The Authentic Self: Developing Awareness
How many times a day do you catch yourself talking to yourself? None, you say? Then here’s a little test. The next time you are in the shower, bring your attention to your feet and hold your focus there. How long can you do it before your thoughts intrude? I really need to give Mom a call. We haven’t spoken since last Wednesday, and she’ll think I don’t love her….Why did Frank ask me to stop at the cleaners after work? Doesn’t he remember Dale’s soccer game starts at five? I’ll barely make it there as it is….I hope the boss is in a better mood today. He was really out of it yesterday….I have a paper due tomorrow. Why did I put off working on it? And the guys are getting together tonight to watch the game. I really need the extra credit. If I don’t turn that paper in on time, I’m screwed. If you are not talking to yourself, who is talking to you?
When meditation was suggested to me several years ago as a way of helping my body to heal while I was in treatment for exposure to toxic chemicals, I had only a foggy notion of what meditation is. Coming of age in the 60s and 70s, I recalled reading about college students who smoked pot or ingested LSD and claimed to meditate, thus linking meditation for me with the use of a mind-altering substance. Faced, however, with the bizarre symptoms brought on by toxic exposure, I was ready to try anything.
I started my meditation practice in the environmentally safe apartment I occupied while I was in treatment. I had been advised to sit quietly in the early morning hours and still my mind. How hard could that be? you might think. What if I told you it was next to impossible? I would sit there in silence, and within seconds the internal chatter would start. Who is in control here? I remember thinking. It isn’t I. That’s for sure. I’m sitting here listening to all this internal chatter while all I wanted was to be quiet. Totally frustrating!
It took months of frustration to understand that I had taken the first step toward discovering my authentic or higher self through these early attempts at meditation. Coupled with the energy balancing treatments I was receiving, meditation was teaching me to observe myself from a new perspective, the perspective of a conscious being in a flesh and blood body. In addition to being crucial in helping my body to heal, not only from the toxic exposure but also from the many chronic illnesses that had made life difficult for me, that change in perception altered how I see the world and everything on it and in it. It led me down a path of ever expanding consciousness that changed me forever.
Who has time for meditation? If you think you need to climb to the top of a mountain and seek solitude to meditate, think again. Meditation can be as simple as taking a deep breath and, when you exhale, sending your breath to your feet.
Let’s learn a few basics. We inhabit bodies that are animated by energies within us and around us. Those energies respond to metabolic changes as well as, for instance, emotional states, food, drink, prescription or other drugs, exercise, thoughts, and breathing. The simple act of taking a deep breath with the intention to clear your mind and be aware of your body is a powerful tool for change.
The energies within and around us form the human energy system. The major components of the energy system include vortices of energy called “chakras,” a Sanskrit word for “spinning wheel.” The major chakras that we generally teach include the root or base (first chakra, dominant color: red), the sacrum (second chakra, dominant color: orange), the solar plexus (third, dominant color: yellow), the heart chakra (fourth chakra, dominant color: green), throat chakra (fifth chakra, dominant color: sky blue), third eye (sixth chakra, dominant color: indigo), and crown (seventh, dominant color: transparent white or lavender). Minor vortices dot the body and number twenty-one.
Energy flows through and around the body in major and minor pathways. The flow that is usually learned first is the simplest. It begins just above your head, flows through the head, down the spine, and exits through the perineum and into the earth. When I first learned to use this flow, I think of it as the primary flow, to ground or “earth” myself, I felt tingling in my feet. That is desirable because, in fact, this major flow moves also through the legs and feet.
Now that you know the basics, let’s try a twenty-second awareness meditation. Visualize, or imagine, the primary flow in your body. Picture the light above your head. As you inhale, see the light move into and through your head and down your spine. As you exhale, see the light move into the earth and send it down deeply. You may feel tingling in your feet, or you may feel nothing at all. Either way, stay in the moment briefly and then let it go. You have just grounded your energies, the first step in supporting the health of your bodymindspirit. Bring your attention back to what you were doing before you started and go on with your day.
You can practice these twenty-second meditations until you are drawn to a longer session. Then, at home or in another comfortable environment, instead of jumping into a more difficult stillness meditation, try this visualization exercise. Sit comfortably in a chair. Remove your shoes. Wiggle your toes and feel the bottoms of your feet. Ground yourself, as described above, that is, complete a twenty-second meditation. Next, set the intention to be peaceful and relaxed. Begin breathing slowly and deeply. With your eyes closed think of a place that appeals to you—a mountain top, a garden, a path in the woods, a beach. See yourself there and allow the scene to unfold in your imagination. For example, if you chose a mountain top, you can begin by hiking a path to the top. Observe what you see during the hike. Animals, birds of a certain size and color, plants or flowers, waterfalls, any or all of these might come into view. Choose an animal, bird, plant or flower to bring to the mountain top. Sit down and allow your companion to communicate with you. You may see images or experience certain feelings. Don’t analyze. Just experience. When you are ready, make your way back to the bottom of the mountain. Return your breathing to normal. Wiggle your toes. Allow impressions of your experience to come forward. Did a certain color dominate? If red was dominant, you may need to strengthen your root chakra. If yellow, then your solar plexus may need support. Were there feelings you need to explore? The best way to explore these feelings is with a counselor, preferably a holistic counselor, who will see you in wholeness.
If you are curious about the intersection between developing awareness and higher consciousness, then check back for future visualizations and meditations. To learn more about the voice that talks to you, I recommend you read the untethered soul: the journey beyond yourself by Michael A. Singer. You will not be disappointed. It is the best discussion of levels of consciousness I have ever read.
Disclaimer: All healing paths, while they share certain things in common, are unique to the individual. Nothing I write in my blogs should be construed as medical advice. All decisions about physical and mental health should be made in consultation with your physician or other licensed or certified health care practitioner.