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Thursday, 10 May 2018

Breathe in beauty, breathe out gratitude.


Breathe in beauty, breathe out gratitude.




When a beautiful soul harmonizes with a beautiful form and the two are cast in one mould, that will be the fairest of sights to him who has the eye to contemplate the vision.
Plato

I feel as though I’ve got my life back.

I don’t know exactly where it went for the past 50 or so years. Somewhere along the way, a veil was cast over my perceptions which clouded my ability to hold and experience life in a direct and joyous way. As a holistic counsellor who uses therapeutic altered states such as holotrophic breath work, I have been developed ways to clear perception. I’ve peeled back the veil and at long last the term, I feel that I am awake.  This is one way to describe the sudden, after over 30 years of hard sloughing personal work; I’ve got my life back. The veil has fallen away and now I perceive the love, beauty and interconnectiveness of life, my life, the life of Others (mineral, plant and animal) in this magnificent creation of Gaia.

Here is what rent the veil for me.

I was walking along the river, one of my favorite walks on a fresh fragrant spring morning. This walk reminds me of my spiritual teachers, the River. They once told me that achieving happiness was hard work. At the time, I thought they meant that I had a lot of trauma and unintegrated personal insight work that I needed to do before I could win the right to be happy. But then I remembered that they also said that happiness is not given as a reward, at a future date, for tasks well done, a better pay cheque, more recognition, and more people liking me... and so on. The work was in actuality, realizing that I have happiness already within my body and mind as a foundational, natural state of being. The work was returning to the moment and holding this natural state of being.
On this one morning, I gazed up into the clear morning sky and wondered how to communicate in a more lasting and meaningful way with the greater soul of the environment. I was able to hold this inner joy for moments, especially when I meditate or walk thru nature alone. But I wanted to hold this inner peace for longer periods of time, to be connected to this space more often. Then these words came to me, from where I can’t exactly say.

Breathe in beauty,
Breathe out gratitude.
Connect inner meditation with breath and the outer environment.
Connect the holy trinity of mind, body and environment.

I tried it. First I gazed about for something that caught my attention as being beautiful. Something which stepped out from the environment and said “Look at me”. My attention was drawn to a willow tree by the path, dripping with long fuzzy pussy willows. I walked closer and for a moment just focused on these beautiful willow flowers. I was filled with a sense of the hopeful, idealistic and innocent anticipation of spring and plant joy at renewed life and rebirth after a long dark winter. I breathed in all of those sensations into my body; let those feelings of goodness and connectedness radiate into my entire body and being. 

Ahhh… Then I focused on the outbreath. I raised my eyes up to the clear blue sky and breathed out, gratitude for the environment which supports all life, all spring flowering, all rebirth and renewal. I felt my heart opening and calm entered my being.

I am so grateful for this practice which I’ve been using every day since it was given to me by Soul. I pause for a moment, and notice something beautiful, then expand the experience into my body by imagining that I am breathing the beauty of what I’m seeing into my body. I focus especially my heart. Then I breathe out into the environment my gratitude for that specific phenomena as well as all the supporting world that holds that event (seasons caused by the earth’s tilt, perfumed air of blooming plant world, forests, mountains).

This connects me to the world in a way that is deeply satisfying. This is the moment by moment connection with sacredness that I’ve been missing in my life. Until now. Even when I’m feeling a little off, sad or anxious I’m able to pause, find something beautiful in my environment and breathe it in with a moment of expand awareness.

As I practice this more, I notice that I can also breathe in things that are not beautiful and still integrate them with my out breath of gratitude.  Strange, in some ways the way that this practice of connecting to unpleasant or challenging things is more important than the original technique of starting with beautiful things.

I was waiting in line in a cafeteria yesterday and feeling that old sense of irritation that somehow life was fitting me quite right. Then I remembered my new practice, I paused and gazed out the window to some small islands that were glittering in the sun. I realized how beautiful the environment is where I live, how I can look out the window at almost any time and see beauty. So I breathed in the way the tiny islands were bathed in sunlight and on the outbreath I was surprised that I wanted to breathe out a sense of appreciation for all the people who were working in the cafeteria. So I did, and then I was filled with a sense of all-rightness. As I gazed around, I noticed that everyone was working towards some common goals, perhaps at some level, all of us were working towards spiritual goals which we were only tangentially aware of. I could see that even irritating moments like waiting in line for breakfast can be filled with a sense of sacredness.

I do this practice now many times a day, whoever I can, driving, talking with others, cooking, cleaning. I can do it on a walk, or when I’m with clients. I’m aiming for prolonging this practice so maybe I can stay with it for longer periods, hours perhaps or at least moments.
The in breath is precise, focused on one thing-flower, clouds, music, birds. The out breath is expansive and goes out with my gratitude into the greater soul of the environment. My appreciation stretches my being towards larger containers of personal joy and inner peace, for the life systems that hold for sky, water, air, earth. Deep in my pelvic chalice, I feel goodness like a seed of life. It is not simply of place of human fertility, the place of where my younger body stored human life eggs, but energetically now my second chakra holds the womb of the Mother, of mater, of Gaia, of life itself. I hold it, nourish it deeply and from here from my belly out to the horizon, it goes and blesses all that I see.

So the work is to retrieve and restore my natural state of human being which is calm abiding, sympathetic joy and compassion.


Try this!

In this moment look around for something beautiful.

I look around my office and see a potted lantana tree. I brought it in for the winter, now it is sending shoots out through the dead branches which died off during the long cold spells we had. I am amused and uplifted by how it is still alive and although I am trying to prune it into a tree, it wants to return to its wild shape as a bush. I breathe in its resiliency, strength and the way it let of many branches over the winter, but now it’s being re born in spring.

 Now on the outbreath, breathe out appreciate and gratitude for the greater container which holds all that you are looking at.

I breathe out an appreciation for the air which is everywhere and which fills my lungs and then goes out into the world. Even here, in my writing room, with the fire burning, which is also taking in oxygen to be, there is a great abundance of oxygen for me, gazing at this plant, and for the plant also. I breathe out gratitude for the entire plant world, who engage with us in this transference and inter dependence of life.

Now try this practice with something more difficult and challenging.

I see a dead bird. I don’t know if this is beautiful but it is where my focus landed on. The little female yellow finch is heart wrenchingly painful for me to gaze at. I love her and I want her to come back to life.

Now on the outbreath, breathe out appreciate and gratitude for the greater container which holds all that you are looking at.

I breathe out gratitude for life and death systems. And the appreciation of all who are alive in my life right now. I especially see an analogy of my son in this omen. He is struggling so hard and I’m afraid, like this little bird who mistakenly flew into the glass window, he won’t survive. This of course fills me with unbearable sorrow.

Although these thoughts take me to difficult places, such as the great song bird die off everywhere in the world, I wonder, how can I be grateful for that? Perhaps after this age of species die off, when humans return to a more balanced role as stewards of the world instead of destroyers of the world, we will appreciate that in death there is also re birth. I’m also wondering if a carrion bird will come and eat the finch’s body. In nature, in the greater soul, little is wasted.
image downloaded from http://www.brighterfuturestogether.co.uk/brighter-futures-together-toolkit/improve-local-rivers-and-streams/

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