September 15, 2004

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. It is a joy to come together with you in this way for what you have termed "spiritual inquiry." What is spiritual inquiry? You are spirit. It is an inquiry into your true nature. It is an inquiry into the ways to more fully manifest that nature in the world, even when that which superimposes itself upon that nature, which is the ego and fear, comes to the fore.

You have heard me call you "angels in earthsuits." In this class we are not going to neglect either, but to focus on the point of their coming together, knowing your own divine nature, your innate radiance and beauty, and regarding the earthsuit and its many challenges: the challenges of the physical body, of the emotions. The challenges around the health of the body, around the sexuality of the body, around creating abundance for yourselves, around giving and receiving, and the ancient fears that one's needs will not be met. Around death itself, the cessation of the body.

My intention in this class is to focus deeply on these tools of learning, for they are just that, tools of learning. The ego regards them as self - my job, my relationship, my body. Of course, on one level it IS your job, your body, but who are you? We come into that meditative experience that recognizes the small self simply is a collection of aggregates. These cells that compose bone, flesh, muscle, blood vessels, nerves, they come together and create what we call a physical body. Then we jump into the idea, "This is my body," and fear comes that the body will not be well, will not function properly, will experience pain or even its demise.

I know it is conceptual to most of you, but when I say, "Whose body is it?" can you find somebody who owns this body? Let us use the example of the chairs that some of you are sitting on. There are legs, there's a seat, there's a back, there's a cushion. Are the legs the chair? Without legs it wouldn't be a chair, just a cushion on the floor. Is the seat the chair? What is the chair? Can you find any one thing you can point to and say, "This is the chair"? It is a collection of aggregates, with a name that we call chair if it has the right assemblage of those aggregates. This body is an assemblage of different sorts of cells, and we call it a body. The body is not you. You cannot point to any one part and say, "this is me."

When thoughts arise, can you point to a place from which the thoughts originate? We see the thoughts and in meditation we understand that thoughts and even consciousness arise out of conditions and are not a "self."

There are feelings of pleasantness and unpleasantness. They also grow out of conditions and they are not you. Just as you cannot say, "I am these cells," you cannot say, "I am these pleasant or unpleasant feelings," merely, "These have arisen out of conditions, and this deeper essence that I am participates in the experience of these cells and these feelings, thoughts and emotions." Happy emotions, sad emotions, loving or angry emotions, peaceful or aggravating emotions, all arising out of conditions. The mind runs rampant with thoughts. Planning thoughts, judging thoughts, desirous thoughts, angry thoughts, loving thoughts, fantasies. All arisen out of conditions. And even the stream of consciousness itself, which is what most of you finally take yourself to be, but it is merely the outplay of conditions. If you are not the body, not the mind or stream of consciousness, what are you? This discovery is at the heart of our work.

Beyond all of these conditioned elements is what we might call spirit. The pure spirit body, pure awareness. It is a place where when you are there, and I am there, there is no separation at all. We are fully in the same place. So there is no "my" spirit or "your" spirit on the ultimate plane, there is simply spirit, divinity itself. Each being participates in that divinity and expresses it out in the world through these aggregates, these expressions, such as the body and the thoughts, the words and actions. 

In this class I hope to guide you deeper into the direct experience of that spirit essence, and also to see the ways that that deepest essence of your being is sometimes laid aside so the life on the relative human plane becomes an expression more of the ego, more of the surface level of your being, than of the deepest self. 

Here is the core of the dilemma. While you are spirit, and the essence of your being is this completely uncontracted, centered, expansive presence, you have forgotten that and become habituated in this and in so many lifetimes to the dualistic movements of fear. On the relative level, there is this body, and there is a body, and if some seemingly other body raises a fist to threaten this body, this body will feel it must protect itself. Such protection may be very appropriate. It is not kind to allow the body to be destroyed!

However, with that move toward self-protection there usually is the habit energy of fear, anger, and contraction. Therefore the self-protection does not involve simply stepping back with a compassionate saying of no to that which threatens. The habit energy takes you into contraction; you believe that in order to protect yourself you must barricade and contract. That contraction brings forth further contraction, further sense of threat. The habit energy builds until you come to each of your relationships from this contracted place, expecting danger in all your relationships. Then you say to me, "Aaron, I feel so cut off. I long for intimacy. I feel alone and separate." But you do not see the ways that you create that aloneness through holding to duality because of the habit energy.

This is what I would simply term the habit energy of fear. Fear in itself is simply a thought, an emotion, a physical contraction, part of that physical expression of being. It's not a problem. It's more like the knee-jerk reaction, when the physician strikes below the knee and the leg jerks upward. Something pushes certain triggers and fear comes up. Fear is not the problem, self-identification with fear, so that you become lost in the fear, is what creates your separation.

The same thing is true in different areas of your life. People come to me and say, "I want abundance in my life. I deny lack and scarcity." But there's a certain fear there that keeps inviting scarcity so that the ego self can play with it again and again. It will do so until it's finally finished with it and is able to say, "I put this aside." It is not that you no longer seek abundance, it is simply that you come to know and trust the natural abundance. We could substitute here the terms health or lovingkindness, patience or generosity. You come to know these qualities, the qualities within the self that are sometimes hidden by fear's contractions, and see them through the fear. Then you are able to let go of the see-saw effect, abundance/ lack, or patience/ impatience, etc. and can cease the practice of fear, loss and negativity.

 I would like to give you an example here. Some years ago we had a friend who felt that her body was not strong enough. There was a very loving aspiration to strengthen the body, but there was also a strong self-judgment. It was following the birth of her children and she said, "Five years ago my body was strong. I'm going to regain that strength." But she did not do it lovingly. She held an "I should" image in her mind. She came to the work with contraction and force, rather than visualizing the already-strong body and allowing it to come forth. She thought she had to force her body into that strength, and as a result, she pulled and strained various tendons and ligaments until her body was quite weak and in a lot of pain. And then she came to me and said, "What did I do wrong?"

We talked about it at length through the months it took the body to heal, and I asked her, instead of her prior strenuous workout program to find an activity that she truly enjoyed. She decided she liked to walk her dog. She was in a situation where she had the time to give to it, was not employed at that time. So as her body moved past this pain of the strained tendons, I suggested she simply begin to walk with enjoyment, cherishing the body. If pain arose, I said, just stop and sit. Relax the body. Rest for 5 minutes and get up and walk again. 

The effort here was to change the paradigm, no longer to follow that paradigm of fear, force and control, but to begin to rest in one's innate perfection and yet with a recognition on the relative plane that that perfection could not express itself merely by being the couch potato. That the activity was necessary. But from a place of openheartedness and joy, she invited the innate perfection to come forth. Then the body grew strong.

In the same way, when there is, for example, the movement of fear and greed, a feeling of clinging, and one may have the thought, "I shouldn't be greedy, I should give," one is practicing fear. It doesn't really matter whether one practices fear through the greed, or practices fear through the ultimatum to the self, "Now give," it's still the practice of fear.

The work here is not to learn generosity, not to create a healthy body, not to create abundance, but to open into the highest aspect of your being wherein you know the truth of that being. You invite expression of the health, the abundance, the joy, the generosity and lovingkindness that are always there as the ground of being. You invite them without suppression of the old habit energies of anger, the habit energies that have led to lack of health in the body and so forth. When I say not to suppress them, you do not act out fear's stories. You watch what arises, such as the fear that alternates, wishing to be the couch potato or overdo, suddenly walking 10 miles a day until the body is exhausted. You watch that and note, "Here is the movement of fear." But right now, 20 minutes of yoga would be wonderful, and so you do it. You invite health, you invite joy, because they are the core of your being.

So in our work together this year I want to look at both that angel, that essence of your being, and the very real life situations and how you may work practically with those situations. What keeps you trapped in that paradigm of fear. What allows the shift into a new paradigm, into the expression of the deepest self. 

As we do this work together, we will go back into our work from last spring with the Seven Branch Prayer. I will not review that in my talk tonight but would ask you to look back at your notes, and for those who were not in the class, to look at the old transcripts. You will find this practice spelled out very clearly. I know that some of you have been working with it a lot over the summer. For some of you it will be new. But by winter you will all be masters at it.

I would ask you to begin to work with this again, if you have laid it aside, looking at one strong habit energy in the self, and working with it in this methodical and loving way. Remember with the balancing step to work both in the relative level, seeing what will bring balance to this particular habit energy which you are regarding, and to work with it on the ultimate level, simply resting in that spaciousness where the habit energy is seen so clearly as the flow of conditions that it is not personalized. With that depersonalization, break through and rest in the ultimate perfection. Remember that this is both relative and ultimate practice not either/or.

Again, I will not go into detail about this practice tonight but move to a new topic.

This is something that you seldom hear me speak of, but it really is the core of your work, and it is the reason for my work. It's very wonderful that each of you is learning to live with more kindness and compassion and wisdom in the world. Each time you do so, it is a gift to yourself and others. But there is more to it. I seldom get into metaphysics, things out there that are not immediately visible in your everyday life, but I think it's important to keep this bigger picture in mind, lest your spiritual work simply become a self-improvement project.

You are, really all of you, what I would call old ones, beings of great spiritual stature. I know you may not regard yourself that way, and that's fine. Some of you feel very young indeed. But without exception, each of you in the room has come into the incarnation with a very primary purpose to serve the forces of love and of light, and to bring light to where there has been darkness, to bring love to where there has been fear and hatred. Each of you is learning to do this in your own way, and at some level you understand that the foremost place for practice is within the self. But you do not do this work merely to serve the self or to improve the self. There's nothing to improve. Rather, you come into this heavy density with its difficult catalysts because you literally seek the opportunity to practice bringing love and light into those places of darkness and difficulty. 

I know that many times you would say, "I don't want this heavy catalyst," and yet at some level you have chosen it. It's easy to love your friends; can you love those with whom there is painful conflict? It's easy to love yourself when you are generous and kind; can you also love yourself when you are fearful and negative?

We can speak of this in terms of contraction of all of the heavy bodies - physical, mental and emotional. The essence of you is uncontracted. To me, the clearest definition of positive polarity is that it carries the expression of uncontractedness, of openness, and as open, therefore connected. As soon as you contract, you close the boundaries into the separate self. In the uncontracted state, energy flows. There is no separate self; no loneliness, no danger. 

As Earth moves into a 4th density expression, humans will become increasingly telepathic, will experience increasingly their interconnection with each other. For that to be possible, there needs to be an equanimity with the negative thoughts and emotions that arise, and with the difficult body sensations. Equanimity does not mean that we do not work to resolve those difficult thoughts and sensations, but we work to resolve them from a place of love and openness, not from a place of contraction. We co-create from a place of love, not manipulate from a place of fear. 

So if I had to give a specific teaching on which we will be working this year, I would call it the practice of non-contraction. What I mean by that is when contraction does arise, there is not contraction around the contraction. Learning to stay in that spacious place you do not end contraction immediately, but change the relationship with contraction. As it is greeted with kindness and openness, there is nothing left to support it. It goes gradually. 

You are learning to allow your innate energy to shine through. Personal growth, on the relative level, is a side benefit. You are doing this work because it is the ONLY way that exists to say no to negativity in the universe. And all of you truly are, if I might call you this, teachers of light. It is your highest aim on one that highest level to support the bringing forth of that light throughout the universe so no being may continue to be lost in darkness. 

Honor yourself that this aspiration exists. When the going is difficult, when the path is rough, remember you do not do this just for the self. That you do this work literally to invite the expression of light in the universe for all beings, because only in that way may suffering truly be resolved. Only in that way may beings truly find happiness and peace.

I honor each of you for your willingness to or carry forth this work, for your commitment to light and to love. 

I'm going to pause here. Take a short break, and we will come back for questions. I pause. 


Barbara: Aaron would like to hear your questions, either questions or just things you want to share about what he said.

Q: That was perfect for me. As I went to take care of my mother this summer, I went there to help her not see everything so negative, and to do energy work for her. But she's like this negative vortex! And I couldn't stay. And I felt bad about that. But my own health was starting to suffer. I couldn't stay. So I enjoyed Aaron's comments.

Barbara: Aaron is asking, how many of you can think of a person in your life, not necessarily family, it might be someone where you work or a neighbor, a person who is a "negative vortex"? He says actually is there anybody who can't think of somebody like that?

You can watch yourself getting caught in the fear energy. That's almost an impulse energy. I have an exercise I'd like to try with you. Let us pause for a moment.

(pause, exercise not recorded) 

Aaron: I am Aaron. With the experience of that negative vortex, you feel the negative energy and the response is the habit impulse to get into a personal relationship with that negative vortex. Whether it's to push it away to fight with it, or to try to fix it - there will be different habit energies - the negative vortex ensnares you. The important thing here is that with each of these habit energies there is what I would call an impulse. This is your clue that you are getting caught, personalizing your relationship with this negative vortex. Whatever your habit energy with it, in that moment before you are lost in the habit energy, you will feel the impulse to get into a relationship with it. 

What I want to focus on right here is impulse. I want you to see what impulse really is. Then when you feel that negative vortex and see yourself getting pulled into a relationship with it, you can more clearly note the impulse quality of it, and you will understand that there can be spaciousness around impulse, that just because there's an impulse does not mean that you have to follow the impulse.

What I'd like you each to do now is simply to take a big sip of water and hold it in your mouth, do not swallow, but watch the impulse to swallow. First there will be an impulse to swallow, and then there will be the relationship with the impulse. I want you to see it as 2 clearly separate things. The impulse, then because you don't follow the impulse, there's discomfort. Feel the contraction. The water in the mouth is just water in the mouth. The impulse to swallow is just an impulse, a physiological movement. The body is conditioned when there is water in the mouth to swallow it. Not following our impulses, we find tension. 

The real discomfort here is not from water in the mouth, it's from tension from not following the impulse. What happens as you bring kind awareness to that tension? Simply noting, "Tension. It's a bit uncomfortable; my mouth feels full." Wanting to swallow. Can you feel the possibility of inviting spaciousness that can be present with discomfort of water in the mouth? Habit energy of impulse; discomfort of not following the impulse; tension. Can you feel the shift in your experience of this water? 

Now I would ask you to swallow mindfully and see how it feels. Now take another mouthful of water, hold it in your mouth, watch it again. When drinking, just drinking; sensation of water in the mouth, just holding the water in the mouth. And if it arises, and it may not so strongly this time, but if there's an impulse energy to swallow, watch the impulse. Finally, tension if the impulse is not obeyed. Again, can you feel the possibility of spaciousness? You do not have to act out the impulse, you do not have to get rid of the impulse. It is just impulse energy. There can be real peace with it, just hold the water in the mouth. 

(pause to do exercise)

If there is still discomfort, see if you can distinguish whether the discomfort is with the actual experience of water in the mouth, or the non-obedience to the impulse energy. If the latter, can you soften around it with metta for the self? Breathing in, I'm aware of discomfort, of tension; breathing out, I smile to the tension. Hello, impulse energy, I greet you as a teacher.

Perhaps not literally smiling to the impulse energy while you have water in your mouth! Pardon me, I do not wish to make you laugh.

And you may swallow. Q, would you share your experiences with us?

Q: I felt the impulse... I took a really large amount of water so it made it difficult, and I felt the impulse. The second time was much easier, even though I've done this exercise before. It just reminded me of what I go through a lot. I had to take an MRI last week. I hated that machine. I hated it. And I kept going through impulse, I kept doing similar things, but I could just feel the panic arise. And then it would fall. And then it would arise. But I knew I had that little panic thing in my hand. It reminded me of that, that impulse energy. And then I realized how the critical part of me comes into effect, like, "I've meditated all my life. Why can't I control this?" The control vector comes in. Why is it that this impulse takes over and I don't have the discipline to control the impulse, which does not make it easier. 

The second time that I took the water it was easier.

Barbara: Aaron is saying as long as there is somebody trying to control the impulse, it becomes a power struggle: the fear-based impulse and a somebody that's going to overcome it. But when you step outside all of that to a place of compassion that just regards the impulse energy as coming from a place of fear, that awareness which is aware of the impulse energy is not caught up in a power struggle with it. This is that shift into broader awareness in which the impulse energy can just be there as impulse energy. And if it's uncomfortable, it can be uncomfortable. 

He says, in the dentist chair, even just getting your teeth cleaned, sitting there with your mouth open while they come to your mouth with instruments to clean your teeth, you fell the impulse energy to pull back. And yet, of course one doesn't get up and run screaming from the dentist's office!

He says, did you have more you wished to say? He broke in because he wanted to speak to that point.

Q: I just feel like I've always been very anxiety-prone, and these are good lessons for me. 

Barbara: He asks, can you see the connection between impulse and anxiety? 

Q: Definitely.

Barbara: Can you define that connection as you experience it?

Q: The impulse enters into the anxiety. Once I put myself into the impulse, then I create the anxiety. And then the cycle begins where I want to control, and feel less-than for not being able to control it. 

Barbara: So the anxiety is about the relationship that the personal self has with the impulse?

Q: Um-hmm, old behavior.

Barbara: He says, remembering what we worked on last year in class, the relative and ultimate levels, can you see the relative level in which the self thinks it has to do something with the impulse and thus the anxiety, and the ultimate level in which there's just impulse. And if there is anxiety related to the impulse, there's just anxiety. Let Aaron say this.

Aaron: I am Aaron. I want to focus on this for a moment because it is a very useful illustration. I spoke briefly of the fear paradigm that so many of you have lived with throughout this life, have learned at your parents' side as toddlers. And this is the shift out of that paradigm, out of the paradigm of fear, control, power, and separation, and into the space of connection, ease, and presence.

This is a choice. At some point each of you becomes weary and says, "I've had enough of this fear practice. I've been doing it all this life and for many lives. Enough." I'm not suggesting you then never experience fear again, but your relationship to fear changes at that point and you become able to just say, "Hello, Fear," and not get caught in its stories, more of the time at least. I pause.

Q: You began tonight's lesson with a definition of spiritual inquiry by leading us to think about what is spirit. And you said it was the deepest part of ourselves. When you notice the impulse as impulse, is that spirit?

Aaron: I am Aaron. Here, basically I am using the terms awareness, spirit and presence as synonymous, yes. That which is aware of the impulse is awareness, or spirit. I pause.

Barbara: He says, of course each of these words can have other definitions, but here he is using them synonymously. Others? Would you share about this exercise with impulse energy? 

Q: I found myself getting into judgment. I also took a relatively large first drink, and I found myself thinking, "It's leaking! Don't swallow!" Then thinking, "Hey, choking is not a good thing! Swallow if you need to!" And I swallowed, but the bulk of the water I had in my mouth was between my tongue and the roof of my mouth. And it all stayed there. I swallowed the leak. Then I saw the humor in what had just occurred.

Barbara: Aaron says, can you see the whole thing? The impulse, the discomfort. The water is just water. The impulse is just impulse. The discomfort is just discomfort. The judgment is just judgment. The humor is just humor. 

He asks, with the second swallow was there more clarity about the relationship with the habitual relationship with impulse and the fact that there could be much more spaciousness within this?

Q: Yes, and I took a little less. 

Barbara: Others?

Q: I clearly went into my habit energy. I first thought, "I can do this," being a perfectionist, "I can do this." And as soon as I was doing that, then I realized that Aaron kept talking, so of course I thought, "If he would stop talking, then I could do this!" And then what happened was I immediately felt like I was going to choke, because you know how if water goes down the windpipe and you start coughing? So I had this vision of myself swallowing through my windpipe, choking, spitting water all over the place! 

And so then I was very glad there was a chance to swallow. So I knew I would do better the second time. Still a perfectionist; that's my habit energy. So I took the water the second time and it immediately went into two parts-there was a lower water and a higher water, and I couldn't do anything about it except to acknowledge my habit energy is still with me, just like everyone else. 

And I apologize for so forcefully saying "Hold it!", but I was watching K's face get more frustrated (someone says, "Redder and redder") and I just blurted it out! 

Aaron: I am Aaron. So immediately you see the habit energy come in. As soon as there is the "I can do this," can you see that that is offset with the "I can't do this"? There's a contraction right there with "I can do this." So my question to you is, how do you do it without the "I" , without a somebody to do it, to succeed or to fail? This is a primary part of the whole question of manifestation. On the ultimate level, there is always perfection. On the relative level, we meet obstacles, deem them as imperfect, and there is intention to change the situations.

 If you were working towards some goal, to finish a project in a time period, to prepare a new recipe, to prepare your car, to talk in a skillful way with a difficult person, please reflect on the "I can do it" as contrasted to the "Maybe I can't do it. No, I can do it," which comes from a contracted place. And what can do it without getting into that I can / I can't dialogue. I would ask each of you to look at that in your lives this week. Watch how it comes up in any project or conversation. Discover what within you is able to bring forth without that contraction of I can/I can't. Do you understand this exercise? I pause.

Barbara: He asks, does that make sense to you? 

Class: yes/ no…..

Aaron: I am Aaron. Here is your negative vortex: your boss, your angry neighbor, whoever it may be. There is a deep loving movement, an aspiration in the self, to be with this person in a skillful and compassionate way. This aspiration does not come from a place of fear, nor does it come from a place of self. It is literally the movement of lovingkindness, the movement of presence. 

There is also the voice in the self that says, "Now I'm going to be compassionate here. I'm going to be skillful." You can feel the contracted energy. You haven't even begun to talk to the person yet. But there's already the worry, "Am I really going to be able to be compassionate?" There's already the judgment, "Perhaps I will not be compassionate," or "right now I am not being compassionate." It comes from a place of self and separation. The important thing is that these can co-exist. You can start to see both that ego-based voice that says, "I will be compassionate. I will not be angry." And that deep loving movement that simply IS the expression of compassion. That expression of compassion exists even when the ego is busy with its "I will do it this way; I won't do it that way." Is this more clear? I pause.

Barbara: So he is asking you to watch this in your life and see that it's not either/or; it's both. To find with the ego voice that says, "I will do it this way; I won't do it that way" to just stop and know tension, just as you noted impulse here. The impulse to get it right. The impulse to fix. The impulse toward control. And relax into the spaciousness that says this is perfect however it is. Everything is OK. And right here there is lovingkindness for the other person and myself without separation between us. I can feel it right here with the fear. I don't deny the experience of fear, but I don't have to get caught up in the movement of fear. I acknowledge the impulse to follow the movement of fear, and at the same time I rest in the spaciousness that knows everything is fine just as it is. Even that person being the negative vortex is fine.

Aaron: I am Aaron. If that person needs to be the negative vortex, simply let them be the negative vortex. You don't have to participate in their dance. This goes deeper into the actual practice of compassion and we'll get into it more in future weeks. It's not compassionate to allow somebody else to steamroll over you, nor do you have to fight back.

How many of you have done the pushing arms Tai Chi exercise with us? I pause.

Barbara: He says we'll do that perhaps in the next class. He says, we'll get more into this. For now he'd like you just to watch the possibility of the simultaneity of the ego expression of fear and the spaciousness, and that they can co-exist. He says, talk more to him about your experience with the water.

Q: I have worked with impulse at length and one thing that always helps me is my understanding of impermanence. It helps me create space around an impulse.

Barbara: Exactly. Yes, thank you.

Q: I do well when I remember things are impermanent, I do much better also. And that knowledge just comes in all of a sudden and it releases all of the tension and the building up of the big thing around it.

Barbara: I just want to share something here. Last night I had a CAT scan. Ten years ago I had a CAT scan on my knee and they put me on a hard flat surface, which was very uncomfortable to my back and my body, and slid me into a very claustrophobic 6-foot long drawer. I spent half an hour lying there. So I have been dreading this for a month, and knowing I needed to do it. So I went and did it, but I was dreading it.

So much old mind, so much old conditioning! I came into the room and here's a very a different machine. It looks like a flared doughnut, no 6-foot long cell, just about 2 feet deep, and the bed I was to lie on had a nice cushion on it. I lay down and she put a big pillow under my knees, and I put my head back. She slid me in, I fell asleep. 

Very comfortable! But the old conditioning, I was lying there for the first minute or two thinking, when does the tough stuff start? 

Q: The medical profession is becoming compassionate.

Barbara: Yes. I was really pleased to see the change.

Q: When we took the second sip of water and I held it in my mouth, I checked out the impulse and the experience of the water. And I felt very balanced, so I just let my mind run... And I found my mind wandering off into busy thoughts, other than the water and the impulse. 

Barbara: So that impulse didn't provide a strong focus for you, it was relaxed? Good that you relaxed, but try to stay with the experience, even of relaxation and not let mind run. Try it at home, put a potato chip in your mouth. Don't bite down. Or a grape or a segment of orange. A quarter of a chocolate chip cookie. Aaron is saying a teaspoon full of ice cream. Just hold these things in your mouth and watch the impulse energy. I personally find the potato chip hardest, not to bite down on it. 


Q: It helped a lot-- my initial impulse was definitely was one of discomfort with the water. But after you spoke of looking at the discomfort or impulse as a teacher, all of a sudden my relationship with it drastically changed. And then I was finding myself welcoming the experience and actually enjoying having the water in my mouth for feeling the exchange I was having with this teacher. Then I was looking forward to the second sip.

Aaron: I am Aaron. We are out of time. We will try to get the transcript to you as quickly as possible. 

I want you to take this example of the water held in the mouth and the impulse to swallow and further exercises with the potato chip, the grape, or whatever, and take it a step further. Begin to watch the impulse to scratch an itch. Stand under the shower, watch the impulse to move so the shower is hitting parts of the body where it would like that force and warmth. Perhaps move yourself so the shower water is just barely touching you and watching the impulse to back further into it and get fully wet. Watch as you are driving. If there's somebody slow in front of you, watch the impulse to move into the left lane and pass. Instead of doing it, just watch the impulse, the tension that comes up. It doesn't mean that you should not pass; only first, watch the impulse. 

If somebody says something with which you do not fully agree, watch the impulse to speak back, to explain, to convince, or simply to edify. Certainly at an appropriate time you can talk. But first watch the impulse energy. Sometimes you'll find you don't really need to talk, that it was fear that wanted to talk, and it's fine to just let this go by. Watch also the opposite impulse, to withdraw, to hide the self. Become familiar with your predominant impulses and the ways you relate to them. 

In our next class I would like first to hear about them. Second, please review the Seven Branch Prayer and begin to bring it into your regular meditation practice. If you're already doing so, that's fine, but if you have laid it aside for the summer, please return to it. I don't intend that you focus your whole practice on the Seven Branch Prayer, but use it more as a mindfulness practice, to bring it into your daily life. Are there questions?

(taping ends)

Copyright © 2004 by Barbara Brodsky