So What is the Energy Body Anyway?

We’ve all heard the term “energy body,” and maybe we’ve had experiences of the energy body, but how would you go about trying to explain what it actually means to you? You’ve probably seen the diagram of the outline of the physical body with the circumscribing lines encircling the physical body. These are called Koshas, and thereIMG_0825 are many names for those layers – etheric body, auric body, causal body, prana body, bliss body. For simplicity sake, I’m going to lump them all together today.

I come from years of training and experience in Yoga Nidra. In Yoga Nidra, or yogic sleep, you are guided into Turiya, which is the 4th state of mind beyond waking, dreaming and sleeping where you experience the transcendental states of the ancient mystics. This is my most direct experience of the energy body.

Yoga Nidra practice combines conscious action (stretching, breathing, and chanting) with conscious receptivity (sensing, feeling, and detached attention) producing a paradoxical state of integration which effectively activates the energy body. If you simply let your mind merge into the flood of energy pulsating in the body, you can connect your individual consciousness with the unified field and experience the blissful illuminated essence of your being.

Being able to access the energy body is very important to your health and vitality. You can think of the energy body as a non-physical dynamic field that distributes prana or life force to and also releases excess energy from the physical body. This fullsizeoutput_2cinvisible body is a living energy made up of invisible subtle matter which functions as a medium to energize, clear and revitalize body, mind and spirit. “The energy is like water which should be moving to keep it fresh. Otherwise you create a stagnant swamp,” says yoga teacher, Marlene Smits.

If you close your eyes for a moment and become still, you can get a sense of this alive energy moving through you. The energy can take certain pathways like the meridians or chakras, but it is up to you to develop your own sense of how the energy moves in your body. Use your detached attention to sense and feel into the alive space that is your energy body. With practice you can build on pleasurable sensations in the body and pulsations of breath and blood flow. Pleasure is key. The more you can allow the intense sensations to build, the healthier and more vital your energy body can become and the closer you come to awakening the bliss body.

For more direct experience, please join me for Yoga Nidra for Relaxation Sunday, March 11 at 10:30 – 11:30 am at April’s Yoga and Pilates in Pacifica, CA.

Karma vs. Causality

We are entering the dimension where we have control – the inside.                                              ~Byron Katie

When bad things happen to you, how you explain it to yourself and make sense of it can make all the difference in the world. Many people use the concept of Karma. Karma is the idea that what goes around comes around, and it is satisfying to use when you are singing the ‘someone done me wrong’ song. But it feels a little like blame when you apply it to yourself. Another way to explain things is that it’s God’s Will. There’s not much that is more irritating than hearing that when tragedy strikes.

In my book, Chasing Serenity, (buy here) Jasmine, Maya’s unseen guide, explains the Law of Causality to her one day when Maya is in a pit of despair.

“This is the Law of Causality. You will inevitably attract the opposite reality of what you IMG_0079_2desire until you come fully into resonance with it and learn the lesson. You are always given ample opportunity to heal the aching illusion of lack and to heal the separation wherever it manifests in your life or body. Life circumstances cause us to wake up if we dare. Do you dare to be aware?”

Then Maya says, “So that is always the point – when life happens, and we feel unloved or unlovable or have fallen into a pit of despair, it is urging us to look past the mundane, childhood programming, and ego-mind chastising.”

Jasmine continues, “Yes, but of course, my darling. You are basically love and light, plain and simple. That’s all you need to know ever.”

Harsh realities are not designed to induce guilt, shame, blame, hopelessness and self-reproach in us humans. They are realities plain and simple. They are not intended to cause us to brace ourselves against life and hold on tighter to the past.

No matter how bad the outside circumstances look, the key is to make the switch and img_2814begin to notice how you feel inside. Just notice. Maybe your boyfriend did cheat on you, maybe your boss is never going to give you that raise, or maybe a family member is always going to treat you abusively. It is still not about what’s happening outside of you. You probably don’t have much control over that anyway. It’s what’s happening inside you that counts.

People struggle with the Serenity Prayer notion of accepting the things they cannot change. Acceptance starts with accepting yourself for how you are feeling first – whatever that might be. No need for spiritual by-pass. Get real with yourself and what’s inside right now. Let what is be as it is right now. From there, it is just a short hop, skip and a jump to start to question how much longer can you stay angry, depressed, jealous, resentful, feeling disrespected and rejected? That is the question.

As Byron Katie is fond of saying:                                                                                                     We are entering the dimension where we have control – the inside.

Yoga Teacher Goes Crazy

I started teaching a yoga class called Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra is a deeply relaxing guided meditation. It’s similar to Corpse Pose or Shavasana that you may be familiar with at the end of many yoga classes. Yoga Nidra means “yogic sleep” and takes you to the place between waking and sleep where you can experience such profound stillness and silence that you can awaken to your essential nature as pure awareness.

I consider it a privilege to have the honor to be a guide for people in this way. The only problem is that I find myself having reactions to people’s reactions. People love to IMG_1004give you feedback which is their prerogative, but what they might not realize is that just because they like it a certain way that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone is going to like it that way. One person likes this; the other likes that. I was starting to go crazy managing all the needs and responses of my students when I decided I needed to take my own advice and use my reactions to dive deeper into my own defensiveness and resistance.

Yoga by its very nature is a contradiction in terms. On the one hand, you are there to reach that blissful state of union with the All, and, on the other, there are forces conspiring against your ability to get there. It could be an external distraction like traffic noise that just gets stuck in your craw. Or (more likely) it could be an internal disturbance like “I can’t do this yoga pose perfectly, so the teacher shouldn’t ask me to do it. I’m going to talk with her after class about the scientific research that shows IMG_0688that pose is bad for your body.” It is these internal conflicts that disguise themselves so well that we don’t recognize that they coming from our own conflicts between our ego minds and reality.

Yoga teachers, myself included, make sure to provide the precaution to “Listen to your body,” and give you adaptive poses for the more difficult ones. But still our comparing minds persist and insist.

So why was I getting so upset by the feedback?

Then I remembered a phrase that my yoga teacher, Yogi Amrit Desai, often uses. “Let go of the need to do it perfectly.” Ah ha! I was putting pressure on myself to do it perfectly not only so that everyone had a great experience, but also so I wouldn’t get in trouble for not doing it perfectly. This deep belief goes back to childhood when we would get punished or lose love and attention if we spilled our milk or pooped our pants. Many of us learned that it is essential to try to control our impulses to avoid the shame and embarrassment, and, when that failed, try to control the environment. A lot of us also learned that adults often blame outside circumstances for their mistakes, and we adopted that approach by default.

So where do I go from here? What if I could let go of the shame and blame just long enough to be with the impossible imperfection of the All?

Shedding Your Skin

You may have heard that 2016 is a 9 year. In numerology you add the digits together to come up with the number like this 2+0+1+6 = 9. 9 is a number of completion and endings because next year will be a 1 which is when we get to start again fresh. Also December 12th or 12-12 is considered to be a gateway to higher consciousness so this is an ideal time to shed the old skin and release any energies and emotions that are not yours.

I had a revelation the other night while I was lying quietly in bed in the stillness of the fullsizerender_2night thinking about shedding my skin. The old skin is a metaphor for a habitual energy body that is based on old fears, fallacies and misconceptions from childhood. It is made up of portals, hooks, receptor sites and open invitations for old stuff like limiting self concepts, ancestral patterns, and toxic family members; energies we have been carrying with us for perhaps life times.

Some might be for those people in our lives who can rob us of our power. You know who that is. If you remember Red Dog from the Lynn Andrews stories, he took her marriage basket, which was a symbol for the balance of masculine and feminine energies.

Is there someone in your life who can do that to you?

As I lay there, I could feel that the tensions in my body were alien energies. They were not mine! They are hanging around from ancient maybe ancestral times and may have been IMG_0800the result of trauma and abuse from the past and lingering defensive structures that really don’t serve any longer. Often when I attempt to open up my heart, I can feel a compression that doesn’t allow my heart space to expand. Whatever that is, it is not mine!

Old stories also live in our energy bodies. They have hooks and hangers to latch onto and can get going really quickly. We are powerless to stop the worthlessness, comparisons, and disaster stories unless we remove the sites for them to hang on to. Do you really want to keep that old junker lying around?

That’s where Snake energy can be helpful. We can simply shed the whole energy body coat, pockets and all and be free

When you get this radical idea of shedding your old energetic skin, there is a sense of possibility to really be able to be open to the present. It’s not – “It is what it is.” It’s –“It is what is NOW!”

Peaceful Solstice to you, my brothers and sisters.

Picking Up the Poop

My daily horoscope suggested that I needed to take a self care day for myself today. “Who me? I’m fine,” I thought until I sat down to meditate. My mind bounced from thought to thought like a ping pong ball flooding me with unpleasant memories and associations.

“This is an undisciplined mind,” I observed helpless to gain control. When there is so much rimg_2897esistance to dropping in, walking meditation is always an option. So I meandered over to the small serpentine labyrinth I built in the back yard. Since the stones had gotten rearranged over months of neglect, I replaced enough of them to manage to go around.

Standing at the gateway, I asked my question. “How can I encourage my body to stay calm and relaxed even where there is always pain and suffering?” And then I proceeded to take my first step into a heaping pile of squishy dog poop! It was disguised under leafy debris and still soft and gooshy thanks to the recent rains. As I stopped to wipe off my shoe (thankfully I was not barefooted!), I recalled the time when my psychic friend had stayed over. She noticed the dog poop intermingled in the labyrinth and had a psychic conversation with our dogs asking them to please find another spot. Apparently they did not listen because this is still their favorite, albeit sacred pooping zone.

Anyway, it added to my experience because so much of human life involves cleaning up, reworking and repairing stuff. This obviously includes our emotional fallout and psychic debris from every day existence.

That’s the message I got when I reached the center of the labyrinth. As much as I would love to think I can just keep pushing forward following my dreams, sometimes the wise thing to do is just deal with what’s right in front of us – even if that’s just picking up the dog poop.

Use It For Fuel

If you run in healing circles, you are very familiar with the concept of letting it go. Letting go of what no longer serves is a cliché that has good intention, however, it is vague. How do you let something go? And then it has the unintended implication that you can actually get rid of something as if you can put it in the trash, and it will get hauled away.  Just because it is out of sight does not mean that it doesn’t exist any longer. There it still sits in some landfill somewhere.img_2850

There is a law in physics about how nothing can be created or destroyed. It simply changes form. The molecules just come apart and reform into some other substance.

When I was preparing for a bonfire on the night of the super full moon, I collected an odd-looking seedpod bundle from my palmetto tree. Having flowered in the spring, it was already dead, but, with all its tumbleweed-like branches, it looked like it would make quite a dramatic pyrotechnic display.

On the way to the ceremony, I thought – what if you could use the unwanted thoughts, feelings, beliefs, energy patterns, tension, or body blockages for fuel?

img_2380At the bonfire, the other participants were leery of setting fire to the seedpod. They were concerned that it was going to be too much, that the neighbors would object. Visions of encounters with fire department filled our heads. Sure enough, it did not disappoint. It spewed sparks and flames into the ethers for a brief period of time and then stayed lit long enough for us to release our fears and doubts we had written on paper into the flames.

Lying in bed the next morning a sense of fear came over me. I was rehashing an interaction I had with a client the day before that didn’t go well. I was trying to control the situation, and she was resisting. In retrospect, I could have brought that to conscious awareness, but I didn’t. My ego-mind spun into reaction. “Well, you are just not a good therapist,” and thus begun the internal dialogue. My ego jumped in and started defending itself because it can’t tolerate being exposed as imperfect.

My body got tense and my breath shallow. You know the routine.

Then I remembered – use it for fuel.

Once I got clear, I was able to release it into my body, and, oh boy, the fireworks got started. There was a flood of energy into all the molecules and cells, and I felt a surge of aliveness rush through my body. I maintained the feeling for as long as I could and felt grateful for my newfound ability and understanding of how to transform and transmute energy.