The deep and all transforming insight that the Buddha had over 2500 years ago was this: At the root of all suffering is the tendency to Reify our experience. That is to take Life, in our grasping, heavy hands and attempt to turn it into a solid, fixed, and rigid constant. How funny is that— when Life itself is inherently a fluid process?!! Life is a verb, not a noun.
Namely, we do this with our very ‘sense of self’ and from there, everything that our 5 senses can get a hold of. To Reify is to make that which is an abstract appearance into a thing— to imbue ‘that thing’ with reality. The tendency to concretize and collapse experience into something we can name, hold and use as some sort of anchor or reference point is so insidious, we do not even know that we are doing this or that there is a choice in the ‘matter’ (pun intended!).
Until we do.
When we can differentiate ‘true self’ as the embodied and fluid awareness in which all experience is arises and disappears inside of — this tendency of mind, can be seen as just one of our infinite capacities and it is actually a great and useful skill. A very important one at times. Like a tool in your tool kit. I often work with clients who have challenges with accessing safety, due to past traumatic experiences and they are challenged with feeling grounded or regulated in their nervous systems. In this case, finding trust-worthy and reliable anchors through the 5 senses; touch, taste, hearing, smell, sight is a very direct way to establish a felt sense of ground, thus safety in the body in the present moment. This is a very important skill to be able to access, until it becomes an integrated and spontaneous capacity.
But when we overly fix and concretize our reference points for ground as our sense making, self making— other people making and point of view making — we are setting ourselves up for genuine suffering. Have you noticed that right now in our current world climate, with so much acceleration of change; many of our familiar references for safety, ground, continuity and certainty are in great flux! So if you have been regulating your nervous system largely through external references, future plans, agendas, ideas, self images, etc— you may literally feel like the ground is being pulled out from underneath you!
Then we can see in the other extreme– the default, flip side of this, which can veer towards a quality of Nihilism. In which nothing has meaning or value and existence itself is void of presence, therefor nothing matters. You know, those times in life where your system’s sense making is overwhelmed and you utterly lose the plot?!!
One can then lean towards escape, spiritual bypassing, disassociation, numbing or other versions of ‘checking out’. Here, our ‘grip’ becomes flaccid and our are heart, disengaged.
Neither of these extremes will beget clarity within or access to genuine trustworthy guidance as to aligned navigation in ones moment to moment, sacred life path. Neither swinging from one to the other will bode well if fulfillment and true service are virtues that interest you.
The alternative, road less traveled is what I call in my body of work, “The Sacred Middle” and ironically enough, the Buddha even called it this, in his words, “the middle path or the middle way”.
So 2500 years later, these teachings and tendency’s are still true in relation to working with the human psyche, soma, heart and relative playing field, we call— reality.
What if there is a bodily location in which this sacred middle of us, most natural abides? What if attention, when cultivated to rest in this center space, expresses as our most natural coherency of being?
There is in fact; your Heart, Hara and Head to be exact. These are the 3 main biological oscillating centers in the body. The areas in which we have the greatest neuro-networks and thus the greatest electromagnetic fields. In other words, when these 3 centers come into coherence with one another, this central midline space is where we most naturally access our life instructions. Where we share with Life and are received by Life, visa-vie an exquisite exchange of information within this larger field of intelligence. This is our golden compass. Our portal of perceptual integrity. Our unique space in which we can take our most natural and comfortable seat as a co-creator with life. Rather than the exhausted solo, burning the midnight oil late night driver or the backseat, checked out, sleeper.
The historian Eric Hobsbawm titled his volume on the 20th century, The Age of Extremes. Indeed, the violence and grotesque imbalances of that era drive home the need to find a guiding principle for the peace and fulfillment of humankind. The Middle Way of reverence for the dignity and sanctity of life, making the welfare of people and the planet the starting point and final goal of every human endeavor, can provide a path forward.
But how do we find this ‘middle way’ space in a simple, direct way in our day to day, in a world that is still very much running a muck in these extremes?
What if the Sacred Middle, could be the new normal, rather than another century of exhausting extremes?
How would we collectively lubricate the inner dial on our capacity to expand our aperture, such that we become a ‘broad band virtuoso’? (what my Continuum teacher, Emily Conrad called it.) Accessing a fuller spectrum of experience, from utter dissolution (what the Buddhist call, no-self or non- existence) to a seemingly solid, reified individuated person-hood and back again? How would we allow the fluid process of being and becoming, while also staying grounded in the real world?
My entire life’s body of work, Core Embodiment is essentially an answer to these question’s. More than an answer, a living laboratory for this inquiry to be explored in ones own direct experience. It is my synthesis of living wisdom teachings, practices and principles —bridging psychobiological, perceptual and somatic opportunities for your moment to moment discovery. It is also for those who wish to go deeper and have a genuine desire to cultivate a stable and yet fluid core of being as a life style and enhancement to their service to the world.
My clients and students are often high performing professional healers, doctors, therapists, nurses, coaches or carry forth other care-giving professions in which showing up and occupying your ‘sacred middle’ is vital to not burning out.
For more info on my upcoming course: http://www.ajayasommers.com/events/discover-the-transforming-power-of-relaxing-into-your-true-seat/
For now, try on this simple breath practice as a way to tap in, directly experience and reconnect with one of the most core movement motifs of nature that exemplifies what I am referring to as the Sacred Middle. The ‘gel-sol phase shift’ represents this inborn capacity within our nature. The very movement that allows a cell to breathe and be permeable to exchange information with other cells is a microcosm of the same movement that forms an embryo into being. This same movement is mirrored in the spiraled expansion and contraction of heart muscle, all the way out into the larger field of an ever expanding, contracting, breathing universe. The ‘gel-sol phase shift’ is a code of health inherent to all living systems. Our ability to be permeable, to dissolve and lose our form is what allows nature to then be re-informed— to take on new shapes and expressions of bio-diversity, aka health. When we consciously re-enact core life movement motifs such as this, we allow our systems to join in with the symphony of nature that we are intrinsically embedded and irrevocably wedded to.
To download the guided meditation recording: https://soundcloud.com/core-embodiment/sacred-middle-breath-practice-gel-sol-phase-shift
Gel/Sol Phase Shift Breath: Find a comfortable seat in which your spine can be supported. Either sitting cross legged on the ground, or on a chair with your legs uncrossed. You can also lay down on your back if that is preferred. Allow your root system to settle into the earth.
Allow your in-breath to be consciously experienced as a gentle and yet clear contact up from the ground, through your gut, up through your heart. Hold for a moment and just feel this expansion. Your lungs filling with Prana or life force. This is the ‘active’ – gel – phase. You are not only breathing air when you inhale. The air is the vehicle for receiving the vital forces or potency that you are being nourished by. So you are drawing this vital essence, life force potency into you. Stay here on the inside, feeling and receiving you, here.
Each inhale you are being re-born, being ‘informed’. Filling up with your vital essence. Feel the shape that you occupy from the core of the breath retention on the inside, all the way out to the periphery of your skin. Allow yourself to fully occupy your shape. Be here. Be as big as you are.
On the exhale, allow yourself to slowly release the breath, letting out an auditable “ahhhh” sound is helpful, so that you let the breath release from an open mouth, unhinging the jaw. Allow yourself to also experience the contraction that here within the dissolve, letting go into this. The exhale is the mini death or ‘solutio’ phase in which you allow your sense of solid self to completely dissolve, let go and even allow a kind of contracting inwards, bowing inwards. An expiration.
Then hang out at the bottom of this exhale for a moment and sink into the emptiness— the no-thingness, the darkness behind your closed eyes. Drink in the nourishment of the dark for a moment.
In practice, we are sinking our energy down into the earth in this contraction, releasing phase. This is a space to release and let go of energy that might be holding you back or that is no longer needed. The focus here is on the exhaling breath, relaxation and surrender. This bowing inwards is a kind of re-enactment of the movement of embryo.
Then just allow the next in-breath to rise up from your root, from the earth, spiraling through your gut, spine, heart, lungs, throat, all the way into the brain if you can. Hold the breath again at the top of this inhale and just be with you on the inside. Feeling you HERE, informed, incarnated, taking up your space, expanding, opening, receiving. Exhaling again with an audible “ahhh” sound and allowing a gentle bowing, surrendering, falling inwards, dissolving into the contraction, the emptiness.
I would suggest spending at least 10 min with this breath practice, allowing yourself more and more permission with each round to surrender more fully into the lap of life, fully expressed as yourself.
You can allow the practice to either fortify your gel/grounding phase if that is what you need. Or you can emphasis the dissolve/solutio phase if that is what you need. You can also equally practice both for a dive of accentuating the balance of your sacred middle.
Please feel free to reach out with any questions or feel free to comment here. Thank you!