Until I took up meditation many years ago, I really had no idea how crazy my mind was. Whenever I would sit still, watching my belly rise and fall with each breath, things became quite clear I could see it plain as day my mind was crazy. It couldnt seem to stay put more than a couple of minutes before going off onto something else. I used to say I was meditating, as if that implied I was "doing" something meaningful, now I tell myself, "no, Im just sittin."
In my understanding people who practice meditation really are doing something its so obvious isnt it. They are accomplishing a goal, whether stress relief, creative visualization or consciousness raising, it seems like they have a purpose in mind, an aim theyre shooting for. I used to do that in order to come to the recognition of enlightenment, but it became obviously more difficult to achieve a true state of "being" as long as my mind believed it was "doing". The goal of trying to achieve something in the future made the present moment more and more elusive.
Most pursuits in this world work that way. First you decide what you want to accomplish then you do what is required so you can possess what youre after. That works well and fine for most linear things such as building a house or accomplishing a task, but when it comes to meditation, trust me, its better to "just sit".
Meditation is a tricky thing and there are many techniques and opinions about what it does, or for that matter, what it is. There are in fact so many ideas that one can get hung up for a long time trying to make sense out of it all. Which technique is better? How long should one sit? Whats the proper way to practice? What thought should the mind hold? Is a teacher or guru necessary? Trust me, its better and more effective to just sit. Let me explain.
Animals seemed to have mastered this, "just sitting" quite naturally. I was watching my cat, Szeke, the other evening. He woke from his nap and sat upright on the rug for a few minutes, eyes closed, tail neatly wrapped around his body, back straight very still. Was he doing meditation or just sitting? Attempts to ask him revealed very little. His eyes opened when I spoke, but other than that nothing. It became very clear to me at one point; "maybe," I thought, "animals just sit while humans meditate."
In the classic book Siddhartha, Heman Hesse writes,
"What is meditation? What is abandonment of the body? What is fasting? What is holding of breath? It is a flight from the Self, it is a temporary escape from the torment of Self. It is a temporary palliative against the pain and folly of life. The driver of oxen makes this same flight, takes this temporary drug when he drinks a few bowls of rice wine or coconut milk in the inn. He then no longer feels his Self, no longer feels the pain of life; he then experiences temporary escape. Falling asleep over his bowl of rice wine, he finds what Siddhartha and Govinda find when they escape from their bodies by long exercises and dwell in the non-self."13
I suspect that even Hesse had the feeling that meditation techniques are really man-made coping strategies for finding relief from the struggle of social consciousness. That is why, in the last few years, having practiced several forms of meditation, especially vipassana or insight meditation, its become increasingly clear to me that the whole issue of practice results in our society because of our unnatural disconnection from real life, i.e., and nature. I say this not to devalue meditation, but rather to offer my own unique perspective that may make the actual practice of meditation more meaningful and less discouraging to beginners. As for experienced meditators, I am confident that they have found what works for them, so what I have to say may be of little value. One thing Ive learned dont mess with meditators. They tend to defend their opinion and practice as the "right" way.
Before going further, however, let me offer some background and clarify the two major divisions of meditation. On one side there is the form of practice known in India called samantha. This includes the forms of meditation which use mantra, visualization or various objects for focus such as a candle flame, beads or sound. The idea is to attain a state of transcendence, a sublime state of peace in order to develop a higher conscious level, beyond the world of form. On the other side is what is known as vipassana which seeks not to transcend this world but to provide an unfettered state of mind capable of receiving insight or direct experience of the fundamental nature of reality.
Over the years, I have found that different techniques work better at different times. Sometimes it is easy to practice following the breath. And it can produce a very pleasant state of awareness and lightness in the body. Other times a simple repetitive chant works well. But when I am at work, or surrounded by people in public places, or sitting in traffic waiting for the light to change, I notice that there is an easier way. Depending on the level of awareness I have in that particular moment, I can easily shift to a very relaxing state of mind/body awareness by doing one thing allowing my mind to become softly aware of "just sitting" or "just standing" or "just walking." Furthermore, in practicing a simple exercise called "belly breathing", I have discovered that an ordinary experience can be viewed as quite an extra-ordinary event, so long as I am willing to shift my focus from the level of personality to that of higher attention in present reality the realm of the impersonal.
This issue of the realm of the impersonal leads me to another important point; too often in modern society, people live lives that are cut off from nature. The tragedy of this is that without a connection to the natural world, we humans tend to look for strategies and practices to help us cope with the world. Several examples that come to mind are such things as competitive sports, video games, hobbies and leisure classes. Not that such pursuits are bad, but they were probably created to help people deal with boredom, stagnation or lack of feeling challenged. What is unfortunate is not these kinds of activities, per se, but the associated materialism that accompanies them, which further leads one into a disconnection with the natural world.
In modern society, I have noticed that many people spend a tremendous amount of time, energy and resources buying the right props or gear in order to "do" their hobby. They become fixated on getting all the necessary stuff long before they actually participate in the activity, which often gets abandoned in favor of the next pursuit. And though many people admit they love nature, some often dont recognize this important understanding, that the materialism associated with hobbies leads to a distraction from the original intent of the hobby, which is to feel good and experience pleasure in the activity. The most satisfying activities almost always involve the natural world, recreation in the great outdoors amid fresh air and sunshine.
Many dysfunctional symptoms can develop when a person is cut off from nature. Depression, social frustration, economic worries, poor health, boredom, intolerance, hostility toward others, anger and rage can all result from living a life that is overburdened by modern society and divorced from a direct association with trees, clean water, fresh air, wildlife, basic food and sunshine. Though it would be impossible to cover all of these problems in this chapter, I would like to address one in particular and discuss how a particular meditative practice can provide tremendous help and healing.
This problem, the issue of intolerance of others and the resulting effects of irritability, anger and frustration, may have been one of the core issues behind the Littleton, Colorado shootings at Columbine High School in April of 1999, when two teenaged boys killed 12 other students, a teacher and then themselves. It is difficult to understand such an extreme act of violence, but I believe that at the heart of that tragedy there was a basic problem which resulted from the two young boys being tormented by their own minds and emotions because their lives were geared towards affluence, stimulation, electronic entertainment, television, media influence and social peer pressure, to name just a few.
These things all contributed to the creation of personalities that developed strong tendencies toward intolerance and hatred of others, resulting in senseless violence. True, not everyone develops this kind of extreme behavior under such conditions. And there were possibly many other contributing factors as well, such as genetics, poor diet, chemical poisoning, personality disorder, etc. But coming from the perspective of the bigger picture of primal conscious living as a proper human focus, what these two boys lacked was a relationship with nature, lives that were centered around loving respect for the earth, rather than egocentric one-upman-ship
Their biggest problem with people seemed to be with the school athletes, people who were viewed as stronger and more intimidating and more popular than just the average kids. The whole dynamic goes round and round, people fighting over whos right intolerance and immaturity. Instead of raising children to focus on the earth, to become responsible, loving caretakers of all life, we preach affluence and competition, arguing that it leads to happiness and good citizenship, when in fact, it leads only to lives of frustration, strong opinions and intolerant belief systems. Meditation should enable one to counteract some of this erroneous social programming, leading to a deeper appreciation of natural life and offering fulfillment in relationship.
But even meditation is often promoted in such a way, inducing its own version of one-upmanship in the form of spiritual "enlightenment", as if it were a badge of accomplishment to wear with pride. Egos seem to need the carrot of kensho (enlightenment) in order to get motivated to pursue it. But, in my experience, dedication to a meditative practice is something very natural and basic which can allow one to accomplish something much more real and valuable than this mysterious, non-proven state called enlightenment. The secret is to sit still and learn how to recognize it.
In reality, "who" is enlightened? And "what" is it that attains enlightenment when life is really just a temporary clustering of mental and physical processes, passing away and reforming to dust after a number of years? Its like the movie Logans Run, where the citizens participated in something they called "Carousel" as a way to achieve an extension to their lives. In spite of the fact that no one had ever been known to achieve the desired summit and there was no evidence that the Carousel experience gave them an "afterlife", the people in this story had a belief system that still maintained it was possible.
It is possible for anyone to claim to be "enlightened" and many do. So for the sake of discussion, I will define enlightenment, as I use it in this essay:
Enlightenment is the state of mind achieved when one, by their own decision and skillful means, achieves the consistent ability to accept life as it is and learns how to go with the flow, fully experiencing the whole range of human emotions from rage, fear, sadness, joy, and happiness, without getting hung up or stuck in any one of them, thereby achieving a deep, profound love for life.
I realize that not everyone is going to pursue the path of enlightenment, nor do I think they should. Life is far more interesting due to diversity than it would be if everyone thought or believed the same. Only those who are interested in meditation in the first place would be attracted to this aspect of primal conscious living at all. And it is this wonder of diversity that must be respected and appreciated as it is in nature.
When out in the woods, we can discover hundreds of species of plants, insects of other wildlife, all living in harmony, all surviving and supporting one another in some unique and mysterious way. So why is it that human beings have so much trouble existing together in peace and respect for each other and the earth?
Donna and I believe the answer is very simple. Weve said it many times before. Human beings have turned away from the primal consciousness of the planet, living lives that are not in direct relationship to nature. Consequently, many of us have sought lives cut off and insulated from nature, which has created disharmonious conditions such as ill health, global pollution, rampant disease, social injustice and more recently, school violence by our children.
The solution is to reclaim this primal consciousness through cultivating a respectful, simple life, directly relating to the natural world rather than seeking further insulation from it. But of course we cant all leave the city for a quiet life in the country, living in simple huts, growing fruit trees, vegetables and herbs, but we can learn how to skillfully observe the world through the practice of sitting meditation, giving us an opportunity to discover the essential mind of wisdom, inner security and peace. If such qualities are the result of enlightenment, then they are very easy characteristics to acquire. Let me explain how.
In my own life, I suffered tremendous bouts of depression for many years which actually manifested in fits of rage from time to time. I would hold in so much frustration, because like the two boys in the Littleton, Colorado school massacre, I never felt as though I fit in at school or work either. There were many times I felt I could actually have given into senselessly hurting others. It wasnt until I seriously began to understand this secret concerning the primal consciousness of the planet and how to connect with it through meditation and participation with nature that I felt any relief from the torment of my mind and emotions. I am so convinced that nature, given the proper time, devotion and respect can heal almost anything, whether a polluted lake, a hole in the ozone layer, a diseased body or troubled mind. Nature possesses the wisdom mankind needs to restore us to balance and abundant, radiant health.
As a scientific, industrialized, computer-dependant society, we are becoming more and more isolated from a connection with natural plant and animal life. Pharmaceutical companies continue to create chemical potions to mask symptoms of disease as if the human body was nothing more than a test tube of chemicals and mineral aggregates. But the body and mind is so much more. It is a mysteriously fascinating conduit of physio-spiritual energy, possessing an ability to dream and channel energy into wonderful artistic creativity. And unless we begin to recognize and appreciate that, we cannot experience the holy ground of enlightenment, bound instead by the confines of intolerance and disrespect toward other people.
When Donna and I are busy working out in nature, we never even think about the need to meditate because the "seeking" mind becomes fully satiated and fulfilled. But when we find ourselves back in the city, amid the psychic projections of socialized productivity, we sense that things are once again out of balance and disharmonious. We think everyone feels this kind of anxiety to some degree. And each person handles the discomfort in a form that makes sense to them.
Many people attempt to curb the effects of social anxiety by numbing out in front of the television, or with rock music, prescription drugs, overconsumption of cooked foods, sexual activity, alcohol or obsession with hobbies. Some deal with it through meditation. Were not suggesting one way is better than another, were saying that meditation is but another form of strategy for dealing with the stress of modern social consciousness.
In our experience, the only truly healthy way to secure the level of satisfaction that can still the heart and mind is to return to the presence of nature (primal consciousness) as much as possible. Second best is to develop the skill of mindfulness meditation. Without an ability to see the present moment purely, as it is right now, one cannot break through the consequential grasping of the rational brain, which has an agenda of predicting and controlling and even sometimes destroying the physical world.
One form of meditation is no better or worse than another, as long as the goal is to embrace and accept "what is" in the present moment of experience. The surest way to tell if a particular form of meditation is truly valuable is to observe the people who are practicing it. Are they tolerant, kind and respectful toward those who dont practice it?
In the book, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Dan Millman describes an isolated group of meditators who projected an aura of arrogance so cold and elitist that they would not even associate with the common folk, and treated Dan and his mentor Socrates with impunity and disrespect. Socrates skillfully questions one of the groups leaders in such a way that this arrogant meditator becomes more and more irritated and enraged, eventually demonstrating a lack of control which was humorously revealing. Socrates then suggests to this fellow that he continue his meditation practice to help him overcome his anger.
If a person cannot attain a certain level of self-control through meditation, then perhaps serious psychological counseling is needed to regain a normal level of social functioning. But it is very difficult to master self-control when life in a city usually involves spending a great deal of time involved with computers, television, telephones and all the gadgets of modern technology, which are not bad if being used in alignment with the consciousness of respect for the earth and others. But most of these things have been developed as a direct result of the social consciousness of our world, which is largely competitive, antagonistic and stressful to nearly everyone. As a result, many people are very dependent on the sophistication of modern conveniences to provide them with all the things that help to relieve the stresses of city life. So when the electricity goes off, for example, and there is no hot water and the computer and the television dont work, many people may experience states of worry, depression or feelings of victimization and panic. They find themselves alone with themselves and unable to find their comfort zone without the usual distractions.
What we have noticed more and more in many young people is an inability to cope with the "what is" of life. If things dont go their way all the time, they are miserable and dysfunctional. This often makes them intolerant and difficult to live with. It is clearly a symptom of modern social consciousness, a cut-off from the soothing presence of nature.
Instead of making it a priority to get out into the country, or sitting in the sunlight, people often opt to take anti-depressant medications, or become obsessed with some other form of strategy to seek relief. Many times all these people need is to go spend time in the woods or on the beach. Whenever possible, they could benefit from getting out of the psychic environment of the city in order to neutralize the stressful effects of social consciousness.
Try this experiment the next time you experience depression, anger, worry or anxiety. Go outside and sit by a tree, take a walk in the country, build a fire and sit by it, walk barefoot through the grass go be with nature and focus every ounce of energy you have on whats happening in the moment. This is it experience how you feel. Notice how the negative feelings begin to lessen. And the longer you remain there, the better you feel. Now realize that this is the best result meditation can offer you, relief from psychological and emotional suffering!
In order to cultivate the skillfulness necessary for sustaining this subtle state, one must develop the maturity to use meditation as a way to be fully present in the "what is", the now moment. The easiest way to be in the present moment is to be present in your body to be where your body is. Too often, the mind attempts to leave the body. It projects itself into the past (memory) or the future (expectation). This is the nature of social consciousness. It doesnt actually deal with reality at all, but rather revolves around interpretations and opinions about reality. Reality is what is happening right now. This is it nothing happens next.
What I learned from watching animals and trees is this: to be present with life is to not resist it. One must develop the willingness to relinquish control of events and get back to something basic, such as focused breathing. Animals instinctively "breathe from the belly". That is, they use their breathing process as a way to calm and center themselves, which has a physiological effect on their nervous system. You can see it clearly in felines. Their purring is tied into their natural breathing processes. And dogs, while napping, will breathe from their bellies rather than from the chest cavity. With each breath, an animals belly pops out, like an air sac, and collapses during exhalation. This process, I believe, is what affects their physiological ability to become very limp during relaxation, which makes the forces of gravity act differently on their bodies. This is evident when you try to pick them up while they are asleep. Even my cat Szeke (who only weighs about 10 lbs.) feels like hes a 25-lb. sack of rice! This is also a possible intuitive technique they use in healing injuries.
When I studied Aikido and Judo several years ago, this was something that I realized very clearly. The more relaxed I would become, the more efficient I was during the execution of a technique, which also reduced my chances of sustaining serious injury. However, what I didnt realize then was how to integrate the belly breath in my ordinary life as a way to still my mind and overcome the anxiety caused by social consciousness. It wasnt until several months ago that I experienced a transformative insight concerning the belly breath as a viable technique for calming the mind and body - the exact effect I had been looking for in martial arts and meditation! I realized that whenever I spent time in nature, the effect was completely effortless and natural. I feel that the physiological effect of practicing the belly breath has the ability to link human beings to the primal consciousness of the planet. This is something that we cannot prove, except by individual, personal experience. If one is willing to exercise this form of meditation, it is possible to use it as a way to become a better person, especially in relationship to others.
For example, meditation could help one to allow others the freedom to follow their own path. There is so much intolerance, irritability and violence in todays world. It is heartbreaking that people find it hard to overcome the tendency toward judging and condemning others. We tend to lay our particular trips on our children, friends and family members because we assume we know whats best for them. Its a crazy idea, isnt it? How many people have wanted everybody to see his or her way-that-it-is? The trick is to compassionately express your own opinions humbly, without attachment to whether anyone agrees or not. You just offer your perspective, or do your work and step back.
Creating a calm mind and open heart is what primal consciousness is all about. If one cannot move toward a closer connection with nature, it may be wise for them to develop the skillful art of belly breath meditation. As I said earlier, once a person begins to practice mindfulness, they discover just how crazy the mind is. And it is the mind influenced and programmed by social consciousness that causes so many of our problems, creating anxiety and violent behavior.
As should be evident by now, we are not too convinced that most meditation techniques actually "do" anything except unify the mind and body in order to experience the plain, ordinary present moment. As long as the mind habitually flits about in memory or expectation, the clarity and spontaneous enlightenment of the present moment escapes us. What more can one possibly attain? Enlightenment is nothing more than the calm recognition that the present moment is all there is, and there is nothing else to gain. And this is the height of all spiritual aspiration, to climb the mountain of realization and discover that there is absolutely no-thing lacking. The more one can let go and exercise tolerance, allowing others to go their own way, the more he can experience the unity of all things, (the Law of One). Then we wont have to lie to ourselves so much about what we think is important and real. In my notes recently, I discovered this passage.
"We all lie to one another cause the truth isnt the real truth.
We lie to protect ourselves
The selves that aint real.
Its stupid, I know, but if you tell others what is really true, you get blasted.
Its better to say as little as possible to everyone.
Just talk about the ordinary things.
And dont get too involved with the
affairs of this world.
The world is suffering.
And we all need time to rest
That is how to get free from the
We suffer from too much doing
too many holy verses,
too much indulgence,
too much wanting,
too much craving,
too many goals, too many activities,
not enough time
So we lie to each other.
We learn to say exactly what we need to say to avoid getting blasted
Because what we really want
is to be free.
Wed rather be free,
but we dont know how,
so we lie to ourselves
that working and striving
is what we really want.
If were not going to stop lying to each other,
How about if we do less and less of it.
Thats my answer to everything
Reduce pull back.
Draw in your own divine center,
The great spiritual heart.
True emptiness is not stingy
Like a bowl is use-able.
The bowl aint got nothing for you to take,
but its got an empty space to hold stuff for you.
Space to serve
Thats true emptiness."
Walking the Razors Edge
Social consciousness has a strong influence. Its effects are commonly felt in several forms, such as anxiety, worry, dissatisfaction, boredom, competition and feelings of victimization. These feelings and emotional states result because human beings are genetically attuned to the natural forces and are not receiving the proper energetic influence of fresh air, raw food, sunlight and rainwater. Social consciousness is really just a resulting symptom of disharmony due to the choices we have made collectively toward technology rather than ecology.
Its highly unlikely that the world will be returning to a more technologically responsible and environmentally-friendly, peaceful society anytime soon. Donna and I have decided to do the best we can. One way for sure is to hold a vision for the kind of world we would want to see and then quietly go about life building from that vision. It is important, however, to allow others to create what they want and desire, even if it does contradict our own. Too much blood has been shed in this world trying to make others conform through laws and imposition. Its more peaceful to navigate quietly by learning to walk the razors edge.
By this we mean to keep striving to actively listen to others without trying to fix, condemn, agree, criticize or hinder them in any way; but rather seek to remain empty and receptive, trying to learn as much as we can, in order to develop higher levels of open-mindedness and tolerance. We realize this is very hard to do when children are senselessly gunned down, mentally unstable people are mailing pipe bombs and running over preschool children with cars. And its very difficult to accept the insane and belligerent attitude of aggressive drivers on the highway, white supremacists, religious fanatics or corporations that value profit over environmental concerns; but we seek to hold the vision for primal conscious living all the same. That is walking the razors edge striving to uncover and value the inherent goodness within all of us, but not getting too complacent or comfortable in this world.
The opposite of this is depression, a state of mind that results when a person has become too comfortable with a certain way-that-it-is and then seeks to perpetuate that particular situation when it may be time for a change. A fundamental fact is that life is change. Changes are inevitable. The anxiety of modern social consciousness is a symptom resulting from the inability to go with "what-is" right now. Hanging on to the lamenting emotion of how it should be is not the same thing as deciding upon a vision and choosing to embrace it as reality. The latter is the only way to feel real satisfying fulfillment the plan of the planet is in the plants, and dropping seeds instead of bombs is a way to rekindle primal consciousness throughout the world.
To walk the razors edge is to value the Law of One, the life principle, above all other things and to order yourself accordingly to the laws of nature. And that means not getting too stuck or rigid in situations, remaining vigilant against the undermining and self-destructive tendency of social consciousness. A mind that is left unattended will always go downhill. Thats why the belly breath meditation is valuable.
Consider how many people today are unhappy, constantly looking for some special love connection, more money, relief from physical pain or disease, wanting a better job, a bigger house and newer car. Consider how many people you know who are overweight, suffering health problems, jobless, in debt on credit cards, who are having difficulties with their children or other family members. Consider this right now and realize that anxiety is a condition of mind that can only be healed by rising to a higher level of consciousness, rising out of the fixated and limiting belief systems perpetuated by television and market industries.
To walk the razors edge is to live your truth without compromise and to seek that which is higher and better. And in our experience, this can only come when one starts to dismantle the entanglements and beliefs that "more is better". More is not better! Its the other way around less is better, because that enables one to really appreciate the universal truth that things change, and the more we surround ourselves with stuff, trying to create security, we will actually do little more than activate the grasping mind. If more is better, then why do people have to store guns and install alarm systems? What would it be like if you had nothing to lose? You would naturally begin to appreciate the smallest things in life and the anxiety of not having enough would begin to fade.
Peace Pilgrim, a middle-aged woman who walked for peace from coast to coast for 25 years with no home or possessions, except a few items she carried in her pocket, living a life of total humility and trust, maintained a vow of simplicity. She once said:
"I shall not accept more than I need while others in the world have less than they need. As soon as I brought myself down to the need level, I began to feel a wonderful harmony in my life between inner and outer well-being, between spiritual and material well-being what I want and what I need are exactly the same. Anything in excess of needs is burdensome to me."
So beautifully inspiring. And people think living in a B.E.L.L. is radical. When people say they could never give up electricity or hot water, Donna and I think about Peace Pilgrim, walking unfettered, homeless and free as a bird.
Though most of us are not called to live a wandering life like Peace Pilgrim, we can learn something very valuable from her example. If we truly desire a life of freedom from debt and anxiety, why not take the advice to reduce possessions, seeking not to take more than whats actually needed. As we said in part one, get your needs and wants to be the same, then you will only have to work for that. In our opinion, the reason human beings tend to want more than they need is because they are influenced by social consciousness which seeks expansion through consumption and productivity. Where does it end? When will we as a nation decide we finally have enough stuff? Must we exhaust every last drop of natural resources before being forced to re-think our approach?
Walk the razors edge by living life as fully as you can, learning how to appreciate the simple basics of life. This mania for moreness will one day come to an end, and though it may still be a long way off, we can do something now to insure that future generations have a bountiful world to be born into.
Here is a wonderful story that illustrates the point:
An American businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna.
The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied, "only a little while." The American then asked why didnt he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his familys immediate needs.
The American then asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?" The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor."
The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat, with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise."
The Mexican fisherman asked, "But senor, how long will this all take?"
To which the American replied, "15 or 20 years."
"But what then, senor?"
The American laughed and said, "thats the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions."
"Millions, senor? Then what?"
The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."
Practicing the Belly Breath
The belly breath is a valuable practice for those who wold like to have a meditation practice, yet find it difficult to adhere to one. In my experience, the two reasons people fail at the practice of meditation is because:
Ive met some serious, devoted meditation practitioners whose lives are a total mess, following teachers and methods that may not be right for them. Its not uncommon to get sucked into the personality of a teacher or guru only to walk away embittered, disappointed and feeling "had". Meditation is a personal journey into the discovery of ones own mind and body. If there is any fundamental rule to follow it is to keep your mind where your body is.
For those who are interested in cultivating the divine primal consciousness within themselves, we offer this simple, effective exercise to be used either alone or along with another form of contemplative practice. The point is to unify the mind and body in such a way that the present moment of experience becomes quite clear. And this requires a certain release of body tension, especially in the abdominal or gut region of the body.
Westerners tend to dwell "high up" in the body, mostly around the neck and head area, resulting from too much emphasis on rational thinking, planning and logic. The ego-mind is the seat of social consciousness. Primal consciousness, on the other hand, resides in the gut level of the body, an axis point between the higher and lower levels of mind and body. The belly is the bodys breathing center. Most people are very shallow breathers and consequently hold tremendous tension in their bellies, which is also the reason why many suffer from back injuries and sciatic nerve pain. The body requires a daily dose of tension release through abdominal breathing and calm mental focus. That is all one really needs to benefit from meditative practice because it relaxes the body and releases the grasping mind.
Those who are interested in achieving an "out of this world" transcendent experience are free to do so, but we suspect that would not be tempting given consistent mind/body unification such as in the practice of belly breathing.
Neurologically, the body is deeply soothed and re-energized when the abdominal muscles are expanded and relaxed. This creates a physiological effect on the entire organism, thereby altering the vibration of the person, much like fine tuning a radio. The tuning we are adjusting to is primal consciousness, the unity of all things, the Law of One of which the planet emits through plant, animal and mineral life.
Man is the only species on this planet that is out of sync with the Law of One. Why? The answer is because mankind has collectively chosen to follow the path of expansion through the development of external technology, rather than relying on the power manifest within. From the moment we began to harness fire, preserve food, create tools, forge metals and develop micro-processors, we began building the conditions of social conscious-programming. From then on we were no longer interested in caring for the earth, but desired to conquer it. This expansion will continue exponentially until we reach the point where we have become so dependent and reliant on technology that we lose our individual choice and free will.
It will be at that point where mankind will have no other recourse but to pull the plug on his miscreations and begin to go the other way back toward the internal, sacred Law of One. The belly breath meditation is a way to individually begin the process of reversing this expansion.
Before starting the technique for the first time, spend a whole day paying attention to how you feel. Carry around a small note pad and pen and once an hour, stop and access what you are experiencing in that moment. Write down a simple word or phrase or a few thoughts like, "I am feeling irritated and worried about paying my Visa bill", or "I am feeling nothing." Just notice what you can and make a list. Then before you go to bed that night, read over the list and see what feelings you would like to have more or less of. This helps give you a clear picture of what kind of thoughts your are harboring throughout the day, allowing you an opportunity to see the effects of social conscious programming.
After reading over your list, sit upright in a chair or on a cushion, or in bed. Get your back as straight as you can without rigidity or strain. Turn your palms upward in your lap, or you could place the back of your left hand in the palm of your right with your thumbs slightly touching. Make sure your left palm is on top, facing upwards. If you are doing it correctly youll notice an oval shape, outlined by your thumbs and hands.
Close your eyes, separate your teeth, relax your jaw and sit still for a few seconds. Dont move do nothing, except breathe naturally. Proper meditative attitude is expressed through posture, so sit like a person who is totally enlightened, perfectly at peace.
Begin by simply listening to the sounds around you. Dont resist any noise. Do not force or resist thinking. Just allow the mind to be. Allow everything to be what it is. Let the mind think whatever it wants. Allow the inner chatter to go on while you gently direct your attention to your belly. Slowly draw in a breath through your nose (not too deep, not too shallow) and let your diaphragm muscle pop the belly out. Let your belly fill up like a balloon as you inhale. Do not try to overfill, just stay natural and soft. Hold the air in your lungs for 4 to 6 seconds and then let it fall out through your mouth. Contract your abdominal muscles as you exhale, slowly blowing the breath out. Notice how your belly collapses. Gently squeeze out the air with your diaphragm.
Keep your focus on this process, without forcing or controlling your breathing. Breathe in again and repeat the process. After each normal round of inhalation and exhalation, allow yourself to relax even more, maintaining your posture. Breathe naturally from the belly.
Sit and breathe this way for 5 to 10 minutes and stop when it no longer feels comfortable. The trick is to keep your attention on the whole breathing process and not to let the mind carry you away. When this does happen, notice the minds wandering and return your attention again to the belly, continuing to watch the entire process unfold.
In the beginning, practicing this exercise once a day is adequate. Eventually you can practice whenever you have a few moments, such as in the car, waiting in the doctors office, standing in the checkout line, etc. Practicing will eventually become easier and more soothing and delightful. It is the ability to relax the belly that seems to produce a physiological effect on the body, which in turn affects the mind. Long sessions of intense sitting meditation are unnecessary. In our experience, it is better and more beneficial to spend time in nature. But when you cant, the belly breath meditation serves to create a similar vibration, conducive to mind/body unification.
In taking up this simple practice, devoting effort and time to it daily, we have realized tremendous confidence and insight about what it means to be a primal human, here in service to the evolution of this beautiful planet.
L. Kevin Johnson
Donna E. Philippe
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