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By Michael Doko Hatchett
The aim of all health and healing is to find what releases the stress and tension from our bodies, hearts, and minds. Stress is both the cause and result of poor digestion of food, sense impressions, thoughts and intentions, and of our deeper attitudes and beliefs. For health and true peace, we need to be able to ‘digest’ all that we meet. Stress won’t allow that.
Because of stress, we are frustrated and often looking for a quick fix or solution to ‘everything’, or we are disheartened and feel helpless. Our bodily-intelligence gets exhausted from these two extremes and consequently disorganised. Tension throughout the body and mind (and emotions) piles up, and we lose the communication and good sense that exists in a balanced body/mind. Then our choices are never good, nor are our abilities to see clearly what is needed to turn ourselves around. In this state, we never really understand what is happening and what we need. We are never ‘quiet’ or patient enough. This is called a ‘Rajasic’ body/mind environment in Ayurveda. One that just wants to seek, to move, to get something…more, more, more, or less, less, less, with little real wisdom. It is a deep and fundamental agitation based upon misapprehending our Life, Light, and Love.
Simply put, we need to notice the way we are approaching our ‘problems’. Otherwise, the narrow desires and goals that arise from our cycles of confusion, over-intensity, or insensitivity will go unnoticed and we will never meet with body/mind harmony. If we really ‘stop and see’, we will see that the real answer is in being peaceful with our body and its difficulties, and with our emotions, thoughts, and desires.
As the great Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh says: “There is no way to peace, peace is the way”
Specific remedies and therapies from wise guides are often important, but please understand, that if you do not surrender to this realisation of the need for peace and clarity within yourself, then stress and tension will always result. Remember - the aim of all health and healing is to find what releases the stress and tension from our bodies, hearts, and minds. So, for good mental and physical digestion we must remove the ‘un-peaceful’ factors from our approach.
The Buddha said that all suffering has one root. It is a mind without peace. A mind that succumbs to the habits of ‘Attachment, Aversion, and Ignorance’. They are called the ‘Three Poisons’. In simple terms, too much attachment makes us too restless – the confused grasping of Vata. Too much aversion makes us too intense – the aggression and desire for control of Pitta and Ignorance makes the body/mind too dull- the Kapha tendency of unawareness, and unresponsiveness.
Someone may say that they have poor digestion, reflux, weight issues etc. and they have tried everything to fix it, but what leaps out at me is not the details of their specific ‘problem’, but the strong presence of one of these three ways of being. They are either ‘too restless, too intense, or too dull’, and no matter what they do, until they step off their particular unseen merry-go-round, nothing will help. Anything we do to assist health and healing, no matter how much money we spend, who we see, where we go, how many miles we run, will imbalance us.
There are the only three real obstacles to being able to take care of ourselves and others. In fact, it is one obstacle – a mind without peace. In all my clients and students, stopping and seeing, and admitting their own lack of peace is the true turning point. Seeing the answer to their question “I have tried everything, why aren’t I feeling better?” Finally understanding that it is not enough to seek to cleanse the physical accumulation of toxins brought about from poor digestion, the quality of approach that led us there must also be cleansed. This is not a ‘side-issue’. It is central.
A mind full of self-awareness is thus the key factor, and like the body, it needs steadying, cleansing, and building to work well. This is where meditation comes in. Buddhist meditation is essentially the practice of ‘stopping and seeing’ with warmth, patience and precision. It is coming back home into the body/mind, eyes open, and beginning anew. To find our feet steadied in the present moment. To be with the opportunity for a new and wise direction. The Three Poisons cannot flourish in the present moment. The present moment is what turns the mind away from seeking an ‘answer’ and into finding your Path.
A simple Meditation practice:
"Seeking nothing / Finding the Path"
Sit up straight. Find a balanced, inspiring posture. Chin tucked in slightly, shoulders down.
Breathe in and smile
Breathe out and smile
Breathe through your nose, deep into your lower belly, in a natural deep rhythm.
Softly let the stomach fill up- like you are filling a balloon behind your navel
Allowing the in-flow to expand in all directions
Soften- relax the stomach muscles in all directions, particularly feel the downward letting-go as you slowly exhale with the whole body-mind in all directions. Empty all the way out……
Inhale……Exhale, letting go completely.
Thoughts will come and go. Do not engage with them. Gently exhale all the way out.
Eyes can be closed or open. If you have them open, don’t stare at anything, let them fall in front of you but be unfocused- a wide ‘peripheral’ view
Do this in the morning and evening anywhere from 10 mins to one hour.
REMEMBER - Seek nothing. Find.