Friday, August 15, 2014

Another change in direction- returning to Fourth Way ideas as a relational point of focus.

Another surprise, chiefly to myself, has been the return of my  focus onto Fourth Way ideas, material and approach to self Work. I first stumbled onto Fourth Way (and Gurdjieff) material probably a decade ago, when interested in related (Westernized) Sufi practices and traditions. 

I have no idea how long this renewed focus will last for, but it seems powerful enough to have prompted a change in this blog :), its focus, and also my own focus and thinking in regards to personal transformational Work and Self (re) discovery.

This no doubt this was also prompted by some powerful and inescapable physical changes (injury etc.) that were brought to bear on my body, and the clear demonstration that "mind only" schools simply can't cut it when the physical mechanism (or emotional apparatus) is disabled, and cannot function normally.

The realization (re) occurred that a balanced approach, making use of the body, emotions and mind all together, seems to have been clearly pointed out- although this idea isn't new, and is stressed often in a number of traditional schools. Newer schools, such as Neo-Advaita groups, or "mind-only" groups such as ACIM, New Thought, Neo-Gnosticism, Christian Science, etc. generally disregard the body and giving physicality any basis at all. 

It's easy for a natural "mind" person (or in Fourth Way terms- Man Number Three), such as myself, to focus exclusively on mind-only spiritual paths, such as pure self-inquiry, mind-yoga, contemplative practices, meditation etc., at the expense of the body or emotional centre. Of course, a certain amount of success is inevitable when doing what one is naturally good at doing. This doesn't mean, however, that such success is the 'end of the road' so to speak.

It strikes me that at this point in time, more than any other in human history, the body/physical mechanism seems disproportionately disregarded and distorted. The use of technology, electronic information, modes of communications, etc. have all turned human functioning upside down in terms of having any semblance of balance between body/heart/mind usage, or even balance in terms of what parts of the body are used and how.

All of this has left a powerful impression on my own thinking-being, and seems to have performed the function of a 'shock' of which I've become conscious of, and has thus changed the course of my awareness work and focus.

It's my hope that what I blog about here is of some help to some 'one' out there, and this is one of the inner driving forces that continues to motivate me to post things here at different points in time.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Brain focused Qi Gong and technology impacts.

Took a lesson in Brain focused Qi Gong. Mainly uses finger and hand exercises (since the idea is that over 50% of nerve paths in the brain relate to hands alone).. extremely impressed. Shows up how detrimental technology use has become in conditioning a very limited use of our hands, coordination, and thus even limiting our neural pathways and brain function unfortunately. If there was ever a time that more body awareness and kinesthesis was needing to be taught at school and in the workplace, it is probably now.

Philosophies, will-power, mind power, planning, decisions, and all thought-related processes are pretty much pointless or limited, when the brain itself has been limited in function due to poor kinaesthetics, coordination, habituated body-misuse, etc.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A change in events.. and focus - physical injury and Body Awareness.

Things took a very unexpected turn recently (in the last 7 weeks), chiefly due to acute pain coming from a 'pinched nerve' (herniated disc) in the neck. It's the sort of thing one wouldn't wish on one's worst enemy. My left arm was virtually useless, and there's no position (sitting, standing, sleeping, etc.) that feels comfortable at all. Most people that have the misfortune to experience this (in the neck or lower back) usually take pain killers like candies, in order to stop going completely insane. One normally just has to "wait it out", especially without resorting to harmful NSAIDs etc., or surgical intervention.

Anyhow, it seemed to be an ideal time to explore (or re-explore) BODY AWARENESS. An area, which on reflection, I had seriously 'left behind' a while ago, in favour of pretty much always hanging out in open awareness or witness mode. I can certainly predict that my days of hanging out in 'no body' mode are over for the next while.

As it happened, with acute pain, and the total non-functioning of my body (in terms of movement), I found myself drawn to exploring:

  • The Alexander Technique
  • Feldenkrais
  • Mindfulness of sensations
  • EFT
  • Gurdjieff Work (around body awareness, and the Moving Centre + Emotional Centre)
  • Self-inquiry (around pain, and "I" identity with pain)

These were also supplemented by medical attention (doctors, Chiropractic (which caused more issues), Osteopathy (very helpful), etc.), and a good regime of natural supplements.

After 7 weeks, things started returning to 'normal' in terms of body functionality. My Osteopath was rather surprised at the rate of recovery, and commented that most people with this injury took between 6 weeks and 6 months.

Of the above, I found Alexander Technique (through lessons with a teacher) to be highly beneficial, insightful and completely outside any prior ideas I had related to what it was. It also fits in perfectly with any number of 'spiritual systems', even though the focus is purely physical (or educational). The ideas of 'inhibiting automatic habits', 'pausing', adjusting, bringing parts into awareness and unity, etc. all fit perfectly with Gurdjieff Work as well.

Seven weeks of intense pain and disability was a humbling, but truly fresh experience. "Life" never ceases to surprise, instruct, and lead.. often to places unexpected.

Over the next while, I'll be re-exploring some basic "Self-Observation" and Body Awareness ideas through the blog and on my other accounts.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Meditating with eyes fully shut or half shut?

I've recently been experimenting with meditating and performing internal exercises with eyes half-shut, instead of eyes fully shut.

Some meditation teachers emphasize that eyes should be fully shut while meditating to reduce all distraction and retain full attention internally. Others emphasise half-shut eyes, in order to maintain added alertness, and also to avoid going into a 'void' state.

IME, after practicing for years with eyes fully shut, I have come to appreciate the half-shut position more, and now only use this while meditating or performing internal looking.

The reason for this is that IME I found that it not only helped with the above (added alertness, stopping 'void' drifting etc.), but also that it helped with posture and alignment of the head/neck.

It seems that the movement of the eyes definitely affects the position of the head/neck, even slightly or very subtly.

This has been noted in various therapies/systems, such as the Alexander Technique- 'the head follows the eyes, and the spine follows the head' etc. (paraphrasing here).

What seems to be a small point, and is usually brushed off as trivial by most meditation teachers, is actually quite a large point and can have a definite impact on a practice.

Experiment with both, and note the differences.