Whether we are cognizant of it or not, temporary themes sometimes develop in our daily lives. Although we may not recognize a pattern until after it has been around a while, the traces and signs can seem obvious in retrospect.. Around mid-Summer this year, I began to work with emotions intrinsic to injury. If one takes a tumble or a hard hit, for instance, a “trauma reflex,” shows up elsewhere in the body: When the meridians that flow through the injured and reflexive areas are jarred in this way, their associated organ systems (as referred to in Traditional Chinese Medicine) are disrupted.
In my case, two past falls to the right side had embedded a guarding response into my left side, concentrated in the pelvis and hip. The affected organ partners were Liver and Gallbladder, whose Wood-element meridians flow through the inner leg and side leg and body, respectively. Knowing that anger is the emotion associated with this element, I began to focus on clearing old, stored anger from the hips. This perspective on healing, paired with various bodywork techniques and kundalini kriyas, began to more deeply infuse recovery.
Interestingly, other Liver-related aspects began to emerge in my day-to-day life. For example, the sense organ associated with the Liver system is the eye. A few weeks ago, the first “eye clue” cropped up: One of the dogs that I sit for–and of whom I am quite fond–had to undergo a surgery to remove a growth on his lid. I noted it, sent healing energy, and life went on.
Shortly thereafter, the next eye-related sign made itself quite clear. Typically, I am fortunate to have generally healthy, untroubled eyes. Oddly, however, I developed an overnight infection along the lash line of one eye; I had never had anything of the sort. Over the course of 10 days, the red mark became a large, pus-filled cyst. I diligently washed the area with baby shampoo, and within days, the cyst was gone.
I also had embarked upon a series of detoxification kriyas, followed by mudras and mantras for the liver and for anger. Further, I internally queried, “What am I not seeing clearly?” Again, the combination of focused physical treatment with intentional spiritual practice enhanced the recovery rate and quality.
And just yesterday, I met a woman who had suddenly started having trouble with her own eyes. After we discussed her mysterious set of symptoms, I regarded our conversation as confirmation that although the Liver/anger/clarity theme is moving through and away from me, it circles around us at all times. The key is to remain aware of the signs, and to address them regularly to prevent their infiltration into our systems and lives.
I decided to discuss this on a Silent Sunday, because I have found that designated, devoted time to explore and address one’s physical, emotional, or spiritual needs leads to an overall opening to Life, and to the gifts and challenges it inevitably brings. So, today’s practice culls some of the movements and techniques that have become integral to my own practice, especially over the last few weeks.
Before you begin the seated meditation, stand for a few large movements designed to circulate the flow of Liver qi. First, with hands on your waist or at your sides, circle the torso to the right; move slowly as the back, hip, and waist muscles awaken and loosen; then, begin to make the circles wider, inhaling as you circle back, exhaling as you move through the front space. Circle 26 times to the right, then repeat 26 circles to the left.
Then, circle again, this time with a qigong variation. Bring your feet to a fairly wide stance; turning the toes (and knees and hips) slightly out, bend the knees into a half-squat. With the arms extended overhead, fingers clasped if possible, begin to bring your whole torso to the right, moving down over the right leg, circling forward toward the floor, and then up through the left side. If you need to release the hands from each other, do ensure that the arms remain above the head. Circle 12 times to the right, down, and up on the left; then reverse directions for another 12 circles.
Now, come to sit in an easy crossed-leg pose, propping the hips with a bolster, if you like. Rub the hands together briskly, until you feel warmth and perhaps tingling in the palms. Then, place the palms over your closed eyes; Contemplate the wonder of physical vision, being mindful of the concept of spiritual vision and clarity.
Next, keeping the eyes closed and now focused on the Third Eye, bring the hands to rest on the rib cage just underneath the breasts; the palms line up with the nipples. Breathe fully and deeply, so that you feel the expansion and release of the ribs underneath your hands. As you inhale, silently chant “Har;” with the slow, deep exhale, “Haray.” The hands on the Liver meridian point, along with the mantra, help to rouse dormant or stubborn feelings of anger or resentment. Continue for 3-5 minutes.
Special note: As anger rises up and out of one’s system, it may be felt. While it may seem odd that a practice designed to clear negativity can result in the heightened sense of such energy, I think of it akin to crying. The feeling associated with the cleansing tears may be undesirable, but this is the transitional step that makes room for fresh, positive energy.
For the next bit, open your eyes a tiny sliver; they will be, in kundalini terms, “9/10’s closed.” Gaze down at the tip of your nose. This focus can quickly tire and strain the eyes, so feel free to close, roll, or widely open the eyes for a moment, and then resume the downward, nearly closed gaze. The hands move down as well, resting on the waist: The thumbs reach toward the back, the palms lie on the waist, and the index fingers connect with the bottom ribs.
With the specified gaze and hand placement, begin Cannon Breath. The mouth forms a circle, and the breath is rapid and forceful; the inhales and exhales are short and equal. Continue for 2 minutes.
Now, change your seated pose, so the the legs open into a wide straddle on the floor. (You can remain on or begin to use a bolster for help in this position.) Bring the torso forward, keeping the spine long, and the head in line with the spine. Come to rest on your elbows with the hands close together on the floor, palms down. Spread the fingers wide: then, extend the thumbs toward each other on the floor, so that the tips touch. Create a triangle shape by also touching the index finger tips together.
In this position, inhale through the nose with the eyes closed; as you exhale through the mouth, open them to gaze softly at the triangular space made by your hands. The exhale should be long and wind-like, taking nearly twice as long as your full, natural inhale. Use the inhale to gather old hurts and resentments from your mind and body; allow the exhale to dispel them once and for all. Let the gaze into the opening begin to generate the energy of divine wisdom and clarity. As you continue the breath pattern and meditation, connect your approaches and thoughts to the eternal bounty present in and beyond that space.