Thich Nhat Hanh
So much is made of ‘raising our vibration’, about becoming more ‘ecstatic’ and even ascending to higher realms. And while I do affirm these are useful strides on the spiritual path, often we neglect the whole other side to our development, namely the path of descension, that is descending deeper into our bodies, where the more ethereal flows of our souls (which so frequently soar up to higher chakras) are coaxed to merge with the great temple of the body. One of the truest loves any one will know is that of body and soul, uniting in mystical yet grounded intimacy. From their coupling (the essential yin (body) + yang (soul) matrix) a golden child is born called bliss.
So much of healing is about being in the body or, as I like to say, being ‘devotionally embodied’—in loving connection with our body and the Earthbound lower chakras. The lower chakras tend to get neglected by those on the spiritual path because they present often the most challenging initiations. For instance, the Root Chakra at the base of our spine asks us to master Earthly things, such as building a true sense of security in our lives, based on appropriate boundaries, living with integrity in time and space, creating a stable home life and harmony in family and friendship bonds. The Sacral Chakra asks us to master our creative energy, which is on the same continuum of our sexuality, perhaps one of the gravest wounds for us as a species to currently integrate. Sexuality beckons us toward ethical use of this most potent energy in the body, to seek out a skillful use of it and be wary of the casual sex culture that sees a clumsy form of boundary-less freedom as the right way to use our sex energy. The Solar Plexus Chakra asks us to master the right use of power, which is always in service of the Heart and love. This is where we also hone a healthy egoic identity that works in integration with a path of service so we’re balancing our necessary selfish needs with the aim toward selfless work where our actions in the world are offered to a higher purpose that holds us all.
"There is more to life than increasing its speed." ~Mohandas K. Gandhi
One of the most excellent ways to work with these chakras and even all of the chakras is to be perpetually in the body. The great spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle’s, whose seminal book The Power of Now has brought so much momentum to the spiritual awakening on the planet, is to the point on this. Central to his teachings (and often forgotten) is his practice of inner-body awareness, which is continually keeping some of our awareness rooted in the tangible feeling of our body’s energy field. This allows us to mitigate many dangers on the spiritual path, such as spiritual bypassing by overly focusing on the mystical, descending us into the pragmatic tasks of our Earthy living. I cannot explain how many times I have met someone who purports to be ‘spiritual’ and yet their Earthly lives are a mess. They haven’t mastered becoming financially viable, have rifts and distrust in many of their relationships due to repressing darker, ‘negative’ sentiments such as giving someone feedback when they’re not acting appropriately, are excessively ascetic or, on the other extreme, believe acting crazy = freedom, etc. For example, I recall a few years ago speaking to someone who was dealing with serious issues with someone and I kept counselling them to have an earnest conversation with them to share their pain and commence a resolution. They shirked from such a ‘confrontation’ and maintained that they would heal the rift by just sending this other ‘loving light’ during meditations. Now, such meditations are powerful and I use them too BUT we also must engage the tangible world. Sadly, their rift still lives on with more acrimony piled on through years of denial of the third dimension potential for healing. The path of ascension is authentic yet we must continually ask ourselves this most pressing question: are we interested in higher realms to escape the adversities of the lower?
"Beware the barrenness of a busy life." Socrates
When we try to ‘raise our vibe’ continually, we actually substantially tax our already burnt out nervous systems. Our modern day is already vibrating way too fast with all of our digital communication technologies, Facebook addictions, constant texting and social mediating, which are perpetually evolving and innovating. I witness this constantly in my own life and others: people are really having a hard time handling how fast things are going and are using technology to numb and zone out, missing the practice of presence (which is a body-rooted activity) which is the hallmark of any spiritual path. As the great Qigong master Ken Cohen attests: “Spiritual practice begins with body practice.” When I witness people walking around on the streets or waiting for transit and their perpetually looking at a screen I wonder how many moments of precious presence are lost? I just got a cellphone this Spring after eight years without and have noticed a substantial burning out of my attention and nervous system. It takes a revolution of peace and one I'm passionately asserting now in my life.
The answer is not to always seek to ‘raise the vibe’ but actually to slow it down as well and become adept at nurturing both ends of the spectrum. We don’t do this enough, seek out activities that truly bring calm and peace, such as talking long walks in nature, sitting in meditation, taking days off where we let go of multi-tasking and concentrate on one-thing-at-a-time (remember that?), contemplation and reflection, spending really quality time with loved ones, etc. Even modern yoga has become a frenetic fitness class of fervent flows where people leave feeling ‘stoned’ not realizing that’s not a sign of healing but of the nervous system being taxed and depleted. A truly good yoga practice, as Iyengar and many of the great yoga masters have attested, should leave you feeling deliciously energized in a harmonic way, not exhausted.
"The time to relax is when you don't have time for it."
Sydney J. Harris
Returning to Tolle, one of the great exercises in his book is the inner-body awareness meditation where one lies down or sits upright in a chair and simply scans the body from feet to head (or the other way around), moving from one major body part to the next only when one can feel the energy of the part. The whole meditation takes on average about 10-15mins and then we’re invited to linger in the sensation of the whole body vibrating with its fundamental energy. This is significantly healing for all of our cells respond like loving kin to our awareness by exuding an excited energy state that, far from a fast frequency, is actually a slow and humming salve. The breath slows down immensely and one can enter a truly shamanic experience where the stagnant energy of the body begins to flow and heal, revealing even past traumas to be resolved and released. This is also the essence of true meditation, where the vibration of the body and mind slows as does the breath rate. This is the essence of why we feel so rejuvenated after such activities.
The great Taiji symbol of Chinese Medicine is the known as the Supreme Ultimate and is the picture of yin-yang dynamically balanced. This is said to be our natural state when we are truly at rest and peace: yin-yang naturally then move toward harmony; a dynamic, dancing harmony, wave-like. This is one of the most powerful teachings: our nature is balance and when we stop doing so much and just rest and abide in the nature of our being itself, we harmonize ourselves on the most deep and ultimate level (what the Taoists called wu-wei or ‘not doing’ and regarded as one of their most virtuous aspirations—let nature rule).
"To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace." ~Milan Kundera
Raising the vibe and being ecstatic is also integral to our spiritual path. I teach shaking medicine classes and am in an ecstatic dance band where we encourage people to get into high frequency states. However, I always conclude with an offering where people can relax into their bodies, and then conduct offerings where that is the total emphasis.
Loving yourself ever-deeper is the name of the game on the spiritual path because what we’re ultimately loving is our ultimate self, our Atman, as the yogis decry. And when we love ourselves we love the ultimate world for they are one. In our modern, fast-paced world, we need to slow down more, descend more, and fall into our bodies, our nature, our Earthiness with more devotion, discipline (to be a disciple of) and frequency. I encourage you all to make a list of ways you can slow your vibration down. The great healers have always stated that the most healing power is the energy of the Earth itself and our planet’s vibration is a serenely slow vibe. When we slow down our vibration, we entrain with the Earth and miracles happen. As one of my yoga teachers always taught us: ROOT TO RISE :)
"Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering." ~Pooh's Little Instruction Book, inspired by A.A. Milne