• 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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The Wisdom of Conflict

Do you avoid conflict? Does your throat tighten-up when facing confrontations or do you tolerate other people’s emotional outbursts in the name of ‘peace’?

If this sounds like you then read on, perhaps there is a way to turn conflict into your best opportunity…

It is only through the understanding of conflict that you can realize your best opportunity in life.

Let me explain. When facing a conflict your fight or flight response is signaled and most of us then start exposing our fears and vulnerabilities because you end up acting out your deeper issues.

Turning conflict into your best opportunity means to learn how to override your fight or flight response and to shine by expressing your virtues in that given moment.

It’s an opportunity to express the best part of yourself and if you will allow me to say… even express the highest part of yourself.

Conflict is both a verb and noun; an action and state. It describes a collision or disagreement, a fight, battle, or struggle, even a prolonged struggle within yourself. Certainly conflict is not something that most look forward to.

Seizing your best opportunity and learning how to override your fight or flight response requires the knowledge of the secret side of conflict. There is an unknown purpose to conflict that has only been shared in the major esoteric circles and I am sharing it with you today.

What I am about to share will sound controversial to most, which is why it has to be said:

Spiritual growth doesn’t come by seeking to avoid conflict. Spiritual growth is the act of consciously overcoming our basic will to survive.

Yes. You read this correctly—I wrote overcoming our basic will to survive.

Before you laugh at this notion of acting against our survival instincts, please let me clarify .

It is in the face of conflict that most make a choice for survival that is usually based on his or her first state of consciousness. However, if a choice is made that supersedes your first state of consciousness then you move forward in your psychological development and perhaps your spiritual growth, which can only be expressed or explained as an opening of your heart, or, as Love. Real Love.

Perhaps you’re wondering What is the first state of consciousness?

A decision or action from the first state of consciousness comes from personalities that we all developed to survive when we were completely dependent as children. I like to call these survival companions my survival-psyche.

The instinctive impulse is your survival impulse. Whether aggressive (like screaming or having a tantrum in public) or passive (like agreeing to something that you don’t want to do), these first impulses are ways that people have learned to deal with conflict to provide for and protect themselves. Childhood is when all of us learn how to tell a lie in order to avoid punishment or to act a certain way and to like certain things in order to be loved, to feel loved and protected by family, friends and the world at large.

This is why Good People Sometimes Do Bad or Downright Stupid Things because they are making choices from their survival-psyche that developed from when they were children.

Let’s say that you are in a conflict at this very moment. This shouldn’t be a stretch for most of us: You have experienced the conflictual nature of your thoughts and desires and their outcomes as you go about from day-to-day.

You have certainly experienced conflicts specifically with friends and family and randomly with strangers as you live your life.

Perhaps you had a morning squabble with your spouse. Or you’re afraid to tell your boss that their behavior is offensive. Or you want to end a friendship because your values do not align. Certainly the recession and the massive lay offs have been a huge catalyst for stress and creating more struggle and conflict.

There is no argument that conflict is inherent to the planet, it has always been observed in the natural world and is a long thread in the quilt of our history. Your choices and actions in the face of conflict are indications of:

1.  your issues

2.  your fears

3.  your vulnerabilities and

4.  also your virtues in that given moment.

For most people choices are really fearful reactions, rather than expressions from your heart. A fearful reaction will indicate your issues and fears. This can be anything from believing that you aren’t good enough, not having trust and faith in yourself to the fear of being suffocated by the needs of others.

Vulnerabilities are usually hidden behind an armor of thickened skin and it is in conflict and under stress that we get a glimpse of how sensitive someone may be about the shape of their bodies, their background or even the color of their skin.

However it is in a conflict that we can be empowered by our virtues and experience growth.

The instinct to survive is powerful. Conflict is a necessary program in all of creation that supports the continuance of the differing species. Male lions wrestle it out over territory and the right to mate with the pride. Even weeds have the instinct to survive by choking the roots of the plants around in order to have all the soil and sunshine to themselves.

Survival instincts have supported the progress of humanity without it I’m afraid we wouldn’t be here today. Without the will to live most of us wouldn’t make it past the first week of life.

However if left unchecked most people’s survival instinct will lead them down a dark path—the path of fear. 

For instance, let’s say while in a public restroom you find a travel bag with exactly $5,000 in cash and you have just been laid off from your job. It’s a miracle! A gift from the Universe—wow, the law of attraction must really be working. The impulse to take the cash and leave the bag supports your survival. Biologically you are making the best choice, right?!

But you hesitate because something doesn’t feel right. Internal conflict indicates that something is amiss; perhaps another choice would support a higher interest. If you attempt to return the bag and its contents then you are overcoming your first state of consciousness and putting your survival at risk because it can take months to find new employment and your cash flow is going to dwindle. Returning the bag to the owner is honest and liberates you from your survival-psyche but endangers your welfare – a dilemma since you know to respect your first state of consciousness as your biological protector.

However, by relating to the anonymous owner you acknowledge that if it were your money you would want it to be returned. So you choose to return the bag regardless of the assessment that the owner of the bag is well off and won’t miss the money.  You make a choice that appears to oppose your survival-psyche but it empowers your integrity and will open your heart to opportunities that you wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise.

Perhaps your divine nature to be conflictual should be understood as having two separate purposes:

First, as a valuable biological tool that keeps you alive in service of your genes and second, as a psycho-spiritual springboard to know yourself and evolve beyond your survival-psyche or dark survival companions.

Being in some sort of conflict is a normal life process. It is only through understanding that conflict has a dual purpose that you will have the experience of what the great mystics call integration. Becoming highly conscious during conflict is the healing elixir to your fears and traumas.

It is the dark survival companions from your pasts that ultimately expose the intimate weaknesses that allow you to negotiate your personal peace and world peace.

Fully realizing a dark survival companion that shapes your emotions in conflict reveals your inherent weaknesses. Peace is Love and respect for your inherent weaknesses.

In the world of Nature everything is made up of opposites. We have night to balance the day. We seek heat when it gets too cold. Summer is for play while winter gives us rest. Nature loves to create in the name of opposition—opposition is conflict–but in the natural world opposition is often understood as being complementary. Whether you see the opposition or the complementary forces there is always two sides to a coin.

Lets look at conflict as having two sides…

Conflict could be understood as a biological program in Nature that exists to not only ensure humanity’s survival but also to steer humanity’s development and spiritual growth.

Spiritual growth is the act of being enlarged with wisdom, to put it another way, to be at peace according to the true process of the divine within you.

Take a moment to consider how your darker survival companions are inhibiting habits that supported you in the first phase of your development but now oppose your personal and spiritual growth.

How do my survival instincts oppose my growth? By either being concerned with only:

1.  your own well-being

2.  by feeling sorry for yourself for what seems unfair

3.  by selling your integrity and your vision for comfort and security, or

4.  by suspecting that you aren’t good enough to accomplish anything on your own.

Many more than these four formidable oppositions exist to prevent the empowerment of your whole self.

It is very isolating to be concerned with only your own well-being and incredibly exhausting to those around you. This is living your life through the eyes of a two year old but we see it in tv dramas, with our friends and neighbors and even in politics today. Whereas feeling sorry for yourself for what seems unfair is completely draining, it depresses your whole body, it depresses your immune system, it depresses your loved ones and you are barely engaging in life because you act as if you’re a victim.

Then there are those that will sell their integrity and dreams for comfort and security. Often you don’t even know that you’re doing it until it is too late and by then you’ve compromised yourself to such a degree that your heart has to completely shut down. This sometimes happens when we don’t feel that we are good enough to accomplish anything on our own.

So I will ask you: Is there a better way to encourage your spiritual progress than to make transcendent choices in the face of conflict? To make a choice that overcomes your first state of consciousness? To make choices that overcome fear?

The basis of the conclusion that conflict has a dual purpose, first, for survival and second, to usurp the agenda of your survival-psyche sounds contradictory. In the most linear way it is true that conflict’s dual purpose appears to be in opposition with one another.

Let’s re-cap with this one thought: Integration does not come when you seek it by avoiding conflict.

In the words of the late Indian mystic Krishnamurti:

It is only through the understanding of conflict that there is integration. A complete unification of your whole being in all that you do, in all that you say, in all that you think.

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(Please do not use any part of this post without written permission.)

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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.