Sitting meditation

October 29, 2009

“Taking our seat…’sit and know you’re sitting’…(we) bravely confront all our sorrows, loneliness, shame, regret, frustration, happiness…

“(This is called) the Middle Way, a way not based on aversion to the world, nor on attachment, but a way based on inclusion and compassion. The Middle Way rests at the centre of all things…

“We each need to make our lion’s roar – to persevere with unshakeable courage when faced with all manner of doubts and sorrows and fears (and longings…’this too’) – to declare our right to awaken…completely face what is true about this life. Make no mistake about this, it is not easy. It can take the courage of a lion or lioness, especially when we are asked to sit with the depth of our pain or fear.”

‘Path with a Heart’ by Jack Kornfield

I was recently questioning my meditation teacher about a teaching I’d heard about time being a construct of the mind – in other words it does not inherently exist outside of the purpose for which it was conceived by the human mind.  Followed to its conclusion this line of thought says that, at the heart of everything, there is emptiness, non-arising…nothing is happening. I wanted to know whether acts of sacrificial love that demand nothing in return and happenings such resurrection and awakening essentially change the shape of space and time and, therefore, actually arise. His question has been a point of enquiry for me since. He said that the narrow path we walk in any spiritual practice is one that takes us down the razor-sharp edge between emptiness and compassion. If we fall too far into the realisation of emptiness, we stop caring. If we fall to far into the realisation of compassion, we get enmeshed in the workings of the world. In order to really love, we need to constantly define a path that holds these two dimensions in balance. Well, seems like I’ve got my work cut out for the next little time…! 😉

Stephen Batchelor’s book Buddhism Without Beliefs offers insight into what I see as the current plight to let go of old ways of seeing and believing, to unclutter the highway, in order to uncover a path of pure faith. Buddhism refers to this as the teaching of the Dharma. I quote: “No matter how well we may know something, to witness its intrinsic freedom impels the humble admission: ‘I don’t really know it.’

“Such unknowing is not the end of the track: the point beyond which thinking can proceed no further. This unknowing is the basis of deep agnosticism. When belief and opinion are suspended, the mind has nowhere to rest. We are free to begin a radically other kind of questioning.

“This questioning is present within unknowing itself…The sheer presence of things is startling. They provoke awe, wonder, incomprehension, shock. Not just the mind but the whole organism feels perplexed. This can be unsettling…The task of dharma practice is to sustain this perplexity within the context of calm, clear and centred awareness.”

A note on Trauma

October 10, 2009

Yoga is becoming known within the world of contemporary bodywork to be an essential tool in the healing of trauma, or the disorientation of the human being. The key book in explaining this is called ‘Waking the Tiger’ by Peter Levine. In his introduction, Levine debates the idea that trauma has been traditionally regarded as a ‘psychological and medical disorder of the mind’. He writes: “Most trauma therapies address the mind through talk and the molecules of the mind with drugs. Both of these approaches can be of use. However, trauma is not, will not and can never be fully healed until we also address the essential role played by the body. We must understand how the body is affected by trauma and its central position in healing its aftermath. Without this foundation, our attempts at mastering trauma will be limited and one-sided.

“Beyond the mechanistic, reductionistic view of life, there exists a sensing, feeling, knowing, living organism. This living body, a condition we share with all sentient beings, informs us of our innate capacity to heal from the effects of trauma. This book is about the gift of wisdom we receive as a result of learning to harness and transform the body’s awesome, primordial and intelligent energies…”