Reminder: Over the course of the days to come, you can practice along with each part of this series in audio form. Visit: anchor.fm/ellen-sanders-robinson
Today’s discussion and practice hone in on the parietal and temporal lobes of the brain. Further, the series begins to look at the anatomical brain’s relationship to other dimensions of physicality and consciousness: “organ systems” of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), as well as subtle energies of the chakra system.
The temporal and parietal regions of the brain comprise the side zones: Remember that there also are the frontal and occipital lobes, which “bookend” the side areas. Roughly, the temporal lobe controls auditory function, plus emotions (emanating from the limbic structures), while the parietal region governs general physical sensation (somatosensory response).
To bring in some additional aspects, I first think of the temporal seat of hearing. In TCM, hearing (the ears) is associated with the Kidney and Bladder systems: In turn, the physical kidney and bladder lie in the realm of the Lower Triangle of chakras (First, Second, and Third).
The above correlations represent human fundamentals of existence: physical survival and distinct, yet coordinated organ function. The TCM Kidneys house one’s life “essence,” or the primary spark of physical vitality. The Bladder meridians are linked to what is called the Life Nerve in kundalini yoga: the meridian that runs down the entire back body, eventually sharing space with the sciatic nerve’s path through the hamstrings and calves.
Thus, when we attune ourselves to the temporal region—even by visualizing that lobe and that part of the skull—we add a newfound depth to practices that harness the energy of the Lower Triangle.
Then, when one attunes to the physical sensations and potential emotional vibrations of the following practice, there now is an awareness of the participation of the parietal lobe. With intentional focus on the brain’s role in one’s experience of higher consciousness—that is, knowing when, where, and how it is happening—one’s connection to and communication with “other realms” is affirmed and enhanced.
In order to sample how this works, bring yourself into a supine position on the floor: Close the eyes. First, listen: Note the general sound quality or blend of sounds in your space. Then, start to differentiate what you hear. In my case, I heard a clock ticking; cars driving on damp, slick roads; a neighbor’s kitten meowing across the hall; plus an overall hum, which came with a visual of tiny dots, like star points, filling the darkness.
Then, once you have identified sounds, take your mind’s eye to the upper sides of the skull, just above the ears. As you breathe in and out through the nose, gaze internally at the wonder of the lobes at work. Allow the breath to slow and deepen as you hone in on temporal activity.
After a few minutes of this opening exercise, bend the knees: feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Begin to rock the pelvis forward and back: Inhale to tip the tail forward, toward the floor; exhale to rock it up and in toward you, as if preparing to roll up into a Bridge. Inhale to rock the pelvis forward; exhale to tip it back. Continue for about 1 minute.
Then, do roll all the way up into a Bridge, peeling the spine away from the floor, vertebra by vertebra. With the spine lifted, slowly dip the pelvis down to the floor: This will create a deep arch or extension in the lower and mid-spine. Lift the pelvis back up, recreating the Bridge, and then roll down through the spine, articulating through each vertebra.
From the beginning: Inhale to tip the grounded pelvis forward; exhale to roll the spine up into Bridge; inhale to tip and dip the pelvis toward the floor; exhale to lift it up, and roll back down. Repeat the entire sequence for a total of 12 times.
Now, draw the knees into the body, raise the head, and squeeze the bent legs together with the forearms. With the hands free, cover the ears: The head-hold will also help to support the lifted head. Breathe deeply here for 1-2 minutes, noting the depth of the sound within your head. Be aware that you continue to “hear,” despite the covered ears. Use this realization to deepen the quality of any contemplation or meditation: To “hear” universal and divine wisdom, tune in.
Next, release the hands and arms: In a slightly looser “body ball,” hold behind the thighs, and rock back and forth a few times. This will further the connection to the Bladder meridian that you stimulated with the curling Bridge and blocked-ear moves. After a few rolls—inhale to rock back, exhale up—sit with the legs extended in front of you. Open the legs into a comfortable straddle, one that allows you to bend forward and maintain a fairly straight back: Hold some part of your leg (or feet/ankles, if you are highly flexible). Begin to move up and down with the torso: inhale up, exhale forward/down. This will activate the portion of the Kidney meridian that travels through the inner thighs.
As you do this, add a sounded “Aum.” To chant this “seed mantra,” divide the word into three parts: ahh/ohh/mmm. Inhale, then drop the jaw, opening the mouth wide: Use the time it takes to slowly chant, “a-u-m,” to bring the jaw up and gently touch the lips together. All the while, continue to move the body up and down between the open legs. Find a rhythm in which you complete 2-4 moving forward bends per each long Aum. Continue for 3 minutes.
When you have finished. sit quietly in your straddle posture, hands on the thighs, eyes remaining closed. Scan your body for physical sensation: toes, heels, backs of the knees, inner thighs, and so forth, up through the entire torso—front, back, sides—arms, neck, face. In doing so, you focus on the gifts of the parietal lobe: somatic information via sensation.
Now, help yourself to stand, feet wider than hip width; toes may turn out slightly. Begin to bend the knees, so that you can plant both hands on the floor, each alongside the inner edge of its respective foot. Bend the knees enough, so that the buttocks comes down to the level of the knees, or just above. The arms press into the the lower legs to support the posture; the torso should be as close to parallel with the floor as possible.
In this deep, wide squat, you align the entire chakra system with the earth beneath you, and all of your subtle energies vibrate on the same plane. This is a soothing, reassuring stance for the nervous system, and thus for conscious, as well as subconscious thoughts. Remain here for 10 full breaths.
Finally, bring yourself down onto all fours, simply as a transition into Baby Pose. Take a few breaths into this restful posture, and then roll up through the spine to sit. You may remain seated on your heels, or feel free to find another position. Regardless, create a simple mudra on both hands: Shunya Mudra. Bring the middle finger tips down to the fleshy mound of their respective thumbs: Hold the fingers down with the thumbs; rest the hands palm up on the knees. With eyes closed and now gazing toward the Third Eye, begin a deep inhalation through the nose: Through rounded, open lips, exhale slowly and steadily. Notice that you have simultaneously engaged three focal points: sound of “windy” exhalation; closed-eye gaze to Third Eye; and touch awareness of the mudra’s selected fingertips.
As the side lobes of the brain allow and process this information, the mudra helps to awaken and support the ears, hearing, and deeper resonances from the Universe. As such, Shunya Mudra is also valuable in the promotion of patience and discernment.
Sit in meditation for 5-11 minutes. If you like, move into Svasana for deep rest.
Next time: Conclusion