CAVERNS OF THE MIND: SPIRITUALITY and FEAR
Experiential knowledge of the Truth within and without does not erase the existence of the human condition.
When your spiritual energy (Goddess Kundalini Shákti) is awakened, you'll notice your practice becomes somewhat of a roller coaster ride as the kundalini touches upon charged energy pockets of the subconscious. I call these pockets the "caverns of the mind".
As the intensity ramps up, this time in our practice can seem a bit overwhelming. At times the emotions can be so intense that we feel like abandoning our practice. But the Goddess Kundalini is alluring, She keeps us coming back to the mat by entertaining us with visual and kinesthetic experiences that are as euphoric as the emotions are gut wrenching.
Fear is the greatest obstacle to spiritual freedom. Fear is the antithesis of freedom.
Fear caused the most upheaval in my practice (and life!) during this three year period of intense practice with the Goddess after shaktipat diksha. For months I was playing Whack-A-Mole with my mind: every time I worked through one fear, another popped up.
The key is to work through your fears.
As much as you'd prefer to call it quits and go back to a life of ignorant bliss (that's not really bliss, tho, is it?), your practice will continually pull you back. In my early twenties I read a quote by Chögyam Trungpa, and it has proven to be true--"Once you're on the spiritual train, there's no getting off." This is a good thing. A boon of the highest order.
So what do we do with fear?
First we must acknowledge it's existence. Sit quietly, focusing on the natural rhythm of the breath. Once you're attuned to the sensations in your body, ask the question, "What emotions am I feeling right now?" You may be surprised at the answer: sometimes we think we're angry,
but we discover we're actually sad. We think we're feeling guilt, but we're feeling fear.
By focusing on our breath and centering ourselves, we're distancing ourselves from the mind and letting our physical intelligence (intuition) lead us to the truth of what we're feeling.
I'm sharing all of this with you because even though my three years of intense austerities was years ago, and my practice is quite ordinary without the bells and whistles, I still go through periods of intense emotional upheaval. Not nearly as often as I used to, but I do get thrown off center, lose my footing, so to speak, and stumble.
It only makes sense, tho, right?
The spiritual energy is purifying our body, mind, and spirit. Sometimes this purging is done while in meditation without any
feelings of upheaval. Other times, we are forced to face our fears head on. If we don't, they're just going to gain more momentum and come back with a vengeance until we acknowledge them.
Okay, you've sat quietly and you recognize you're filled with fear. Most times simply naming the emotion "Fear" and staring it straight in the face will help loosen its grip.
Our emotions want to be acknowledged. They're like little kids begging for attention, "Look at me! Look at me! I'm right here!" Once we've acknowledged it, we can sit quietly with the emotion, simply watching and feeling its presence, until it's transmuted back into pure consciousness energy. (This takes practice, but its worth the effort. Watching charged emotions dissolve back into pure
consciousness energy is enlightening. To experience first hand the existence, sustenance, and dissolution of something is mystical, for this cycle is the cycle of birth, life, and death.)
Sometimes we need to go deeper, and explore the root of our fear. Such was the case in my practice the past two weeks. My practice itself was beautiful, but dealing with the mind stuff it brought up felt like pulling teeth; I was (am) dealing with shame that's surfaced from a traumatic childhood experience. Not fun, but necessary for my spiritual growth, as well as my overall growth and health as a human being.
This shame has been controlling so many facets of my adult life, creating so much fear--Once I realized this to be the case, I used meditation and contemplation (raja yoga), and studying of scripture and texts pertinent to my specific trauma (jnana yoga), to get at the root cause--to pull the roots of this samskara out of my subconscious mind. There's still much work to do. I feel I've pulled back enough layers of the onion that I'm finally at the door to healing. After all this work, I'm ready to begin the real work. Such is the spiritual life!
While navigating my way through this upheaval--and I use the word "navigating" because I felt lost many times-- I cried often and a lot.
Again, it was not fun. It was not easy. But I know that everything is a purification. The Goddess is expelling that which is keeping me bound.
Remember that everything IS energy,
even the pain and angst. And it's not only okay to cry, it's physiologically necessary to expel the grief, fear, etc., from our system in order to heal.
Remember that our sadhana (spiritual path/practice) is for the sake of our freedom from everything that keeps us bound to the cycle of birth and death. Our practice is not for nothing. The goal is yoga: Union with our highest Self. That which is beyond shame and fear. That which is our birthright. That which we already are and always have been, but which is often veiled by the play of consciousness in the form of maya (illusion).
Its best to write these truths down on Post-It Notes and index cards and keep them handy, because we're unable to recall these truths when we're in the throws of maya.
In closing, I would like to add the importance of
having spiritual friends and mentors, someone who's been where you stand now. (Be sure to use your intuition: anyone who claims your spiritual growth is contingent upon how much you pay him or her, or asks for egregious "donations", is most certainly a charlatan).
Remembering that you're not alone is key to weathering the caverns of the mind. All Great seekers go through this purification. Take refuge in the scriptures, too. I consider the Svetashvetara Upanishad home, and lose myself within the words often.
Also, it's good to remember to lean on the things that bring joy to your life. We're not martyrs. It's vital to let yourself experience joy while going through these upheavals. For me, it's music. Sometimes spiritual music in the form of kirtan, Qawwali, namaskirtana, bhajans. Other times, it's the grace infused compositions of my beloved friends Jason Becker, Steve Vai, and Vernon Reid, respectively. This week it's been all about Jason.
We are human. Balancing our spiritual and daily lives is a tough road to navigate at first, but in time the two merge. And this is grace.
Love and All Great Blessings to you,
as my own Self.
*Eternal thank yous and salutations to Sally ji Kempton [Swamiji Durgananda] for her countless years of altruism, asking only one thing in return: that I practice with great love and devotion. So much love.
Essay © 2015 D.L. Bhakti Brophy
"Caverns of the Mind"© 2002 D.L.Brophy
All Rights Reserved
Labels: Bhakti Brophy, caverns of the mind, contemplation, depression, ENERGY WORK, fear, freedom, inspirational quotes, Jai Bhakti, meditation, Pure Consciousness, Raja Yoga, spirituality, transmuting energy, yoga