We enter into the psyche this morning with Mariana Caplan to address the concept of unity, accessible through a focus on inward form. “Mind lives in the body” so that when you examine one through the other, with knowledge of aliveness, the body becomes a foundation for spirit. We first tune into the spirit of the group through single articulations of our state of mind in that present moment: transformation…open…receptive… discovering… Many of our words begin to mirror one another’s and Caplan points out, the wonderful thing about spirituality is that often before we can articulate our experience of it, the feeling lands within us. There’s no doubt that spirituality is on all our minds and bursting from our hearts.
More and more, I experience the feeling of spirituality in the observations of external synchronicity and an internal calm-joy. While this is different and at times confusing for everyone, the principle of discernment is presented as a valuable tool in separating truth from untruth along our “spiritual path”. Discernment means continually developing a context within ourselves, through trial and error, that helps us to answer psychological and spiritual (psycho-spiritual) questions, in favor of our growth. When we apply discernment to our journey, we highlight the endlessness of our path and pierce falsity.
Caplan engages John Welwood’s initial concept of “spiritual bypassing” to shed light on how esoteric practices present esoteric results without truly tapping into the traumas or neurosis of the Western psyche. When we exercise spirituality apart from the body, we are likely to spiritually bypass and avoid dealing with psycho-spiritual issues that have been repressed deeply within the body. If we understand our physical parts as contributing to the whole of our form, and the whole of whom we are as part of the pulsating divine force, it becomes more clear how illness and disease can be physical manifestations of a spiritual disconnect.
A series of four interactive meditation exercises are performed with gentle guidance from Caplan, some with partners, as we “drop into the body” to perceive emotional breaks, without breaking ourselves completely open. Prana ( or life force) follows attention so that as we transition from focus on pleasure to discomfort, these respective energies emerge from our cells memory, free to reveal hidden stories of psychological trauma trapped within us. Caplan challenge us to delicately expose and release these emotional wounds while in meditation. We employ non-rejection tantra, which allows our darker spaces to be engaged comfortably before regrouping attention on pleasurable feelings in the body. I experienced some difficulty evoking coherent images of psyche in the meditation, but I solidified the discernment of trusting these embodied ‘feelings’ as authentic to my spiritual self. I grew up with a lot of physical pain. I didn’t know it when I began yoga three years ago, but that was my introduction to embodied spirituality. Caplan explains, it is the postures or asanas that connect us to our body and not the move itself because holding a position is an internally motivated action. We are taking a ‘seat’ within ourselves, and attempting to be comfortable in it. It was during this exercise of psycho-spiritual troubleshooting that I was able to articulate how I felt myself to be fully on the path to de-fragmenting my mind-body connection, and that’s the best place to be!
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