Week 5 – Heart Opening

Self Criticism
It is a significant part of this course to make known what is hidden. Not only are we setting out to discover our spiritual nature, but in order to do that we must also understand our human nature.
Awareness is a tool of slowing down and observing. When we do this we can find out what is going on inside, beyond the obvious, beyond initial thoughts and reactions. Awareness is not a process of self examination and analysis, it is the creation of a tool of awareness, self observation.
Throughout this course we will discover things about ourselves that we might not like, behaviour and thoughts that are harmful to ourselves and others. It is possible to be deeply regretful of this and to be self critical, but this is not what is needed. Awareness is a process of self knowledge not self criticism. Awareness is a neutral position, observing what is without judgement. What we observe is what is, yet this course is a process of change, so it is also what used to be. As soon as it is recognised for what it is behaviour changes, perhaps not completely, but we start to change.
We are also becoming aware of our human nature which is a natural state, which by its key essence is transitory. Human nature is not a permanent unchanging nature. This quality helps us to recognise that it cannot be our essential quality because it is not permanent. Anything that is transitory cannot be who we really are.
Awareness is internal. We can train awareness, by looking outside and recognising qualities and behaviour in others, we can see it in ourselves. But the key to awareness is to learn to recognise what is going on inside. How our body feels, our breath, emotions, how we feel, the energy within the body and the energy centres, the thoughts and subconscious behaviour patterns. Awareness makes us know what is hidden.
Throughout the course we use the world as a mirror for what is going on within us, to reflect back what we project. Yet it is the effect of the world on us that is important, how it makes us feel. It is the subtle and the obvious feelings created by situations and circumstances that we use as prompts for self reflection. Awareness helps us to recognise these feelings, with increasing subtlety as we grow.
The tool of awareness is also the tool for spiritual awareness, recognising the positive and permanent experiences that are within. These feelings become stronger throughout the course, not because they change but because we increase awareness of them. Awareness is the basis of this course and the basis of change.

Spiritual Awareness
Centred on ourselves and what the body is feeling, not by touch, but by energy centres. The body is able to experience more deeply. We are aware sometimes of the crude experiences, sickness in the pit of the stomach, butterflies in the heart when we feel love. But the body is capable of this energetic vibration and feeling all the time, from the deep vibration of the base centre up to the refined vibration of the crown, all centred on the heart. We come inside ourselves to feel the emotional and energy vibration, to deeply experience every sensation. We try to do this every moment, letting every sense, whether the tangible or intangible senses, be alert and ready so that we experience everything.
Everything comes together into our experience of the divine. We are perfection, but we spend so much time ignoring our perfection. We are here to experience everything. Slowly we change to become much more aware of higher vibration and energy, from the pumping music of our teenage years to the refined music of our adulthood. We change and our senses reflect that change. We change without understanding what is going on but, we do. Refinement takes place naturally, but we can by greater awareness become much more able to appreciate the sensory experience of which we are capable.
We sit in meditation, eyes closed, gentle music, we get used to the stillness and silence where we can experience this greater sensory awareness. But eventually we move on from this meditation to real life meditation. Our purpose in meditation is to become capable of greater awareness. Our objective then is to bring this awareness into everything that we do. Eyes open in the noisiness and with the sensation of movement. We can bring awareness into every moment of our lives.
We also find that we have a sixth sense. Our senses are beyond the physical. We bring this extra sensory perception into our awareness. By opening and through meditation, our experience of inspiration allows us to experience and be aware beyond our five physical senses. We all know about intuition, but we deny it in ourselves. As we meditate, in the silence we open ourselves up to greater possibilities and we allow ourselves to believe beyond our physical nature.
All the senses are combined to bring us true awareness. In the awareness we can experience the divine in the simple. Awareness seems to take so much effort, so much concentration, but in reality it is our natural state. We can become so much more connected that we no longer need the energy of food and muscle because we are so energetically connected.
The truth is inside, nowhere else. We can only get that truth through awareness. We are perfect. We are divine. We can know this and we can experience it. We only have to be open, to sit silently with the mind and wait. It is all there for us. We wait and listen in God’s beauty.

The Seed
We are learning to become aware, awareness is a basic tool. We are looking inside for what is true. There is a seed inside, find it and nurture it.

There is a seed in each of us. It is a reminder of who we are and where we came from. Our aim is to nurture that seed and let it grow. A seed is a vehicle for transformation, it is a door to another world. The seed contains all of the information for the tree to grow. Our task is to become the gardener who tends the seed, waters it, fertilises it, nurtures it and tends the plant.

We are always seeking. There is a desire in all of us. We try to fulfill that desire. It is like a calling, a voice in the mist. We want to fulfill that desire, yet we are lost and don’t know how. That is the essence of meditation, to listen to the voice that is calling us to return. We have tried to fulfill this desire in so many ways. We have tried to fulfill it with objects and desires, we have tried to blot it out, to hide it and ignore it, but it is still there. It never goes, it never fades, if we ignore it there will always be something unfulfilled within us.

Within each of us is a seed of perfection, a reminder of our true nature. It is a seed of God a reminder of source. It is a voice calling to us to return. It is not the voice of intuition or guidance. It is a sound, a vibration, that echoes at the very core of humanity. It is the sound of God. We become in tune with this sound, a connection to it, our body the radio mast to pick up the sound. The beauty and wisdom of the universe is carried to us on this wave of sound.

We listen to it, we attune ourselves to it. We come to know when we are connected to it. In meditation we learn to hear it and connect to it, in Chi kung we prepare the body and mind to receive it. It brings with it its own teaching its own knowledge and its own experience.

Exercise – Awareness
Each day try to find a few moments during your daily activity when you become aware of yourself. Just turn the mind inward and observe yourself. Observe yourself at a number of levels. Your physical posture, are you sitting or standing comfortably? Is there any tension or discomfort in the body? Your emotions, how are you feeling, what makes you feel happy and what cause other feelings, anger, joy, frustration etc.? Can you notice where you feel that in your body? Become aware of your senses, taste your food, your coffee, your cigarette. Observe your mind, what is it thinking of, what has it been thinking, in the last 5 minutes.
This is an exercise in awareness and observation. It is important to try to remain neutral about what you observe. You are observing what is and not trying to judge. If you are feeling angry, then you are feeling angry, it is not good or bad.
Try to practice this every day, do it at different times throughout the day. The more you do it the quicker you will be able to come into a state of awareness. It should only take a short time and should be tried during all kinds of activity: work, rest and play.

Meditation Exercise – Chakras
Meditation helps us to increase awareness. Yet with meditation we are trying to get into a state where the body and mind do not demand attention and we can therefore just become aware of what is at that moment. The objective of our practice this month is twofold, firstly, to help the mind to focus and concentrate, while at the same time awakening the flow of energy or chi within the body. The point of focus is the energy centres, or chakras, in the body. We are going to focus on three of these centres, the navel, the solar plexus and the heart. We are going to then let the attention of the mind relax and just be aware of the sensations of the heart centre. When we relax the mind, we are trying to be aware of any feelings or sensations without thinking about what they are or what the feeling means. We are just observing without thought.
Technique
Make yourself comfortable and prepare yourself in your usual way. When you are ready, the body is relaxed and the breath settled, then start the meditation.
Bring your mind to the Tan Tien (in the centre of the body just below the navel), touch it with the finger tip. Focus the breath on that point. After about 6 breaths, take away the finger but keep the finger focused on that point. Again after about 6 breaths, relax the focus on the breath. Observe the point and any sensations.
Now bring the mind to the Solar Plexus (in the centre of the body in the inverted v of the rib cage). Repeat the process, pointing with the finger, without the finger and relaxed awareness.
Repeat again at the Heart centre (in the centre of the body behind the breastbone). Repeat the three levels of observation.
In any of the positions when the mind wanders, draw it back to the point you are focusing on.
After the heart centre just sit for a while without any specific observation. If anything try to be aware of yourself as a whole, both within your body and outside of the body. When you are aware that the mind has come in, just relax again and let the thoughts go.
When your body awareness increases then try to refocus or finish by going through your usual closing down process.
The meditation helps to increase focus and awareness.

Meditation Exercise – Positive Emotions
This exercise helps us to re-establish the feelings associated with the heart centre. This is very important, because the heart centre feelings become a safe place to which we will return.
Using the same technique as above but when you come to your heart experience a positive emotion e.g. love, peace or joy. Consider a time of peace and use it re-create the feeling of peace in your heart and then just sit with that experience.

Chi Kung – Sound Exercise
Sound and movement combined are very effective. The aim of this exercise is to combine the simple movement from the emotional awareness notes with sounds which resonate at the energy centres. Over the years I’ve used different sounds, from different sources, but have settled on these sounds which are used in sounding The Divine Name, by Jonathan Goldman. Even though I’ve used chakra sounds from different sources one sound remains constant, the ‘ah’ sound at the heart. This sound is rooted in many religious traditions, as in Amen, Aum, Allah and many more. The aim has always been to awaken the heart centre.

As in the additional week’s notes.
Draw in to the tan tien. This time as you exhale from the centre, instead of the sounding breath make an ‘Uu’ sound. Keep the sound going with the breath, and try to feel the sound resonating with the centre. Focus the mind on the centre as if directing the sound to the centre. Repeat the movement and breath 6 times and at the end stand in the nurturing position aware of that centre.

Similarly at the Solar Plexus, exhale with an ‘Oh’ sound. Again keep the mental focus and feel the resonance. Repeat 6 times and stand in the nurturing position aware of the solar plexus.

At the heart centre, make the ‘Ah’ sound as you push out to the sides level with the heart. Feel in in the heart centre. Repeat 6 times, then nurture with attention on the heart centre.