Ashram Reopening Party Guided Meditation


Welcome everyone. Thank you for joining us here today. Let us begin with a short guided meditation.

I will give instructions in stages of experience so you can follow along and do what feels right. If any instructions are unattainable today, that is okay. Listen to your body and your breath; it knows best.

To begin, take a nice deep breath, in through the nose, out through the mouth.

Begin to find a comfortable position, whether seated or lying down.

If seated: legs crossed, or feet flat on the floor, or kneeling. If lying down: legs extended straight or knees propped up slightly, feet hip width apart or further.

If seated: make sure your pelvis is tilted slightly forward until you get a small curve in your back. You may need to sit on something so your knees are below your hips.

Whether seated or lying: pull your shoulders up to your ears and then slide them together down your back until you feel your chest widen.

If seated: Lean back until your shoulders are directly over your hips. Drop your chin slightly until you feel a softening in your throat. Keeping this, move your head backwards in space until your ears are over your shoulders. Place the back of your left hand on top of your right palm and touch your thumbs together so your hands make an oval shape.

Take a deep breath, pulling the air all the way down your spine and into your hips. Make any adjustments needed to sit comfortably.

Another deep breath in, this time exhale it out loudly. Do this two more times.

On your next exhale, soften as if melting from the crown of your head down your body. Soften the muscles of your forehead…soften your jaw…soften your neck…soften your chest…soften your shoulders and arms…soften your belly…soften your hips and pelvis…soften all the muscles in your legs and knees…soften your hands and feet.

Soften any effort. Allow yourself to feel any sensations.

Breathe in, breathe out…softness…

Take a nice slow breath and on your next inhale count one. Exhale count two. Inhale one. Exhale two. Keep counting on your own.

// pause for one minute

Notice if there is any tightness or holding, especially in your jaw, between your shoulders, or anywhere you feel a bit stuck. Take a breath into that area, and soften.

// pause for one minute

If you’d like more, count inhale one, exhale two, inhale three, exhale four…all the way to ten, and begin again. If you get lost, that’s alright, just begin again from one. Keep counting on your own.

// pause for two cycles

Again, check in to see if there is any tightness or holding. Inhale for space, exhale release. No judgment, come back to the practice.

// pause for two cycles

If you’d like more, slow it down. Inhale, exhale, one. Inhale, exhale, two. Inhale, exhale, three. Etc. to ten, and begin again. Keep counting on your own.

// pause for two cycles

Begin to let go of this counting practice and just witness your breath again. No commentary, just breath.

// pause for thirty seconds

Some days are more difficult to get settled than others. There is no shame. Your practice is your own, so give yourself what you need. Soften anywhere there is tension. You have all the air and space you need.

// pause for three minutes

Begin to come back to your body.

Feel the chair or the floor beneath you.

// pause for ten seconds

Feel the clothing against your skin.

// pause for twenty seconds

Notice if there is anywhere that can soften even more.

// pause for twenty seconds

Notice any sensations in the feet. Notice any sensations in the hands.

// pause for twenty seconds

Notice if there are any smells or tastes.

// pause for thirty seconds

Notice if there are any sounds.

// pause for thirty seconds

Slowly begin to deepen your breath. Pull the air all the way through your body to bring small movements back into your fingers and toes.

Bring a small smile to your lips.

Take a really deep breath, filling up everything inside, and exhale it out loudly.

You may bring your hands to anjali moodra or prayer position in front of your chest. You may bow your head towards your hands, and thank yourself for this practice.

May all beings everywhere come to realize happiness, and the roots of happiness. May all beings everywhere be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. May all beings everywhere experience equanimity, peace, and wellbeing.

Slowly lower your hands and raise your head. As you begin to open your eyes, just notice how you’re feeling.

Thank you for practicing today, and all days. May you bring this practice in to everything you do. Namaste. I bow respectfully to each and every one of you.

 

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Weekend Events List!


The Art of Bowing Logo

Events this weekend!

You can now find me in InWorldz as Chraeloos Aristotelous, and in my group “The Art of Bowing”.

What? 30 min Guided Meditation

   Where? Namaste, InWorldz (Namaste/124/68/28)

   When? Saturday, Jul 19 @ 9amIWT/PST

What? Series on Japanese Philosophers

   Where? Sengoku Japan, Second Life (Ocarina Beach/197/190/51)

   When? Sunday, Jul 20 @ 5pmSLT/PST

~~~~~~~

I look forward to seeing you around! Namaste, my friends, and big hugs to you all!

Looking for me outside of the grid? Went to a discussion and didn’t get the notes? Check out the links below:

Blog:

https://chraeloos.wordpress.com/

Calendar:

https://www.google.com/calendar/embed?src=chraeloos%40gmail.com&ctz=America/Vancouver

Google+ Community:

https://plus.google.com/communities/116481394403768407840

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/Chraeloos

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/chraeloos.aristotelous

Chrae

Mental Health Awareness and Meditation


Every month has been made into a commemoration of some kind. May has quite a few national and international holidays ranging from National Brain Tumor Awareness Month to Celiac Awareness Month to Haitian Heritage Month to National Moving Month in the United States and National Smile Month in the United Kingdom. For a larger and more comprehensive list, please go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May

I have chosen to share about National Mental Health Awareness Month.

In recent times, attitudes towards mental health issues appear to be changing. Negative attitudes and stigma associated with mental health have reduced and there has been growing acceptance towards mental health issues and support for people with them.

Despite this shift in attitude, the idea of a mental health awareness campaign is not a recent one. In the late 1940’s, the first National Mental Health Awareness Week was launched in the United States. During the 1960’s, this annual, weekly campaign was upgraded to a monthly one with May the designated month. During this month, National Health America, the main organization which sponsors this event, run a number of activities which are often based on a theme.

Mental illnesses can take many forms, just as physical illnesses do. Mental illnesses are still feared and misunderstood by many people, but the fear will disappear as people learn more about them. If you, or someone you know, has a mental illness, there is good news: all mental illnesses can be treated.

Did you know?:
-About 1 in 5 American adults will have a mental health condition in any given year?
-But only 41 percent of them will receive services?
-About 10 percent of the American adult population will have a mood disorder, such as depression or bipolar?
-And 18 percent have an anxiety disorder, including post-traumatic stress disorder?

Follow this link to see when you or someone you know should receive help. Remember, help isn’t something to be ashamed of!:
http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/finding-help-when-get-it-and-where-go

One of the breakthroughs in modern psychology and neuroscience has been showing that meditation reduces depression, anxiety, stress, phobias, addictions, and many other impairments to mental health. Plus, it feels good. Fraser Collins says: “It is estimated that we have around 50,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day and that around 70% – 90% of the thoughts we have are negative – thus creating huge levels of stress and anxiety. So the challenge is how we reduce these thoughts?”

The answer is meditation and mindfulness. If you are unfamiliar with how to meditate, please take a moment to read the cutoff below.

If you’d like company, there is a group in SL that is there for support. Visit the Landmark below for more resources and great people.
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Shanghai%20Mountains/126/134/1750

More info:

http://www.inspirationalmentalhealth.com/p/resources.html

http://www.whathealth.com/awareness/event/nationalmentalhealthmonth.html

http://www.cmha.ca/mental-health/understanding-mental-illness/

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/news/mental-health-awareness-week/

http://life.utoronto.ca/stories/build-on-your-strengths-mental-health-awareness-month/

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/10/10/meditation-mental-illness-anxiety-depression_n_4076036.html

http://healthland.time.com/2013/08/07/does-meditation-help-or-hinder-mental-illnesses/

Continue reading

“You pass through life like early morning…”


Sakura Blossom

Dreaming, not waking 

Early morning breezes tickle,

Dandelions dance.


       Amidst many changes in my life I am called to write. There is a certain kind of feeling experienced when you leave everything behind for a completely new path. It’s a feeling like floating on a wave – not quite awake, not quite asleep, dreaming, not waking. Every moment is full of endless potential. But, then again, isn’t it anyway? It is in these times of transition that we find ourselves – our real, true, unbiased, no-illusions, self. We tend to find that the Self is completely unlimited. That, in fact, there isn’t a Self, definable as such, but a series of comings-and-goings. A kind of desperate plea for uncertainty. At first, it feels liberating. You have no responsibilities, nothing in your name, no job to get to, no school, or family, or friends calling for your attention. Everything is just space. Everything is limitless. Driving over the mountains, clearly endless blue skies above us, we felt as though we were on top of the world. We had 14 hours of homelessness, in one of the most beautiful parts of this country. The air is so much fresher all these miles above the busy cities and refineries. It’s almost too easy to forget all of this modern world.

       Forgetting is what our minds want to do. It is the easy way out of responsibility. Caring is difficult. Caring takes time and attention and energy, none of which are easily replenished as every action takes time to see the result. Caring can be overwhelming. Up here, on top of the world, there is nothing to care about. It is here where I experience true release, true happiness. You see children smiling for no reason at all, smiling at the smell of the flowers and the songs of the birds and the feel of the air against their skin. It is up here that I can truly say I understand what they are smiling for. The sun feels so close and so warm, and time slows down.

       It has been one full week since we experienced that. It didn’t take long for the 14 hours to pass and for us to take the seemingly short descent into the valley that we now call home. You see the city before you see the ocean, all lights and busy people. It is like waking from an existential dream of non-duality. The experience is much like taking that first step out of a retreat hall and onto a busy street. It’s a bit overwhelming, but you’re lucky, because you have all this stored up happy energy from the experience of release. This stored-up energy allows you to see the new landscape with fresh eyes, non-judging and compassionate. You make it through the busy city, as your new home lies on the far side, only blocks away from the vast, free ocean. You get here unscathed, still holding that happy, light energy close to your heart. This energy had permeated your whole body, and it lifted you to a lightness that was like you had become a cloud. The flowing and pulsing dance of wind and life-energy still coursed through you, with you, as you.

       As you enter your new home and proceed with all the formalities, you take a deep breath, and feel suddenly dizzy with realization. The search you have been on for your whole life, this search to be happy and free like you feel on top of the mountains, you feel it now too. It hasn’t left. The only thing that changed is your perception. Rather than seeing it for what it is, always present, you see it as something only attainable in certain environments. You close your eyes, letting your other senses experience the moment, and you feel this dreamlike happiness. Opening your eyes, it’s still there. You take a step, and still, it’s with you. A smile spreads on your soft lips and your eyes brim with tears. Regardless of what life calls on you for, you are there, completely present, and it is okay. Everything is okay. Everything is okay because inherently, you are free. You are expansive and huge, infinite. You are potential. Everything is potential.

       Cherry blossoms line the streets, mingling with flowers you don’t recognize. You can pick up probably a dozen different bird songs. You tell yourself that the steady thrum and vibration is the sound of the nearby ocean, though you’re probably kidding yourself. The tides pull at you as the pulse closer and further, grasping and releasing. Even the concrete buildings squished into city-blocks pulse and vibrate with life. Everything exists in meditation. Everything meditates.

       Abandoning your few possessions, the first stop is the bay, the soft sand squishing between your toes, the smell of salt-water and fish a welcome reminder that you are home, and you are safe.

Photo Copyright (c) April 2014, Chraeloos

Working with Subtle Energy and Chakras – Awareness Intensive Week 5


Thank you all so much for being here today. It’s such a pleasure to share this space with you. Most of this session will be guided meditation, and at the end we will open up space for questions or comments. Please refrain from hitting the bowl to my right as everyone can hear it and it will be used as a tool for the meditation. Thank you.

Let us take a moment to dedicate this practice to those who we want to remember. Please type the name or relation into local if it suits you.

Over the first few weeks we dealt with embodiment, feeling, or the felt sense, and lastly with breath. Let us start delving into our awareness by practicing these a bit. I will lead a guided meditation in voice. Please follow along if you’d like or you can mute sound and do your own practice. I will ring the bowl once to start and twice to end, so make sure your sounds are on so you know when we are continuing the practice.

Today we will bring our attention to a different level of awareness. In our bodies there are many energy channels. Depending on what tradition you come from these may be called nadis, meridians, or various other things. These carry the prana or qi thoughout your body. There are three main channels that run from the root of our pelvis up to our third eye centre. The main one is called the sushumna nadi. Energy moves with breath. Each time we breath we are sending energy throughout our bodies.

Today we are going to work with this subtle energy, prana or qi. Bring your attention to this central channel, running from your pelvic floor to the space of the third eye. Each time you breath in, the energy moves up this column, and each time you breath out the energy moves down this column.

When you feel comfortable with this, we will try expanding this awareness outwards horizontally. You can do this simply by expanding this central channel outwards, or, work more precisely. I will walk you through the more precise practice, but if you feel more comfortable just expanding it outwards please practice that way.

Bring your attention to the root of your pelvis, or the muladhara chakra. Imagine a glowing red light there. When you breath in, this light expands horizontally in a complete circle. The light should therefore expand in all directions, each diagonal, forward, backward, right and left. When you breath out the light will pulse back into centre, and continue this motion with the breath like a wave.

Next, moving up the channel, bring your attention to the heart level of this central channel, or the anahatha chakra. Imagine a glowing green light there. When you breath in, this light expands horizontally in a complete circle. The light should therefore expand in all directions, each diagonal, forward, backward, right and left. When you breath out the light will pulse back into centre, and continue this motion with the breath like a wave.

Next, moving up the channel, bring your attention to the eyebrow centre of the central channel, or ajna chakra. Imagine a glowing indigo light there. When you breath in, this light expands horizontally in a complete circle. The light should therefore expand in all directions, each diagonal, forward, backward, right and left. When you breath out the light will pulse back into centre, and continue this motion with the breath like a wave.

This is feeling yourself as Stillness, the formless in form.

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.

What did you notice in this practice?
Has your definition of awareness changed doing this exercise?

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?