Into the heart of matters

Coming one again from an experience of base and grounding, in practice this week we explore the soft and also enlivened belly, finding support and engagement from it’s deeper corners and creating a sense of spaciousness through the central channel of the body, the sushumna nadi. Standing poses give way to a rooting into Earth, and it is from this connection that we move into the heart, or in the chakra system Anahata, meaning unstruck, or un-hurt one. When coming from the energetic heart one is making decisions, ‘following your heart’, based upon one’s higher self, and not from the unfulfilled emotions and desires of lower nature, or the smaller self. Might the well within the deep belly, the overflowing waters of Svadhisthana spring up into heart and pour out a gratitude, loving-kindness, and true openness.

Tao Te Ching
Lau Tsu

The Master observes the world
but trusts her inner vision.
She allows things to come and go.
Her heart is open as the sky
.

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A Paradoxical Belly?

In the Tao Te Ching, Lau Tsu offers “true words are paradoxical.” Nature it would seem is a harmonious contradiction, and I am caught up this week in the dichotomy within my own nature, the beauty and suffering; that which comes and that which goes, bounty and famine, yin and yang, and within this body these paradoxes, and I sense the truth in this, my nature and nature itself. I consider the paradox of a strong belly and a soft belly, it would seem that both are paramount and supportive of health. Can we dance within this contradiction and find balance and the beauty of sameness within their opposing nature? Donna Farhi writes that “most of us wear a self imposed psychic girdle most of the time…we walk around with our stomachs held in not even realizing it.” This coming from a belief system within our Western culture that constantly holding the belly in keeps the abdominal muscles strong. This rides in tandem with the notion that a pulled in abdomen looks better. According to Farhi, “holding the abdominal muscles in a constant state of contraction causes them to weaken. In order for any muscle to function effectively it has to completely relax between contractions. This holds true for the abdominal muscles. In free breathing they alternately swell and retract, allowing fresh nutrients to circulate through the muscles, and toxic waste products to be flushed out.” Consider and explore breath as the dance that allows for the balance of a strong and relaxed belly?
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Some Words For My Belly

Belly,
because my shoulders are as wide
and my chest as thick
as any Slavic peasant’s,
your true prominence
is not revealed
until I’m lying in a tub.
Then,
my iceberg,
my snowy slope
down which a woman’s fingers
swiftly ski,
then you are the dome
that defines the skyline of my life,
as you rightly should.

A lovely woman told me once
that you,
belly,
were the childhood I never had
and nourished now
in this vaulted place
to bring myself to birth.

Bulge that makes me woman,
that widens round the shining teardrop
which brings us all to birth,
your pregnancy,
the doctors say,
can only bring to birth my death.
And yet I would not have you shrunk or trim,
but a melon,
thumping ripe,
a swelling accompaniment
to my end.

When I snore,
sleeping on my back,
you sway like an island
from whose extinct volcano
ancestors sigh and moan
and whisper words I almost understand,
words that singe the edges of my sleep
and wake me to this rumbling,
this warning of earthquake,
fire,
flood.
And my eyes,
springing open in the dark,
have seen you rising radient,
for the moment almost glowing,
like an opaque crystal ball
where all my futures
find their forms:
daughter,
sea anemones,
toothless bears,
swirling gases edged in ice.

Belly,
life jacket strapped around my soul
when I sprint or jog
you flap like wings that won’t unfurl
but would rather hug,
and that, I guess,
is what these words are all about:
Belly,
I choose you as my sign –
over angles, athletes, air.
With the hippo
I stand stomach-deep in mud
and ponderously prance
to where my jaws
and snorting snout
will lead.

I choose you,
do you hear?
And choice is more than love –
Do you understand,
you bloated planet,
swelling dewdrop,
tear?

Morton Marcus
Big Winds, Glass Mornings, Shadows Cast By Stars
Poems: 1972-1980 Copyright 1981

Convolutions of a smooth-lipped shell

In standing poses and with the continued exploration of mula bandha we continue moving from a connection with base, with grounding. Moving upward through the energy centers from this base, we begin to sense the abdomen, the lower rib cage, the lower back, the base of the sternum and what lies within these zones. It is from this power center which claims the element fire, that we find our will to do, to take action and live our lives. This week in class we may cultivate a listening, and direct breath into these spaces, waiting, whether in restorative poses, or standing poses for feedback. Perhaps questions arise, colors, sensations, images, or words. In my own practice, I continue to practice aligning myself with that neutral witness, the observer within that offers an openness, a clear seeing, without judgment or opinion. Notice what’s happening, recollect that the witness/observer perceives everything from the premise of allowing and trust in a good universe. It’s an open mental stance, not closed or contracted. What do you sense?

“I have seen
A curious child, who dwelt upon a tract
of inland ground, applying to his ear
the convolutions of a smooth-lipped shell
To which, in silence hushed, his very soul
Listened intensely; and his countenance soon
Brightened with joy; for from within were heard
Murmurings, whereby the monitor expressed
Mysterious union with it’s native sea.
Even such a shell the universe itself
Is to the ear of Faith; and there are times,
I doubt not, when to you it doth impart
Authentic tidings of invisible things;
Of ebb and flow, and ever-during power;
and central peace, subsiding at the heart
of endless agitation.”
-From “The Excursion”
William Wordsworth
fractal shell