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Living in the Vertical Reality

Living in the Vertical Reality

"I would love to meditate – meditation is the most important thing in my life! – but I just don't have the time!"

     Yes, life in the world is hectic: there's all the time and energy that goes into maintaining your personal lifestyle.
      Bills need to be paid, aerobics class to be got to, gone through, and returned home from.
     Dry cleaning has to be collected, the library book returned, the dog walked or the cat fed and fussed over; emails need responding to, movies seen; friends or family visited, landlords appeased, and lovers embraced.
      Not to mention all that is involved in maintaining a job.

      Knowing all this, my hit is that we find time for what we really want to do.



      To prove my point, here's how a typical 12 hours of your day could proceed – meditatively speaking.

     You wake up at 6.30 am and, okay, maybe you can't do the aptly named Dynamic Meditation because you live in an apartment in New York/Toronto/Tokyo/Melbourne/Milano/Manchester, and the neighbors would freak out when you start jumping up and down.
      If you can't even do the silent version you could, instead, sit in Vipassana; take a walk or ride your motorcycle to a place from where you can sit and watch the outer sunrise as you feel the inner sun rising simultaneously. That's an awesome, very stilling meditation.

     I've used different techniques at different times in my life. For the past year, listening to an audiotaped Osho discourse for 40-60 minutes each morning is perfect. I usually precede this with a power walk or an hour's workout at my local gym, so it is very easy to sit still and to be silent for that long.
     Some discourses I've heard over and over, but that doesn't matter because I tune more into the silence that is the thread behind the sounds than into the words themselves.
     And when I do take in the words, I've noticed that because I am a different person from the one who heard them the last time(s), I hear them differently. In this way I extract something new from them with each replay.

     Other options? For many months one summer I made the Voice-Release (a.k.a Allah) method my morning meditation.
     For this Sufi technique, you sit with legs loosely crossed (wear loose clothing or be naked, as the weather – and your modesty – permits!)
With eyes closed and hands resting easily on your thighs, rock from side to side while chanting the word "Al-lah...Al-lah!...Al..lah!" emphasizing the last syllable.
      Do this for at least 10-15 minutes. You'll find that sometimes you are chanting softly, and then, without your consciously doing it, it naturally rises to a peak, and is a little louder, and maybe you are rocking and chanting faster and you feel really joyful; then maybe a natural valley follows, the tempo slows and the chant is softer, and so on....
     Then if you sit still for 5-10 minutes, as time permits, you will find it easy to be still and silent.




     That's the first meditation of the day under your belt.

      Now you are in the shower: as you lather the soap and wash your body, do it with all the love you can muster; consciously touch your body and, as you do so, tell it – in words or nonverbally – how much you love and appreciate it, that you are taking care of it. (Another method!)

     Savoring your first tea or cappuccino of the day, direct your awareness to the cup and, simultaneously, be aware of the cup's being aware of you: the double-pointed arrow of awareness. It's a great centering device, which works with any object or another person, and you don't even need their permission.

      Walking to catch the train or bus to work, be aware of your foot on the pavement, conscious of each movement; or make the point of your awareness the sounds your feet make as they crunch the autumn leaves lying along the way.

      I've recently begun experimenting with what I call "The Name Mantra": you can use your own name for this, or even "Nike" or "Starbucks"!
I like saying "Osh-o" because it's such a soft sound. You say the second part of the word on the out breath – make it a long exhalation.
      I use this technique as I do my early morning power-walk. This technique keeps me relaxed. It also redirects the energy that might otherwise go into daydreaming into the present moment.




     Driving to work provides another opportunity to listen to a discourse, or to do the Gibberish method.

     Remember how, as a child, you used to play with sounds, sometimes talking nonsense words, too fast for the mind to be involved and all mixed up together? That's exactly what you do now.

     At the same time you can make faces, which wakes it up while simultaneously shifting any tension that you might have been holding there.
Stuck for minutes on end at a busy intersection? Gibberish is the perfect way to deal with any mounting tension – so much better than leaping out of your car and hurtling insults, or worse, at anyone within range!

     Goodbye road rage! Hello suburban sage!




      You'll arrive at your office in a relaxed space and, once there, why not suggest to your colleagues that you all start the day with five minutes Laughter Meditation?
     Sit in a circle – maybe someone can start the ball rolling by telling a joke – and just start laughing. You'll find that others trigger your laughter and you act as a trigger for others. Even if you feel like you are only acting at the start, that's okay; the real thing will soon kick in.
     Hara breathing is a method you can use almost constantly throughout the day. I find it especially useful when I am waiting for a document to download.
      As soon as I realize that I have caught my breath and am waiting, tensely, for it to hurry up, I consciously begin to breathe again, bringing my awareness down into the hara, that point that is about two inches below the belly button inside.
     As I breathe in, I feel my belly rise; as I exhale, the belly collapses. This is the way we used to breathe as babies, so Hara Breathing is a way to revert to a more natural way of being.
     You will find that it is physiologically impossible to be uptight when you breathe with your awareness at the belly.
     About to make a presentation to a group of thirty colleagues, and you're feeling nervous? Hara breathing is perfect here too. Or, try the Buddhist technique of "Taking Note Three Times": just say (inwardly) "Nervous ... nervous ... nervous..."
That's all. Do nothing else. A few moments later you will find the tension has dissolved.
     Maybe the energy has become excitement at the idea of the challenge this opportunity is giving you. If that's so, again, just take note: "Excited ... excited ... excited!" and so on.
Maybe you suddenly realize you have left the first page at home.
     Silently repeat inside "Panic ... panic...panic..." and, as you chill out you might remember that the page is in your briefcase after all!
      The way I understand it is that when we articulate our feeling we are more aware of, and take responsibility for, an emotion that was otherwise just swimming about in the murky depths of our unconscious.
      Giving a word to that feeling brings it to the light.
     Once we articulate that word, either silently inside or out loud we are, in a way, releasing it; we are creating – or, better, reaffirming – the distance between us and that feeling.
     And, as we all know: it is the distance that makes the difference!




      Your boss is giving you a hard time, or a colleague presses your button – for the third time this week?
Instead of mindlessly reacting, and then, inevitably regretting whatever you did or said, wait twenty four hours – the very practical technique for which we have to thank the Russian mystic, Gurdjieff – before you respond.
      When you do this, you will probably find you have an altogether different take on yesterday's incident, and deal with it in a more creative way.
      And those small gaps of silence that we all experience throughout the day? Instead of instantly filling them with a thought or activity, treat yourself to a moment of just being. It is a good way of replenishing yourself, and can be done so easily and quietly that nobody in your office needs to even know that you are a closet meditator!
      When the inner critic kicks in, telling you that you should work late; you are not fast enough, smart enough, or thin, deliberately replace it with the image or feeling of a loving presence that supports you, and loves you without any conditions or judgments.
      Listen to it quietly tell you that you are doing fine, and learn to trust that when you work – in fact when you are doing anything in this state of loving self-acceptance – you will always only be benefited.




      Eating your lunch, chew consciously, savoring every mouthful – the flavors, the textures, and the aromas.
Or say "thank you" to the food, thank you to the park in which you are sitting, and thank you to the bench on which you are sitting.
     This ancient Tibetan technique can be used constantly throughout your day, whatever you are doing.

      Listening to a colleage as you do so? Try listening to him or her from the heart, rather than from your head – and feel the difference! Then, as you both walk back to work, just feel loving towards whatever your eyes happen to fall on – the face of an old man, a passing dog, a single flower.
     It doesn't really matter what the object of our loving is; the point is to exercise your love muscles as much as you can because of how it makes you feel.

     Sitting on the train going home, gaze intently at the back of the neck of the passenger in front of you and feel you are sending him or her rays of loving energy!
     Or, in a noisy subway, feel as if all those sounds, however discordant or abrasive, are pouring down towards you, while you rest in the center of them.
      They don't touch you: they move towards you but you remain untouched, in the center. This method from the Tantric school may sound weird – yet it works. You can experience the silence of a mountaintop even in the middle of Manhattan. (And I'm not telling you anything that hasn't been my own experience!)

     When you greet your partner or flat mate, look into their eyes as you both share your day...and see there the ocean. Tune into that space that we all share.
     Tune into what unites you with the other, this ocean of oneness, rather than focussing on the "wave" of your separate selves.

     As your head finally hits the pillow at night, go to sleep using the Law of Affirmation technique: i.e. repeating until you fall asleep the name of any quality which you'd like to bring into your life, for example, "Awareness ... awareness ... awareness ..." or "Patience ... patience ... patience" and so on.

     Using even one of the many techniques above can change how you experience everyday life. I know that I could not continue to survive – in any meaningful sense of the word – in the world without meditation as my foundation.

Maneesha James

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