Being with Being

Being with Being

February, 2017

We live in a time of extreme change and radical possibility. How we align ourselves internally will determine whether we founder or flourish; whether we are drained or revitalized; whether we take energy or contribute energy to the evolution of the whole.

We are living as scattered pieces of what the physicist David Bohm called the unbroken wholeness of being. Internal alignment or connecting with Being is the essential lifeline. The process of re-membering ourselves as divine and rejoining the stream of life is our only source of guidance and wisdom as we navigate these dangerous waters of change.

We usually think in terms of living life as though life was something separate and apart from us – something the “I” can act upon and try to control. This is a fractured perspective that binds us and limits possibilities. What if we could discover, through direct experience – that life is living us, using us to express itself and to evolve? This is the paradigm of the unbroken wholeness of being. We are the embodied wholeness and if we can reclaim our heritage, we can begin the real work of our lives whose only motive is love and whose journey is the evolution of human consciousness.

Toward this great cause, we gather ourselves. We begin to collaborate with this life that is living us. We come home to our physical bodies which are embedded in the body of the physical world and the cosmos. We collect and direct our thoughts toward creating the kind of future where all life is sacred. We gather our attention, letting go of distractions to draw inward to the source of nourishment. We get quiet and settle into stillness. We listen and we are guided.

We begin with the breath. As we breathe in, we gather the parts into wholes. As we breathe out, we settle the body/mind into a point of stillness.  We breathe in and expand and open. We breathe out and gather and settle. We settle and wait in stillness until we begin to feel the presence of this Life which has chosen us as its vehicle to express itself. Our task is to become willing collaborators.

The great Sufi poet, Kabir, shows us the way forward.

“Life is a field and you are born to cultivate it. And if you know how to cultivate this field you can produce anything you like, all of the needs of your life can be produced in this field. All your soul yearns after and all you need is to be got from this field, if you know how to reap the fruit.”

This field is neither inside nor outside. It is without borders or boundaries.  It is Life itself, inviting us to participate in the joy of creation. Its only motive is love and the fulfillment of human consciousness.

Wishing You Stillness

Paméla

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The Three Energy Portals to Health

Greetings and Peace to You.

There is one Source of energy that is responsible for our Life and Health and there are many portals or ways of accessing that energy. Today I will talk about the three main energy portals into the body – breath, the earth representing the visible realm, and the divine or invisible. I’ll share a brief commentary followed by a simple practice for each of the three portals.

According to mystics throughout many traditions, regulation of the breath is most essential in maintaining health. A natural breath, even and rhythmic is the most beneficial. We tend to breath very shallow and irregularly, especially when we are stressed. Then someone comes along and tells us to breathe deeply and we take a big gasp which only produces more tension in the body. We have taken in a breath for which there is no accommodation. We don’t realize that breath can be subtle, soft and deep at the same time. When we breathe this way consciously, we treat our body to a healing infusion of Prana or life force energy which is some traditions is actually called the Breath of God or the Breath of Life.

Take a moment and breathe in to the count of four and breathe out to the count of four. It’s important not to make any effort as this only makes the body tense. Simply breathe in slowly and rhythmically and out slowly and rhythmically. If you feel your lung capacity is restricted, you can do the same breath but double the exhalation. The longer exhalation empties the lungs and creates the accommodation for more breath on the next inhalation. If you continue with this practice, it will become your default pattern. And if you feel you are about to get sick, lie down and do this breath for ten minutes. The Sufi mystic, Hazrat Inayat Khan, said all sickness is due to improper breathing.

The second portal is the Earth. We are nourished by the earth’s energy through our awareness and appreciation of Mother Earth. Every time we step outside, we receive a healing dose of the Earth’s healing energy. These days we spend more time in front of screens like this one, and less and less time outside. We are made of earth elements and we need constant and frequent contact with nature to sustain ourselves. We need to go to the sea, to the mountains and meadows and forests. We need to lie on the earth and gaze up at the stars, to take in the radiance of the sun and moon. We are fed by this light and energy. Without it our battery runs down and we become tired and uninspired.

Take a moment and feel your feet on the floor. Even better, walk outside and become aware of the trees and flowers and sky. Take your shoes off and walk directly on the earth, receiving her healing energy. Go to www.earthinginstitute and read the interesting research and learn how direct contact with the earth’s soil feeds our bodies electronically. Yes you read that right! We receive free electrons from the earth through our feet and bodies and these electrons join with and neutralize free-radicals in the body. Free-radicals are a major source of inflammation. This is a good thing!  So please spend time outdoors everyday and make special pilgrimages to places of beauty and power. The inspiration you will receive is another form of breath – the breath of life. Last night I visited the creek near our home and sat on a tree root with my feet dangling in the water. Then I sang with the frogs. I came home peaceful and inspired.

The third portal we could call the spiritual. Whether you believe in a supreme being or not, everyone has a sense of connectedness to something greater than the individual self. It may be nature and it may be a sense of the infinite. It doesn’t matter what we call it. We can draw energy from it. Whether your cosmic story begins with the Big Bang or a creation story, this is the Source of all energy. It is the source for the breath and the Earth and all creation.  There is so much to say about this divine energy. It is palpable and real and without it there would be no life as we know it. There are many portals into divine energy, including the prophets of all times, the great Beings who have come to Earth to awaken us to our divine inheritance. Think of Abraham, Moses, Christ, Buddha. Think of the teachers you have met in the current age who have encouraged and inspired you. Think of the beauty of nature.

You can train yourself to feel the divine energy. Close your eyes and simply feel whatever sensation is present in your body. Think subtle and vibrational. Feel the presence of energy swirling through your body and extend awareness beyond the body and feel the same presence. Imagine yourself breathing this energy into your body through the crown and circulating it to all the cells. Offer your gratitude for life and for the energy which continuously supports it.

Wishing you Health

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Awe is Therapeutic

I’m back, with good news…Awe is good for your health!

A new study done by researchers at the University of California-Berkley* shows a link between positive feelings such as love, compassion, joy, amusement, awe and good health. And, interestingly, there was a special link between awe and good health. Markers for infection and inflammation were much lower for those who experienced positive feelings.

So what exactly is awe? Everyone has experienced it many times. You see something incredibly beautiful – something in nature, a work of art, a beloved face – and your thinking mind closes. There’s a sense of timelessness, wonder, even humility. The world stops for a moment and the heart swells open. Joy bubbles up – real joy, not superficial pleasure. The word soul comes to mind.

You’ve entered the realm of the mysterious unknowable and somehow this is satisfying in ways the brain doesn’t understand and can’t willfully manufacture. How can that be? The thinking brain takes great pride in understanding yet this feeling we call awe just slips right through the net of its mastery and illuminates a part of us that is not usually active.

The brain’s domain is thinking/understanding. The feeling of awe with its variety of stimuli eludes these capacities. The best word I can think of express my experience of awe is vastness – incomprehensible vastness. There is something thrilling about encountering the unknowable and realizing we are just a tiny cog in the eternal wheel of life.

When I was a young girl I spent time on the Texas coast with my sweet friend Patty. During the day we played in the surf but at night we and sat in the sand dunes under the vast night sky, contemplating the great mystery. This is my first remembered experience of awe. Though the experience was  inexpressible, it impressed my consciousness deeply. Even now, as I write, I can still feel strong traces of that early memory which are somehow connected to all the many other experiences of awe I have had over the years since. This tells me spending time vividly remembering past experiences of positive emotions can also have a very positive effect.

My intention in writing this blog is not to fully elucidate the meaning of awe but to offer the good news that awe is therapeutic. Here are some keys to enhance the possibility of having experiences of awe. First, we can put ourselves in the path of awe by spending time in nature, in deep contemplation with the divine, or in the presence of great art – whether paintings, poetry, music. Second, we can slow down and become very attentive to the world around us. We can walk out the door without lists and ideas about the world and remain open and transparent. And third, we can create the time and space to be openly, authentically with our loved ones. Who knows what the world could look like if we left the door open to experiences of awe. We do know that regular moments of positive emotions, especially awe, will be very good for our health.

My last post, Resting in Stillness, has a more thorough discussion of the keys to stillness which can lead to states of awe.

Till next time, here’s to your health!

* http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2015/02/02/anti-inflammatory/

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Resting in Stillness

All life is composed of cycles – expansion/contraction, opening/closing, going outward/going inward. Since the beginning of human existence, the most basic cycle has been that of waking and sleeping – the division between day and night. The sun rose. We got up to work. The sun set, we lay down to rest. And each period of work was followed by a time of rest and repose.

In modern times the balance of work and repose has been lost. We rarely stop to rest between tasks. This has led to a state of chronic contraction of body and mind and when body and mind are contracted, the life force energy is contracted. Ugg! Not fun. We push, push, push, all day and into the evening, then fall to bed in a state of exhaustion and contraction and sleep fitfully.

Technology has taken its toll on us. We rarely get away from all our devices. Repose does not occur while checking email. Resting is about replenishing. Do we really want to live like that? “Being undead is not alive,” ee comings once said. We tell ourselves we don’t have time to rest but is that true? The truth is we don’t know how to rest in a way that deeply reconnects us with Source, with the source of all energy and aliveness. The good news is we can learn.

The first step is giving permission to stop and rest. This seems obvious but isn’t. When we give permission, we speak directly to the unconscious part of ourselves – the part that is programmed to stay busy and we suggest another way.

The next step is stopping. Again this seems obvious but who has time to stop, right? We are programmed to go, go, go. Balance is not part of the program and stopping and resting is no longer automatically wired into our brain. Stopping means stopping. We pause the body whether sitting or lying down. We give the mind permission to take a break.

Next we turn within, intentionally letting the outer world go. Inside is a vast territory which is mostly unexplored. We can bring our attention and our curiosity to this rich inner world of infinite depths.

This leads to the next step which is coming into the present moment. We stop and notice that we are here now in the body and in the breath. We let everything else go and we relish the body, noticing how the breath is moving. We simply breathe in and out. Now we begin to notice sensation in the body – an ache or pain, a congested or tight area, a place that feels numb, places that feel ok or even spacious. We notice our mental activity, witnessing thoughts without attachment. We tune into our feelings/emotions, allowing what is present to simply be. This is a very deep practice. We learn to surrender to the body as it is right now. We watch the mind. We allow the feelings and emotions to arise. We observe with curiosity, without judgments.

Allowing ourselves to be as we are already begins to move us to the next step in cultivating deep stillness which is settling. The nervous systems begin to balance, the muscles start to relax, the fluids flow with greater ease, the mind becomes still, we let go of thoughts of ‘doing.’

Now we are opening into a greater spaciousness. We notice the thoughts are beginning to settle. The body is giving more weight to the floor. The contractions are softening. There’s more breath, more possibility for ease. The breath is flowing in a natural, rhythmic pattern.

We keep on exploring the body and its sensations. We are experiencing more and more stillness and more peace. At some point we realize the physical body is a portal to a greater body, a much bigger existence, a bigger self than we imagined, a bigger life than we had dreamed. Now we are moving into the territory of deep stillness. In the words of the 20th century mystic Hazrat Inayat Khan:

He who has ever had a glimpse of greater worlds….will probably remember that apart from a feeling of freedom, space, and light, there is a luminous stillness, not fixed or rigid, nor motionless, though the motion is hardly perceptible. This luminous stillness is dynamic and it is the Source of all life and energy. Once we connect firmly with Source, our lives expand exponentially.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s go back to stopping, breathing, sensing, coming to presence, settling and becoming more spacious. All these steps require practice. We want to create new brain pathways, new patterns of being. This takes repetition and practice. And it pays off, one breath at a time. What’s the hurry?

This series of articles on Resting in Stillness will continue. Stay tuned. Next time we will explore in greater depth the Three Gates to Stillness.

In the meantime,

Wishing you well.

Paméla

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Heart of Circulation

To embody real health we must become more connected to the heart. The physical heart is much more than a pump. It is an endocrine gland. Much like the brain it has a vast neural network. It has intelligence, and of course, it is the place most associated with the soul and deep human feelings. As we continue on the healing journey, we want to befriend our hearts. Physically we want to eat a healthy diet and exercise appropriately. Emotionally, we want to be aware of and digest feelings, and spiritually we want to open the heart to the flow of love and healing.

What is our ideal? Is it to survive day to day or do we want to thrive? If we want a bigger life, we must give more attention to the heart – its physical and its metaphysical dimensions. To begin, w can connect to the heart by tuning in to the pulse of the circulatory system – the heartbeat – listening to and feeling the pulse. We know the heart circulates blood and nutrients. But consider that the heart also circulates feelings. This is especially true of those feelings we give power to with our attention. If we allow fear to move unrestricted, the heart circulates fear. If we focus on kindness, we circulate kindness within. If our ideal is love, we circulate love. What we circulate inside ourselves, we also circulate in the world around us because absolutely everything and everyone is connected.

All these feelings/emotions have a definite effect on the physical heart and on the whole body. The old adage “you are what you eat” is also true of feelings. We are what we feel. This does not mean that we deny our feelings. Each feeling is an energy which ideally is passing through us. The key is non-attachment. We can acknowledge anger or fear without getting attached to it. This means simply being with the feeling without becoming the feeling. When we identify with the feeling, we circulate it, and we anchor it to the self. Certain responses will tend to anchor us to our feelings, including judgment and resistance. Welcoming, embracing, saying YES to feelings is another way to affirm them for better circulation.

In the next post, I’ll offer some meditation practices for strengthening the heart. In the meantime, here are some words of inspiration from the 13th century Persian mystic poet Jalaludin Rumi:

 The very center of your heart is where life begins. The most beautiful place on earth.

And from ancient voices, unknown,

We must stand in balance and listen to our own heartbeats.

Wishing You Well.


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Attention, Recognition, Gratitude

Welcome back to the Healing Breath of Life! Today I want to consider the role of attention, recognition and gratitude in healing the process. In the last post I touched on the role of attention or awareness. To quote myself, Healing is about remembering the whole while bringing awareness to the parts that have forgotten how to function within the whole. When this is done with appreciation for the body’s intelligence, things change and greater states of Health emerge.

I promised to share a personal experience of healing which illustrates the power of awareness and focused attention. In the process, I want to share my enthusiasm over the power of several words as they relate to Health and the healing process – attention, recognition, and gratitude. Here’s my story:

I went for a walk in the greenbelt one winter morning. The day was sunny and just a little cool.  Walking in the dry creek bed, I stumbled, my foot got caught and I lost balance. My ankle slammed into a large boulder and I fell down. The pain was really intense.  Immediately I thought maybe it was broken and wondered how I was going to get myself out of the greenbelt. There was no one around. I began to cry.  I felt my inner victim preparing to take over. Then I heard the words: You are fine.  Don’t make a big deal. Don’t be the victim. I realized I was being coached.

Sitting in the creek bed, I placed my hands on the wounded area holding my ankle and breathing into it, with very focused attention in a kind of prayer. I was wishing I had some arnica gel and decided to visualize the arnica plant which is excellent for treating any kind of injury. Gradually the pain diminished and I noticed only a little redness and slight swelling.

Some pride came up that I had done this amazing thing and healed my ankle. I noticed the pride and smiled to my little ego. Then I felt a small knot coming up and felt disappointed that my miracle healing wasn’t complete. The message that came was, Do you just want the pain to go away or do you want to learn about how healing works? I want to learn how healing works.

I continued breathing, holding the ankle and telling myself ‘this was no big deal.’ I stayed very present to the sensation of pain as it began to change. By now I had noticed that though I was sitting in the creek bed with an injured ankle, the day was gorgeous and I was feeling very alive. The pain, even at its worst, was bearable. Some time passed, me sitting in a pool of sunlight paying attention to my ankle and then expanding awareness to include the trees, the bird song, the feel of the gentle breeze on my face, the rocks, the amazing blue sky. At times I forgot my body and its pain, allowing myself to be absorbed in the beauty around me. Several times I started to cry again but this time I cried because I felt so present, so loved and attended to by all of nature. I felt so much gratitude. A couple of buzzards came by and I had the distinct feeling they were hoping I was just fine.

After about twenty minutes of loving attention moving between the site of the injury and the world around me, I was guided again. “Now get up slowly and walk without a limp.”  I walked home amazed at my ability to walk. That night my ankle had no bruise, no swelling, no visible injury.  There was only a little tenderness inside.  I breathed into the tenderness with tenderness.  Again, I felt so much gratitude.

The teaching was profound. Offer loving attention. Don’t make a big deal. Don’t be a victim. Use your own energy that is divine energy, i.e. visualization, awareness, breath, touch. Don’t limp. Go for full healing, allowing the pain to move through its cycle. Feel connected with the pain but don’t get lost in it. Expand awareness beyond the body and alternate between pain and not pain.  Remember your true nature which is much bigger than the pain. Feel the gratitude.

Attention can be narrow and fixed or it can be wide and inclusive. Both kinds of attention are helpful in healing work. Pain persists when we focus too narrowly while resisting what is. Sometimes all that is needed is to stop and offer loving attention, just as you would to a distressed child or a friend. Other times, the attention must be followed by action. Once the body gets your attention, it tells you what else is needed – medical intervention, a band-aide, rest, etc. Attention naturally leads to appropriate care.

Healing is intimately connected with the process of recognition and appreciation. In fact recognition is appreciation. As we recognize balances and imbalances in the inner landscape – physical, mental, emotional – we activate healing potentials. “Hello sacrum. I see you. Is there anything you need right now?” Or, “Hello knee, could you use a little more space?” You can do it too. Take time right now to see and feel what your body/mind is communicating. Allow yourself to experience everything without need to fix or resist. Close your eyes and be present with sensation, feeling, thought. Do it now. You’ll be glad you did. Now feel the gratitude for this unique body and its capacity to heal itself. Recognition is an important element of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy.

In summary, through recognition you bring awareness to an issue, offering appreciation for the part of the whole that is feeling separate. This leads to appropriate care. Gratitude is the glue that seals in the healing. It is a natural extension of appreciation. The more gratitude we feel for our body and its innate healing capacities, the more access we have to Health.  Healing is about remembering the whole while bringing awareness to the parts that have forgotten how to function within the whole. When this is done with appreciation [and gratitude] for the body’s intelligence, things change and greater states of Health emerge.

I’ll close with a quote from the twentieth century mystic J. Krishnamurti which eloquently expresses in a few words what I have just expressed. Hooray for simplicity! He said,

To see is to love. Attention is love.

Till next time, wishing you Health.

 

 

 

 

 

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Health is Wholeness

The only thing we need to heal is the belief that we are not already whole. ~  Eric Michael Leventhal

Health is Wholeness is another of the essential principles of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy. Let’s take a look at what this could mean. Wholeness refers to completeness; the thing is complete in itself. Every part is an essential part of a greater and greater whole. Thus humans are an intimate part of the Earth, the known universe, and even unknown universes. We understand that we are part of nature. Our health depends on that connection, not only because nature is beautiful and nourishes body, mind and spirit, but because that is who we are. When we live apart from nature, we lose access to an important part of our own being and its intelligence. David Bohm, the nuclear physicist says:

The notion of a separate organism is clearly an abstraction, as is also its boundary. Underlying all this is unbroken wholeness even though our civilization has developed in such a way as to strongly emphasize the separation into parts.  [David Bohm, The Undivided Universe]

Attending to wholeness requires perspective. If everything is connected to everything else as quantum physics now asserts and spiritual masters have long known, we need a very wide perspective to view the whole. When we isolate and limit our awareness to a part as often happens in western civilization, we lose the sense of connectivity and reciprocity that are essential ingredients of the healing process. We lose the all-encompassing perspective that allows us to relate to the Health.

Living as a separate part in a world perceived as made of separate units leads to unhealthy states of being. These states are reflected in the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of our being. When we consider the interconnectedness of everyone and everything, we know Health depends on awakened relationships of parts to wholeness.

Health is relational. When parts relate to other parts in an unbroken wholeness, the system tends to reflect Health. More intelligence is available. There are more feed-back loops and more communication is generated. What happens to one part affects the whole and awareness of the whole generates more connectivity with the parts. When we don’t feel well, or have a pain, our focus narrows to that place or point. It worries us and we worry it. A loop is formed and it can become well established as in chronic pain. Western medicine is largely focused here in this narrow band of attention, and has forgotten the wholeness.

The part that hurts has also forgotten it is part of the whole. The mind separates it out and attends to the pain in a narrow band of focus, forgetting the rest of the body that is free of pain. There’s often judgment about the pain. It is bad and must be banished rather than seeing it as intelligent communication: Hey, something here needs your loving attention.

All illness is on some level about separation from the whole. Healing is about remembering and returning to wholeness. It is about parts communicating and relating at higher and higher levels of interaction. Therapeutic work is about helping the parts feel connected again. Hello liver. I see you. Hello spinal chord, I sense your tension. Would you like a little more space? Hello occipital bone and sacrum. Can you feel your connection with each other? Hello cerebrospinal fluids. I feel your hesitation at the bottom of the spine. Would you like to flow there now?

Healing is about remembering the whole while bringing awareness to the parts that have forgotten how to function within the whole. When this is done with appreciation for the body’s intelligence, things change and greater states of Health emerge.

In the next post I’ll share a personal experience of healing which illustrates this principle – Health is Wholeness.

I leave you with the words of Margaret Wheatley:

When we seek for connection, we restore the world to wholeness. Our seemingly separate lives become meaningful as we discover how truly necessary we are for each other”.

 This is as true at the cellular level as it is at the highest level of organization.

Wishing You Well.

 

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