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

“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
Are there any questions or comments about this?
What has your experience been over the past few weeks?

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