By nature, the physical human body is polarized, as demonstrated by our control center: The brain itself is comprised of two hemispheres, each connected to the opposite side of the body. What can this set-up be about? Why is the seat of our earthly existence divided in half? Why is each half said to represent seemingly opposed sets of traits—i.e., masculine/feminine, logical/emotional?
These polarities further manifest in respiration. Each breath we take seemingly occurs through two nostrils operating in unison: However, when one moves to alternate nostril breathing by sealing the aperture of one nostril to breathe through the other, it becomes apparent that at any given moment, one nostril dominates the inhale and exhale. When the right side is a bit stuffed, the left side—the moon, or feminine side—likely is clear, breath flowing easily and steadily. When the left is full, the sun/masculine side of the right dominates our breath. Thus, what appears to be equal, steady breathing when inhaling and exhaling through both nostrils often is a favored breath of one nostril over the other.
This illusory unity often disguises the polarities of Life. In the current state of our global society, polarities and the illusion of unity abound. Whereas the world has experienced the public health crisis of the coronavirus in unison, polarities inevitably developed and permeated the brief period of One World/One Cause.
Just as the virus swept in and leveled our everyday lives in the first half of 2020, racial tensions erupted. In the midst of a unifying global concern, the ever-present disease of racial divide reached a fever pitch. Then, as voices raised louder and louder over the ongoing injustice of racism, our focus turned to the newest divide wreaked by COVID: mask or no mask, touch or no touch, gatherings or no gatherings.
As factions began to develop with regard to protocols and precautions, individuals and social groups—families, even—separated into Mask-wearers and Non-compliers. Under the appearance of one overarching concern—COVID—polarities persisted.
And now, with the advent of a vaccine, yet another polarization occurs. Friends and families, workplaces, and social events are beginning to divide with regard to who has been vaccinated, and who has not. There is a faint, but ever-increasing odor of judgment entering the fray: If one has not been vaccinated, questions and doubts follow.
I, for example, am currently ineligible to receive the vaccine at this time. Although part of me smiles inwardly at the irony of being “too young and too healthy” to obtain the shot, the greater part of me feels mildly threatened: not by the virus, but by those who have had the vaccine. A tone of superiority and righteousness sounds from some who have had the shot; suspicion begins to rise toward those who have not been vaccinated.
Is polarity necessary? Can we as human beings on Planet eEarth ever hope—should we even try—to unify? If our human bodies are built upon two discrete hemispheres of neural pathways, why do we think that Unity should be a goal? Perhaps the divisiveness upon which we were formed exists for a reason: Perhaps the opposing forces and ideologies that we encounter in Nature, in cultures, in beliefs, etc., are exactly the way this earthly dimension is meant to be.
I am, however, deeply uneasy with the thought that racial, religious, gender, and more divides could be intrinsically “correct” or “on purpose”: Such a construct has, does, and always will lead to mistrust, unkindness, and all too often, violence. Yet, in confronting polarities and divides, we challenge that construct: Perhaps the act of rejecting discrimination and segregation is, in fact, ever so slowly altering not only social outlooks, but the very matter of our brains. What if, without knowing it, we are actually evolving the duality of our minds? What if, one day, through centuries of seeking Union, we do become beings who thrive on Unity, versus Polarity?
Or, is the ever-swinging pendulum of flux and change an eternal constant? Are we doomed to forever take sides and seek sovereignty over those with whom we disagree or who look different?
I believe, now more than ever, that the surest way to move toward Peace as the pervasive mode (versus strife as the set point) is to reach outside of our human vessel body—outside of this energetic realm—toward Union with the dimension of the Divine. Certainly, this is the root of most religions and spiritual philosophies that seek to connect with Higher Powers and creative forces. Yoga, for example, as has become commonly known, means “union.”
And yet we forget in our daily encounters with various socio-cultural and physical polarities that Union may not pertain to “unity” here on Earth, in this particular dimension of energy. To override —or at least soften or diffuse—earthly polarities may be a factor of how consistently and profoundly one can work toward Union with divine energies outside of this realm.
To that end, this Silent Sunday offers a short physical practice designed to open bodily channels of divine communication (e.g., prayer, meditation), followed by a simple, but highly focused mantra with mudra.
To begin, come into your preferred seated posture for meditation. With the spine long, upright, and relaxed, bring the hands to the knees for a basic spinal flex: Inhale as the spine extends, arching forward to open the chest and shoulders; exhale to flex, or round the spine, stretching and opening the back body. Allow the pelvis to partake of the action: It tips forward upon extending the spine, and tilts back as the spine flexes.Keep the head stable, so that it does not flip up and down with the spinal movement. Eyes are closed, focused on the Third Eye: This drishti (focal point) acts as a beacon to guide the kundalini energy from the lower chakras to the upper. Continue for 3 minutes.
With the hands remaining on the knees, begin Sufi Grinds: Circle the entire torso in large clockwise circles, allowing the pelvis to tip forward as your circle through the front space, and backward as you round and circle into the back half of the circle. Inhale as you circle forward; exhale into the back space. Continue for 1 minute, then reverse directions (circling to the left, or counter-clockwise) for 1 more minute.
Now, sit quietly for a minute or so; feel the ease and opening throughout the torso, and the steady, relaxed nature of deep inhales and exhales through the nose. When you are ready, bend the arms at the elbows, so that the upper arms rest against the rib cage: The forearms extend straight up, with the palms open and facing forward. Keep the fingers straight up and apart, with the upper arms snug against the body; then, begin to make small U shapes with the hands. (The forearm will move, too, but try to think of the hands moving alone.) Inhale as the hands move down, out, and up; exhale as they come back—down, in, and up. As the hands move back in toward the center line of the body, keep them from touching each other. Move fairly rapidly for 1 minute.
Next, with the hands and arms maintaining their shape, begin to circle the forearms in outward-moving circles: The right arm and hand move clockwise; the left moves counter-clockwise. This time, as the hands circle back in toward the center, touch the thumb tips together briefly: They simply brush or kiss each other quickly, and then move on. The breath is powerful, but quick, almost a Breath of Fire through the nose: Inhale as the hands circle out; exhale as they circle in toward center. Continue for 1 minute.
Then, extend both arms straight forward at shoulder level, parallel to each other: The fingers are together on each hand; the right palm faces up, the left down. Rapidly begin to alternate the arms moving up and down: As the left arm moves up 4-6 inches, the right move down 4-6 inches. They seesaw to create an energetic pump in the magnetic field of chakras 3, 4, and 5. Inhale as the left moves up and the right down; exhale as the right comes up and the left goes down. Keep the arms strong, and move quickly and vigorously for 3 minutes.
When you have finished, sit quietly again: Place the hands on the knees, palms down. Breathe deeply and steadily as you feel the energy within. Contemplate the physical sensations, and wander toward an acknowledgment that they are but one facet of You as a human being. On the vibrations you have created, float toward an expanded sense of Self: In truth, your essence is, was, and always will be one with Universe.
To underscore this realization in your psyche and spirit, bring the arms to shoulder level, and bend them at the elbows: The forearms are perpendicular to the upper arms, and parallel to the floor (“genie arms”). The right hand hovers a few inches above the left; both palms face down. With this mudra, chant the mantra, “Om So Hum.” The words reflect oneness with the Universe: As you chant the Sanskrit that translates to “I am that,” your entire being becomes imbued with the eternal truth that each of us is one with—is in union with—the Universe. As you chant (aloud, whispered, or silently), polarity dissipates, and universal unity descends, transcends, and ascends—the energy of this union spirals within and without, continually and eternally. Chant with the mudra for 11 minutes.