This practice was inspired by many things.
A conversation with friends after a heart-opening Bhakti practice about the nature of the spiritual path.
An understanding that opening the body was all very well, but unless the heart also opened, essentially meaningless.
A desire to experience more equinimity, more joy, more bliss, more love.
And a book called A Path with Heart.
Which brought me right back to the true nature of the spiritual path, and a desire to take my yoga practice beyond proficiency with the body, beyond even proficiency with the breath, and into proficiency of the heart. I wanted a practice that would teach the art of intimacy.
For in essence, isn’t that what all of life about?
The way we relate to each other.
The way we listen to each.
The way we respond to each other.
The way we love each other.
Even the most exalted states and the most exceptional spiritual accomplishments are unimportant if we can not be happy in the most basic and ordinary ways, if we can not touch each other and the life we have been given with our hearts.
And this is me. I’ve had intense spiritual and meditation experiences where the Universe has enveloped me and whispered all the secrets of all time into my ear. I’ve come to profound understandings about the true nature of reality. I’ve felt the movement of kundalini within as shakti dances her way up my spine.
Yet despite all of these openings, all of this clarity, all of this knowing… I crashed back down to earth in my ordinary life to discover that I was just as up-tight and constricted and closed-off and cold and analytical as I had ever been. I was still living out of my mind and afraid to even look into the gifts of my heart.
Even worse, having experienced oneness, bliss, samadhi, knowingness… I’d had a taste of what it was like to have an open heart and mistakenly thought that that was it, I’d done it, I’d made it, life was going to be cruising on easy street… I was officially Awakened.
As the Tui billboards say… Yeah right!
Instead, I was profoundly aware of all of my faults, of the way I’d always been and still was. I could see it. I could no longer deny the pain this way of being caused me or those close to me, so I felt more pain, more emotion than ever before…
Life wasn’t easy street at all, suddenly it had got a whole lot tougher, and there was nothing I could do to put the genie back in the bottle. Once a little awakened, one can not deny the truth and fall back asleep. The only choice is to face up to one’s demons and chart a course through the perils of a spiritual life.
Which brings me back to Jack, and my loving-kindness meditation. At the end of Chapter One, where he discusses this all-too-common experience of spiritual seekers, he suggests this meditation, gently reminding us that all other spiritual practices are in vain if we can not love:
The happiness we discover in life is not about possessing, or owning, or even understanding. Instead, it is the discovery of this capacity to love, to have a loving, free and wise relationship with all of life… out of love, our path can lead us to learn to use our gifts to heal and to serve, to create peace around us, to honour the sacred in life, to bless whatever we encounter, and to wish all beings well.
And so the meditation.
Is it “working”?
No doubt about that. I feel it on the inside, I see it’s results on the outside. I’m eager to do it every day. I usually sit for longer than my proscribed ten minutes, and even fit in an hour on Sunday.
See, when you take the time to still the mind, sit with yourself, and repeat heart-felt truths over and over you are reminding yourself of what is real, of what is true. You are reminding yourself that you are filled with loving-kindness. You are well. You are peaceful and at ease. You are happy.
And in the silent affirmation over and over of what is already true.
You wake up.
And suddenly, there you are. Feeling those truths at your very core.
Loving, kind, well, peaceful, at ease, happy.
Just like magic…