listening to emotional music and singing along with it can help intellectual or body patterns. And finally, stopping to do a Sodoku puzzle can help distance oneself from emotional and body roadblocks.

 

The usual downside with using the method of focusing on the trap is not really the method itself, but how it is approached : reading material and thinking about ‘how to approach’ something means that invariably you will be using the intellectual center somewhat. Having a living teacher can mitigate this, but most people read this method from books or online. This is why doing nothing but reading self-help books rarely provides a full balance; there will always be a thought-based focus.


Balancing the centers again means knowing when and how to access ALL your natural intelligence at a given time. Some situations call for certain specialization, and allowing yourself to naturally gravitate to that portion of your entirety is much more efficient than first moving to your comfortable or “favorite” center and then struggling to move from that one to where you really need to be in order to process the situation you’re in. So the trick is, then, is intuitively knowing what center to use that works for you and having the access and openings in place to use it without effort. This intuitively knowing must be intuitive: it cannot, for example, be based in the emotional center. It is also based in a good communication between the centers being already in place, so that when one center exclaims “this one’s for me”, it is heard.

Therefore, another method is to simply focus on opening these connections.

Building up Inter-center communications


Again, when there is an open, well-used connection between all the centers, it is far more easy to see all the choices available in every moment. Like building a highway system between cities, it can take time and attention to cultivate these connections. They are all available to all of us in childhood, but for the most part blockages and decisions cause many interconnections to become unused.

The most basic example is to simply go through all of the parts of centers in the table above and practice being in them. Practise moving from center to center as Figure 2 describes: moving from the part of one center to the part of the related center. (e.g., Emotional part of Intellectual to Intellectual part of Emotional). After exploration, ask yourself these questions:

  • Were you completely immersed in the experience?
  • Was there an extra resource of energy that came?
  • Was there a sense of fun and playful exploration?
  • Did you involve other centers? (e.g., if you are exploring the emotional center and its parts, were you analysing it while doing something?)


When you are fully immersed in a center, you are tapping in to a greater resource of energy than is normally available to you. Perhaps you have seen people participating in tribal African dances. If someone does not have a background in this very Moving centered activity, then there will be an attempt to do the movement from another center. They will think about the moves, and then do the moves while watching themselves and evaluating. However, there can be a shift in which suddenly there is no thought about doing it “right” – one simply dives into the experience of being completely in the body and loving the motion of limbs, the freedom and play of intense motion. It is at that moment that the Moving center is fully activated. It is also in those moments that access to the higher centers are more available.

All centers’ energies are more available to you when there is that sense of immersion and play. University professors usually learn to play with their thoughts in order to keep the joy and energy going of a purely intellectual experience. Emoting actors must have a great sense of play to keep the energy repeated throughout every performance. Balancing the centers is work, but for it to work, there must be a great deal of play as well.

It is useful in the path of balancing centers to have a series of exercises that aid in experiencing other centers and communication between parts of different centers. Again, this is because trying to learn something exclusively from printed words is a surefire way to keep yourself in the Intellectual center. Some exercises can be done alone, but it is recommended to do things in a group, or at least one other person. It is much easier to trick yourself into keeping to a familiar center when you’re alone. In a group there is a natural play and family feeling.

Here are some exercises that may help revitalize connection pathways between your centers.



Exercise 1: Instinctive-Moving Center connection

The instinctive center governs instinct, basis processes of the body, and a repository of memory. This exercise comes from Vipassana Buddhist meditations.

First, sit (or stand) and do nothing but pay attention to the breath. For a few movements, watch the inbreah and outbreath. Notice how it affects every part of your body. Notice the rise and fall of your chest, the gentle sensations in your nostrils or mouth, and how each breath creates a tiny motion everywhere in your body. Watch the impulse to breathe and the internal sensations. Enjoy the moments and, after some time, play with your breathing. How does pausing at some point feel? What parts of your body will speak up then? Simply notice and listen, then go back to playing.

The next part is a moving meditation. You will be noticing your body as it very slowly walks back and forth in a straight line. Ever so slowly, notice shifts in your weight. Notice all the movements in your body, from your breath to how your arms help you keep your balance. Notice the impulse to move and how it connects to your muscles. Again, play with your motion and notice the results.

Now, after this is done, evaluate yourself: did you immerse yourself and feel alive and in that state of play? Did you become somewhat childlike? Was there a joy in simply being alive? There is no “right” way to do this exercise, but these are signs that you are activating the energy of other centers. If you feel there is still more connection to be had, find some way to do things differently. There is always a way to turn a ‘chore’ of an exercise into a playful exploration.

Exercise 2: Emotional-Moving Center connections (group)

This exercise must be done in a group of at least 3 people, preferably 5 or more. Because Western society is primarily Intellectual centered, this exercise is extremely beneficial to most people. It also usually creates a good amount of laughter and fun.

It is something called “impulse passing”. It is to be done as quickly as possible, without pausing to stop for thought or to collect one’s self.

In this exercise, an impulse is simply an emotive sound and a movement. It can be any combination of the two. The sound should not be a word, but rather a sound with emotion attached such as “aiiigh!” or “blech” or “ooOoooo” or an animal-like sound. Again, it can be any sound you wish it to be so long as it is not a word. The impulse movement should ideally involve as much of the body as possible and be able to be performed in about a second. It could be making monkey faces, a mock punch, a wiggling of the feet or body, pulling one’s hair, etc. It should not touch others, but other than that, anything is allowed.

The group should arrange itself in a circle. The exercise is first done between adjacent people. An impulse is passed between individuals by one person showing an impulse, and the other person “receiving” it by repeating it. The receiver then creates a completely different impulse to the original person or the other person adjacent to them. Again, it should be done as quickly as possible. Usually when there is a pause it is a sign that another center is in operation. Emotional and moving centers react very quickly; there is no need for pauses here. (This does not mean people should not be cracking up with laughter, of course!)

It takes a little time for people to be comfortable with this, but is great as an introduction, to shift energy, or simply to allow more room for the Moving Center and Emotional Center.

After some understanding of the exercise is achieved, a slightly more advanced version involves passing multiple impulses in different directions around the circle. Care must be achieved to not lose impulses; it requires people to pay attention to the circle. If someone is “caught” with multiple impulses being passed to them, one “giver” will have to keep repeating the impulse until they know it is “received”. Still even more advanced variations involve passing across the circle by eye contact.

This is a wonderful exercise because when there is no pause between impulses, it is virtually assured the intellectual center is not engaged. It is also extremely playful and draws a group closer together.

 

Exercise 3: Moving / Emotional / Instinctive Center


This exercise can be done alone, but it is best done with a group of people doing the same exercise together.

In this exercise, you lie flat on a floor. It can be a carpeted floor or on a mat, but it should be comfortable and give you free range to move a little from side to side and not bump into people.

The instructions are to breathe, connect to your diaphragm, and express as sounds or movement. There is always something in your body to feel and/or express. Often this comes out simply as laughter. You do not require an intellectual understanding of what is going on. Allow things to come out either via motion (without getting up) or via sounds.

When you connect to your diaphragm, there is often laughter there. Allow this to come. It is easier to connect with it when surrounded by a group doing the same process and a “model” to look at. If the connection does not come at first, practise nudging it a bit by forcing a little laughter and seeing if it connects with something. Don’t force too hard; this is about connecting, not doing something the “right way”.

What can occur is an “ecstacy-agony” cycle, where laughter connects to sorrow/pain, which brings one back to laughter again. Doing this regularly can help bring non-attachment to emotional states: each state will always flow into another when nothing is resisted.

Again, this exercise is hard to describe without seeing a good example in front of you, but if you try doing it with at least one partner, it can lead to great discoveries.

This exercise is difficult for most people because there is an assumption that things need to be “there” in order to feel and express something. So laughing for “no reason” is considered impossible without faking it. However, there is no such thing as a void in the universe. What this means is that there is never a place with no emotion in your body. There is never a time that you are feeling nothing. You also have the power in your consciousness to shift your focus to different parts of your body and feel different emotions there. What most people describe as “feeling nothing” is either feeling a calm peace, or feeling a block of some sort, depending on the ‘heaviness’ of the ‘nothing’. This exercise can also bring up energies stored in the instinctive center, and so can be wonderful as part of a healing process.

 

Conclusion


These are some examples of exercises that are available. I haven’t listed intellectually centered exercises because most of them are well known. Psychological exercises tend to be about the Intellectual-Emotional connection, while formal dance, martial arts, and movement meditation tend to be about the Intellectual-Moving connection. It is very helpful to invent your own exercises, as this brings a sense of your own play and creativity to the process.

Balancing the centers and building up communication between all the centers in your body is a lifetime project, much like working on childhood issues and fears that block your perception. There is thus no “magic” fix to do it immediately. It takes patience and some discipline, but also a sense of play that is the primary way to be willing to move to completely different modes of perceptions and experiencing life.

Please feel free to suggest other exercises here!

1 09, 2007

the allowing of pain.

September 1st, 2007|allowing, channeling, love, pain, spectrum|8 Comments

All of you have likely heard talk about the universality of Love. It’s in many places, from the Bible saying “God is Love” to various newer teachings. For instance, the most famous quote of A Course in Miracles is :

“The opposite of love is fear, but what is all encompassing can have no opposite.”

According to this, the universe itself is composed of nothing but love. And yet our experiences seem to be full of things which do not appear loving. Others may treat us with disdain and rudeness, and we ourselves may experience emotions such as pain, anger, despair and grief that we think are as far from the experience and ecstasy of love as can be. And yet, if the universe itself is made of love and we are part of the universe, then logically we ourselves should be made of nothing but love. So why do we experience such intensely negative emotions such as pain, when love is supposed to be ecstatic?

It at this point, let’s go beyond the labels we have for these emotions. Labels keep us fixed into a relatively small concept, and in fact there are wide differences between two people for the same experience of an emotion. If looked at deeply, there is a fullness within every emotion that most people do not even glimpse. In fact, each emotion is not a limited experience – it’s an entire spectrum, much like the light that comes to us from the sun. And like light, there are even huge swaths of the spectrum that we cannot even see. In fact what we know of as pain, for instance, is but a small area of the spectrum available of this one basic experience, but a small part of the expansive range open to us.

To go into more detail, let us now take a look at pain. To use the analogy of the body, pain serves a very useful purpose. It lets us know when there is something important that we need to focus on. If we are being stabbed by a sharp needle, for example, it is good to take immediate action to remove the needle from our body. Sometimes the pain is more chronic and speaks of long-term actions necessary to create a healthier environment in the complex system that is our body. So to put it simply, pain is a good thing. However, if we think of pain only as an enemy, and therefore do not listen to it, it is quite possible that the symptoms will grow exponentially larger until we reach the point where we see nothing but the pain. It is not pain that is the problem, only our experience of it and our reaction to it.

The inward experience of emotional pain is similar. It serves a very useful function – it lets us know what needs to be listened to and transformed. When fully allowed, this can be a truly transcendant experience. In most cases we see, of course, it’s misery, but to give a wider picture of what pain can look like, it is useful to think of it again as a spectrum. Here’s a table showing a range:

 

Blocking

  • A complete void.

arrow

  • Overwhelmed with pain; wishing death
  • Alone; lost in pain, blaming others.
  • Bonding with others through sharing pain.
  • Recognizing pain as an impetus to start caring for self.
  • Fully listening to pain to help transformation.

Allowing

  • Transcendence.
spectrum

All of these come from the same basic internal energy, that which we label ‘pain’. In this one emotion, there is a universe of difference in the experience. And yet the experiences are intricately intertwined; in each moment of meeting pain there can be an instant shift into another mode of experience. The only difference between the states listed above is the degree of allowing we have for the pain – which is the degree we make pain our friend, becoming one with it. Being completely in the present moment, in an ever-fulfilling process of allowing, opens us to the entire range. Resisting the experience will tend to move us to the more blocking side of the spectrum. Normally we sway back and forth a fair bit, even for minor pains!

Both ends of the spectrum are of course connected. Numerous accounts, such as Eckhart Tolle, exist of completely giving up in the pain of existing, surrendering to ‘the void’, and then dramatically shifting to an ecstatic experience of transcendence.

How does this then relate to love? Most people think of love as an emotion. If this were so, it would limit Love. Love itself is not an emotion. Love is the entire spectrum. Think then, that pain is not seperate from it; pain is part of that vast spectrum. Love is a complete allowing of everything. It includes pain, joy, anger, longing, connections with others, and all human experience. Love in some way can be likened to the space through which light can pass. It is Love itself that provides the allowing that enables pain to be the complete blessing that it can be, if it is surrendered to. If you think to a time where you sat in front of someone you knew loved you, it was at a time when everything in you was welcomed. This included all your emotions, all your thoughts, all your desired; it was all invited and allowed. Why then should loving ourselves be any different?

This of course in no way minimizes the paralysing agony that pain can be, or is it in any way saying people are “responsible for their pain”. It takes experience and wisdom to trust the process of allowing and surrendering to an experience, and most people need much support to do this. That’s what friends are for, after all. Still, I hope by looking at pain this has given a glimpse of possibilities that exist in every moment, inside every emotion.

PS. There’s an online group aimed at discussing concepts like this and integrating it into our lives which I’m a co-owner on. If anyone is interested in it – which does involve time, exercises and experiments – please send me mail. And of course, comments and questions are always welcomed!

26 07, 2007

the innocence of anger

July 26th, 2007|beauty, innocence, listening, love, Self, spectrum, wholeness|4 Comments

For this blog I’ll write about anger. It’s a greatly misunderstood emotion in our culture. It’s both decried and cultivated at the same time. There are enormous mixed messages we get on a daily basis, and because of this, many people have walled away any possibility of this emotion being shown. To an extreme, there might even be a message that it’s best to always step back and “see the perfection of the other” – which involves walling away anything critical – rather than show any anger.

Now, let’s look at anger directly. I hope you can pause here to look at it with me; we all have it inside ourselves. Think of someone or something that simply pisses you off. Please sit with it a while; listen to it. This isn’t about a venting process, which is what happens when the easiest words are found. Listening is a deep, meditative process that doesn’t wish anything to go away or be fixed. Pay attention to what it really wants to say. Listen to it equally if it’s to someone else or to yourself.

(I hope you take a few moments to breathe deeply and listen to yourself here)



When I hear anger, it’s a voice with power that says “Something isn’t working here. Please listen!”. That’s all. No violence at all. What isn’t healthy about that – speaking out when something doesn’t work?

What most people confuse with anger is projection. Projection naturally happens when there’s a total non-acceptance of a real process going on within. It says “this is not mine! It must be yours.” And thus a violence caused by the rupture that begins totally with Self. Thus, if something isn’t working internally and there’s denial that it IS within, there is a constant push externally that is the anger turned into projection. Of course, in this case, there is nothing the outside world can do to change the internal world of the person, so “help” turns two ways: either to encourage listening and care of Self, or to encourage numbness so the inner turmoil isn’t felt. Many “safe” atmospheres encourage the numbness by creating a whitewashed atmosphere where all possible triggers are removed.

To look at healthy anger, a good example is Gandhi. Gandhi made it very clear the behavior of the British in India wasn’t working; it caused tremendous suffering, he did everything in his power to encourage people to listen and see it clearly. He focused solely on the behavior of the British, not the British themselves, who were generally wonderful people. He did not make them wrong (i.e., use projection), but focused on behavior that was changeable – and so documented the systematic methods of poverty and oppression that occurred in those colonial times. People wouldn’t think it was anger, because there was no rage or violence at all. He moved from a place of power that no one could take away, and part of that was his non-violence. But the root energy was anger – simply in a very evolved form. It was again, “This isn’t working – Please listen!”. This goes back to earlier posts expressing there are no “bad” emotions. Any emotion can be transformed to a place where it services mankind. Without exception.

An example closer to home might be a mother watching over a child. If the child places itself in danger, the natural response tends to be anger. In a mother with no shame of their anger, this comes out as a clear “get back! I care about you!” I’ve been lucky enough to see people without any shame of their anger, and the response children have to this is lovely. They will tend to smile, because the anger clearly comes out of Love. However, if there’s significant guilt and pain surrounding anger, all of this inner division comes out in the communication. The result is that it feels awful, because with the disharmony expressed in that shout, the love in the communication doesn’t shine through. The crux is that the problem is with the disunity, not the anger.

One of the false images people have of anger is that it’s a way to attack the other person. However, if you’ve ever seen someone “let it all out”, without defenses, it is an incredibly vulnerable state. We tend to go through life guarding against others knowing what we care about. Showing anger without guile or protection puts it all out on the table. You are making what you passionately care in plain view all to see and touch. People subconsciously protect against this because of the possibility the other person will use that vulnerability to attack. This is of course, very valid; it happens fairly regularly. Those who wish to use this vulnerability to attack may bait others, waiting for others to let loose so they can then give a “sucker punch” of a sort. This doesn’t take anything away from those who reach this kind of vulnerability; it takes great courage to be fully open this way. Most people get angry half-heartedly. They let the other person know they are angry, but they don’t get to vulnerability. Others tend to feel this lack of vulnerability and react defensively. Many activists are in this state.

When it comes down to it, anger deserves a deep and profound listening, like everything else. It is often a healthy desire for boundaries. Sometimes it is the simple message that something isn’t working, and thus can be a “cover up emotion”, pointing to a geyser of other emotions that are crying out to be released. But the anger itself is not a problem. It is something that needs to be given a loving space of listening, not “fixed”. There is nothing that needs to be done with it, other than listening. Allowing it transforms it, and lets everyone involved see what truly wasn’t working. This is a gift to the world.



Now, the events of the last few weeks as described in the last blog for me brought up a lot of anger. Quite frankly, I love my anger. And because of that, no one would ever describe me as an “angry person”. I love that I speak up when something doesn’t work. I love that I do my best to do it from a vulnerable space. Sometimes I fall flat on my face, but that’s what learning’s about. Look what happened in the previous blog – there are great benefits to getting to a place where support is needed!

Be whole.