“Questions are the mind’s way of trying to destroy a mystery. Live with the questions while the heart dances with the answer.”
“Recalling an event of love or joy through creative imagination throws out a high frequency bridge from the prefrontal cortex to the limbic heart circuit. The heart automatically reciprocates on the that same frequency, lifting us into a higher level of the creative dynamic, defusing defensive reactions already in motion and opening an order of functioning not available to either intellect or imagination alone.”
Joseph Chilton Pearce
- SHAPE – Your Foundation
Let your skeleton hold you up in your full vertical length in alignment with gravity, have your head above heart above belly. If you are leaning, slouching or over extending, you are fighting gravity and using more muscle than you need.
- Let your jaw go and let the back of your tongue relax
- Let your shoulders fall and relax as if you were letting go the weight you might be carrying in your life. In other words, Back Down
- Let your sphincter muscles relax
- Imagine the bottom of your feet opening to the ground as you connect to the earth you are standing on
- If you are seated, feel your sit bone connected to your seat
- 2. UNLOAD – Release Tension with your Breath
Take one or two long fairly slow breaths in and then let them out with a relaxed “ahhhh sound”.
Uplift your back as you breath in, keeping the shoulders relaxed and uplifting from your back muscles and not by lifting the shoulders. Release the breath down your front with your belly relaxed. Continue to breathe in this way.
*If you have more time, after a while just let your breath naturally flow without trying to control it.
- RESOURCE Your Needs
Take a moment to remember what you need and the qualities you would love to draw up from within yourself. Choose a word that represents what you would love to have a little more of in this moment. Such as more: peace, dignity, respect, openness, acceptance, courage….
Ask your body: What would it be like if I felt a bit more… in myself?
Leave room and time to let your body/soma respond. Just be curious as you let your body shift. Notice changes in posture, breathing, temperature, mood, etc. If you don’t know what it is like to have what you are inquiring about, use your imagination.
Remember: Imagination, different from fantasy, helps provide meaning to experience and understanding to knowledge; it is a fundamental facility through which people make sense. From Webster’s dictionary
When you evoke what you need, do it with curiosity. It is important to make this work interesting for yourself. It must be compelling enough to draw you back from the drama of your life. With practice, the above combined practices can take only 20 seconds. This can also be a daily sitting or standing practice that you can enjoy for 15 minutes or more.
- FIELD – Balance the Empathic Field
Notice how much attention you place on the space in front of you. Often we place the bulk of our attention on what is in front of us.
Now place that that much attention behind you, above and below you and to the sides of you.
Here is a video of the The Hollow Bone Practice
The Hollow Bone practice is a centering practice that helps us center in gratitude. There are two stories I want to tell you about that strongly influenced my development of this practice.
The first story is about the roots of Aikido. The old scrolls from which Aikido is founded and taught are written in the Japanese lettering, Kanji. Aiki translates as harmony or spirit or energy. In NVC terms, we can think of Ki as being the empathic field, within which we include another person when we hold them in a space of empathy.
When these scrolls were first translated, there was a phrase which was translated as “extend ki.” This phrase implies that extending ki is an active role taken on by the participant. A generation later, when the scrolls were re-interpreted, this same phrase was translated as “let ki extend,” which implies an allowing way of a being and less of a doing. In other words, it asks us to allow the energy to move though us, without hindering it.
The state of allowing energy to move through us is quite a different sensation than the active deliberate sensation of purposefully moving energy.
It is this distinction of experience that brings me to my second story. It is about my friend, Steve Old Coyote, a Native American elder, story teller and wood carver who has lived quite a life and gained much wisdom along the way. One day I visited him while he was carving and asked him what he was doing today.
His response was, “I am thinking about what it would be like to be a hollow bone, to let the experience of life move through me, rather than trying to make things happen or force the experience in a particular direction.”
And that is how this practice got it’s name. As you go through the exercise, keep in mind my Native American friend and the image of being a hollow bone, through which you “let ki extend.”
Remember, all the practices of NVC help us, not to do something, but to allow the energy of compassion to move through us. It’s a centering practice of connection and gratitude. When we have gratitude for something we can connect to it. We have many resources around and within us, and by connecting/utilizing the faculty of our imagination, we can connect to them within and around us. Take a look at a tree or flower out your window and for a moment be grateful for that plant. Notice if you feel more connected to it now.
The Hollow Bone practice is a means of allowing ourselves to experience the natural connection we have with what surrounds us, to remember that we are connected to past, present and future resources and by the nature of the life that we engage through empathic field, regardless, of what we think, we are always loved.
- Stand and settle into your full length, the human line, into a stance with your head above your heart above your belly. This is a stance of dignity, in line with gravity and the earth. As you take a breath, let out an audible sound on the exhale. Remember, on the out-breath is when you let things soften. It’s easier to tighten up when you breathe in than when you breathe out, so allow yourself to soften as you exhale.Open the channel of your body, soften your eyes, breathing in again, softening the tongue on the out-breath and let the back of the tongue soften as it rests on the bottom of your mouth. Take another softening breath out as you relax your shoulders, let the weight you might imagine carrying on them fall off for the moment. Breathe in again and on the out breath, release the sphincter. Imagine opening the bottom of your feet to the earth.
- Ask yourself, how would it feel if I felt a little more relaxed? How would if feel if I let my eyes relax just a little more? Bring it in as a question and a request, not a demand, and notice how your body responds in answer to your question, letting you know just how that would feel…..
- Take a full and relaxing breath. Center in full and deep belly breaths. Imagine you are using your breath to make more space in your body. Imagine that, as you settle into your length, you are practicing a posture of dignity and grace.
- Bring into your awareness your purposeful commitment, something you want to devote your practice/your day/your life to, or a quality or virtue you wish to experience more of into your life.
- Bring your hands up to chest level with elbows having only a slight bend in them, and with fingers pointed forward, vigorously rub your hands together.
- Hold them apart, extend your fingers as if you’re reaching out to catch a big ball, feel the tingling in your fingers for a few moments. Then bring the warmth and the tingling fingers to your heart, touch the heart and rub down to the belly, and just pat the belly and wake the belly up.
- Notice the tingling of energy in your hands. Use your breath as a way to help draw, circulate and generate that energy, keep your body open and not constricted, as a way to receive energy from all around.
- Engage your imagination. Imagine this tingling sensation as a stream of energy. Then extend your fingers down, down toward the ground, imagine sending down roots through the bottom of your fingertips and the bottom of your feet. Imagine these roots heading down and connecting to the organisms under the soil, to the other plants, to what’s above the soil, the animals, the insects, the birds, the air, the water, the ocean, etc. With gratitude, connect to the earth and the life of this planet. In your own way give thanks for the nature that is all around you.
- Then bring your elbows down to your sides with your hands open, as if you had a silver dollar in your palms that you were pushing out, arms still extended with the slightest of bend in the elbows, fingers still extended and about 6 inches to a foot away from your torso. Palms are facing the body and fingers pointing to the ground.
- Imagine taproots moving down from the tips of your fingers, the soles of your feet deep into the ground. With gratitude, connect to the earth and the life of this planet. In your own way give thanks for the nature that is all around you.
- Turn your palms to the space behind you. Like radar dishes that pick up the signals of what is behind you, feel into the space behind you. Imagine it like a large soft cushion that is supporting your whole backside or a wind and you are the sail being filled. Let it hold you. Imagine it being a support to you, as if there are many hands holding you up behind. Imagine reaching into what is at your back. The support of the ancestors you had who were whole and healthy, the teachers in your life who have supported you and brought you understanding and wisdom, the great teachers in the world, the people who have inspired you, and the lessons that come through us through our own genetic history back to the beginning of time. Stand for as long as you feel inclined, sinking in to that gratitude and appreciation.
- Now extend your fingers out to your sides, about a foot to a foot and a half from your body. Pay attention to your vertical axis. Connect to all who walk beside you in your life, the multitude of friends, peers, brothers and sisters who surround you. In your own way be grateful for all who walk beside you. As a daily practice, invite even those who are a bit difficult because they help you to see parts of yourself that you would never see with others. Did you know that “lucifer” means light bringer? I often think of these difficult individuals as my light bringers, my lucifers. Although they feel like the devil, they shine light on a place in me that no one else could.
- Now bring your palms to face forward and feel into the space in front of you. Think of all the younger ones who we support and who will lead us into the future. Think of those who bring fresh perspective, lightness and buoyancy to our lives, those who remind us to play, to view the world with wonder and awe. In your own way, give gratitude for those young ones in your life.
- Now take all these resources that are all around us, under our feet, at our back, at our sides, in front of us, and hold them. Bring your arms up to shoulder height with fingers still extended like a big chalice or cup, and hold them; just feel the bounty, the fullness of the cup, of all that you have when you connect to it and appreciate it. Make a mental note of how this experience feels so that you can recall it and draw it back quicker and quicker.
- Now, while holding these resources, bring your arms to the front of you extended forward at shoulder height. Offer this bounty and notice that this is an open stance, through which you can also receive. You can offer and receive at once. Reach out in a way that gently and bountifully offers what you have and receives what you are being handed. Reach out to what is reaching towards you. Reach with your whole self. Dedicate and reach out to what it is that you are wanting to put out into the world and what you want to receive and connect to: a state of openness. This is how we replenish and renew ourselves. This is the hollow bone.
Hollow Bone Nano Practice
You can make this practice as long or as quick as you want, it can even be as short as just one minute. Just go move through these phases…
Stand in your full length, take a deep breath, exhale loudly, relax into your full length, rub your hands together, touch your heart, pat your belly, give thanks to the earth, reach behind you, give thanks to all that supports you, out to the side, thanks to all who walk beside you, to the front, to all who are in front of you. Hold them up, offer, and receive.
Our needs are not something that we don’t have access to; they are simply something we can draw up from within us.
How was it for you? How did you feel before? How did you feel after? What does it feel like to feel open? Make a mental bookmark or note of how it felt. When you make note of the feeling and bodily sensations, they will become more familiar and you will be able to come back to the feeling more quickly. Remember, life is not about being centered all the time, it’s about recognizing when you are off center and being able to come back to center more quickly.
It takes only a few seconds for us to center ourselves, to remember that we are never alone, and that we always have access to bringing these resources through us. Our needs are not something that we don’t have access to, they are simply something we can draw up from within us. You can center any time, anywhere.
The darkness of night is coming on fast, and
The shadows of love close in the body and in the mind.
Open the window to the west and disappear into the air inside you.
Near your breastbone there is an open flower.
Drink the honey that is all around that flower.
Waves are coming in; there is so much magnificence near the ocean.
Listen! Sound of big seashells, sound of bells!
Kabir says: Friend, listen, this is what I have to say:
The Guest I love is inside me!
Research on the heart has expanded tremendously in the last several years.
All around us we see evidence of our ability to receive perceptions and impressions from beyond hearing, tasting, touching, smelling and seeing. Some people call this our 6th sense. What I would like to offer here is a brief sampling of some of the scien Continue reading