January 19, 2005

Barbara: We have a combination tonight of Spiritual Inquiry Class and Wednesday Open House …

(The next ten minutes of the recording is inaudible because of recording noise. Aaron is leading a guided meditation. There are many pauses as we follow his instructions, which are not noted. In the meditation, he asked us to visualize waves; they are just water, but also form into a momentarily set shape. Then they release the form and are water again. He asked us to be the wave. Feel the energy and wind that pull us into intactness. Then feel the release; no self, just water.)

Aaron: … be a wave. Feel yourself moving as the wind blows. Open your eyes for a moment and watch Barbara. Moving. Close your eyes again. There's just a very gentle wind, so not too much movement.

Think of the nature of the wind. Right now, there's a wave, but in a moment it's just water. It rises and subsides again and again. It's never the same wave twice. Some water molecules are in this wave and other water molecules in that wave. Some molecules in both waves.

We cannot say the wave does not exist; the wave is real. We also cannot say that the wave has any separate self. It exists in this moment because of conditions, and then it subsides. It's just water. For that matter, we cannot say that the sea exists or does not exist. The sea is more substantial then the wave, but it too evaporates and becomes that cloud out there, then rains down. Maybe snows down. Eventually it finds its way back to the sea. The element of water seems to exist, but even that element can become ice or steam or fog, water vapor. Everything is changing.

For now, then, I want you to simply be a small wave. Move your body. Feel the wind blow on you as you feel the current pulling you. Feel that wave entity that you are contracting as it builds up into the shape of a wave and then releasing, simply being the sea. Then contracting again and releasing.

Please get into this with your bodies. Moving into a wave form, feel your energy pull together, and then subside, the swell just dissolving into the ocean.

Contracting into wave form again. Please move your bodies. Become the wave. And then wind begins to blow stronger. You are a small wave. Now you're becoming a bigger wave. Move the body. Become a bigger wave. Lift the arms up. And then in closing down, just water.

The wave, although it reaches outward, it's a contracted state. It's the state of self, a wave, being the wave, arms up, and then releasing, no boundary. Opening out, just water. And again, the wind growing fiercer now, the waves getting bigger. You may need to stand up. Be the wave. And subsiding.

And again, building up, that water that you are becoming an enormous wave. Feel the force of the tsunami in you. Five hundred miles an hour, one very powerful wave. Feel the contracted energy of it, (Aaron makes a sound effect) and releasing. Opening.

Please observe the texture of the belly as you do this. As you move into wave form, what happens to your belly? Does it become tight, hard? Can you be a wave and keep the belly soft? Probably it's hard to do. Be a big wave now, see what happens to your belly. Don't be afraid to stand up. And relaxing, just water, no boundary. What happens then to the belly?

Building up into a wave again. White foam on top splashing over. And dissolving. Opening.

This is good. Let us pause here for a moment and get some feedback. It feels to me that all of you are getting the feeling of this, the contraction and the expansion. I pause.

Barbara: Aaron is asking if people will share some of their experience.

Q: A lot of tingling in my hands, very strong. Almost palpable.

Barbara: He asks, could you feel the expansion and contraction, the move into the wave, creating a self, and then opening?

Q: Yes. My arms went up. My hands tingle more or could feel the energy more strongly.

Barbara: So you felt it more in your hands?

Q: Yes. My mid-section seemed to be the same all the time.

Barbara: Others?

Q: I tend to inhale as I go up, as I become the wave, and release on the exhalation. My abdomen was pretty much expanding like that as well.

Barbara: During the whole thing, or during the release?

Q: It expands on the inhalation …

Barbara: Others?

Q: I felt like I was doing sit-ups, contracting (inaudible) stomach.

Barbara: So you could feel it strongly in the abdomen? (Inaudible) see you nodding (inaudible).

Q: When we first started to do the small wave, I was surprised that there was a contraction. Sort of moving slowly back and forth. But noting that there is a contraction just in that small movement, and then as I became a larger and larger wave, more and more contraction.

Barbara: Aaron says the primary point he wants to make here is the connection between the wave as self, that moment of being something as the wave and the contracted energy that's inherent in the self, and then the release, just being the water. At that point, no self. Then just spacious energy uncontracted.

Q: I really felt that no-self. When I dissolved back I could feel my ego self dissolving also.

Barbara: Good. Others?

Q: I had a similar experience of no-self in contraction around being something. It was my whole body shoulders and belly.

Q: Me too.

Barbara: Any others?

Q: I felt very comfortable and in tune with small and medium waves. And when we moved to the large wave, I felt an aversion to even going there.

Barbara: Too much energy?

Q: Just felt aversion …

Barbara: OK. Others?

Q: I felt similar to what K said … comfortable with the smaller wave but it seemed like too much effort to make myself the bigger wave. And it was unpleasant.

Barbara: I'm curious, was it too much energy, or effort? But too much effort because it felt so highly energized, too much effort to come to that place, to close in that much? The bigger the wave gets, the more it builds up the separate self.

Q: I just felt like I had to try to do it, whereas with smaller waves I was more being tossed about, kind of.

Q: Like more at one with the wave? And bigger, you're separate from the wave.

Barbara: Anybody else?

Q: My very contracted energy felt very familiar.

Barbara: Did other people experience that, that recognition of wave within the self? Both are within ourselves, the wave and the non-wave.

OK. We're going to do a different exercise now, related. What I'd like you to do here with your eyes open … just the chant, "OM." No special tone that it has to be, so nobody has to worry about singing out of tune. Any kind of OM you want to give out, it doesn't have to be synchronized, one OM and another overlapping. Open the chest.

(Chanting OM.)

Feel it resonate. Feel the energy come up and that loud OM. As the breath runs out, take a new breath and repeat it.

(Chanting OM.)

Allow yourself to feel the vibration deeply. Allow the body to relax and expand with this chanting, energy open.

(Chanting OM.)

At some point soon I'm going to bang the pot. I won't tell you when. I want you to watch what happens to your energy. It may contract and stay contracted. It may contract just for a moment, then open out again. Is there a different response to the energy field if you continue to chant while I bang the pot, or if you stop. Just watch the energy.

(Chanting OM.)

(Bangs pot. Most chanting stops while pot bangs, then continues.)

(Bangs pot. Chanting resumes immediately.)

(Bangs what sounds like wood. Chanting continues.)

Again, may we hear what you experienced? No right or wrong experience; just whatever you experienced.

Q: Towards the end I found a lot of humor in this, because it reminded me of a haunted house with all the banging and moaning!

Barbara: Others?

Q: My experience is that if I did the OM at a higher tone, similar to being in the upper chakras, I was able to ignore or rise above or handle the interfering sounds much better because it was more like I became one with the higher tones and the noise sort of disappeared. But the noise is also disturbing, but less so with the higher OM.

Barbara: Did your energy contract with the first sound, and then opened out again?

Q: Yes, and focused on the higher tone. It increased my ability to focus.

Barbara: So the higher tones were more helpful in [opening.]

Q: If I had been a lower OM, I know I would have been angry!

Barbara: That's very interesting to me, because of course I don't hear the tones at all. Did other people experience that? Anyone else have that experience?

Q: I felt very jarred by the tones, and actually my OM's were low. I didn't actually try that. But there was a huge discrepancy between my OM's and the sounds. And as much as I tried to stay steady, I felt very jarred.

Q: By the other OM's?

Q: No, by the sounds.

Barbara: Others?

Q: I had a hard time opening my energy, anticipating the first sound.

Barbara: After I spoke and said I was going to do it, you contracted even before I did it.

Q: Me, too. I was flinching as you picked up the pot.

Barbara: Aaron says, that's perfect. That's the point he wanted to make, is how much of the reaction is in the habit energy, even when there's no sound. He says we're going to do this again, and sometimes you're going to have your eyes open, and sometimes I'm going to actually hit it, and sometimes I'm going to pick up the pot. And you're going to watch now how the habit energy plays into it. So it's not just the actual sound, which is the stimuli of this moment, but it's the anticipation that contracts us.

Q: I found that the minute you hit the pot the first time, I no longer trusted. And so my eyes immediately opened and I did the remainder of the exercise with my eyes open. I could not do it any longer with my eyes closed.

Q: I quit! Opted out.

Barbara: Was it a loud noise? Unpleasant. I pulled pots out and Aaron said, no not this one, not this onethis one! Others?

Q: My body started to shake as the sound was produced. Eventually I could not chant any longer.

Barbara: Even when the pot was down on the ground?

Q: No.

Barbara: So the tension was held in the body, anticipation.

Q: I'm not sure … I think I went into hiding very deep within myself or something like that. I wasn't aware of tension so much as … I think it was more like absence.

Barbara: Withdrawal? Somebody mentioned anger. How many of you felt anger?

Q: Irritation.

Barbara: I can't hear it and I was the one doing it, and I felt an angry kind of energy come up. OK. We're going to do this again, this time with your eyes open. A few minutes just of OM, watching me, eyes open. And I'm going to pick up the pot, and I might hit it and I might not hit it. I want you to watch that whole movement"Oh, she's picking it up!" Putting it down again. Watch the energy field, how it's open, then it's closed. What invites you back into opening again?

(A enters the room. Waiting for A to be seated.)

A, we are OM-ing. Allow your energy field to open, and then the catalyst of banging on the pot. Watching the energy field contract. Eyes open so you're watching me. Sometimes I'll pick up the pot and not hit it. So it's not the sound itself but the anticipation of the sound that contracts. OK.

(Chanting OM.)

Eyes open, but let them be soft, kind of half-closed, body at ease and relaxed.

(Chanting OM.)

If you wish, expand it into that [om-ma-hum sound], you can do it either way, it will be different from one to another.



(Bangs pot once lightly.)


(Bangs pot. Chanting stops, laughter.)

Come back to the OM, see if it settles your energy. What allows expansion with that experience of contraction? Right there, can you find the expanded state, which still exists? It's not one or the other, but both are there, like the depth of the water and the waves on the surface. They're simultaneous.


If I pick up the pot again, your energy will probably contract. Can awareness watch contraction, not move into so much of a separate self? Again, it's like floating in the water, a snorkel mask on, and on the top it's raining, drip drip drip drip. But leaving your snorkel tube out so you can breathe, you put your face down. It's quiet down there. No rain. The rain is real, and the no-rain is real.

When I pick up the pot again, watch contraction without judging that contraction. See what allows you to move from that moment of contraction back into the expanded state even while the body is still reverberating from the contraction.

(Chanting continues.)

(Side two of tape.)

(Side two begins with the same buzzing as side one began with. It continues for about fifteen minutes.)

Barbara: Another thing I'm quite curious about, all of you can hear and most of you can probably sing harmoniously. Here was my voice coming into it, probably quite discordant and weaving up and down, and so forth. Did that create a jarring sound for you?

Q: No … the blending of the voices kept changing. Sometimes discordant, sometimes very harmonious. And it was kind of interesting just listening to the change.

Q: Your voice was not discordant to my ears. Or, I don't think to anyone's.

Barbara: Interesting.

Q: I thought, I felt it was like connecting with everyone's voice in some way, is what occurred to me, as it moved around. It kind of touched on everybody.

Barbara: Aaron is asking two things. Can you see the power of habit energy that contracts the energy and body when I pick up the pot? Can you see the possibility of resting in spaciousness even though that habit energy comes through? Let Aaron speak.

Aaron: I am Aaron. You all have that chanting harmony in your lives, and you all have people walking around banging pans. As soon as you've settled into the peacefulness, somebody, something is going to come along and bang. This is how life is. There are cranky children, or the car that won't start, or the fellow worker chomping gum across the way.

Resting in spaciousness, resting in awareness, is not too difficult when the mind and body situation are quiet. My dear ones, you are always resting in awareness. What changes is not that rest in awareness but the presence that knows resting in awareness. Awareness aware of awareness. We might phrase it, consciousness aware of awareness. Consciousness can only pick up one object at a time. If the object is banging or aversion to the banging, you lose track of the awareness. But you can practice to reinforce, to nurture the habit energy, that when it finds itself contracted, answers, "Where's spaciousness?" and invites a return to spaciousness, not in denial of the unpleasantness of the present moment but simply making the choice for spaciousness.

Sometimes the noise comes from within. The mind that's so full of thoughts, of plans, of judgments, it's the same process. You can get caught up in wanting to quiet the mind, or you can just let the mind roll by and come to that already existent deep, still place. You don't cease to notice the busy mind, it's just ripples on the surface, nothing to fix. When your energy field opens in that way, you literally step outside the karmic field.

So that habit energy, habit energy that most of you experience most of the time, bang (bangs pot), contract. And the [second] habit energy, contract, aversion or judgment, the contraction around the contraction. The first contraction is simply a result, a knee-jerk kind of movement. This happens, that comes up. The associative quality of the mind. As long as you think you must fix that contracted state or thought, you're getting swept into the story of it, and further buried in contraction. But when there is mindfulness that can note "contracting, contracting," remind yourself that you do not choose to live in that contracted space and ask, "Where is spaciousness? Where did I put it?" You can find it right there. Not all the time, of course, but most of the time.

Certainly there is some karma in that initial contraction, but it's not so involved in intention, it's just habit energy. There's subtle intention of course, but when we bang the pot (bangs pot), there's no intention to close up, there's just contraction.

When there's no thought of solid separate self, who is having this contraction, who is judged for having it, who has to fix it, there's nothing left to maintain the contraction and it will go. So that first contraction is somewhat irrelevant. Eventually it will stop coming. Until then, one just notices it. But what I call the contraction around the contraction, which is the intentionality that latches on with judgment or aversion and perpetuates the habit energy, this is where the flow of karma comes in.

Working mindfully, this is where you can find freedom. I want to repeat this because it is so important. You will not find freedom by seeing the contraction that comes up when we merely lift the pot and spoon. When judging mind says, "No, no contraction," [cries] aversion, "Don't bang the pot," it's just contraction, it's just aversion. It's habit energy.

You have a wonderful field of snow out there. If I lined you all up at this glass window and took a few of you outside and started to throw snowballs at the window, with you right there with your face against the window, could you stand there without flinching and have the snowball hit the glass inches from your nose? Could you do that even if you were 100% assured that it was a fully shatterproof glass? I don't think so. If your nose is pressed to the glass and the snowball comes right to your face, you will at least blink your eyes. It's just habit energy.

When awareness notices this contraction with an ease, just noting "contracted, tension," and if judgment comes up, note judgment, it's just another snowball, you don't build into that solid self, and without the solid self, the whole karmic field begins to dissolve.

I want to pause here and see if you have questions or some examples of this to share from your own experience. I pause.

Barbara: Are there questions about this? Do you understand what he's saying? The whole idea of the contraction around the contraction, or the spaciousness around the contraction.

Q: The contraction that is the cause of you banging on the pot is not karmic, whereas the contraction around the contraction is?

Barbara: Not quite, that first contraction is karmic but it is a very easily released karma. It's just, if I talk about it in this way, some of you will understand this terminology, some of you may not. It's just the expression of the skandas. The skandas, these aggregates of self, so-called, the body, feelings of pleasant, unpleasant and neutral, thoughts, perceptions, consciousness. It's just them playing themselves out. If you touch me with a pin, I'm going to pull away. It's just the expression of the skandas. There is only karma where there's intention. There's still some subtle intention involved in that contraction when I pick up the pot, but most of it is just conditioned in the mind and body. It doesn't go deep, so it is a very easily released karma. But it becomes solidified when we bring in all the self and the judgment.

Do you get this? Does this make sense? Anybody have any examples of this from your daily life?

Q: A year or two ago I realized that when I was startled by whatever, my habitual reaction was to swear. And so, I wasn't real crazy about this habitual reaction, and I tried to observe that when it took place, and have done a pretty good job of gradually being able to minimize that habit. My question, I was trying to change a habitual tendency that it sounds like Aaron said was just a minimally karmic reaction. Am I interpreting that correctly?

Aaron: I am Aaron. It's a strong habit energy. Catalyst, and the response, swearing. What is hidden in the chain is that something comes between catalyst and swearing, or at least it used to when the habit energy started. Perhaps anger or fear. Then the swearing is a response not so much to the catalyst but to the experience of discomfort, of fear, of anger. So it became your habitual way of releasing the tension of that fear or anger or discomfort, not having to confront it. You've probably found that as you bring attention to the swearing and to the intention to substitute a different response, the only way you can do that is to be more present with whatever discomfort has arisen with the catalyst. Are you with me so far? I pause.

The important step here, then, is recognizing that the response is not directly to the catalyst. The habit energy that needed to be attended was the fear, discomfort or anger, and as you attended to that, then the habit energy was able to fall away more easily. Not with force, but with more ease. Then it was no longer carrying karma, it was just surface habit energy. Can you feel the difference? I pause.

Barbara: Others?

I had a very informative experience this week. You all know about the process that's been ongoing with my eyes, and the need to go back and have them retested. When they check my eyes, sometimes they inject a dye into my veins that runs immediately up and into the eye. So the dye comes in and click click click, bright lights, and they take pictures of the inside of my eye.

I don't know exactly what the dye contains, but it contains something that provokes nausea. So I've got about thirty seconds while he takes the pictures and suddenly I'm overwhelmingly nauseous and I start to vomit. He's got the pictures taken by this point. I spend ten minutes vomiting and we're done.

So this third time, I noticed the third time we had to do this particular kind of test, as soon as the doctor said, "We need pictures today," my stomach started feeling (Barbara makes a sound indicating nausea). I wasn't down there in the picture room, nothing was injected, it was just the body responding. So I sat there and meditated, making space for the body discomfort, for this acute reaction that was coming up, and acknowledging, yes, there is a physiological reason why vomiting might occur because this is some kind of a poisonous substance, not terribly poisonous or they wouldn't use it. But poisonous to the body to the extent that it creates this physiological reaction.

But I could see how I was compounding it with fear, with anxiety, with "don't want to vomit, don't like to feel nauseous." And that there was the real possibility to just feel nauseous, to just vomit. Not to hold the pattern of it in the body. I could feel how much I was holding the pattern in the body because of the fact that I was so nauseous just at his suggestion of pictures.

So I went down there, he injected the stuff. By the time I went into the room I was no longer nauseous. He injected the stuff, I became nauseous, I vomited, but there was no tension. I wasn't holding it in the body, it just passed. Like stepping in a wet puddle and for a second it's cold and wet and then it's gone.

So Monday was the fourth time that he suggested pictures. And as soon as he said "pictures," I could feel this nausea starting to come up. I sat and meditated for a few minutes and quieted it. I invited the body really to feel gratitude for the possibility of this test that can give the doctor the information he needs, not to view this stuff as poison. That it was something alien to the body but it was temporary and it would pass through very quickly. The nausea and vomiting only last for a few minutes, it's not an ongoing thing. In ten minutes I feel fine.

So he injected the stuff, and I felt a little bit nauseous, and it passed. There was no vomiting. It was very interesting to watch that, that the body really had released that pattern. It doesn't mean that there won't be vomiting the next time, but for this time, the body was able just to be with this substance flowing into the vein and not get trapped in it. I could very deeply see the shift in karma there.

Do you understand what we're saying? Do you have questions? We would like you to watch this very carefully in the next two weeks. When there is the catalyst, and you see it, like somebody cutting you off as you drive, or whatever, maybe that pot and spoon, watch the contraction and watch what allows release, what allows you to come back to that spaciousness. What solidifies it further. What holds you into that (sound effect) more and more tense self. Do you understand the homework?

No right or wrong to it, you're not bad if you move into the self, just watch it. And ask, right now, what would invite more openness? Remember, it's not open/close, it's like a dimmer switch. What would allow a bit more openness?


(Tape ends.)

Copyright © 2005 by Barbara Brodsky