Category: Spirituality

Your Body Is Not What You Think: Looking Beyond the Ph...

This model of a multidimensional body applies directly to the theme of the Deep Heart. I would not write about the importance of the heart unless I knew it intimately firsthand and also understood its critical role in psychological healing and spiritual awakening. If there are, as I propose, layers to the heart ranging from the relatively gross, through the refined, to the transcendent, then many of us will be able to directly or indirectly sense this in some way.

One of the easiest ways to sense the emotional and energetic reality of the heart area is to notice what we sense and feel when we fall in love or, conversely, when we lose someone we have loved via death or a painful breakup. Heart openings are intoxicatingly joyful, and heart breaks are extraordinarily painful. Have you ever wondered why this is the case? Are the opening and closing of the heart purely physiological, or might something else be going on? We will explore romantic love in a later chapter, but for now I’ll just acknowledge the central role that the heart area plays in human relationships and in genuine spiritual openings. The majority of popular songs and a large number of our most compelling stories revolve around love found and lost.

In order to explore your heart in any depth, it’s helpful to sense your whole body with as few ideas as possible. Clear the slate—be open to the possibility that your body is not what you think it is. Rather than approaching your body as a familiar solid object made up of skin, bones, muscles, organs, tissues, and cells governed by neural and hormonal networks, I encourage you to approach it differently—as a field of vibration filled with space.

In the next exercise, you will experience the body as a field of vibration. This meditation is inspired by the Vijnanabhairava Tantra, a key experiential text in Kashmiri Tantric Shaivism that was authored over a thousand years ago. It’s a good idea to record this guided meditation on your smartphone, and I recommend pausing between the steps outlined below for at least twenty seconds. Including the pauses, please allow for at least ten minutes in total. Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, sit comfortably, and close your eyes.  

BODY SENSING PRACTICE 

Sensing the Body as Vibration  

Take a few deep breaths and allow your attention to settle down and in.

Feel the weight of your body being held by whatever you are sitting on and let yourself be completely held.

Sense the bottoms of your feet, the tips of your toes, and notice a lively vibration. Imagine it growing stronger, gradually enveloping both feet, and then moving up both legs.

Sense the palms of your hands and the tips of your fingers. Notice a subtle vibration—a sense of aliveness.

Feel it enveloping both hands and slowly spreading up both arms.

Feel this sense of vibrant aliveness growing into your hips and shoulders.

And then into the belly and the chest, including your back.  

Sense this lively vibration moving up the neck and into the head, suffusing the mouth, ears, eyes, and brain. Take your time.

Now let go of any focusing and sense your entire body as a diffuse field of lively vibration. Notice that it is difficult to tell exactly where your body ends and where the so-called world begins. Allow this sense of vibration to extend out into space in all directions: front … back … left … right … up … and down.

Rest in and as this expansive sense of vibrant spaciousness as long as you like.  

Journey into the depths of your own heart with Dr. John J. Prendergast’s guide, The Deep Heart: Our Portal to Presence.

Theresa Reed: Monkey Mind

They say that animals often come to resemble their owners. Or maybe it’s the other way around. I am not sure where that statement came from, but I would probably say there is a nugget of truth to it. Perhaps we do become more like our critters, or more likely, we simply learn from them. 

A decade ago, my husband and I adopted a little black cat from the local shelter. As soon as they plopped him in our hands, he began to purr like a motor. We bundled him up, took him home, and named him Monkey.

This name seemed to fit him much better than his original moniker, Phantom. Monkey wasn’t a cat who liked to hide away, and he wasn’t very stealthy either. Instead, he was restless, animated, and liked to play rough. Always in movement, he could barely sit still long enough for a picture. He’s got a true “monkey mind.”

I hate to admit this, but in a way we’re a lot alike.

Like Monkey, I am easily distracted. I blame this on my Gemini ways, but the truth is that’s not an excuse for having too many projects running at the same time with all the technology in the world clamoring for my attention. The blips and dings that alert me that I’ve got mail or texts or other such things keep me in a state of high alert. “What’s happening? What’s going on?” Or, more accurately, “What did I miss?”

Like a pinball whizzing around the flippers and bumpers, my brain is in constant motion. Sometimes I’ve found myself amazed that I was able to get anything done at all.  

My writing sessions were punctuated by petting sessions, and cooking a meal required one hand on the spatula while another held a laser pointer to keep Monkey from biting my heels. Disruption via feline was a way of life around my house, so, as you can imagine, it wasn’t easy for a focus-challenged person like myself to remain present much of the time.

One day, I was tapping away on the computer when I noticed Monkey staring down a bug. He was poised to pounce, eyes wide, and completely still. The bug wasn’t moving. Neither was Monkey. This was a total showdown between cat and bug—and neither was going to move until the time was right.

Fascinated, I stopped what I was doing to watch this duel unfold.

The stare-down continued for a few minutes. This cat wasn’t going to flinch until he witnessed a glimmer of activity. Finally, I saw a flicker of movement as the bug slowly lifted his leg. Monkey’s eyes widened as he wriggled his bottom. Suddenly he pounced on the hapless bug, and in an instant, it was over. The bug was lying face up, with no sign of life. Monkey sniffed around it for a second, then sauntered away. The job was done and now it was time for a nap in the sun.

I found myself pondering this long after the deed was over.

How could this cat, who detests the house rules and who seems to be in constant squirm motion, remain so deeply engrossed? How is it that Monkey was able to deftly finish his work while I sat at my desk, still stuck on finding the first opening sentence for my latest project?  

The truth was staring me in the face as the little familiar beep that alerted me to an incoming text pulled me away from my work.

I had created a maelstrom of technology and distraction around me. This was preventing me from effectively “killing the bug.” If I was going to be prolific, effective, and calm in both my work and my spiritual practice, I needed to set myself up for success. It was time to commit to making my world distraction-free so I could tame my own monkey mind.  

This is an excerpt from a story written by Theresa Reed and featured in The Karma of Cats: Spiritual Wisdom from Our Feline Friends, a compilation of original stories by Kelly McGonigal, Alice Walker, Andrew Harvey, and many more!

Theresa Reed has been a professional, full-time tarot reader for more than 25 years. A recognized expert in the field, she has been a keynote presenter at the Readers Studio, the world’s biggest tarot conference, and coaches tarot entrepreneurs via numerous online courses and her popular podcast, Talking Shop. Theresa lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For more, see thetarotlady.com.

Michael Singer: Living From a Place of Surrender

Michael Singer is a spiritual teacher, entrepreneur, and the bestselling author of the spiritual classic The Untethered Soul. He has collaborated with Sounds True to release the online course Living from a Place of Surrender: The Untethered Soul in Action. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon speaks with Michael about the core idea of his teachings: that it is only through complete surrender to the essence of the moment that we experience life’s full potential. They talk about what this sense of surrender actually means when it comes to decision-making and day-to-day activities, as well as how to recognize when we are still clinging to resistance. Michael explains how to take a “witness position” and let go of the arbitrary attachments that inhibit surrender. Finally, Tami and Michael discuss the application of these ideas to those things we truly value, including bringing the idea of surrender to social and environmental activism. (63 minutes)

Is What You Seek Actually Already Here?

 

As we let go into the current of truth, it gains momentum, and an increasingly intimate inner dialogue unfolds between our conditioned mind and our unconditioned nature. If you want to cooperate with this process (which I assume you do), it is important to honestly examine your motives.

 

MEDITATIVE INQUIRY

What Do You Really Want?

 

Find a quiet, comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Let your attention settle down and in, resting in the heart area. When you are ready, ask yourself: “What is it that I really want?” Let the question go. Don’t go to your mind for an answer. Just wait, listen, sense, and feel. The response may come first as a sensation or as an image before it becomes a word. Or it may come first as a word or phrase.

 

Whatever comes, check for inner resonance. Does it ring true for you? Something usually lights up, enlivens, releases, or opens up in the body if you have touched an important inner truth.

 

***

 

It is crucial to be honest with yourself. Usually we have mixed motives. I certainly did. Even as I was highly interested in discovering what is true, I was also looking for approval from others and wanting to survive. Social acceptance and physical safety are fundamental, closely intertwined desires, and we often need to play them out until we see through them. This usually takes time.  

 

If you believe that your happiness depends upon finding the right partner or career, or upon accumulating wealth or power, you may need to explore these options in order to discover their limitations. Conceptual insight—knowing that happiness does not depend upon circumstances—is rarely enough. Your life experience is a vital curriculum, and there will be a number of opportunities to experience its fierce grace.

 

You may be able to speed up this process by asking yourself what you imagine you will gain if you acquire the objects or meet the goals you are seeking. As a thought experiment, complete some of the following sentences that resonate for you:  

 

If I find the right partner, I will feel _________.

 

If I have children or grandchildren, I will experience _________.

 

If I have enough good friends or belong to the right community, I will feel _________.

 

If I have the right job or career, I will be _________.

 

If I have enough money and own a home and nice car, I will be _________.

 

If I have better health, I will _________.

 

If I eat enough delicious food, have great sex, travel to enough interesting and exotic places, and work hard enough, I will finally _________.

 

If I am at the right place at the right time in the future, I will _________.

 

If I discover my soul’s purpose, I will _________.

 

Then ask yourself: 

 

Is it true that what I seek is not already here?

 

If you let your heart wisdom answer, this last question can be a mindbender. The strategic mind will be stunned. If you trust your heart’s answer and act on it, you will master life’s curriculum much more quickly, avoiding some of its remedial dead ends.

 

As intention clarifies, attention focuses.  

 

Of course, we can gain some degree of transient satisfaction if the above if-then statements are fulfilled, but there will always be an underlying sense of dissatisfaction until the Deep Heart is consciously recognized. My teacher Jean Klein often observed that “the object never fulfills its promise.” Certainly not for long. Have you noticed that once we attain an object or reach a goal, the hunt is soon on again? Although part of us enjoys the drama of the chase, it is the respite from the search that we most want—the true homecoming.

 

Once we discover an underlying wholeness in the depths of our being, the relationship to desire changes. We are much less attached to getting what we want and much more grateful for what we have. It is a path of natural contentment rather than willful renunciation. An inner sense of fullness arises that is increasingly independent of circumstances, and we feel happy for no particular reason.  

 

Journey into the depths of your own heart with Dr. John J. Prendergast’s guide, The Deep Heart: Our Portal to Presence.

John J. Prendergast, PhD, is a spiritual teacher, author, psychotherapist, and retired adjunct professor of psychology who now offers residential and online retreats. For more, please visit listeningfromsilence.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buy your copy of The Deep Heart at your favorite bookseller!

Sounds True | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

 

 

Pema Chödrön: Living with Vulnerability

Pema Chödrön is an American-born Buddhist nun who currently resides at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia. Her many publications include How to Meditate, Getting Unstuck, and Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better. This special episode of Insights at the Edge—originally broadcast as part of the Living with Vulnerability online program—features a deeply heartfelt conversation between Pema and Tami Simon. Here they discuss why it can feel so hard to live with your innermost self open to the world. Pema emphasizes that choosing to be vulnerable brings a more genuine and fulfilling experience of your daily life. Finally, Tami and Pema talk about listening to the inherent lessons of your emotions and why acceptance of the moment will open you to ever-greater opportunities for joy and enrichment.(66 minutes)

The Sacred Art Of Taking A Bath

 

When I tell my students that one of the most magical things they can do is take a bath, I rarely have to say anything more, for we intuitively know that the time we take to shower and bathe is time touched by wild magic, and the space in which we do so is space imbued with the scent of the sacred.

 

Make Your Bath Sacred


Consider your own bathing rituals right here and right now. Begin with the fundamental question, “What needs to be washed away, removed, released?” And then, “What kind of bathing appeals to you the most?” A brisk shower or a slow bath? If you use products like bubbles, soap, bath salts, or body scrubs, why did you select them? Do you love to bathe in the privacy of your own home, or do you feel most connected to your remembered magic when you immerse yourself into a wildly running river, the cresting waves of a great ocean, or the green depths of a limestone spring? What elements need to be in place to change your bathing experience from one that is merely practical and about physically cleaning yourself to one that is also extraordinary and capable of washing away deeper marks and struggles?

 

Where do you feel dry?

Just as the land where we live contains water, our soul soil also holds swift rivers, vast oceans, and deep springs. These interior waters are the places understood to hold the human capacity for deep feeling and emotion, creativity, love and compassion, vitality and nourishment. And just like bodies of water in the surrounding world, our interior waters can be dammed up, walled off, covered over, and blocked in a variety of ways. These waters can also be polluted. Sometimes this is done by others or is a result of the toxic aspects of the culture at large, and sometimes we do it to ourselves without realizing it. Having set up house in multiple arid lands, I can tell you from firsthand experience that the presence or the absence water in our surrounding world presses us to ask hard questions about our internal waters. Consider where your life feels dry, uninspired, lacking creativity, fecundity, and fertility? Where are the places that have become too tough and hard and not nearly tender enough? Where has your soul soil been in drought for year upon year, so that all you can find there is dry dust and cracks in the ground? Where is the spark of life lacking or completely absent? 

 

Where do you feel in the flow?

After considering what makes you feel dried up and devitalized, consider the opposite. What calls up your life and creativity? What makes you feel like your inner landscape is well irrigated and flowing with wide rivers or caressed by ocean waves? What are the ways that you best clean up the hurt places in your life? What are the medicines that help you heal most readily and completely? Our work here calls us to an awareness of the places that feel broken, the parts of life and the stories, beliefs, and habits that devitalize us from the inside out. Working with water in an intentional manner can also highlight these places, for we become acutely aware of where precisely there is lack. It is natural to feel that there is not enough water in the whole world to slake the deepest soul thirst and soothe the most parched places of our hearts. It is true: there is not enough water in the world to quench that thirst. But there is enough water in each of us. When you live in a desert, as I have for most of my life, you come to know this as fact. There is good water, strong and flowing, usually many miles beneath the surface, and when the thunderclouds come in and the wind begins to blow just so, the sheer rocks themselves begin to usher forth rivers and streams, and the well that springs up from the deepest self carries on its waves life-bestowing and life-affirming blessings.

 

Don’t have time for a full sacred bath every day? Try these stepping stones instead!

Make moon water. Fill up a clear glass jar with water and leave the top of it open. Set it outside under a full moon. Drink it down the next morning and note the texture, taste, and feel of the water as you do. Notice too how your body feels after drinking it.

 

Create a sacred spray. Get a spray bottle, fill it with water, add a few drops of your favorite essential oils, and use this quick version of sacred water to spritz yourself and your home, as you like.

 

Give yourself a footbath. Fill a basin with warm water, and add a teaspoon of baking soda, some lemon and lime slices, and any essential oils you like. After soaking your feet, pick out an oil or lotion to anoint your feet. Cleansing and anointing the feet is an ancient practice that honors one of the most sensitive (and taken for granted) parts of our bodies.  

 

This is an excerpt from Making Magic: Weaving Together the Everyday and the Extraordinary by Briana Henderson Saussy.

 

Download a free Making Magic journal here.

Briana Saussy is a teacher, spiritual counselor, and founder of the Sacred Arts Academy, where she teaches tarot, ceremony, alchemy, and other sacred arts for everyday life. She lives in San Antonio, Texas. For more, visit brianasaussy.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buy your copy of Making Magic at your favorite bookseller!

Sounds True | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

 

 

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