Ways to Calm Energy

I am holding a webinar on Kundalini and Awakening these days, and I thought I would share notes from a recent session on ways to calm down energy and find your center of stillness.  Kundalini is your own internal energy field, an aspect of prana, but it has become heightened, as if you are at a higher frequency, when it has been activated through spiritual practice, energy practices, trauma or for other reasons. If you have an awakened energy field it tends to get more intense when you are anxious, when your body is under stress, or when you are excited – perhaps around the energy of someone else with awakened kundalini, and paradoxically when you are relaxed such as in the middle of the night when you are trying to sleep.

This new energy is both a transforming and a clearing process so you may find your body shaking or vibrating, or heat rising or emotions shifting or unusual psychic experiences. You can feel disoriented and as if parts of you are falling away.  This is the ego structure coming apart – beliefs and attachments to appearances, drives,  interests, activities that you do because you should but you are not authentically aligned with –these fall away. When the energy is focused on certain areas different phenomena arise.  When it is in the lower chakras you may feel  ungrounded or overwhelmed with sexual energy, and as it moves upward you may lose interest in sex, feel intense heart sensations, or have challenges with your throat.

FIND THE CENTER

The third chakra is manipura,  located behind the naval on the inner wall ofhs-1994-02-c-thumbthe spinal column. Although awakening is generally considered to begin at the base of the spine, some yoga systems say manipura, located behind the naval in front of the spine, is the center of awakening, actually where kundalini takes place, and it is the link between the higher and lower planes of existence. It is a pivotal opening in this location, because  from here the awakening is ongoing, and consciousness begins to change.  When it opens here you may feel it like an intense  blast and there is a reorganization of the pranic flow in the body, and this becomes the new base of kundalini.  When energy opens here it is believed you can get glimpses of higher planes of existence.  This causes many of your biases, patterns and beliefs to begin to fall away as a new perspective begins to emerge.  You may have past-life patterns arise, or karmic patterns may become more clear, so they can be released.  You can have discomfort as all this energy is being rearranged.

Ultimately there is a deep inner peace in your center as things settle down.  There is a sense of stillness in the center of the activity of life, and the tendency to get entangled in thoughts becomes less and less.  You can learn to be calm and be centered in this part of the body.  Yogis even say that as this center becomes stable you can be free of disease and have the capacity to create your own life.  I think what happens is you learn to listen to an inner knowing located deeper in the body in the 3rd and 4th chakras – you tune yourself to moving from an intuition here instead of the old patterns circulating in the mind.  You might call this presence or a sense of being here now – this part of us lives in this moment, not entangled in the past and future thinking of the mind.  Gradually our perception of ourselves as a separate self diminishes and we feel connected to the world in a different way.

Many people have heart openings and samadhi experiences through the higher chakras that give us glimpses of unitive consciousness before this center in manapura is stabilized.  Energy can move up in meditation or spontaneously and we have glimpses and short periods of feeling ecstatic or dissolved into an unlimited consciousness, but to embody and live an awakened life we have to be  consciously in touch with this center, and allow ourselves to clear out the old conditioning and patterns held in our body.

This is what is trying to happen to you – this is how kundalini is related to spiritual freedom and realization.

BASIC GUIDELINES

Here are some basic guidelines for bringing more calm into this process

Try to release fear, become more curious, and be open to being in relationship with this energy as a helping aspect of yourself, supporting your intention for spiritual awakening.

Orient yourself toward a spiritual awakening – whatever that means to you. Let this longing become more central in your life.

Take good care of your body physically – listen to what it wants and be attentive to what you eat and drink. If possible release stress from your environment. You may find you are more sensitive and less able to tolerate places and situations where there is pain or tension or you pick up the energy of many other people. Your senses are heightened.

Find the quiet stillness in the center of all this change and all the chaos of life.  You do this by breathing deep into the belly, taking time to relax, sensing into this area as the center of your beingness. Imagine you can move from the center — the hara — or even and think from this area.

Write out any conflicts going on in your mind — release the thoughts out of your head and onto paper so you no longer need to carry them around.

Creative expression — art, poetry, music, movement all help in expressing what is inexpressible

You may find using a grounding pad or blanket is helpful, especially when you try to sleep at night.

Some practices on you-tube that may be helpful

IRest Yoga Nidra 20 minutes by Richard Miller

Irest Yoga NIdra. By Richard Miller Yoga of the Heart

Chakra tuneup with Himalayan Singing Bowls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Blessing of Impermanence

An advantage in seeing impermanence as the nature of existence is in the knowing that all things pass. lightning While we often grieve over this passing, there are many blessings to knowing that we are in movement, life is in movement, so even the difficult problems of our culture are in movement.

Many people are stressed by the choices being made by the US, and especially the President, at this time in history.  They seem to be permanently destructive to the future of our country and the world environment.  And yet there have been many dark turning points in this country – beginning with the Indian massacres, forcing Mexico out of California, slavery, the civil war, the depression and the dust bowl, two world wars, Vietnam– to name just a few. Our ancestors have all been through events similar to those that cause us fear.  Nothing has ever been permanent.

 

As a country we are often in turmoil because of the push for power, greed, and the division of minds. Yet there have been gradual improvements in human care and responsibility – freeing slaves, laws against child labor, allowing women the vote, social security, education,  easier transportation and communication,  etc. etc.  Historically, most other countries have known the same or worse turmoil  over centuries (e.g. Germany, Japan, China), but experienced gradual movement to support their people.

It is paradoxical that most of the individuals we know personally long for peace and love within themselves and the world, and are generally kind to one another. They value families and friends. And yet as a collective this is rarely reflected, and positive change seems to be so slow.

We live in a world of opposites, continually shifting and emerging with new perspectives.  An awakened mind can see a larger picture – an expansive, never-ending but always changing movement through time.  We are the movement, the life that brings transformation.  Our pain forces us to see what is needed, and brings many into positive action.  Just as when we are wounded physically we must seek help for the body, when we are a wounded culture we must seek solutions.  It does not serve us when our minds only bring us to despair, and our thinking is clouded with anger and fear.  It does not serve us personally or serve our culture when our hearts close down with bitterness.

Negative thoughts are rarely real and true – they are based on emotional reactions and our accumulated convictions of what ought to be.  They are neurons firing stored information interwoven with our discomfort.  Our awareness becomes entangled with thought, and limited by it.

This is why awakened people often stress living in the now. Now is what is in front of you this moment, and is always present as Now. It may be a beautiful garden. Today for me it is a smoky sky in Oregon hovering over a pond and garden. It is difficulty breathing outdoors. It is the computer before me.  It is also good neighbors and a safe house and good health. Tomorrow it may change.

For you today it may be work that needs to be done, or a child that needs to be fed and dressed, or a piece of art you are inclined to create, or a desire to help in a political campaign. We each stand in a unique place in the Now.  Look around and define what is here for you in this moment. Your presence is part of this Now. Your True Nature is always Now!

We are always in motion in this Now-ness.  The question to ask yourself is will you move from your own center and for the greatest good (either your own inner peace or to assist another) or be contracted by a fearful mind? Will you be what you are fully in this moment, or be entangled by thoughts that bring you down? Yes, you are impermanent, but change can be positive and where you are Now has a big impact on what happens next..

We cannot afford to let the world issues, even those created by our own government, block our freedom to love, enjoy and create a meaningful life.  In our choices and movement we can respond in a way that feels authentic to us, and trust that slowly, since all is impermanent, change will come. When there is smoke in the skies remember that it will be clear again. Be like those firefighters who meet it in service to all of us.

The Transformative Power of Mind

Awakened living happens when we have the courage to live in the present moment, and give up our attraction to the divisive thoughts of our minds. It is the freedom to try something new here and now – look at our lives from a fresh perspective, unburdened by our history or old habits. It is greeting the unknown without the weight of anxiety.

All of us have baggage from our past – it is carried in our emotional and thought patterns and spills out whenever we have to face a problem or a challenge in our life. Whenever we fall into a rage, or a depressive perspective about our future, or self-criticism or judgment about the actions of someone else it is as if this baggage has tumbled down at our feet and is slowing us down, blocking us from clarity about our next obvious move.

Neuroscientists are now telling us that when anything negative happens to us it stays entangled in the neuronal pathways much more readily than a positive event. Then when something similar happens we respond with all the intensity of the backed-up emotion from earlier events. This is why you can feel overwhelmed when a colleague yells at you the way your dad once did, or you feel crushed by losingan argument, or fall into fear and depression when you hear negative political news.

How do we find a way to enjoy the vitality of living despite the negative energies so easy to encounter in our world? We cannot live an awakened life if we are dragged down by conflict, depression, anger or confusion. Awakeness requires holding a fidelity to the awakening we have glimpsed, remembering that underneath the surface of human contradiction is an innate happiness and pleasure that the incarnated spirit knows, even when the mind is doing its characteristic division and worry. These self-defeating tendencies are the reason that thought is disparaged in non-dual teachings – we must get liberated from the fear and catastrophic patterns of thinking humans are so prone to. We must learn our thoughts are rarely true.

IMG_1868Imagine for a moment you could erase all thought – all influences of the outside world, and all doubts in your inner world. Take a deep breath and look up at the sky. What if mind was as vast and clear and open as this? What if mind has the depth and expansive potential of the boundless skies above us?

 

 

Living awakened is not about transcending or pretending there is no darkness in our world; it is acknowledging the world is not only darkness, but is also infused with great light, great potential and great love. It is bringing balance into the overly negative mind, and recognizing that we personally each can bring in some light, some new consciousness, some love even if only to our small corner of the world. We can refuse to indulge in watching programs or hanging out in systems (external or internal) that promote anger, conflict , suffering and isolation. We can seek time in nature where the ions bathe us in a calming presence. We can be present and take note of our immediate surroundings, recognize that we are likely ok here and now.   We know if we move into the middle of an emergency we can simply respond and do what is obvious. It is not the rare physical emergencies that get us down so much as the thoughts about past and future. Rarely are we, in this moment, in a crisis. When we are, then courage and action arises. It is the psychological and imaginative crisis that most debilitate us. These are promoted by thoughts that stir our emotions and cloud our capacitiy for clarity and freedom. Like smoke hovering over us after a fire, they must be cleared away if we are to know our true nature.

Being awake is standing free of limiting thoughts and being present in the moment, doing what is obvious in the moment, listening to the intuition of heart or gut or spirit, and taking care of ourselves and others in a loving way. It is the natural state of Being, bringing us the potential to redesign the way we live based on our authentic moment-to-moment understanding of what is needed now.

 

Meditation and Centering

I recently enjoyed a conversation with Heidi and Mark in Italy  who provide a you-tube program on Conscious Aging through The Wisdom Factory.  We talked about the value of meditation and I provided a brief meditative practice that I find centering and calming. If you would like to see this program here is the Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=kOQVtwXQZkA
Meditation is useful at stages of life for calming the mind and finding the still point within you, which is never in the head but more in the center or what is called the hara, a place just above or below the naval. You can learn to rest here or to move from this point and to be present with what is around you as you walk or sit in silence. This is nurturing for the spirit and in time provides a new perspective from which to view the world.  You will find an increase in mental clarity, greater peace and a more open heart if you follow a sincere meditation practice.  At first you may find it difficult to be still and quiet the mind, but one day you will find yourself drawn to it the way you are drawn to food when you feel hunger.  Meditation becomes  food for the spirit and the heart.
If your longing is for Self-realization meditation is also the most classic and ancient path to this knowing of the Truth of who you are — connecting you to the stillness of pure consciousness.  We cannot discover this realization through thought and belief because the Truth is beyond language and form and the world of thought is limited. Understanding is not the same as knowing, just as reading about water is not the same as drinking it. There are physiological changes that happen when we mediate for a long period of time that prepare the body for realization by calming the senses, clearing negative energies and opening up channels into brain centers that produce new possibilities.
There are many styles of meditation that suit various personality types and stages of practice.
There is a meditation available on each of my websites: http://www.kundaliniguide.com and http://www.awakeningguide.com.
You can also  access links on to my interview at the Wisdom Factory website: https://thewisdomfactory.net/bonnie-greenwell-meditation-and-centering/
I have also been invited to speak at the Science and Non-duality Conference in San Jose, CA next October.  This is a wonderful gathering of scientists and non-dual teachers from around the world with many talks and experiences and a great place to meet others who share a longing for or encounter with non-dual awakening. The SAND website is http://www.scienceandnonduality.org.  Look me up if you are there.

Finding Our Light in Darkness

The majority of people in this country are concerned, even despairing, about where the nation is going, because of the election through the electoral college of a minority-chosen president who is impuspiritual-awakeninglsive and appears to stand against many of our better values. We don’t know what he will do – but we fear what he says. Fear and anger is arising on both sides. The anger of fear and the anger of defensiveness.

The appointments for many agency heads are people who have in the past been against the major practices of those agencies, and in many cases have no experience in the field they will be managing. There is a huge flaw in the federal government that allows people to be elected into leadership with no stated qualifications for office. Among other actions, it would help to promote changes in this model.

This political upheaval (not the first in our difficult history) is an opportunity for the majority to stand up for what we believe. We need to find a positive way to express what the majority want, but include what the “other side” needs. We need to stand for rather than against, because pushing against only strengthens resistance on the other side. We need to show these people we are afraid of that we will value them when they make choices for a healthy community, a clean environment, decent salaries, good education for everyone, or women’s rights. Money is not the problem – values are. Even rich people can love, find creative solutions, appreciate health and nature and enjoy appreciation. We need articles in the press that continually show the advantages of greater wealth and safety in the country that will follow in an educated and fully healthy society and environment.

It is easier to rage against what we fear than it is to promote inspiring change – this is why our politicians rely on fear to get voters to the polls. It is time for the people to promote creative change and mutual support of persons and environments in communities, states, businesses, schools – in time those elected would want to be part of it. Can we find in ourselves that which we want to promote and protect, and speak up creatively. I found in my past that when I was depressed it was because I was not doing what was meaningful to me. I had to act on the desires of my heart to rise above the heaviness of spirit. Eventually I found my way to a deep internal peace. Acceptance is not passivity – it is the beginning of clarity and right action. We need to encourage this evolution in one another.   We can benefit from the will to do what is good and loving for ourselves and others. And so can the country.

The Mother, a great spiritual companion of Aurobindo, believed in the evolutionary potential for transforming human minds into an awakened loving presence. She once said that “When there is a great darkness in someone, you can be assured that underneath it is a great light. “ The state of the world is primarily because we do not recognize what we really are. Today is the time to ignite this light in ourselves and others.

 

 

Out of the Shadow, Into the Light

 Those who long for love, compassion, universal equality and protection of thIMG_4158e environment as a foundation of society are likely feeling despair today over an election that has forced us to see the shadow of our country in its willingness to support  fear, bigotry, misogyny, ignorance of science and lies in a man who will become the acknowledged leader of the free world.  But the worse thing we can do to ourselves is fall into the abyss of fear caused by our own projections of what will happen next.

            Each of us, no matter who we supported in this election, was born with the capacity to create the energies of fear and anger in our bodies.  This is a body/mind dynamic built in for protection in times of danger that is activated in the face of physical or psychological threats.  Even the thought of threat can make us ill, but when the threat is only in the mind’s image and not in the immediate now (when we may need to run from a bear or a flood), it festers like cancer and destroys our capacity to do anything creative in our lives.  We might feel paralyzed. We might run aimlessly even though we know we cannot successfully escape our own minds. We are part of a collective and just protecting oneself is not enough. We feel for the whole. The tragedy of 9/11 showed us we can hurt for everyone.

             I recently listened to a Sufi talk about chillas.  Chillas are challenging tasks a spiritual seeker requests from a Sufi Pir or teacher that force one to discover or develop new capacities within themselves, an inner strength they did not realize they had.  It brings forth a new perspective that serves a spiritual seeker in finding his or her inner spirit, growing inner strength and awakening to the sacred in all of life.  They are sometimes very challenging, such as going to an unfamiliar country with limited funds and finding someone, or walking through a desert. In ancient times they lasted 40 days and 40 nights but today they can be more condensed. They may be as simple as giving public talks when you are frightened of speaking or serving the poor for a few weeks.

                  It was a synchronistic talk for me because instead of falling into grief today I am seeing this event as a chilla for all of us.  It is an event that will challenge all of us to grow through our personal and collective shadows by starkly meeting them, and finding new ways to live in love and truth despite the existence of our own fear, bigotry, ignorance and dishonesty. It will challenge us to see the darkness in our own political structures and their impact on the world.  If we are all One, then this country and this world is all One, including all the shadow that we desperately wish was not there.  How do we find the will to overcome our personal and collective shadows? How do we find in our autonomy the courage to stand directly for what an awakened heart and intuition is encouraging us to express?

            Our personal darkness is fed by fear. To the extent we let this energy overwhelm us we become helpless and victims of the shadows.  Out of this victim identification we risk becoming perpetrators, when our ego claims we must destroy those who think differently than us.  But how do we stand up against our fear?

              Michael Singer, in his book “The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself” has offered some guidelines on living with fear.  He says to be free “You must  first accept the fact there is pain in your heart.”  But he points out that joy, beauty, love , peace and even ecstasy and freedom lie on the other side of fear.  He writes that freedom and greatness is available when we  find the courage to relax with the pain instead of blocking it.  It calls this the core of spiritual work.  We can use our pain to become more open rather than contracted and closed.

                This may seem paradoxical – as most true spiritual teachings are.  But think of the freedom gained with complete acceptance of tragedy and trauma, darkness and pain.  When we are able to connect with the deep center of Truth and Love within ourself no matter what the world throws into our path, we become free inside from the grinding, suffering, and resistance of our ego and let go of our personal demands that life be as we want.  Because every life will have tragedy and loss not matter how we try to protect against it, no matter how good we are, or even how awake we are.

                 Our internal survival depends on our ability to overcome the downward spiral within ourself when these events occur, and to use this new-found strength to create change where we are able, rather than falling into paralysis, hatred or revenge.  If our house burns down we must clean up the mess and create a new house.  If our environment is threatened we must find within ourselves our unique role in protecting it.  Life (or God, if you prefer) works through us but we have to let go of our noisy  demands before we can hear the whisper of what it can enable us to do

                 Our minds believe we must fight in any way we can for our beliefs or when we feel we are “right” and others are wrong.  No matter which side of politics you are on this is likely your motivation.  No one fights for someone else’s beliefs.  But this battle of the egoic stances denies wholeness, denies freedom, and energizes the fear and despair, the least helpful psychological qualities in our lives.

                 When awakening happens there is an opportunity to step out and back, to align with a sacred witness that sees the division in our human world without identifying with it.  This does not mean an awakened person has  detachment with indifference to the problems of the world.  A deep awakening brings love for the whole and asks for our deepest, most authentic, unselfish and creative response to what is needed.  We won’t find this if we succumb to fear and anger.  We have to acknowledge our human fear  – but choose not to let it be the decision maker and ruler of our spirit.  We must find something greater, more inclusive within ourselves that brings forth our contribution to the greater good.

             We have to refuse the projections of the mind about what will happen and face change day by day, acknowledging there is as much good as there is ignorance and greed in our world, there is as much light as darkness, and that both are within us, but we can choose, because we are awake, not to let the fear drag our life down into the shadows or allow despair to limit our lives and the acknowledgement of the sacred within and around us.  Only then can we move forward and face change with integrity and compassion for others, and become effective agents of positive change in our collective consciousness.

              I’ve always loved a comment  by The Mother, who was the partner in the spiritual teaching of Aurobindo, and the founding of Auroville in India. She said that if there is a great darkness within you, you can be sure that at the core is also a great light.

             Perhaps by seeing the shadow of our country with clarity and compassion we can contribute to bringing forth the light.  If it be the will of the universe it will be done. We will all do it.

 

Presence and The Release of Stress

Have you ever taken a step away from your mind long enough to notice the relationship between stress and the thoughts you carry in your head? Can you imagine the release if you only could stop all thoughts for a few minutes?

Of course we do this every night for a few hours. We realize that if we were to stop sleeping these same thoughts that maneuver us through the day would force us into mental bankruptcy and we would lose our minds. So we try to get our sleep.

Most westerners live in an internal world fueled by an inner urgency to get things done, to do it right, to perform well for others, and to frequently self-reflect on their own inadequacies. They sometimes become exhausted and ill under the weight of their own demands and self-judgment. Between living up to the pressures of both work and home expectations they collapse at night in front of a TV or computer that throws forth more stress in the form of world news, violent visions and commercials that emphasize things they are supposed to want and need, and then fall into bed wondering why they cannot easily go to sleep. In the back of many minds are the thoughts if they could only do life better, make more money, say the right thing or feel more energized then life would be easier and stress would go away.

The mind with its great gift of assessment and division greatly interferes with the true potential of the human spirit to be at peace. How do we break the grasp it has on our freedom to simply be ourselves and enjoy life as it is? How can we step away from self-imposed stress? Here are a few possibilities.

Recognize that thoughts are simply neurons firing, and the messages are generally based on negative past conditions. Brain researchers have found that our brain holds the impact of dangerous or bad encounters much longer than positive ones. (Possibly forever!) This is a human reflex based on the need to protect ourselves from danger, but translated psychologically it becomes a tendency to worry about everything from how we handled a phone call to whether we will get to work on time. To become more free we can develop a thought-witness, a part of us who does not take so seriously every thought crossing the mind (millions in a day). Very few thoughts are true — and most of these are the practical ones such as “The car needs gas in the next 10 miles” or “The baby is crying now.” Mind tends to take simple thoughts and move into a worry about all the possible scenarios before determining a specific action, when often just responding to what is in front of you is all that is needed. The mind’s tendency is to wander and associate every bad thing you have ever heard with every circumstance. It is often irrelevant. Make your thoughts irrelevant unless there is an obvious immediate response. Leave room in your head for inspiration.

Recognize worry and catastrophic thinking for what it is — an energy drain like taking the wrong trail on a long hike and ending at a dead end.

If the tendency to worry is a cause of stress for you then schedule your worrying time. Pick a time of day to worry about a specific problem, and every time the thought arises tell it you will think about it then. When the time comes you have the choice to use it in a constructive way or let it pass until the next day.

If you are overloaded with responsibility let go of it. You can be very busy without feeling so responsible and it is much easier. This is called living in the moment. Finding enjoyment while doing the dishes. Having the kids tell you a joke as they get ready for bed. Clearing out the to-do list on the desk. Being fully present with a client or friend. Postpone worrying about the kids at work and worrying about work when with the kids. One reason we become exhausted is that we are often not where we are, but doing two things at once, one with our bodies, and the other with our minds. Soothing music may be helpful while driving; listening to world news may not be.

If there is one thing that awakening spiritually has to teach us all it is to be present now, where the spirit and consciousness actually sit. It is to be the presence that is so much bigger than thought, so much more willing to be in the moment, and so at peace when in the midst of life. This is the way to find happiness in the small moments of life, which give us energy to face the greater needs. Simple presence is the way to find clarity of mind and invite inspiration and intuition into our lives. As long as our head is crowded with worry and stress where is the space for something fresh and new to arise? We need moments of pleasure and emptiness to allow creativity and vitality to arise.

Taking moments for yourself — just sitting and feeling into your body, your connectedness to your chair, the floor, the colors and textures of your room, the sensate feeling of being you, the beauty of something natural outside your window — the sound of a bird or the shape of a flower, the smile of a baby — these are ways we refresh the spirit and slowly awaken ourselves into life. Put something you love to look at in every room of your home, and in your office space — something that soothes the spirit. Eat something that feels nurturing and calming rather than loading up on sugar and caffeine. Remove yourself from toxic people and energies in your environment.

While it may help to release stress if you restructure your life, cut out the most toxic circumstances, accept the challenges you cannot change, and change the things you can, it is most important to expand inner space. Stress is in the head and then gravitates into the body with headaches, stomach problems, back aches — all the common maladies of the day. The body tells us what it needs — freedom from worry and negative thinking, relaxation, beauty, quietness, and presence or simply being with what is. What (other than television or computer games) can you give your full attention to for 20 minutes without distracting yourself with thoughts? Music? Dance? Cooking? Gardening? walking in nature? Try it and see how it feels. It is like training a new muscle, learning to allow the presence you are to be present where you are without interference from the past and future, only here now.

For a further exploration of spiritual awakening see my book “The Awakening Guide” , available at Amazon.com and Kin