Review of Awareness Intensive Weeks 1-3


Review Week 4 Awareness Intensive
A short letter written by Osho:

“I speak, I work,
but I am steeped in emptiness within.
There, there is no movement.
Thus I seem to be living two lives at one time.
What a drama!
but perhaps all of life is a drama
and becoming aware of this opens the door
to a unique freedom.
That which is
inaction in action
still in motion
eternity in change
-that is truth
and that is existence.
Real life lies in this eternity –
everything else is just the stream of dreams.
In truth the world is juat a dream
and the question is not whtether to leave these dreams or not,
one just has to be aware of them.
With this awareness, everything changes.
The center moves.
A shift takes place from body to soul.
And what is there.
It cannot be told.
It has never been told
and it never will be.
There is no other way but to know it for oneself.
Death is known only through dying
and truth is known only through diving deep within oneself.”

Let us take a few minutes to breath, to centre ourselves, and find ourselves truly in the Now.
Guided Meditation:
Make yourselves comfortable, whether by sitting, standing, or lying down. Close your eyes. If you are in a place where you are comfortable making noise, do the following with me. If not, just let out a big sigh. Take a slow, deep breath in. When you exhale, give a big roar like a lion. Great! One more time…
Just relax, let go of your day. Realize that all the stresses you’ve experienced are over, they can not harm you. Release them into the earth around you. The Earth is good at recycling.
I will leave you in a few minutes of silence.
Let us take a few minutes to dedicate our practice to the people that need it.
During the first week we explored embodiment – what does it feel like to be here, now. Some of the questions that came up were:
Can you notice if your breath has a temperature?
When does the breath stop being breath and start being part of you?
Can you feel your whole body? Is there any tension or is it relaxed?
What is your posture like?
Can you feel the floor beneath you?
Can you feel the clothing and air against your skin?
Where does your body end and the objects touching it begin?
Can you feel the vibration of sound in your ears?
How many sounds can you hear? How far away are they?
Can you recognize when hearing stops and it’s just sound?
What can you taste? Is the taste external or internal?
What can you smell?
What does the smell remind you of?
These questions should be approached in a similar way to koans, where we hold them in our awareness but don’t pry for an answer. Don’t think about it, just feel it. See what you notice. There are no right or wrong answers.
During week two we worked with feeling. We touched on ‘Emotion’ as ‘Energy in Motion’. We worked on seeing if we could notice the ‘felt sense’ of a thought/image/emotion arising and falling away. Rather than paying attention to what the thoughts are and clinging to them, in this practice we would like to just feel them.
Some of the questions we asked in relation to this were:
Where do the thoughts/images/emotions arise?
When these feeilngs arise can you feel it in a certain place in your body?
Where does it start?
Does it move?
How long do they stay for?
Are the thoughts and sensations you are experiencing in your practice pleasant (attraction), unpleasant (aversion), or neutral?
Does the same feeling/image/emotion arise multiple times? Does it feel the same every time?
During week three we worked with our breath. When we breathe in there is a pause before we breathe out. When we breathe out there is a pause before we breathe in again. This is a still point in the middle of each breath. We spent most of the class seeing if we can notice this pause between each breath.
Our breath is the most powerful tool we have. In Taoism and qigong we find many breath practices relating to the different types of breath we can have. When we breathe quick and shallow we tend to feel uptight and anxious. When we breathe slow and deep we tend to feel relaxed and at peace. Letting out a sigh or a roar like a lion tends to make us feel better as it releases tension. Following the breath can be a very difficult practice, both because it is difficult to hold our attention there when these thoughts keep coming up in our minds, but also because when we work with our breath we are working with all of our emotions and all layers of our being. Yogis would say that our breath allows us to work with the five koshas, or sheaths, which each constitute a different aspect of being. The five koshas are constituted of a physical body, energy body, emotional body, wisdom body, and bliss body.
Our breath work is what allows us to work through all the things that these consist of – all emotion and sensation from past, present, and future. It works through our auras, our body, mind, and spirit, or anything else you’d like to call it. Anything we’ve supressed over the years or thought we worked through but didn’t really, everything that makes us who we are today is accessed through the breath. So, as you can imagine, it can be a little overwhelming. For this reason, it is advisable to take breath work one step at a time. Push to the part of practice that is uncomfortable but not painful, because just like in physical yoga asanas (postures) the uncomfortable practices are where we get stronger.
By using these three practices together you have the stepping stones for doing three different types of awareness or meditation practice, but you can also help ease yourself into your breath work. Because of the potential for intense experiences during breathing practice I advise using these as a kind of stepping stone, so rather than jumping into the boiling hot tub you can ease yourself in so you don’t get burned.
Remember, listen to your heart. If something is definitely “not okay”, don’t force yourself to do it. Things will come with time, and not every practice is right for every body.
For further reading about breath awareness please find the following links:
“We all have emotional experiences that feel terrifying, and in order to experience our natural state, we have to be willing to experience these emotions—to actually experience our ego and our ego clinging. This may feel disturbing and negative, or even insane. Most of us, consciously or unconsciously, would like meditation to be a chill-out session where we don’t have to relate to unpleasantness…”
“…But we don’t need to try so hard to sort it all out. We don’t have to attach so much meaning to what arises, and we also don’t have to identify with our emotions so strongly. All we need to do is allow ourselves to experience the energy—and in time it will move through you. It will. But we need to experience the emotion—not think about the emotion.”
Meditating with Emotions by Pema Chodron http://goo.gl/uB93bu

“It is important to remember that there is no “right” breath. If you carry with you the idea that your breath should be deep and full when in reality it is shallow, you immediately get into trouble. At times the breath is deep, at times shallow, at times freely flowing, and at other times it can feel blocked. Your practice is to be with your breath as it is, learning to let go of how you think things “should be.” Mindfulness of breathing is a practice of learning to harmonize your attention with what is, in this moment. Short, long, deep, shallow are all fine breaths. Trust your body; it knows what is needed.”
 Receiving the Breath: Meditation Q & A by Christina Feldman http://goo.gl/CM2nQx
Are there any questions or comments about this?
What has your experience been over the past few weeks?

Awareness Intensive Week 3 Breath


Today we are going to observe our breath. We’ve worked on embodiment, a felt sense of “I”, and now it is time to just observe the breath.

We will do a lot of “just sitting” today. Just sitting means being alert, alive, responsive, creative, and quiet.

The last few classes I gave some directing questions to see what we could notice, to help you on the path to awareness, but today there are no questions, just a guiding statement. I’d like you to follow your breath. See if it fills up your whole body or if it transcends your physical body.

When we breath in there is a pause before we breath out. When we breath out there is a pause before we breath in again. This is called the ‘still point’ in the middle of each breath.

I’d like to you take some time observing this pause. Do not change it or do anything with it. No need to expect it to be a certain length, or even to match. Can you simply notice the pause between each breath? If it helps you to keep your attention focused, you may count each pause. For example, in breath, pause, one. Out breath, pause, two. In breath, pause, three. Out breath, pause, four. etc. When you get to 7, go back to one and start again. I will leave you with a few minutes of silence to practice this, and will ring the bell twice to end.

I will give a short meditation to help those who are new to meditating enter their practice. If you’d like to not listen, please mute my voice. The bell will ring over sound so you will be able to hear it and can then turn on your voice when you are ready.

Guided Meditation:
Make yourselves comfortable, whether by sitting, standing, or lying down. Close your eyes. If you are in a place where you are comfortable making noise, do the following with me. If not, just let out a big sigh. Take a slow, deep breath in. When you exhale, give a big roar like a lion or deep sigh. Great! One more time…

Just relax, let go of your day. Realize that all the stresses you’ve experienced are over, they can not harm you. Release them into the earth around you. The Earth is good at recycling.

I will leave you in a few minutes of silence. [I gave 15 minutes of silence, but you can go for as long as you are comfortable. Don’t be afraid to push your boundary though; the uncomfortable zone is where progress happens.]

Take your time slowly coming out of the mind-practice. Bring your attention back to your body. Deepen your breath. Slowly wiggle your toes and fingers, and when you feel ready, slowly open your eyes. As you are opening your eyes, try to notice how you are feeling.

I would like to ask some questions for discussion.

What did you notice in this practice?

How does the breath feel?

Where do you breathe? Where does it enter? Where does it go? Can you feel the movement within your nostrils, down the trachea, and in your lungs? Do you breath with your nose or mouth or both? Do you feel the movements in your best, back, and abdomen? Can you feel it in your hands and feet?

What part of your body moves with your inhalations and exhalations? Place your hand on your abdomen or chest if you can’t feel any movements sometimes your hands are able to feel more subtle movements.

What is your rate of breathing? How long does it take for you to inhale? Does your exhale match the inhale? How many breathes do you take per minute?

How are you feeling about the last few weeks?
Has your definition of awareness changed doing this exercise?

Awareness Intensive Week 1


Intro:

“[It is] the paradox of the human condition, namely that we are mortally limited and human in form, and yet empty and cosmic in essense, and all at the same time.” -Michael Gellert

Let us take a few minutes to breath, to centre ourselves, and find ourselves truly in the Now.

Guided Meditation:
Make yourselves comfortable, whether by sitting, standing, or lying down. Close your eyes. If you are in a place where you are comfortable making noise, do the following with me. If not, just let out a big sigh. Take a slow, deep breath in. When you exhale, give a big roar like a lion. Great! One more time…

Just relax, let go of your day. Realize that all the stresses you’ve experienced are over, they can not harm you. Release them into the earth around you. The Earth is good at recycling.

I will leave you in a few minutes of silence.

Welcome to Awareness Intensive. During these next few weeks we will work on tuning our awareness and seeing what potentials we have. Our brains are magnificent things, and the fact that we can be aware is a mystery. Lets explore what it means to be aware and have awareness. There is no right answer to any of the topics or questions posed here. We are each conscious individuals and therefore may experience the world differently from each other. We will also explore the idea that perhaps our awareness isn’t a purely individual thing and that perhaps it is something we have the ability to “tap into” like signing on to an external server (much like SL!). We will explore the following questions in detail: what does being aware mean? How is it that we recognize awareness? How aware can we be? Where does our awareness stem from? Is it physical or immaterial? Can we be more aware?

Day 1:

What does “awareness” mean to you?

I’m going to ask a question in voice and text. After each question we will have a few minutes of silent meditation followed by a stream of consciousness exercise. I will ring the Tibetan bowl once at the beginning of each meditation and twice at the end.
If you are unfamiliar with stream of consciousness it means to write or speak or type without thinking about it too much. Don’t worry about typos or even if it makes sense. It could be complete gobbledegook and that’s perfect! The idea is to let the thoughts come out raw without intention.
There are no right or wrong answers. The practice is just to see what you notice. If you would feel more comfortable doing the stream of consciousness into a notecard or outside of your viewer rather than local chat please feel free. You can share it with myself or someone else after if you’d like or just keep it to yourself.

Sense awareness:
Can you follow the path of your breath?
Can you notice if it has a temperature?
When does the air stop being air and start being part of you?
Can you feel your whole body? Is there any tension or is it relaxed?
What is your posture like?
Can you feel the floor beneath you?
Can you feel the clothing and air against your skin?
Where does your body end and the objects touching it begin?
Can you feel the vibration of sound in your ears?
How many sounds can you hear? How far away are they?
Can you recognize when hearing stops and it’s just sound?
What can you taste? Is the taste external or internal?
What can you smell? Does it remind you of anything?

Take your time slowly coming out of the mind-practice. Bring your attention back to your body. Deepen your breath. Slowly wiggle your toes and fingers, and when you feel ready, slowly open your eyes. As you are opening your eyes, try to notice what you see first.

Can you be aware of all your senses at the same time?
Has your definition of awareness changed doing this exercise?
What did you notice?

Awareness Intensive Week 2


“[It is] the paradox of the human condition, namely that we are mortally limited and human in form, and yet empty and cosmic in essense, and all at the same time.” -Michael Gellert

Let us take a few minutes to breath, to centre ourselves, and find ourselves truly in the Now.

Guided Meditation:

Make yourselves comfortable, whether by sitting, standing, or lying down. Close your eyes. If you are in a place where you are comfortable making noise, do the following with me. If not, just let out a big sigh. Take a slow, deep breath in. When you exhale, give a big roar like a lion. Great! One more time…

Just relax, let go of your day. Realize that all the stresses you’ve experienced are over, they can not harm you. Release them into the earth around you. The Earth is good at recycling.

I will leave you in a few minutes of silence.

Welcome to week two of Awareness Intensive. During these next few weeks we will work on tuning our awareness and seeing what potentials we have. Our brains are magnificent things, and the fact that we can be aware is a mystery. Lets explore what it means to be aware and have awareness. There is no right answer to any of the topics or questions posed here. We are each conscious individuals and therefore may experience the world differently from each other. We will also explore the idea that perhaps our awareness isn’t a purely individual thing and that perhaps it is something we have the ability to “tap into” like signing on to an external server (much like SL!). We will explore the following questions in detail: what does being aware mean? How is it that we recognize awareness? How aware can we be? Where does our awareness stem from? Is it physical or immaterial? Can we be more aware?

**

Last week we worked with our senses. Today we’re going to work with our feelings. I will ask a series of questions over voice throughout the meditation. After we’ve meditated we will take some time to journal. If you’d like to share your thoughts in local chat for discussion during this journalling time you are welcomed to, but please no chatter during meditation.

Emotion = Energy in Motion. See if you can notice when a thought/image/emotion arises. Shift your attention then to the ‘felt sense’ of the thought/image/emotion. I will assist with a few questions, but there will be much time to feel the experience. Rather than following any thoughts, only pay attention to the feeling of it. I will ring the bell once for each question, and twice to end. The questions will be posed in both text and voice, so you can choose to follow in whatever fashion suits you best.

Let us fall slowly into awareness.

Please answer the following questions in your mind only.

Where do the thoughts/images/emotions arise?
When these feelings arise can you feel it in a certain place in your body?
Where do the thoughts/images/emotions start?
Do the thoughts/images/emotions move?
How long do they stay for?
Are the thoughts and sensations you are experiencing in your practice pleasant (attraction), unpleasant (aversion), or neutral?
Does the same feeling/image/emotion arise multiple times? Does it feel the same every time?

Take your time slowly coming out of the mind-practice. Bring your attention back to your body. Deepen your breath. Slowly wiggle your toes and fingers, and when you feel ready, slowly open your eyes. As you are opening your eyes, try to notice how you are feeling.

You may now take the next few minutes to write about your experience. You may do this in local chat, or keep it privately for yourself. I’d like you to explore the question:

What was your experience during this practice?

In the Dhammapada we find the following words, “All that we are is a result of what we have thought, it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts.”

What did you notice during this practice?

Can you see how thoughts manifest themselves physically?

Has your definition of awareness changed doing this exercise?