Thunder Within

Thunder Within

I embark on a journey off the map, off the yoga mat, out of time, and out of orbit.  Against Father’s wishes (naturally!). I find myself sitting in a dense forest of consciousness.  Human consciousness.  Light consciousness.  Flower consciousness.  Tree consciousness.  Stone consciousness.  Insect consciousness. God consciousness.  

Before all grows dark here, there is opportunity to read Spirituality and the Writer by Thomas Larson. 

No need to move the body.  Let the eyes move across the page.  Let the mind process the meaning of words, but that is not all the consciousness experiences now.  There is also the awareness of primal stillness, a silence so heavy with presence that we could wear it as a warm garment in the cold Himalayas.  Let the presence of primal stillness be the robe you wear! And look at the spaces between these words!  Sense the borderless, the unfathomable, limitless uncertainty, the heartbeat of Ardhanareeshwara and Saint Augustine.  Sense the synaptic activity within the brain of both Kabir and Leo Tolstoy.  Indulge the solitary visions of Dattatreya and Julian of Norwich. Is it possible to open up and allow the tears of Rumi and Margery Kempe to burn these reading eyes?  Is it possible to listen so deeply and with such longing that by reading these words, these ears hear a fierce roar that is a collective cry from the depths of all these beings’ collective consciousness…? Is it possible to open this heart even more to allow every word such pulmonary impact as to oxygenate the blood flowing through these veins now? 

Thomas Larson’s personal inquiry into the history of spiritual writing ignites fire within me.  Poised aflame in this way, I embark upon a literary pilgrimage, a word yatra… There are no temple walls, no paths, no teachers, no teachings.  There is only willingness to be sucked into this black hole that is the unambivalent, exuberant absorption into the subject of Larson’s inquiry: contemplate the extent and the ways of “the writer’s ability to bring his spirituality into syntactic being.”

If only I could shout out and make echo my cry through the tunnels of time:  “Beloved ones, all your words have a passionate Lover…  Yogi Ma! 

I deeply appreciate the reverent way Laron writes about Peter Mattheissen’s Snow Leopard. His respect for Mattheissen’s process presents the layers and beauty of the inner journey that inspire me to be alert to every eternity within this moment. Zen with infinite Zero within one single breath that is with me and one with the Pavan Guru.

So, I add Thomas Larson to my ever-growing list of men for whom I chant So Purkh.  I cannot say that I am chanting for any particular reason or means to any end. I have lost faith and am not religious. I simply love the feeling of this Shabad on my tongue and the way it dances on the upper palate of my mouth. Delicious! I roar. Delicious! It’s pure and simple infinite sensual pleasure.  Roaring the So Purkh Shabad makes my heart grow large enough to fit everything into its embrace.  Roaring the So Purkh Shabad gives me strength to fall madly in love with myself and the universe. Thomas Larson and many of these other men will never know that I roar So Purkh on their behalf (such is the ignorance of men!). Oh why is it that sometimes I still like to squirm and wonder and wrestle over a maddening contemplation: what difference does it make to chant So Purkh for men and total strangers? And when this line of inquiry makes me mad, I roar that Shabad some more. Beloved Guru Ram Das, can you hear me?    

Thank you, Spirituality and the Writer for being here with me.  As I go, I hang this book upon the Pole Star.  I watch the book float weightless at midnight. I ride this book on the heaving surf of the Primordial Ocean.  And when the pages are wet with sea water, I use them to wash my body clean. I am happy. My interior horizons quiver and quake with In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God.  The beings in this beginning realm never intended books as sources of knowledge. Maybe books are beings that cradle the Word / God and bend time and space and illuminate the inner life with deeper wonder and awe. Books are the tantric shelter. Books are bridges. 

I cannot contain the expressive storm much longer. Silence between these two heart beats grows louder than thunder.  I have already begged the Primal Being make me Her / His / or Its humble scribe.  I have already roared and screamed and sang out crazy wisdom to no one. No one reads a joyful writer. Why is it that writers must always give best expression to the tortured soul to win praises from cool guys like Thomas Larson? Oh, great, have I written myself into a corner where I can finally mope and brood? Ugh! Help!

I am empty.

So, now I shall wait.  

Yogi Bhajan said the highest art is to sit and wait and let it come. Am I supposed to believe that when I had embraced with my heart the highest art is literature…? Oh, well. I have no more faith in any of it at all anymore, not art, not yoga. So now is the best moment to sit and wait and let it come. Imagine reading an endless book called The History of Waiting. Let’s hang that one on the Pole Star!

Come, thunder!  Come, lightning!  Come, all dark intensity! 

This one quiet yogi awaits You.

Writing Outside of Time

Writing Outside of Time

Below are three meditations that were taught by Yogi Bhajan. Accompanying these meditations are simple prayers, vows, and writing prompts.

This post is meant to send you off onto a writing journey. Here is a gentle warning: this is not for anyone who is in a hurry. This is for those who create the time and space for consciousness to unfold, secret room for slow growth, gradual internal blooming, and deep contemplation.

I shared this journey in a workshop I taught at San Diego Writers Ink in May 2018. The workshop was entitled “Merge With the Muse:  Meditation for Writers.”

The experiment here is this: 1. Practice Meditation One then close the meditation with the Prayer. 2. Sit quietly for a few moments in the silence you create. Bow the head and pray. 3. Open a journal or computer and write whatever comes up with the writing prompt. 4. Repeat this for three days.

On the fourth day, 1. Practice Meditation One. 2. This time, close the meditation with the Vow. Bow your forehead to the floor while you mentally repeat the vow. 3. Sit quietly for a few moments in the silence you created. 4. Open a computer or journal and write whatever comes up with the writing prompt. Repeat this process over three days.

Spend six days with Meditation One. Become aware of what difference it makes when you approach a writing prompt while dwelling in the humility of Prayer versus approaching the writing prompt while dwelling in the sanctity of Vow. Be unafraid to consecrate your writing process. Bless your writing process, as you bless your life process.

Then repeat this same entire process with meditation two for the next six days. Then repeat the entire process with meditation three for the last six days. This will give you a total of 18 days of meditation, prayer, vow, and writing practice. Take it slowly, one day at a time.

There is no deadline, only a quiet commitment to listen more deeply to your own contemplative core. Create space in your life for deep contemplation.

If you try this contemplative writing journey, I would love to hear from you about what blooms from within you.

This is the question:

How was your writing while resonating a prayer different from writing while resonating a vow?

Please feel invited to contact me. I adore writing friendships and long letters about contemplative writing.

Find me at my email address: winebowl@gmail.com. Or leave a comment below this blog post. Embark on this as a commitment to a slow process, and invite that slowness to be with you. Slow unfolding is the beauty, challenge, and joy of the contemplative life.

Happy meditating and happy writing!

Meditation One (Practice every day for Days 1 to 6)

Breath of Fire 3 – 31 minutes

Sit with a tall spine and your hands in Gyan Mudra (index finger and thumbs press together with wrists resting on the knees).  Begin breath of fire.  The inhale and exhale travels through the nose; it is a quick, short breath, like panting.  The breath is powered by effortlessly “dancing” or bouncing the navel point.  The force of the breath is equal on the inhale and exhale.

Become aware of the pathways of prana.

Prayer (Contemplate on this prayer after meditation for days 1, 2, & 3)

May the fires within my body ignite my creative power.

Vow (Contemplate on this vow after the meditation for days 4, 5, & 6)

The fire within me shall ignite creative power.

Writing Prompt (Contemplative Writing for Days 1 – 6)

Write a journal entry contemplating this quote from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: “By loosening the causes of bondage and becoming sensitive to the nuances of prana’s pathways, one’s perceptions can enter another’s body.”

Meditation Two (Practice for days 7 to 12)

Breath Meditation for a Calm Heart

Sit with a tall spine.  Left hand over the heart with fingers pointing to the right.  Right in Gyan Mudra next to the right shoulder.  Inhale and lift the heart and ribcage.  Hold the breath for as long as is comfortable.  Slowly exhale keeping the spine long and chest lifted.  Hold the breath out for as long as is comfortable.  Continue this breath pattern for 3 – 11 minutes.

With the breath held in, be aware of the pleasure of fulfillment.

With the breath held out, be aware of the relief the of emptiness.

Prayer (Contemplate this prayer after the meditation for days 7, 8, & 9)

May the wind within my body move me to create in graceful equipoise.    

Vow (Contemplate this Vow after the meditation for days 10, 11, & 12)

The air within my body shall serve me to create in graceful equipoise. 

Writing Prompt (Write on this topic for days 7 to 12)

Write a story in 300 words or fewer that reveals the difference between acting compulsively and acting consciously.

Meditation Three (Practice this for days 13 to 18)

Meditation for Compassion

Create the Mount Meru mudra, and hold this mudra in front of the heart.  Inhale in four segments while you mentally vibrate the mantra: Sa Ta Na Ma.  Hold the breath, and mentally vibrate: Sa Ta Na Ma.  Exhale in four segments while you mentally vibrate: Sa Ta Na Ma.  Hold the breath out, and mentally vibrate:  Sa Ta Na Ma.  Continue for 3 – 11 minutes. 

Be aware of the energy flowing through the spine.

Prayer (After the meditation, contemplate on this Prayer. Then proceed to the writing prompt. Do this for days 13, 14, & 15).

May this breath pattern, my body’s biorhythms, and my heart’s pump invigorate the rhythm in my writing.

Vow (After the medittion, cntmplate this Vow. Then proceed to the wriing prompt. Do this for days 16, 17, & 18)

This breath pattern, my body’s biorhythms, and my heart’s pump shall invigorate the rhythm of my writing.

Writing Prompt (Write on this topic for days 13 to 18).

Write a short non-fiction contemplative essay on “My Summer Compassion Plans.”

Resources for Further Reading

Books

Meditation as Medicine by Dharma Singh Khalsa and Cameron Stauth

Writing the Sacred Journey by Elizabeth J. Andrew

Inner Engineering by Sadhguru

Blogs

Isha Blog

http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/

On Tending Art, Heart, and Heart

http://www.elizabethjarrettandrew.com/tendingarthearthearth/

Closing

May the longtime sun shine upon you.  May all love surround you.  May the pure light within you guide your way on.

Prayer

May the energy in my spine support my most creative connection to myself, my beloved readers, each precious word, and the universe.

Vow

The energy in my spine shall support my most creative connection to myself, my beloved readers, each precious word, and the universe.

Writing Prompt

Contemplate the image below or search for images of Mount Kailash online, and write a story in 300-words or fewer that is a dialogue between you and this mountain. Write your internal dialogue between the wisdom within your Third Eye and the wisdom within this sacred mountain. 

Garland of Words

Garland of Words

This garland of words attempts to engage in an intimate reading of the bestselling novel Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens with the sensibility and sensitivity of a yogi.

Just for fun, I tried this breathing pattern: while reading Owens novel, I inhale slowly and deeply through the pursed lips as if drinking in Life, and exhale very slowly and completely through the nose.  Breathing and reading so slowly and deeply, I place my gaze and easygoing concentration on one word then the next. This makes the act of reading a very slow and sensual meditation.

In this way, let us awaken the wisdom of the ecstatic tremor here and now.

Try it, Beloved Friend. For now, breathe slowly and deeply through the pursed lips while we focus together closely on this one scene in the novel.

Tate is the young man who teaches Kya to read. Eventually their physical desire to touch each other reaches the climactic point where they must kiss.

In this moment, Tate asks Kya a loaded question, “Where is your Ma?” Kya reveals the heartbreak: her mother abandoned her. In his turn, Tate shares the loss of his mother and sister in a fatal car accident. United in the psychological scar of Losing Mother revs up to the moment when they smash lip to lip. Here goes:

“And just at that second, the wind picked up, and thousands upon thousands of yellow sycamore leaves broke from their life support and streamed across the sky. Autumn leaves don’t fall; they fly. They take their time and wander on this, their only chance to soar. Reflecting sunlight, they swirl and sail and flutter on the wind drafts.”

These leaves, flying, no, soaring into death, spark joy. In the spirit of feeling the freedom that is Death, Tate rises and invites Kya to play, to catch as many leaves as they can before the leaves touch the ground. In the height of fun, they bump and lock in their gaze.

“He took her shoulders, hesitated an instant, then kissed her lips as the leaves rained and danced around them as silently as snow.”

Where the Crawdads Sing, page 124

Owens writes the scene with the grace of a wildlife lover. Her expression gives a sense that the bliss these characters enjoy in this kiss is the bliss always in the trees, the leaves, the birds, the sky, the marsh, and the stars — all joined together in the Dance of Life. What’s more, Tate and Kya’s kiss brings awareness to the inner life of trees, leaves, birds, sky, and star as these beings eternally tremble with the same energy that humans tremble with when two humans kiss.

Tate and Kya’s moment of union creates bliss in the human physical body, the intense pleasure of two beings kissing. Often it takes kissing for humans to remember the bliss quiver of life that is always present in every piece of life. This is a state of being that we long to connect to with a human physical body; but what does it take to maintain the human body to be completely free of any pain or discomfort and to abandon all that we are to pure thrill and excitement? We long for this state of pleasure because in this state it is easiest to sense the Sacred Tremor that is always there, or what tantrikas* refer to as Spanda. (*Please note that tantrika is simply a spiritual adept who knows how to weave the energies of the sacred into every dimension of life: eating, shitting, fucking, fighting, the comic and the tragic — to a tantrika, it is all sacred). The question is this: how do we sustain this state of pleasure, freedom, and ease every moment?

In certain yogic breathing exercises, we purse the lips and breathe through the mouth. This way of breathing stimulates the tenth cranial nerve, the vagus nerve, the longest cranial nerve, which goes all the way from the head to the abdomen, stimulating heart, lungs, and digestion. The vagus nerve, when stimulated and refined, brings circulation, respiration, and digestion into synchronicity.

Kissing the lips of another being feels so satisfying because we engage in a moment in which one being’s vagus nerve syncs up with another being’s vagus nerve, creating a moment of physical union. The vagus nerves of two bodies spark simultaneously. Two hearts drum at once. Lungs lift and shift. Digestive dance within two bodies comes to a welcome pause. The link is so gratifying that one kiss can even unite two beings for years or even lifetimes. One kiss united Kya and Tate. And kept them tangled psychologically and spiritually long after their physical bodies endured years of separation.

Kundalini Yoga Master and Maha Tantric Yogi Bhajan once taught the Trikuti Kriya.  In this kriya, we chant the Wahe Guru mantra. When we chant, we focus the sound Wa at the belly, Hey at the heart, and Guru at the lips. On Guru, the lips purse out stimulating the vagus nerve. If the yogi maintains one-pointed focus on the lips while vibrating Guru very powerfully through the lips, then the exercise reveals itself not as a physical exercise but as a sensual and playful act of kissing the Wah Hey Guru mantra. 

If humans think it feels nice to lip kiss each other, well contemplate all the possible pleasure of kissing the Wahe Guru Mantra! Kissing Wahe Guru gives the sensation of kissing infinity, and it continues as an Infinite Kiss. Embracing the Trikuti Kriya as a Sadhana while one reads Where the Crawdads Sing can possibly give exalted pleasures because the tremor in the words and the nerve tremor in the body can collaborate to give a perception that every moment is a divine smooch, a mystical merge with a marsh, and a grand, exalted, salty coupling of wildlife with humanity.

I guess this is what it means to read with the sensibility of a yogi. It means to perceive the story dissolved until it is no longer about Kya and Tate, but about polarities coming into union: reader and writer, wild and tame, boy and girl, past and future, up and down, spring and autumn, hot and cold, literate and illiterate, leaves and roots, modern pubescent physical desire and ancient yogic mystical wisdom, pleasure and pain, on and off, loneliness and companionship, life and death. The totality of polarities included. No polarity left behind…

All polarities unite that is a state of yoga. Pure and simple union.

May all beings realize the ways reading while breathing through the pursed lips creates unity with the Infinite. May all beings realize the deep pleasure of practicing Yogi Bhajan’s Trikuti Kriya every day as a way to experience Sacred Kiss. And may all beings continue to feel the ecstatic tremor within making out with G.O.D.

Sat Naam!

Cover of Where the Crawdads Sing designed by Meighan Cavanaugh

Words to Sculpt the Cosmos

Words to Sculpt the Cosmos

The purpose of life is to love the Word.

This is a writer’s inner journey at play with yoga kriya (Trikutui Kriya), Sadhana (daily practice), Shabad Yoga (chanting So Pukh), while enjoying an ecstatic love relationship with the Sacred Tremor (from the Yoga Spandakarika).

I am a lover of yoga and a lover of words, and my practice involves merging these two. Words are all welcome to arise here on this blog as they please. I am simply giving words the space to arise. I am acknowledging and bowing to words as sacred beings that have consciousness. Thank you, Beloved Words, for being my gurus and my companions when others have abandoned me. When those whom I have held dear choose to walk away form me or are suddenly taken away from me, the Shabad / Sacred Word is the only companion that remains.

Rise words. Rise. I am here to listen.

Here is a Vision Quest for today:

Morning places a soft hand on my shoulder to comfort me while I weep. She tells me to keep heart. Though today I must bury a dearly beloved One, a dear one who was so close to me, Morning is here. Though I must move into a state of deep grief, Morning assures me she has something to offer . Morning looks so ravishing in her crimson gown, even through the veil of tears flooding my eyes. Morning raises her empty palms before my face and says, “Here is your gift.” The gift is invisible, yet also incandescent; it has no fragrance but carries the fragrance of roses. The gift floats before me, then lovingly makes its way into my nostrils and my mouth. The Gift is My Breath. Morning has brought me The Gift of My Breath. I must grieve; I must breathe. I must move on. Thank you, Beloved Morning, for bringing me My Breath in this moment.  

Sat Nam.