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I FOCUS ON WHAT IS ALREADY HEALTHY

“In each moment, I choose how I see and interact with the Universe.”

Natural Intelligence can never be exhausted or die.   It is permeated with vital life energy that is both our birthright and our most natural way of being.   Yet it can go “into hiding” when rigid or repetitive patterns of movement, breathing and belief systems override and suffocate its natural flow.   These repetitive patterns are called “inertial schemes” meaning that they do not innovate,  instead they just keep following the same old route, carving a rut in one’s system, physically, mentally, emotionally, energetically.  But as we know from nature, where there is a rut, there must be an organic healthy ground material into which that “groove” was originally “carved.” Imagine that original material as your vibrant, healthy tissue.  What is healthy always underlies even the symptoms that may seem unhealthy.   As we move into our Yoga practices as a way of healing, we are more interested in the body-mind’s potential as a systemic whole, rather than specific symptoms.   Our practices widen perception so that we might sense what DOES feel pleasurable and healthy first and expand that healthy sensation into “stuck” areas.  

While you may come to a yoga practice to alleviate symptoms of pain, anxiety or disease, it is important to rest your intention on what is already healthy inside your living body.  This is not a denial of symptoms, but a widening out to contribute your perceptive and mental energy beyond the narrow yet insistent symptoms.  Include the message of the symptom in the much wider vista of what is healthy.  In most cases, there is much more that IS healthy that not.  Painful symptoms have a habit of “stealing the show” and we can send much of our energy focusing on how to eliminate them.  As we allow our Yoga practice to improve our health, we acknowledge symptoms as indicators of unbalance that holdhealing solutions inherently within them.   

The first guideline of focusing on the healthy is to be very aware of the inner habit of complaint and developing present moment awareness of what is happening now, acknowledging the emotions and feelings around that . . . yet letting things remain mutable and changeable rather than solidifying or justifying them through complaint.

Complaint consumes more vital life force energy than other action. Complaining takes you away from WHAT IS.   Of course, we can state the way something is, and it may not be what we envisioned to be our ideal situation, but when we state the situation we must do so without giving it too much energy or creating an identity or life-story about it.  It is simply the way things are at the moment and there is certainty of change.   Complaint gives so much energy to what we are complaining about, that we create energy gobbling monsters out of what we wish to eliminate.  Generally people complain because they feel victim to a certain situation and have the idea that they have no other choice.    

So, instead of complaining, we invoke the positive.  This is much more than just positive thinking.  This is focusing on what already exists as healthy and expanding its vibrant charged power.  By first shifting our focus to what is pleasurable, healthy and whole, we intentionally call upon the powerful vibration of healthy cells and tissue to help balance those that may at the moment be weak.  It has been said that inherent in every “problem” is a solution.   I have experimented enough with intention and invocation to know that this is undoubtedly true.   We have to open and shift our perception to the WIDE instead of the narrow.

Intention is a way of creating movement by focusing mind and heart energy on what is already healthy.   The Hawaiian shamans in the tradition of Huna teach a principle that says, “energy flows where attention goes.”   This is intention and attention.   Imagination is born out of this intention and is a vivid sensing and imaging in a full sensorial experience of what that healthy energy looks and feel like in our bodies now.  Imagine what you would feel like, with all of your senses, if your body was pulsing with health and balanced energy.  This is somatic imag-in-ation.  When we couple intention with imagination, we create an invocation, a powerful calling in of the qualities of mental and sensorial energy that grows the intended/imagined experience into reality.

 

This vivid intentioning is sending messages to all the systems of your body, through the messenger of the nervous system to begin to create balance.  The intention creates momentum and wide reaching direction. The sensorial imagination initiates various chemical and hormonal responses in throughout your system.  A process of change is begun that is rooted in healthy, regenerative response rather than defense or attack.

It may take some time to create new mental, emotional and physical pathways towards health, but by remaining with your focus on what is already healthy, you will find threads of pleasure that expand toward what you feel as contracted or depleted, and these feelings of pleasure are nutrients for the system. This yoga practice is designed for exactly this. To focus on what is already healthy, to amplify that positive charge, to create an adaptable readiness of the body tissue for your healthy body-mind to support necessary changes towards a regenerative state of being.   Healthy tissue, given the proper environment and encouragement grows faster and with more efficiency than disease.

Albert Einstein was known to say that we each have a choice to make:  You can choose to live in either a friendly universe or a hostile universe.  But you cannot live in both.  

For me, this has been wisdom to live by.  Try choosing to live intentionally in a friendly universe and see what happens.  The friendly universe is where ALL that occurs is undeniably to your advantage and a vital part of the great turnings of the universe

Focusing on what is healthy is the first step to living in a friendly universe.   It sets the tone for our practice and our lives.  This shift of perception works very rapidly . . . so be prepared to feel your life change towards the positive and flow with the changes that that will bring.

 

This article is an excerpt from Ateeka's 2012 book:  LOVE IS UNDER MY SKIN.

 

 

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PLAY, HUMOR & PLEASURE: The Way a Body Learns

When do we stop learning?  Hopefully never!  Introduce into your life new information, new ideas, new movement, new people, new ways of being and you will continue to feel full of vitality and curiosity.  Nearly all levels of our being, physical, intellectual, emotional, psychological, neurological, are nourished by encounters with what is innovative and fresh.

So, if learning keeps us so young, vital and alive, why do so many resent the learning process?   Our western paradigm for education has been one that generally does not stimulate creativity nor encourage us to be innovative.  The institutional education model that most of us have grown up with is one that follows the industrial concept of “accountability” and “control”.   Fun and creativity take a back seat (or get no seat at all!) to productivity.   In this model, motivation suffers and stress increases.  It is not a system that encourages growth and renewal.  It is not sustainable and will not create a long lasting healthy environment.

 Well, artists, rockers and rebels, REJOICE . . . because the practice of YOGA SOMATICS goes beyond the institutional rules and gives us a new model for innovative, integrated learning.    We play, we laugh, we make contact, we empathize and above all, we enjoy!   In the process, we become enriched both individually and on a community level.     This is how we truly learn.  . . we absorb “information” and transform it, through experience, into personal wisdom.

 

We Play

 

“Play is the exultation of the possible.”

Martin Buber

 

Play is the most primary and fundamental activity that fosters learning and growth.  Children intuitively learn through “playing”.  It is their “job” to play all day, and an important job it is . . . because they are growing in every way at blazing speeds.  Animals, in their own unique ways, play their whole lives through.   We too can reclaim our right to play!   Play is made up of the cycles of free choice, movement and discovery.   YOGA SOMATICS is a forum for play and discovery.   The aspect of free movement in the progression invites us to develop a presence-filled curiosity and we allow ourselves to be sensitively inquisitive and engaged deeply in the process unfolding before our very eyes and heart. With delight, we can participate in the co-creation of movement expressions of the YOGA SOMATICS sharing.

 

Engaged play supports healthy development of sense of self and self-esteem.  Our sense of humor is born of play.  We learn about ourselves, about our own humanity and about how to accept success and make mistakes as a part of an on-going process.   When we are well established in our own personal presence, we can be of greater support to another as their process unfolds.   This is a fundamental quality that is both learned and utilized in a YOGA SOMATICS or TANTSU sharing.   The more present I am in my own being, the more we can both enjoy our shared being-ness in the practice.  Play gives rise to coherence.

 

We Laugh

“Humor is the affectionate communication of insight.”

Leo Rosten

 

Humor is one of the most important factors in creating a positive emotional state-of-being.   In turn, positive emotions create a fertile environment for cognitive and neurological development.  Humor is one of the most essential ingredients for integrated learning.   A sympathetic glance at the soft side of humanity can bring a kind smile to our face, and a feeling in our cells, that “we are all in this together!”  Well-intentioned humor can create a strong bond between us and develop trust.     When we are having fun, we generally do not feel under threat.  Our nervous system lets down its vigilant guard and a new level of trust and group interaction and synergy arises.  Fun leads to trust, and trust tells our systems that it is safe to assimilate new ideas and information.

 

Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive and empathize with our own emotions and those of others.   As we grew, if we were lucky to have humor and wisdom in our families, we may have learned ways of expressing and embodying the wide range of emotions felt by humans.  Others may have learned ways of managing, repressing or using emotions to manipulate the world around us. The heart resonance generated in a YOGA SOMATICS or TANTSU practice offers a possibility to shed new light on our emotions and reclaim our emotional bodies.  When peppered with kind and loving humor, this process can become fun, light and penetrate deeper into our heart, than would a forceful catharsis. 

 

Laughing has been scientifically proven to relieve stress and increases vital energy.  It creates movement all throughout the body, frees the diaphragm, increases breath capacity and reduces conflict.  If two people with opposing viewpoints can find a bridge through humor and laughter, maybe they are not so far away from resolution after all.  Humor and laughter facilitates creativity, even in problem solving.   When we are resolving conflict, we are opening to new ways, which again, means that our systems are learning something new.   

 

The water in which we practice Yoga Somatics in the form of AQUA-YOGA-SOMA is a very resonate element.  You may notice when you are in a sharing group, that some silly little human happening sets someone to laugh, and before you know it, the whole pool is in a belly laugh.  The water enhances this effect (but it certainly happens on land too!)    Lightheartedly, find something to get the laughter going, something silly, something common and human . . . and see what happens!   The whole pool, the whole room, your whole being will be filled with a bubbly presence of joy and exhilaration.   This is a state that education consultant, Mary K. Morrison calls “humergy”.  A peak moment when you are overflowing with the feeling of vitality, alertness, joy and energy through humor!  Humergy is a radically healing state and VERY VERY FUN!  I bet you are smiling just reading this right now!

 

We Empathize

 

Healthy imitation leads to possibility leads to authenticity.

 

The act of witnessing a new kind movement in another creates new neurological growth within our own systems.  Simply watching another’s movement inspires a  “kinesthetic empathy” of subtle motor and neural activity in the body. Often we don’t even know that a movement, or thought or concept is even possible until we witness it in another.   The “Mirror Neuron Theory” suggests that in the act of observation, our bodies empathize with and learn about the movements and gestures we are exposed to.

 

So, especially in learning new movement, or un-learning repetitive movement patterns, somatic imitation may be a great jump-start.  As children we have all learned by imitation, and then as we have matured hopefully taken that inspiration on towards our own authentic expression. The objective is not to “copy” what we have seen but simply have exposure to new possibilities and let our bio-systems take it from there.   To try to copy will shut down your creative flow, and inhibit an intelligent organic learning process.  Instead a somatic imitation happens simply and automatically, trust that it is happening, sense what the movement might feel like and then just let go. The YOGA SOMATICS and TANTSU experience offer a great opportunity for learning through this “kinesthetic empathy” as we will sometimes be in the role of the participatory witness.  While it may seem that our main “function” is to hold the space for who is receiving, we at the same time receive millions of information impulses every second as we perceive the movement experience our partners.   It is learning through empathy and without effort.

 

When we shift the role of the “practitioner” our objective is not to imitate what we have witnessed the teacher transmitting, but the empathetic effects remain imprinted in our tissues and we may find that we can flow through new movements with more ease and grace simply from observing.  Out of this new “neural dexterity” can grow new potentials for creative response and authenticity that may not have been possible before.  Coupled with other integrative learning tools of play, humor and pleasure, somatic imitation can be very useful in the moment.

 

We Enjoy

 

In all of our YOGA SOMATICS and TANTSU practices, we encourage an atmosphere of ease, enjoyment and pleasure.  Play, humor and empathy evoke ease.  Ease is the opposite of stress and sets the tone for the body’s innate regenerative processes to engage naturally.  In a pleasure state (when the nervous system is in a state of parasympathetic response), we slow down, cells renew, breathing becomes more ample and relaxed, we notice and enjoy more, and all life processes become more efficient.  Pleasure is inherent in the cellular and systemic regenerative processes.

 

Change, even from a redundant or unhealthy environment to a more positive one can be a stressor to the bio-system if not made with the intention of creating a pleasurable experience.   A pleasurable environment gently dissolves negative biological response without aggression.   Pleasure paves the way for the nervous system and all of the body’s tissues and fluids to be re-informed with new possibilities and a creates a positive biological response in the process of the change.  Who is in our Watsu or Tantsu cradle understands that we are here as a friendly support, we are not a threat. In this non-threatening, pleasurable environment, our partner has the opportunity for his/her habitual defensive reactions to transform into positive intention for change.  Pleasure is the original alchemist, it transforms!

 

It is important to understand that pleasure is not “excitement” as is commonly inferred.  A stimulating experience can be “sensually pleasurable” and positively invigorating. Exciting events can activate the sympathetic nervous system in a positive way and energizing way.  This can be a playful and essential jump-start for igniting more vital life force energy in our systems.   However, for the regenerative processes and parasympathetic nervous system mode of repose to be engaged, pleasure is experienced like a wide, vast, expansive sensation of wellbeing, relaxed and being in the flow of life.

 

 

We Embody

 

A wise man has no extensive knowledge; He who has extensive knowledge is not a wise man.

Lao-Tzu “Tao te Ching”

 

When we can truly embody our experiences of play, pleasure, humor, contact, breathing and witnessing, our learning becomes integrated.  The combination of all that we have “learned” and our own unique life experience is expressed through us as individuals, not just walking encyclopedias of accumulated knowledge. Learning becomes embodied understanding when it originates from an attitude of playfulness and joy, not obligation or repetitive studying.   Learning, practicing, sharing, assimilation, integration of knowledge becomes personal understanding.

 

Nothing is more boring that someone who simply recites facts.  Instead, the fascinating human is the one who simply and honestly lives what they have experienced, and without pretense, remains open to each new adventure.  Without play, we become old.  Without humor, we become grumpy. Without empathy, we become stuck and rigid. Without pleasure, we become brittle and dry.   Jump into the school of life and its ongoing course of “play-sure” (play + pleasure) where you will be most authentically informed and enriched.   Dare to dance the juicy dance of life! You might think you look silly . . . but then again, you might make someone smile and that is the start of a wonderful education!

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Awakening Natural Intelligence

“All of our practices have only one goal (if there is a goal) and that is to awaken natural intelligence.”

Our  yoga practices are based on a holistic vision that when all living systems are coherently connected, a “natural intelligence” arises from within creating balance and harmony in every aspect of our lives.  Natural Intelligence is an all-encompassing holistic intelligence that emanates from every cell of every living being.  It is a self-regulating, sensing, responsive, adaptable entity that is made up of all that we are, ever have been and ever will be.  Inherently creative, Natural Intelligence is intimately connected with the vibrations that emanate from all other beings.   

Natural intelligence can be felt as an innate connection to the rhythms of the natural world and to the movements inside your body.  It is the seat of presence when you honor your intuition.  Natural Intelligence responds with one word instead of many.  Natural Intelligence is deep listening and right response from that listening.  Natural Intelligence knows how to contribute and how to receive.  Natural Intelligence is in a constant state of moving towards dynamic balance.  Natural Intelligence is willingness to change direction, willingness to adapt, willingness to connect.  The allowing of Natural Intelligence brings you back to your own regenerative and creative power.  Within it circulates vital life force energy of prana, within it moves all the movements of life.  Throughout it we live, breathe and have experiences.  Natural Intelligence supports an interactive and meditative state of being.

It is my wish for you that your life becomes a joyful meditative journey guided by your Natural Intelligence rather than an imposed set of principles or rules.  It is my wish you for that in each moment, while you participate in all of the experiences of this great play of life called leela, that you can remain connected to the field of possibilities that exists when your Natural Intelligence is flowing. 

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Prana

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Prana is the vital life force energy that pulses through the universe and sustains all life. It is a permeating energy that penetrates all spaces and is a natural birthright of all living creatures. It costs nothing and as it is inexhaustible, gives of “itself” freely. Prana is available to us through clean air, sun, water, healthy foods, movement, touch, companionship, community, energy of our ancestors and other energetic sources.

The natural world freely gives to us a never-ending supply of prana . . . however modern day situations may actually deplete this vital life force energy from us. Yoga practices of many different traditions through various techniques aim to enhance our awareness and capacity to cultivate and conserve prana.

In our modern society, stress is one of the most serious problems affecting health and wellness. Stress and its related symptoms can be attributed to a “system” that has fallen out of its natural balance and continues to expend rather than conserve and recycle its own prana. Stressful situations create mental and emotional incoherence, which create “holding patterns” in the body’s tissues. These are places where we shut down the natural movement of life and breath through the tissue and repetitively “store” the stress that we experience in our lives. The catch is that these “holding patterns” require immense amounts of prana to maintain . . . prana that could be utilized for living with more energy, freedom and fun.

Prana is harvested in the exchange of life’s polarities. The most natural and constant polarity in human life is respiration. The mutual exchange of the in- breath and the out-breath is the most immediate way that a human can access prana. It is said that prana “rides on the breath” and in fact, the yoga practice of pranayama amplifies the possibility for breath-energy to flow freely through the entire body, recharging the tissues with new energy for life. It is the very act of “constant change” that generates prana. Breath is the first and most potent nourishment in our lives. The first step towards cultivating a free flow of prana in your system is accepting life’s gift of breath completely.

A body in innovative movement cultivates more prana. Fluid and explorative movement and asana (hatha yoga positions) combined with the breath will help to liberate “imprisoned” prana being held in “holding patterns” in the body. Gentle, respectful and inquisitive explorations into your yoga movement will create more elasticity in the tissues, allowing the body’s fluids to infuse the cells and allowing for greater oxygenation and a prana recharge through the entire system.

The body too has its “seasons”. To enjoy a state of vitality and health, natural cyclical rhythms need to be acknowledged. Our modern society, with its industrial inclination campaigns promotes ever-increasing efficiency and production and consumption. Instead, if we observe the way that life and nature moves, we notice many different rhythms interwoven. We notice cycles of birth, growth and dissolution all happening simultaneously and harmoniously. One is not more important than the other. All parts of the cycle support the wellness of the “whole.” Our bodies are part of this natural world . . . we are not machines. Prana becomes freely available and conserved by honoring our more natural rhythms. Accessing the wealth of prana depends on our commitment to living WITH life itself . . . rather than manipulating life’s currents to fit our desires. It is literally . . . “going with the flow.” Being near nature will help to observe life’s natural cycles and through this slowing down and easing into a state of receptiveness, we can absorb more the abundant sources of prana all around us. We will also be able to understand inherently the best use for the prana that we are harvesting.

When prana is flowing freely through your system, you will naturally experience a balanced energetic vitality. Other indications of when prana is flowing freely through your bio-system: living life in a state of observation and discovery, having creative responses to surprising situations, adaptability, a positive outlook on life, undisturbed sleep and often vivid dreams, good digestion and assimilation, inclination towards eating healthy foods, clear vision and thinking, full and easeful respiration, healthy and natural expression of sexual energy and for women: regular and easeful me

The key to accessing prana is simply finding ways to open your system to accept more. Prana is not a resource that can be acquired, bottled and stored away “for a rainy day”. . . It thrives on movement, change and freedom in the flow of the channel. The more we free our systems from the ties that bind us, we can become living, breathing, playing open channels of prana . . . and that is when the fun really begins!

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The Vital Importance of the Pause

THE VITAL IMPORTANCE OF THE PAUSE

by Ateeka

When we are engaged in “exploring flow” . . . the great mediator between the In and the Out . . . the expanse and the contract is the PAUSE. It is the non-action from which all action is born, the mother of the flow, the subtle pulsing potentiality that precedes manifestation. To dive into the depths of the Yoga Somatics practice, it is vital that we become intimate friends with the pause . . . as it is here where communion and healing begins.

THE SOURCE and THE FLOW

Like any river or stream of water, the flow is born of a source. Often we do not know the origin of the source. Sometimes in our curiosity, we go seeking the “source”. Metaphorically, it may be “underground”. It may be frozen in the form of “ice” or high above our heads in a “lofty thunderhead”. In searching for the source, sometimes we track “up river”. Seeking the source may send it further into refuge. The search for the source can begin and end here and now when we recognize that the source is inherent in the flow. From a systemic point of view, one single drop equals the entire ocean. When we drop into the pause and listen lightly with all of our heart, we can sense the essence, the origin, the latent potentiality from which the flow is born. No amount of seeking will bring us any closer to the source of the flow than we already are right now.

In Yoga Somatics,  this pause (known as “stillness”) floats on ‘the emptiness that resides at the bottom of the breath.” Following our in-breath and our out-breath is one of the most natural ways to know the flow and the pockets of pause inside of the flow. There is no need to change or manipulate your breath to be anything different than it already is. The simple act of noticing your breath helps to create balance and over time any necessary changes in your breathing will happen naturally. Our bodies are a miraculous mélange of intelligent body-mind-emotional intricacy, that when given then right environment, flow naturally towards a state of receptivity and balance. Simple noticing of the breath, simple noticing of ourselves, just as we are, here, right now. . . is the first step in creating that healthy environment. When we slow down into ourselves, we become more sensitive containers for our partner’s experience.

FLOW IS IN YOUR NATURE

Nature flows and fluxes and pauses. Fruits return to the ground after the long summer season to pause (decompose) in the cool moist earth. Seeds rest, pregnant with latent potentiality ready to return to life’s growth cycle upon the perfect conditions in the Spring. We too, are magnificent manifestations of the natural world. We too, live in inherent cycles of birth, growth, death, transformation, pause and rebirth. Yoga Somatics serves as a safe and supported “living laboratory” in which we can accept, live and experiment with life’s cyclical nature.  What we learn as we practice Yoga Somatic can then be brought out into how we live our day-to-day lives in resonance with nature’s cycles.

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THE FEAR OF THE PAUSE

Our modern society has conditioned us for input and action. We have been trained that if we are not “doing something” that we are lazy or will fall behind or “lose ground.” From a neurological perspective, being in constant action is counter-productive.

As the practice of yoga is endless, goal-less, there is no need to try to accomplish or arrive at the end. What’s the hurry? No “award” awaits the end of a sequence well executed in the “right” amount of time. Enjoy each moment of its luxurious flow. Don’t be concerned to “finish”. The cycle tends to find it's own “finish” that may or may not look like what you expected. Like this, you will have all the time in the world to “drop into the pause”. ENJOY!

The pause is an inherent part of the deep listening process in the practice. It is the rest, the fallow, the re-absorption, the honoring of the latent potentiality, trust in the rhythms of the universe. It takes courage to PAUSE, because our society generally doesn’t support this patient inner listening. The pause gives opportunity to listen deeply within oneself. It gives an opportunity to hear the voice of our own Truth. It gives opportunity for vital life force to grow. It gives possibility to expand our perception of the world around us. It allows us to recognize that we can be simultaneously autonomous AND in collaborative sharing with each other. It gives us the incentive to know our own individual organic rhythms FREE from culturally imposed beliefs and mechanized cadences.

How can we really be ourselves if we have not stopped to listen to who we really are? Listen deeply to your hearts desires and your natural rhythms, the callings of your cells, the movement of your fluid. A Yoga Somatics practice gives space and containment for your inner inquiry.

Don’t be afraid of silence. The pause need not only be a point along a Yoga Somatics or Tantsu progression. Perceive the needs of your partner, and when you sense it . . . you can slow down, open up, be still and let awareness grow in the stillness of the “pause.” Be willing to rest in the pause as nourishment for both you and if you are working with another, your companion.

MOMENTS OF INTEGRATION
The pause is not falling asleep or just hanging out. The pause is not “stopping”
The pause (“stillness”) is light and wide full presence awareness of JUST THE WAY THINGS ARE . . . right now. . . and a personal witnessing of how they pulse, change and evolve. It is the willingness to flow with the change.

Pause equals integration. The movements, contact and sensorial input of a Yoga Somatics or Tantsu  practice can introduce a myriad of new neurological information to our nervous systems (whether giver, receiver or witness). This new information enriches and complexifies one’s nervous system’s capacity to adapt and respond to new situations.

Integration is very important. Once new “information” has been introduced to the nervous system, a period of pause (or stillness) is essential so that our systems have the “time and space” to integrate what it has learned. Without the pause, an information overload can occur. In overload, essentially all systems shut down in a mode of self-protection. All healthy living systems thrive in this cycle of input then integration. On a base level, think about digestion. Imagine that you just eat and eat without pause and never give time for the food you take in to digest. What could have been potential nourishment becomes a toxic overload and our intelligent bio-systems shut down to say “enough”. The function is the same with any input to our system, whether food, movement, contact, information, mental process, relationship, etc. All living systems need a balance of input and integration for ultimate health.

So, you are invited to simply slow down, notice life happening around you and get used to that long, slow melting into the Pause . . . see what happens! You may be delightfully surprised of all that “occurs” under the busy happenings of every day life . . . life’s intricate and subtle movements are so fascinating and we can become intimate with them in the deep listening of the pause. Ahhhh!

adapted from an article written for Harold Dull's book, TANTSU: A Yoga of the Heart

 

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Breath as our most intimate companion

In the practice of Yoga Somatics, breath is the vital element that initiates our movements and carries us through the flow of our meditations. Breath is the transparent medium through which we meet ourselves. Breathing is an “action” that transmutes itself into an “existence”, a fluxing and flowing existence. As we open more and more to our authentic breath, an ongoing dance of polarities and their union exchange within us. The liberated breath is Tantra.

An authentic organic yoga practice grants us the opportunity to reconnect with the potentiality of our original pulsing breath. Through cultural influences and life experiences, we may have adopted fixed patterns of respiration that can limit a deep and intimate connection with the life force that rides on the breath. Healthy respiration bathes our entire system not only with oxygen, but also vital life source energy often referred to as prana, ki, chi or mana. It is a free flowing, limitless energy. The natural potency of the breath is enhanced by the adaptability and responsiveness of the tissue of the rib cage, diaphragm, spine and pelvis. The breath itself is a sacred and flowing source of life that needs no manipulation or practice to unlock its vital presence. Prana is ever-present and inexhaustable. We can, however, find ways to liberate limitations in our body’s tissues and allow the breath to enter us more fully and freely.

Often we use a great percentage of our “prana” or vital energy to maintain old modes of defense and beliefs based on fear. These can manifest as constraint in the body’s tissues and limits the flow of vital, life-affirming fluids through them. Imagine the great amount of energy available to us when we invest it in present moment joy rather than conditioned beliefs. Imagine feeling safe and fluid within your own skin with ample energy to share. Imagine always having enough. The reality is that this level of health, vitality, abundance and love already exists within us. Coming to know the authentic breath through Systemic yoga practices can help us to recognize this very natural presence.

Slowing down and “freedom riding” the respiration into organic fluid movement immerses us in an ocean rich in experiences that we may not always access by without this awareness of breath. Our breath becomes our most intimate companion, and we can ride the tides of the breath into a neutral cosmic stillness. . . the heart of meditative presence.

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