Thursday, March 29, 2012


It has been a while since I did this practice, but it came back to me this morning while I was thinking-without-thinking about a passage for the book I'm working on, "Slow Looking." (Given that it's about my "One Hour/One Painting" sessions, my friend Michael suggests "Slow Art," by analogy with "slow food," rather than the slow looking/slow cooking word play I had started out with. Any thoughts?) Anyway, I was thinking about the straight back. I have noticed that this is one of the challenges for my small groups of fellow-lookers, and I know that it has to do in part with the physical circumstance, sitting on chairs in a museum or gallery and having sometimes to dodge around heads and shoulders for an unobstructed view. Still, we tend to associate the slouch with comfort, when in fact the opposite is true.

So I was thinking back to a straight-back technique I learned many years ago. It goes like this: start out with a comfortable posture on the floor, if you're so agile, or your chair. Once your eyes are closed and your attention is solid, think of a cord that reaches from the base of your spine down to the center of the earth, and anchor it there. Now think of another cord that reaches from the top of the spine, at the back of the head, all the way to the farthest point you can imagine in the universe; and anchor it there. And now think of gently tightening the two cords in both directions until the spine is straight. It's a pleasant sensation, and one that allows you perhaps to feel the individual building blocks, the vertebrae, parting fractionally to make space for the healing breath energy, so that the familiar stress in the spine disappears.

I spent my half-hour this morning meditating on the spine. I thought of the powerful, warm energy arising from the core of the earth and flooding the body from below; and of the cool, infinitely spacious energy of the universe flowing down along that cord and into the body from above. And I thought of those two energies meeting in their paths along the spine in an explosive, but still somehow gentle encounter. From there, they radiate out through the entire body, filling it with pulsating warmth and light.

The half-hour passed with surprising speed, and by the time the harp tone on my IPhone sounded, I was thoroughly re-energized and feeling more in tune with myself than I have for quite some time. It's a practice I can warmly recommend to a fellow meditator whose practice has, as it sometimes does, gone a little slack and tedious. Glad it came back to me, this morning.

Have a great day, everyone! And metta to all!

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