I thoroughly am grateful for the amazing experience today at heart camp. To Kerry Gubson, on the board for the Shake a Leg foundation, as she melted into her chair and released herself to my words. To Sherry Bauer, my hero from TED talks whose sweet aura of authenticity helped brighten the room with her glow. To Raul, Macarena, Tatiana, and Jenny for filming the experience and holding down the light! To all those present who warmed my heart. Thank you namaste in every sense of that word.
A bit about me
I was a curious impetuous child. From a Jewish, atheist mother, and a Roman Catholic Father, I was left to my own devices to understand there was no God, if not a jealous one.
It was many years later after having my children that I experienced Christian faith. And I learned of the Word. It was abstract to me, like many religious concepts are and as the seeker I have always been, I desired to know what that Word meant. But I was told that I had to wait for the End Times… my Christian brethren would tell me, that only then all the secrets and mysteries would be revealed.
I was a Reiki Master at that time; in fact I had become one in 1991, at the young age of 30. I had co-founded the first Reiki Center in Argentina and thousands took our seminars . To me the Word had been a silent, all encompassing Universal Life Force Energy, which I experienced as God. With Reiki, I experienced first hand (hands down) how prana, life force, chi, ki, could heal the: physical, spiritual, mental/emotional and astral bodies that make up human experience.
I was healing and teaching, but I was still very young and had not yet lived out the necessary experiences of life to fully understand the passages of the heart towards its full expression. The suffering I helped people to overcome was through my channeling of Reiki, but I had not the wisdom of the heart that I have come to understand.
They say there are four passages of the heart toward this inner wisdom of spirit.
1. the first is darkness, which brings pain;
2. the second is seeking out of the dark, which brings compassion,
3. followed by clarity, which brings connection ,
4. culminating in openness, which brings us to the state of ananda, bliss, or as the Paul mentions in Corinthians (as that which is above all) love.
I was certain - in all those darkest moments- that the hand of God was passing over me, blessing me with greater wisdom so that I would experience the light all the more. I sought to reach out to others in hopes that my despair would be transmuted, That is how I came to help establish Habitat for Humanity in Argentina, which did bring about my own healing through the compassionate heart. But I had not yet been given my deepest lessons to take me to full clarity or connection.
It was not until a full blown out heartbreak some years later that brought me to seek out a quieting of my mind. As a writer, I was always engrossed in the story. I have journalled since I was 11 years old, I wrote poetry, (and now I am blogging!!) See, the story was the thing.
But it was not until a profound moment of sadness and despair that I finally realized what I was needing to do was to quiet my mind. I needed to stop telling myself, and others my story. I needed to stop focusing and reiterating the details of my perception of my life, the duality of pain, pleasure, bad, good, right, wrong, then and now... My story, I found, actually polarized my life, clouded my comprehension and kept me in that perpetual struggle and outward search for happiness.
I was brought to the understanding, like someone is brought to their knees, that I needed to sit down and shut up.
Coming Home, with the breath
Sitting in meditation, even with my Reiki hands to calm me down still did not quiet my mind. So I began to focus on the most obvious, my very own breath: the sound of it, the quality, the length of its inspiration and exhalation… Soon it became my inspiration and I began to deliberately cultivate it through yoga, swimming, and even more meditation.
It was through my breath that I began to experience the wholeness of this world, I was able to sit back and be the observer of this creation, of which I finally understood I was a inherent part of. It was through the silence and clarity that my breath taught me, that I was able to feel the spirit within me. It is said that the movement of spirit in the body is reflected in the movement of breath. And this became my experience, beyond the theologies I had sought to find answers, it was finally an experience, that of simply breathing, that connected me to love.
The Sufi poet, Hazrat Inayat Kahn said: "The healing power of Christ, the miraculous power of Moses, the charm of Krishna, and the inspiration of the Buddha--all these were attained by breath."
These avatars, spiritual leaders, legends of our religious iconography if studied have the same message. And yet have been misconstrued and the religions that formed around them have served to bring about division. And despite the universal oneness in their lessons, as The Course in Miracles teaches: "A universal theology is impossible, yet a universal experience is not only possible, it is necessary."
Yes, it is necessary, in times where despair, destruction, dis-ease pervades, a universal experience is necessary to bring about a much needed peace on this planet. But HOW can we make a difference, really make a difference? Well, how else to bring about harmony and peace then beginning with our selves. As the great Mahatma Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world. “
Well, To be the change, we must change the being. And we need a guide to lead us through the valley of the shadow of death. We need to find the spiritual teacher, that guide that resides within each of us, that empowers our heart. This inner voice of wisdom is stripped from our grasp as children through so many stories, interpretations, authorities… we are essentially removed from our divinity.
And yet we are told we are children of God, but we are more than that, we are the trinity, the Holy Grail, the Jacob’s ladder connecting heaven and earth through our bodies, our chakras… Our body as sacred vessel is filled with spirit. We must allow that spirit to move us along our path.
And this movement of spirit in the body is reflected in the movement of breath.
Experience breath consciously being present
So I would like to take a moment to share that experience here today. As we come together to speak of matters of the heart, I would like to take a moment to speak heart to heart.
Let’s close our eyes now, to begin what in yoga we call pranayama, or guiding the breath, the life force, within us to reveal this, our spirit. And afterwards share it with each other.
Place your hands facing up or down on your lap this gesture reveals to you your need to give or receive.
Start by taking a deep inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth softening the lips as if you had a mirror before you and were fogging that mirror.
Inhale to about 4 to 6 counts and hold the breath 4 counts and exhale like fogging that mirror. In this last inhale pull in on your uro-genital muscle kegel for women, pc muscle for men. Engage it, draw it in softly and as you exhale through the mouth release the energy seal, that muscle… the mulabhanda.
Engage your body in this experience. Become present by drawing up that energy of the root at the base of your spine, your main energy artery, and draw in your bellybutton, your navel, that source that nourished you bring it in towards the spine and corset your ribs together engaging the uryanabhanda… Build that strong pedestal of strength upon which to rest the precious anahata chakra that spins the light around your heart.
Shoulders up to your ears round them cascade down your back let them cascade down and relax them there opening your heart space. Feel the chest open. Focus here on the pulsation of the heart.
Now draw the chin towards your throat to engage the chalandranabhanda, bringing yourself into humility, or being humble toward yourself and away from defiance. Allowing yourself to be who you are right now right here, into your self.
Now begin to bathe your body with breath by closing the glottis at the back of the throat. So your breath sounds like an ocean wave rolling into your shore and washing back out to the great vast ocean of breath. This breath, the udjay breath, victorious breath to bring you into realization of your intention, in your daily practice.
Mudra your mouth into a slight curving upwards of the corners. A gesture of a smile and feel the energy shift to a lighter space. Feel the shift in your heart and your gaze.
Let the gaze soften and focus on a middle point between your eyebrows out into a vanishing point. Like sitting on the shore in the full moon light and looking out into the ocean horizon, the vanishing point out there in the deep inner space of your own awareness.
Return the attention to the breath. Known that you are expanding and contracting like the very movement of the universe.
You are sharing your atoms, your essence with the great vastness around you as you inhale all the molecules of the people in this room, this city, this planet, the particles and waves of the millennia are entering your being, and as you exhale you have transformed them adding your own personal atoms in the release of your breath.
Think consciously as you inhale: I inhale, I know I am breathing in. As you exhale: I exhale I know I am breathing out. Focus on this consciousness. Remember consciousness changes all experience. For the next few inhales and exhales, inspire that breath with the conscious inhale, release that breath with a conscious exhale.
Observe your thoughts. When your body relaxes you become more present. You can observe the thoughts that comprise your worries of what might be in the future, or your obsessing over what was or was not in the past. You can simply enjoy the presence the present, the gift of being alive, right here among us, right now in this beautiful day.
In that gentle landscape of breath where your body and mind are focused, let’s take a moment of gratitude. For all those things in our life we have and all those that we don’t have.
And filling your inhale with gratitude, “I surround myself with love, and releasing your exhale I surround others with love. “
Venture out there and live your unique life, one that is inspired, where you turn to your inner truth that is reflected in every breath you take, every word you speak and every move you make. Know that God is watching you, sharing you, moving through you.
So stay connected through the biological experience of this divine energy that is our breath. Allow it to be your inspiration, to be your voice, to be language that you express. A language that is infused with surrender, forgiveness, gratitude, trust, love… Indeed the language of our heart.