Category Archives: stillness

….. Chakras, Channels & Winds ….. Tibetan Movement & the Subtle Body

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TIBETAN MOVEMENT PRACTICES

Lu Jong, Tog Chod & Tsa Lung are exercises with immediate health benefits. They are also preparations for higher spiritual studies in Tibetan Buddhism.
All place a focus on working with energies that come from ‘within’ – this is why they are also called ‘Inner Body Meditations’.

What does that mean? It means they work with our physical and subtle energies (body and mind) through movement, breath, meditation, visualization and concentration.

For Dzogchen and Mahamudra practitioners, these are ways of going beyond contrived and conceptual mind.

For other Tantrayana Buddhists, they offer a superb way to energize and loosen up the body prior to a long seated session of meditation or other practice.

And, for people simply in pursuit of age-friendly (i.e. all ages) vitality and stress-reducing activities — or the medical healing aspects of yoga — they are a safe way to improve health that can be practiced anywhere.

At a certain level these practices are typically thought of as the most advanced or ‘secret’ tantric teachings — yes, this is true because aspects of working with the inner energies require the guidance of an experienced teacher.
However, simplified versions of each can be taught and practiced by everyone, independent of their views, ideals, aspirations, and capacities.

These practices are most effective when approached with gentle precision. Huh?

Meaning the highest benefits are not measured in a manner visible to the naked eye, such six-pack abs or acrobatic flexibility; they are the softer and less obvious effects that come from turning your attention inward to a place of ‘feeling’ and visualizing the connections within.

Every student’s practice is uniquely their own, an ever changing expression of working with ‘what’ they have, and from ‘where’ they are. Every time.

“Simply let experience take place very freely, so that your open heart is suffused with the tenderness of true compassion”

~ Tsoknyi Rinpoche

 

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MOVEMENT IS LIFE

One of the key aspects of these profound Tibetan practices is that they are about movement. Movement within and movement without.

Movement is very much related to our energy levels and the mind is dependent upon energy for awareness.

The additional mind tools of meditation, visualization and mantras are sometimes included to support our concentration, such as when we stomp our feet in Tog Chod.

Today, many practitioners do not work with the goal of enlightenment but rather with more mundane health benefits in mind.

Beginning with the most accessible practice, Lu Jong, the foundation for subsequent movement practices, you will experience the results of working with your inner energy, or ‘Lung’ in Tibetan, quite rapidly in your body. ‘Lu’ means ‘body’ and ‘Jong’ means ‘transformation’ in Tibetan. In loose terms, we are training our bodies.

Using movements that are slow, careful and meditative — much like Tai Chi — a host of physical benefits are activated such as good health, flexibility, muscle strength, balance and control.

The Lu Jong movements place particular attention on the mobility of the spine because it is the energy box of our bodies. The use of coordinated breathing is unparalleled for stress-reduction.

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With Tog Chod we advance to a more active style of movement and meditation aimed at reducing fears, expectations and overcoming negative emotions. ‘Tog’ means ‘head or thoughts’, and ‘Chod’ means ‘to cut’ in Tibetan. In loose terms, we are stopping our thoughts.

By using a precise set of forms, and introducing additional tools, we continue to deeply work the opening and alignment of our energetic pathways, joints and chakras for the most optimal flow of Lung. To this we add practicing the disciplines of mindfulness and awareness.

Tulku Lobsang developed Tog Chod based on the traditional Yaman monk dances and Kalachakra movements from Tibetan Buddhism. The sword represents our ‘innate wisdom’, we dance with it to go beyond the state of thinking and to enter into the present moment where we abide in a state of a calm mind.

Wait … What?

Basically, we foster the ability to calmly and clearly focus in ‘real time’ to the exclusion of inner and outer distractions. We balance being present for ourselves with the ability to remain aware of and present for others.

Awareness is like our eyes, we can see everything with one glance. Mindfulness is like our brain that can only process things one at a time.

It is in this state of stillness that we ‘cut’ through the stories we tell ourselves, release stress and stand with confidence in our power.

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Hand in hand with movement is the importance of ‘how’ we make use of our breath.

The coordination of movements with specific breathing patterns creates flexibility and harmony by releasing stagnant energy and promoting a vibrant and balanced circulation throughout the body.

Tsa Lung is an advanced form of Tibetan breath work which is a stand alone practice. However, there are some fundamental exercises that can be judiciously used to support and enhance inner body meditations.

‘Tsa’ means ‘channels’ and Lung means ‘wind, breath or inner vitality’. Hence the primary focus of this intense internal practice is the stretching and ‘polishing’, so to speak, of our energetic pathways (channels), the opening of chakras, and the movement of Lung through them.

When we combine breath retention with precise movements and visualizations, we learn ‘how’ to move our energy through the body. The energy can reach the deepest and most super-subtle channels to instigate the greatest levels of  self-healing and stillness of mind. This is very different from a cardio or meditation program.

The mind is said to ‘ride the winds’ or breath of our body with the goal of attaining enlightenment. The metaphor most often used for this is the wind-horse (in Tibetan Lung-ta).

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In this esoteric visualization, the wind-horse is identified with Lung (our life force or positive personal energy ) and the mind (subtle consciousness) is the rider as represented by the wish fulfilling jewels in the saddle.

Together they travel the channels, meridians and chakras throughout our body.

In Tantra, when we speak of ‘increasing wind-horse’ it means to increase our vital inner energy. ‘Decline of wind-horse’ means the opposite.

Who isn’t familiar with the concept of ‘Where the mind goes, the body follows,’ which is well founded and proven in various meditation and pain studies? Physiologically, the vagus nerve is a factor: when the mind focuses on calmness, the body calms too (and vice versa.)

When the breath flows, the mind flows. When we work with the breath, we completely change our thoughts. And when we hold the breath, we come into the deep stillness of the mind.

“Breath is the vehicle of consciousness and so, by its slow measured observation and distribution, we learn to tug our attention away from external desires toward a judicious, intelligent awareness.”

~ B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life

Everything is interconnected. Where you focus your energy is what you create in your life. The quality of your energy will become manifest in your body. How you think is reflected by how you live your life.

By working with breath and movement — both vital aspects of most styles of meditation — to revitalize your energy, these practices have the potential to supercharge your days with heightened focus and feelings of happiness and well being.

This is the fundamental idea of living your life with energetic awareness.

 

CHAKRAS, CHANNELS & WINDS

~ A Tibetan Movement Workshop ~

Lu Jong New York is offering a special workshop to study Tibetan movement practices, in the lineage of Tulku Lobsang, in New York City this coming June.

Experience for yourself authentic Tibetan methods of working with the subtle body deeply rooted in traditional Tantrayana practices and ancient Tibetan medicine.

Limited dates and spots remain available. Click HERE for information and registration!

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Lu Jong and the Holiday Season

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The end of the calendar year is inevitably fraught with stress for all. Between social events, family gatherings, acts of compassion and sales bonanzas it’s a wonder we can even manage to crawl into the new year!

It would seem easiest to let our self-care routines fall by the wayside – anything to carve out a couple of extra minutes of sleep or even to jam in one more errand … but no!

How often do we forget to extend the support, patience and kindness to ourselves that we so readily give to others?

“If you feel “burnout” setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.” ~ HH Dalai Lama

Here’s a pretty easy list of why I make time for Lu Jong:

  • Lu Jong is Strengthening – The more I practice the movements the stronger I get. With regular practice I find my body stretching and flowing with ease, in addition to boosting my immune system.
  • Lu Jong is Meditative – The benefit of focusing upon movements and the breath is the ability to slow down my thoughts. All that is left is presence, feeling, breath and motion. The deeper breathing also calms my nervous system.
  • Lu Jong is Balancing – With Lu Jong I bring balance to all of the systems and elements within my body and mind, all aspects work in harmony, and in this balance I find my true strength, power and vitality.

Armed with these super powers my Holiday outlook is much more relaxed and heartfelt.

Working smarter is always better than working harder!

For UPCOMING Lu Jong Workshops and classes CLICK HERE

Speech & Breath Training

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OM AH HUM Meditation

This brief mantra represents the transformative blessings of the Body, Speech & Mind of all the Buddhas. Mantra literally means ‘mind protection’.
With this mantra we request their blessings to purify our own Body, Speech & Mind.

Feel the vibrations as you chant. Feel the connection with your breath. This meditation is also very helpful for lengthening the breath as you calm the mind.

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PREPARATION

Sit comfortably and relax your body. Let your breath and energy flow naturally.
Relax your mind by letting go of any other thoughts. Don’t think “I’m meditating”, “I’m humble”, “I’m bad at this”. Don’t think anything – just BE.

Decide to keep your attention focused on the meditation for the duration of the session.

Close your eyes and envision a white OM at your third eye, a red AH at your throat, and a blue HUM at your heart.

PURIFICATION OF BODY

Concentrate on the white OM at your head and see it as the energy of the body of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
Make the sound “OM” and recognize it as the sound of Universal energy, the representation of enlightenment.
Visualize a white light emanating from the syllable filling your entire body with radiant, white light energy cleansing and purifying you.
FEEL it as you continue making the sound “OM” several times.
When you stop, don’t do or think anything. Remain perfectly still, aware without expectation.

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PURIFICATION OF SPEECH

Concentrate on the red AH at your throat and see it as the pure speech of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
Make the sound “AH” several times and recognize it as the energy of speech as you call forth the manifestation of enlightenment.
Visualize a radiant red light emanating from the syllable filling your body completely as impure elements are cleansed and purified.
Again, when done just sit and be. No need to interpret sensations.

There are two ways to meditate at this stage: One is to place strong awareness on the stillness of the mind. The other, when distractions arise, is to direct awareness of loving kindness upon yourself. You can alternate between the two.

Then, you visualize your loving kindness manifesting as a full moon at your heart.

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PURIFICATION OF MIND

At your heart, on the full moon, concentrate on the blue HUM and recognize it as the wisdom of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas manifesting enlightenment within your body.
Make the sound “HUM” several times and visualize a blue light from the moon and HUM emanating from your pure heart filling your whole body.
All indecision and narrow thoughts disappear, there is only a blissful sense of universal love and compassion.
FEEL and BE without expectations … allow your awareness to embrace all of universal reality.

Meditate like this for as long as you wish.

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CONCLUSION AND DEDICATION

There are two experiences we can achieve with this meditation: Wisdom and Method.
The Wisdom experience is the intense awareness of your own consciousness.
The Method experience comes when you get distracted, and use that as a resource to re-generate loving kindness.
When your concentration is good, place your attention on wisdom; when you are distracted, generate loving kindness (method).

Finish your meditation by dedicating the merit, or positive energy of this practice, to all sentient beings: May they too be free of suffering and its causes, and may they attain perfect peace and happiness.

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May all beings be happy, healthy and whole.
May they have love, warmth and affection.
May they be protected from harm and free from fear.
May they be alive, engaged and joyful.
May all beings enjoy inner peace and ease.
May that peace expand into their world and throughout the entire universe.

A Wandering Sunday

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I love lazy mornings in bed!  You know the kind, those days where there really is a l-o-n-g list of things you ‘should’ be doing, but you don’t? The luxurious pleasure of NOT staring at the clock and counting the minutes?

As I look out my window I see the early morning fog – swirly and misty, painting most of my world white.  Closing my eyes seems like the right thing to do.  I listen to the different birds calling outside as I enjoy the stillness of a house where children are fast asleep.  Squirrels are chasing each other along the tree branches, geese honk out calls as they fly by, the blue jays work on their nest…

So many times I tell my boys that we don’t live in the land of ‘what if’, that ‘life isn’t fair’, and a whole host of cliches that suddenly have me sounding a lot like my mother! But sometimes, yes … sometimes, it’s OK to let your mind roam free,  to pause on whatever thought strikes your fancy.

No conclusions, no deadlines, no problem solving. Much like a butterfly fluttering from one flower to the next.  To see and enjoy the world and it’s gifts and rhythms as they unfold, like a baby discovering its own feet – Such a wonderful lazy morning!

I am reminded of a poem, “Wonderment”, by Jamie K. Reaser

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For more of her beautiful work, please check out www.talkingwaters-poetry.blogspot.com and/or the Talking Waters page on FB.

Oh dear … the alpha male cat is throwing his fur around, he looks like an oversized Tasmanian devil, and the turkeys are on my roof. They sound like a herd of tap-dancing cows … sigh.

It WAS peaceful for a spell.