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Compassionate Spaces in the body, in the air, in the Other

The course upon Holy Island was truly wonderful this year. It was a great group. There was palpable energy flowing around the Peace Hall, all conducive to some excellent work.

One of the big insights for me this year has been the importance of energy in practice. It came to me one afternoon that practising meditation without working with your energy field is like having a yacht, trimming the sail, spinning the steering wheel. But not looking over the side and noticing that you’re held fast in a frozen sea. No amount of steering or trimming is going to make you move until there’s a thaw. Similarly, we sometimes practice up in the small, claustrophobic space of our heads. And wonder why we’re just rotating in the same grist-mill of thoughts.

Dropping down into the space we create between ourselves and others

The retreat was all about dropping down – looking at the level below and working skilfully there. Dropping into the body, into the emotions, into the space we create between ourselves and others and most importantly into the energy field we cultivate, invisibly, around us.

Because this energy is outside of conscious awareness it can be very sticky for a very long time. All the spiritual traditions that work with body movement, with chi, and prana, and the Tibetan energy-winds, understand that the ‘thinking mind’ is one small portion of our Being. That by opening up to greater and greater spaces we allow the energy to flow more healthily.

It’s like putting a spoonful of salt into a teacup of water or into Lake Eyrie. The more spacious the vessel the less overwhelming the experience.

Reginald Ray’s wonderful book Touching Enlightenment emphasises this important ‘dropping down’. He urges us to rethink the model of the ‘thinking brain’ as the controller and dictator of Being. But instead to picture it as the listener, the receiver of the messages that come up from the vast spaces below. All the energy, life, information is down in the body. The emotions, the interpersonal space, the universal space – the thinking mind can just float on top. Responding and listening rather than strutting around like a delusional potentate.

The image came to me of a little wood and wire structure sitting on top of the back of a massively majestic whale.

Invest in whale energy.

I’d love to know your thoughts about compassionate spaces. Drop me a message with any thoughts, comments, questions, queries or insights that pop up while reading the blog. I’d love to hear from you!

Find out more about The Mindsprings School. A series of courses created by Alistair to help you live a happier life.

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