- Raja Yoga Insights #1
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- Raja Yoga – Series Index
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Session 10 of the Raja Yoga training at the Ananda center. Focus on affirmations.
Ananda’s Raja Yoga course covers much more than I have described here. These are my personal highlights — the things that were, for me, either new, especially interesting, or especially illuminating. As they mention in the very first session, what they teach in this course is not unique to Ananda. Raja Yoga is an ancient science that belongs to the world. It is the “kingly” (raja) Yoga in that sense that it spans many different branches of Yoga practice — organizing them and devoting resources (your time and energy) to each in turn, for the good of the whole (you).
As incredibly illuminating and inspiring as the program has been, there are a few places where I feel it could be improved. Should you take the course (and I highly recommend that you do), you might want to print out the PDF of suggested enhancements for this already exceptional course of instruction. I hope they wind up producing as much benefit for you as they did for me!
- Thu, 2 Nov: Session #10 – Affirmations
- Continuing Insights
Thu, 2 Nov: Session #10 – Affirmations
Making Affirmations Work
As Kriyananda said so nicely, “Every affirmation is an act of becoming.” He went on to say, “A positive affirmation…is intimately associated with rising energy in the spine, … without which spiritual awakening does not occur (p. 225). That’s pretty huge. It ties together kundalini awakening and the “affirmation” process that for so many, are to a large degree a matter of mere words.
And as the talk mentioned, “Affirmations are statements of a higher truth. They shift us out of frustration, anxiety, and other negative attitudes into appreciation, gratitude, and other states of being.”
The talk and the book contained a number of points about ways to make affirmations “come alive”, so they really work. Here is a list of principles that were mentioned, along with my thoughts on them.
The instruction is to visualize the affirmation as real. But I think that a more accurate phrase is to “immersively project yourself into the experience” — so you experience the reality, and feel it, as though in a full-immersion, 3D video game with tactile feedback. That is what proponents of affirmation mean by “visualize”, of course, but the more accurate phrasing brings clarity to what you’re trying to do.
- Add emotional intensity (?)
Strong emotions are said to be important, for an affirmation to take hold. On the other hand, Kriyananda relays the story of how he quit smoking (pp 219-220). After making strong affirmations that didn’t succeed, for more than a year, one night he made the calm, matter-of-fact decision that he was not a smoker. He did it as he was going to sleep, and the prior resolutions undoubtedly helped, but the fact he did it as a matter of “simple truth”, rather than as a matter of strong emotion.
- When joined with the higher power
- This one is pretty powerful. The idea is take the Ego out of the equation, and allow things to happen.
- From Raja Yoga, pp. 228-229, “(various schools of thought, often) “make the mistake of thinking that spiritual enlightenment depends only on the efforts of the devotee — as if by techniques alone one could harness the Infinite! A right understanding of the techniques, however, in no way contradicts the need for kripa (divine grace), as the sine qua non of the spiritual path.
- He goes on: “The highest purpose of Yoga is simply to place oneself in a position to receive a full down-pouring of Spirit. If God’s grace is not experienced in the average human life, it is not because of divine indifference, but rather because man’s energies and attention are diverted elsewhere.”
- The phrase used in the talk was “Allowing God to express through me …(some state of being like calm, inner peace or what have you)…” That’s a pretty powerful formulation, actually. Instead of making you the doer, it makes you responsible for removing the obstacles to doing.
- The example in the talk was “I relax, and cast aside all mental worries, allowing God to express through me perfect love, peace, and wisdom.” (Wow. Nice!)
- When energy is moving up the spine
- Affirmations work best when energy is moving up the spine. That makes sense. In that state, you are connected. So on the one hand, you’re seeing a reality that is in harmony with the higher good. On the other hand, the might and majesty of that higher power is working with you.
- Then too, if energy isn’t moving up the spine, it could well be that there are energy blockages — internal “knots”, or granthis in Sanskrit, that are addressed by Tantra practices.
- Having seen a number of them evaporate after inspection, I would describe an energy knot as a “frozen emotion”, where a pre-vocal, pre-conscious experience has created a intertwining interplay of emotional responses and large unconscious decisions.
- When one gets activated, you either make an automatic, often inappropriate response or, at best, one that is less than optimal one — if you respond at all! Because it is equally possible for one emotion to lead to the next, which leads to the next and then next, leaving you paralyzed in an internal cycle of responses, unable to take any action at all.
- For example: Anger –> guilt –> anger about the guilt –> more anger –> inability to act –> self-recrimination for not acting –> more anger –> anger about being angry with yourself … (You’ll see that kind of verbal circle when working with someone who is experiencing an activated blockage!)
- When there are blockages of that kind, of course, energy won’t rise up the spine! And the same blockage that prevents rising of energy also works to block the affirmation — especially if the affirmation is related to the blockage. (Something like “I will remain calm”, or “I will respond appropriately” in the previous example.
- So if the energy isn’t rising, it makes sense that affirmations are unlikely to succeed! That is a time to hasten to your Tantra practitioner for some “subconscious clearing”.
- Too, it may be that someone who has their energy moving can follow most any formula, and reprogram themselves at will. After all, there is no longer any unconscious “cement” holding old patterns in place. (I suspect that helps to explain why my Anti-Procrastination Protocol was so successful.)
- After exhaling!
- This one comes from the Raja Yoga book (p. 200), “Affirmation is generally considered most effective with the breath held out.” (emphasis added)
- This timing turns out to be extremely effective. It’s like a direct pipeline into the subconscious!
- Positive affirmations only
- Also from the book. Almost goes without saying, but important enough to repeat.
- To state a negative is to give it power, and to reinforce the internal image! Stay positive, so your subconscious is filled with images you want.
- Before sleep, Waking Up, Before, After, and During Meditation
- In the class, before and after meditation was mentioned. But I really liked what the book had to say: “In deep meditation, affirmations can be most effective of all.” (Raja Yoga, p. 200)
- When I took Jan Robinson’s class in Ipsalu Tantra Yoga, she mentioned the alpha/theta crossover state, where you’re right at the boundary between sleeping and waking, as defined by brainwave measurements. (It’s not like you stay at some static point. Rather you dip down into the sleeping (theta) state, and bob back up into the relaxed awareness (alpha).)
- That concept came up in the discussion of the powerful Yoga Nidra (“yogic sleep”) technique we practiced, which precipitated the amazing Babaji Vision I experienced, later that night.
- As another example, the “Super Self” meditation I did was perhaps the most important part of the Anti-Procrastination Protocol. In that meditation, you see who it is that you most desire to be, and know that you already are that person. (My eternal gratitude to Shanti for giving me the insight that led to that meditation!)
It turns out the Kriyananda mentioned that very thing on pg. 192: “Whatever you want to become, tell yourself that you are that already.” (Powerful stuff)
- This one is said to be important, but I’m not sure how much repetition is really needed.
- On the one hand, my experience with the Anti-Procrastination Protocol suggests that incredible changes can occur, literally overnight. But there was a lot of energy moving at the time, and a lot of work has been done to clear the energy channels, in my Tantra workshops. So the injunction to have energy moving is probably a much more important principle.
- On the other other hand, though, repetition can help to counter the tendency to slide back into old mental habits! It’s a common experience that you have a high during a workshop, only to return to a more “normal” state later in the week. So repetition could work to help keep the “real you” in your mind’s eye.
- Then, too, repetition is probably necessary, absent cleared energy channels and a strong energy flow. My friend Herbert knew a lady who was doing affirmations that were counter to her internal state, so they didn’t seem to be doing much. Ten years later, though, he ran into and found that all of her affirmations had taken hold! So affirmations seem to have the impact of falling water. In an energy-blocked state, they’re falling on rock. So it takes a while, but they still make a difference. If energy is flowing on the other hand, maybe that water is falling on sand — washing things away with rapidity!
- So repetition clearly holds at least some value. One thought was to do it every day for as long as it takes, at as many of the suggested times as possible. Another thought was to put copies of annotation around, where you would see them multiple times during the day. (But that process will of course be most effective if you have previously recorded an immersive projection of the experience, so the slips of paper are reminding you of that vision. I once tried the technique without that steps, and found the slips of paper to be of no use whatever!)
- Expectation is said to be a big part of an affirmations success, as well. But has already been said, connection is important. And as mentioned repeatedly in the text (and true in my own experience), you do what you can to set the stage, but what comes in the end is a gift, a matter of grace.
- So as I wrote in About “Faith”, the key is to couple expectation with advance gratitude. After all, if you aren’t already grateful, it’s because you don’t believe it yet — and won’t, until you see it. By the same token, eing grateful for it before it occurs, on the other, requires total belief. So expectation --> gratitude, and gratitude --> expectation!
Impressive Course Sequence
Overall, I am extremely impressed with the sequencing of the Raja Yoga course. Along with the calm and poise of the teachers, and the quality of their talks, it’s one of the best features of the program.
What makes the sequencing so impressive is that, looking back, I keep finding that questions and insights sparked by one week’s are the subject of the very next class! It’s happened much too often to be a coincidence.
The latest example: Under the heading Energy Work “Caution”, below, I identify several points at which a real, live “guru” can be instrumental in assisting the healing process. (Too bad there are so few that really deserve the title!) So the subject of next week’s class? “The Guru”. Like I said, it keeps happening. :__)
The class has been stellar. The talks have been excellent, and the book we’re using is superb. But this week, a number of unfortunate errors came to light.
Of course, it may be that I’m just more sensitized to them after discovering the major error in the definition of Moola Bandha I reported on last time. That one is pretty huge. But I hope it’s not the case that I’m just more focused on them — because it is all too easy for my critical brain to do that! My hope going forward is that there will be nothing further to report in this category!
In the meantime, the errors (insofar as I see them) need to be mentioned. They’re described in the sections that follow.
The Brain Is Maleable (not “fixed”)
The talk relayed the “old truth” that science used to believe — that 80 to 90% of the brain is “fixed in place” by the mid-30’s. The truth, of course, is that while it may be epidemiologically true (as measured for a lot of the population), it is not intrinsically true. In other words, any “cementing” of the brain that occurs is not an intrinsic characteristic of the brain itself, but rather a matter of how it is operated by its owners. Instead, it is known that the brain continues evolving throughout life, to accommodate to new demands. (Which is why the “young at heart” keep learning all their lives.)
The mis-characterization was corrected by the second speaker, but it was a quick comment, rather than a declaration of “truth, as demonstrated by neuroscience research”. (It’s not a serious error, of course, but it creates an incorrect impression that should be revised in future version of the talk.)
How the Subconscious Really Works
That statement in the talk and in the book was that “the subconscious mind stores what the conscious mind passes to it”. But that is only partially true. And to the degree it isn’t, it skips right by many useful techniques and understandings!
But there is “a more accurate truth”. (Huh? Truth is truth, isn’t it? Well, yes and no. To the degree with connect, we discern at least some aspects of Truth. But we’re still like a blind man touching an elephant! We perceive only so much of what is there. So in that respect, there are degrees of truth, and variations of the truth. All of which are true! — To some degree, from some vantage point.)
Anyway, my sense is that subconscious is like the breath. It is at susceptible to conscious influences, but it is also under automatic control. So you are aware of, and subconsciously record, many details that never make it to your conscious awareness — details you can recall by going into a hypnotic state and “reliving” the experience.
Now, then subconscious can also record things we imagine — as when were immersively experiencing an affirmation. That’s terrific. That’s the degree to which we can exert conscious control.
But the subconscious records all kinds of things — especially things that have an emotional charge, as was said in the talk.
Now when it comes to emotional charge, we’re talking about the limbic system — the lizard brain that reacts in a fight, flight, freeze, or faint response to any intense situation. The important thing to understand about that brain is that developed before you had a conscious memory, much less any verbal skills. So it is nothing so much as a pre-conscious, pre-verbal collection of automatic emotional reactions!
Those reactions, in turn, are the “sand in the glass”. Sitting in meditative stillness lets them settle to the bottom, so the water is clear. But they’re still there, ready to muddy up the waters any time things get shaken up.
Better that than nothing, of course. Even if you’re not yet totally enlightened, you can improve your life and the lives of those around you by letting the sand settle. But the ideal solution is to run them through a “Tantric filter”, and clear them out of your system!
The important point is to recognize that there is a subconscious, it’s pretty darn powerful, and that’s worth your while to help it help you!
Better Affirmations and Chants
The good news, as Yogananda used to say, is that they work, even if they’re not perfect. As my martial arts master would say, it’s what you mean that’s important. And as Kriyananda says with respect to “correct” pronunciation of the Sanskrit chants, if you do it “with a deep inner consciousness of its purpose, and from the fullness of your own being, the words will be effective even if your outward pronunciation of them is not exact. (p. 249)
As someone who focuses on details, those are good admonitions for me to bear in mind. But at same time, words are channels of energy, so it’s worth using the best words possible, to make the affirmations and changes as good as they can possibly be!
Many of the affirmations and chants have a future tense. Some have a past tense. But for the subconscious, of course, only the present exists. The problem with an affirmation like “I will do <some good thing>”, is that it is always true. Of course I will — someday. So I’m automatically living that truth, right now!
The good news is that since the subconscious doesn’t know about the future, it may not even hear that word. But to some extent, such wording may well dilute the conscious intent that is such a vital part of affirmations.
- Many of them also include wording that implies a separation between God and self. (As you’ll see in the section that follows, that error is hard to avoid. But it is worth trying.)
As the Raja Yoga program has been saying, words are important channels of energy. To the degree we form affirmations, then, the wording needs to be right.
Some principles for forming good affirmations have begun to suggest themselves:
No past or future. The wording describes what is. (Affirmations like “I will do X” have a built-in escape hatch: “Yes, I will — one day. But of course, right now it isn’t really practical,” etc. (As someone with an advanced degree in “future living”, I can say for certain that a future positive affirmation is immediately and automatically satisfied, without any further “becoming”.)
This is a tricky one. It involves several steps:
- First, wording that separates God from everything else needs to be avoided. In particular, we need to avoid pronouns like “Him” or “Her”. They create the mental image of a God the exists as a being — an external being, which necessarily does not include us. Nor does it include others! In short, constructs of that kind create an idea of “God” that is totally separated from everything.
- To that end, as I wrote in There is God, we must also avoid articles. So there is not “a God”, or “the God”. There is just “God” — in other words, all.
- Nor are should we use terminology that implies individuation, like “God wants us to …”, or words to that effect. (Only an individual can want something.)
- On the other hand, a phrase like “God’s love” works reasonably well. It’s intent is to distinguish a great, all-encompassing love from our little itty-bitty love-lets, which reflect the greater wave, and are part of it, but which are still limited. Of course, that phrase can be easily misconstrued. But nothing else works as well, so if avoid the more egregious phrasings that imply individuation, we can probably get away with it.)
- Second, we need to avoid wording that implies that we and God are somehow separated! If God is all, then we are part of God, too!
- At the same time, there is a danger. Something like, “I am complete, peaceful, and fulfilled” seems to state a unified truth, but “I” in that statement can also mean the ego, which allows the entire statement to be misinterpreted and taken out of context. With that wording, even someone who understands the inner truth could lose that truth, in time.
- On the other hand, we do need to include wording that describes the bubble in the ocean that is you or me — the particular manifestation of God’s energy that is rolling down life’s highway in its little shell. So the wording needs to reflect unity with the ocean, but at the same time recognize the individual entity.
- “Me” and “my” seem like the ideal solution. They avoid the ego-implication of “I”, especially when the desired attribute is attributed to the higher reality, with a phrase like “God’s serenity fills me completely.”
- Third, there are times when “I” is the only thing that fits. It identifies the shape and color of our personal bubble! As long as “I” is used only in that context, it is appropriate to use that word. So “I am a writer”, and “God’s infinite energy flows through me” are two entirely appropriate statements for use in an affirmation.
In short, there are four ways to phrase things, only one of which is really helpful:
- “I” alone — too easily interpreted as an “ego” statement.
- “God” alone — too little self-responsiblity!
- “God” and “I”, separated — cuts you off!
- Unification — one force, one power, unimpeded by an individuated obstruction.
Make them a Poem, then Make them a Song
The next step in creating a powerful affirmation system is to adjust the meter of the phrases, and make them rhyme. Since time immemorial, India’s Vedic texts have been handed down by word of mouth. There are four of them, each 10,000 words long, each about twice the length of the Bible.
For something like 12,000 years in which those texts have been handed down from one person to another, in a system of of call-and-response repetition, aided by the fact that they have a constant meter, and they rhyme. In short, each one is a saga that is transmitted as a song.
In all that time, my understanding is that there are only two phrases that are in any doubt. Everything else is agreed. (The meanings can be interpreted in different ways, but there is no doubt at all about the words.)
Contrast that situation with the wars that have been fought over what Western religious texts actually said, and it is clear that meter and rhyme are a powerful aid to memory!
So when your collection of affirmations begins to grow large, first make them into a poem. Then, when you can, make them into a song. Your heart will love you for it. :__)
My Expanded Affirmation
Considering the way that my self-image transformed itself completely, and literally overnight (as described in the Anti-Procrastination Protocol), I decided that this affirmation thing was definitely worth doing. The first step was to expand the affirmation I used then, to this:
I am a writer — well known, widely respected, and financially secure.
I am a teacher and a speaker, a singer and a musician, comfortable in front of crowd.
God’s energy and wisdom flow through me.
My internal systems and my life arrange themselves naturally to accommodate those great gifts.
I am always ready to serve.
That list started with just the second line. It wasn’t a huge expansion, but it had already begun to remove any internal resistance towards setting up speaking engagements. (I know they’ll go well, so I’m happy to accept them!)
And wouldn’t you know? I had no sooner begun that process, when avenue for making myself available to speak cropped up on my horizon, in the form of a LinkedIn.com offshoot called Alignable. It’s been there for quite a while, and I was even invited to it, at one point. But an article I published this morning led to a second invitation, by someone else. I followed up on it, out of curiosity. Surprise! More there than I knew.
(Ain’t life just magical? With affirmations and energy magnetizations, it sure is.)
The affirmations after that one were added, as I began to understand the principles for formulating effective affirmations, and as I gained greater appreciation for their power!
Sympathetic Vibration & Magnetism
In Session 7, under the heading Thoughts = Energy, I noted I had difficulty understanding exactly how thoughts directly affect the world. (Clearly, they effect the world when we act on them. So they have an effect indirectly, with as the agent of change. But directly? That’s harder to understand.)
The concept presented at the time was “everything is energy”. But again, the mind tends to accept any kind of plausible explanation, without really understanding it. So we used to think that everything was made of earth, air, and water. We used to think the planets revolve around the earth. (We could see them doing!) Today, Ayurveda still uses concepts of that kind to explain its system of healing, and we accept the idea of “gravity”, despite the fact that no one to date has ever explained exactly what that is.
So the fact that something sounds reasonable doesn’t necessarily make it so — which means that when it comes to explanations, we need to be on the alert for things that may not actually be true. So I was a bit skeptical about vibrations and their effect.
Then I got to the section of the Raja Yoga book that reminded me of sympathetic vibrations. There is a marvelous YouTube video, in fact, that shows you what you hear in a piano when you remove the original string you struck to start the sound. (It turns out a lot of resonance is going on.
Now then, everything is vibration. My own sense of what constitutes “solid” matter is that is a dense combination of frequencies — so dense that anything approaches it senses interference. (That thought is only partially baked, I admit. But it is interesting, nonetheless.)
“Light” and “sound”, meanwhile, are sections of the frequency spectrum that we happen to recognize. Birds and animals respond to other sections of the spectrum, and one can imagine alien species that perceive and respond to frequencies we haven’t even considered.
Now then, a thought is either something material (a combination of frequencies), or it is a movement of energy — and we know that such movements produce vibration. We also know that electric energy produces magnetism.
It could well be, then, that a thought is magnetic, by virtue of the sympathetic vibrations the mind becomes receptive to (like tuning a radio receiver). So things that were always there begin to impinge on us more strongly, by virtue of our receptivity. At the same time, the vibrations we send out induce sympathetic vibrations in others!
So the notion of sympathetic vibration appears to be the connection between thought-energy and its interaction with the world, in the form of magnetization (incoming flow from the world) and impact (outward flow towards the world).
The sequence, then, would appear to be:
- Outward-impact sparks sympathetic vibration
- Internal-impact is to tune energy-reception to that frequency
- External-flow of matching frequency is recognized as it comes in.
- Some of that flow was always present, but now we’re receptive
- Some of it was sparked by sympathetic vibration, then amplified and returned to us
Hatha Yoga “Push” + Raja Yoga “Pull”
The Raja Yoga book had this bit on page 228. It’s powerful, and worth quoting in full:
Hatha Yoga uses the body to push the energy up toward the brain; Raja Yoga creates a magnet of aspiration that draws the energy upward….Best, indeed, is a combination of the two approaches: An effort to use the body to gentle nudge the energy upward, and deep, devotional meditation that must in time draw everything beneath it upward in its wake.
I would add that the Hatha Yoga technique of Moola Bandha is the one I learned in Ipsalu Tantra Yoga. It’s goal, of course, is to move energy up the spine. (I call that practice the Perineal Lift, to indicate its similarly to the Orbital Lift. An even better version is the Subtle Perineal Lift.)
At the same time, the Orbital Lift I discovered in the very first Raja Yoga class most definitely seems to create something like a vacuum at the top of the spine that draws energy upward! (In other words, what Kriyananda wrote hits the nail on the head!) That’s a technique I’ve never seen in any other Yoga text, class, or workshop, so it would seem that is indeed unique to Raja Yoga.)
However, it is important to point out that the technique taught in the course is, I think, only a precursor to the actual Orbital Lift. (Using the technique Kriyananda described in the book, you would hold your thumb at arm’s length and lift it to the level of the eyebrows. Then you would literally gaze at that point. With the technique taught in the class, you would gaze as though looking at the top of a distant mountain.
Those techniques are certainly effective for inducing the feeling of positive energy. They raises energy quite nicely and, as I’ve written on multiple occasions, they induce a positive attitude in otherwise trying circumstances. But it would be darn hard to drive a car, focus on the computer screen, or look someone in the eye, if your eyes were literally focused on that point.
However, once you feel the internal sensation of pulling your eyes upward, it is possible to do that throughout the day, while at the same time having your eyes focused wherever they need to be.
In fact, I find that maintaining the prescribed focus on my thumb gives me something of a headache! Of course, it may be that I simply haven’t practiced that version of the technique enough. It is possible that it really is an effective way to withdraw from the world and connect with God. Time will tell.
In the meantime, I know for certain that a direct vertical lift towards the Sahasara (crown) is a technique that lets me move through the world with a positive attitude and joy in my heart — so am at one and the same time both in the world, and connected with God.
The practice I have been using of late is to start with the Orbital Lift. That seems to create a vacuum where the energy just naturally wants to go. Then I do the Subtle Perineal Lift, holding it for a second or two until I feel an “energy bubble” begin to rise in my spine.
Once that bubble starts, I can continue holding the Perineal Lift, or I can relax it. It doesn’t seem to make much difference to the bubble! But if I relax it, once the bubble reaches the brain I can “pulse” the perineum once again, to get another bubble!
Energy Work “Caution”
The book also had a nice warning regarding pranayama and other energy flow techniques:
The rising energy in the spine should have a soothing and regenerating effect upon the mind and nervous system. If there is heat, particularly if this heat is painful, you should cease the practice you are doing immediately. If the energy that you feel is any way disrupting to your peace and your nervous system, it should not be continued. It is not enough merely to feel energy. The flow of energy must be one that your system can handle. Anything that makes you more nervous will be detrimental to your health, and therefore to your spiritual progress.
–p. 236 (with minor edits)
That’s a nice warning. And it’s worth keeping in mind. If nothing else, it provides a good indicator for when to be concerned!
But I suspect that there are several ways such a situation should be handled, depending on circumstances. (And I suspect that to choose the best option, it would help to have the assistance of someone knowledgeable. Can you say, “guru”?)
At this point, I see several options, discussed in greater detail below:
- Discontinue the practice.
- Deal with it.
- Continue a “smaller version” of the practice.
- Continue the practice with assistance.
1. Discontinue the practice.
This is the safest course, naturally. If you’re doing the work on your own, this may well be the most advisable option. There was a time in my life when I had done drugs. Serious energy work at that time would have been inadvisable, and inappropriate. Or perhaps when done at an early age, it is better to wait.
Then too, it is possible to hit a “mother lode” of stored energy that brings to the surface all manner of negative emotions that are simply unprepared to handle. It’s like taking out a large bush. First you take down the branches. Then the trunk. Then you disconnect as many roots as you can. Then you dig out the tap root. If you go for the tap root right off, you might find yourself in over your head.
2. Deal with it.
At one point, I made a huge diagram with 35 nodes or more. The bottom node was “lack of self worth” — a deep internal uncertainty that is common to many people, that I had penetrated to after a total of 12 years of martial arts training! Above that were nodes like, “unable to laugh at myself”, “unable to take criticism”, “annoyed when people don’t listen to me”, “unable to deal with conflict”, “stage fright”, and like that. A few connected directly to the root. Many connected to intermediate notes. At the top were 15 or 20 surface manifestations of that deep, underlying issue.
I had begun creating the diagram with the surface manifestations at the top. Then I saw how several of them would have a basis in some other issue. So I drew connecting lines. Eventually, I got down to the root node that lay at the bottom of them all. In the process, I relived the early childhood experiences that had put that node in place.
In retrospect, it was clear that my martial arts training had dealt with the surface manifestations first. For example, since I was in effect living in a “dorm”, conflicts naturally arose — but I had help dealing with them in helpful, positive ways. So I became better at dealing with such situations.
After many years, we began to reach deeper (and more stubborn) manifestations. After a total of 6 years, a 4-year layoff, and a final 2 years, I reached that “tap root”. When I experienced it fully, I cried for 2 days straight. After I was cried out, I was hollow inside for another three. But then I began to see all the times in my life when others had expressed what can only be described as love — in their deeds, if not in their words. In the next few days, as a result, I realized that I had been swimming in love my entire life. I was lifted to great heights in the process, and that particular self-doubt was never as strong again.
I describe that process in the Magical Moments autobiography, under the heading Heart Chakra Breakthrough. But my intent here is point that, had I somehow managed to penetrate to that issue before I was ready, it would have been massively overwhelming! At such a time, discontinuing the practice might well have been the right way to go.
But the fact was that when I did experience it, it was time. And in the absence of drugs, that is often the way, with energy work. So, because I was ready, “dealing with it” was the most appropriate response. Of course, I cried for 2 days, and felt totally empty inside for another three. But after that, I was filled with love!
As I wrote in Protection vs. Challenge, at times it is appropriate to protect yourself. But at other times it is appropriate to challenge yourself.
Wisdom and discretion are required to know the difference, of course. And it helps to know how strong you really are. I began my martial arts practice sadly misinformed on that subject! I imagining myself to be much more powerful than I actually was, in some areas. But in others, I was totally unaware of how strong I really was! So in the absence of a guru, the only alternative is make your best guess and, in the words of my martial arts master, “Be willing to learn from your mistakes!”
Continue a “Smaller Version” of the Practice
If you can do the practice “a little at time”, it could be helpful. If you are dealing with something that makes you uncomfortable, for example, repeated-but-limited exposure is the best way to get used to it. On the other hand, if you are tapping into that “root” energy, getting at it a little at time (if it is possible to do so) can help to boil off some of the excess charge.
Continue the Practice with Assistance
Getting assistance from an experienced practitioner could be a major help, when dealing with such issues. But finding a good one can be difficult!
The best advice I can think of is to seek out an experienced tantrika . You might also consider a psychologist, if they are trained in “transpersonal” practices like meditation and such.
Basically, you want someone who is used to dealing with energy flows and their manifestations. They can help guide you to the “subconscious” experiences that lock issues in place. (Those experiences are not recalled consciously, but are instead locked in the body’s “cellular memory bank”. They are pre-conscious memories that are all the more powerful for the very reason that they are not usually subject to conscious inspection.
In my processing, for example, I vividly recalled the sensation of being left alone in the hospital, with other crying babies all around me, and feeling extremely cold. (I wrote about it Reconnection to Childhood and God. I was told that mothers were often given ether as a pain killer, which acts like freon in the nervous system — making the mother so cold that she never really bonds with the child, and making the child cold, as well.)
One of the important realizations for me was that, as I lay in my crib — freezing, despite the blankets, no one responded to me! I didn’t matter if I cried. It didn’t matter if I got angry. Kicking and screaming did nothing. In the end, I would simply give up. And by then, it was feeding time, and someone would come around. So what did I learn in a totally automatic, pre-conscious way? I “learned” that I was powerless to have an impact on the world, that no action I could take would help, and that “giving up” was the only response that helped.
Yikes. And guess what? Thanks to that idiot Dr. Spock, and the book he wrote in the 50’s, my entire life in the crib was spent with no one picking me up, unless and until I was quiet! So man, I learned that lesson. Did I ever!
But re-experiencing those feelings was not something to be protected from! Better to air them out, bring them to the light, and let them boil off.
An experienced tantrika can help you to do that, guiding you through the process of feeling the body sensations that accompany the issues, until the experience that produced them eventually surfaces. In Ipsalu Tantra, that process is known as Intentional Dialog. (I have seen it done well, with superb results, and I have seen it wander about without ever really resolving anything. So results vary, depending on who is doing the assisting and the receptivity and awareness of the person being assisted.)
Basic Scientology processing does something similar, but it goes off the deep end, finding “past life” causes for issues before early life experiences have been fully dealt with. Whether that “past life processing” has any lasting value, I can’t really say. It did some short term good, in my case. But it never got anywhere near the deep, underlying issues that came up in my martial arts training and in my Tantra processing. So while I did get some benefit, a lot of it was temporary.
Why “3” is Sacred
The number 3 just keeps coming up. It’s coming up so often, in fact, that it’s beginning to look like a guiding principle we can use to make internal spiritual discoveries.
- 3 Parts to the Perineal Lift
- We have Aswini Mudra (back), Vajroli/Sahajoli Mudra (front), and Mula Bandha, or the smaller version, the Subtle Perineal Lift, which might also be called “Mula Mudra” (center)
- 3 Parts to the Orbital Lift
- We also have forward, back, and center directions for the Orbital Lift.
- 3-Part Breath
The torso divides nicely into 3 sections, with breath moving in each part: Abdomen, Diaphragm/Ribs, and Chest.
- 3 Parts to the Spiritual Eye
- We have the “Mouth of God” portal at the base of the skull (rear), the “third eye” portal closer to the eyebrows (front), and the center of the skull (middle)
- There are also three important glands in that location: The pineal, the pituitary, and the hypothalamus. (One of these days, I really must take a deeper look at the endocrine system!)
- 3 Circuits (nine chakras?)
- The chakras, too, divide pretty nicely into sets of three. (Well, almost. I’m still working out some of the details.)
- The Spiritual Circuit at the top runs out from the front portal of the third eye, up to the Sahasara (crown), and then to the back portal, making a kind of sideways halo, or “hood”. This is the circuit of spiritual connection. (At the moment, I identify only two chakras in this curcuit. This is the part that may need work. Or perhaps the bit I can connect to really is a “higher self”, which is part of the larger whole. That would make three.)
- The Torso Circuit in the middle circles the heart, running from the throat to the solar plexus. That circuit parallels the movement of the breath. (Interestingly, I’ve always had a hard time feeling the “throat chakra” in the throat. I feel it more just above the clavicle, at the very top of the chest.) This is the circuit of emotional connection.
- The Base Circuit at the bottom encompasses the root chakra, sacral center (“sacred sex”) and dantien, located in by Oriental disciplines a couple of fingers below the navel, and a few inches in. That is the circuit of the physical body.
That “base circuit” concept helps to resolve I confusion I’ve always had regarding the solar plexus and the dantien. Yoga philosophy focuses on one, while Oriental philosophy focuses on the other real. Both seem real. If I focus on them, I can feel them. But they are quite distinct, physically.
What came to after a while was that the dantien is the locus of internal power — the energy of physical movement and health. The solar plexus, meanwhile, is the locus of external power — emotional power, and making a difference in the world.
That observation seems to make sense of things, at least. But that observation, in combination with the 3 circuits, seems to suggest a total of nine chakras, rather than seven.
At any rate, the interesting observation is that the number “3” keeps coming up, in this context. It has come up often enough that I have begun to use it as a rule of thumb, always looking for the “three-ness” of things! :__)
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