PRACTICES FOR MARCH 2019
Below are practices for .March These are mainly off the mat practices, in other words, you can integrate these practices into other activities, like walking, working or even while relating to others. You may wish to spend several weeks to a month working on these exercises.
A KUM NYE PRACTICE FOR FEBRUARY 2019
While we have this little break, I thought this would be a great opportunity to share about Kum Nye in everyday life, as a way to help us all bring mindfulness of body and feeling into our day.
The practice of Kum Nye has been called, “Making friends with all experience”. At a 100% level, this is challenging and beyond most of us. Perhaps it'd be easier to consider making friends with our own experience. And yet even this might simply serve to provide a direction, or progression. As we make friends with ourselves, (or, even if we recognize that there is a choice to be friendlier at times) it automatically starts to affect our relationship with 'the outside world.'
Let's also consider that their are two general times that we might practice, one: during a class or in a dedicated time, and two: every other time of the day. Our class practice can be used to begin to generate interest in the experience of the body, and maybe this gets carried into the rest of our lives a little bit. It helps to see that we parcel experience and go on automatic as we shift from activity to activity. Simply connecting in with the body as it is can provide a sense of security and peace.
But often we are not connecting with the body, but with our ideas about the body; worrying about our weight, speculating about this or that ache or feeling, judging our fears and desires. Being interested in the experience of the body is what the practice is all about. It helps to create the bridge from 'being aware of' feelings and sensations in the body, to 'being with.' Love is also synonymous with interest. When we feel love, we want to get closer, we want the contact, we want to touch, or to be in the same space. And yet, we might not always feel ready to say, “I love this”, but we might be able to say, “Well, I'm interested,” or, “I'm curious.”
So much of our conditioning is self-rejecting, self judging, and as a result we seek acceptance from outside. In Kum Nye we want to develop an interest in the 'not so socially nice' parts too, which, as we allow ourselves to experience directly, open up and enter into the fold of our wholeness. What is direct experience? It is the experience without the story or the label, especially the label, 'this is good,' or, 'this is bad', 'I should', or 'I shouldn't'. How can we maintain a relationship with the body as we work, relate with others, walk, or engage in all the other activities of daily life?
Consider trying these following practices by themselves or together, in a setting where you don't normally practice. Eventually, you may wish to try to practice while performing other activities, while speaking with others, or while working. These practices are a little different from our 'on the mat' practices. In these short practices, we are going to include the impact of the mind (our thoughts in this case) on the senses in the body, and then the impact of our sensing on our thoughts. Even so, its still wise to follow a rhythm; Create stillness, sense inward, follow, then quiet the breath, notice, then contact feeling.
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Sitting (or standing) let your breath get longer and deeper, so the breath is deep in the belly. After a few minutes of breathing in this way, begin to hold the breath in the belly for several seconds, and for the rest of the breath, let it be smooth and even. Feel the quality of the exhale after holding the breath. Stay 'in' the holding of the breath, as if you were entering into the space of holding. You might imagine the breath 'heating up', or a sensation of groundedness or a direction of flow. However, what you feel is important, so, stay with that. Take five to ten minutes breathing in this way, and then soften the breath, breathing slowly, evenly, and quietly for another five to ten minutes. What is the quality of energy and presence after practising this exercise?
Sit in the sitting posture and take some time to feel your embodiment. You might do this with a body scan, or follow your breath, or follow sensation as it arises. Next, consider how you are, and how you feel when you are with a friend, a loved one, a favourite pet, and generate that feeling. Next, can you generate the feeling of joy, perhaps by remembering a special moment, either by yourself or with someone you love, and let that feeling expand, Generate that feeling of spaciousness, and sense the stillness of the body. Let love, or interest, or curiosity enter into that field. Take ten minutes to develop this sense of refuge, as if the body were hollow, and thoughts and feelings were free to flow through and around the body.
There is no need to be concerned about thoughts, but continue to develop a stronger interest in feeling. After establishing merging with feeling (breath, awareness, and sensations) notice the interplay between thoughts and feeling. Does a certain thought create a sensory response, for example? Does a certain sensation start to generate a stream of thoughts? See if you can capture this interplay, at least once or twice, and, if you continue to practice in this way, awareness of the dance of thought/feeling/energy can be a source of joy.
This exercise can be done while performing a routine activity, preferably while standing or while walking. As you are moving during this activity, become aware of your spine, and the movement of the spine, and, over time, you can become more aware of each of the individual vertebra as you move. You might even consider looking at an image of the spine, so you can get a stronger sense of each of the vertebra, their size and shape and relationship with the pelvis, rib cage, and skull. You might exaggerate the movement. The spine is supple and spring-like. Most importantly, feel into the sensations of each vertebra, unique from the other vertebra, as if each had a separate personality. If you can't feel a particular vertebra, stay with it, or come back to it. How does awareness of each vertebra change the way you move your body, how you embody, and feel?