• To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.

    - Buddha
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Understanding The Messages of Your Body

It is a common joke that the body’s messages, in the form of physical aches and anxieties, are often ignored, or go unnoticed, by the average man.

Can you imagine having to learn to operate based on feedback from your body if the dialogue between the mind and the body was muted? Why was the sound turned off? Probably to enable more risk-taking, hunting behavior.

Early man’s survival depended on fearless action in the face of danger, on the courage to explore unknown territories and on the willingness to fight to the death and to protect his community.

Traditionally, masculine mindfulness relied on quickly understanding details and organizing strategy, for action to occur, in spite of physical pain or an internal alarm. It arises from overriding the body’s various alarms and turning on the intellect for planning and action.

The modern caveman, male or female, created football games and reality TV shows like Man vs. Wild. It’s all about actively taking extreme risks. Perhaps you know someone modeling their business accomplishments after real life conquerors like Genghis Khan? This is masculine consciousness at its best, and it has become the predominant intelligence-model for the developed world.

However masculine consciousness, in its development, was successful because it was supported by a complementary survival intelligence to deal with being corralled by the forces of Nature, which includes natural disasters, the changing of the seasons, creating shelter, finding food and recovering from injury and disease.

The forces of Nature gave rise to the development of this other survival intelligence; feminine consciousness, which relied on information felt in the body to prevent, protect and to heal individuals in her care for the survival of her community. Basically, instead of the volume being muted between the mind and body the sound was turned way, way up.

Women Are Environmentally Reactive

According to Mona Lisa Schulz, MD, women have neurocircuitry from deserted primitive brain pathways that function solely to connect us to changes in our immediate environment.

Just think how useful it is to know a blizzard is on its way, to know that rubbing a particular plant on your skin will repel mosquitoes or to know when to warn against the outcome of an extreme risk.

Leading neuroscientists agree that women have evolved with the stronger neurochemical connection to the cycles of our planet.  As a woman, I can experientially say that we do not become the cycles; we simply are the cycles. Perhaps you too can feel this physical attunement that is our connection to the planetary body?

As a vibrational healer, it is important for me to celebrate my ancestor’s ancient role in the survival of her community. This great-great grandmother from our past could comprehend specific instances in which her physical body’s pleasures and/or depressions were actually non-verbal dialogues with her environment. It would be like the translation of a sound, or, vibration heard from a tree, a plant or even the earth. However you’re translating this vibration through your body and allowing your body to interpret instead of analyzing and rationalizing it.

Your Body Is Your Subconscious Mind

In the words of renowned neuroscientist Candace Pert, PhD, “Your body is your subconscious mind.” Perhaps this statement also explains how the mysterious subconscious can know before an event has occurred, because our ancestral neruocircuitry is earthly Wi-Fi. We all know, first-hand, that the state of our bodies conditions our psyche. So imagine how some of what you’re feeling in your body as moods is actually guidance that is meant to alert you to either a problem within your own body or in the body of those around you, including the earth’s body.

Ideally you want to be able to receive information from either masculine or feminine processes according to any perceived stress. A long time has elapsed since man was living in caves, and to navigate modern stress you want to be skilled in both the masculine and the feminine mind allowing yourself to benefit from their balanced partnership.

Are you wondering how this balanced partnership between the masculine and the feminine mind works within you?  The best answer is to actively develop a conscious awareness of and an understanding of the messages from your body.

The first step is to recognize your body as a type of intelligence. Intelligence is not limited to thoughtful analysis, logic and critical thinking even though this is what is emphasized by our society. Intelligence is also body-kinesthetic, which is the natural sense of how your body should act and react in a demanding physical situation where there is no time for thinking. Demanding circumstances were at the forefront of our evolution. I believe that body-kinesthetic intelligence is the foundation for all human intelligence just like the roots that anchor and nourish the branches of a tree. And yet this foundational intelligence is dismissed and rarely utilized except for athletics, dance, bodywork or physical therapy.

Are you thinking of your favorite sport or pro-athlete right now? Then you’re on the right track. But this intelligence is not limited to the Olympics or the above vocations. I can only describe my experience, that for me, the core of being body smart is the ability to read my internal and external environment through feeling sensations in my body — just as through reading the words in this post you can read subtle movements inside your body. These subtle movements have correspondences to your internal organs, other people and the larger world because you are inextricably linked, neurochemically and cellularly, to your immediate environment.

Body sensations are incredibly accurate and reliable, but modern people are mostly disembodied by the time they are in the third grade. Conventional education focuses on developing one form of intelligence, analytical thinking, and ignores the nourishing intelligence that was used for millennia, your whole body.

Developing the ability to intellectually understand the messages of our bodies is the second step in how the masculine and feminine mind works in tandem. Dr. Schulz also points out that neuroanatomical mapping shows us that the atypical wiring of the brain of our female ancestors processed an adaptive unconscious; women today have very different brain functions than that of their great-great-grandmothers but the original pathways are still in place allowing us to awaken the ability to interpret, or, intuit what we feel as reliable information.

An expanded consciousness allows for information from your subconscious to filter into your mind’s intellect affirming that there are no separations in the mind-body, only two of many ways to experience your intelligence. I believe that it is every human being’s birthright to utilize the knowledge in our ancestral neural network as the pure expression of intuitive knowledge.

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart… Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens. – Carl Jung

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Zen and The Way of The Motorcycle

Life’s Turning Points Require the Balance of Yin and Yang. That is the Balance of Heart and Head.

Imagine yourself on a motorcycle racing at the breakneck speed of 200 mph and out of nowhere an abrupt left turn appears on the racetrack called LIFE.

Adrenaline is coursing throughout your body; your attention, reflexes and instincts are functioning at optimum performance levels. The task requires a Zen mind: stay in the moment, navigate the turn to avoid losing balance thus avoiding injury, failure and death.

Physiologically this is often how the crucial turning points feel in our hurried and hectic lives. In the world of motorcycling, maintaining momentum along your path at the accelerated speed, just as in our modern lives, requires a skillful adjustment– the balance of two complementary forces to avoid falling over. In Nature this is known as the balance of Yin and Yang.

As the moto-racer you carefully adjust your weight to one side leaning away from inertia’s pull while counter steering the handles to create stability. My partner once explained this counter-instinctive phenomena; he is a skilled motorcyclist and while taking a sharp left turn at a high speed he will lean his body to the left but turns the handles toward the right to maintain stability.

A snapshot of any racer going around a sharp curve at that speed appears unstable when extracted from basic quantities like speed, distance and weight. If the racer puts all his energy and focus into leaning into the turn and ignores the importance of steering away to maintain equilibrium then he would loose control and end up being thrown off course. To lessen injury the racer must let go of the bike, relax into inertia and pray that there are no trees or large rocks in the way. By then it is all in the hands of destiny.

You may want to consider modeling a moto-racer’s precision when navigating a turning point or major decision in your business affairs or personal life. Before reacting learn to embrace any obstacle or major decision with your heart, but to avoid being thrown off course, or worse, being harmed, be sure to steer with your intellect.

The word embrace actually means to press to the bosom; to hug. On the racetrack the rider must lean into the abrupt turn practically hugging the asphalt. And in life when you genuinely accept what has been thrown your way you can choose to embrace it, to press it into your chest, and hold it with the arms of compassion.

When you embrace an obstacle or an uncomfortable moment in your life then you are accepting your present circumstance. This is different than concluding, “this shouldn’t be happening to me,” “they are out to get me” or defensively blaming the situation on someone else’s lack of competence. Those statements and attitudes deny the truth that you find yourself in.

Don’t misunderstand me. Yes, you’re expressing the emotions that you are feeling in that moment, however your emotions are in denial because you’re caught up in feeling that it is not fair or you are blaming yourself or others.

By embracing the circumstance then you allow different emotions to surface that will need to be expressed. Sure, it will still feel like you’re walking across a tightrope without a net or speeding out of control but your new attitude about the situation will help you skillfully navigate to the other side while tapping into the best parts of your intellect. The secret here is in your attitude.

This Wouldn’t Have Happened If So-And-So Did Her Job Right…

If you’re not leaning into the circumstance with an open heart and embracing all the parts then you’re caught up in the past or future. Perhaps you’re thinking that this wouldn’t have happened if so-and-so did her job better or if you went to such-and-such school… These feelings create specific attitudes and those attitudes will dictate how you view the situation and the choices that you make.

It takes courage to accept the present moment. It takes a strong heart to embrace the circumstance with compassion and accept that it is supposed to be there otherwise it wouldn’t have been on your racetrack.

Embrace It All, Now You’re Ready To Be Steered To Action!

Western society has advanced by marrying the thinking mind with action; therefore reward is bestowed on those who can analyze a situation and swiftly make impersonal judgment. The problem is that most make personal judgments that lead only to personal gain without considering the harm that this may cause others.

Incredible progress has come from this, but in light of the financial catastrophe of the last two years and many other similar offenses, so has greed and corruption and with that there is no Heart.

Balance your Head with your Heart and vice versa. This is what it means to be born of this planet. Even if you’re speeding toward your destiny at 200 mph you can skillfully create a world in which you do little harm to those around you and to the ground you walk upon. You can create wealth and cultivate personal peace.

Restoring Balance To The Body And The Mind

Life Energy Instinctively Strives For Balance

In Shiatsu terminology, pressure points that feel painful to the touch are considered too full of Ki-energy, bodily fluids and toxins; the excess is causing a blockage in the muscle, in the meridian channel and in the pressure point.

Shizuto Masunaga, founder of Zen Shiatsu, referred to fullness of energy as a Jitsu, whereas a deficiency resulting in relative ‘lifelessness’ is known as a Kyo.

KYO & JITSU ARE LINKED IN A CONTINUAL CYCLE OF CAUSE & EFFECT

Kyo and Jitsu are linked in a continual cycle of cause and effect, in which the Kyo (emptiness) causes the Jitsu (activeness) in order to bring the body, the mind and the spirit back to natural balance.

A competent Shiatsu healer must determine whether a meridian or pressure point is Kyo (low energy) or Jitsu (high energy) by the response to the healer’s touch.

In a Shiatsu session, healing begins by balancing the Kyo and Jitsu in the whole being. Complete balancing also includes freeing up the blocked or stuck areas in the movement of our feelings.

Here is a basic illustration that I use with students and clients: Every time you feel hungry you are in need, or, lack what you need.

Hunger = Lacking What You Need = Kyo

Your experience is then one of Kyo and your response to this need is to take action, Jitsu, by satisfying your craving.

Eating = Action to Fill Need = Jitsu

You bite into a delicious apple and after the last bite you not only cease your activity but you no longer have an empty stomach.

This aspect of you is now in relative balance until you once again feel hunger, or the need to satisfy a craving. Kyo and Jitsu are always in this energetic relationship in which the Kyo causes the Jitsu.

In this theory, pain and suffering is caused by not nurturing our Kyo. Let’s continue with the basic illustration of satisfying your craving for food.

What if you are on a strict diet that doesn’t allow any fruit? You know that you are craving a sweet apple. However to satisfy your fad diet you reach for a hard boiled egg.

You might experience a moment of satiation but since your body clearly communicated that it had a need for something sweet soon you will experience your hunger again. And this time it will be more intense and you may begin to feel light headed.

If you take inappropriate action again (ignoring your ‘real’ need) then you are creating an imbalance that may lead to dis-harmony and eventually dis-ease.

Taking the appropriate action, with our food choices and with life’s bigger challenges, is easy if we understand the healing theory of Kyo and Jitsu.

Life energy strives for harmony within itself. Believe it or not, it actually takes effort or really unfortunate circumstances to overcome the harmony of the body and the mind. It is when we get sick that balance has been lost. All illnesses are an attempt to restore harmony to the Ki-energy balance in the body.

bigstockphoto_Yin_And_Yang_1818215There are times when the body and the mind doesn’t have the resources to get well without some assistance. A healer versed in Kyo and Jitsu can approach the body and meet the needs of the weakness, Kyo,  and if necessary, disperse or calm down the Jitsu.

In shiatsu, the practitioner will determine the most Kyo meridian channel and the most Jitsu meridian channel and focus on harmonizing the Ki-Energy by stimulating certain meridians and specific pressure points to encourage balance.

By moving some of the Ki-energy from the Jitsu meridian into the Kyo meridian or using your own internal Ki-energy, you can revitalize the Ki within the Kyo meridian, therefore fulfilling its need for more Ki.

Tap Into The Body’s Energy By Stimulating Acupoints

Stimulating Acupuncture Points for Health & Vitality is Based on Traditional Chinese Medicine

However, the stimulation techniques that I have learned and developed in private practice and that I teach reflect the cultural background of the Japanese Martial Arts by emphasizing the importance of being connected with and moving energy from your vital center, known in Japanese as hara.

Young and confidentStimulating acupuncture points should never come from muscular strength, but should come from the body weight in relation to gravity. Basically the practitioner should lean into rather than push into an acupoint.

The practitioner should also lengthen through his or her spine as one does while sitting in meditation. This allows the practitioner to raise energy along the spine while remaining grounded.

In order to do this correctly, you need to use your center of gravity, your hara. This is considered the whole belly area. By using your Hara you are using your whole body.

Think about this for one second: By using your belly area you are accessing your whole body. This means that you are using the total power of your body.

Focusing Your Energy in the Hara Harmonizes the Body, Mind, Emotions and Spirit.

The best example of using the hara is seen in the world of martial arts. It is known that when throwing a punch or giving a kick, if you focus your mind and breath in the hara and pivot from your lower abdominal area, you will have the force of your body weight behind that punch or kick. This is the secret to harnessing unseen power.

Developing the skills to meditate and channel energy from your hara is essential for not only martial artists but also many eastern healing modalities, this is especially true in Shiatsu. Incredible transformations occur when using the art of hara while stimulating an acupoint on yourself in daily life as well as on a client in a healing session.

A beneficial byproduct of balancing your internal energies by using hara is a shift from acting on autopilot toward more desirable ways of treating your body and the world around you.

Using your hara requires you to originate all of your movements from your belly area. To be more specific–to move from a point just below the navel which is your body’s central pivot point. This point is called tanden (or dantian in Chinese).

Stimulating an acupoint with finger pressure is not enough to modify the flow of Ki, blood, and other fluids helping you harmonize the functional activities of your body. Stimulating an acupoint also requires the power of the Universe harnessed through your breath and by moving internal Ki through the hara.

So, whenever you stimulate a point on the body, you must check in with yourself to make sure that the movement is rooted in your lower hara.

How do you make sure that you’re rooted in your hara? One way to do this is to mentally trace the movement backwards; starting with your fingers and mindfully moving your awareness through your arms and into your shoulders until you reach your hara. It is in this way that you will feel when you are using force or pressure as opposed to your lower hara.

For example if you’re leaning on specific acupoints along someone’s leg and you realize that the movement is coming mostly from your shoulders then you are not going to have the most effective results.

Worse is that it may even create tension in the other person that you are working on because of the tension building in your own body. It is through using your hara that you can ensure effective results.

It’s important to understand that the meaning of hara extends beyond the mechanical. To be rooted in your hara also illustrates a person’s ability to achieve and to have continued success. In Japanese culture, diligent and thoughtful effort toward your goal reflects someone with a strongly developed hara.

To have hara means to have the ability to get things done; to not shy away from the difficult and to overcome setbacks. When you are ‘coming from your hara’ whether in everyday life, in meditation or stimulating an acupoint, the meaning is that you are well grounded, strongly focused and fully engaged in the potential of the Mind and the Body.

Shiatsu is a healing practice that requires the development of hara.

How to Develop Power and Focus in Your Hara

Cultivating Energy in the Hara

Shiatsu and Reiki healers use this meditation technique. I first learned it while on retreat at the Dai Bosatsu Zen Monastery. 

 

Sitting Posture: Legs Crossed in the Half-Lotus Position

Sitting Posture: Legs Crossed in the Half-Lotus Position

There are two basic sitting postures for harnessing powerful energy through your vital center. The two sitting postures are either performed crossed leg on the floor or sitting on the edge of a low stool or chair with your feet planted on the ground. 

Sitting in the crossed leg position is known as the ‘Lotus Posture’ and you can sit in either of two variations—half lotus or full lotus. In the sitting posture you will want to place a small cushion or folded towel under your bottom to lift your pelvis. This will slightly tuck the pelvis forward and prevent any strain in your lower back.

Once in the crossed leg position bring your attention to your head, neck and shoulders. Imaging a taut string attached to the center of the top of your head. Lengthen upward as if a puppeteer is pulling on the string. Neck straight, chin drawn slightly down and inward.  Relax your shoulders while inhaling deeply into your hara filling your entire body with fresh, revitalizing Ki.

Your shoulders should remain relaxed. Gently close your eyes halfway and gaze downward about ten feet in front of you. Take a moment to re-check the alignment of your spine. Is your nose aligned with your navel? Are your ears aligned over your shoulders?

 

The hands are particularly sensitive to Ki. How they are held during any practice has an influence on how Ki moves in, out and through the human system.

The hands are particularly sensitive to Ki. How they are held during any practice has an influence on how Ki moves in, out and through the human system.

Next follow this instruction from Shunryu Suzuki, in his classic Zen Mind, Beginner Mind“If you put your left hand on top of your right, middle joints of your middle fingers together, and touch your thumbs lightly together (as if you held a piece of paper between them), your hands will make a beautiful oval (photo above). You should keep this universal mudra with great care, as if you were holding something very precious in your hand. Your hands should be held against your body, with your thumbs at about the height of your navel. Hold your arms freely and easily, and slightly away from your body, as if you held an egg under each arm without breaking it.”

The hands are particularly sensitive to Ki. Hand positions, known asmudra in Sanskrit, are regarded as very important aspects of meditation practice. The position of the hands has an influence on the movement of the Ki energy.

Remain relaxed and release any muscle tension. Breathe naturally. Your breath will find its own pace and you may notice that it naturally slows and deepens. Inhale and exhale through your nose and allow the in-breath to sink deep into your abdomen.  Visualize your breath falling into a point just below your navel. This point is the tanden (or dantian in Chinese).

For thousands of years people in the East have developed methods to gather energy from the tanden, this is the source of primal wisdom and vital energy that resides within each of us.

Where Your Mind Goes Your Energy Follows

Allow your mind to settle on the rhythm of your breathing. Bring your attention fully to your hara. Each inhalation renews this source of energy while each exhalation draws from it. After ten minutes you may bring all of your attention to focus on the tanden. It may be helpful to imagine a point of gold light in the dark of your abdomen.

If your thoughts drift gently direct them back to the rhythm of your breath and onto the golden light at your center. Own that part of your body.

Allow the energy of the hara to move up your spine and throughout your body. This energized feeling is peace from being in balance.

It is while cultivating energy from the hara that the emptiness of non-doing brings you peace and brings you back to your source to your true nature.

Cultivating energy from this center point requires consistent practice. Stay humble and move through every moment of each day through your hara.

In the words of scholar, Christopher Markert, “When you engage the energy of your Dan-Tien (tanden), your daily tasks become artful activities in which you joyfully engage yourself.”

Being focused in your vital center is bliss, while any suffering is simply a communication from your Body and your Mind that you have lost touch with your true nature. In fact, one could even say that you are out of touch with Nature in general and the cosmic life force.

Eros Heals

bigstockphoto_Chakra_Fire_441198It is easy to understand how physical and energetic blockages can occur anywhere in the body as a result of injury, infection, disease, abuse and unexpressed or overly expressed emotions.

Removing the blockage is the obvious first step in restoring balance to the human system. An open system with freely moving energy offers everyone the best chance for healing.

An important and often overlooked second-step comes from the world of spiritual healing:

 It is to revere the landscape of the physical body with eros.

This is not eros as sex but eros in its true origin, which is relatedness.

According to author Thomas Moore, the original Greek use of eros referred to the coherence that holds the entire universe together. It is in the thoughtful expression of eros that a highly spiritual form of Love has the potential to heal.

The key to encourage healing is to establish a connection that relates, not sympathetically, but through eros. For many this connection begins the unraveling of the original cause, or source of the block, and activates a greater facilitation of the bodies’ intuitions and impulses.

Plato once wrote that the aspect of eros, “is a coming to life in beauty in relation to both body and soul.” If a person truly loves him or herself then they will not feel ‘weakness’ during illness. This is to say that you do not lose your connection with source.

A revered body will intuitively listen to itself, understand its authentic needs and act accordingly.

If you revere your entire body, and not judge its passions and appetites, then you will be equipped in navigating your own healing.

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Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love. – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Suggested Reading: Thomas Moore’s The Soul of Sex: Cultivating Life as an Act of Love

 

Awakening The “Clay” Body

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.

Walt Whitman

Recently, I stumbled upon an argument on whether it is true that God made man out of clay. Are you serious? I thought to myself… And it dawned on me that perhaps not everyone can see the wisdom hidden inside the intentional imagery.

The allegory of a Creator making man from clay is found even in some myths from indigenous cultures. This post is on how the metaphor of being made from clay is relevant for our healing…

We all have an organic, carnal connection to Nature, to the earth.

 

Bliss is being in touch with our true nature, with Nature in general, and with the cosmic life force.

Bliss is being in touch with our true nature, with Nature in general, and with the cosmic life force.

This earthly essence is your physical body. Your body integrates feminine and masculine (yin and yang) attitudes in the pure movement of temporal phenomena.

Being aware of your ‘clay-ness’ awakens you to the importance of being grounded in everyday life.

In Eastern philosophy, suffering is considered a sign that we have lost our connection with Nature, with the earth and with the ground. 

Spiritual teachers impart a shared secret to all: to Love the worldly Creation. 

Your physical body is of tremendous importance for emotional and spiritual transformation because your body is tuned by the rhythms and cycles of Nature.

This is what it means to have been created from clay… we are dependent on the Earth for our vitality.

Although we may have high ideals or even, for some, transcendent aspirations we have to keep both feet on the ground and enjoy the blessings of Nature. 

In the realm of vibrational healing, the experience of Nature can be made more lucid by awakening the body.

Body Awake-ness is the original name of my healing practice. In vibrational healing I emphasize the energetic as organic structures in one’s physical body.

Everything with a material appearance is energy, not a transformation from energy into mass but energy creating mass and vice versa. These structures are palpable and easy to manipulate yet effect you at a subatomic, or, vibrational level.

This is one approach to clear restrictions or blocks held in the body. My belief is that the body-interactive process of the healing work that I’ve learned and continue to develop empowers and pumps up the volume of the Mind and Body dialogue so that the intellectual mind can embrace the body’s mysterious and intuitive expressions from Nature.

This is the tool that I teach to my clients, through firm and caring pressure, supported movement and meditation so that they may perceive a fuller present by employing their subconscious in making choices for their own healing and progress.

Physical and energetic blockages can occur anywhere in the body as a result of injury, infection, disease, abuse and unexpressed or overly expressed emotions.

Removing the blockage is only the first step in restoring balance to the system because, balance needs momentum, just like in Nature. An open system with freely moving energy offers us the best chance for healing.