Joe Practitioner

Joe Practitioner

60 thoughts; 1 stream
last posted March 16, 2019, 3:11 p.m.
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Joined on May 4, 2016, 2:03 p.m.
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“Awareness is my birthright,” say the deep, dark, frozen parts of the body each morning. They assert themselves, volunteering to feel themselves, no matter how tense or uncomfortable the feeling might be. Now they know they are in charge of their own awareness.

If they hold their breath or arch their back or otherwise contort themselves, it is not because an unwelcome blinding light is invading their territory. No, they do it to awaken themselves: first to feel, in whatever their body’s frozen configuration might be; then to breathe; then to move; then to be free.

The light does not press down unbidden. No, they call it down, pull it down, press upward into it. Now there is no fear—they know they are only feeling themselves.

“Awareness is my birthright.” Now they know, and they won’t be stopped. They will integrate with the rest, swiftly and easily.

60 thoughts
updated March 16, 2019, 3:11 p.m.
60 thoughts
updated March 16, 2019, 3:11 p.m.

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“Awareness is my birthright,” say the deep, dark, frozen parts of the body each morning. They assert themselves, volunteering to feel themselves, no matter how tense or uncomfortable the feeling might be. Now they know they are in charge of their own awareness.

If they hold their breath or arch their back or otherwise contort themselves, it is not because an unwelcome blinding light is invading their territory. No, they do it to awaken themselves: first to feel, in whatever their body’s frozen configuration might be; then to breathe; then to move; then to be free.

The light does not press down unbidden. No, they call it down, pull it down, press upward into it. Now there is no fear—they know they are only feeling themselves.

“Awareness is my birthright.” Now they know, and they won’t be stopped. They will integrate with the rest, swiftly and easily.

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This morning I realized it’s even simpler than I last described. The descending energy is simply the gradual emergence of self-awareness in the body. It’s not so much that the descending force carries with it an “instruction” for feeling some specific feeling. No, the only thing a part (or stratum or column) of the body is asked to feel is itself.

This recognition is engendering greater trust. The assignment of responsibility to an outside force is suddenly waning (and I wonder how specifically my language will correspondingly change). There’s more trust, because as far as each part is concerned, “it’s just me.” It’s not an external pressure saying “wake up!”; it’s just that part waking up, a.k.a. feeling itself, a.k.a. feeling.

More trust makes for less noise. Noise arises in the perception of a battle: attack/retreat, emerge/withdraw. Noise reflects the lack of precision in these movements. The part is always overcompensating, pressing outward too far, retreating inward too far...until it realizes it is only fighting with itself, like a dog chasing its tail. A new calm, clarity, and precision becomes possible, and the gradual spread of wakefulness in the body accelerates (exponentially?).

When “I” feel something in my body, that’s not the most accurate way to describe it. Rather, that part of the body feels something. That part feels itself. That part feels. So when I become aware of a feeling in my body, it is more accurate to say that the part is becoming self-aware.

For example, if I ate too much chocolate yesterday, or stayed up way too late on the computer watching YouTube (hypothetically speaking, of course), this has physical consequences. The resulting feelings are not entirely pleasant, and if each part is accustomed to numbing out or “sleeping through” these feelings, I don’t (or it doesn’t) actually feel them. The descending force is not asking my body to feel some foreign feeling. Like I said, it’s just the gradual emergence of self-awareness in the body. So if the top of my head allows the light of self-awareness to shine and touch adjacent parts, then eventually my stomach may start to wake up. If my stomach relaxes and allows itself to feel itself, this enables the continued movement of awareness through the body.

At this point it is not simply a top-down movement; no, it shifts and turns and finds its way, like a river making it to the sea. As long as the recognition that this is simply the emergence of self-awareness remains, the river will find its way closer to the sea.

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Relationship is the flow of awareness within one body.

I can’t help but think macrocosmically about this too, thanks to recently watching Andrew Yang talk about Universal Basic Income. If the country is a body, perhaps the UBI is like much-needed oxygen delivered to the remotest and most forgotten parts of the body. Perhaps it can help the full range of the body wake up.

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I do think the insight about time still stands. Without karma (undigested energy), it would take no time at all to be here now.

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This morning it was clearer than ever to me how the descending energy, the force that presses down on the top of my head like clockwork at the beginning of a new day—how this energy already carries within it an associated feeling for each part of the body. It is only a question of whether each part is willing to feel it. If each part was willing, then the incarnation would be instantaneous. If it were not for any resistance, time would be unnecessary. I believe this is a microcosm of the principle I've heard Thomas Hübl express before: the less essential I am, the more I need time to resolve the energy.

In any case, I intuit that my resistance is the only thing preventing me from instantaneously embodying the feeling that is implied/suggested/directed/requested by the descending force. The 30-minute-or-so process I engage in before getting out of bed is useful only because I am not yet fully willing. I get a measure of progress, of embodiment, resolution, and peace, thanks to the time I allow myself to spend trying to transcend time...at least a little bit.

The practical effect is that, by embodying the energy as fully as I can, even if it's only partial, I get up feeling more rested and energized, less taxed by the carryover from the previous day's meals and experiences. Both are more fully digested, as the sounds of my stomach during this time also suggest.

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The survival responses, freeze and fight, are becoming increasingly accessible and near the surface. A little bit of light from above, and there is the arching back, the held breath. It is centering and growing and awakening especially between my shoulder blades or indeed around my heart. It is moving now, I can identify with the protection, it can flow. This way, it asserts more prominence but less dominance. It no longer begins and ends with a headache and a burning face, a sense of being stuck. No, the movement leads to more movement and a deepening, broadening, colorful world of sensation. This is a welcome progress beyond the dead-end feeling.

On the other hand, now there is a no-end feeling or at least thought. That I might be lost in this new world and that it might even be dangerous became clear yesterday morning when indulging the searching light through the tortuous paths of my spine and back muscles, and enjoying the exquisite, delicious feeling of restored connection, like a pleasant tickle or an itch receiving an unfailingly satisfying continuous scratch. Yet my heart kept retreating, withdrawing into a smaller center, evading the pursuit of this light as if it were a knife trying to pierce it. That’s when I heard the sound. At first I thought it was a rushing wind outside my window, but then I realized it was my physical heart wheezing, the loudest murmur I had ever heard, clearly perceived under the present conditions (arched back, cocked head, silent room).

So... this morning I’m placing a premium on peace over tumult, even if it’s less interesting. The fact is, I need guidance, help from above. It also seems key not to let my mind wander, which introduces an element of randomness and chaos, perhaps even a “foothold for the devil.” As a prayer and affirmation of protection and guidance, I am occupying my mind with the Jesus prayer and with singing from Psalm 32:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.

Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him.

May the awakening of this heart be on Wisdom’s schedule, not my own.

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Some wonderful embodied insights from my first trauma touch therapy session today:

The freeze behavior itself is a movement. It is not not moving. In this state, I externally/consciously feel relaxed and am very still. This is probably why recently my dental hygienist kept checking on me to make sure I was okay. I must have looked like a deer in the headlights, even though I was just thinking “I’m relaxed; I’ll move if I want to move.”

But the natural state is to move. To be truly relaxed is not to be entirely still. If I want to move beyond the frozen state, I don’t need to force any movement. I had assumed that to counteract this behavior, I would need to move. On the contrary, I just need to let the freeze behavior do its thing (which is actually to move!). It just needs more space.

The freeze behavior itself is a movement, albeit constrained to a very small space. During the session, when I validated it and followed it while it did its thing, it began to flow more. It is a lot of locked-up energy (constrained movement).

Today, in this state, I went from feeling shrink-wrapped to feeling like I was inside a tiny coffin. Progress!

It’s a good thing too; I have another dentist appointment tomorrow!

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Infusions of power/energy/light from above are becoming a multiple-times-per-night occurrence. They have an ordering, calming, healing, enlivening effect, and I’m very grateful. The song going through my head this morning is “Humble King,” especially the line that says “Show me how much you love humility.”

My wife has been wearing earplugs. She has been sleeping better; I can tell I have been disturbing her less. Now there is much more space for deep breathing and soft vocal sighs or tones.

The new insight/guideline this morning is that I can center my attention in my heart when I feel the pressure/resistance in my head. Thus my orientation shifts from the crown pressing downward to the heart pressing outward. Heart accessibility thus becomes the starting point rather than the goal. In order to increase that access I need not press further downward (which is counterproductive anyway because it creates more resistance). Instead, since the radiating energy of my heart is now the starting point, I can retreat into that center in order to relieve the pressure. My heart is then free to explore the contours of its own resistance from within, rather than shirk from the foreboding pressure of an outside piercing light that is persistently knocking at the door and asking to be let inside.

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At the boundaries of waking consciousness, the descending force seems to have greater access to hidden parts (e.g. deep in my belly or far back in my spine). Thus when I am just waking up (especially on a Saturday), it seems to have more of a persistent, opportunistic agenda.

I am now confident that pressure in my face and head (apparent resistance there) is actually due to resistance from a deeper part that is not used to being felt. I am now more often able to become that part, provisionally shifting from identification with the force to identification with the part being acted upon. The relief comes through breathing, but only if that part is doing the breathing. The more secure and complete the connection, the more effective the relief. In the best case, it is relief from something I never knew ailed me, because it is a part that I don’t remember ever knowing.

The experience is one of initial fear, as if someone is trying to insert a knife into its chest. I tense up, hold my breath, hide my eyes, try to drift away. But a gentle presence, persistence, and patience can rather rapidly open me up to the point of relaxing the channel just enough for some air to come through, which means that, on a new threshold, it almost always starts with an audible whimper, moan, groan, or even howl. But I can soon fully relax, and the air can move freely and silently—unless the agenda is so opportunistic (as it was this morning) that it keeps trying for deeper and deeper parts, making for a prolonged series of vocal effects. The trick, as always, is to not get caught up in the effects (even as I try to mitigate them by putting a pillow over my face). If my mind wanders, I can find myself creating and getting lost in lots of noise (energetic, not just audible), the connections are partial at best, and the outcome might be nothing more than a stirring up of confusion and unresolved energies. But if a critical mass of presence keeps me calm, new thresholds of relaxation and connection can be stabilized.

That is one thing I more consciously observed this morning: the parts don’t just want relief. They don’t just want to connect to the light so they can relax. They also want to relax so they can connect to the light. Not just provisionally and temporarily, but permanently: a greater number of parts coming online, working in concert in service to the light. A higher-bandwidth connection, a broadband cable of an increasing number of functional fibers. It makes me want to learn more about the physiology of the spinal cord, because the subjective experience (albeit expanded out to a wider space) aligns with what I’ve heard about its structure.

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Last night I discovered another way to be with extreme irritability. The pragmatic considerations still hold true: avoid sugar, avoid yelling at your youngest child. I failed miserably in both regards. But after profuse apologies, hugs, and shared reflections, I went to bed, where most of the work described in these notes takes place. There I felt and remembered just how tumultuous these energies were. When I’m no longer actively suppressing them, I can feel the turmoil they create in my body, mind, and emotions.

Physically, it is like a massive swarm of tiny buzzing insects pervading and trapped by my whole body. I can even hear them in my ringing ears.

Emotionally, I hate everyone and everything. My mantra is “leave me the #%^* alone!” Nothing appeals, everything sucks, and I want to curse it all.

Mentally, I flit back and forth between speaking the curses and asking for forgiveness and help, even as I try to figure out what’s wrong with me, what is the meaning of this, what is my relationship to this experience supposed to be, etc.

In meditation, the task as I understand it is to say neither yes nor no to the experiences that arise. It is rather to practice indifference. So the three possibilities here, I suppose, would be to 1) say yes and verbalize the curse, throw the nearest pillow at the wall, or worse, 2) say no and actively suppress it by blocking it out, replacing it with positive thoughts, praying for deliverance, seeking physical remedies, etc., or 3) remain entirely still and aloof no matter how uncomfortable it might get.

What I experienced last night is a fourth way, I suppose. Lying in bed, I felt an impulse to let these urges run through me by tracking them and saying yes to them at some level, by consciously allowing them to stream in through my head and face down through my body and directing them closer to the ground in all their swarming turmoil. There’s a certain satisfaction or fulfillment in this, as if giving answer to a pressing question.

But then the strong, let’s say secondary, impulses came too: the urges to swear, curse, throw things, and in general to destroy. So my mind intervened with the obvious thought that this sure seems like demon possession. So I said a rather silly prayer and shortly thereafter realized the silliness of it: “Let these energies be from You.” In other words I was contingently arguing with reality.

But somehow I decided I had the capacity to handle them whatever their nature or source. And this was the fourth way, saying yes, welcoming and embracing the energy, becoming the turmoil, becoming the rage, while at the same time vigilantly guarding against acting on any of the secondary impulses. This allowed even more of the energy to flow. My hypothesis was that it needed to flow all the way through, and, by not acting out, I could facilitate its completion without being turned into an evil monster in the process (or at least not permanently). Picture a writhing, powerful, enraged but unreactive creature, like a gargoyle softly and fluidly grunting, all the tumultuous energy flowing, not stunted, not jumping or jerking, all of it finding a continuous space and time, a place for it to be, to exist as a valid quality of movement in this world.

This morning my provisional conclusion is that to invite a demon to pass through your house without letting it piss on your furniture is not the same thing as being possessed by it. It may well constitute something like love.

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I'm noticing an analogous dimension of connection or disconnection: words can be disconnected from their original energy in the same way that the breath can become disconnected. Thus not only breathing exercises can be "forced, overly mental, and irrelevant," but words become exactly that too. That description sums up, for example, most people's experience of the Bible (and my experience of the Bible, most of the time). But once the breath comes online, then there's life. So too with the words. Connect the words to the original energy and they suddenly gain a substance that moves us powerfully.

They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" (Luke 24:32)

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Just a day later, breathing exercises are my favorite! ;-) Well, not canned formulas, and really there's just one exercise as I'm conceiving it: actively experiment with breathing, in connection to the energy from above. Don't wait to identify whether to breathe in or out; just start. If it helps to keep from going off track, make shorter, even rapid breaths. By "on track," I mean simultaneously feeling the energy above and the energy below without holding the breath. In other words, keeping the hose connected and air moving through it, regardless of the rhythm. I suspect I can make a habit out of this, and that the rhythms and tempos will become more natural. They're awkward at first, but they're fast becoming easier and more natural.

It indeed feels like the breath is a pumping mechanism to fill the body with life energy. It's a denser sensation; I can feel the channels as if I'm working the air, for example, up and down my spine, right now in deliberate, even breaths. The pumping sensation is not just on the inhalations. If I'm maintaining the connection to the energy above, it seems like both inhaling and exhaling infuse the body with more energy, like a constant electrical connection.

The breath seems like my key to the assertion of the physical. The active willing to breathe is the body taking what it needs from the energy above, pulling it down, rather than just lying and waiting to be overtaken by higher forces.

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Breathing exercises often seem forced, overly mental, and irrelevant to the energy that's naturally moving. My alternative has been to let the breath do whatever it does. If it holds, great. If it releases, great.

But today I'm learning more of a third way, a new invitation: conscious breathing that is "forced" only in the sense of setting a very gentle intention. The priority remains the same: stay connected to the original focal point or main energy flow. The breath is secondary to that. But now, rather than just letting the breath do whatever it does, experiment with intentionally cracking open the taut fibers to let air through, whether in or out at first. This seems to establish a new channel—or reopen a long-closed channel—of air to the area that's in focus. It may start as a narrow channel of air—raspy breathing in the back of my throat, maybe partly voiced at first—but then it becomes clear as the airway opens further. A natural rhythm ensues. And the part in focus (e.g. the pit in my stomach, or the back of my heart, or the top of my back) can relax, newly nourished and refreshed.

It still needs to be very gentle. This means that the breath intention should not overpower the primary connection, causing it to be lost. Sure, I can always forcefully make myself breathe in or out. But this breaks the concentration on the original connection. It creates waves, noise, disorientation, and the part in focus immediately goes back into hiding.

Using the breath as a "pump" for pushing energy into the physical body works as a metaphor for me, provided that the hose actually stays connected. What I realize now is that the reason breath exercises don't often "work" for me is that the hose isn't connected. It's flopping about randomly, and the energy dissipates into wherever. But if I am very, very gentle (and patient), I can actually start pumping air through the hose without losing the connection.

Telling features of success: new, strange sense of self (maybe with some fear but only at first); deeper relaxation; a natural desire to move the body.

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What I'm realizing is that every corkscrew movement, whether up or down the spine, is a creative impulse that can potentially be realized. If they were all to manifest, creation would be vast and instantaneous. The interpenetration of the base and the crown, like the fingers of two hands interleaving, or two vines being grafted together, was the first focal point. A knot, or plane, of pain (usually somewhere in the middle of my back but it could be anywhere), if allowed to be still, by fleshing out the contours of the movements into each other so that none of them might escape, becomes increasingly stable until the elusive, fleeting pain becomes a durable substance and then body. If this can be sustained even further, then the body grows and the awareness can expand beyond the initial focal point to a stabilizing network, growing out at the periphery, like so many vines or tentacles; but rather than flailing about, they become solid, and thus the body grows, powered from within. Stability, structure, substance is the aim of this movement. It wants to materialize, to become flesh; if there is any movement, it wants to take root and become dense rather than indefinitely flop about like a downed power line. By closing the circuit, the body grows. And if the circuit-closing pattern can itself be sustained, then creation becomes instantaneous, growth exponential, time unnecessary. (Or so I imagine.) That may be the ideal of manifestation: the word and its effect are "not two." In the mean time, I will content myself with accelerating growth. With the corkscrew movements, we're talking multiple cycles per second, so any sustained connection of these is going to have fast results that will start working their way outward, as this energetic body takes its place in the world. With any luck (grace), the heart will become central, manifestly "the wellspring of life."

One more note for now: the Law of Three is a helpful rubric in this practice. Affirming (downward movement from the crown and above), denying (resistance in the body and/or upward movement from the base), and reconciling (an expanding witnessing of this interaction) all must be present.

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And: with a wider base, the heart can relax, even in the light. [See the note/thought before last FTW!]

And when we reach the limits of our current base (or the current rate at which it can expand), we notice the clenching and respect the needs. We give space to the protection and let it be... Until next time :-)

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Feel the dense, stomach-achy energy but not just in the abdomen. This time it's in the frontal cortex and linked all the way down, barely touching the front edge of the heart. There's some space around it; it can be perceived as a single body, if incomplete. Sitting out in front—or on top? (I'm lying down.) The task is different now. Not so much drilling down into the base of the spine, but letting the body merge into "me." Let it sink, let it touch, let it energize the physical fibers, let it be born into matter. Stay with the unified body that's out in front, but also let it touch, paying attention to the physical sensations, the back, the chest, the stomach. Otherwise it remains out in front, pure and streaming and energized and internally connected. But not embodied. How to merge? Forcing doesn't work. There's a logjam, an equal and opposite reaction. What if I abandon for a moment and just feel the physical? Oh, yes, there it is. Don't like this! Not comfortable. Going off track? No, discomfort's the sign you're going on track. (Time to sit up now.) The resistance is great. My heart doesn't want to be pierced. My heart wants to be safe. Are we willing to recognize this? If I force, I muddy the waters. If I don't, I don't feel my heart. What's that? Numbness? Blankness? Absence? Aha! There is a process here. It is working effectively. Can we honor this? Can we allow the "moving not to feel"? Now the melodies come, the joyful little spurts of clever, mischievous creativity. It dances around, happily it seems. But wait! Weren't we trying to feel the heart? There's just a big, empty space now—though streaming out with little songs and dances. No, we can't feel the heart, but we see what it's doing now. And it feels seen. And it is happy.

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In addition to the focused, directed, channeled streaming of energy into my base, I've now had the experience of broad, relaxed, wide seeping of energy downward, like standing in a light rainfall. And actually, it's not that it's either/or; it tends to start off focused and directed, concentrated and narrow, until it hits a certain center in the body, at which point it spreads out, like a spray nozzle on the end of a downward-pointing hose. For most of my practice so far, the spray nozzle has been at the base of my spine. Above that, the energy is intense, concentrated, focused, narrow. Then it disperses in my pelvis and covers my legs with a gentle shower.

What I've learned more recently is to effectively bring the spray nozzle or shower head further up, by relaxing more of my body into a broader base. The warm bath analogy helped me to access this. I've been so intent not to lose the focused stream of energy that I haven't been able to relax as much into a broader flow. Or I've been so intent to feel the compact density of my physical legs that I haven't allowed them to dissipate into a wider, lighter but nevertheless grounding field of vital energy.

First the shower head started at my solar plexus. Then, in the same sitting it gradually rose to my heart, then my third eye, then my crown, where it remained. Each succession brought an incredible new level of rest. I couldn't believe how calm I was, even as the intense energy remained above the shower head. I am normally so activated; all the waves that I've been tuning into and surfing and diving into—they ceased beneath the shower head, replaced by a calm, gentle, surrounding shower. I honestly didn't believe I could relax my third eye, but even that happened, and tears were gently, steadily released without the slightest bit of strain or contraction. It was nothing like crying; it was more like water escaping from a relaxing hand. The shower head didn't go higher than my crown (or maybe just barely above) and it did not lose any of its intensity. If anything, it was more intense than usual, but amazingly there was no headache or burning in my face.

The effects on my day made a lot of sense. I felt comfortable and free. No anxiety. I was more available to people (e.g. to listen to and help a grieving widow), I had more energy (I used a standing desk all day for the first time in weeks), I moved about the office outside my normal paths, I engaged in more conversation. I was relaxed and happy and at home.

Tips for accessing this:

  • Relax as if in a warm bath.
  • Feel the center of the energy (step into the usually uncomfortable edge of it, often by moving awareness forward in the body, but this of course varies), breathe into it, allow it to breathe me, discern whether a held breath is resistance to an exhale or an inhale—it's sometimes hard to tell, but I'm getting better at it.
  • Prioritize relaxation over tracking of the energy; allow it to dissipate into a broader ground.
  • If you feel some constant, light tingling in or around your legs, that's all that's needed to invite the energy to ground; you don't need to pull it down or concentrate it or feel it more intensely.
  • The wideness of the ground means you don't have to keep such focused concentration on the downward-streaming energy. You won't lose track of it (sending it wherever it goes when you get distracted, maybe into hiding or something...)—you won't lose track of it if your base is nice and wide. It will catch all the raindrops; you don't need to funnel it anymore.
  • If you have a lot of unforced voiced sighs, you're probably doing it right.
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The trick is to relax without losing the intensity: to relax while feeling more alive, more connected, more embodied, rather than to relax by drifting out into space or thought or disembodied trance. There's a difference between the relief of evasion and the relief of surrender. Evasion moves up and out. Surrender moves down and in. They both play a role, but the latter is transformative.

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The descending energy often feels like a corkscrew or drill. Riding the wave of its revolutions (i.e. jumping on board rather than idly standing by) enables it to descend more deeply and rapidly. I become the corkscrew.

I can feel a similar but smaller ascending corkscrew at the base of my spine. A baby corkscrew. The two seem to be looking for each other.

When the connection is made, it sometimes feels more like the corkscrew/drill/spiral, and sometimes it just feels more like electricity flowing through a now-closed circuit. No doubt this is just me paying attention to different aspects at different times.

Once the connection is made, it is often ambiguous which way the energy is flowing (up or down). My guess is that it's both, but I'm still refining my awareness of that aspect. One thing I know is that there is a greater sense of completeness and less of a need to reach further down or root myself like there was when all I could feel was energy flowing down to my feet and I was wondering where it could go from there. I've found a place to hook it up (the base of my spine) and now the lights can just gradually become brighter, without me also having to figure out where to hook them up.

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I've increasingly been able to keep an almost constant awareness of not only the energy streaming into my crown but also its connection to the base of my spine. If I consciously focus on the connection, I can feel the energy spread through my legs. It feels like sitting at the base of a gentle, warm waterfall, or at the opening of an underground spring. The energy teleports, or flows through an unseen viaduct, first funneling into the top of my head and then flowering out from my pelvis on down.

In concentrated practice periods, the focus has been to feel and connect the intermediate channels, whether they travel through my spine or in front of it. I can feel the electricity on both ends (top and bottom); then it's just a matter of letting them meet somewhere in the middle.

The technique of "jumping into the bloodstream" is a specific example of a general skill, which is to attune to a particular frequency. In other words, whether or not the pulse or signal I feel is that of my physical heart, I can still jump into it, ride the wave, grab the rope tow, dive into the river, etc. This allows for a much more rapid reconnection.

What about the resistance? I'm reminded of my quip about resistance being futile. That seems true—as long as I still attend to it. As I focus on reattaching my backbone, so to speak—that is, closing and intensifying the electric circuit in my spine—all manner of resistance shows up in the form of muscle-contracting, breath-holding, whimpering, etc. I've found that it's not helpful to focus directly on these side effects. Instead, whether the perspective is that of the party who is interested in making the connection happen or that of the party who is feeling the connection happen without asking for it, the focus should still be on the connection. I take turns stepping into these roles (though I still spend most of the time adopting the perspective of the one who wants to make the connection). There is a subtle shift: the eyes look up slightly when I become the frightened recipient of the connection. The eyes look down slightly when I'm the one concentrating on making it happen. But the attunement to the frequency must stay there for it to work, so there is a bit of multi-tasking, or at least simultaneous levels of conscious awareness, going on.

How do I know the resistance isn't just going back into hiding or bringing in reinforcements? Well, I can't always know that, and I'm sure there's always a mix. But here's the really telling indicator: there is often a sense of great relief and relaxation, particularly when the exhale is voiced as opposed to unvoiced. I never try to make that happen, but it happens of its own accord. The eyes look up slightly, directly, as it were, into the light. Calm, still presence makes it possible. As the little me, I can quickly see that I am the one creating all the fuss and that there's nothing to be afraid of. I'm safe and can relax, even in the midst of such intense aliveness. Before I know it, a deep, voiced sigh suggests that another slice of salami has been shaved off.

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One exhilarating and just plain cool thing to do, once I realized I could do it, is "jumping into my bloodstream." This applies whenever I feel my pulse, e.g. while sitting down on a park bench just after a brisk walk. I can distinctly feel my heartbeat. This means that my perspective is stationary; I'm sitting there watching my blood pumping by, like a river surging in spurts. What I found is that quick attunement to a single beat can send me flying down the river and back round again—and that I can stay with the flow, such that I no longer feel the beat. It's like jumping into a game of Double Dutch, or grabbing onto a rope tow at the ski hill. The rope keeps flying by; you wait for your chance to grab on; you finally find your moment, and then you're off to the races, no longer stationary. It's also like the difference, for a surfer, between letting the waves go by and catching one of them.

I've also found that it can be done in layers. I recently felt my pulse in my stomach. I dove into the beat and found that some of my awareness was in the stream and some of my awareness was still feeling the beat. I continued to focus on the stream by jumping into each pulse as it arrived, and soon all my awareness was scooped up into the stream and I no longer felt the beat. Kind of like parents encouraging their kids to join them on the moving merry-go-round until the whole family is spinning. :-)

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Connecting to the base of the spine is like calming down a shaking bowl so that the thick liquid it contains can start to drain down through the tiny hole at the bottom of the bowl.

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There are so many potential channels, like the spaces between the fibers of a sugar cane. Some parts are dense and still tightly stuck together; others have become loose enough, even if temporarily, to let the light shine through. But the overall intention seems to be to leave no stone unturned. It seems that eventually the whole body will be full of light (if I let it?).

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The connections are becoming easier to make. The primary, most accessible focus points are still the head/crown/third eye and the gut. The spotlight clamps onto my forehead and launches on like a stadium light. Then it's only a matter of relaxed concentration, allowing and not reacting to the intensity, letting my stomach knot du jour become felt, and settling into a deeper sensation of that area until it's like my forehead is directly touching my lower abdomen and/or pelvis (again, while lying flat). Once this connection is made, if I can stay present without breaking into laughter (it's quite a peculiar and intimate feeling!), then the energy flow will develop into a channel that I can feel all the way up and down my spine or front torso, even if it's still twisted or contorted.

If it develops this far, that's usually when I start to encounter the protection around my heart, sometimes from above, as the energy descends down my neck; and sometimes (as is the case more often lately) from below, as the awareness of my abdomen grows, and the light of the channel, like a flame that's slowly building, comes up against the wall beneath my heart. Before that happens (if at all), the heart space is dark, unfelt, and the light, even if it makes a full circuit, somehow finds a detour around it. But I now know that the light can and does want to stream directly through the core of my heart; this has started to happen at times. Like a clean, fresh, powerful river made of luminescent air.

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The intensity of experience continues to increase. New openings around the top of my brain appear unbidden. At first slightly painful—like someone jabbing a long needle off from the side, at an angle, toward the center of my head—I've learned to let it in; the pain quickly goes away as the new energy rushes in, filtering its way down through my feet. It's like my brain is systematically being opened up like a flower or a blooming onion, minus the deep frying (hopefully). ;-)

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The contours of my resistance, the tight, tense battleground where the streaming energy blasts against an immovable wall—I have naturally assumed that this was fear, a pulling away from the light. But this morning while contemplating how I might be leaning forward, I realized that the fear may actually more accurately be called desire. Counter-intuitively, a desire to connect to the energy it is so effectively blocking. I want to connect, but my desire is so intense and so urgent and so strong that I don't know how. I lean in too far, I grasp so tightly, so desperately, that I don't know how to receive that which is right in front of me and blasting off my face in all directions.

I'm now stepping into this experience while recognizing it as a desire to connect rather than primarily as a fear of connecting. My goal is to just be with it, to receive that desire, to give it enough space to move, to become more aware of it and more compassionate. This feels like an important pivot on this adventure.

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It's like the tortoise and the hare.

More activity may seem to imply more progress, but it may just be that you're actively reinforcing resistance to the progress—creating unnecessary work and imbalances that need to be addressed.

Slow and steady wins the race.

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The fearfully resisting part does not need to be convinced to let go; it already wants to let go. It only needs to be convinced that you will not try to force it to let go. Once it's convinced that its sovereignty will be respected and that it has as much time as it needs, it will let go.

Heh, this sounds kinda like parenting advice for a teenager.

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There's also a distinct sense in which the part that's afraid, paradoxically, wants nothing more than to move through its fear—to intimately connect to that which it fears.

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In our last small group, I refined my understanding of how to navigate the edges of energy and resistance. In order to expand, you really have to respect the need to withdraw or retreat, to turn down the volume of the energy, or to pull back from it a bit. My tendency is to push too hard, thinking that I'll miss an opportunity otherwise. But actually, that might send everyone into overreaction mode. By allowing just enough contraction and pulling back, I find that it's no longer a battle but instead a very respectful, even loving interaction.

Before, I have mostly identified with the streaming energy and have been trying to figure out how to break the logjams that I encounter. Now I'm able to become the fearful part instead but this time be present and quite awake to the energy in front of me. That's because I can see that the energy respects my needs. Almost immediately I find myself relaxing into welcoming more of it and/or merging into it. With my boundary being honored so respectfully, I can see and feel right away that there's actually no reason to fear. It was a false alarm. :-)

That still doesn't mean it's comfortable. But now I can enter the discomfort with more trust and with my eyes open (figuratively and literally).

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A clue that this physical embodiment thing is authentic is that, during my lying-in-bed-in-the-morning practice, I am more frequently experiencing an urge to get up, to move, to get moving. I'll sit up, jump up, or stand up, even before I've let go of the practice. This is a natural impulse and desire, not a mentally imposed one (e.g. "You need to get up because you've got work to do").

I've also felt more naturally inclined to physical activity during the day. I'm doing at least 30 push-ups a day and frequent pull-ups for the fun of it.

This feels like a path to greater inner cooperation: the voluntary participation of matter, rather than its forced subordination.

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Embodying the physical feels like taming a wild lion, or putting my hand on its forehead and taking all of its energy into myself. Or like the moment when a ghost is sucked into the trap in Ghostbusters—fast-moving energy instantly consolidated and made still.

The keys are:

  • concentration: keeping my crown connected to the head of the stream, rather than floating up and down on its waves; and
  • relaxation: allowing the new, foreign, intense sensations to continue and deepen, not pushing them away or contracting to protect myself.

It's like continuously climbing up and flopping over the edge of a life raft. There needs to be attunement and focus to get myself up to the top of the slippery ledge, but once I'm there I need to relax and fall into the bottom of the boat. And this happens constantly, such that the two movements become one.

Another image would be climbing up onto a surf board. What had felt like waves flowing over me now feels like a constant, steady ground beneath me.

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I've heard the coiling snake metaphor, but now I'm getting a direct sense of how descending into the body is like "reeling it in"—like there's this really long, live fishing wire that's dancing around out in the air, and now it's relaxing, allowing itself to be drawn in through the single-wide hole that leads to its nighttime home. It's tricky to allow this. It seems like I can't breathe in here; inhaling has the tendency to send me flying out the hole once again. But of course breathing is allowed here too, and with practice I'm getting less and less excited when I take a breath. Filling the lungs with air can be done quite physically and without flying off into the sky.

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When pouring energy into the physical mold of this body, the impulse is to channel the energy somewhere else, to direct it to flow through and thus relieve some of the intensity. But now I'm experimenting with letting that impulse be and allowing this intense, concentrated stillness to be sustained indefinitely, or for as long as it remains so, i.e. intense, concentrated, and still. I suspect that, in doing so, I will begin to feel more and more at home here.

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I've reinstated a more robust awareness meditation practice (for one hour, strictly letting everything be as it is). I am already seeing how it is improving the quality of my presence when doing the subtle energy practices. I can more easily decline to react. During awareness meditation, the subtle energy experiences can be quite strong, and it takes everything in me not to either dive into or recoil back from the rushing stream. The pleasure and the pain are intense. I often can't tell the difference. They're just two different flavors of reactivity, two sides from which to fall off the tight rope of the practice.

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Although discomfort may be the first primary feeling characteristic of the descent into the physical, it may soon give way to feelings of bliss. In fact, it may be hard to differentiate between them. They start to merge and you start to feel uncomfortably blissful or blissfully uncomfortable. Either way, the trick is to stay present and not latch onto the pleasure/pain pendulum. When bliss arrives, the temptation is to lose yourself in the bliss. But embodiment is more like finding yourself. How deep you go depends on how much bliss you can stand without reacting. As the intensity rises, the activity falls. As the stillness deepens, the intensity deepens with it.

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Current characteristics of physical embodiment:

  • Intensity
  • Precision
  • Wakefulness
  • Relaxedness
  • Slowing down
  • Discomfort
  • Compactness

Synthesizing the above: Relaxing into an increasingly precise, intense, wakeful awareness of the slow, compact discomfort of the physical body.

Like carefully pouring liquid into a small mould. You have to do it slowly or it will spill over the sides. As the material cools, it becomes more compact, more solid, less translucent, more opaque. But also more intense: a concentrated intensity, an alive intimacy.

The resistance to dealing with things on the physical plane has been a resistance to dealing with a foreign substance that seemed to be disconnected from me. The aim now is to operate from within matter rather than from without. To live as a native here, to recognize and claim my homeland, to animate the physical plane as the substance of myself.

Slowing down, crawling into the confines and limitations of just one possibility, saying no to other possibilities. You willingly narrow your options as you crystallize, moving from the realm of the potential to the realm of the actual. You make a choice. You say yes to this body, this moment, this space, these limitations, these particularities. In doing so, you get off the bench of life and find out what it feels like to really play the game.

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Descending into the body is not about finding a way through the density without changing the substance of your self. No, you must change the substance of your self and become the density. There is no way through.

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With deep gratitude I can report that the descending embodiment continued last night. This time I was careful to respect the protective intention, which I experiment predominantly as a pooling of energy in my head which helps limit the downward flow. This time I welcomed it and held the protecting body rather than trying to power around it or through it.

Characteristics, in case any of these can serve as entry points to this elusive connection in the future:

  • breathing
  • smiling
  • open mouth
  • open eyes
  • relaxing into my base
  • energy transmitted, as if teleported (the intervening areas are still dark) straight from the top to the bottom, via:
  • a direct connection between my crown and my tailbone
  • energy disseminating downward from there into my legs

The sequence seems like it might be like that of filling up a cup with liquid. First the bottom is filled. Then the rest?

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In this process of inhabiting the physical, it feels as if the matter itself is waking up. Or, conversely, when I descend into the low frequency of the body, it behaves at first as if asleep—which is probably because sleep is the only other time that this frequency visibly rises to the surface. The difference is that now I'm snoring (for example) while I'm wide awake. My breathing sounds like a zombie's breathing.

I think this is one of the reasons I enjoy even the "walkers" in The Walking Dead. Inconscient matter, walking around, stripped of everything else that would make it human. Human physicality isolated and made manifest. (Of course there's the flesh-eating too, but I'll leave that analysis for another day. ;-)

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