Woven Stories and the Unbound Truth

The typical cocoon we all think of is a silky casing woven around a young caterpillar that one day is broken through and out comes a beautiful, blossoming butterfly. It is in essence a protective covering to keep the being inside safe. According to these readings based on Eastern thought, we as humans also have a cocoon, which we stay inside for protection.  Wound and bound tightly, the cocoon is like a bear’s den- “comfortable and sleepy: an intense and very familiar home” (Trungpa, 1988, p. 61). It provides us with a safe environment to continue in our habitual thought patterns and ways of being as nothing challenges or changes. In many ways our own physical bodies are like our cocoon, in which our old habitual thought patterns have been woven so deep that chronic tightness penetrates our neck and continual constriction causes blockage in our digestive system. Our various roles and masks that Hayward writes about are reflected in our physical posture playing out engrained ideas of who we think we are and our unrecognized, underlying emotions (53). All of these are layers and layers that seem to keep us nice and at home, however they drain our energy and keep us from discovering the true and unbound and unfeared life of goodness.

These concepts and ideas reminded me of an article I read during my gapyear program called The Long Bag We Drag Behind Us by Robert Bly. In this Bly states that “we spend our life until we’re twenty deciding what parts of our self to put into the bag, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to get them out again.” Shoving what we don’t feel like dealing with or what we fear into the bag, it becomes heavy and energy draining. The bag and the cocoon are similar- keeping us in our past stories instead of the present moment of creativity. They are a mold into which we stay stagnant and unearthed of our natural radiance.

However we long for openness and so with the first glimpse of light or “the possibility of fresh air, we realize that our arms and legs are being restricted… that there is an alternative to our cocoon… that we could be free from that trap” (Trungpa, 1988, 61).  We peel off the layers and release the blockages and experience the Great Eastern Sun- the goodness, the aliveness, and the dignity of being human. Darkness of the cave falls away, and we emerge from our hibernation to the brilliant, radiant spring of sun. Basking in this abundant source of energy cultivates the pure, innate wakefulness in each of us. It is the openness and the wiliness “to give things a change to flower” that nourishes our growth, moving us along from our frozen fear state of mind. Recognizing where we are stuck, where we trip, where we are cowardice, allows us to climb over it. (Trungpa, 1988, p. 64). We do this cleaning out of our long bag or unweaving our tight cocoon by “telling the truth” (p. 59). With this pure honesty, we unravel our fantasies and stories that taint our reality. We see that our journey of warriorship is not one walking toward the horizon but one “that is unfolding within us” (p.62).

References

Chondron, Pema. (1991). The Wisdom of No Escape. Boston, MA: Shambala

Publications.

Hayward, J., & Hayward, K. (1998). Sacred World. 2nd Edition. Boston, MA: Shambhala

Publications.

Trungpa, Chogyam. (1988). Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior. Boston, MA:

Shambhala Publications.

Quotation

1. “Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” Albert Einstein. (Hayward, 1998, p.45)

“Sincere belief is certainly right but is not as cogent as verifying the truth within yourself…. The great chaos in the world is due to the triumph of empty words and decline of genuine practice.” Wang Yangming. (Hayward, 1998, p. 51)

2. “Everything is compartmentalized, so you can never experience things completely.” (Trungpa, 1988, p. 57)

3. “To look one’s beliefs straight in the face, honestly and clearly, and then step beyond them… requires being able to touch and know completely, to the core, your own experience, without harshness, without making any judgment.” (Chondron, 1991, p. 35)

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Beyond, Under, and Into

Trungpa speaks directly of this kind of True Fearlessness, which is not “the reduction” of fear, but it means actually “going beyond fear” (1998, p. 48). With true fearlessness we charge like warriors into observing our anxiety and our concern with tenderness.   We are truly examining our deep-seated fear, our powerful emotional experiences, and our true selves. I also see a connection to Beck’s explanation of knowing what suffering means- to be totally under from the latin sub– under and ferre to bear- and how to deal with it in all parts of life- “not opposing it but absorbing it and being it” (p. 106-108).  In the face of true suffering where life has no guarantees, we bear it and simply be with it. These two approaches come at the constant cycling and changing of reality in very powerful and direct ways. They go to the heart of what is- the fear and the suffering.  And here one can begin to practice in meditation giving him or her the space to be able to go beyond fear and bear under whatever suffering is going on, to be what is now.

This week I hit a tremendous breakthrough. The past ten years I have been suffering from migraines. While they have been my worst enemies, they have been my best teachers. Yesterday after a long day of playing at a Frisbee tournament in the Colorado sunshine I was hit with all of the first signs and symptoms of one of the past hellish headaches. Finally returning home I laid down in bed with icepacks on my head and upperback. Here in relaxation I brought my focus to my breath, to what was true for here and now. Each inhale I infused with positivity, and each exhale I released the constriction and pressure. When I let my mind wander, continuing in negative cycles, my forehead would begin to pulse and throb harder, but when I focused on my breath, space opened. Every action stayed with the moment- I lay present, listening, and in tune. Intuitively I opened my You Can Heal Your Life book and read that headaches came from the negative thought pattern of self criticism. I recognized I had been pressuring myself to be perfect for the fear of not being good enough. Many people have similar stories with whatever problem is going on in his or her life. In Beck’s words, “we are chasing ideals of perfection rather than acknowledging our imperfection” (113). Instead of accepting and loving myself and where I was, I was stuck in habitual thought patterns of how I should act and should be. However this instance of meditation practice of let me return to the natural state of goodness, where I could rememeber that I possess the positive basic qualities of openness, intelligence, and warmth (Trungpa, 2005, p. 8).

I believe this is a huge part of life- learning. Learning that our bodies have an immense intelligence, that our mind is powerful, and that our problems are our opportunities on one’s own personal journey. Trungpa states that “egolessness” means that you can let go of your habitual patterns and then when you let go, you genuinely let go… having the trust to not rebuild again at a all and experiencing the psychological healthiness and freshness that goes with not rebuilding” (2005, 10). In this sense, I moved through the old habitual pattern of migraine by way of meditative awareness and practicing the cultivation of wholeness. I went straight into my fear of not being perfect, of not being accepted. I looked directly into the face of severe pain, felt the intensity and negativity, and let the listening of the present moment bring me to a state of pure vulnerability and love. In the Buddhist sense of impermanence and transitoriness of life, it gives us all hope and realization that anything is possible, the freshiness and aliveness of life is ours, and that our ground state of health exists within. Therefore we at the origin we are good, not sin (Trungpa, 2005, p.12). We are not mistakes, and we are not being punished. Life is simply coming and going.

I am an everchanging energy field. You are an everchanging energy field. The world is beautiful flux of constant change.

Beyond fear, under suffering, into life.

 

 

 

References

Beck, Charlotte Joko. (1989). Everyday Zen. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Chondron, Pema. (2001). The Places that Scare You. Boston, MA: Shambala

Publications.

Mipham, Sakyong. (2003). Turning the Mind into an Ally. New York, NY: Penguin

Putnam.

Trungpa, Chogyam. (1988). Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior. Boston, MA:

Shambhala Publications.

Trungpa, Chogyam. (2005). The Sanity we are Born With: A Buddhist Approach to

Psychology. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications.

Quotations

  1. “Complete openness, complete vulnerability to life, is the only satisfactory way of living our life.” Beck, p. 108
  2. “We become habituated to reaching for something to ease the edginess of the moment. What begins as a slight shift of energy…. Escalates into addiction… we remained stuck in the repetititious habit of escalating our dissatisfaction.” Chondron, p. 22
  3. “Broader context of health: one begins to let go of clinging to one’s neuroses and to step beyond obsession and identification with them…. Whole process of working with others be genuine and generous and free-form…. We need to point them toward the experience of the fundamental ground of health which exists in them.” Chongyam, 2005, p. 10-11

breath: returning and awakening to the journey

The following posts are weekly reflections from my Buddhist Psychology course at Naropa University…. and we begin with the breath.

I sit erect, atop the warm stone as the morning sunshine glitters through the trees. On top of this small mountain I practice softly gazing at the moss in front of me, calming my being and deeply breathing into all avenues of my body. Breath is what brings me home. It purifies and infuses my body. It takes me from far off places and thoughts to the here and now, bringing me to the reality and aliveness of this moment. As Sakyong Mipham writes, “the breath represents being alive in the immediacy of the moment” (40). Focusing on the out-breath, continually coming back to it, allows us to stay with ourselves through the rollercoaster of emotion or the pain of the body. In this fully being present, arises an opportunity to awaken to ourselves as we are. And in this we can remember that we are not only whole and complete the way we are, but that each being in this interconnected web has this innate goodness and wholeness.

Breath is the focus and anchor in meditation. The manner of the body being erect and relaxed, the mind finding calmness in the breath’s flow, allows one to listen. It creates a place in which our bodies and our inner knowing can really speak up. With openness and gentleness, our teachers arise. They do not always come in the nice birthday packaging, but rather in the old patterns we have carried around- the nagging thoughts of taking the trash out, the tightness in our right hip, the painful breakup of a lover, the shallowness of in-breath in our abdomen. These uncomfortable situations and undesirable emotions are lessons from ourselves, we only have to open and receive. According to Trungpa, “the whole point is not to reject, but to make use of that very moment, whatever the situation may be, and accept it, and respect it” (Trungpa, 1991, p. 86). Withholding judgment and expectation, we allow ourselves to become awake and alive.

As Sakyong Miphham writes, “one of the Tibetan words for meditation is gom, which means, “to be come familiar with” (2003, p. 40). As we sit presently and openly to ourselves, we become familiar with our own true being as we are.  We learn that this whole process is returning to our innate wholeness and completeness. According to Pema Chondron, “its about befriending who we already are,” not who we are going to be in the future, but studying ourselves and who we are now, at this very moment (1991, p. 4). It is about clearly seeing “the body that we have, the mind, the domestic situation…” and figuring out “what is poison and what is medicine”(p. 14 and 22). It is about becoming our own unique reflection of the kaleidoscopic divine stitched together in an interwoven blanket across the world.

The breath, this breath connects me to the trees that dance shadows across my face.  Their energy flows through me, connecting me to the wider web and pulsation of life. This creative life force comes alive, as we become “alive to the process of life itself” (Chondron, 1991, p. 17).

Quotations

  1. Trungpa’s “Wisdom” from Meditation in Action. “one must not blame one’s surroundings, one must not blame people, one must not blame external conditions, but without trying to change anything, just step in and try to observe.” (p. 86)
  2. Trungpa’s The Sanity we are Born With. “we no longer start with experience and peer through its confusing folds in search of depth, clarity, or Buddha. Instead we find ourselves resting in basic goodness, and our experiences arise continuously out of that, folding and unfolding as they will. There is no need to pry loose grasping fingers, or a grasping heart. We can begin with open love that knows when to hold, when to let go. Because this is so intimately impersonal, we can become, and unbecome, a person.” (p, Foreward: xII )
  3. Trungpa’s Shambhala. “A genuine sense of humor is having a light touch: not beating reality into the ground but appreciating reality with a a light touch. The basis of Shambhala vision is rediscovering that perfect and real sense of humor, that light touch of appreciation.” (p. 32)

References

Chodron, Pema. (1991). The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving- Kindness.  Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications.

Mipham, Sakyong. (2003). Turning the Mind into an Ally. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam.

Trungpa, Chogyam. (1991). Meditation in Action. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications.

Trungpa, Chogyam. (1988). Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications.

Trungpa, Chogyam. (2005). The Sanity we are Born With: A Buddhist Approach to Psychology. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications.

Tibetan Whispers on the Wind

“Throughout your daily activities, whether you are at home or on retreat, try to bring your body, mind and senses together by adopting an attitude of relaxed mindful concentration. When you live your life in this way, everything that you do becomes a beautiful act of ceremony; you will enjoy a permanent sense of wholeness, unity, and fulfillment, an overwhelming joy that touches all aspects of your life as well as the lives of those around you.”

 -Tarthang Tulku

Aside

Musings on the Soul’s Reflection

The journey I had been taking in the world found its reflection as a journey of soul.

-Rainer Marie Rilke

Eyes closed, I lay silent in my bed. Motionless, held firmly down by the piercing dagger in the core of my spirit. All I can do is breathe- breathe into the pain and suffering of an aching heart that has overtaken me this night, feel the depths of the repetitive cycle and the ripples throughout my body, penetrating the vast sea of my soul. The breath is the only system in the body that can be under both conscious and unconscious control. In Greek, psyche means breath, literally  “butterfly leaves the mouth”. Psyche or soul is the creative life force that flies between its individual entities, transforming and yet sustaining its pure essence. Breath is how I connect to soul- it is what my spirit flows through, what deeply draws me inward and at the same time expands me out to the rest of the world. Lying here, in my sacred box, my expanse of life delicately decorated with peacock feathers, old thread, shades of rocks, the dance of flickering candles, the sound of my breath, my soul is safe and free to flutter out for the time being. It is secure to experience a chrysalis- to explore this teaching and to journey in musings (Sexson). All this beauty, I am woven into and it in me- a deep sense of life, the spectrums of the soul.

Breath is the very thing that invigorates our soul. By bringing fresh oxygen to every cell of the body, it nourishes us with life. To breathe is to sustain life. The soul is this essence, which pervades all living things. It is alive, active and “self-moving” (Phaedrus 245e). It pulses out through our bodies, enlivening our veins, animating our emotions, vitalizing our thoughts, and radiating our aura. It interconnects nature, humans, and the higher divine. As Emerson poetically puts it, “I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the universal being circulate through me; I am part or particle of god” (8).  There is a sense of Milesian quality to the soul, an elemental fluidity and universal linkage.

Soul however is not limited to the body or to time- it is immortal and eternal. We long for this totality and deep-rooted unity.  As depicted in Aristophanes myth, each human was divided in half and thus they desired their other half. They “are struck from their senses by love, by a sense of belonging to one another” (Sym.192b: 7-8). Our souls long for this- they long to be one. We desire to return to our original nature of wholeness. Remembering our former condition of union is our own work and to do so we must infuse our lives and our world with love, for “’Love’ is the name for our pursuit of wholeness, for our desire to be complete” (Sym. 192e:10-11). We must move from “head to heart,” leading our journey by intellect of our heart and wisdom of our soul (Hillman, 14). As “loving is a way of knowing,” we must love ourselves, our fellow humans, and the planet, in order to know we are whole (Hillman, 15). With feeling of universality and longing for immortality, our soul is the deep essence and rootedness of interconnection to the endless and infinite divine.

We however are mortal beings. Therefore situations are always changing and the cycle of birth and death does not escape our own lives. Becoming present with our breath and acting consciously, we can sit with the constant change and see it as part of the mystery. Understanding the tension that the soul holds, the balance and the “inbetweeness” only teaches us the reality of our true nature as mortal beings, and only then can we creatively act from our soul.

The soul is a process, a metamorphosis. To recognize our wholeness, we must be willing to open and transform. As if we were to reflect back on our past, to find our constant patterns and stories and to look again with a new vision. As Hillman puts it, “looking backward makes it possible to move forward” (Hillman 27). We must look at the totality of our being, not just our light but also our darkest shadows as they are too part of our souls.  This night, I must look straight into the darkness and hurt, ask what it is and receive its message and teaching. Accepting, acknowledging and allowing it to be me- the inhales and exhales allow me to move through and into it, recognizing I am already whole. In this experience “the seemingly so unique, so truly my own is utterly collective…. [making me] feel both archetypal and personal at the same instant (Hillman 49). There is some past pattern; some past belief that I was not good enough, not complete, and I haven’t let go of it. But it is exactly that- it is the past and in order to be free, for me to act in the present, I must engage in inquiry and compassion- letting go of one form and transforming into another. It is “not only the caterpillar which sacrifices itself in process of transformation but the spirit of the butterfly, who must descend into the dark before she can reemerge in her fullness (De Vries 153).

The breath helps me remember and reconnect to my soul. Whichever method or way we choose, the pure fact of opening, listening and accepting all the parts of ourselves, allows for coexistence of our fragments- a “disintegrated integration” (Hillman 27). We have a choice to relive old stories and patterns, to keep old accounts in the shadows to replay in the future, or we have the option to remember our divinity and shine light on all that fragments us. This “work of reflection, [asks] us to reach deeply into the core of our lives, to open our hearts, in order to recover what we have lost, in order to remember what we have forgotten” (Romanyshyn 95). When we do so we engage on a dynamic journey to becoming aware of, in touch, and connected to soul. We become alive, radiant beings amongst the beauty of the universe.

I believe this journey of soul is guided by spirit, by syncronicistic moments and in-between messengers that Socrates would call daimons. Archetypally or mythically depicted, “the angel comes through our feeling function and as a mood of melancholy, touches the orphan in us, which is the beginning of spiritual transformation” (Romanyshyn 96). These oracular reverberations “grab one’s attention, to jolt consciousness out of its customary position” (Skafte 113). The momentary yet profound shift is something of awe that there is truly something greater than us guiding, calling, and singing to us. The voice of “intuition, heightened perception, and imagination … carry the psyche beyond ordinary boundaries of time and space and … generate a thousand methods devoted to bring the human and the transhuman into more intimate relationship” (Skafte 113). Whether dreaming, praying, meditating, or creating art, a spirit of light is communicating to our souls.

While words may in a way communicate to our souls, many times words are hollow and our interpretations and liberalizations of these signs may completely take us from the true nature of the sublime essence. With Skafte’s words “stay close to sounds, images, sensations and feelings” (117). In this sense I feel the presence of the spirit in my own sounding of mantras. In my own experience with silence and echo, I am rooting down, connecting my soul by vibration to the collective soul, to the ancestors who have practiced before, to the elemental world of pulsations. These are the songs of our souls, helping us to remember and inspiring us with love and union.

While the soul is immortal and eternal, it is also shaped by our experience. It is both self-moving, yet longs for the care and connection to others. There is a sense of individual and collective, an inward and outward unity that we slowly learn to remember our wholeness and our divinity. There is a friction of patterns and order with creative spontaneity and intuition. It is this balance between these paradoxical tensions, between the silence and the words, between the inhale and the exhale, that we glide to our soul. It is the poetry, the imaginative art, the startling dream, the majestic mountain, the aged medicine cards- these are the expressions, the angels that communicate messages from our souls calling us to remember, we are already whole. These teachers remind us the only constant in our lives is change. That the internal and external, our believed separateness is only an illusion and within the beautiful quilt of the world, we are each our own unique reflection of the kaleidoscopic divine stitched together in an interwoven blanket across the world. “Nature always wears the colors of the spirit” (Emerson 9).

What colors do you shine?

What is the soul calling you to do?

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Works Cited

De Vries, Hendrika. “The Chrysalis Experience: A Mythology for Times of Transition.” Depth Psychology: Meditations in the Field. Ed. Dennis Slattery and Lionel Corbett. Daimon. Print.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Nature. Boston: Beacon Press, 1836. Print.

Hillman, James. Re-Visioning Psychology. New York: Harper, 1975. Print.

Plato on Love. Ed. C.D.C. Reeve. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2006. Print.

Romanyshyn, Robert. “The Orphan and the Angel: In Defense of Melancholy.” Psychological Perspectives. Fall-Winter 1995: 90-105. Print.

Sexson, Lynda. Ordinarily Sacred. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia. Print.

Skafte, Dianne. “Listening to the Voices of Earth: Hosting Oracular Consciousness.” Psychological Perspectives. Fall-Winter 1995: 112-122. Print.

Wisdom of Life

Understanding Ayurveda as a Connection of Body, Mind, and Spirit and Practice of Self-Healing

The Subtle Body and Healing

When the Western world envisions the body, it is has been strictly the scientific and anatomical body- our skeletal structure which allows for support, our muscular system which allows for standing upright and movement in all direction, and our organ systems which allow for the functioning of our bodies.  As yoga becomes more popular in our Western culture, the subtle body interpreted through the chakra system becomes more widespread. For thousands of years ancient cultures have created systems of the subtle body or energetic body, which lies in the core vertical column of our bodies, invisible to the human eye. Through this understanding of reality they recognized the entirety of the universe within a human being. These various systems of the invisible body, known as chakra systems, note energy gathered at certain centers of the body or chakras. These centers represented by specific symbols were used in spiritual practices and healing ways, and since then have been interpreted through scientific study of physiology, thought processes and feelings in psychology, and healing in vibrational medicine.

In the Hindu tradition the subtle body (sukshmasharira) is the “perfect microcosm that is made in the image of the macrocosm” (Varenne, 155). The subtle body “is made in the image of the universe and the powers of the universe are all present within it” (Varenne,156). As the universe is very multidimensional, so is every human being. To explain the multidimensionality of our beings, the Hindu chakra system diagrams this interrelationship. The word chakra means “wheel” or “disk” in Sanskrit, and are centers for reception, assimilation, and transmission of prana, or life energy. As these chakras rotate, various texts describe them as spinning vortices of energy emanating from central nerve ganglia of the spinal column (Judith Seventh, 6). These energy centers are described as lotuses (padma), with a circular wheel in the center and varying number of petals radiating around it (Varenne, 164).  In the Hindu Chakra system there are noted between four and twelve chakras, but most commonly known are the seven major chakras running from the anus up the middle of the body to the top of the head. Moving from physical security at the bottom of the spine to self-realization at the crown chakra, the seven chakras are as follows- root chakra (muladhara), sacral chakra (svadhisthana), solar plexus chakra (manipura), heart chakra (anahata), throat chakra (vishuddha), third eye or brow chakra (ajna), and crown chakra (sahasrara).

Eastern philosophy and Western physiology and psychology overlap in this chakra system. Each of the chakras corresponds to a particular organ and endocrine gland, as well as represents a unique aspect of ourselves- each are linked to an elementary force, sound, color, force, gemstone, deity, issue, herb, identity, psychological aspect, psychic function, and much more.  The endocrine system is the link. There is a direct relationship between one’s energetic and one’s physical body. The endocrine system is a system of glands that secrete hormones, affecting the physiological function of the body and how one feels. In this way it directly connects the subtle body and the physical body. Each chakra has a corresponding endocrine gland- root chakra and the gonads or adrenals, sacral chakra and leydig or gonads, solar plexus and adrenals or pancreas, heart chakra and thymus, throat chakra and pituitary, and crown chakra and pineal gland (Hartley, 208). Therefore the chakras take energy of a higher vibrational or subtle nature and transform it by stepping it down, communicating the information to a more physiological nature. This “subtle energy is converted into hormonal signals from each of the major endocrine glands that are linked with the chakras” (Gerber, 372). In this way the physical body mimics the energetic body, as the subtle body is the energy template for the physical. This also shows that any “changes in the physical body are merely the observable end result of physiological events occurring simultaneously on a variety of energy levels” (Gerber, 371). Having the endocrine system link the subtle body and physical body, explains why physical pains or disease manifest from blockages in the chakra system.

The blockages of chakras are defined as either energetically excessive or deficient. A deficient chakra is one that is closed, and thus little energy is flowing through it. While an excessive chakra is one that sucks up all the energy in the system, causing other chakras to be deficient. Childhood experiences, cultural and societal values and negative memories throughout our lives bring about blockage in our chakras (Judith Seventh, 17). When we internalize these things, we become stressed and this energy gets caught in a particular area, as we do not let the natural flow of energy spiral through our bodies. In a deficient chakra, this locked restrictive pattern may cause the blocking out certain external stimulation, showing up in the physical body as a stiff neck or ulcer.  The habitual pattern in an excessive state of a chakra “restricts internal energy from being expressed” as it is a “constant dominating force in the system as a whole.” For example an excessive energy pattern in the second chakra could lead to sexual addiction. (Judith Seventh, 13). Any imbalance affects the whole chakra system, creating blockage in one or more areas obstructs the central stream of energy through the body, not allowing for full flow on the path of manifestation on the way down or path of liberation on the way up.

In my personal experience with my own healing of migraines, awareness practices have helped me the most with understanding myself and provide healing and health in my life. As our own bodies have a “wealth of information,” yoga and meditation have allowed me to listen to my body and understand which parts hold tension or tightness (Juhan, 13). It has required me to focus on my breath, decreasing my anxiety and bringing me to the present moment. My meditative practices have been taken a step further with the knowledge of the chakra system- allowing me to be more aware of my internal body, my spirit and the different aspects of my true self.  During a “Wheels of Light” yoga practice, the instructor begins with a chakra-centered meditation, followed by an asana (posture) practice opening and activating each chakra. Visualizing each of the chakras, brings attention to the energetic centers located along my spine and enables me to experience the information within my own body. From this point begins the yoga practice, which is a vinyasa flow style with typical postures, but attention is brought to the chakras activated in that specific asana. By doing my physical practice with the knowledge of the energetic body, I am able to see connect the poses that I find challenging because of tightness as reflections of blockages in specific chakras. An example of this is malasana or yogic squat, which is a wide squat that helps open up your hips. It activates the sacral chakra, and since it is a slightly painful but enjoyable posture for me because of my tight hips, I can close my eyes and go inner to the sacral chakra. As the sacral chakra deals with expression of sensual emotion and sexuality, I can see that I have some blockage in this chakra and start to question where it came from and what emotional issues I carry in my hips. Thus “yoga works… by revealing the existence of the subtle body and enabling the practitioner to employ its latent energies” (Varenne, 156). Bringing breath and attention to a particular place of the body brings relaxation and awareness, which helps one understand their higher and healthier selves.

While yoga and meditation have provided stress release, physical strength, mental calmness, and self-awareness, they have brought consciousness to problems but have not provided a method of healing or undoing unconscious or subconscious memories or dysfunctions. Therefore I have felt that listening to my body has been valuable to bring awareness to certain areas or chakras but that some form of guidance is necessary to reveal unconscious memories engrained in one’s energetic body and which have manifested in one’s physical body. For the past ten years I have tried all types of practices, systems, and form of medicine spanning from Western prescription medications to chiropractic work to Chinese acupuncture to Naturopathic medicine, to try to heal my debilitating migraines. As it has led me on a path of listening to my body, growing spiritually, and knowing myself deeper, I have finally changed and opened to a healthier lifestyle and found a holistic system that has worked for me. In my personal experience, while massage or other body healing practices feel nice and provide relief from stress, if the energetic body still has negative patterning and blockages then that pain will continue to come back until the energetic body is healed.  One of the methods of energetic healing that has been the most effective has been working with a holistic and integrative personality profiling system called the Vibrancy Path (formerly called the ColorPrint) developed by Jamie Champion. This system ties in both eastern and western forms of philosophy, mind and body healing, and various forms of vibrational medicine, including a chakra system. Its main intention is to help people better understand themselves and their inherent gifts so they can live with more vibrancy and deeper passion.

I see the Vibrancy Path having much correlation with the chakra system, Laban Movement Analysis, and Feldenkrais method. The first step in the Vibrancy Path is getting one’s vibrancy signature- a blue print of the energetic currents in their body, found from a pulse analysis and kinesiology test. This personality system uses colors to explain the energy currents in the body, as a kind of language just as psychology does. Thus each person has a unique set of 14 colors resonating with their own personality traits and natural gifts. The five main aspects of ones signature are the environment, expression, intimacy, life force, and intention colors, which then allow one to more fully understand which environments feel the best to thrive in, what of their main talents should be expressed daily, how they deeply connect with the world, what is their main passion in life and what style works best to live their life in. This is very similar to a sector of Laban Movement Analysis called Movement Analysis. During a session, the client sits and interacts in an everyday conversation with a client, while the movement analyst take notes of their habits and patterns of holding and expressing themselves. Then the movement analyst gives the client their movement signature, which tells them their levels of attention, intention, and commitment, allowing one to better understand who they are and which environment they would thrive in for a career.  Thus in both of these systems, a client is given an analysis of their nature that is dictated by their personality and at the lowest level, subtle body.

With the vibrancy signature, Jamie Champion then can lead one through a specialized therapeutic system. During each session, Jamie taps into the unconscious through the patient’s energetic body. Different stressful events of the past have created negative thought patterns instilled in the energetic body and then have manifested in one’s physical body usually as some form of stress like pain or disease, interpreted as blockages in the chakra system or lack of integration in particular body movements in the Feldenkrais Technique. By finding where certain energetic currents have been stuck by past traumas or stories, Jamie has been trained to then be able to tell which colors and meridians have been affected, which ages the occurrence happened, what the issue was, and then move from there. Specific sounds and affirmations are attached to certain colors, and these are sang or said while holding the specific areas where the colors are localized in the body. Repeating affirmations and sounds retrain one’s unconscious to work in a new positive pattern, help clear out the old issue, and relieve the stress it had once caused in one’s body. This system of exercises is much like the Feldenkrais Method, which states that “compulsive patterns need to be removed from this habitual ready-made pattern, leaving one free to act or react, not according to habit, but according to the given external situation” (“Bodily”, 5). Therefore this method uses structured movement explorations to find habitual patterns, and certain lessons to provide more flexibility and less energy by repatterning one’s movement and thoughts of self image.  As these issues keep us in defensive modes, releasing them provides removal of stress and allows the individual to move through life with more ease and vivaciousness. Removing these holding patterns then allows the individual to open blockages and

All of these beautiful practices and systems overlap, build off, and grow out into various forms of healing techniques that use their own perspective or lens to understand the body and mind continuum and how to heal a person holistically.  The integration of these historical holistic fundamentals with modern implications and new forms of practices, formulate visionary systems of healing that our world desperately needs. The systems or practices are bringing more awareness of one’s body, mind, and their connection. This emphasis on consciousness, understanding one’s self, links them to their essence and higher self and completes a circuit of one as a microcosm and a macrocosm. Spiritual healing and humans letting go to old patterns of the past, allows us to each live with vitality and fullness of our own unique self and become part of a harmonious whole with nature. We are like water droplets as we return to the big ocean and each our om’s becomes one with the universal energy or vibration.

Bibliography and References

“Bodily Expressions.” Embodied Wisdom: The Collected Papers of Moshe Feldenkrais. Beringer, North Atlantic Books, 2010.

Dale, Cyndi. The Subtle Body: An Encyclopedia of Your Energetic Anatomy. Sounds True, Inc: Boulder, CO. 2009.

Gerber, Richard, M.D. “The Chakra System.” Vibrational Medicine. Rochester, VT: Bear & Company, 2001

Hackney, Peggy. “What is Fundamental?” Making Connections: Total Body Integration through Bartenieff Fundamentals. London: Routledge, 2002.

Hartley, Linda. “The Contents: Soft Tissues of the Body.” Wisdom of the Body Moving. North Atlantic Books, 1995.

Judith, Anodea. Eastern Body Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self. New York: Celestial Arts, 2004.

Judith, Anodea. The Seventhfold Journey: Reclaiming Mind, Body and Spirit Through the Chakras. Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press, 1993.

Juhan, Deane. Job’s Body: A Handbook for Bodywork.Barrytown: Station Hill Press Inc., 2003.

Varenne, Jean. Yoga and the Hindu Tradition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1976.

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