I hope the practice of observing 'unnecessary tension in the body' was useful to you. This practice comes from the Gurdjieff tradition and is a tool for 'self-observation' and 'self-remembering.' We can observe the ways we move out of the present moment and we can come back to ourselves in this slice of the now, into our body, into our feelings, and into our minds. . . remembering that our life is about more than our own happiness and comfort. We are here to love one another. As many of you already know, Gurdjieff is the one who popularized the symbol of the enneagram, which is now a widely known and useful tool for gaining insight into the way we operate in the world. He was teaching presence and mindfulness and the ideas that our lives could become our monastery, the grounds for working on ourselves, and the conditions for our transformation process. I mentioned last week that I desire to be a part of creating the conditions for individual and collective nervous system regulation and I believe there are some things we can do in that aim. I said I would share a few practices for you to work with over the next several weeks. All of these practices are about plugging up 'energy leaks' and bringing more presence into the moment. When we are present in the here and now, we can more clearly see what is actually needed in any given situation. We can see how to show up and live out the path of love. In regard to the idea of practicing presence, my husband posed the questions, "If I'm not here, where am I? What space am I occupying?" These are helpful questions that can be a foundation for you as we continue to work with these practices. Observing Unnecessary Emotion: This week observe within yourself and the collective any ‘unnecessary emotion.' Unnecessary emotion is essentiality any emotion that is not oriented to the present moment, situation or circumstance. We may identify this as a trigger or over-reaction to what is happening. There is a lot of fear, anger, and hopelessness (just to name a few emotions) in the atmosphere right now. Some of it is warranted but much of it is a result of feeding it unnecessarily. It doesn't do any of us any good to sit in fear of something that is not happening right now. It isn't helpful to bring an overly reactive emotional energy to a conversation which may risk causing further division or shutting it down. In order to observe in this way, stop frequently and ask yourself with ruthless self honesty, is the emotion I am having appropriate to the situation? Is it really related to the present moment? Could it be extreme, dramatic, or reactive? What do you notice about the state of your mind when you are engaged in unnecessary emotion? What stories emerge? And what sensations, gestures, or actions are you aware of? Can you locate the emotion (energy in motion) in sensation in your body and remain curious or neutral enough to allow the energy of it without trying to change it or make it go away? If you find that you cannot be neutral or curious, or if the sensation is unpleasant, then do not try to track the sensations inside. As you continue to work with observing unnecessary emotion, it is always good to return to the practice of orienting as taught by Steve Hoskinson through his model called 'Organic Intelligence.' This is the simple yet profoundly supportive practice of allowing your eyes to go where they want. You just see what you see without thinking about what you see. Notice shapes, colors, sizes, textures, etc. and you will almost always experience a little settling in your body and a deep spontaneous breath. It is important to remember this is not about judging, minimizing, invalidating, or criticizing yourself or anyone else. It is rather a way of slowing down to re-enter the present moment and to re-member yourself and that the energy you allow to emanate from you makes a different to the collective in any given situation. It is good and necessary to work with our emotions so this practice is not about spiritually bypassing. However, much of our emotional life does not require the amount of processing that we think it does. Emotion is often tied up in agendas of the ego alone. *Note: the ego is not bad or wrong, it is just too small when it is the only place we are operating from. Emotion is energy and we can build the capacity to allow that energy to move through us and once it does, we can have greater clarity about how to proceed.
We can engage this on behalf of the whole.
The losses and changes continue. Let’s keep honoring the pain, leaning into the grief, making space for joy, finding time for play, building our resiliency, and taking time to just be.
Here are some readings from this week's 'pauses.' "I am praying for silence. I am praying for a great silence to descend on every city that is in flames, on every community that is suffering, on every street still littered with broken glass. Like snow falling from heaven I pray for a silence to still the voices of those who would incite violence, to muffle their messages of manipulation, to turn their shouts to whispers, until the only thing left is no sound at all other than the sound of our heart beating: the common sound we call life. I am praying that in this holy silence, free from the voice of hate, we might finally see one another clearly, see who we are, see what we have done and are still doing, see into the eyes of those we have been told are different. No more speeches today. No more fear or anger. Only silence. The silence of any human spirit when it first sees the truth." — The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston "Kindness" Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth. What you held in your hand, what you counted and carefully saved, all this must go so you know how desolate the landscape can be between the regions of kindness. How you ride and ride thinking the bus will never stop, the passengers eating maize and chicken will stare out the window forever. Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness, you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho lies dead by the side of the road. You must see how this could be you, how he too was someone who journeyed through the night with plans and the simple breath that kept him alive. Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. You must wake up with sorrow. You must speak to it till your voice catches the thread of all sorrows and you see the size of the cloth. Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore, only kindness that ties your shoes and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread, only kindness that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say It is I you have been looking for, and then goes with you everywhere like a shadow or a friend — Naomi Shihab Nye "In Impossible Darkness" Do you know how the caterpillar turns? Do you remember what happens inside a cocoon? You liquefy. There in the thick black of your self-spun womb, void as the moon before waxing, you melt (as Christ did for three days in the tomb) conceiving in impossible darkness the sheer inevitability of wings. — Kim Rosen "The Opening of Eyes" That day I saw beneath dark clouds the passing light over the water and I heard the voice of the world speak out. I knew then as I had before that life is no passing memory of what has been, nor the remaining pages in a book waiting to be read. It is the opening of eyes long closed. It is the vision of far off things seen for the silence they hold It is the heart after years of secret conversing speaking out loud in the clear air. It is Moses in the desert, fallen to his knees before the lit bush. It is the man, throwing away his shoes as if to enter heaven and finding himself astonished, opened at last, fallen in love with solid ground. — David Whyte “Study the Stone” Be yourself. And if what this means is unclear to you, look around at the things of this earth. Study the stone which always does what it was made to do: it doesn't always fall in the same way, sometimes resting in high places and at other times finding its rest where the earth allows it to lie, but its purpose is to move downward, and in this the stone loves God in the way it can, singing the new song which God gives each creature and thing- and also you who read this and at times wonder what to do and how to be. — Meister Eckhart
With Love, Heather