Meditation and Yoga for Expanded Awareness

Excerpts from message posted to Sustained Action on June 20, 1999
Subject: The Open Door - Pragmatics

<<<I would appreciate very much any elucidation of pragmatic techniques or methods to expand awareness, even if they don't correspond to the sorceric model or methodology.>>>

OK then, I'll give it a shot. What the heck. I can only really talk though about the kinds of things I did to arouse this. I'd expect that people here would be smart enough to listen to their own energetic requirements, find other things to supplement the areas they need more of and not over-do the techniques presented here. Often doing something in a hurry is worse than not doing it at all. And everyone's coming from a different place so your mileage may vary. I guess if nothing else I can now say that there is an amazing "light" at the end of the tunnel. And yes it's "real" in the sense that I can perceive it persistently and without volition. It is a dramatic amplification of the energy already present in the nervous system. It probably manifests as" light" as the optic nerves and corresponding centers of the brain are stimulated along with everything else. Has nothing to do with visiting other "worlds" or the ego trying to live beyond its allotted time as sorcerers seem to aim to do. 

In terms of pragmatics I guess a good place to start is that I've done many years of zazen-style meditation, about 14 to be exact. Had some unusual experiences in the process but nothing to really stand on. The practice always felt "good" to me though. Not the stiff knees or aching back part <grin> but the act of sitting up very straight, finding your breath and tuning in. Time measured, not hour by hour, but breath by breath. Half-lotus is still the most comfortable way for me to sit nowadays. I can barely tolerate sitting in a chair for very long. So I would have to start by recommending some regular practice of meditation, stilling the mind. Or more accurately, encouraging the mind to become more and more still. The analogy I've always liked is that of potty training a puppy. You put the puppy on the sheet of newspaper and tell him to poop. He doesn't understand and quickly gets up and starts running around. So you pick up the puppy and put him back on the paper and encourage him to do his business again. He still doesn't get it. So you repeat this process over and over until something clicks and the puppy understands. This is how meditation is. You sit yourself down and intend silence--just try to follow your breath. The mind won't want to do that and will quickly run off planning, worrying, daydreaming, humming popular songs, composing responses to sustained action, whatever. Anything except nothing. And those manifestations will be reflections of your current predilections, your current content. And every single one will pass away, often more quickly than one would expect. So you keep bringing the puppy, the mind, back to the moment that is always just becoming. Over and over until something in you understands. 

For those of you who aren't entertained by the rituals and chanting of some eastern religions, you might want to take a look at Vipassana meditation which is based on this kind of meditation without a lot of bells and clappers going off every other minute. They say that we think about six unique thoughts per minute. If we normally breathe eleven times per minute, that's about one new thought for every two breaths. See if you can see this phenomena happening for yourself. OK so that's meditation 101. ;-)But meditation, for me, wasn't enough. Probably it's too static all by itself. It wasn't until I started delving into yoga asana and specifically techniques for awakening kundalini, that this current of energy got activated and started expanding. I don't think asana yoga by itself will do it either. It's like making a fire, you have to have three things: heat, fuel and air. So with this inner fire you have to have several things going on like asana yoga, meditation and pranic breathing to create the necessary catalyst. At least that's the way it seems to me. Other ingredients may also be necessary. I should probably clarify here what I mean by asana yoga. 

There are many types of yoga. Yoga itself is commonly translated as meaning "union." Perhaps union of body, mind and spirit. Perhaps union of the self or ego with the "divine" energy of the universe. Whatever. Interpret it as you wish. Point is that there are many schools of yoga: hatha, raja, ashtanga, kriya, tantric, bhakti and many others each with its own focus and methodology for achieving a state of "union." Some have nothing to do with physical postures and many incorporate chanting or singing to awaken the higher centers of heart, throat and spirit. Asana yoga, as I understand it anyway, refers to the practice of asanas, or moving postures. The "Sun Salute" is probably the most popular asana known in the West (the one that's east of the East). There are also types of yoga that practice more or less static postures, or postures where you kind of work your way into a position and tweak it until something happens. B.K.S. Iyengar's style is largely like this. This is the kind of yoga that you commonly see in how-to yoga books where it is easy to show these bizarre positions that often resemble circus-like contortions. This is not the kind of yoga I'm referring to. Asana yoga is constantly moving, building heat in the body, purging toxins, and opening and expanding areas of chronic tension. I have found that practices like Tensegrity create a kind of nervous tension or compression of energy. While practices like yoga create a natural opening or expansion of energy. Perhaps with a proper mix of contraction and expansion of these two types, like building up muscle mass, one can pump up the energy and develop a strong, active energetic core. Another good set of exercises that I like is the popular "Five Tibetans" series. There's a good little book about it by Christopher Kilham. These exercises are a great way to spend the first 20 minutes of your day. The body functions in cycles. Mental energy operates at the shortest cycle and thus the highest frequency. Rhythms of heartbeats, breaths, peristalsis, circadian and reproductive cycles are progressively longer and thus the energy they work with is slower and more dense. A balance of all these cycles though are necessary for a human being to be alive, healthy and aware. 

Diet is also very important. I think it's largely the aspect that messes us up the most. We think we can dose the body into doing what we want it to do. So we take stimulants to keep us going and depressants to make us sleep when we think we're supposed to (as opposed to when our body wants to). We over-eat when we get bored. Have recreational sex to pass the time. Drink to forget our problems. Take drugs to get a rush. And so on. In general I think the mind just likes to be stimulated and it does this by giving commands to do things that quicken the other cycles. These create temporary imbalances. Without such stimulation the mind tends to grow impatient and start craving things to once again excite the nervous system. But by constantly tacking these slower cycles, like a sail boat navigating back and forth, never too far in any one direction, it is possible I believe to move forward, in a new and desired direction. One that does not fade when the "drug" wears off or is only available from certain high-priced sources. 

Types of food affect mental outlook. Foods such as meat are very dense and heavy. It took me a long time to see the correlation between eating such foods and my desire for sex and sleep. Now having seen that relationship I only eating about one modest portion of meat every other day. I eat pretty well too. Pasta, rice, oatmeal, soups, bread, salads, fruit are pretty much the norm for me. Throw in some fish, chicken, eggs or perhaps a little beef or pork every now and then and I'm fine. There are also combinations such as rice and beans that are as nutritious as eating animal protein. In general I try to steer clear of fried or processed foods, and use the rule of thumb that the more that's been done to prepare a food, the longer it's been sitting on a shelf, the less nutritious it will probably be. Most restaurant food is also too much for me, both in quantity and richness. And while I'm on the topic, I disagree with the notion of being completely vegetarian. Our biology says we are omnivores, not herbivores or carnivores. We have teeth and a digestive tract designed for both plant and animal food. I think in general people eat too much protein, fat and preservatives than is good for the body and mind. OK, so enough about diet I guess. Everyone's requirements will be different based on temperament, body type and lifestyle. I guess I just wanted to point out some of the problems associated with self-medication with food or other magic elixirs (i.e. drinking special drinks or eating special foods that are supposed to "help" you but usually just wind up creating another imbalance that the body must deal with). Even vitamins fall into this category. And if you are trying to normalize the body's cycles, or regulate/sublimate sexual energy, you will just sabotage yourself by over-eating or ingesting rich, heavy foods. It's really up to you. Everyone will do what they want to in the end, but at least now you can't say no one ever told you so. ;-)

Then there's the breath. If you're breathing correctly, your lower belly will expand and contract naturally. Your shoulders will not go up and down at all. Hopefully through the yoga asanas you'll become familiar with deep breathing, or breathing "into and through" areas of tension and restriction. There is a simple pose called "The Crocodile" pose where you lay on your stomach and rest your forehead on your folded forearms. Lying in this position you can notice how your breathing is forced into your lower abdomen and it's actually difficult to breathe from the shoulders. This is good. 

As an aside note: If you want to have fun practicing abdominal breathing you might consider buying or making a didjeridoo. They're great exercise for both deep belly breathing and stimulating the whole thoracic and cranial cavities with vibration. You can make one out of 1.5" PVC pipe and a little beeswax for about $5. Playing a real wooden one (most are made from eucalyptus limbs) one feels like you're in a room chanting with a hundred Buddhist monks or something along those lines. With things like this it's no wonder the native Australians can live in a Dreamtime. 

But I digress...So if you've got these things going-- you're meditating, doing some good tension-releasing exercises, and eating a balanced diet-- you'll start to feel lighter and more energized already. That's the desired foundation. There are incredible storehouses of toxins and tensions in the body. Pumping up the pranic energy without first clearing some of these out and getting a regulated baseline will only cause further mental stress and perhaps eventually physical health problems. As will trying to clear them out with more special elixirs and vitamins. Time and a natural, moderated approach to everything will do the job. 

So this next set of pragmatic stuff will probably not prove useful unless you've got the previous "Middle Way" stuff going on too. You can try it but I doubt you'll feel much. This stuff is hard not because it's difficult in itself, but because it's difficult to persist in doing it with perhaps no immediate and observable effect. Kind of like trying to get rich. Human nature would rather try to gamble or scheme to win the lottery than work and save over a long period of time. While some lucky ones do strike it rich this way, more tortoises will cross the finish line than hares. In the Taoist tradition there is a pattern of breathing known as the" Microcosmic Orbit" and it involves doing intentional breathing down the front of the body to the area around the tailbone and then up the spine to the crown of the head. The tip of the tongue must be placed on the palate to complete the circuit. Performed slowly over and over this sets up a movement of energy through the body that can eventually "turn on" one's inner core. (This pattern also exists in yogic traditions as well but does not seem to have been widely written about to date.) 

[Description of other more advanced yogic techniques omitted.]

There are lots of other techniques for the anja chakra such as gazing at a candle flame held just above eyelevel. (Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah... the match trick.) But the "Sun and Moon" breath is my favorite. Anyway when you get this core activated and direct its flow upward something wonderful starts to happen. The feeling of it is what I tried to describe in my earlier post so I won't repeat that here. I'll leave it to you to explore this for yourself. Just remember to keep breathing through it all, and if you start to get wigged out please back off and allow yourself to get used to the sensations before doing more. 

Replica Watches  Replica Watches

The feeling of the self dissolving into a vortex of higher vibration can be quite frightening or quite exhilarating depending on how you look at your life. So you asked about my "open door" and hopefully the little map I've sketch here on this napkin will give you an idea of its whereabouts. Would be interested in other people's findings along these lines.