The keys to enlightenment are three: wisdom, simplification, and one-pointedness. The three flow together into a sense of being centered.
Seeing Through to What Is
The Buddhists see the meditative path as the balanced intensification of three mental traits: punya, sila, and samadhi.
Punya is wisdom or understanding.
Sila is purification or simplifying your life.
Samadhi is concentration or one-pointedness.
Ram Dass, Words of Wisdom
A client, the other day, wrote:
“When am I ever going to “get” this?”
And moments earlier, a friend posted to Facebook:
“Truth has to be repeated until you listen…”
There is sort of a pattern to really figuring life out (enlightenment)— they’re captured in Ram Dass’ words, above.
Darbella and I just got back from lunch out. We ended up in a fairly deep conversation with the woman who seated us. The conversation started as a riff off of Dar’s hoodie, which says, “Costa Rica.” From there, it went to our Costa Rica plans, then to Qi Gong, then to counselling and Bodywork.
She said something to the effect of: “Have you noticed that things come up and that Bodywork is one way to actually get it out?” Turns out she’s into Reiki!
This is another one of those “getting it” principles. Most people think that getting a bit of understanding about an issue is enough. From our perspective, knowing is simply part of the process. Following knowing is finding a way to enact what is known.
I find it interesting how many “coincidental” conversations, meetings, and projects have emerged as Dar and I have become more clear on “Our New Reality.” As we become more clear and more open, we are met with clarity and openness.
The Three Terms
I’m not much into learning Pali. So, let’s use the English terms, and talk about wisdom, simplification, and one-pointedness. When I first looked at those terms, it seemed to me that there was a single starting place. Now, as I reflect on it, I’m not so sure. So, rather, I think I’ll write them in the order I prefer. Your entry point might be different.
Since we have wisdom as one of the three terms, our experience of one-pointedness has to be other than a “thought.” Let’s simply say that to experience one-pointedness, it’s best done physically. Initially, this is done by meditation.
One-pointedness might be thought of as discovering the space between thoughts. Mostly, until we sit down and observe, our thoughts seem to flow like a ceaseless stream. No gaps, just one damn thing after another.
As we meditate, thoughts appear more like fluffy clouds drifting across a blue sky. Discrete, insubstantial.
The same realization can come during Bodywork. There is the pain, then the arising of the emotion, then the letting go and the letting out of sound, and then the flow of energy.
If your mind gets involved, there’s going to be a mess of judgements: “This pain will go on forever!” “Nothing good can come of this!” “I’m not supposed to be feeling like this.” If you can let your mind drift, and not attach to any thought, then you notice the experiences moving through you, insubstantial, discrete.
As you sit, more and more clarity regarding this emptiness between thoughts becomes obvious. You find yourself falling into the stillness, breathing into it, and in this way finding your centre.
You’ve now had the experience of seeing through the stories, the dramas, and the distractions. You learn to let go of distractions, and you can do this pretty much all the time, if you choose.
Right now, as I’m writing this, Dar is several feet away, watching Dancing with the Stars. I stuck “concert plugs” in my ears, and the noise is decidedly background. And then, my mind focussed in on one of the judges;’ comments, and I couldn’t type. This is distraction. I had a breath, cleared my mind, and the sound went background.
This is simplification.
Or one version of simplification, anyway.
We must simply our lives. Less noise, less stuff, less “busy-ness,” less demands. I encourage my clients to take this to it’s logical extreme. Here I am, inventing the whole thing. I’m telling myself stories about everything, and inventing dramas about everyone. As I pare away my need to tell stories, everything becomes one-pointed again. This is the game I must engage in, until I die, if I wish to create peace for myself.
This is not disengagement. This is being fully engaged with one thing at a time, and the one thing I am fully engaged with is “reality, in the here and now.” The rest is noise.
Wisdom is “getting it.” And the cosmos really, really wants us to get it. In fact, I believe that the cosmos continues to provide the same lesson, repeatedly, until we do get it.
Wisdom, then is both a direction, and a looping point. It leads us to sit more, to be more one-pointed, because wisdom sees through the drama to the truth of simplicity.
Wisdom is not about study, being smart, understanding the words. It’s about an innate understanding that this way of being is the only way that leads anywhere interesting. It’s the wisdom that helps us to stop doing the stupid stuff that keeps us stuck, that directs us to monitor our bodies for clues when we are biting. It’s the gentle voice that nudges us back to simple observation of what it.
This week play with these concepts. You might just see how powerful they are!
QiGong Secrets – Week 8 – Smiling from the Heart
One of the first exercises learned in this QiGong secrets home study course is a very simple exercise.
It is not going to be an easy one to explain or teach to someone else. If you want to try it then you will just have to do it. No thinking involved. As in so much of QiGong, your body will be your teacher. You will know that you are doing it correctly because it feels right.
I think this is one of the most difficult lessons in practising QiGong. We are more inclined to look to others to confirm that we are doing something correctly. In QiGong, the goal is to use your awareness of your body and how something feels to know that you are practising something that will have value to you. Sure, as a teacher, if I was in a class teaching QiGong—I can help correct form, and I can teach a new pattern. As a student of QiGong, it is my goal to practice in a mindful way—paying attention to how the movements feel in my body. Only that way can I know that I am doing them correctly.
Before beginning any QiGong practice, my first goal is to relax my body to the best of my ability. Qi will not flow if the body is tense. I usually begin with a simple body scan, starting at the top of my head and moving down my body. This helps prepare my body to get the most out of my QiGong practice. This also helps with the next step in preparing for my practice—to focus my mind.
I usually focus on my breath—taking long, slow, deep breaths. As my main practice time is the morning, I need to put aside any thoughts about my work day, what I need to accomplish, how I will teach a lesson, what prep work needs to be done, who I need to speak to—and on and on and on. I usually take the approach of using a single thought to overcome all thoughts. This can be as simple as thinking “in” as I breathe in and “out” as I breathe out. Sometimes I count breaths up to ten. I also sometimes use words like “energize” as I breathe in and “let go” as I breathe out. Any of these will help to quiet my mind so I am prepared to begin my practise of QiGong.
Smiling from the Heart
So, now that I have prepared my body for QiGong by relaxing and prepared my mind for QiGong by focusing, the next step is to prepare myself emotionally and spiritually for my practice. That is where ‘Smiling from the Heart’ helps. This exercise can be done either from a QiGong stance, or from a sitting position on a chair or a meditation cushion.
Begin by focusing your attention on your chest. Visualize a smile that radiates from your heart. This smile starts in the area of your heart and expands to fill your whole body. Keep expanding your smile so it radiates out into the world around you. You will know when you are doing this exercise correctly. You may feel a warmth in your chest area. You might feel like your whole body is being flooded with joy and peace. You will feel this exercise with your whole body. It is an expansive feeling. I feel my chest open. My shoulders drop and move back. If I am not aware, my shoulders will spend most of there time up around my ears.
Practising QiGong has helped with my awareness of my shoulders creeping up so I can breathe and consciously move them back down.
You might try putting a big cheesy grin on your face. You might imagine looking at a beautiful sunrise or flower blossoming. You might imagine the face of someone you love or a place that is special to you.
Smiling form the heart is all of these and none of these. We are all different. Through practice we can learn what works best of us. You will definitely know when you are doing it correctly. Listen to your body. Don’t think about it, just do it. Smile from your heart!
After relaxing my body, calming my mind, and smiling from my heart, I am ready to begin my QiGong practice. This preparation is called ‘entering the QiGong state of mind,’ and is a vital part of my practice. The movements I choose to practise each day do not matter as much as this preparation for my practice. In the past, my focus has been more on the movements. That was avaluable learning, and I do believe that form is important. The learning in this QiGong Secrets Home Study course that has been the most valuable to me is the ‘how to’ of a QiGong practice. As a result of this course, preparing for my practice and allowing the energy to do its work (more about this next week) have had a major impact on my practice and have been worth the cost of the course. Besides, I love learning the new patterns too.
QiGong is a combination of form, energy and mind. The form is how we move our bodies, or the patterns we choose to practice. This gentle exercise stretches our bodies and increases blood flow. The energy part is linked to our breath. By simply breathing, we are increasing the energy flow in our bodies. The mind aspect is probably the most important, and will have the most impact on the benefits you will gain from practising QiGong. When patterns are practiced in a mindful way, being in the moment with your movements, you will more quickly realize the benefits of practising QiGong. Also, being more aware allows us to apply what we are learning to our bodies knowing what works best for us.
Practice ‘Smiling from the Heart’ as often as you remember. This is skill that will have benefits in your life as well as in a QiGong practice.