Have you ever been in meditation at a retreat or workshop so long that you get to a point you can either go crazy and run out of the building or accept and find a way to go on? (Because, let’s face it, at home in private we can decide the meditation is over.) I’ve had a few experiences like this.
One in Nova Scotia at a Pema retreat–and boy, I was so tempted to get up and run, seemed like the meditation went on for an hour or more. Hundreds of people, most of us in metal folding chairs, I can still picture and almost feel the inner angst of having to go another minute. But I did. Arg, what a struggle! Another time, I meant to leave evening meditation at Green Gulch Zen Center after the first 40 minute session (which I barely made it through) during the allowed time of walking meditation. I got stuck in the flow of the walking and pretty soon saw the large, wooden doors closing. I heard this “nooooo”scream in my mind but, I did make it through the next 40 minute meditation, but I remember the agony. My “monkey mind” was not a happy camper! I struggled to be in the moment because I really had no choice. Or did I? Of course I did. I could have gotten up, made a spectacle of myself, and knowing me, I would have made some excuse instead of saying “I can’t take this one more second”. Bow. 🙂 Acceptance is always a choice. And this struggle to complete a practice and the success of that is such a gift. Truly. The gift is accepting the struggle, accepting our limitations, and working through those. It’s our relationship to our head brain, that wonderful organ that sometimes resists our adventures into our other energy brains, that puts up a fierce resistance to that journey.
ACCEPT–From Master Mingtong: “Your relationship to everything is mostly mental”. We react from our brains. As we learn to let go of the brain a bit and go into our bodies, notice and accept what is happening there, we will be cultivating that gap needed to make a different choice of how to react, how to use the energy being created by the moment. We will be learning to “stay”. Qigong practice helps deepen the connection with our bodies so that we can seize that moment to do so. Beyond external phenomena, beyond the label of good or bad, we start to notice how our bodies are responding to things happening externally. We can focus internally and do a check: what is my heart doing right now? My adrenal glands? How are my organ systems responding? Can I accept my own anger? My stress? And by accepting, then we can let go, activate the energy flow. Mentally this may seem impossible, but go into your body, do the practice, the energy work, and you can move the energy from stuck to flowing, from contraction to openness, from separation to connection.
ACTIVATE–Once you can accept your internal and emotional reactions to external stimuli, that opens the floodgate to activate a new energy response. Choose what is most desirable for you. If you want peace, joy, and health, these come from a continued flow of energy so open that stuckness. Visualize light going there, smile to those parts of the body affected, use sound to create energetic movement (chant, sound healing), then change starts happening. Qigong practice is a foundation for this new vision. External change is the outcome of internal change. That external change will come once we can notice, accept, and activate a different response from inside out. And don’t underestimate the power of visualization. Visualize the outcomes you want, move your energy in that direction. Ooo, another topic for a blog post!
APPRECIATE–“You can’t be grateful for everything (for example, war), but you can be grateful every moment” David Steindl-Rast, on On Being. We can and should be grateful that we have the luxury of working with our challenges. Since they are inevitable in life, Master Mingtong encourages us to find the joy in this work and to be grateful and appreciate those challenges that move us toward our highest purpose as a human being. And as scientific studies are showing, being grateful is good for our health. Studies show that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:
- Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure;
- Higher levels of positive emotions;
- More joy, optimism, and happiness;
- Acting with more generosity and compassion;
- Feeling less lonely and isolated (from http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/expandinggratitude)
And from the first post, one of my favorite quotes: Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov– “The day I acquired the habit of consciously pronouncing the words thank you, I felt I had gained possession of a magic wand capable of transforming everything.”