Breathing practices

Marrow Breathing Meditation Experiments

For the last month I've been experimenting with what I would call Marrow Breathing Meditation. It's a technique of meditation where you use your breath to connect with the marrow in your bones and use it to generate Chi and more blood cells. I learned about it when I read a book on Qigong practices that focused on this topic. While the book was mostly theoretical, I have enough experience with Taoist meditation practices that it wasn't hard to figure out how it should work and adapt my practices to explore if the marrow breathing meditation could work. 

How to work through Internal Blockages in Relationships

conflict A lot of the focus on internal work is typically oriented toward the person working inward on whatever tensions, blockages, etc. come up. However I think it's also worthwhile to look at internal blockages as they show up in the relationships you have with people in your life. Internal blockages are bound to come up by the very fact that any relationship brings with it conflict. Such conflict can either become rooted within you, festering as resentment and anger, or it can be worked through with each side feeling acknowledged and honored. I prefer the latter approach, but I know the former approach all too well, as does most any other person. It is all too easy to let emotions fester within, especially when it relates to other people and if you are in a situation where it feels impossible to find resolution with the person, it often feels like there can be no closure at all. However, I think closure can come about, regardless of whether you have it with the person or without.

The way you recognize an internal blockage with a given person is quite simple. Think about the person. What is the emotional response that comes up when you think of the person? Do you feel you can express that emotion to the person? If you find that what you feel is negative and yet you also feel you can't easily communicate to that person what you are dealing with is an internal blockage which effects the relationship. That internal blockage will always be there until you work through it. It will show up more when you are interacting with the person, but it'll also show up when you think about the person or remember an experience. Such an internal blockage can cause you a lot of pain and create divisiveness in the relationship if you are still in touch with the person. If you aren't in touch with the person, it still gives that person power over you because of how they make you feel.

There are a couple ways you can work with such blockages. If you are in contact with the person, what you can do is use meditation techniques that help you to be present with the emotions and dissolve the tension around those emotions. For example, I like to use the Taoist water breathing meditation, which dissolves blockages and tensions. As it dissolves those blockages and tensions, it release the emotions, which gives you a chance to work with the emotions. you might find that you enter into a dialogue or replay a memory, but do so in a manner where it provides a solution. Another technique, which can be useful is a variant of the Tibetan Chod technique, where you create a thought form that represents the blockage and ask it what it wants and needs. Then you feed it what it needs, in order to transform it into an ally. That ally can provide you useful information for resolving the conflict with the person.

In the case of the above techniques, you are still in touch with the person and have some type of relationship with them. To get optimal benefits from those techniques you should plan on having a conversation at some point with the person in order to discuss what came up as you did the dissolving work. It may not be an easy conversation, but it will be ideally a liberating one for both of you. But what do you in a situation where you can't contact the person you have issues with?

My suggestion is to do a banishing ritual. I've posted before about several types of such rituals you can do, where you banish the person from your life. The value of such rituals is that you create closure of yourself by destroying any remaining link between yourself and that person. After doing such rituals, I've found that I feel much better emotionally, because I no longer feel tied to that person in the way I did before. in fact, I don't feel an emotional response to the person. I know because I've actually run into a couple such people, after I did the banishing ritual, and instead of feeling the anger and hatred I'd feel before, I felt nothing. Indeed, if anything I felt empowered because I as no longer letting them have any control over me.

Regardless of what approach you take, its important to recognize and deal with the internal blockages that come up in context to the relationships you have. By recognizing and working through them you free yourself of unhealthy attachments that keep you and those relationships in a place of dysfunction. It is better to find closure than to continue to hold onto such blockages and the tensions they create.

Non-attachment and desire

HarmonyI've been re-reading Relaxing into Your Being by B. K. Frantzis and redoing some of the exercises. I find that it can be easy to take exercises for granted if you do them long enough without really checking in on the source material you drew them from. In my latest reading of this book, the author made a point about how you can cultivate non-attachment and still feel desire and passion for life. I thought it was an interesting point and he further clarified by explaining that when you feel attachment to specific outcomes, what you feel is a reaction to the attachment, something that is obsessively pursued for the sake of the attachment as opposed to genuine appreciation or passion. And I find from my own experiences that this is indeed the case. I have been obsessive at times in my pursuit of specific experiences, in a reactive, non-reflective way that has been more about trying to satisfy an urge as opposed to really being present and understanding the urge. And my pursuit has always left me feeling unsatisfied and more empty than before and yet I have continued on as if the next experience will somehow be different. It never has been.

This is why I've made some changes in my life that I never would have entertained before a couple of years ago. I've come to recognize over time that so much of my behavior has been habitual behavior focused on trying to satisfy an attachment. And all this as really provided me is a sense of loneliness and emptiness that has left me more hungry, more starving, like a Hungry ghost, with a tiny mouth and a bloated belly that can never get enough, and is compulsive about trying to get something, anything, into its belly, without really savoring what it is having. I have recognized these behaviors in my sexual appetites and in my eating habits, and I haven't liked the results or the person I have been.

My choice to recognize attachment and obsession for what it is and then to step away from it and cultivate non-attachment hasn't been easy. It's been on-going work for almost ten years, and in all that time I feel like I've only really begun to make progress in the last couple years as a result of making some lifestyle changes. And yet I find that making those changes hasn't deprived me of the joy or passion that I can feel. I still love to write and paint and practice magic. And I still enjoy food and sex. If anything I enjoy them more because I am no longer pursuing them obsessively, but instead I am choosing to be mindful, to appreciate my experiences, but not be attached to the feelings around the experience. And I am continuing to cultivate non-attachment because it is helping me be more mindful of of my environment and other people.

I don't associate passion with attachment precisely because it is possible to feel passion and not be attached. When I paint a painting, I feel passion for the act of painting and enjoy it as an expression of creativity. I don't feel attachment because it's not something I feel a "need" to do. And I recognize that if I feel a "need" to do something that I should examine that need closely and ask what it really is. Is it a compulsion, something I am doing to try and fill something or is is it a genuine need that needs to be addressed? There is a distinct difference and understanding that difference helps immensely when dealing with attachments. And I recognize that passion, when healthy is a joyful expression of life that doesn't drive a person so much as it supports him/her in the experience.

Some thoughts on Daily Practices

The other day I was asked about the daily practices I do and when I do them. It was a good question to ask. My daily practices consist of a mixture of physical exercises and meditations. I think that physical exercise is an absolute must and I've always been puzzled that its not something implemented by more magicians, but I suspect that in such cases the people simply haven't realized that physical exercise is spiritual in its own right and that the importance of taking care of your body can't be understated, as your body is the medium by which you experience this world.

My physical exercises consist of Stretches followed by several Tai Chi practices, and then followed up with 5 sets of ten push-ups, 2 sets of 10 Sit-ups, and 2 sets of 10 leg-ups. I also walk on 3-5 times a week, depending on my schedule and the weather. It's not the most rigorous exercise I could do, but it keeps me in shape, and my body seems to genuinely like it.

My meditations consists of Attuning with Reiki each, Raising Psychic Heat in my body, and doing the Zeroing Meditation combined with a Taoist Breathing meditation. I also do an evening silent meditation with Kat. In the past I have done other daily practices. I change my daily practices on occasion to keep me focused and disciplined.

I find it helpful to do daily practice at specific times of the day or when specific events occur during the day. For example, Kat and I typically do our silent meditation before dinner each night and I do my daily practices in the morning, when I first wake up, or soon thereafter. Keeping on schedule helps me stay disciplined and makes the rest of the day more enjoyable because I've followed through on the daily practice.

If you do a daily practice long enough you will find that you crave it and that the days you don't do it will be days where you are less collected and focused. A daily practice brings stability, a focal point, and awareness of a person's space and time in the world.

The occasions where you don't feel like doing your daily practice are occasions that you must push through and do the practice anyway. You will always feel better afterwards and you'll know that by being disciplined you'll have accomplished the single most important thing you can do that day: You took charge of yourself and chose to be responsible in caring for yourself enough to do the daily practice you needed.

If you aren't doing daily practice in your magical work I recommend it. A daily practice builds reserves you can draw on when you need them and helps you stay focused in times of trouble.

Book Review: The Spiritual Dimension of Music by R. J. Stewart

This is a fascinating book that explores how music and magic can be brought together from a musician's perspective. The author discusses how you can use your voice, but also touches on musical theory and even types of music and instruments best suited for music magic. If you don't have a background in music some of the material will go over you head, but there's still a lot you can get from this book that can be applied to your magical practice. The author also provides some useful exercises that help implement the theories he presents. If you are a musician who practices magic I recommend this book, but if you also want a different perspective on magic this book will open your eyes and ears!

A recent healing experiment

One of the areas of magic that I find most fascinating is healing work, especially the healing work that is challenging and can't be resolved right away. Currently I'm working on an injury my wife had received years ago from a car accident. She experienced really bad whiplash that damage one of her nerves and ended up getting a Titanium plate inserted into her neck. Nonetheless her neck is consistently sore and tense, as is her upper back. It's the kind of challenge I like because I know it involves some detailed work that doesn't deal with even just the physical issues, but also underlying energetic and emotional issues.

I've been working on her for the past few weeks and we've already seen some changes in her energy level and in her muscles, in terms of the stress and tension that is in them. And not surprisingly, I've also helped her work through some emotional tensions that have been locked into the tension and stress she's feeling, including working some of the trauma of the accident that she hadn't faced.

My techniques have included a combination of Taoist massage and energy work, as well as using energy techniques of my own invention. I massage her neck lightly with the tips of my fingertips, while also pushing energy into her neck in order to start dissolving the tension. I pull out unhealthy energy and then replace it with healthy energy, using a pulling technique I've come up with. I've also synchronized our breathing while I'm doing, to put her into a mild meditative trance that allows her to focus on any emotions that come up as I'm working on her. Consistent work has made her muscles much looser, but I'm careful about it, because I am working with her neck and there's ten years of pain and tension that I'm dealing with.

While I'm working with her, I'll sometimes bring up impressions I get from the work I'm doing. A Few days we talked about the accident and how she felt afterwards as a result of impressions I was picking up. This proved to be helpful for her, allowing her to release some of her anger and fear from that experience.

Initially when I worked on her, it made her neck hurt more, which makes sense because we were starting to release both physical end emotional toxins. She's noted that after I work on her there is a release of physical toxins. We're making slow progress, but I figure if I consistently work on her I'll be able to get rid of the majority of the trauma over the next month.

A couple of upcoming classes

I have a couple of upcoming classes. One is a local class, for those of you who live in the Portland-Vancouver area and one is a Teleclass. Details Below: Breathing Meditation class

In this class, Taylor Ellwood will teach you Taoist breathing techniques that you can use for meditation and for achieving closer connection to your body. Knowing how to breath correctly can help improve your health. You will learn:

  • The Fusion of the Five Elements breathing and how you can use it to help you work with negative emotions and release them
  • The Taoist Water breathing technique which can help you dissolve internal blockages
  • How to use your breathing to attune yourself to your body’s consciousness.

When: July 9th at 1pm at New Awakenings Bookstore 404 East Main Street, Battle Ground, WA 98604 RSVP: 360-687-7817

Space/Time Magic Course

Space and time are two elements of our lives that we live with and use every day. In the classic models of magic, these elements are not overtly included. In this class, I will show you how to integrate both of these elements into your magical work. You will learn why its important to factor time and space into your magical workings, as well as how the inclusion of these elements can radically change your understanding of magic. You will also learn:

  • How movement and space can be used to construct sacred space.
  • How to manifest multiple possibilities using sigils.
  • How to create a sigil web that maps your life in terms of space and time.
  • How to work with your future and past selves.
  • How to work with alternate selves and learn from them.
  • Free e-book version of Space/Time Magic included! 

Space and Time are two elements that we can’t ignore if we want to really understand magic. This class will help you take your magic to the next level.

To RSVP, go here

Letting Go

Kat and I came back from Pantheacon to one of our cats dying. It's certainly not the homecoming experience we expected to have, and we've been grieving as we've also been getting him ready for his next journey. Something we've both said to him is that it's ok for him to move on. And we both mean it, because we don't want him to suffer. But we also still feel attachment (quite naturally) and so we're also in this process of letting go of him. We don't want to let go of our memories of him, but we want to honor his passage and need to transition. So letting go for us is recognizing that need to let him move on and honor that passage without clinging to him and making him stay longer just because of us.

I've been doing some meditation and breath work on this as I've been letting go of my attachments to Caspian. I'll admit that I've only known him for 8 months, since we first moved him up here, but in that time I've come to love him and consider him one of my furkids. Letting go has involved releasing that energetic connection to him, in part to give him some healing energy to aide in his passing, and in part to give myself closure to his place in my life. With each breath I've allowed myself to grieve and to release, To honor and to know.

In magical work it is urged that a person doesn't become attached to their results. This is wisely done, because when we get attached, we can become obsessive about what we desire. Learning to let go can mean that you also let go of your need to have control and recognize that it can be just as powerful to step back.

I'm letting go of Caspian but I'm not forgetting him or his significance to my life. He'll always be one of my cats, no matter where he goes...just as I'll always be one of his humans. But by letting go of him in this moment, I can help him pass with peace.

Dream work update

I've been continuing to do the Dream Yoga work each night. Consistently my dreams have focused on issues that I'm currently working on via other forms of internal work. I've lately been focusing on the positions that you need to enter into when you got sleep, and when you wake up at different times of time, in order to facilitate more lucid states of mind while dreaming. Combined with the breathing technique I found its easier to remember the dreams after I've woken, as well as be consciously aware I'm dreaming while in the dreams. The dream work is proving using for the internal work that I'm continuing to do. One possible avenue that I'm goign to explore is purposely planting a suggestion or focus for the dream, that wouldn't focus just on internal issues, but could even be used as a way to connect with the consciousness of the body. I'll keep people updated with what I find.

Dream Yoga work

I've recently been integrating into my dream work, dream yoga techniques from Tibetan Buddhism. What I've mainly done for the moment is breathing techniques that you do right before you go to sleep. I like to integrate steps of a new practice gradually. Kat's also doing this practice. Even though we've just started with this first step, we've already noticed that we've been sleeping a lot deeper and that the sleep is more restful.I've also noticed better dream recall and more awareness of the dream. I'll post further reports as I continue to integrate more steps in, but it always fascinates me to see how even doing one step of a process can produce changes, provided you're consistent about doing it. I think that consistency is what makes anything you do effective. You can be a really powerful magician, but if you don't exercise the magical muscle, it won't mean as much as the person who diligently practices and follows through.

Book Review: The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

This book provides what I would consider to be the best practices of lucid dreaming and dream practice. The author doesn't focus on the psychology of dreams, though he does provide some insights on what dreams can reveal about issues you're working on. Instead the focus of this book is on how the techniques can be used to help you release attachment to those issues and achieve a state of connection with the universe, without being drawn back to samsaric existence. It's a very good book to read, but an even better one to do the practices. I've started doing them and already noticed some positive results. I'd recommend this book for anyone interested in learning more about Dzogchen and for anyone who wants to use dream yoga for spiritual and physical well being. You can purchase it at Amazon (Affiliate link) or Powells (Affiliate link)

Endorphin

Endorphin is a guy in a jogging suit. The symbol he gave me is a fleshknot that has a tripod base, with each part of the tripod rising to twist around the other two parts. He causes pleasure, notable in runner high, but also in meditation and experiencing something new, but he also opens doors of possibility. At the same time endorphin warns about being overused because it can cause addiction. The sensation of endorphin is a tingling feeling...and also a feeling of flow. Book Review: Taoist Yoga by Charles Luk

I found this book to be an insightful read into Taoist internal alchemy, however I'd also say that anyone reading it needs to have at least a couple years experience to even begin to get the concepts discussed. What I found was that the book provided greater clarity about some of the different exercises I'd already done, but I also realized that if I didn't already have experience with those exercises, I probably wouldn't get what the author was discussing. It's a useful book to have for an intermediate to advanced Taoist meditation practitioner. 5 out 5

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Embodiment magic

A while back I'd written about some of my experiences with Laban, a form of physical movement. My main purpose for studying Laban was to learn more about the spatial realities of the body as well as how it moves through space, something I considered essential for really getting the methodology of paratheatre, which Antero Alli writes about quite a bit. Since I don't have access to Mr. Alli's classes on paratheatre, utilizing Laban, which admittedly provides a much better explanation of physical movement through space, proved essential for being able to integrate paratheatre into my magical practice. Recently I decided to try out my first paratheatre ritual. I've recently been doing some internal work around intimacy and my issues with being intimate and also being in relationships (friendship or otherwise) where there wasn't much intimacy. I thought it might be useful to embody intimacy or at least try to, using paratheatre. I felt that integrating my body fully into the embodiment was essential for really communicating with my subconscious about intimacy and the issues surrounding it.

I felt very vulnerable when I invoked intimacy into my state of no-form and began to move. In a sense I felt like a child, innocent and unsure of myself, experiencing something for myself that I wasn't really certain of. Intimacy for me involved opening up and so I initially started out very shielded in how I positioned my arms and legs and gradually I began to loosen them and from that loosened my body up further, gradually allowing myself to feel a state of what I would consider to be gentle warmth. Sometimes I would hug myself or gently touch my shoulder or leg. I wasn't striving to be sensual, and I didn't feel that way. But I did feel intimate with myself in a manner that invited myself to be gentle and loving.

As I experienced this feeling of intimacy I paid attention to thoughts, feelings, and whatever else came to my experience that would help me communicate with my issues around intimacy. I learned quite a bit about how I sometimes make it hard to accept what someone wants to give, but also how much I've picked relationships with people (friends and lovers) that didn't necessarily invite intimacy into my life.

When I was ready, I put myself back into no-form and grounded the sensation and feeling of intimacy...but after the working I also felt more comfortable when my partner offered it to me, and also was more aware of what has informed my tendency to fantasize about intimacy. I'll definitely be using paratheatre in the future for some of my internal work, and I have to say that learning about Laban really did help with integrating paratheatre into my magical practice.

Recognizing and changing patterns

I was talking with Kat recently about patterns, specifically the patterns of behavior each person has, as well as the patterns that occur between people. It seems to me that each person does have specific patterns of behavior that they act out, and also have specific patterns of behavior that occur in the relationships...kind of a behavior DNA, but some of these patterns will occur with any partner, because people will seek out people that fit the level of chaos and dysfunction within their lives. These patterns can change, but usually involve doing some internal work that helps you identify the root cause of the behavior. Occasionally they'll also change because a catalyst will enter your life and the shock of that experience will cause a change in the pattern. Some patterns of behavior are good and some are dysfunctional. One of the ways you can recognize a pattern of behavior and analyze is to look at the overall history of your life for patterns of behavior you've acted out. For example, one pattern of behavior I had until the mid twenties was a tendency to try and date people I knew would reject me. What those people got out of that pattern I can't speak to, but for me it was based on a root belief of abandonment and figuring it was better to know I'd be rejected then take an actual risk, and in an odd way this behavior makes sense, but it doesn't lead to a lot of happiness.

One of the best ways to discover patterns in your life that you don't like is to identify what you regret. The emotion of regret usually indicates that you've done something you'd like to change, but spending some time looking at the circumstance(s) can help you identify the pattern of behavior. Once you've identified it, you need to trace it back to the root experience. It's in that experience that the behavior pattern was first formed and its in that experience that it needs to be resolved, because the pattern of behavior is based off the reasoning of that initial pattern. At the same time its useful to also revisit other iterations of the pattern and find resolution for those moments as well. By finding resolution you can conclusively change the behavior. To find resolution, its useful to do a pathworking meditation where you revisit the moments where the pattern of behavior showed up and then changed what happened with new behavior that you want to act on.

We are only at the whims of our respective behaviors if we choose to do nothing about them. Once we consciously recognize a behavior that is unhealthy, it is our responsibility to change that behavior instead of continuing to act it out. And once it has changed, life does seem to get better and simpler.

The illusion of control

I've been doing some internal work lately and one of the issues that has arisen has been about control, specifically the control a person has in his/her imagination vs the control s/he has in reality. If a person feels that s/he has no control over circumstances in his/her life, there can be, sometimes, a tendency to utilize imagination to create scenarios where a person has complete control, but when you replicate those scenarios in life, you find out you actually don't have that much control. I'm one of those people who's had that realization at times, and when this happens its usually a good indicator that I'm reacting against the lack of control I felt I was dealing with. Problem being that even when I acted out the scenario I still didn't have control and if anything it was emphasized how little control I had, in regards to myself. I recognized this particular pattern of behavior recently when I started examining how I've used imagination to provide a feeling of control as it pertains to my sexual identity. And I've realized that this issue goes to the core of my sexual identity, back to when I was raped, because I had no control then. It's replicated itself in the relationships I've been in, but until now I never fully acknowledged how much my tendency to fantasize has come about as a direct result of my initial experience, and a desire to have control as a safety mechanism to protect me from having such an experience again.

Yet no fantasy can really replace life or the experience of it...and there's much less control in the experience of life, and under the right circumstances much less need as well for such control. In fact, it seems to me that the need for control is a result of the lack of self-control a person has (something which is his/her own responsibility), though it can also arise from a situation where a person was made to feel s/he had no control. As I continue to do my internal work and take responsibility for the different dysfunctions of my own life, I find that I need less control of anything else, because I have control of my responses and as long as I have that, then control of anything else ceases to matter. Or rather, more to the point, by taking control of my choices and actions, I can choose how to handle situations and be grounded in that, regardless of how things turn out. In the end the only control you do have is that which you exert over your actions, and your ability to consequently navigate through situations by understanding what you can choose to contribute or not to them.

What do you think?

Book Review: Wonders of the Natural Mind by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

I highly recommend this book as an excellent introduction to the Bon tradition of Tibet. In this book the author explains what the Bon tradition is and how it differs from Buddhist beliefs and practices. The author explores in depth the foundational beliefs and practices of the Bon tradition while also explaining how they can be meaningfully applied to the life of the practitioner. What I like is that its also clear that this tradition has its own perspective on emptiness, which I found useful for getting a new perspective on it. Overall, I recommend this book for anyone serious about doing internal work.

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Working with the monkey mind

One the issues that comes up in mediation is what Buddhists call Monkey Mind. It's that troublesome voice that starts saying random messages to you and distracts you from meditating. For people who are trying to achieve a state of no mind, the monkey mind is particularly troublesome because its a reminder that your mind isn't in a place of no-mind. What sometimes occur is that people will attempt to repress the monkey mind, but this usually makes it come back swinging. There's a reason for that: It's trying to tell you something. Instead of repressing the monkey mind, which is ultimately a futile effort, it's better to work with it. And by that I mean it's better to start a dialogue with it. When it brings up a random issue, ask it why it brought up and start exploring it mentally. You'll usually find that it leads you to a source of stress and concern in your life. So you can continue to try and ignore that source of stress or you can work with the monkey mind to resolve the source of stress. Mind you, the monkey mind will raise lots of questions and concerns, but that's why it's there. It's a filter, an agitator, and it won't go away until you've addressed its concerns.

When I work with my monkey mind, I use it as a detector of issues that are bothering me. Sometimes its helped me discover some really deep issues, such as my fear of emptiness and most recently a tendency to fantasize in order to fulfill intimacy needs. And that's what makes the monkey mind so useful. It challenges me to be aware of my issues instead of trying to ignore them.  I like that because then I can proactively work on those issues via meditation instead of letting them build up and be acted out in my life. So the monkey mind is actually your friend, not your enemy. Make friends with it and find out what it can teach you.

Meditation and the relationship to the body

I've been doing a lot of research and practical applications of meditation from various spiritual systems, and the one thing I find consistent is that for meditation to really work, there must be some interaction with the body. The body is the gateway to experiencing meditation, which makes sense as a meditation is really an altered state of physiological consciousness. I put it that way, because it seems to me that there is a tendency to discuss and conceptualize meditation as a state of mind or consciousness that is separate from the experience of the body. But you really can't separate the body from meditation, because you are rooting yourself in the experience of changing your physiology to accomplish an altered state of consciousness. This is why breath plays such a role in meditation. Breath is the key to accessing the body and bringing it into a state of physiological receptivity for an altered state of consciousness. By focusing awareness on the breath a person becomes aware of the body and can slow it down enough to enter into an altered state. Or alternately a person can do some kind of excitatory activity to achieve the same level of awareness. In either case, the body is the foundational core by which meditation is achieved. It's worth remembering that if you want to make meditation a part of your tool set.

How to use breath work to undo physical stress

I've been feeling some physical tension in my shoulders and neck lately, and decided to do some breathing meditation to help me undo the tension and stress. I've found that using meditation to do this has been very helpful in allowing me to undo a lot of physical stress. The way to utilize meditation to undo stress is to focus on feeling the physical sensations of stress, while also focusing on your breath. The normal inclination is to avoid pain, or ignore it. But ignoring pain or avoiding it isn't really a solution and ultimately can lead to further problems. Learning to sit with pain seems to go counter to every instinct we have, and yet by sitting with your pain, and feeling it, you can actually begin to undo the cause of the pain. I breathe in and as I do so, I bring my attention to a focal point. When I breathe out, I guide my attention to the stress point, and begin to massage it, visualizing whatever I needed to visualize to help me understand the tension I feel. I breathe in again, drawing more attention and energy to a focal point, and then breathe out, releasing it to that place of tension, where it continues to work to untie the tension I feel.

Within a few breaths I can feel the pain begin to loosen it's hold as muscles relax and unclench. I feel the pain, but instead of letting it define me, I define its healing with my breath. It continues to loosen up because the breath work provides a rhythm to approach the feeling and releasing of it. Memories and emotions may arise with the release of physical tension and stress, and I will sit with them as well, acknowledging and feeling them, so that I can learn and let go.

This is how I undo physical and sometimes emotional/mental stress. I use my breath and consciousness as a tool. I choose to feel the pain, to embrace it, and thus release it, because I no longer feel compelled to be held down by it. Instead of avoiding it, which actually increases its hold on me, I surrender to it, and in surrender come to understand it, and thus come to peace with it. And all it involves is breathing and focusing your awareness on the tension you feel, so that you can gradually loosen it and let it go

Sex magic, grounding, and body work

Last night I got into a conversation with a friend of mine who does a fair amount of work in the sacred sexuality scene. We discussed, among other things, a tendency for many sex magic workers to not use proper grounding or shielding because they wanted to let all the sensations in. We noted, in the end, that it seemed more about the sex and less about the magic. Today a post I read prompted me to think how easy it is to separate sex from actually sitting with the body, and why that in itself may also be an issue for ungroundedness and too much focus on sensation. I find with sex magic that there is a very real difference between sex magic and sex. I'll be the first to admit I love sex. I enjoy sex for the sensations and pleasure and the opportunity to please someone. And sex for sensation's sake is great. I love having great sex and focusing on the sensation.

Sex magic, OTOH, is different. It's a deliberate choice to raise spiritual energies, work with entities, do energy work with partner(s), and do a variety of other activities that ultimately are focused on some kind of magical work. And while there are many sensations to be experienced, focusing on the sensations is actually a distraction from the magic. I find that sex magic practitioners that focus on the sensation generally tend to be very scattered. I probably wouldn't work with them precisely because of that.

This isn't to say that sensation can't be used as a tool for sex magic, for it certainly can. I find BDSM useful for that reason, because I can actually have the person I'm topping take all those sensations and focus them into a journey/experience that produces the desired change. And even plain ol' vanilla sex sensations can be used for the same purposes, provided the people understand that it's not so much about feeling the sensation as it is about directing it.

When sensation becomes the reason to do sex magic, it isn't sex magic. It's just sex with a superficial layer of spirituality dashed on top as a way of adding a spiritual dimension to it. There have been and are plenty of gurus who in fact have done just that in order to get laid.

When I go into a sex magic situation, while I may enjoy the sex, it isn't the primary reason for being in that situation. The primary reason is to raise energy using sex and do something transformative with it. At the same time, I know that at some point the magic will finish up and I need to ground myself. Also throughout the experience, I need to use the appropriate shielding and energy work techniques to not only focus what I'm doing, but not introduce any undesirable energy into the working, no matter how good it might feel at the time.

Now let's bring this back to the body. Another I've noted is that many people use sex to escape sitting with the body. The sensations experienced during sex don't necessarily put you in touch with your body, so much as allow you to escape from really being with it. Why? Because sex is really about experiencing an altered state of mind and body. While the pleasure and sensations can actually be used to put you in touch with your body, they can also be used to as a distraction from your body.

I find that the body, when it comes to sex magic, and even sex in general, is both one of the greatest distractions, in terms of sensation, and also one of the greatest tools for grounding yourself. Using breath work during sex, for example, can help you focus on the magical work, but can also help you get rooted in your body so that you fully feel it, both during and after sex.

Sex alone won't help you feel comfortable with your body, though it may help some. Ultimately what helps for embracing the body is learning to sit with it and experience all of it, the pains and pleasures, the changes that result as you age, and also getting into some kind of physical activity, besides sex, that gets you out of your head and into your body. I've found that becoming comfortable with your body really enhances everything you do, because you are intimately aware of how your body responds to your surroundings. It grounds you and makes you more aware of the present.

Review of Cosmic Fusion by Mantak Chia

I found this book to be useful in terms of understanding Chia's approach to Taoist inner alchemy work and integrating more of the practices into my own work. At the same time, it seemed like this was just a much more convoluted version of the Fusion of the five element techniques, with a lot of extra and somewhat unnecessary steps included. I found that I needed to boil away a lot of the extra steps and once I did so still was able to achieve the desired and expected results for doing this practice. I'm not sure the material presented in this book warranted an entirely new book. It's still useful material and worth learning in order to refine your inner alchemical work.

3.5 out of 5

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Update on Laban and Space/Time Cellular work

I've been continuing to integrate Laban into my morning meditation/workout. I've mastered all the basic stretches and I'm now incorporating the dimensional movements into what I'm doing. I'm noticing subtle differences in my awareness of my body and how I move. My core is getting strengthened and my sense of balance is improving as a result. I've also found that Laban has helped me hit some useful meditation states, in terms of connecting with the consciousness of my body on the level of the body. However, I've also found it useful to continue pursuing my work with time and the body on the cellular level, with my meditations. Instead of trying to create a unified body consciousness with this approach, I've focused on simply interacting with each cell as its own consciousness, but also focused on working with the way they communicate with each other, with an emphasis focused on the cell's own sense of time (cells have their own internal clocks, which actually integrate into the overall sense of biological time). I've used this work to synchronize the internal time of the cells, thus far. There's more to be done, but that's where I'm at.

Changes to the website

You may have noticed that over the last month I've changed the Magical Experiments blog into the the Magical Experiments website. These changes have partially arisen due to changing life circumstances and also because I'm getting more active again in my magical work. I've changed the wordpress theme for the site, to reflect these changes. I'm now offering Tarot readings. I use the Elemental Hexagon Deck, which uses the periodic table.Check out the page on Tarot readings to learn more.

I'm also offering tele-classes. The first one will be on Inner Alchemy and is an eight week course where I'll be teaching some of the methods and practices I've developed for doing internal work, as well as also teaching some Taoist breathing practices. To learn more about this class visit the classes pages.

I'm excited about the future of my own practices. Work continues apace on the new book, and I've also got a few other projects I'll be revealing at some point. I thank all of you for your support.

Review of Malice by Chris Wooding

I was intrigued with the title and layout of this book from the start, but once I started reading it, I couldn't stop turning the pages to find out what would happen. The inclusion of the comics format also really enhanced the story and drew me in further. I'm really impressed with this author's work. while it's written for young teens, adults who enjoy fantasy and SF will also like reading it. I'm already looking forward to the next book and enthusiastically recommend this one to anyone who wants to read an engrossing story.

A meditation on love

This morning I decided to meditate on love, and more specifically on a realization I had of a pattern of getting involved with people I showed interest in over the last couple of years who, in one form or another, didn't fully return the interest. This includes people I would actually have a romantic relationship with. This pattern is a variant of a pattern I used to have where I'd only get involved with people I knew would reject me. I did a Taoist dissolving technique and used the breath to lead me to the place where I felt the physical blockage, around my heart. I sat with the blockage, letting the breath go in and out, and around the blockage, gradually loosening up the feeling of tension in my body. As the tension dissipated, I let the emotions "talk" to me, show me really what the issue is. In this case, I saw myself restraining myself to fit into what I thought other people wanted. I could see this belt across my body. It fit uncomfortable and it was being used to constrain and restrain me.

I decided to undo the belt. I pulled it out of it's clasp, and slipped it off. Immediately my body seemed to relax. And I heard," It's more important to be you than to try and fit yourself to other people's expectations. Aren't you tired of trying to be something you aren't?

Good advice. I am tired of holding myself back...not letting myself be the passionate, intense person I can be. I've tried to stuff myself into a box, with my relationships, instead of being true with myself and recognizing when a relationship isn't a good fit for me. And in the process I've hurt myself and the person I was trying to be a fit for.

I took the belt off and realized that I'm ready to be done with relationships where I'm trying to fit into what that person wants. I'd rather be myself and be appreciated for that, without having to constrain myself. And sure I'm willing to collaborate with someone, to figure out how we can be positive influences in each other's lives, but I don't want to be afraid that I'm too much or too intense for someone.

I kept breathing in and out, and gradually came back to this moment, this space, yet different. I don't feel so tense...so constrained.