• 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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  • February 28, 2016

    I am confused as to how much effort is required for attainment in this work. At times, the advice seems to be that we should make efforts but at other times there seems to be an emphasis on the path of non-effort.

    Efforts are required but the key is to make right efforts. Each of us must work with the psychology that we have. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. But there seem to be some basic laws built into the design of human beings which are helpful to understand.

    First, we are responding beings much more than we are initiating beings. The western culture harbours the notion that humans can just decide to get it together and do things out of context with their lives. If you observe yourself carefully and objectively, you may find, as I did, that this is rarely true.

    It seems to me that we mostly decide to do something in response to a stimulus that comes from outside of us. We are inspired by something or moved by something and then we act. The opportunity comes first, then the response. The most productive decisions we make really amount to agreeing to participate in what is happening, whether it is washing dishes or meditation. This is why work groups have value; they create work opportunities that ask for agreement. This is a correct use of the pulling force to make right efforts.

    Understanding your need to respond can help you to be more alert to opportunities to work. You may be able to put yourself in circumstances where you are likely to be called upon to respond. If your idea of work is that you should be able to decide to do something which is not already in the present moment, your efforts will probably fall flat.

    Second, we must be able to discern the difference between responding and reacting. Not every stimulus is worthy of response. And in any case, most of our behaviour is actually just an automatic reaction to our surroundings and relationships, dictated by our identifications and requiring no agreement. The impulse to react can be observed and withheld. Reacting is actually the opposite of responding. It squanders the energy needed for response and it obscures opportunities to respond.

    Third, we need to know how to deal with inner resistance. Again, western culture is unhelpful. Resistance is not something to be overcome through so-called will power, which actually is not will power but the pushing force. Resistance is an expression of internal conflict. Pushing usually increases the conflict, creating more resistance and loss of energy. This is not right effort.

    Resistance is a reaction of the body-mind. It is something to be observed and released. Knowing where it comes from is not important although an understanding of it may arise spontaneously. The point is, do not analyze resistance psychologically but rather see and sense the specific sensations, muscular contractions and mental tapes that comprise it. Then, learn to release the observable physical components.

    Resistance is a treasure-trove of energy which can be used to make right efforts if it is not wasted by the pushing force or repressed by self-censorship. Releasing does not mean rejecting or dispersing resistance; it means relaxing and absorbing the energy with the help of attention. This is where an understanding of non-effort is needed. Relaxing is more fruitful than pushing. Without resistance, it is then possible to make sustained efforts.

    Related Posts:

    Releasing – April 27, 2015

    Resistance – June 19, 2015 

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  • April 27, 2015

    Is there an alternative to clinging and averting? Like and dislike? (See previous post on Agreement).

    Consider hand gestures. Clinging is the hand grasping. Averting is the hand held up to push away. What can we say of the gesture of the hand held open, palm upward? Can we call this releasing?

    Is there a middle way that is not based on the opposites imposed by conditioning?

    The middle way is releasing, a conscious gesture which allows phenomena to occur without interference. An impulse to cling is observed, just data, and released. What is released? The gesture of clinging, its muscle tensions and posture, its sensations noted and also released into space. No judgment or justification.

    Can troublesome thoughts be averted? This is difficult and usually employs defenses which require distraction and cost energy. These thoughts can be released, beginning with the physical tensions and sensations which always accompany them. Without the physical, do the thoughts continue?

    In releasing, there is freedom to respond to what comes next.

    Before the ability to release, much observing is required. Can this observing be impartial? To be impartial, the observed must include the automatic reactions of judging and justifying. The would-be observer, presumed entity-in-charge located in the head brain, becomes part of the scene.

    Ironically, it is possible to respond rightly when there is no longer a mechanism for self-evaluation.

    Living in a like/dislike world is sitting on a drain. The drain is for your energy. It goes somewhere but not for your benefit. The movement is down and out. Up and in is evolutionary, transformative.  Can you sense what is needed to reverse the flow?

    Related Post:

    Agreement – April 23, 2015

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  • March 12, 2015

    What is the benefit of this exercise?

    Perhaps it is an exercise. Perhaps it is more than that and you begin to observe yourself as a matter of habit, a different kind of habit, a conscious habit. Reading your manifestations in real time provides much useful data.

    You will be shocked to discover who you are and what you are doing.  It is especially valuable to witness your insincerity.  You may become uncomfortable with yourself, a real bonus for those who wish to wake up. Layers beneath layers are slowly exposed.  If you are gradually able to see yourself without judgment or justification, your reactions may subside and you may begin to have the possibility of responding differently.  Patterns are worn away by impartial observation.  Can you learn to be impartial about what you see?

    Working with a group in a work space helps this process immensely.  We see ourselves most clearly in interactions with others. In the presence of others who are engaged in this work, there is more seeing and greater objectivity.  It is contagious.

    What do you mean by layers beneath layers?

    Observing muscular tensions, you find that, in making a mental effort, you clench your left forearm, an unnecessary contraction which probably signals anxiety, reduced awareness and loss of energy.  Over time, you see this is the end of a chain of physical reactions that begins with an in-breath, followed by a tightening of the abdomen, then a tightening of the jaw followed by the forearm. It does not matter when or why this set of reactions began.  This is not psychoanalysis. Seeing it now, in the present, is the aim.

    Knowing the chain makes it possible to stop it by releasing one of the links—releasing that particular muscular tension interrupts the set of reactions.  Knowing is not knowledge.  Knowing is an action of perception while knowledge is not.

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