Thursday, 16 June 2011

Meditation 5. Armouring

My heart cracks open.
Its painful tenderness reveals
Lichen on the bamboo fence,
And rain-splattered sand.

We define ourselves by our limitations. They create our self image and make us who we are. If we were unlimited, un-constricted, undefended, we would be enlightened and would have no egoic sense of self to define us as separate beings. Fully conscious beings experience each moment without resistance or judgment, because they know there is nothing to protect themselves from, and that their core essence is unlimited and impossible to damage.

However, this 'me' person, vulnerable, fragile and sometimes angry, jealous or resentful, is showing me where I am damaged by my moment to moment reactions to my environment. It is the perfect tool for healing. That which I resist or cling to is an indication of what inside me is longing to be healed. 

As individuals, the difficulties we encounter on our life journeys, from birth trauma to sickness, grief and death, usually increase our armouring and defensive separation. We want our layers of armour to shield us from further suffering, but they also serve to block the integration of Oneness into our lives. When a painful experience is too difficult to deal with, we block it off and suppress it from our conscious perception. This creates a wall of defense around us that protects us from feeling the pain. Our defenses mean we are less vulnerable but also feel less deeply. Highly defended people seem closed hearted and are more difficult to interact with. Some people become strongly defended from relatively small traumas, others seem to experience adversity with little scarring and contraction. But unless we are enlightened, we all have layers of defenses, fortifying, barricading and protecting our inner core. 

The cracks in this armouring are often the places where we feel most deeply. These edges are the entrances to our essential selves – they indicate the path towards our centre. Beneath the armour may be the pain of the original hurt, but beneath the pain is the soft, pure core of our being, that is always undamaged, no matter the circumstances of our lives.

Where each of us suffers most poignantly, that exact experience is the entrance to the individualised perfection of what we bring to the collective consciousness on earth. Staying open to our the places where we have felt the most pain, leads us directly to our deepest truth. This truth is the gift we bring the world. This truth has the power and potential to transform it. Each crack in our armour is the exact place from which we bring heaven to earth, so that the Divine within us may experience itself. It is the meeting point of the Creator bursting forth into the Creation. Through the entrances at the edges of our pain, we reach the stillness within. Resting powerfully in our centres, life unfolds, appears and manifests in uncontrolled and magnificent form. It is rich beyond measure. 

And it is also absolutely ordinary, simply the experience of whatever is here right now - marmite toast, rain on the windows, blue-cold typing hands and a peaceful or painful heart.

Meditation 5. Enquiry.

A.H Almaas founder Diamond Approach and the Ridwhan School of Inquiry and Pema Chodrun from the Shambhala tradition, amongst others, have developed a meditation practice that involves looking deeply at the defenses we place around ourselves. 

Enquiry works best in groups of either two or three: A listener/questioner, a respondent and possibly an observer/listener.

A question is posed to the respondent who is given 4 or 5 minutes to enquire into their personal experience around the question, and to answer aloud. Except for the questioner occasionally repeating the question, the questioner and observer remain silent, and listen with full attention and care.

A good question for enquiry, that can be repeated daily for weeks or months is,
"What is keeping you from living with an open heart?"
Or "What is keeping you from being present now?"

As the speaker, if you struggle to think of responses, give yourself time, and wait to see what else arises.
As the listeners:
  • Allow for silence.
  • Listen without judgment, interruption or advice.
  • At the end of the 5 minutes, there is no attempt by the listeners to 'fix' anything. All we do is offer a listening space, so that the person involved in the enquiry can explore their feelings and their armouring for themselves. 

Pema Chodrun says,
“If your everyday practice is to open to all your emotions, to all the people you meet, to all the situations you encounter, without closing down, trusting that you can do that — then that will take you as far as you can go. And then you will understand all the teachings that anyone has ever taught.”

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