Freedom and Structure in creative and personal consciousness practices.
Part one can be found here - Nuts and Bolts of Meditation Part 1 : Spatial Consciousness
Mind body practices in this day and age are at risk of being obscured in a haze of nonsense.. Globalization has left its mark on the spirituality of humanity in the Euro-American west, so much so that the word spirituality in the west now means just about anything to anyone, from a deep natural mysticism, to the conscious capitalism movement where 'God want's you to be rich'. There are pitfalls involved in describing spiritual practices. We can generalize too readily, as a way of understanding something that is, on any closer inspection, complex and subjective. Each person's philosophy is an elaborate and beautiful combination of philosophies, personal insights and inherited beliefs from their cultural and familial backgrounds.
So using the words 'Mind-Body' is a good way to focus a little bit more on the topic of techniques, which will reveal itself to the practitioner as the true path towards a sense of empowerment in relation to ones own consciousness. Techniques inevitably involve an action, acting upon the human being in a way that simultaneously affects the conceptual language and the body. Techniques of consciousness then, are the practical focus of the mind-body traditions.
Balancing Tradition and Individuality
Techniques in any context are nothing without a clear example of what to practice towards. This is to say that without role-modeling, learning (integrating) a new state of consciousness is difficult if not impossible. As always, the idea of something is not the thing itself, likewise with experiences.
Additionally and crucially, without a deep essential desire to gain a handle on ones own direction and establish an authentic grounding in this post modern world, there is no substance to work with anyway.
We need to find that beginning point, that 'genius loci' the spirit within as alluded to by all the great traditions of the 'evolution of the self', mysticism, spirituality, psychology, and as pointed to by the myths and legends of the celtic, nordic and hermetic symbolic paradigms, at the very least.
What happens then, if by happenstance, we are gifted this essential spark of individuality that exists alone in the face of the mystery of reality? Somehow we have to find a way to protect and tend this fire and indeed ground ourselves in the human realm of relationships and community.
Robert A Johnson's book 'Inner Gold' speaks of the power and weight of this deep aspect of the self that is distributed like treasure throughout our conceptual, social and spiritual landscapes. Trans-personal Psychology gives us the conceptual freedom to discover meaning and language for our own experiences, and thus reclaim this gold and gain access to the raw truth behind the projections. This truth is often hard and as such we are moved by it.
The space itself, and the dimension of Spatial-Awareness, within which spatial intelligence takes place, is available to all people. The malleability of the neural pathways and enerrgy is universal. Experience happens within space, inner or outer, and we can perceive the non-conceptual truth in our proximity, and further. Perhaps the real trick is making our presenting spatial experience important enough to warrant attention. This means we have to let go of the social masking that has such a strong affect on our attention and behavior. This is by no means easy, and requires patience and compassion, and above all courage. However, we can allow ourselves to rest in the knowledge that within us is the hardware inherited from our evolutionary past. The natural context of the wild human demanded a full spectrum of spatial experience, alertness and presence. Survival depends on it, and survive we do! Humanity has evolved for a high degree of spatial-intelligence, and the resources that ensured our survival are ready to be explored and enjoyed should we desire.
This type of approach to experience requires that we let go of as much of our modern conditioning on our behavior as possible. If we want to experience a creative consciousness in the space, we need to have a good grounding in the raw material itself. Rawness is mysterious, it is unshaped by humanity, it is potent, primal and downright scary. Uncertainty has a funny way of triggering a jump to a conceptual safety, but the deeper we can allow the raw spatial experience to be, the more of reality shows itself to us.
Entities and Spirits – Presences in the Space.
A perceptual event can have any quality. Turning our attention to the space, (and away from social consciousness), can trigger a wide range of spatial experiences, with emotional or physical qualities. We could suddenly become aware that we don't know what we are looking at, at the mind can search for something to attach significance to. In this way the consumption of experience satisfies the hungry mind. The attention connects us to the space, and so as we reach out to connect, we want to name what we are connecting to. But we need to be very careful which words we are naming with, because they can very quickly and often unconsciously shape our experience. So training the attention without verbal or symbolic analysis is the path to the deeper connection. 'Perceptual Event' within the 'Spatial-Awareness' then, becomes the neutral doorway pointing to the raw medium of experience as quickly as possible.
Perhaps, during a process, we have the distinct experience that there is 'something' there, an intelligence of some kind that is invisible (or highly visible for some people), but that we can feel. The mind can respond out of desperation and we can trivialize and disengage with the experience. Worse, we can start to believe we are crazy. What we can be sure of though, is that something is happening.
The presenting experience is registering in the neural map of reality as a raw experience. What can be highly disconcerting is that this can be out of our control. Mental illness is a good example of a condition in which the person is experiencing a perceptual event which they cannot control, the effects of which can be highly distressing.
What ever the experience presenting to us is, it is there to teach us something, carrying a message about ourselves and our path.
Practice helps us to understand our experience on our own terms, alter our consciousness, and continue to explore the depth of life...if we so choose...
Establishing a direct connection to the raw spatial experience in Meditation Practices can be difficult in the modern context. There is usually powerful conditions that will hijack the will-power and prescribe importance to our attention. Indeed, attention is a commodity to be bought and sold. Our attention has value! Powerful forces are at work to sculpt our neural maps. There are techniques available to us to reclaim first the familiarity with our own personal consciousness (attention), and then gain the proficiency to wield our attention willingly and consciously. As with all skills, we can become very good at it! But we have to overcome challenges and persist in order to really understand the empowerment of any skill.
Developing an understanding of the fundamental parameters within which technique takes place is a good place to start learning from. Put simply, start simple, but with an awareness of the larger context. Permaculture principles in gardening are good example. We do well to know the ground before we plant in it, including rainfall and sunlight hours etc...
Finding The Center
Meditating on Balance and Gravity and Space - Mind Body fundamentals
Embodiment and Meditation go hand in hand, and practices are often prescriptive, involve specific forms, and are advertised as the best techniques.
The risk is that we skim over the subtle experience of the intuitive practice.
If we use gravity and awareness of our center of gravity, we can very quickly deepen our sense of our bodies in space. Likewise, we can use our own personal attention as a catalyst, within the Spatial Matrix, to awaken our Personal Practice, and Find The Center. In this way, we plant the seeds of a creative consciousness and movement, and prepare the ground for exploratory practice.
Once we have a strong foundation, that is an awareness of our center, and of its relationship to space, we can keep returning to it. The way in which we return can change, and it is effective to alternate between freedom and structure in technique.
A Base for Togetherness
Once we have a good sense of, and a commitment to, our own center, we can begin to more easily explore sharing energy. The benefits are obvious, we learn about embodiment and meditation through practicing together! We learn more about spatial-awareness and its depth, and ultimately learn more about ourselves. When our partner is likewise aware of their center, a condition is provided that amplifies the experience of balance and gravity.
Traditions and teachers are powerfully valuable, but a tradition may not overtly encourage a creative practice. Teaching and learning can begin with different emphasis, and perhaps neither is better, and different people need different levels of structure to progress. There always remains, however, the option to first point to the value of individual motivation (the Genius Loci), to instill at least the beginnings of an independent practice...one that is possibly more difficult, but certainly more sustainable.
When people work together with a deep sense of value for the independent practice, the dynamic tension is a rich element for learning.
Michael Maso Ellis
Part one can be found here - Nuts and Bolts of Meditation Part 1 : Spatial Consciousness