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Into the Belly of Meditation

Into the Belly of Meditation

By Jeff Foster

 

You are weary, friend. 

Sit. 

You are thirsty. 

Here. Drink.

 

You are hungry. Here. Take this. 

A piece of bread. 

A small bowl of soup. 

See how God has taken form! 

It is all I have but it will keep you alive.

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I will light a fire that will never go out. 

A sacred flame. Unconditional in its burning. 

To illuminate us in the darkness.

 

Oh. I see you are wounded. 

Bruised. Bleeding.

Exhausted from the world. 

You have suffered much, I know.

 

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Come. 

Take off these dirty rags. 

Don’t worry. It’s safe. 

There is strength in your nakedness.

 

Here. Wash. 

Rub this medicine onto your wounds.

 

Put on these robes, they are clean and dry. 

Lie down. Close your eyes. 

I will watch over us tonight.

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Listen. You have not failed. 

I see new life breaking through. 

I see birth. An insurrection. 

The sharp edge of hope.

 

I have no teaching for you. 

No wise words.

 

I only want you to trust what you are going through. 

To bring this fire inside of you.

Until the end.

 

I have known this pain. Yes

This courage to keep moving. Yes

This courage to rest, too.

The sacrifice of the known world.

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Friend. 

Drop into the belly of meditation now. 

The place you were always seeking. 

The vast silence at the Earth’s core which is your own core. 

Breathing into the gut now. 

The throat. The chest. 

Irradiating the nervous system with unspeakable 

tenderness. 

Flooding the body with soft, warm light. 

Drenching the human form with divine love. 

And sleep. 

And sleep.

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I may not be here when you wake. 

We may not meet again in form.

 

Yet I leave you with all you need. 

Food. Water. A bed. 

A chance to rest. 

A touch of kindness.

And your unbreakable Self.

flowers

This poem is excerpted from You Were Never Broken: Poems to Save Your Life by Jeff Foster.

 

jeff fosterJeff Foster shares from his own awakened experience a way out of seeking fulfillment in the future and into the acceptance of “all this, here and now.” He studied astrophysics at Cambridge University. Following a period of depression and physical illness, he embarked on an intensive spiritual search that came to an end with the discovery that life itself was what he had always been seeking.

 

 

 

 

 

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However you need to grieve, that’s the right way for...

Grieving a cat—or any kind of grief—is not a one-size-fits-all experience (as though any experience or emotion were?). Some people can’t stop sobbing, while others reflect quietly. Some are comforted by hugs and rituals; others need solitude to process their loss.

There’s no “right” way to grieve, and there’s no “right” length of time. In fact, I don’t see a loss as something we “get over,” but rather something that becomes a part of our life experience. When our skin is gravely injured, it doesn’t go back to looking the way it did before; it heals, and we have a scar. 

Loss changes the fabric of our lives; it changes the way we perceive and interact with the world. And like a scar, walking through grief (not trying to circumvent it) makes something in us stronger, more resilient. Grief is something to be healed, not to transcend.

Grief is nonlinear, too. Our human minds would love to make grief into a process that has a distinct beginning, middle and end…but in my experience, that’s just not true. Grief, like life, is messy and unpredictable. As Jon Kabat-Zinn writes, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

We all grieve, and for each of us, our grief is as unique as a fingerprint. If we try to avoid grief, it will redouble its strength and burst forth anyway. However you need to grieve, that’s the right way for you.

An original post by Sarah Chancey, the author of P.S. I Love You More Than Tuna, the first gift book for people grieving the loss of their feline friend. This originally appeared on morethantuna.com.

sarah chaunceySarah Chauncey has written and edited for nearly every medium over the past three decades, from print to television to digital. Her writing has been featured on EckhartTolle.com and Modern Loss, as well as in Lion’s Roar and Canadian Living. She lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, where she divides her time between writing, editing nonfiction, and walking in nature. Learn more at morethantuna.com and sarahchauncey.com.

 

 

 

 

 

ps i love you more than tuna

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Tools for Opening Ourselves to Our Deeper Nature

A few months ago, I found when getting up from the table that I could no longer walk. A meniscus had ruptured and wedged itself against my knee joint. It was very painful, but luckily, thanks to my friends, I was able to get an MRI that same day and be operated on the following day. For the operation, whether I liked it or not, I had to submit to a general anesthesia, and I remained unconscious a little less than two hours.

Unexpectedly, when I woke up, I had a very enriching experience. I had the impression of not being completely there. I was in a light and luminous state of mind. My first thoughts went toward my spiri- tual teachers. For a good hour, their presence illuminated my mental landscape. I experienced a state of bliss, of devotion, and unalloyed trust. I was alone in my room, and I began softly to chant verses that reminded me of my teacher. My thoughts also went to other people who are dear to me.

I said to myself that if things go this well at the time of death, it won’t be too bad! Could anesthesia be a kind of dress rehearsal for dying? Could such a moment show us what is present in the profoundest depths of our mind when the thought processes that clutter the field of consciousness have been silenced? All in all, I was very glad to have gone through this anesthesia experience.

Later, I wondered if such experiences could be revealing about our basic nature. This feeling of lightness and bliss could perhaps result from not immediately reifying the world around us when waking up from the anesthesia. At that moment the mind is not yet distorted by myriad conceptual constructs. This is the antithesis of dwelling on thoughts; it is perfect simplicity. I felt like a young child discovering the beauty of life with a fresh and transparent mind.

— Matthieu Ricard

Toolbox for Opening Ourselves to Our Deeper Nature

MATTHIEU RICARD:

Keep your mind open. Experience the key moments in life with an open mind, welcoming the range of constructive possibilities for oneself and others.

Discriminate. Let what really counts come to the surface from the profoundest depths of consciousness.

Be confident. No matter what happens, you will find a way to utilize adverse circumstances as catalysts for making progress on the spiritual path and for manifesting greater compassion toward those around you. 

Inhabit the space of interdependence. Resituate the events that affect you in the much larger context of the interdependence of all beings and all things, who like you, experience countless joys and sorrows.

ALEXANDRE JOLLIEN:

Contemplate the little persona that you play all day long. Look at the labels, the functions you use to define yourself. Examine the outfit that you dress up in from morning till night so that you can go naked to meet your deeper nature.

Be aware of the heavy weight of education, of the mass of prejudices, of the heap of illusions that have ended up as an overlay on reality. Just identify this factitious layer so that you can take in daily life as it is without the intervention of ego, of concepts, and of the thousand expectations that shape your world.

Discover the deep personal aspirations that inhabit you. What do you expect out of life? What is it that you are running after so avidly?

Accept losing your grip. Ego defends its territory tooth and nail. It sets up boundaries, busies itself delimiting its world. In its folly, it isolates us, confines us to solitude, to distance. Opening your heart, going beyond the bounds of narrow individuality, means facing the experience of leaping into the void, of swimming in the open sea of freedom.

CHRISTOPHE ANDRÉ:

Discover your inner resources. The deeper nature we have been talking about is not just a theoretical matter, but a very practical one. We should do our best never to forget all the strengths and resources we have within us. They are not an illusion. Our mindset is such that we quite often underestimate our personal capacity to deal with adversity. And then there are the strengths and resources all around us, the help and inspiration that others can supply us. We are better equipped than we think. To access these resources within us and outside us, the best thing is not to shrink back into ourselves and dwell on our fears and bitterness or on our certainties, positive or negative.

What if nothing happens? What if no tangible sign of the existence or emergence of our deeper nature comes along? Well, it’s not that serious! In any case, it’s there. Let’s just not forget to live, act, love, work, and enjoy ourselves; to help others the best we can; and to continue to be open to this profound and universal aspect of ourselves that we all have within us.

This is excerpted from the newest book from Matthieu Ricard, Christophe André, and Alexandre Jollien, Freedom For All Of Us: A Monk, A Philosopher, and a Psychiatrist on Finding Inner Freedom.

MatthieuRicard-AlexandreJollien-ChristopheAndré

Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk, a photographer, and a molecular geneticist who has served as an interpreter for the Dalai Lama. 

Christophe André is a psychiatrist and one of the primary French specialists in the psychology of emotions and feelings.

Alexandre Jollien is a philosopher and a writer whose work has been attracting an ever-growing readership. Together, they are the authors of In Search of Wisdom and Freedom For All of Us.

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Black Tara Who Destroys All Negativities

In the fall of 2010, our monthly Tara practice began at sundown at the end of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish new year, 5771. The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the Days of Awe. During these ten days, observant practitioners reflect on the past year to repair harm they may have inflicted on friends, family, or members of the greater family of the planet. They apologize to others and seek to do t’shuvah to make amends if possible. People work consciously to repair and let go of past negativity and set intentions for the coming year to prevent further mischief.

Black Tara Who Destroys All Negativities was on the calendar for that night. We appreciated the synchronistic timing of the two events. I noted that Tara protects us from negativity, internal and external, and helps us release the effects of negative energies we’ve encountered or generated. This protection occurs in part from remembering our connection to the Whole—that we are nurtured and contained by a multilayered universe. When we help another, we are helped. If we harm another, we harm ourselves. Perhaps harder to grasp—if we harm ourselves, we harm the whole universe.

The teaching centered around the meaning of the mantra, which refers explicitly to ingrained behaviors operating outside of consciousness that wreak havoc in interpersonal relationships. Negative energies transferred from one individual to another are potent and destructive, and often have lasting effects.

Tara’s Appearance

Black Tara appears with her mouth wide open in a fierce expression. Like all the wrathful emanations, she sits on a fiery sun disc, which rests in the center of her lotus throne. The sun disc replaces the usual soothing moon disc. She holds a black vase, which contains the power to overcome even the most destructive and negative powers. In this aspect, Tara is known as the Destroyer of All Negativities.

The Mantra

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Sarva Vidya Avarana Ye Bhye Phat Soha!

“Ohm Tahray Tootahray Tooray Sarwah Veedyah Ahvahrahnah Yay Bay Peyt Soha!”

This mantra sheds more light on the meaning of the practice, when you might need to use it, and how to align your own intentions with those of Tara. It insists that Tara remove mental obstacles that block insight into your complexes or the emotional forces that obscure your understanding. Avarana refers to the causes underlying negative tendencies in yourself or others. These instincts, imprints, or potencies are ingrained, influencing behavior outside of awareness. They are unconscious, unquestioned, and unprocessed. They have been denied, repressed, or avoided. You or others around you might struggle to bring them to consciousness or have no wish to do that whatsoever.

As with many words in Sanskrit, vidya has multiple meanings depending on the context. Vidya often means “wisdom”; in this instance, it means “intentions,” particularly negative intentions. Bhye phat urges Tara to destroy these obstacles or difficulties!

The mantra asks Tara to overcome the negative intentions of the enemy. Use it when you want her complete protection in order to fully grasp the difficulties in your situation. Watch for signs that you are being infected or possessed by internal negativity, which would be a natural response to the energy coming at you. Don’t be naive about actual outer dangers you might be facing; you have to remove yourself from harmful situations.

The Practice

Visualize the entire mandala of the twenty-one Taras arising out of vast space in front of you. Green Tara appears in the center in her radiant body of green light. Imagine your teachers surrounding her and all her other emanations in the background behind them. Finally, invite your friends and supporters and all beings you wish to receive the blessings of your practice. Recite the preliminary prayers. Then imagine that Black Tara Who Destroys All Negativities moves into the foreground, seated on her lotus throne with a sun disc in the center. She holds a black vase, which contains the power to destroy even the most virulent forces in the universe. See light streaming out of her heart and from her seed syllable Tam (“Tahm”) standing on a moon disc inside the vase. Just as a seed contains the entire essence of the plant it will become, the seed syllable Tam contains the entire essence of Tara’s infinite powers.

tam

If visualizing a Tibetan syllable proves difficult initially, simply visualize light streaming out instead. The light destroys all malice and negativity.

Invite Black Tara to protect you from the negative intentions and actions of others. Set your own intentions to release the shock of the impact of such energies on your body, psyche, and spirit. Ofer Tara all of your dark emotions; ask her to protect you inside and out as you engage with our imperfect world in which aggression and hatred are too easily encountered.

Recite the mantra, Om Tare Tuttare Ture Sarva Vidya Avarana Ye Bhye Phat Soha, at least 21 times or 108 times whenever possible. Then rest in the subtle vibration created by the mantra recitation. Notice the qualities of the energy around you. Remember and be grateful for the inherent goodness in the universe that is continuously giving birth to positive impulses inside of you and other beings in the world.

Black Tara brings you back to the radiant spaciousness at the core of your being. As she dissolves obstacles created by negativity, try to identify the signs of true knowing versus the cynical and damaging commentary of the complex. Learn to distinguish what’s coming from inside, what’s coming at you from outside, and how the two are related. Reach out to the cosmic Mother Protector in the form of Tara. Reach inward to her indwelling presence and open yourself to access wisdom and compassion, which offers the greatest protection no matter the circumstances.

As you bring the meditation to a close, visualize Black Tara receding into the background among all the other emanations. See the light streaming out of the entire mandala and then allow the mandala with all its beings to dissolve into space. The light flows into your body and heart, vivifying and stabilizing the essence of Tara within you, and then disperses into the universe. Dedicate the positive potential of the practice to the healing and awakening of all beings everywhere, with no exceptions.

This is an adapted excerpt from Tara: The Liberating Power of the Female Buddha by Dr. Rachael Wooten.

rachael wooten

Rachael Wooten, PhD, is a Zürich—trained Jungian analyst and psychologist who has been in private practice as a therapist for more than 40 years. An enthusiastic interfaith activist, she has studied and practiced in Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, and indigenous traditions throughout her adult life.

Rachael has been mentored by spiritual teachers such as her Tibetan root guru Lodrö Tulku Rinpoche and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. She has taught Tara practices under the authorization of Lodrö Rinpoche for more than 20 years. Rachael has offered Tara workshops through the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South, ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, and C. G. Jung Society of the Triangle. She currently teaches a monthly Tara meditation group at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in her hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina. To learn more, visit rachaelwootenauthor.com.

 

 

tara 3d cover

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The Simple Magic of a Book

One of the gifts of isolation, solitude, and social distancing is the opportunity to reconnect with pieces of soul and strands of vision that have become lost in the busyness of our ordinary lives.

Reading for many has become a lost art. We can become so used to turning on the news, scrolling through Facebook, becoming lost in hours of YouTube or Netflix, or fused with one electronic device or another. Nothing wrong with any of these, but at times an alternative portal will open.

To take a book and find a place within your home or under a tree or out in the park and go on a pilgrimage with it. Ask the stars to help you to find a place to just be for a while and open to revelation.

It need not be a “spiritual” book, though of course those are fine, too. A book of poetry, a novel, a book of art history, or of mythology.

Allow its images to come alive, its metaphors, its characters… step into the poetic landscape with the figures and enter a state of receptivity and play. Sense what they are sensing, feel what they are feeling as these correspond with the internal others dancing within you.

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Not necessarily reading for “information,” but for communion. Allow the language to open you, to uncover a feeling you haven’t felt for a long time, an ache in the heart that longs for tending, a dream you had forgotten, a vision that you sense circling around you.

Read a paragraph or two and close the book. Enter the interactional field – with the natural world, with the visions, figures, moods, feelings, and images that seek your attention, your curiosity, your care, and just a moment of your being-ness.

We can so easily forget the magic of this place, of the imaginal realms, of those liminal places in between the physical world of matter and the transcendental realm of pure spirit. In the liminal we can dance and play and see and perceive and sense and intuit something holy.

A good book can help us do this, can serve as a companion as we step into uncharted territory.

Reading has been such an important part of my life. My books are my friends, lovers, allies, guides, and they also challenge me, break me open, tenderize and marinate me in the Unknown. They reveal how little I know about this world, this soul, this heart, this place, and the unique opportunity to be here. I find this so lifegiving.

I fantasize that perhaps in other worlds there are no books. That is sad to think about. For me, at least.

This blog post originally appeared on Matt Licata’s blog, A Healing Space. Redistributed with permission.

matt licataMatt Licata, PhD, is a practicing psychotherapist and hosts in-person retreats. His work incorporates developmental, psychoanalytic, and depth psychologies, as well as contemplative, meditative, and mindfulness-based approaches for transformation and healing. He co-facilitates a monthly online membership community called Befriending Yourself, is author of The Path Is Everywhere, and is the creator of the blog A Healing Space. He lives in Boulder, Colorado. For more, visit mattlicataphd.com.

 

 

 

 

Healing Space

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Caroline Myss: The Power of Holy Language

Caroline Myss is a five-time New York Times bestselling author and a leading voice in the field of human consciousness, spirituality, mysticism, energy medicine, and the science of medical intuition. A long-time friend of Tami and Sounds True, Caroline has created more than 20 audio learning programs with us. Her latest audio program is called The Power of Holy Language to Change Your Life, which is the topic of this episode of Insights at the Edge. Tami and Caroline talk about how our souls will literally starve without holy language, and how it can both transform us and our understanding of our experiences. They also discuss how prayer, outside of any religious institutions, is the ultimate form of holy language. Finally, Tami and Caroline explore how we can open ourselves to the field of light and grace that is all around us and within us at all times.

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