There are two important aspects of this course. Firstly this course aims to take a simple, joyful route to spiritual awakening. It is not necessary for something so beautiful and wonderful to be painful and difficult. It is only we that make it so. So while the course may involve us in challenging previously held beliefs about ourselves, it does not have to be painful. Secondly this course aims to achieve balance. The objective is to find a balance between our human self and our spiritual self. For many of us this is the basic problem, our human side dominates our life without spiritual balance. To achieve this balance we choose a middle path, between human and spiritual activity.
We use a simple model of the universe to help us understand. The universe has three parts, a spiritual life force, a physical emanation, and an energy which connects and communicates between the two. This model is widely reflected throughout the world in many religions. Within us we see a reflection of this model. We have a physical part, a spiritual part and an intercommunication and integration between them. Our physical being is our body, emotions and mind. We are familiar with it and, for most of us, it dominates our lives. Our spiritual being is the part of us that is connected to the Universe. Sometimes we refer to it as our soul quality, higher self or spiritual being. Often we have lost conscious contact with this part of ourselves, yet most of us have had experiences where we have had insight or awareness of it. This course aims to develop and increase awareness of our spiritual being. The integration of these two aspects of our being takes place at the heart. An open heart is necessary to integrate these aspects of our being into wholeness.
The aim is to bring all three parts of us into balance, a vibrant physical body, an open heart and a connected spiritual being. A vibrant physical body includes the emotions and the mind as well. We do not want to suppress any aspects of ourselves, but develop them, to increase our awareness of them, so that we can fully experience. So this course aims to develop all three. Yet it is impossible to develop the spirit, because it is already perfect. We cannot change it or alter it in any way. So all we can do is increase our awareness of it.
The human, physical aspects are also perfect, but in a different way. Our human side is providing us with all the lessons we need. It is very hard to accept that all the difficulties and problems that we see are perfect for us, especially when we are going through them, but it provides us with a different way of perceiving the world.
The human side and spiritual side operate from completely different perspectives. The human side always perceives itself as alone and separate, operating from its own power base and depending on its own physical, emotional and mental strength. The spiritual side is connected to the Universe, it operates from a universal perspective. It perceives everything to the interconnected and whole, and it has unlimited power. It is these two completely different aspects of our human being that we explore this month.
The Microcosmic Orbit
The microcosmic orbit is a circuit of energy, used in Tai Chi and Chi Kung which integrates the flow of Chi within the body. As the name implies it is a microcosm, a small version of the flow of energy within the universe, the macrocosm. The circuit integrates the physical energy, centred on the Tan Tien with the spiritual energy centred behind the eyes. Afterwards stand and feel the integrated energy flowing from the heart. The Circle of Light exercise is part of the eight silk brocade routine and works with the Microcosmic orbit.
Chi Kung Exercise – Circle of Light
This exercise improves the flow of energy throughout the body, integrating heaven and earth energy.
From embracing the tree, after sweeping the hands out to the side, pause for a few seconds and then sweep the hands forwards and downwards towards the navel. The hands should be away from the body as though embracing a balloon again, this time level with the navel. Pause for a few seconds in this nurturing position.
Sink from the knees slightly, drawing the hands downwards and then backwards. Rise up again, bring the hands up slightly behind the body. When the hands reach above the head, start to sink again, sweeping the hands forwards and downwards, until they are back in front of the navel. It is as though the arms create large circles, starting backwards and upwards and finishing forwards and downwards. Repeat 8 times.
When you have finished, come back to stand in the nurturing position for a couple of minutes in the same way as the previous exercise.
Breathing – Breathe in as you rise up with the hands behind you and breathe out as you sink sweeping down in front.
Visualisation- Externally the hands feel as though they are pulling upwards and feel as though they are pushing downwards. Internally, imaging the breath come down from the navel to the base and then rising up the spine to the top of the head. It then comes down a line down the centre of the front of the body, back down to the navel
Exercise – Energy Flow
This uses the circles of light exercise but goes a little further. Do the exercise standing up but have an upright chair easily accessible. Go though the movement working with the breath. Breathe up the spine and down the front of the body. Do it about six times and then quietly sit down, remaining centred.
Close the eyes and, without the movement, breathe up the spine and down the front. Feel as though the breath is going from the navel, down to the base and up the spine to the crown, as you breathe in and down the front of the body as you breathe out. Again about 6 breaths then just sit and feel the energy flowing around the circuit.
Now, still sitting, very slowly use the arms again to draw the chi up and around. Feel the movement on the hands and internally. Finish by just sitting.
This exercise helps to deepen the feeling on the energy in the hands. If you get that deeper experience then apply it through the whole sequence.