I have landed in a true place recently. I’d like to sound very enlightened and say I have always done it--but it really has been only about ten days. But I love it. It’s a promise every day that I have to uphold on my end, but it starts off with coffee and the rosary (something I have always done) and it’s easy to walk in small, good steps from that place.
At the library the other day, I stumbled upon a book about Tibetan Heart Yoga. About the width of two hands, it absolutely lacks the desire to entertain by design, structure, or even font. It is all dry information and sketches. Rudimentary, I might call it. I liked it. I liked its purity. The sense that the information was more important than the writer.
In it was (is) a guide to this particular yoga practice and it struck me as familiar--not because I had seen it before, but because it contained so many pieces of my prayer process to begin with. Plus, it folded in some extra pieces that I think will connect me in a greater way to the Spirit and make me a better pray-er.
Throughout my life and travels, I have met many (many!) people who approach their faith in the universe in the mixed-bag, multi-layered form that I do. And I have met some who give me the feeling that they aren't comfortable with the all-encompassing nature of my sensibility.
They don’t love when I speak of God and prayer in the same process as spirit and intention. I don’t know why I get that feeling--and it could be something just within me. I’m willing to be wrong, and I also recognize that I am impatient with closed-thinkers. It's a huge flaw of mine--and the closest I run to nasty--when people do not, or will not look at and try to empathize with all sides of an issue, an emotion or a situation.
But. Well... I do trust my instincts and so--at the risk of sounding arrogant-- I have found this limiting feature, these strictly defined parameters to be a small, secret truth of many. To imagine (or to want) all of these great beliefs and practices to be separate feels like we are perhaps hiding the desire to make one or the other superior. And this goes for the "enlightened" as much as it goes for the "faithful"...and it feels so limiting to me. Not that they are placing limits on me, but that they are placing limits on themselves. When, really...wouldn’t God love to know how well and often you trust his universe and call upon his spirit?
My favorite journey in life is to see--not how these are beliefs are unique and independent--but how they are the same. I believe with every fiber of my spirit that God is capable of sending love in whatever capacity or form you are capable of receiving it. The Universe, nature, music, poetry, song. All of these, and so many more.
But--song. Let's start there.
Song has an interesting place in all forms of anything worshipful, across cultures. Though my favored form of worship is through the vehicle of Catholicism, I recognize there are many ways to do so and everyone is different. But song...Song appears in every form.
Song opens the throat chakra which allows for a clearer, more open, channel for truth and clarity. And without clarity of communion with ourselves and others, we really can't access all the other spiritual gifts available to us.
The vibrations of song are so pleasing to humans because they echo the deeply subconscious sounds of the earth. There is not a pitch or a note that wasn’t first created by nature. So, on an energy level, we feel connected to nature, to life and to each other when we connect through song. I suspect that is partially why it feels so..shall we say... discordant (ha ha) when people do not like our style of music. And song has a special role in Tibetan Heart Yoga because it starts the whole thing off.
After coffee, after the rosary, I come to my yoga mat in meditation pose, hands to heart center. It is suggested that you envision your heart as a rose and, at its center--a diamond. But that is simply the traditional suggestion. You can visualize whatever you like--it's your heart, after all! So...for me? Fern and quartz feels more natural. I adore the spritely happiness of ferns and quartz is my jam.
Visualization is a phenomenal tool for wandering minds. It helps ground your gathering thoughts from the external world to the internal one. But the key to this brief, two minute pose, is song.
In Tibetan Heart Yoga --THY-- (interesting acronym:) the importance of song is related to the channels that run along the main line of your body. The “chakras” of the Hindu Tradition have become the “channels” of the broader Indian Tradition.
The belief is that your body is made up of channels that carry energy and light throughout the body. The main channel runs through the center around your heart, just like a great, invisible axis. When the channel “winds” flow freely (can we stop here for a hot second and observe the “wind” as a carrier of light and the similarity to the Holy Spirit, so frequently characterized in the form of wind, fire, and breath?)
When these “winds” flow freely, you feel bright and happy. You feel kindness, patience, stillness, joy etc. All specifically stated in THY. All of these are also all fruits of the Holy Spirit in traditional, organized Christian religions.
Alongside this central channel run two smaller channels, which cross over the main channel at certain parts of the body. Where do they cross? Why, at main chakra points, of course! These two channels contain our negative emotions (anger, jealousy, selfishness etc.), and any time we think negative and harmful thoughts, it stirs up the winds in these side channels and our thoughts ride out the winds. “Like a rider on a horse”, the author states.
When these winds are stirred up, they begin to expand and since they twist around the main channel, they begin to squeeze and block that free flow of good energy. Since our good thoughts are being restricted, we begin to feel nervous or unhappy. And the most serious tie-up point -- like a complicated highway exchange--is at the heart. All of the exercises of Heart Yoga are aimed at freeing this tie-up point. How do we begin? Song.
To find out more about Tibetan Heart Yoga, there are so many resources!
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