Sitting and breathing
Once you are all seated, see if for ten minutes you can not disturb the body, because we do need to go back to the posture and how to sit.
In all the postures we need to find a very fine balance between having certain integrity in the posture, and at the same time not to stress the body. We need to find the place from which to hold the body up, and at the same time a place of rest.
Sitting on the floor in cross legs your base is formed by the pelvis and the crossed legs. This is the image of the cobra, the coiled tail of the snake. We need to find out how to sit straight, with the spinal column growing straight up out of the pelvis, with the pelvis a vertical position, and at the same time not pulling the body up from wrong body parts, from mistaken body parts.
In this human body the upholding power of the body is in the pelvis, in the lower abdomen. This is a physical point, in the sense that it is in the physical body, but it is also an etheric point, an energy point. Yesterday we were talking about breathing into the sound of the poplar trees, and also that the breathing should come out of the whole body, not just out of the spinal column or out of the rib cage.
If you want to find the center of the body it is good to almost make an x-ray of your own body inside, where the bone structure is visible, while the soft part of the body is like a shadowy outline. Find the x-ray of your body, which is the pelvis and the spinal column, and see if this bone structure is strong, firm. When you pull the body up from the spinal column in the thoracic area, that is bringing it way too high in the body, and therefore it is not efficient. The efficient thing to do is to place all your awareness, all your weight bearing in the pelvis, and then let the spine easily elongate upwards out of there.
In other words, the buttock bones should grow down into the floor underneath you, into the ground underneath you. Then we were also talking about the air. Air is actually also a substance, so for beginners I might say that you have a hook on top of your head, which pulls you up, or you have a book on top of your head and you have to push up into the book. A nicer and more sophisticated way is to say that the top of the head, the Brahmarandhra, the fontanel, is also a root, it can root into the air mass above it. You can almost feel the air mass above the head, and then root the fontanel into the air mass above you.
Then shift your awareness to the energy inside the body. The energy in the body has to do with awareness; you can only detect it by awareness, you cannot detect it normally. Be aware of this energy. Now this energy is not a flimsy entity. It is an actual thing, and it shows for instance in Kirlian photography, where you can see the light coming out of the body. It still has a certain mass, a certain weight. I was always told that when people die, when they weight them after one or two days, the body weighs less than before, because this luminous body, energy body, has gone. This body has weight and bulk. Inside your body, feel where this energy body is sitting.
Now usually, because we are so frontal body oriented, this energy body is pressing forward into the frontal body. Feel for instance your chest. That is an easy part to feel. You can feel how this inner weight tends to push forward to the frontal chest. Keeping your spine completely straight, see if you can internally bring the weight of the chest backwards towards the back ribs. If you do so you can feel the back ribs widen. You can do the same thing with the pelvis. The internal weight on the abdominal area and the pelvis area, which collapses forward into the front wall of the abdomen. That is why people hang in the lumbar. Again, keeping the pelvis vertical and the lumbar spine growing up out of the vertical pelvis, see if you can bring the inner weight of the body back to lodge against the lumbar spine and the sacroiliac joints. Physically you are not shifting the weight; psychically you are shifting the weight. If you do that you can again feel how the lumbar broadens, the sacroiliac joints broaden and ease off.
The most delicate part of course is the head; again because we are such cerebral creatures, we always push the energy forward into the frontal brain. We are also very neurotic creatures, and so we always push the energy forward into the face. This is why people at the age of forty have already deep furrows on the front of the forehead and around the mouth; there are all these creases because the energy is tight in there.
The body has its own mechanism. When you are cold or upset or angry, the body tends to shrink inside. Which means that the energy moves from the skin inwards towards the skeletal structure. That is why people who are shy or upset tend to hunch over with the arms folded in front of the chest. That is a defensive posture. When you are in a relaxed mood and happy and having a good time, when you are on the beach in the hot sun, the whole body tends to spread-eagle outwards and the energy moves from the skeletal structure outwards towards the skin and out into the air around the skin. This is called relaxation. Tension is from the periphery of the body inward towards the center, and relaxation is from the inner body outward towards the periphery and out through the skin out.
The face is the same thing, only it is more delicate. The face is much more of a barometer for what happens inside. Again the constricting movement forward is a question of tension, while opening is a question of relaxation. Now we have to understand the front brain and the back brain. The back brain is the old part. It is the root for seeing, for hearing, for the physical body, which has old knowledge out of the time of the dinosaurs. That is why the back brain is often called the reptilian brain. It is old and it is cold. The frontal brain is young, it is the monkey brain, it is only three million years old, and it is a kind of computer. It knows how to calculate. It is also very excited. It is also very presumptuous. Because it is young, like young things, they think that they know everything. So the frontal brain thinks it knows everything. Therefore the frontal brain tends to pull everything along. It pulls all the energy forward into the head. It sucks the energy forward; it sucks the energy into the face. This is why thinking, which is a typical product of the big brain – thinking is the formulation of words, sentence and pictures – belongs to the frontal brain and has the effect on the face in the form of narrowing the face inward, of making the face narrow and pushing forward. The mouth going in and forward, the forehead creasing inward, toward the center, and the eyes following the excitement of the brain.
Thus the eyes bring the focus on the inner corners of the eyes. With the blindfold you can see that you are focusing through the inner corners of the eyes. The effect is tensing the temples inward, making the temples narrow, and making the eyes a little hard and dry. All this has to do with the frontal brain. Now the frontal brain cannot understand, the frontal brain can only make a lot of excitement. Therefore the face follows the frontal brain, and therefore this whole thinking process, which affects the face, does not take you very far.
We need to come back to the old brain, to the old part of the body. For me personally, this is the meaning of yoga. People are always very presumptuous, saying that yoga is union between man and god, and all that. I do not know if anybody knows what god it. Let us keep closer home, and just say that yoga is the bridge or yoke between the young part of the human being and the old part, and finding a balance, a bridge between the two of them, where both are held in balance. You need to use the young brain, but when you do not need to use it, you put it on hold, and go back to the old one. Most people, however, are stuck and caught and trapped in the frontal brain, in the thinking brain, and it is very difficult for them to turn the internal radio off. Yoga means that you can turn the internal radio on and off at will, and are not the victim of the frontal brain.
Keep your head exactly where it is, and see if you can bring the energy of the front of the head into the back in the same way as you did with the chest and the pelvis. An easy way to do that is to think of the eyes. The person who looks through the eyes, the ‘you’ who looks through the eyes, is usually standing right behind the eye balls. That is why you are looking through the inner corners of the eyes and the eyes are sharp and dry. Pull the nerves of the eyes backwards, because the roots of the eyes are actually in the back of the brain. Like a thera band stretch the nerves of the eyes backwards, so that you are standing actually in the back of the head, looking out through the whole dark room of your inner head to look out through the eyes. The more you move backwards, the more you notice that you are look through the outer corners of the eyes. Therefore the eyes become wide and soft and liquid. The dry and hard qualities belong to the inner corners of the eyes when you are standing right behind the eyes. When you are moving backwards in the head, you move automatically to the outer corners of the eyes, and the eyes lose that hardness and dryness, and become soft and liquid. I think that the old Egyptian paintings with those people with the eyes lined sideways, that is probably what they meant to indicate, that the eyes have to move sideways in order to access the back of the brain.
You can do the same thing with the ears, with the mouth and with the forehead. The more you can go back inside the head, the more the forehead widens, it loses its creases, the eyes widen and the face widens. As the energy is pulled backwards into the back of the head the face loses its hard quality of the’ I know it all ‘of the frontal brain. So you bring again a balance between the front and the back; not all in the front, but the whole frontal body yields and brings the energy into the back of the body, so that the spine in the middle, the gravitational line in the middle, divides the energy exactly in two: front and back.
The option or the choice is that if you need to function behind your computer, you can go to the front brain, but when you shut off the computer, the radio, and you want to have a holiday and go into the garden, then you have to move towards the back brain, because the frontal brain is useless in the garden.
At this moment, since we are in the garden, bring the energy on the back, and then go back to the breathing. The other day I was using the sound of the wind in the trees, but if you do not have any sounds around you, you can also visualize that you are sitting in an egg shaped container and that you move outward into the egg shaped container, or just expand the whole body sideways, up, down, forward and back, in all directions.
This is not something you can ‘do,’ it is something that’ happens’ when you take the skin all around the body away, when you really make the skin so invisible that at a certain point you do not even know where your body begins and where the space around you begins; the dividing line becomes very fuzzy and very invisible.
There is a slight breeze in the trees, and there are some other sounds going on. Just for you to experiment with this, when you are breathing and when you are sitting, listen to the wind sound, listen to the occasional bird sound: you can clearly feel that most of the time your body ‘feels’ the sound on the front of the body. The sound of the wind is like one of those rain sticks, you can ‘feel’ it on the front of the chest, on the front of the abdomen. Now see if you can ‘feel’ it on the back too, on your shoulder blades, ‘feel’ the sound with your shoulder blades, hear the sound with the back of your waist, the back of the lumbar. Again you can clearly see that the more you listen to the sounds with the back of the lumbar, the back of the chest, the shoulder blades, the more the tension dissolves and your back gets bigger and broader. Not because you are ‘doing’ that, but because it happens, because you are listening.
Listen to the bird sounds with your shoulders, the shoulders reaching out to listen to the birds, not reaching out in a motoric, physical sense, but reaching out in an energetic sense, in a psychic sense. And the sound of the traffic, see if you can hear, listen, to the sound of the traffic with the base of the head, with the back, the base of the head meeting the sound halfway. The sound is a wave, so your listening sends energy waves out to meet the wave of the traffic sounds. Then there are also the little lightning streaks of bird song going through the whole thing, sharp jittery lightning streaks.
This kind of practice is easy to do when you are sitting still and do not have to worry about anything. You can just play this game of seeing if you can bring the front and the back of the body in balance, but in reality this should be applied to all the postures. In all the postures, if you want to take notes, you have to use the front part of the body and the frontal brain, but if you want to actually do the postures from a place of relaxation and elongation, you have to move into the back of the body. So when you doing Back Bends, or Forward Bends, or Standing Poses, if you can slide the posture out of the back of the body it will have a very different flavour from doing it from the front of the body.
Now slowly take the blindfold off, but keep your eyes closed, because the light will be very sharp, and gradually let your eyelids absorb the light before you open your eyes.