• January 28, 2019

    The ancient ones spoke of the prayer of the heart. “Let the prayer of your tongue become the prayer of your heart,” they said, and even more curiously: “May you awaken the tongue of your heart.” Are these just metaphors? Or is there something more to it?

    Perhaps you have noticed that the tensions that arise from your personal strivings and your fears and anxieties are held in the jaw and especially the tongue. Certain kinds of thoughts are associated with a tightening of the jaw and a rigidity of the tongue. When these tensions are released in me, my thinking changes and some habitual thoughts actually become completely unavailable. It doesn’t seem to work in the opposite direction; changing my thinking doesn’t seem to release the tension, at least not for long.

    It is not surprising that my thinking is closely linked to my tongue. I learned to speak as I learned to think; they arose together. Can I be free of my automatic thinking if my tongue and jaw are locked in place?

    Are my unconscious identities held by the habitual tensions of my tongue?

    When I give voice to prayer or zikr, is the sound retained in the throat by the tension in my jaw and tongue? Or by relaxing this tension, can my voice find its way to the heart, resonating the chest like a drum? Perhaps this is the tongue of the heart?

    The tongue is a medium for the voice, and the voice serves either the mind or the heart or, rarely, both. I find that I am able to speak and pray from the heart when my tongue is free of the tensions which reflect the anxieties of my mind and the preoccupations of my personal identities.

    How do you relax the tensions you speak of?

    Just thinking about relaxing has a very limited effect. The musculature quickly bounces back into its previous shape. Commanding yourself to relax is typically quite stressful, is it not? Most of the efforts we habitually make are initiated by tension. Another way is needed that does not trigger the automatic pushing force that we think of as will. There is an inner gesture of releasing, what I think of as an act of submission, which opens the way to another form of doing without tension. It is neither clinging nor averting but a third state between them and unlike the other two. You must look for it.

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  • July 9, 2017

    Have you experienced second wind phenomena? You are running. The running requires effort; it’s a bit of a struggle. You think about how happy you will be to get to the end and stop. You may imagine a cool drink or flopping down on the ground, task completed. This is such drudgery….and my side is beginning to hurt…but you continue.

    And then, the unexpected happens. Running is suddenly effortless, a pleasure. You feel that you could run all day. The pain fades away. You enter into the running, no longer separate from it as something you are analyzing, you are runner and running, one movement. This is the second wind of running.

    All spiritual practices have the possibility of second wind phenomena, when the practice becomes effortless and real. Perhaps the most important is relaxing the body. I am always asking you to relax the muscular tensions of the body, the tensions that are not required to sit up straight. Unless you are very practiced, being able to immediately sense and release unnecessary contractions, you will obtain a limited response and then the tensions will snap back.

    Can you continue to attend to the body, noting the tensions and releasing them? If you do, you may find that you attain a certain momentum of relaxing. Releasing one tension exposes another which in turn is released. One tension supports another. Also, one release supports another. The process is incremental. Suddenly, the body relaxes more fully and continues in a state of ease, supported by an unintended shift to more rhythmic breathing and pulse.

    What are the secrets of second wind? First, knowing if I have resistance. Is there a part of me, a little voice in my head, a mental image, sensation or a physical impression, which prefers some activity other than relaxing? Often, resistance is simply the continuity of my previous state or engagement which wants to continue with its own momentum. I must deal with this first. Resistance can be recognized and released.

    Second, recognizing my impatience. My efforts to relax most often fail because I am impatient. I want the result, I want to get to the end, before I have really begun. I may try to reproduce the sensation of relaxing so I can move on to the next stage. Can I find the movement of impatience in me and release that?

    There is virtually no end to the process of relaxing. You may find that the deepest meditative states are simply more perfect relaxation.

    There is also second wind of attention and second wind of presence. We may discuss those at our next meeting.

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