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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

MEDITATION

The process of meditation returns us to our natural state.  Our culture and our own minds have weaved many tales of who we are, where we came from and how we must conduct our lives.  Yet within us, there is a direct experience of our biological nature.  There is also an experience of our connection to the rest of nature.  These direct experiences are overshadowed, in modern times, by the stories we have been told about who we are. 

The direct, natural experiences are like a small child who constantly tugs at his parent’s clothes to get attention.  The adults keep talking to each other and ignore the child. 

Meditation is the act of yielding to the tug of your biological nature.  It is like water sinking into the earth.  As it sinks, the water enlivens the earth, allowing life to flourish.  As your attention sinks back into your body, and then into your connection to the rest of nature, the body, mind, emotions and all the other parts of a human being, become enlivened.  You realize that you are not just your thinking process.  You are not just your opinions.  You are not just your job title.  You are the experience of life itself.  This experience is often lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday living. 

Imagine you are walking through a carnival.  The carnival barkers (the people running the games) call out to you to put a dollar down to throw a ball to knock down some bottles or to throw a dart to puncture balloons.  As you walk, each barker shouts at you loudly to get your dollar. 

Life is like this.  The story our culture tells you is that your choice in life is to decide which game to play – which barker to yield to.  You may yield to the barker of buying the latest fashions or the newest cars.  The barker’s job is to convince you that you can only be a good person, you can only be satisfied, if you yield to him.  That barker may also be selling a religion or a political party. 

When you experience your biological nature, the barkers no longer have any hold on you.  They are merely people yelling at you. 

So people ask me, “How should I meditate?”

While sitting meditation is popular, I have found the best form of meditation for me is natural movement.  This may be Tai-chi, Zookinesis or any other form of activity based on the movement of animals.  Even watching animals in nature is a wonderful form of meditation.  When you imitate an animal’s movement you participate in its flow of energy (chi) and that heals you.  Dance serves a similar purpose. 

As the body moves, the mind (attention) moves along with the body.  Body and Mind flow together and become united.  The connection of body and mind heals a basic rift in the fabric of your spirit.  By experiencing the interpenetration of body and mind, you become more sensitive to the possibility of being part of a larger “body” and a larger “mind” – that of nature.  You become aware of movements of energy, movements of consciousness that flow through you.  You no longer feel isolated. 

Rather than your body and mind battling each other, you experience integration.  This affects your relationship with other people resulting in a less combative feeling.  In this way the practice of meditation can lessen the conflicts between members of a society resulting in less animosity and a more enjoyable way of life.  At the same time, each person is more of an individual.  Rather than tying your identity to the stories of the society you identify with the experience of your own individual nature.  The stories are then seen as creative expressions of deeper truths rather than as shallow facts.

I was inspired to write about meditation this week because of the Christmas holiday and the many television shows about Jesus and the history of Christianity.  It always seemed odd to me that all of the focus of these programs were on what happened rather than on what he taught.  The same could be said of other ancient religious figures.  Nowadays Jesus’ teachings are laid out in beautiful detail in the Gnostic Gospels.  They are amazing in their clarity and beauty.  Yet it seems that all people want to discover from these documents is whether Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene. 

I think that our culture has become shallow in many ways.  We seem interested only in the gossip, the soap operas.  In the martial arts we are only interested in techniques rather than principles.  We think of Tai-chi as a six lesson course to memorize a series of movements rather than as a life long dedication to health and awareness.  And I have never been able to figure out why in heaven’s name, is a perfectly good pair of pants or shoes suddenly out of style. 

This past summer my daughter told me she finally had it with my lack of style.  She bought me a new bathing suit.  When I looked around on the beach it was true that no one was wearing the style I had been wearing all these years.  There was a new style that looked like a pair of baggy walking shorts.  My daughter told me that this new style had been around for a few years and I never noticed the change before.

Apparently your biological nature does not warn you about style changes.  It tells you about how to stay healthy and happy.  It tells you about your connection to all people and all life.  It shows you how being violent to others (physically, emotionally or intellectually) is really being violent to yourself.

Meditation really serves to remind you who you really are.  We need to be reminded from time to time.

PUSH HANDS FOR CHRISTIANS

Lessons from a student’s cultural background can often be used to help teach the Push Hands exercise.  The story of Jesus provides a great opportunity to explain the principles of Push Hands.  Though I am not Christian I try to learn about my student’s backgrounds and experiences to explain the training in terms they will understand.

For those not familiar with Push Hands, this is a two person exercise in which the partners face each other with their front feet next to each other.  The goal is to push the other person over.  The natural tendency is to use physical force – muscle tension.  But the muscle tension makes the student even more vulnerable to a push.  If he were soft and yielding, he could let the partner’s force flow by.  When he is tense, he must take the full impact of his partner’s push.

Most students have tense backs.  There is a band of tension across their shoulders and another band of tension up and down their spines, including their necks.  When their partner pushes them, this band tightens up, they lean forward as if to resist the push and this, of course, makes them more vulnerable.

I suggest that they imagine they are carrying a cross on their backs, like Jesus carrying the cross to his crucifixion.  The cross is made of the horizontal tension across the shoulders and the vertical tension along the spine.  Consider my pushes to be like the Romans, hammering Jesus to the cross with nails.  As long as you carry the cross I will continue to “nail you”.  The only solution is to let go of your cross.  Allow the back to relax so that I have nothing to nail you to. 

In this way my force will simply move your body.  You may turn, shift back or rotate your shoulder joint, allowing my force to flow by.  While the students understand their situation, it is amazing how difficult it is to “let go of their cross”.  The cross of tension is the result of the attitude of meeting force with force.

In the days of Jesus, the Roman Empire occupied Israel, as it did most of the “known world”.  Rome made the roads safe, from China through India, Greece, Israel and Egypt.  There was great commerce at that time because the trade people were not afraid of being robbed along the roads.  They could travel from city to city safely.  With this trade came the trade of ideas.  Each culture shared its philosophy with the others and there was a flourishing of philosophies.

Many of the Jews believed that the Romans should be chased out of their country.  These Jews (the Zealots) not only killed Romans but also Jews who felt comfortable with the idea of Romans running the municipal activities.  There was civil war.

Jesus’ view was that you could not win meeting force with force.  Rome was a mighty empire.  Rather, by elevating the spiritual awareness of each individual Jew, this would change the very nature of the relationship between the Jews and the Romans.  Without this inner development, each power would conquer the other only to be re-conquered time and time again. 

But if an entire population is elevated to a higher state of consciousness, its relationships to other people would always be to its benefit.

Push Hands is based on a similar principle.  When the partner pushes you, receive the force and transform it.  You can dissipate it by letting it flow through your body into your “root” (into the ground).  You can circle it around back to the partner.  You can compress his force, add your own and bounce the combined force up, as if the partner were pushing against a trampoline.  In this way you are creative with the force.  You don’t just fight against it.  But to do so you need a great deal of awareness.  You need to let go of ingrained patterns of behavior based on conflict.  And you need to do all this in real time (within a fraction of a second).

In what ways do we carry a cross in everyday life and allow others to “nail” us?  Can you feel that cross on your back, wearing you out?

When I practice Push Hands I look for that cross on my partner’s back, the resistance ready to fight with me.  Although our eyes are closed during this exercise I can easily feel that pattern of tension.  My partner leans in towards me with his head hanging down.  If I were to step away he would fall down.  He conducts himself only in relationship to my force and thus depends on my force to hold him up.

Can you notice any times during the day when your head hangs down and you lean forward?  If you do, then let go of your cross.  Stop resisting the world around you.  This means that you stop interpreting life as a battle that you must tense up against.  When you drop the cross you also drop the feeling of battle. 

In the story of Jesus, he was resurrected (some say physically, some say spiritually).  He is heard from a few times by his disciples and then is never heard from again.  Why?  Once you are “resurrected” from the “dead” (when you stop living a story of battling your way through life) then the story is over.  You just go on with your life. 

At first, life may not seem as exciting if you are not fighting your way through it.  But soon you discover other forms of excitement such as the very joy of being alive.  You discover the fulfillment of joining with others rather than battling with them. 

Push Hands can be such a joy.  You can join the intricate world of consciousness within each part of your body with that of the partner’s body.  Your energies can unite.  You still play the game of trying to push each other over but it is a joyful game.  It is a game that teaches you how to unite with others by letting go of all the little “crosses” inside the body that resist connecting to others.

You learn that your real power is your awareness which allows you to transform the partner’s push into your play. When you bring the element of play and creativity into your life you can create the story of your own life.  Your life will be lived from that story rather than from the violence of the people and situations around you.