Spiritual: a quick definition

08/04/2015 at 4:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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People often talk about being spiritual. Others deny that the spiritual realm even exists. But what does being spiritual actually mean? Here is a definition that works for me:

Beyond the levels of thinking and feeling lies pure consciousness, which we experience as pure love. Reaching this is spiritual transformation.

Once you’ve been there – really been there – you’ll always have it. It never goes away, although sometimes we manage to forget it for a while. However, we always remember sooner or later. It has a way of reminding us.

We get there by being fully present in the moment, and thus forgetting our ego-centred worries and desires. Looking at a beautiful aspect of nature – such as a flower, or a small child – can bring us to the shores of the spiritual realm. So, too, can a regular practice of meditation. Sometimes, this happens spontaneously, especially in those moments between sleep and waking. And it can also happen in extremis, when our ego-driven policies are no longer working for us, and we find ourselves yielding to a different, infinitely vaster view of the universe.

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Next week a new, huge series of meditations begins in the Studio. Term by term, for seven terms, we’re going to focus on each of the main chakras – the energy centres that enable us to function in the physical realm, and also to develop our deeper understanding of life. This epic theme is designed to suit all levels of ability, and you can dip in and out as you wish. The intention is that we will focus ever more fully on the building blocks of our human psyche and our interface with the wider world.

This term, from now until July, we’ll be focusing on the base or root chakra, which is concerned with physical survival and manifestation. Join us whenever you can. And I hope you will experience the bliss of the spiritual, one word at a time.

Base chakra meditation: red shimmer

02/05/2014 at 6:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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I am sitting in a small group meditating on the colour red. This is a challenging subject, because as Jennie will point out during the chat session afterwards, there is a duality around the colour red, as far as we humans are concerned.

On the one hand, red is about life and passion. It’s the colour of Valentine’s Day roses, a symbol of romantic love. On the other hand, red is about danger and anger. When we ‘see red’ in our minds, we are said to be furious. And when, in real life, we see red blood, it often means that someone has been injured or worse.

Red is also the colour associated with the base chakra, or root chakra. We can view this chakra as a concentration of spinning energy at the base of the spine, an energetic interface between the individual human and the wider world.

Primal survival

The base chakra is intimately concerned with survival, at the primal level. It’s about the building of the blood and bones of a being from the clay and water of Mother Earth. It’s about the creation and maintenance of the earthly vessel that contains our spirit.

And here’s the thing: the vessel, your human body, is fragile. Every day there are at least a thousand ways in which it could crash and die. And yet, most of the time, it doesn’t. It keeps going. Somehow, it contains the cellular wherewithal to grow and mend itself again and again. It is a spectacular example of self-regeneration.

Of course our bodies are vital to us. At this period in our evolution, we couldn’t function for long on this planet without them. And most of us grow very attached to the personality that goes with our own individual body, though sometimes it’s a love/hate relationship. We may or may not believe that our spirit endures. But we can be sure that the personality that occupies the body will never be quite the same without it.

Given the miracle of our bodies, it’s ironic that so many of us look at them with criticism. Why would we do that?

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However, at this moment, while I am meditating, only fragments of those thoughts come through. They will be developed in the conversation afterwards. Meanwhile, I am trying to focus on the deep, velvety red colour of a flower petal. I am becoming that colour. I am imagining all the cells of my body are that same velvety red. I am an embodiment of the colour red. It is a good feeling, and I am enjoying it.

Roller coaster journey

Still meditating, I become, briefly, a blood cell, travelling through the amazing branched corridors of my body’s circulatory system. I am surprised and delighted to see that the blood cells all around me as I travel the roller coaster corridors are shimmering. They are vibrant with life and vitality.

And then comes a new insight: the blood we invariably see is not living blood. It is always injured blood: stressed, altered and either dead or dying. We can never see blood in its living, vibrant state, because it is in a closed system, away from our view.

Yes, we might see it through the lens of an endoscope. But that’s not real. It’s a digitised representation. It does not, and cannot shimmer like the real thing.

As I am marvelling over this insight, I hear a voice. Its tone is reassuring and calming.

“You can never see all of the shimmer,” says the voice, confirming my thoughts. Then it adds something else, totally unexpected:

“You can never see all of the angels.”

And suddenly I am suffused with a feeling of happiness, laced with tears. I am touched, immeasurably, by the wonder and mystery of our physical existence. It is such a mystery, such a miracle, so magical. Our physical lives, yours and mine, are unbelievable treasures. How did we get to be so lucky to step into these vessels?

And then I am travelling through vast, endless, complex tunnels. They branch and rejoin and keep on going. This isn’t my blood system any more. It’s immeasurably bigger than that.

It feels like I’m in a cosmic circulatory system of which we are all part. Forget evasive politicians and corrupt bankers: their actions are smaller than dust particles. These are the real corridors of power. We are each of us part of the cosmic system. It’s breathtaking, elegant and immense.

You can read more about the themes we’re meditating on this term here.

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