ACHIEVING INNER BALANCE
DAY ONE - BREATHING LESSONS
Your goal today; mastering a technique known as belly breathing, which should be highly effective in helping you realx. The belly breathing exercise below, adapted from Hendricks, will Maximze the flow of oxygen into your body by teaching you to breathe deep down in your diaphragm instead of high in your chest. To begin, either sit upright or lie down with your spine straight; this allows the greatest respiratory flow. Now relax a moment. Place your hands an inch or two above your waist,
your fingers extending across your abdomen below your rib cage. In hale and exhale several times, feeling the abdominal muscles tense and release around and behind your navel. Now consciously
slow your breathing, taking five seconds to tense the muscles and five to relax them. Repeat this a number of times. then rest about 30 seconds.
Now close your eyes and feel your abdomen with your hands. Breathe in deeply, feeling your belly expand. Then breathe out, feeling it fall and relax. Inhalation and exhalation should be connected in a smooth, circular pattern. Keep breathing in and out slowly and deeply for several minutes, feeling the rise and fall of your abdomen with your hands. when yo've had enough, rest quietly for a few moments.
Practice belly breathing once or twice a day during the program. then use the technique whenever you want to decrease stress and increase relaxation.
DAY TWO - EMPTYING
For big gains in centering, you must enter a meditative state in which you can patiently focus on your inner self. Toward that end, you will now master the technique of "emptying", in which you clear your mind of distracting thoughts and emotions. Once your mind is empty, you wil be able to seek the guidance of your spontaneous, intuitive self.
Before you begin, take a shower, or at least wash your face, hands, and feet. then put on freshly laundered, light-weight, loose-fitting clothes.
Now practice the belly breathing excercise from Day One. when you are completely relaxed, sit with your spinal cord erect and continue to focus on your breath. Feel its continuous presence as it
rises and falls against your abdominal wall and moves millimeter by millimeter through your system. Breathe in as quietly and slowly as possible, so that if somebody placed a tiny thread in from of
your nose, it wouldn't budge. Exhale even more slowly. Leave a tiny pause (or even hold your breath a moment) between each exhalation and inhalation. This fixation on your breath will stop
intrusive thoughts. Inevitably some feelings, impressions, or physical sensations will invade, but let them float away int he movement and rhythm of your breath. Eventually your thoughts will slow to a few per minute.
Now close your eyes and focus on the sensation of purity and emptiness. If you would like a visual mape to help you capture the sensation of emptiness, you may envision an unblemished field of
snow or an endless screen of soft white light. Let the emptiness wash over you completely for several minutes, draining your mind.
DAY THREE: BALANCING ACT
Mastering breathing and emptying will give you the peace and silence you need for the bone marrow work of centering-balancing your body and mind. To help you achieve this goal. Day Three taps
an aikido-based guided imagery exercise adapted from George Leonard's "Inner Enery Workout".
An hour or so before you begin your session for Day Three, please have the instructions below recorded on a cassette tape. (You may record the instructions yourself or have them recorded on a tape by a close friend) Remember to have the reader pause where indicated:
TO GO ON CASSETTE:
Stand up and spread your feet at about shoulder width, settling into a strong and comfortable stance. With your left palm touch your abdomen an inch or two below your navel-the physical center of your body. Run your hand gently over this area for about a minute. Focus on it and feel at home with it.
(PAUSE FOR ABOUT THIRTY SECONDS)
Now you will release tension by shaking your hands hard in front of your, your wrists relaxed, until your whole body vibrates. As you exhale, make an extended vowel sound such as "ahhhhhhh" so you hear the vibration in your voice and feel it resonating in your chest. Now drop your hands limp in front of your, then let them float up as if in warm salt water. As your hands rise, bend your knees slightly, lowering yourself into the warmth of the salt sea. Feel your buoyancy. Form a beach ball with your hands and give it a gentle push across the water's surface.
Now stand up straight again. Shake out your hands once more and let them drop limp to your sides. Close your eyes. Make sure your weight is evenly distributed between the heels and balls of your feet; shift your weight slightly forward and back and side to side, balancing, as if fine-tuning a distant radio station. Your knees should be neither locked nor bent, you're acat relaxed yet poised to spring. Now make sure your head is balanced. Let your jaw hang open. Release the tension in your tongue, eyelids, forehead, temple, scalp, and back of your neck.
Breathe sharply in as your raise and tighten your shoulders. Exhale and let them down like soft, warm chocolate. Feel the chocolate slowly melting down your back, shoulder blades, arms, and hands. Feel it moving down your rib cage to your diaphragm, melting your internal organs and pelvic region. Feel the chocolate melting down your legs, past your knees, to your feet, warming the surface beneath them, melting them into the ground. Feel the embrace of gravity holding you to the
earth and the earth to you.
A few hours after the recording has been made, retire to your room and go through the belly breathing and emptying techniques. After completing these warm-ups, play your tape.
DAY FOUR - THE INNER CIRCLE
The circular drawings call mandalas (check your local library if you are not familiar with the mandalas) have long facilitated self-discovery. In Tibetan Buddhism, people focus on mandalas as
an aid in mediation and concentration. Carl Jung had his patients draw mandalas so they could see their problems from a broader perspective by prjecting them onto a universal form.
Many experts believe that the empty field of the mandala resembles a movie screen upon which your unconscious projects your inner live. As you express your inner self through the mandala, a new
sense of balance can emerge.
Before you begin this exercise, retire to your special room and go through the belly breathing and emptying techniques. Then take a piece of white paper, 12 inches by 18 inches or larger so you won't feel constrained. Lay a plate or a pot lid atop the paper. Outline the plate with a crayon, colored pencil, paintbrush, or any colorful drawing tool. Then take out the rest of your crayons,
paints, or pastels, pick a color, and draw something inside the circle. Spontaneously create anything you want. Immediately do two more mandalas. Afterwad, gaze at the patterns while thinking
nothing. Don't try to figure out what they mean. The process of creation helps you down the path to the unknown self.
DAY FIVE - SEEK THE INTUITIVE SELF
Once you're feeling balanced, your search can advance inward toward the self. On Day Five you will learn to tap your intuitive powers through an exercise adapted from intuition expert Helen Palmer. As you learn to focus your concentration and awareness inward, Palmer says, true intuition will replace your erroneous impressions of the world.
To start your session for Day Five, go to your special room and practice belly breathing and emptying techniques. Then select a single situation, person, or event that you want to focus on. Choose an image or impression to represent your choice and focus on it fully. Just be alone with the impression, forming as deep and relaxed a relationship with it as you can for several minutes. Become one with the image and with whatever it represents. As you repeat this process, you'll become much more attuned on a deep intuitive level to people, places and things.
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