May 25, 2005

(At Aaron's request, each person has been handed a glass of water)

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. It's a very sweet evening, lovely to see that spring finally seems to have made a visit.

I hope that all of you have worked some with the elements and the practices that we introduced in the past classes. I want to begin by leading you in a guided meditation with the elements. Please put your water in a place where it is easily accessible but not likely to be spilled. I'm going to invite you to splash around in it a bit so please take a tissue or two to dry yourself. Unfortunately I couldn't figure out a way to provide a bathtub-sized vessel for each person. We really need to do this out at the lake on a warm day.

(With pauses, not noted)
Close the eyes and allow the body to come to rest, centered and at ease. Breathing in and breathing out. Be aware of whether the elements feel balanced or unbalanced, but don't try to adjust them in any way, just be aware of how they are.

I would ask you to clench the fists and tighten the jaw. Feel the tension. Feel the arms and shoulders. Tighten the belly also. And release. And again, tightening, and release.

For most of you, that tension will eliminate some of the air and space energy, and create a heavier earth element. It will also limit the water element to some degree.

Now I would ask you to remember a time within the past week when you felt anger. Bring the incident to mind, and the feelings. Allow yourself to feel that fire. Bring a light, a blazing sun, into the center of the abdomen, into the 2nd and 3rd chakras. Feeling it pulsating, blazing. Heat, red, orange and yellow light. Breathing in, feel the light of the universe coming in the crown chakra and dropping all the way down into the belly. Breathing out, let it expand, pulsating. Breathing in, do it again, bringing in light and energy, hot and pulsating.

Feel it as energy, but note it has imbalance. It is perhaps a bit unbalanced because of the contraction exercise we did. Do that again, clenching the fists, clenching the jaw, and keep that fire burning in the belly. You may begin to feel a bit like baking clay. There's heat, but it feels trapped. If it's not what you're experiencing, it's okay. A guided meditation will not fit everybody. Don't think you're doing something wrong. Just allow yourself to visualize it as much as you can.

You may be able to feel the energy but that it is heavy and stagnant, burning, hot, yet stuck in place, baked into place. Go back to the memory, if that's helpful, to recall the anger. What we are creating here is the heaviness of baked earth, devoid of water and air. Feel how it feels, this imbalance. Some of you may feel it in the belly, almost a throbbing or tension. You may feel it in the head, the jaw, the chest.

Now I would ask you to pick up your cup of water. I want you to literally put your fingers in, just to stir the water around. Take some and splash it on your face, your throat, forehead, back of your neck. Hold the fingers in the water and move them gently. Envision that water coming into the baked clay. Touch it again to the face, wetting the face. Again, the back of the neck. Can you feel the coolness coming in?

Return to the memory of anger, of the situation about which there was anger, and see if it feels lighter, if there's a bit more spaciousness there. If the fingers are in the cup, move them gently, swing the hand in the cup a bit, feeling the spaciousness. Put the cup down. Take a deep breath and open the arms wide, inviting in more air. A deep breath comes down into that burning place in the abdomen. Continue to work in this way until the fire element begins to feel less like a sterile burning, like hot volcanic lava, but feels more spacious, lava mixing with cool water, breaking up. I want you to feel it as energy but in a very positive sense.

The fire element is necessary for life, It's energy. If you drown the fire element completely, you can't function in the world, you can't function in the body. If it needs more water, come back to the cup of water. More air, open the arms again. Move them around, just swimming the arms around a bit until it feels balanced. Within that balance, find an alive and vibrant fire energy.

Most of you are a bit afraid of the fire element, and you tend to subdue it in your bodies. So what I am trying to teach you here is how to greet the fire element with a welcoming voice and bring forth what's useful to balance it, to keep it strong. Ideally you will have some sense of integration, feel empowered, greeting the fire element with a joyous welcome.

You may open your eyes now. I'd like to hear from you what you experienced as we did this.

What did you experience with this? It's not a problem if you did not experience what I was describing.

Q: During the baking part, the baked clay, I began to notice that the clay was still very wet. It was hot and wet, so there was still a lot of water around it, but I just couldn't get rid of the water. And then when I started focusing on my head more, there was where I found the really dry, hot clay. And a lot of tension in my head. So I did the visualization around that. As the meditation progressed, there was more spaciousness as we worked with the other elements again, the water and the air. When you talked about balancing the fire element and bringing more, sort of a balanced power from it, I began to feel more energy in my body and felt more expressive in my movement.

Aaron: Thank you. Others?

Q: This whole idea of bringing water to the heat of anger is very familiar to me. I've been using it for awhile with myself when I'm feeling stress or fatigue or anger, I always take a bath. Whenever one of the babies or even a child is just out of sorts, angry, they just always relax in the water. So this meditation is very easy, feeling balanced.

Aaron: Others?

Q: I'm not sure I'm correct on this, but it seems to me that air is more balancing to me when I'm fiery than water. And when I'm contracted, the best thing for me to do is take a deep breath and expand myself, and it changes everything for me.

Aaron: There's an interesting balance: fire and air, not too much air, fans the fire and makes it burn more. A lot of air puts out the fire. But we don't want to put out the fire; we just want to temper the fire. This is part of the point I'm trying to make here, that some of you react to anger energy by putting out the fire and thereby lose the energy of the anger, rather than simply calming the fire and then being able to draw on that energy to respond in a compassionate but strong way, to whatever prompted the anger. If the anger is prompted by something that needs to be spoken to, you don't want to put out the fire, you want to use the fire but not misuse the fire.

You (speaking to Q) have a lot of water energy naturally. Some others of you do also, so that fire tends to turn into steam for you. Then the air opens it up. And I think that's why bringing in air is helpful for you. There's not one-size-fits-all practice. You need to know yourself. But sometimes you, as everybody here, shift into, let's say the steam burns away because the fire keeps burning. The water dries up, then you move into a dried up hot clay state. If you just add water, you get thick mud. Hot lava. But if you add air then it breaks up. If you just add air to that clay, you get hot sand, broken up but still arid. So one experiments with how much of each, but you do have to know yourself and, as with Q, whether you normally are, I don't want to call it water-heavy, but you are predominantly a water person. You must have been a very happy dolphin some time in the past!

Q: Does that have to do with your astrological sign, that you're the water or steam…?

Aaron: Astrological signs are thought to control the disposition of the human, but I find that it's quite the reverse. The astrological sign does influence, but the person who intends to incarnate with relationship to the water element, comes into a sign that's appropriate to that. In all the astrological signs, you don't fall just by chance into a birth sign and then have that sign describe you. There is a sign that's appropriate for the time of your birth based on your karma and the work that you do in the lifetime. So you take birth into that sign which helps support that predisposition based on your karma. Does that make sense to you?

The emphasis here is that it is not a chance that you are born under a sign and thus disposed to be of the personality of that sign, but that at some level you have chosen that sign because you are choosing that personality. The influence of the planets and stars and such does bring out certain tendencies. I am not much of an astrologist. I'm relatively ignorant about astrology; it's not something I have studied, so I can't talk in depth about it. Only I am aware that there is some reality that certain arrangements of the planets do influence the personality and that beings choose that arrangement for their birth because there's an intention to bring forth that kind of personality.

Q: Could one come into a sign with the intention of having that sign balance one's predisposition, actually help one to balance, instead of merely identifying the predisposition?

Aaron: I would say so, yes. Most of you have taken birth under the same sign through many lifetimes. It doesn't mean there's no room for change, only you have taken birth under that sign repeatedly.

Q: I'm confused because under Western astrology I'm a water sign and under Chinese astrology, I'm a very strong fire sign, and in a different variation, I was told I was an earth sign. So I don't know!

Aaron: What do you perceive in yourself? If one is heavy, which one is it?

Q: Well lately it would be fire because I've been so angry at my sister and all the stuff she's doing.

Aaron: When fire is heavy, it can mean there's too much firethat the other elements are in balance with each other but that the fire is predominant. Or it could mean that the fire is just about in the right place but one of the other elements is very low so that the fire intensifies. In other words, if earth and fire are rather average but there is no air element - I'm not saying this is true of you, I'm using it as a hypothetical example - if earth and fire are very average but there's no air element, or the air element is kept low, suppressed, through contraction, and the water element is kept low, this is a very different situation than when the earth, water, and air are relatively balanced but the fire is burning the earth, burning away the air, burning the water into steam and drying it up. So in one case you want to raise the elements that are lacking. In the other case, you want to work to diminish the element that's too strong.

It takes experimentation to see how best to balance it. I would not be concerned with the question about why it's this in the Western tradition, that in the Chinese tradition. I do not mean to negate these traditions but there's a lot of what I perceive as somewhat useless thinking. What is your direct experience? You don't really have to figure out what sign you are and what it means. What is your experience in this moment? When something happens that brings up irritation in you, what happens in your energy field? There will be a habit energy, a habitual place that you go. When there is no particular singular challenging experience, just going through your day, pause often and check it out. Are these elements usually in balance or is there a habit energy that pushes one away?

Coming back to my earlier statement, many of you have the habit energy in your culture either to push fire in order to react, to be powerful in the world, or to negate fire. You often have the other elements in balance and you either enhance or withdraw fire. What I'm encouraging you to do is to bring in fire in a balanced way to give you the energy to speak to wrongness in the world, to speak in a loving way when something is distorted, to act in a loving way when it's necessary but with energy. To empower yourself, not to be afraid of that fire energy.

May we hear from others?

Q: In the meditation, I didn't get any sense of the fire in the belly or heat, but I know I've spent most of my life being angry, and so it makes me wonder, now am I less angry or am I just suppressing it? I have a sense, my own feeling is that I'm less angry, but it makes me wonder is that really the case.

Aaron: In the time that I have known you, it seems to me, I would not say that you are less angry but you are less self-identified with the anger. That you're more able to see anger as just anger and not build up on the stories it brings. It's probably one way of saying yes, you're less angry. There's more space, more air element, in the anger. More space, not burning so hot, so you're able to step back from it. I think it would be very useful to you to begin to see the way that you have related from habit. Here I'm simply basing the statement on the little bits of you that I've seen in class. You're not generally angry in class! But I see times when perhaps there's just a bit of irritation at something, and the immediate tendency is one of taking dirt and throwing it on a fire. As soon as that irritation comes up, you suffocate it.

So I encourage you instead to allow yourself to feel the irritation just as irritation. Feel the heat of it. Then instead of dumping dirt on it to smother the fire, ask yourself, "In what ways can I use this energy, holding the intention that it be used for the good of all beings and in a way that it does not do harm?" Instead of being afraid of it, stop and thank it: here is fire energy, life force. You can use this as part of your commitment to serve in the world, to do good in the world. Do you understand?

Q: Yes, I think so. You asked us to find an incident and the ones that came to mind where I'm aware that I have… (Aaron requests repeat) to find a situation in the last week or so. The ones that came to mind were when the phone rings and I have to answer it, of course I'm doing something else. I didn't expect the phone to ring, so it's interrupting me. And I feel that irritation. And then if it's somebody I have to talk to, then I'm really irritated. This is sort of silly because I can't dump this on the person who's calling. I didn't have to answer the phone; I could have let the answering machine pick it up. So I suppress that and have the conversation. So you're suggesting I somehow still have the conversation but don't suppress it.

Aaron: When that irritation comes up and you don't want to take it out on the person on the other end, what you do is dump dirt on it. What if there's a persistent salesperson on the other end? He called you, you said I don't want any, thank you, you hung up. Ten minutes later he calls back. Let's say this is an elderly woman trying to make a bit of extra money to buy her prescription medicines. You don't need to buy her product, but you don't want to curse at her. You don't explode into the phone.

I'm just asking you to envision this. The phone rings, you pick it up once, anger comes up because it's a salesperson. You put dirt on that anger. It rings again. Again you put dirt on that anger. It's important to keep the fire burning so there's the energy to say, "I do not want any and if you call me back again I'm going to have to take some kind of action." That's a loving thing to say. It's not kind to let somebody harass you. It takes fire to be able to say that. Earth can't do it, water can't do it, air can't do it. So many of you need to learn how to keep the fire energy burning and bring it into balance, not to be afraid of it.

What I have seen from you is that you are learning through your meditation practice how to observe the arising of anger without the self-identity with anger. This is a very important step because it allows the experience of anger without building stories about it. Then building on that direct experience of anger, stop and ask yourself, "What is anger? What is this?" Not, what are the stories about it, not what caused it, not what should I do, but what is this? Feel it burning inside you. What is it? It's just fire, but fire is energy. How do I control it? How do I bring it into power so that I can use it in skillful ways?

Q: Thank you.

Aaron: Others who would like to speak?

Q: The last two weeks I have been more aware of my anger than any other time in my life, probably. I think I'm working on bringing water in more than hiding. My understanding is I hide, I go to the ground.

Aaron: I would suggest, my sister, that you are feeling safe enough with the anger to allow the experience of it, that you are suppressing it less. It is not that you are more angry, it's that you are more willing to allow the experience of anger, and this is a vital step. Only by allowing the experience of it can you learn that you don't have to be afraid of it.

I notice in just a brief surface look at the Akashic records that you have not punched anyone in the nose this week!

Q: Not physically!

Aaron: Exactly.

Q: I punch myself.

Aaron: That is a place that needs work. Working with the self-judgment, the anger at the self. Just learning to be more compassionate to the self.

I think a lot of what's happening here is that when anger comes up, it's such a powerful force and there's strong commitment not to harm others with it. You're not suppressing it, but you don't know what to do with it; then you turn it into yourself. It would be very helpful to watch the judging mind. Don't get caught up in the stories of the judgment, just note, "here is a judgment." Watch how many shoulds and shouldn'ts come through. Do it with a smile, do it playfully. Hello should, hello shouldn't. Look back at your life. When you were a child, which adults most often said you should or you shouldn't. See if you can identify one predominant adult who did that. There may have been several, but identify one, maybe mama or papa. Then when "should" comes up, as soon as the judgment comes up, stop and say, "Thank you, Mother, but no, I don't need that today."

This is someone else's voice that's coming through. I don't mean literally, I mean through the conditioning. As soon as there's that contraction of anger, that old voice says, "No, no; control it!" Or maybe, "You should be ashamed." Begin to see how this is just the outflow of conditioning. There's nobody bad there, there's nobody who should be ashamed, it's just conditioning. In this way, you literally bring more air into it, more space. Seeing there's no solid bad woman, bad girl. Just old conditioning. So that when it comes up, stop and say, "Thank you." "I should" is a teacher. It's a reminder to stop and breathe and have compassion for yourself and for whoever it was that kept pushing it on you at some earlier time in your life, who must have been very self-judgmental also. Does that feel like something you can do? (Q: Yes.)

New Q: I have been getting so angry at my sister that… I feel the contractions and my back hurts. Even I kind of notice that I start rubbing my chest because it hurts. What would be the best way for me to get rid of it?

Aaron: Let's start with dropping off the idea "get rid of." We're making space for it, we're not getting rid of anything. You start to rub your chest because it hurts. Instead of rubbing, just bring one finger here to the heart center. Breathe into it. Big breath into the heart center. Breathing in, I am aware of the anger; breathing out, I smile to the anger. Breathing in, I bring cooling breath into the anger; breathing out, I release. Think here of a flaming dragon. It needs air for the flame to flow out, or the flame just smolders inside. Breathing in, bringing air to the anger. Don't aim it at a person, just aim it outward. Release it.

It is not clear to me whether you are in her presence when you feel this anger. Either way, just release it. Take some cold water, run your hands under the water, take a bath. You don't want to get rid of the fire energy, you want to make space for the fire energy so that you can learn to tame it and use it. The fire energy is a vital part of what will allow you eventually to reply to someone who is abusive in a compassionate but strong way, to say no with love.

Q: Thank you.

Aaron: Try this, just one thing, pressing rather firmly against the heart, down a bit lower. You can feel as you breathe in, there's more pressure. You start to feel the sensitivity of the heart. You also feel the armoring around the heart. Part of the force of the anger is because the heart is contained in this armor. The armor is part of what people believe is necessary in order to protect the tenderness of the heart. You begin to let that armoring crack open. Anger and tears come very close, anger and sadness, anger and feelings of helplessness. So you begin to find some of what's under the anger and also to allow that. Nothing in the experience is to be denied or pushed away, nothing is wrong, it's just experience, getting to find what's underneath.

Are there others who wish to speak?

Q: I also had a difficult time bringing fire into my belly. I was very angry at one of my children earlier this week but I just couldn't bring that anger back. So it was hard for me to bring water or air to the fire because I couldn't really generate much fire to begin with.

Aaron: My friend, you have a lot of fire. Often it comes forth in a very wholesome way. I have also seen in you at times when we've spoken privately and when I've been with you with your children, that there is a very strong prohibition against that fire energy around the children, I think for fear that it will erupt and harm them in some way. So instead of allowing it to come forth in a wholesome way, you stifle it. It becomes either too much fire or no fire.

I would ask you to try to practice in the coming weeks just watching, using your children as the perfect teacher. When, not strong anger but irritation with one of the children comes up, if you're in the position to take yourself apart for a few minutes, even to say to the child if this is necessary, "I need some quiet time with this, I'm feeling angry." It's okay to say that to the child. You're not saying, "You did something bad," just "I'm having an angry response to what you said and I'm feeling some confusion. I'm going to go to my room for a few minutes and be quiet." Then begin to feel that fire energy that you're afraid, like a volcano, will erupt outward. See the habit energy immediately to smother it, and ask yourself, "How can I bring this into balance in a wholesome way so there is energy to deal directly with this situation with this child with love?"

You might go jump in that pond near your house, and invite the child to come with you. Splash around a bit. Keep the fire going. I don't mean by playing with the stories of the anger, but stay in touch with that… heat energy, life force.

Something else I would recommend, I'm speaking specifically here to Q, I would like you to investigate the base chakra as a source of that fire energy. When you become angry, you have a way of closing off the base chakra and separating from that life force energy, and I think you'll find it very clear if you look at it that you can literally breathe in all the way down to the ground, feel the energy coming all the way through. Then breathing out, let it come from the base chakra.

Watch how you're cutting yourself off, here. Some of the others of you probably do this too but I have seen it in Q so I can talk about it in him. When I say probably others do, almost certainly others of you do. There is a fear for so many people on a spiritual path who deeply aspire to be loving in their relationships that when you feel the fire energy, which does relate to the base chakra, you cut it off. The base chakra is the chakra of life force, of energy. You'd rather feel helpless than angry. It turns anger into frustration, a kind of smoldering mass down in the belly. Feel how you're cutting yourself off. You can feel it.

There will probably be a tension felt in the lower abdomen. If you're feeling that tension, just ask yourself, "Am I cutting off life force here? Am I cutting off the base chakra? What is my intention?" We've talked about clear comprehension. Clear comprehension of purpose, clear comprehension of suitability. What is my highest purpose? Is what I'm doing suitable to that purpose? If I'm cutting off the life force, it's probably not suitable. I can't cut off the life force and deal harmoniously with the catalysts that are coming to me in the world.

Then instead of judging the self and saying, "Look how hopeless I am, I can't even do this right," just watch how judgment easily comes up. Just another thought, judging, and make the decision, "My intention is to open my energy field to find balance, not to be afraid of my experience. And here are some tools I've learned."

How many of you have worked with me a number of years ago, with the Seven Branch Prayer, taught in the book Awakened Heart? For those who do not have acquaintance with that book, it's available in the bookstore or I believe on the internet, on the Deep Spring Center website. I would recommend you read the whole book and begin to practice with this Seven Branch Prayer. It's a very powerful practice to help you bring forth the loving intention.

When anger comes up, or some strong emotion, and you see it's just habit energy, there's a very specific practice to work with that habit energy and release it. When suffocating the fire energy comes as the predominant habit energy, you can use the Seven Branch Prayer to invite balance.

We were speaking about this with another earlier today. There are so many different practices: vipassana is the core practice, but you're not practicing to become an adept vipassana practitioner, you're practicing it to find freedom from the habit energies, to find freedom from karma.

Anything can be misused. We have many different kinds of support practices such as working with metta or loving kindness, working with the elements as we're doing here, working with generosity, patience, deepening moral awareness, deepening concentration, and so forth. These seem like scattered practices but there's a certain point when suddenly you understand it.

It's like having a big tool chest. You've met a tool in your life. Somebody presents you with a hammer, shows you how to hammer a nail in. For a while you nail everything together. Then they introduce you to duct tape. You begin to see when it's better to use the nail and when it's better to tape. Finally, they issue you a drill and a screwdriver. You've got to learn how to use them all. Then you've got to learn when it's best to tape, when it's best to nail, and when it's best to use a screw or a bolt.

Now you've mastered a few tools and can build a box but the edges are still rough. Then you find sandpaper and a file, and then a plane and an electric sander. The whole thing looks awkward and out of balance, and you find a square. It all starts to come together and suddenly one day you've got building plans for a house in front of you. You open the tool chest and you say, "I know how to build this. I know how to use all the tools. I really understand how to put this all together." Don't despair, it will come together.

Are there others who would wish to share? We're going to go around and look at your pictures after we have a short break, but any other sharing about the element exercise?

Let's take 10 minutes to stretch then and then come back and share in a circle. I'd like to see your gardens and share them with others.


Barbara: I may paraphrase Aaron, but for now it's me in the body. What we'd like to do is just go around and please share your gardens. Talk about what you're learning from doing it.

Anybody who would like to start? We'll just go around in the circle.

Q: Here's my garden. The drawing in accordance with my background is sort of architectural. As opposed to most of the drawings I've seen so far. Mine is only vegetables, not flowers. And it is mostly or primarily tomatoes because I'm just a tomato freak. <> The base that you see, it's an elevated bed drawing or elevated bed garden built of broken pieces of concrete because I have a bunch of them in my yard.

The one thing that primarily to me… the fact that it is a raised bed garden to me, I like to be able to build things. I think one of the biggest aspects of it, if you look very closely, I have constructed a fence, small fence around it to keep rabbits, squirrels, etc, out. And that is one of I feel my major contractions, which I believe primarily manifests itself in my disability to sleep well. And I have been told that part of that, my disability to sleep well, is an overemphasis on having to protect what is mine, my family's, and I have to be somewhat diligent all the time, even when I'm attempting to sleep.

Barbara: I'm paraphrasing Aaron, he says he would like to invite you to redraw this on a bigger piece of paper with so many plants filled with tomatoes that you don't need a fence because there's plenty for you and the rabbits and the squirrels, and see how that feels.

He says, take that into your life. What are you building that fence to keep out? Can you become aware of the feeling of fence-building wherever it comes up in your daily life? Start to know that as an object, a movement of the mind and body, fence-building, there's a kind of tension to it. He's saying, building a fence can be a very loving thing. This is not about building a fence, it's about building a fence from a place of fear and control rather than building a fence from a place of love. So he's inviting you to watch that, how you can not build fences from a place of fear but can still have appropriate boundaries, let us say.

He asks, will you try redrawing it on a big sheet of paper with lots and lots and lots and lots of tomato plants. And he says, put in a few bunnies! <They might like to> enjoy the produce. He says, put in a child patting one of the bunnies, too, seeing how the bunnies not only enjoy your produce but they enrich the garden.

Q: Okay, this is my garden from before. <coughing> … trust, and recognizing how trusting I am of the process of working with these issues, even as I'm imperfect at working with them. But I still trust the process and am comfortable, less trusting and less comfortable with this issue. So I <coughing>…. And I'm more adept at working with these.

Barbara: I don't get the question.

Ai (signer): Why don't you bring the drawing up so she can see what you're talking about. Most of these issues she's trusting with and she's comfortable with the process. There's one there, the brown one, that she's less trusting of.

Q: But my question to myself was, what's the difference? What I'm trusting of and what I'm not trusting of. Other than, I'm more adept at working with these but still not perfect.

Ai: Is the difference between what's comfortable and what's not, feeling more adept?

Q: It's not a question, though, I'm just questioning, this is a question I ask myself. So I realize that there isn't much difference…

Barbara: Aaron is saying he wonders to what degree you are building a fence in a different way. That when there's lack of trust, does a fence go up? There's no visible fence in the garden, but he says to watch your energy field. He says there's a difference between blind trust which is not warranted and may result in pain, and trust in something that really has proved itself to be trustworthy. And that when you are not trusting, there's a place of fear where you in a sense build a fence and separate from yourself and separate from that deep intuition of what is to be trusted and what is not. And that you know that intuitively.

Q: Aaron had asked me to do another garden of trust and no doubt, so this is my garden of no doubt. And I thought a lot about this, what this would look like.

Barbara: How does it feel?

Q: I thought that there would be rain and sun in balance, and a kind of up and down flow, but always progressing upward. And generosity flowers and receiving flowers… And abundance.

Barbara: He's saying, please continue to watch it these next two weeks and see how it evolves.

(Skip two people who did not bring their drawings.)

Next class we're going to bring them back again, everybody, for the next class.

Q: I just did one so far, last night…

Ai: I did mine this afternoon. I think Aaron came to see me!

Q: There's a lot to say, I guess, but… I have some grass over here, which is steadiness and purpose and centeredness. And then I have a fluffy purple flower that is distraction and desire overshadowing staying true to the path I want. Very pretty! But I notice all of my plants had roots going down, so…

Barbara: So they're sturdy. Aaron is suggesting that you tape an additional piece of paper onto it and just keep expanding it. He says, rather than trying to draw it all at once, take a little time to meditate each day, just 2 or 3 minutes, to ask yourself, "What's new in my garden today?" A flower here, some grass there. What is it? How does it feel? What do I want to bring forth?

He's saying that the primary question he asked you last class was, what is it that I want to invite into my garden and to nurture? And he would like to see more of that in the pictures. What is it I'm nurturing right now? And going deeper into that question and expressing it with your drawing, but also reflecting on it.

Q: Here's my original garden. I've been thinking a lot for the last, well I guess 4 weeks about what I want to bring forth, but I had this feeling there was something on top of it and I couldn't figure out how to get it in, so I put it underneath. I'm sort of calling what I want to bring forth my true self, it's got love and golden light and joy in it, but it's covered with a pretty heavy layer of, I'm calling it my self-concept. One of the interesting things, when I think of words and my self-concept, they're almost all negative. Fears, self-doubt, hidden suffering, my historywell I guess that could be both ways. Relation, pain, but I have this sense that there are cracks in this self-concept, fissures, and there's some leakage from my true self that's getting through to the surface, but still a lot of connections on the things on the surface to the self-concept. I'm thinking I want to let this self-concept fall apart, fall away.

Barbara: Aaron is asking if you can see how that relates to the bringing in of more air and water, letting the sun shine from the bottom out, letting the air permeate down in, so that that layer breaks apart.

Q: Okay, my sense is that the fissures are opening from the top, not the bottom.

Barbara: He says he thanks you. He says you are using this drawing of the process of in exactly the way he hoped it could be used, that it's bringing forth much richness for you. He says, keep going!

Q: This is my same drawing. Aaron asked what is lying underneath that I want to grow. And I know what that is, but I don't have it on my picture because it's underground!

Barbara: So he's asking you, what will invite it to break through the soil? He's saying everything is bursting out. Let it burst forth.

Q: What I want to grow is freedom. And earlier there was a notion of an intention: freedom from habit energy.

Barbara: He's suggesting that you take a, he says, do you enjoy doing artwork? He's suggesting a process. Take a piece of paper and some crayons and color different colors so that it's solidly colored. Then take, after it's all covered, take black ink and cover the whole thing. Then take something like an exacto-knife and begin to scratch off and let the colors come through.

Q: Kindergarten! Maybe 3rd grade.

Barbara: He says there's that book, Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

Q: My drawing is kind of schizoid… This side is sunny, and that was my life before. This side has clouds and it's in shadow, and these huge weeds are my sister. They're, like, in your face. And they're huge… they're weeds. So these are flowers of happiness (the small flowers) and joy, but on this side they're all in the dark. And on this side (the other side) they're trying to be normal again, and happy and joyful. See, she sends out runners underground…

Barbara: Aaron is asking, what happens if you shine bright sunshine on the sister plant?

Q: I've tried being nice to her…

Barbara: He says, instead of trying to spray it with weed killer, what happens if you just shine bright sunshine on it?

Q: I've tried being nice, but she's, I can't say that word to Aaron, but she's just aI can?

Barbara: Aaron says, it's not about being nice, it's about opening the compassionate heart to see into her suffering.

Q: I know and I can understand her suffering, but it gets trying…

Barbara: He says compassion does not allow her to abuse you through her suffering. That's part of the response. He says, look at your picture, not right now but at home, and ask yourself, what is the kindest and most loving way to deal with these plants, these big weeds? What do I want to do for the weeds? Not just to slash them down but maybe corral them into one corner of the garden. Try another drawing where you've pushed the weeds over. Just say, "No, you may not encroach on the flowers. You go over here and you stay here." To allow space for the flowers to come up?

Q: Can I put a fence around them?

Barbara: If you need to. Ask them if they'll stay put and if they won't, put a fence around them. This is an appropriate use of a fence. (Q: okay, okay.) It's a compassionate fence that says no, you don't do that. Aaron says a baby gate at the top of stairs is a compassionate fence. You don't let the baby fall down the stairs. The baby doesn't know how to stay put. If the sister-weed doesn't know how to stay put, can't control itself, then put a fence up.

Q: This is my first. I had a lot of fun. These are what I'm currently working to create in my life. And as I visualized the garden before I drew it, I saw a tree. The tree is not a part of my garden but it gives it some shade to help the flowers a bit, and gives them a little moisture. It's a <> tree of non-separation. Climbing up the tree are morning glories, and that is me trying to learn to listen to my inner guidance. The rose bush is maybe my most heartfelt thing I'm working on. I recently came to realize in the last few years, I had thought all my life that knew how to love people, and it seemed that it was becoming more clear as I was dealing with my kids that I didn't. And it felt like I was, the word "doing" comes to mind. I was "doing" a lot of loving but I don't think I'm looking for that kind of doing any more. So I decided to go back to the basics. To me that means going back to re-learn how to love myself. And that's the center of my rose garden is how to learn self-love, and then the other budding roses are the people I will learn how to love better by applying that.

So I've got daffodils here. They don't look like it, but that's the letting go and trusting light to teach me this. Sunflowers, kind of giving a border to the garden, are the joy that's coming up as I learn this. And passion, it feels like a joyful, passionate rediscovery of what my life can be like. I need a lot of light in my garden, and that's why I need the shade try. I have a lot of fire in my chart, so I'm very aware of sun in my life. Tonight I have a new goal to not be afraid of…

Barbara: …Balance, sun and shade…

Q: So that's why I need the shade, I need shade for all the sun in my life. In a good way I put a sun here because it brings vitality, warmth, energy, and yet it can burn me too. Balance, that's what I'm looking for. My tree is giving me some help in that way.

Barbara: Aaron asks you, is there anything underground that's just ready to emerge? He says don't answer it now, take it home and reflect. What summer late?-blossoming perennials might there be still dormant? What might want to come up? While continuing to nurture what's growing beautifully, look deeper and see is there something that's emerging, that I want to invite in?

Q: You'll remember some years ago you had us draw this garden. And if you'll recall, there was a very dead plant in the middle of it called abundance? Well, this is a garden I drew this afternoon. And it's one that has been cooking in my head for awhile. It's interesting you should ask about emergent things because there's definitely something emergent in this garden.

So in the center there's a tree, and it's a fairly large tree, and it's creativity. There's a partial fence that represents security. There's a rose bush and tulips and daffodils that represent friendship. There's a little bitty partial lawn that's serenity.

(tape ends)

Copyright © 2005 by Barbara Brodsky