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The transition from meditation as a primarily mental exercise to meditation as a transformational life path requires a full body shift and a willingness to not only embrace everything in your life as an opportunity to learn and grow, but take full responsibility for your thoughts, actions, reactions, and responses. A meditation practice that supports this process requires a deep connection with our body as well as our mind. Learning to engage deeply with our interior landscape becomes the gateway to our liberation.
There are two critical components that are key to deepening one’s meditation practice. First is the cultivation of our capacity to witness and stay present with whatever is arising within us, and the other is taking ownership and embracing it in a space of love and compassion. Transforming deep psychological or emotional wounds demands that we bring our awareness and our compassion to our thoughts, beliefs and all the places of holding, resistance, pain and contraction that is held in our body. Taking ownership does not mean that we are responsible for the woundedness or trauma that we may have suffered. There is no question that some people have been victimized in horrendous ways, and there is a justified outrage with the actions of the perpetrator or the circumstances of the trauma. But the damage is done and we cannot change the past. What we have is the present and the possibility of a different future. Taking 100% responsibility for our psychological and or emotional woundedness gives us power. If our victimization becomes our identity, we are powerless to change our circumstance. Fully embracing and working with the impact of the trauma within us allows us the possibility of deep healing, growth and a very different future.
In the body there is direct knowing. Unlike our thinking minds, which can get caught in confusion, stories, beliefs, neurosis or even psychosis, the body doesn’t lie. Every point of tension and contraction in our bodies is actually condensed awareness. Physical, emotional, and mental stress and trauma that we have experienced beginning even in utero, leaves an imprint. That imprint can impair our growth and development in many ways and on many levels. For example, a study showed that pregnant women who were directly exposed to the attacks on the World Trade Center in September of 2001 and went on to develop symptoms of PTSD, gave birth to children who also showed signs of PTSD. Any trauma, illness, abuse, dysfunctional parenting, harsh environments, etc., that a child may have suffered has a cellular memory and can impact all aspects of development. As a bodyworker friend of mine once said, the issues are in the tissues. We do not have to be the victim of our “issues”, and in fact they can be the very catalyst of our growth, development and awakening. There is a great deal of research today that is reframing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as Post Traumatic Growth. The greater the degree of trauma we experience directly correlates to the greater the possibility for growth.
My belief is that our lives will offer all we need to evolve and awaken. In life there is suffering is the first Noble Truth in Budhhism. It is not something we need to go searching for. I often wonder at the magnitude of the scale of life experience and suffering in our world and also how much of this is amplified by our mental and emotional relationship to our suffering. I also believe that the greatest leverage point is with the present and ourselves. One quote from the 6th century BC Chinese philosopher and writer Lao Tzu became a kind of mantra for me during a stage of my journey many years ago:
“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”
In the physical body there is an innate intelligence and impetus toward health and healing, and I believe this is also true for the totality of our being. Connecting and rooting our consciousness in the groundless ground, the basic field, the source from which all life springs, and learning to embody this energy allows us to transform and heal. The gift of our own self-transformation becomes a gift to all of humanity.
– by Katherine Fellows