dropping into the depths

As we get into our yoga and meditation practice, we naturally start dropping into deeper and deeper places within.  We see how this dropping down requires some initial effort. We become aware of the tremendous hold the “surface” has on us, how it holds us in its web of chatter, worry, anxiety and incessant wants.  

One of the reasons we practice pranayama (breathing techniques) after the posture sequences and before meditation is because it infuses a type of energy (prana) which we can use to break free of this gravitational pull of the surface mind.  Without this prana we are left at the mercy of the mind, and this can be very disconcerting, especially if you are new to meditation. One teacher simply says “assume the mind is mad!”—and by this she means the mind is a maelstrom of often unfettered conflicting impulses, get used to it! 

Thankfully with the aid of the postures (asanas) and pranayama we can ride the prana energy into the deep mind fairly easily. It just takes a little practice. Once in the depths the challenge is to maximize our time there, and to integrate it into our life. 

As we follow the breath, or the silent mantra, within, we sense an inner existence quite different from any other we have ever known. Hang out there. Learn to abide in the depths. Nourish yourself in its healing waters. 

The within has a great power to effect the without. In fact, you may experience what I call a figure/ ground reversal, where you perceive quite vividly and unambiguously that the without is actually contained in the within! 

I am often asked: How can I tell if I am in the depths? What does this mean? What do we sense and feel in the depths?  

Here are a few experiences you may have as you move deeper and deeper within: 

You will feel calm and peaceful. 

In the depths there is a feeling of lightness, softness, and sweetness.  

There may be an indescribably pleasant joy of existence itself.   

As you hang out in the joy within, a kind of placid patience develops. It may feel like an inner poise. 

As someone mentioned tonight, you become more in tune with your intuitive self. 

This inner poise is the wellspring of creativity.

As you learn to go into the depths in your daily practice, it becomes easier and easier to repeat the experience. 

When you go deeper and deeper into the inner depths you connect with the deepest aspects of your soul (let’s not get caught up in terminology, you can call it whatever you like). There you sense the deepest meaning and purpose of your life. 

When you live in the deepest aspect of your soul you easily connect with the world. You naturally and spontaneously feel the global sense of things. You connect more deeply with other and empathize naturally.  

Over time and with practice you connect with the source of all existence. This is called enlightenment, although I have never cared for the word. 

The challenge is to integrate the depths into all aspects of our life. This is a lifetime’s work, not because it is necessarily hard, but because the possibilities are infinite, and infinitely delightful!  

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About Tom Davidson-Marx

Former Buddhist monk, now father of two and full time registered nurse, my passion is sharing what I have learned from a life-long love, study and practice of the early Buddhist teachings. Thanks for reading.

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