Thursday, June 29, 2023

Careful With That Exercise Eugene Or The Ultraterrestrials Might Probe You In The Booty...,

The following is a description of the global body sensing exercise. 

The aim is to obtain a more complete experience of oneself through a gradually more complete sensation of the physical body included in the attention. It is an exercise in expanding the attention, but what is specified here is not fixed and rigid. There is nothing unique about the bodily parts that are mentioned, nor the order in which they are included in the attention. We may want to experiment, including more or less detail as we proceed to increase the awareness of our physical presence. It is at the same time an exercise in the relaxation of muscular tension to conserve energy.

One of the things we shall almost certainly notice is that while proceeding through this exercise we "disappear." Our attention is taken by one turning thought or another, and it is only seconds or even minutes later that we realize we have not completed the establishment of a global awareness of our physical presence. In this event, it is sometimes better to just recapitulate the whole exercise, but we may discover that we need not go through it in as much detail up to the point where we "disappeared."

I begin this exercise by sensing the very top of my head, not thinking about it, but actually making the effort to have a sensation of it. Although a thought is required at the outset, the actual experience is one of physical sensation. As I go through the subsequent steps, I try to include each new sensation in the expanding attention, holding them in the attention.

I next include the sensation of my forehead with special notice to its center. This is the location of the "third eye." In The Secret Doctrine, earlier humanity is described as having a functioning third eye, the eye of intuition. For most of us as we are now, it is only vestigial in the pineal gland, but careful observation of this area reveals a vibratory sensation that we are able to include in the attention. At the
same time I recognize that thoughts, such as speculation on something like the "third eye" while in the midst of the exercise, are a diversion of the attention into identification with the thought. So, I simply lay the thought aside and continue the sensing.

I then include the sensation of the back of my head. At this point I have a more complete experience of my upper head.

I now move my attention to my eyebrows and then to my eye sockets. I sense my eyes in their sockets. I may wish to move them to the left, to the right, up, down, center, behind the closed lids. This helps me to be more aware of my eyes. I sense my eyelids as they touch each other. I inhale deeply through my nostrils several times, noticing the sensation of the inhalation of air into my organism and its subsequent exhalation. I do not interfere with the breathing. I simply observe and sense it.

I sense my ears on each side of my head, and I see that it is possible to have a sensation of them, sensing even each earlobe in addition to the upper ear.

I sense my cheeks. I may notice muscular tensions here in the small muscles of the face or, indeed, at many other places in the body as I proceed with the exercise. Wherever I encounter muscular tension, I simply, as best I can, intentionally relax those muscles. Relaxation of muscles as I proceed is a critical part of this exercise, because tensed muscles use up energy, energy which I wish to contain. My body
must be relaxed if I am to transcend it. (Note: Many people find it easier to relax muscles after first tensing them as hard as they can.) 

I notice the various parts of the mouth and include them in my attention: the sensation of my lips touching together, my tongue touching against my teeth and/or my palate, the moisture of the saliva in my mouth.

I sense my chin and jawbone. Here again, I may especially notice muscular tension, and if so, I simply try intentionally to relax those muscles.

At this point I realize that I have a more complete experience of my entire head. It has shape and it has weight as it rests on my neck, and I notice these things also. 

I continue down the body, sensing my neck, especially its center front where I may also notice a slight vibration. This is the so-called throat chakra, described in the Hindu chakra system as one of the seven energy centers of the body, just as is the third-eye energy center mentioned already. The vibrations of energy are real and although I may notice them, I try not to go off into identification with thoughts about chakras or energy centers. I simply observe, sensing whatever there is to be sensed. I sense the connection of the neck to the torso, again noticing the entire weight of the head and neck resting on the torso. 

I continue further, down the left side of the body, including more and more in my attention. I could just as well have chosen to go down the right side of the body first. I may especially notice muscular tension in the shoulders and upper back, and I simply try to relax those muscles. I sense my left shoulder, upper arm, elbow, forearm, wrist, and left hand with all its parts. I sense my thumb, forefinger, middle finger,
fourth finger, little finger. I may notice moisture in the palm of my hand and the sensation of one hand touching the other.

I sense my left buttock as I pass my attention farther down the left side of the body. I notice the weight of my body on it and perhaps the texture of the cushion below it. I sense my left thigh, knee, calf, ankle, top of the left foot, heel, instep, arch, ball of the left foot, and each of the toes in order, from the big toe to the little toe, as I pass my attention down the left side of my body.

At this point it is clear to me that I have a considerably more inclusive experience of my head, neck and left side of my body than of the right side. I can verify this through my experience.

Now I circle up the right side of the body sensing each toe of the right foot in order, from the little toe to the big toe, then the top of the right foot, the ball of the foot, arch, instep, heel, ankle, calf, knee, thigh, and buttock. 

I continue up the right hand, sensing the little finger, fourth finger, middle finger, forefinger, and thumb. Then I sense the palm of the hand, back of the hand, wrist, fore-arm, elbow, upper arm, and right shoulder. If I have been sitting with my hands together, I notice again the sensation of the one hand touching the other.

I continue to check for muscular tensions and when I notice them, I try intentionally to relax those muscles.

There is, at this time, a more complete global experience of myself. However, I wish also to more fully include the torso in this experience, so I intentionally breathe deeply, again noticing the inhalation and exhalation, and especially experiencing the movement of the diaphragm as my chest expands and contracts. I sense the air as it passes through my nostrils and into my lungs as I inhale and exhale. If I am a person who has learned to breathe abdominally, I also sense the movement within my abdomen as it contracts and expands.

I pass my attention down the torso from upper to lower, continuing to include more and more in the attention, sensing the solar plexus, the lower abdomen, the genitalia. I may then also wish to pass my attention from lower to upper, paralleling the spine and sensing each part of the torso in the reverse direction. I may notice a flow of vibratory energy coursing through the body rising from the area of the genitalia. I may possibly notice an additional flow of energy that seems to descend through the body from the head. Whatever I notice I simply include in my attention. All the while I am still holding the global experience of my physical presence including all my limbs, in my attention. (Students of hatha yoga may recognize the vibratory flow as the awakening of kundalini, the vibratory force usually paralleling the spine. Sometimes this is called kundalini yoga. Students of tao may understand what
appears as a circular vibratory movement as the so-called “microcosmic orbit.')

Now, here I am in this place, in this moment, relaxed with this more complete experience of myself. Included in my attention is the global sensation of my physical presence, the awareness of certain external impressions that continue to come in to the attention, the experience of vibratory energy, and even thoughts and emotions that I watch detachedly. I am here now! I hold still in this state of expanded and pure attention, mind quieted, and constructively imagined or actually experienced energy coursing through the body. I am in this state and aware of being aware of myself. I am self-conscious with not even a fleeting thought in my attention. 

Physical discomfort often sets a limit to the period of undisturbed meditation. We may, therefore, have to learn to change our position occasionally (not fidgeting) without disturbing the state of mind. This, incidentally, is one of the side benefits of getting accustomed to physical work, with all the aches and pains that must be tolerated and lived with.Thus, we learn to put up with a fair degree of discomfort before feeling forced to move. When the mind truly withdraws, the body and its discomforts are forgotten.

Another obstacle to long meditation, is the sheer habit of sleeping a fixed number of hours, with the accompanying belief that we must have our full sleep in order to be bright and alert in the competitive world. The actual need of sleep for an individual on the Fourth Way is about 4−5 hours,23 with possibly an odd 10 minutes (or longer if possible) of withdrawal into meditation occasionally during the day, in addition to the morning meditation period. Recent medical studies insist that most human beings do not get enough sleep. Many practitioners of the Work find the opposite to be true. The point is that the state of true meditation is as restful as sleep and often more so. What we are really fighting is not the body's demands for rest, but the fixed mental belief that those demands must be satisfied. 

Supporting that "belief" is the conscious or subconscious knowledge that sleep is an escape. Meditation is not an escape.

Meditation exercises such as this can temporarily still the mind, but we remain, as it were, in the midst of a stilled mental process that can and does start again at any moment. Adequate stillness usually requires a period of prolonged sitting.

If we hold quiet, the next thing to look for is a slight dissociation from the thinking process, which makes it relatively easy to stay in this quiet state. It is peaceful but eventually unsatisfying. This state can deepen into the state where the body passes into sleep and we are awake within it. Deliberately invoking sleep, while keeping in a position that discourages sleep, is an aid in this process. It also points to the fact that this movement is not, initially, anything that we can achieve by intention. In practice, we have to hold in the quiet state and let ourselves get tired.

After sitting quietly for a sufficiently long period, there will occur a "shift" from the intense awareness of the body, to a total detachment from it. Here we begin to "back out," using the attention to move further and further back in our awareness from the detached body.

At this moment, through the above suggested techniques or something similar, the chain of thought will have exhausted itself, and a kind of vacuity exists before the next chain of thought begins. In this critical moment, an emotional yearning (not a thought) for self-transcendence may be set up. This moment in between chains of thought does not seem to be in time, even though it is measurable in time, because the potential experience is of a different order. This has an emotional component but it is without thought. To pass beyond into the unitive vision requires:

1. Prolonged effort.
2. Aspiration.        
3. The help of maximized energy garnered through transmutation and conservation

4. Grace, or what appears as grace, because we have no direct control over it.

Persistent perseverance without actual expectation of this "grace," which sometimes is called "help from above," is a sort of indirect control.

This effort is like leaning with our back to a door. 

We hold steady, steady! Eventually, the door will open of its own accord and we'll "fall" through. It is a falling through the "barrier" to the real world, free of all fear and desire. There will be a moment of
unconsciousness, but then one becomes conscious in a different state. It is like falling to sleep except that in falling to sleep you just go unconscious and stay that way. Here, after the moment of unconsciousness, one is conscious of standing in the bigger self, of seeing things from a more detached perspective, the perspective of the unitive vision. Passing through the "barrier" can be an ecstatic experience, but it does not necessarily happen to all people as some sort of dramatic thing. Some            people do just ease into it.

The unitive experience or unitive vision is the ultimate objective of meditation. But the different terms used to describe it: the "real world," "objective consciousness," "enlightenment," all lack specificity in helping us to understand just what it is. It has been said that the unitive experience cannot be described in words, although numerous people have attempted a description. Thomas Merton, the Christian
mystic, was one of many people who have tried to describe the ecstasy of his awakening into the unitive vision. His description of it is representative:

We enter a region which we had never even suspected, and yet it is this new world which seems familiar and obvious. The old world of our senses is now the one that seems to us strange, remote and unbelievable ...

A door opens in the center of our being and we seem to fall through it into immense depths which, although they are infinite, are all accessible to us; all eternity seems to have become ours in this one placid and breathless contact ...

You seem to be the same person and you are the same person that you have always been: in fact you are more yourself than you have ever been before. You have only just begun to exist. You feel as if you were at last fully born. All that went before was a mistake, a fumbling preparation for birth. Now you have come out into your element. And yet now you have become nothing. You have sunk to the center of your own poverty, and there you have felt the doors fly open into infinite freedom, into a wealth which is perfect because none of it is yours and yet it all belongs to you. And now you are free to go in and out of infinity ... And you, while you are free to come and go, yet as soon as you attempt to make
words or thoughts about it you are excluded − you go back into your exterior in order to talk. 

The "breathless contact" written of by Merton is that which takes place in the vacuity between two chains of thought. The region he describes is not in the world of the senses and, therefore, does not seem to the meditator to be experienced in passing time.

Once we have had the experience of breaking through, we will know that the experience has been had. It will then not necessarily be repeatable at will, but the direction in which to go will be known, and continuing efforts will eventually bring about repeated access. Having had the experience, we will want to watch, observe, stick at it, even push. We are bound to make "mistakes," but we cannot find the right track without trying out a few wrong ones.

We need to remember, if we get stuck with nothing happening, it is likely to be because we think we ourself can do it, the ordinary mundane "I," whereas that "I" can only serve the higher being that does the thing. Therefore, we may have to go on sitting and watching for longer than we need to at first.We cannot make something happen. We simply make ourselves available for the experience.

This step of "passing beyond" is that for which earlier work should prepare us for untermed periods of sitting. Although we may be able to arrive at a sufficient quietude after about 20 minutes of sitting, we need to allow sufficient time after that, during which we make ourselves available to further experience. It is best not to set up a predetermined time limit.

It must be remembered that the sort of instruction being given here is for people who have practiced long enough to have formed a degree of self-consciousness through the preliminary exercises. Only then is there something to stay awake when the barrier is passed.

It is best if the thing that we are seeking can be understood in more subtle terms, so that the attention can be turned in the right direction, and some sort of "active imagination" can be put to practical use. But for this to work, there has to be full acceptance of the reality of subtle energies. "Active imagination" cannot work if it is thought to be mere imagination.

Once we have learned to transcend the barrier, teaching of a higher order can be received. This does not necessarily mean that there will be visions of a wise sage propounding great wisdom. Often, teaching is received simply as insight that appears

to come from, we know not where, from the very center of our being. At the same time, images received in the deep meditative state, as distinguished from turning thoughts or imaginative reveries, should be carefully noted for the purpose of familiarization, before they are set aside.

We should realize that facility in meditative practice is ordinarily attainable only with long experience. So we need not be discouraged at any apparent lack of success, and we must remember that our work is to provide the conditions for a different experience, not to presume that we can generate the experience itself.

Meditation must be practiced every day at least once each day, preferably upon arising. It is a daily reminder to function in self-consciousness as we proceed through our day. Its quietude provides us the best conditions to experience the dividing of attention.

Dividing of the attention is necessary to commence the separation of the real self from the personality. Remember Gurdjieff's dictum: "As long as a man (or woman) does not separate himself from himself he can achieve nothing and no one can help him." During this next week, let us take it as an exercise that every day we will go somewhere in our home and sit quietly using the meditative techniques that have been suggested here or something similar. It is important that this morning sitting become a primary and regular part of our day, something that we will not want to skip.

Meditation may be the one essential practice, without which nothing of significance will happen.

But we need to caution ourselves that more is required of us than just sitting in silence once or twice each day.

The requirements of total self-dedication cannot be met by an hour or two's practice. One cannot be totally "given" at some times of the day and following one's own selfish interests at other times. The attempt has to be made to bring the totality of one's nature into harmony with one's perceptions of the nature and source of being. 



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