Awakening to 2012: Finding the Bridge

by Waelad Akadan

by Waelad Akadan

The winter solstice represents a huge time of transition, a threshold between two times. Not only are we marching up to this transitional time of the solstice, but we are also drawing near the end of 2012, a time long thought to be another broader threshold. As we stand on this precipice, there are many who foretell an “end times” and there are many who disregard any mention of change or shift. While I find no benefit in getting caught up in the fear being generated by those predicting apocalypse, I do feel that there is a change building. It feels as though things have accelerated and that shifts are happening physically, emotionally and energetically at a much faster rate. One need only look around at world events and weather patterns to these energy unfolding in real time, palatable and intense.

I feel we have a great opportunity at this time to harness this heightened energy and awareness and move forward consciously into the next manifestation of the world and in our own lives. This time is rich with transformative energy and anyone who is ready to make change in their life need simply open up to receive the energy that is starting to come through. And while I say, “one need simply open up,” this is a tall order. As it involves releasing the old paradigm: our limiting beliefs, the wounds we have carried around with us for so long and our negative self talk. If we can open and up and release these things we can become a powerful channel for this heightening energy.

As we move forward, a groundedness in intent and openness to change become truly important. Preparing the body, mind and spirit is all important and time should be taken for nurturing self-care, internal exploration and energetic expansion. I offer the following meditation as a way to begin to open to this energy and start to connect with what blocks might still be in our system as we move forward.

Energetic Bridge Meditation

Ensure you are somewhere where you will be uninterrupted for at least 20 minutes. Come to lie on your back, on a bed or on the floor. Make sure you are comfortably supported using props such as a pillow under the back of the knees or a pillow under the head. Also ensure that you will be warm, perhaps covering yourself with a blanket or donning extra layers.

Once you’ve settled in, allow yourself a few minutes to watch your breathing and to come into your body. Gradually allow the breath to deepen and lengthen and as it does so, invite your body to relax. Scan from tips of the toe to crown of the head and as you find places of tension or holding in the body, direct the breath into those places. As you feel yourself relax, become aware of the heaviness of the head and the sensation of gravity pressing down upon your whole body.

As you’ve settled into the pace of the breath, begin to direct it along the spine. As you inhale, pull it from base of the spine to crown of the head and as you exhale pull it back down the spine. After several rounds of breath, imagine an orb of light traveling with the breath. As you inhale, pull a golden orb of light up the spine, tailbone to crown. As you exhale, pull that golden orb from crown to tailbone. Continue with this visualization for at least five rounds of breath.

Next bring the orb of light up the spine to the heart center at allow it to come to rest there. Take several breaths into the heart center and watch the orb shift from golden light to a deep emerald green. After some time with the focus on the heart, drop your awareness into the back of the body and envision the space between the shoulder blades, the back of the heart. On an exhale drop a cord of emerald light from the heart down into the floor send it deep into the earth and as it reaches the earth watch it spread out in an intricate root system, like that of a tree or plant. With each breath send it wider and deeper. Once the roots have sunk deep into the earth, reverse the flow of energy and like a plant drawing nutrients up from the soil, begin to draw earth energy up your root system. As it rises, the earth energy turns the roots from emerald green to a deep crimson red. Breath by breath the energy rises until eventually it returns to the back of the heart and rises up into the orb at the center of the chest. As this energy fills the heart, it turns the orb in the chest from emerald green to red as well. As you take each breath, the light at the heart grows more vibrant and deeper in its reddish hue.

After several breaths, draw the awareness to the front of the body. Bring your focus to the sternum and pull an emerald cord of light from the orb at the heart up through the center of the chest and toward the ceiling. Take it up into the sky, higher and higher. Eventually the entire night sky expands before you and you see thousands of glittering stars. Look around and find the bright disk of the moon in the sky and send your cord of emerald light toward that disk. Eventually, you connect with the energy of the moon and as you do, you begin to pull the lunar energy down the emerald cord and back toward the body. As the energy of the moon descends, it turns the cord from emerald green to a glowing silvery white. It drips like honey, bit by bit, making its way back down to the body. When it reaches the body it enters through the front of the chest and enters the crimson red orb at the heart. The moon energy begins to swirl with the earth and energy and as they mix the orb at the chest begin to glow a vibrant pink, the color of quartz crystal. Take 10-15 breaths allowing this pink light to fill the heart.

Once this light begins to overflow from the heart center, begin to direct it down the spine toward the tailbone and up the spine toward the crown until you see the entire central channel illuminated a brilliant pink. Remain here as long as you like allowing the energy to course through your body and opening up to the innate intelligence of these two energies. Feel yourself as the meeting place, the bridge, for these energies to meet and co-create and feel your body as the vessel for this energy.

When you feel an expansiveness throughout the entire body, come back to an awareness of the breath and begin to slowly return.

Healing the Heart: 4th Chakra Practices

“Just as we open and heal the body by sensing its rhythms and touching it with a deep and kind attention, so we can open and heal other dimensions of our being.  The heart and the feelings go through a similar process of healing through the offering of our attention to their rhythms, nature and needs.  Most often, opening the heart begins by opening to a lifetime’s accumulation of unacknowledged sorrow, both our personal sorrows and the universal sorrows of warfare, hunger, old age, illness and death. At time we may experience this sorrow physically as contractions and barriers around our heart, but more often we feel the depth of our wounds, our abandonment, our pain as unshed tears. The Buddhists describe this as an ocean of human tears larger than the four great oceans. As we take the one seat and develop a meditative attention, the heart presents itself naturally for healing.” – Jack Kornfield, A Path With Heart

The past few weeks we have started gently exploring the heart. Heart work is deep, profound and sometimes scary work. As we open up the heart we are witness to all of our old hurts, traumas and heartaches. Reliving this pain can be difficult, but is the only way to release it and let it go. This week we began to explore some of the barriers around the heart. It is quite common that when we experience heartbreaking moments in our life we put up walls to protect ourselves. While it serves us briefly, in time, as we build up walls we block our ability to receive love and we also create holding in the physical body in the area too. Tight chest, shoulders and mid-back can all be signs of physical armoring created by energetic heart protection. Our work this week involved ringing out that tightness to release old holding in the physical body and in the subtle body. We often alternated poses that squeezed the heart, either front or back and then opened the heart. The entire practice focused on remaining present, and as Jack Kornfield wrote, bringing a “deep and kind attention” to our practice.

Sounds & Color for the Heart Chakra

Sound and color are an easy way to activate the energy flow of the heart before beginning a practice like this. As we initiate the flow of energy, we can start to feel those places that are flowing evenly and smoothly. Simultaneously, we can also start to feel those places where energy bumps up against blockages, walls and stagnation.

Use the color of the heart for visual meditations and use the sounds to open practice or during poses where things feel particularly stuck. The heart chakra is associated with the color green. I often see this green as a deep, dark emerald color that not only fills the heart center but travels out through the lungs, shoulders and out through arms, through forearms and into the hands.

The seed syllable of the 4th chakra is YAM. Chant this as you open your practice just like you would chant the sound of OM or use it when you run into a particularly strong barrier around the heart.

Eagle Arms Variations

Working the arms of eagle pose is a great way to work on gently squeezing the front of the chest, ringing out tension and when coupled with chest openers, a beautiful way to promote the flow of blood and lymph in the chest. The following sequence is adapted from a sequence taught by Tias Little in his Bones, Blood and Joints workshop.  Come to lie on your back, legs long, feet active. Bring the arms straight up toward the ceiling, arms stacking over shoulders. Bend the elbows, hold either elbow (as Tias says, like a Russian dancer) and lengthen the forearms up toward the ceiling. Take 5 breaths and then drop the shoulders down into the floor. Now take an exhale and drop the arms to the right, head to the left. On inhale find center and exhale to the opposite side. Do 5 rounds both sides and come to center. Extend the arms straight up this time brining them together into prayer. Lengthen the fingertips toward the ceiling by drawing up and out of the shoulder. On exhale cross right arm over left into eagle. Press the forearms and elbows up toward the ceiling. Breathe into the back heart and the gentle pressure on front chest. After 5 breaths, take an exhale drop arms right, head left. Inhale center, exhale arms left gaze right. Complete 5 more rounds each side and then switch the eagle cross. Complete the sequence with left arm over right. Once complete come to center, extend the arms up toward the ceiling and clasp the hands, press the palms up to the ceiling. Lift the shoulders off the floor, take 5 breaths. On exhale drop the shoulders back to the floor, inhale here and exhale let the arms float up overhead to the floor behind you. Press out through the heels of the feet and the palms of the hands. Lengthen the body and feel the space in the heart center. Allow the breath to be deep and connect with the flow of the breath. Take 10 breaths here, release the arms and draw the knees into the chest to complete.

Vajrapradama Mudra

image from yogajournal.it

After all the breaking down that happened during class, it was important to take time to build things back up. Vajrapardama mudra is perfect for this. The is one of my favorite mudras to practice when I’m feeling tender around my heart. It helps to build back up the energies of the heart and fortify us through our own compassion for self. To practice this mudra, find a comfortable seat. Clasp the hands in front of you, palms facing in toward the body, and draw the hands to the chest. The center of the palms should be resting directly over the heart center, thumbs pointing up toward the collar bones. Close the eyes and begin to breathe into the space underneath the hands. First simply feel the movement of the lungs and the rise and fall of the breath. After 10 breath cycles, connect with the sensation under the hands. Notice if you feel warmth or coolness, tingling in the hands or sensations of tightness or opening in the sternum. Breathe into the experience and connect with the feeling of compassion. If it is easier to do so, first think of someone or something you feel compassion toward. Draw that feeling into your chest and then if your are able to, begin to direct that same feeling toward yourself. As you experience the state of compassion toward self, breathe and continue to hold the mudra. Stay here for at least 2 minutes, but longer if you like. When you feel complete lower the hands and complete 10 cycles of breath with the eyes still closed. Notice changes in the breath and body and when you feel ready, open the eyes.