Painting by Keira Madsen
Much has percolated both personally and as a facilitator following the recent Fall Silence Practice series, “Restoring Structures in Consciousness.”
Firstly, I am grateful for the structure of exploration that each Silence Practice series seems to provide for myself and for other willing “pioneers.” The most sacred gift we can give each other lies in our courage and willingness to explore together “beyond habits of the known.”
What makes this gift sacred? Because it lies within the Mystery of our innate (known/ experienced) belonging in God/Source. Why are courage and willingness required? Because this gift also comes with the most rigorous challenge of all – the challenge of “meeting ourselves” exactly where we are.
What is challenging about “meeting ourselves” exactly where we are you might ask? After all, I am a nice person, my relationships are good, and I am happy most of the time. I rather like myself the way I am and others seem to as well … except, maybe sometimes … something deep within me surfaces that … mmmm … ????
That questioning is the entry-point for the timeless spiritual question: “Who Am I”?Indian saint Ramana Maharshi offered this inquiry to his disciples as a foundational practice.
Within this wholehearted spiritual question lies the opening to the spaciousness of an authentic inner Journey. This is where our willingness and courage emerge from a previously unknown source within us, and begins to grow. As Jesus said, it only takes a “mustard seed” (a small opening/beginning) to grow Faith (and Faith exists beyond the known).
Silence Practice is always a movement towards an already-present spaciousness within. If this spacious experience is one we wish to live our life through, then we begin to engage in an “embodied spiritual practice.” Only within the rigour of an embodied spiritual practice do we begin “meeting ourselves” exactly where we are. Here we experience the inevitable entanglements of the “conditioned” or “identified” self, and how much they are at play in our life. This is the land of “shadow” (Carl Young), the unconscious, the unseen aspects of the conditioned self, all the places where we have become entangled.
In a deeper spaciousness where embodiment is also a priority, we begin to see and experience patterns of energetic entanglement that we have been participating in unconsciously. Compounding our ability to see this level of unconscious participation, is our determined identification with these entanglements as us. So the letting-go nature of Silence Practice can feel like a death-practice, depending upon where our identification is focused.
This delicate dance between entanglement and spaciousness is the razor’s edge of an embodied practice. It requires a willingness to practice in the face of fear and resistance. If we do not face this, we are likely to choose a less embodied form of practice where we do not “meet ourselves,” but rather “escape ourselves.” It has been my experience that many people who speak about spiritual practice are referring to the latter.
If I do not understand and experience that the foundation of my entangled-self is a young place of self-preservation-at-all-cost, than I may also be unaware of its endless antics of camouflage and obfuscation when faced with the naked vulnerability of inner-spaciousness.
In order to restore these entangled structures, we must first meet them and touch them exactly where they are. This becomes possible with the natural relaxation of the nervous system and increased consciousness that spaciousness provides. Only within the generosity of inner-spaciousness does the delicate and beautiful dance of embodiment begin to unfold. It can feel miraculous.
I have learned again and again, in the past 7+ years of facilitation, that this is the reason that an embodied (grounded in and through the body) spiritual practice — by its very nature — is one of deep humility and surrender. These two fundamental gate-posts of embodied spiritual practice, draw from us a willingness and courage that we didn’t know we had.
The delicate dance between entanglement and spaciousness has only one certitude: it will surprise, challenge, and delight you again and again — in increasingly new and subtle ways. In a very real sense, I am most own best student of Silence Practice. To use Richard Bach’s quote, “we teach best what we most need to learn.”
This fills my heart with gratitude. Namaste.
Please comment in the section below if you feel drawn to do so. An embodied practice is strengthened by engaging with others who share the same interest.
with love, Laura