|Posted by occultrix on October 13, 2009 at 10:02 AM|
A Technique for Removing Negativity and Obstacles
It is often recommended, regardless of the tradition, that spiritual practices are done everyday. There are many good reasons why that is and generally people, if they are inclined to religious and spiritual pursuits, want to do these practices. Daily spiritual practice, whether meditation, daily rituals or prayer, etc.?.may present immediate obstacles to overcome. There is most definitely an irony about this; the very practices that are meant to help us overcome our personal obstacles are not followed through with because of our personal obstacles. In order to make a space for practice we need a deliberate method of cutting away anything that is in the way of progress, especially in regards to emotional obstacles. This way, one is able to free oneself up for a daily practice.
The methods may resemble some of the tantric yogas but that is simply because those teachings have had the greatest impact on me. There is no initiation required to do this, simply the desire to radically change one's life of constant suffering and unhappiness.
Once Upon a Couch
Most of my life I have experienced extreme states of depression. This resulted from various traumatic events and abusive situations in my life. My inability to deal with these things correctly caused me to repeat the abusive patterns over and over again. I used to wake up everyday with a sinking feeling. Whatever spiritual practice I wanted to do was not possible because of my own state of mind. Even if at times I was able to practice, my constant self-defeatist attitude and self-hatred would soon exhaust all my efforts. Again, the irony being that those practices were supposed to develop peace of mind.
Dealing with anger, depression, a distorted self-image, and a number of other emotional and mental issues has been a constant struggle for me. My previous inability to do this successfully has prevented me from having healthy relationships in my life, including with my Root Guru and of course, with myself. As well, being overly preoccupied with distressing emotions, I had very little stamina left for day-to-day activities, especially my spiritual practices, (they always seem to be the first activities to be dropped when we are busy or preoccupied), although, at times eating, sleeping and washing were neglected. Therefore, pushing myself further and further into what seemed like an irredeemable state. There, I endeavoured to find a method that I could use while in this depressed, unbalanced and fairly inert state - to get myself out of that terrifying state of mind.
I had tried counseling many times, but it didn?t seem to be what I needed. I didn?t have the will or money to go and look for a another counselor to talk to. Talking to a professional is highly recommended for any practitioner, but it was not possible for me at the time. What I really needed was to get a handle on these states of mind with an action that I could do for myself. There was my dilemma, though: how to do what I simply had no will or drive to do? It had to be uncomplicated to work past my resistance ? my obstacles. After lying on my couch for what seemed like a month, I decided this had to change. Realizing I had never been truly happy in my life, ever, I had to wonder why. I carried around a pain that was deep; and every time I tried to fix it, I had done so in a superficial manner. I took refuge in things with short-term comfort, but in the long run were actually harmful. My approach was most definitely, wrong. Life didn?t seem to make sense being a constant crisis, but I didn?t know how else to live. I had done that for so long!
Enough is Enough!
What is very crucial for these techniques to work and the process to happen, is to adamantly decide that you have had enough. Had enough of what? That you have had enough of being miserable; of not moving forward; of living in hurtful past events; of repeating harmful behaviours. You must be certain that you no longer want to hang on to your negative states of mind. Most people react to this question with, ?Of course I don?t want to be miserable!? However, when it is time to let go, they hang on to various emotional states and useless notions for various reasons. You have to be able to see that continuing in this manner will cause more harm than good. Everyone?s very well being depends on their giving up such harmful emotional habits. These are habits, as we will see as we cut through them. Just remember that you cannot move forward and nurture yourself when you are clinging to the past and nurturing your pain. This is not to say that we will bury these emotions, but we are going to create room for ourselves to grow by restructuring our emotional space and what takes priority in our life.
For example, if we are spending most of our time being angry, even for the most justified reasons, we are spending less time dealing with that anger. We can nurture solutions to resolve our anger and developing healing strategies, or we can focus our intent on the anger and stay stuck in it. It is as simple as making a choice. Anger can be good thing. It can be motivating us to positive changes. It is not adding to our life experience, it is taking away from it. If it is consuming us and immobilizing us, then it is not a healthy and controlled state. I like the analogy of a fire for anger: a small, hot fire can be useful ? a large, rampant fire is destructive.
To summarize, the point is not to annihilate our emotions; it is to put them in a place where they can be helpful to us. You really have to be ?sick and tired of being sick and tired?; or else you won?t be able to move forward. Think about: What would my life be like if I didn?t have to be angry anymore? What could I do if depression wasn?t holding me back? What if I didn?t have to deal constantly with a crisis? So, this is my simple process that helped me to overcome emotional confusion and attachments, the self-defeating thoughts, inertia, and depressed states of mind. The real first step has already been taken, and that is to decide you want to change. The next steps will be:
Severing & Releasing
Repairing & Reinforcing
These steps require very little regalia or physical effort. They are direct, and perhaps, may seem very basic, to some. However, these techniques have helped me to regain my balance and develop the self-awareness and respect, needed to lead a healthy and productive life. I separated them into three parts as the steps do flow into each other in each part, as a natural progression. The first part creates a foundation. By a process of elimination in order to make a suitable ground for part two of restructuring ourselves.
Part One: The Obstacle Course
One of the helpful things I did was take a personal inventory of my experiences and the emotions that are attached to them. I did this lying on my couch, curled up in a blanket, as I had been for weeks at a time. Again, this wasn?t new for me. I was unsure of what to do so I thought of everything I could that I was feeling and dealing with and asked myself, ?Do I really need to hold on to this feeling?? and ?What is this emotion doing for me?? As I stated, one must be at the point where they have had enough. So, identifying what one is feeling is necessary in order to change things. This is the first part of this step. Whether it is problems at work, or with family, or with just feeling overwhelmed with stuff you have to recognize every part of your misery.
After identifying the thoughts and emotions, it is important to close your eyes and feel the place or places on your body where it is situated. For example, a lot of people feel rage as a burning or stabbing sensation in the pit of their stomach or in their heart, or those two spots may be connected in rage. Sadness is often described as ?a hole in your heart?, or a tightness in your chest. Confusion is often in our brow or between the eyes. Make the connection between the situation you are facing and it?s situation on your body. By understanding this connection and manipulating it, which is explained later, we can control our emotional state to a greater degree.
Ask yourself with everything that you've identified, ?Is this me??. Are you the depression? Are you the anger? Yet, you have so much of yourself entwined in keeping this idea or situation going. It is something to think about for our next steps.
Some of this may come very naturally after, or while doing the first step. Once we feel the pain and locate it on our body, then we may get an image to go along with it. However, for some, this gets tricky here. Visualizing is not something that everyone does well. Occasionally the obstacles become something scary. If this happens, you have to remember that this is your choice to see it in this manner. If you find you are not having a choice about the way you visualize an obstacle, please seek professional mental help or guidance from an experienced clergy person of your faith. These exercises are to help an individual take control of their life - to help rid oneself of harmful thought and behaviour patterns. If you are completely unable to make choices about the thought forms your mind is creating, please do not go on! Seek professional help. If you are able, even if you are having some trouble, to visualize your emotional obstacles, you can begin to have a bit of control over them by doing this.
Start by seeing them as whatever form the obstacles naturally take in your mind. These do not have to be detailed, but details may develop if this practice is done many times. This may or may not be a bit frightening. Don?t get carried away with the fear, and remember that this is YOUR mind and you are simply visualizing. You are giving form to what may seem like To give an example from my own experience; once while visualizing a particular point of self-loathing, it appeared to me as a demon-type of being. I even began to see myself as this being at times. I would dream about the ugly demon being. However, because I was doing the other steps, especially the next step of Severing, I was able to do this in my dreaming. I was able to take control, and that ability I have developed of taking control is what lifted me out of my harmful patterns. Also, it helped to visualize the fear that was arising, as well. By doing this, it reveals a tendency of the mind to be in motion. I would like to say here too, that a lot of what people deem as ?taking control?, is just a lot more emotional grasping. That is not what we want to achieve. We will be taking control of our mind and to some degree our body, but not other people or situations through liberating our mind, rather than adding more restrictions.
So, now we can see these obstacles, visualized before us, (preferably one at a time for ease of practice!). We can sense the place on our body where we can feel the pain. Now we must visualize the connection. This I visualized as a long purple cord made of light. I call them ?tethers? or ?filaments?. These extended between the obstacles and into that spot on my body that felt the greatest impact of that obstacle. When I first did this, there where many of these filaments that I could see. Whether these are real or not is not really important. The effect of ?seeing? them and then applying the next step is what matters.
I have mostly explained tethers that are situational or related to a situation. There are also spontaneous tethers, or that which is self-arising. We may see these as coming from a place on our body and extending into space, or our environment. In a sense, all of these binds are self-arising. However, that may be easier to just intellectualize rather than truly comprehend when we are upset or depressed.
Part Two: The Ties that Bind Us
Severing & Releasing
This is where it gets really exciting!
We have visualized and mostly identified our obstacles. We can see that some obstacles obviously originate from within us. Some are manifested externally and affect us. It is neither the emotion nor the situation that is truly an obstacle, but our reaction to it. Usually this is what is entangling us further within a situation or emotion. This is a self-perpetuating cycle. This is where we are ?attached? to the situation and the emotions we associate with it.
For example, someone is continually rude to at work. We begin to dislike them and react with displeasure toward them. This cycle is already showing itself. There is no escape from this behaviour pattern unless one makes an attempt to sever the cycle. This is how we trap ourselves in these cycles and they become obstacles. If we are reacting to the rudeness, even if it is directed at us, then we are feeding this cycle and getting caught in it. We must avoid this, but also not let it fester inside us. Sometimes, even though we do not outwardly react, we inwardly seethe and stew in our emotions. This is very dangerous to the body and can cause all sorts of medical problems. In this case, the true attachment is not severed.
In order to sever our attachment to an obstacle, it is important to visualize the obstacle. It is far more important to be able to ?see? the attachment, or the tether we have created to represent that attachment, than to be overly detailed or obsessive about the nature of the obstacle. It's an obstacle, don't give it anymore attention than necessary! Those details will arise naturally, as the tethers will naturally arise again even after we cut them. Don't get discouraged just yet though!
I will explain the process of severing first. There are at least three main methods of severing I use. One is a general sweep of mental and emotional interference; another deals with removing emotional and mental attachment to external situations; one more to deal with
A couple of notes about the severing tools that are visualized: they should not be considered in any way to have the quality to harm. This is why I do not refer to them as ?weapons? but ?tools? or ?implements?, for the sake of clarity. These tools are for the purposes of liberating only. Also, and I should hope I really don't need to say this, but the tools should always be visualized, and not actual!
External: Have the picture of these tethers in your mind, and the point where it hooks into your body. See it in your mind but as if it is on your actual body. Extend your arm to grab a hold of these tethers at arm's length. (I will call this your ?field? and it will be revisited in Part Three.) The reason for this length is to own some of the situation. This is the part of situation that is your responsibility. Just cutting it away will not be helpful to you the next time you are in a similar situation, or even the same one.
You can either visualize yourself doing this or you can do these as gestures (see diagram*). Visualize a tool for severing. I like to use a long sword or machete (see diagram*), for the externally manifested obstacles. Sometimes, I might just visualize pruning shears and snip the tethers. Before severing make certain you have the nature of the attachment or tether in mind. Inhale deeply through your nose while visualizing or gesturing yourself to take aim. Without holding your breath, strike down on the attachment. As you do, exhale with a moderate amount of force through the mouth. Watch the ends you have cut off snap back into space to wherever they came from.
There will be some tethers left in your hand. I like to visualize I am cauterizing the ends by imaging the end of my sword or tool to be very hot. Then placing one hand over my closed hand with the tethers, I seal the end. Also, by doing this, I imagine I am purifying these attachments. Remember that this will not hurt you. There may be a weird sensation after severing but the overall sense should be of release and relief. Do some calm breathing and visualize the tethers or attachments to be dissolving in your hands after sealing and purifying them.
Internal: This is a little more delicate. It should be done with visualized implements that are much more precise. A small curved blade, or a laser pen type of tool would be best. Using the same breathing techniques, scoop out at the root where the self-generated obstacle is. (see diagram*)
The Sweep: When you wish to clear away many attachments and obstacles at once use an implement like a mace, but with blades on the end of it. (see diagram*). Imagine it swinging 360 degrees in a complete sphere around the body. (see diagram*)
Some things to remember about severing the ties are:
a) It doesn't last forever: Certainly one needs to do this more than once in their life to feel the long-term effects of it. It is not a magical cure-all. Just like everything else in life, the effects will wear off. Sometimes, that will be in a few days, or it could be in a few hours. Since the actual technique is simple and quick to do, it can essentially be done anywhere and at with little effort. That is precisely what I needed in my modern life to deal with effectively and quickly with my issues.
b) You may need to repeat procedure: There may be some a necessity to do the visualizations more than once in one sitting. It is important to really feel that the attachment has been severed.
c) Eventually the tethers will stop manifesting: This is not a guarantee, but the probability that if you teach your mind to release harmful emotional cycles, that it will, is higher than not training your mind to do so. That is just common sense, really.
Repairing & Reinforcing
In order to keep myself from getting entangled with the tethers again, I did visualizations that would repair any holes I may have perceived, and develop a strong shield for possible future entanglements. Whether these ?holes? are actually in one?s field, or what some might call an ?aura?, is not really the point. The point is I had this feeling sometimes, and as a precaution, I am explaining how I dealt with that. I am also going to explain how I created a resilience to further entanglements with a ?shield? that reinforced my field. This I imbued with certain properties. This all largely works on making productive use of my very creative imagination and visualization. Basically, it?s stuff I learned in kindergarten! However, often these skills are forgotten in adulthood. Imagination and visualization are very powerful tools for self-change.
This exercise is also loosely based on the meditations in ? The Art of Healing?, by Israel Regardie, that I had done for some time in my late teens, early twenties. Those exercises are much more involved, and these are meant to accommodate busy lives and possibly less capacity for longer meditations. These exercises can be done, ideally, after the Severing. Sometimes after I did my severing, I would feel raw and this was what I did to heal those raw areas. They can be done quickly, making them easy to slip into one?s daily life, where necessary. There should be no problems if one decides to do this on the bus, (provided you are not driving it at the time!) or in the office. If you feel your mind to become particularly obsessed, you could do a quick severing exercise, and then reinforce your field with this next exercise.
To begin, take a slow, deep inhalation through your nose and feel within your chest cavity, right where your solar plexus is, that there is a warm glowing golden-white light. This usually gives me an immediate sense of calm, but your mileage may vary. While exhaling slowly, also through the nose, let the light grow. Use the breath to push out any unwanted residue you may imagine to be hanging around. Do this through your field and not through your nose. Let the light grow and also repair any areas that you feel are damaged or left empty as you push the light out from your centre to the ?edge? of your field. I, for the sake of definition, imagine this to be about arm?s length around the entire body, and usually penetrating a little into the ground or floor underneath me. It basically looks like an upside-down egg. At the edge of my field, surrounding me, I imagine that I have created a shield of interlocking diamonds. Picture the egg-shaped shield around you, glittering with this diamond quality.This is impenetrable to any of the negativity from outside situations.
The bonus with this diamond shield is that you are covered in diamonds all the time! However impractical that would be in actuality, symbolically it is something to consider. You are covered in what is considered to be one of the most precious of gems on the Earth. It is hard, clear and brilliant. This symbolism will bring us to our next step.
What are you supposed to remember? Your own divine nature. When we are entangled in small ideas and petty behaviours, we are not able to express divinity with any fluency. There is the perception by some, that everything is divine anyway and it doesn't matter if you are in a traffic jam or meditating on a mountaintop! Well, during those moments, whether you are on a mountaintop or in traffic, ask yourself in that whether you are really expressing divine nature. You may be on a mountaintop and feel you are being a pretentious fool! Perhaps, you are acting in a divine manner while driving in an alert and cautious manner. Imbue everything you do with divinity by remembering yourself as divine. This is not an arrogant notion. For if you recognise this in yourself, and allow this expression to come through you, you will have to see it in others as well. Whether or not you wish to be part of the Christian family, practice Buddhism, or you follow a shamanic or pagan path, recognising your divine nature, and the divine nature of others will help you to liberate you. Remember how precious you are, that we all are like diamonds, made from common carbon. Keep this divine awareness with you through the most despairing times. This will keep you untangled and free. Remember to be compassionate to those around us who forget how precious they are. During those times they won't remember your dine nature, either. When they hurt you and are cruel to you, remind them that they too, are divine beings.