Beside Myself-Gleanings from the Vitality & Stress Course

Not quite in my body is what happens when I am beside myself –with rage, when I overeat, when I am carried away by fantasy, when I am jetlagged or otherwise sleep deprived. My attention is separated to some extent from whatever is happening in my physical location. I am told that severe trauma increases this ability to dissociate, to go away.

My pranic body is not completely integrated with my physical body. I imagine myself like a poorly registered print job, where one color is not quite lining up with the rest of the image. Whatever the benefits of this escape from discomfort, there is also the drawback that I am not able to fully or efficiently marshal my life force when it is playing hooky. How do I call it back?

One way in Kundalini Yoga is to apply myself to actions that are challenging physically, (like raising one leg up to 60° while sitting with the other leg outstretched), or mentally, something that teases or irritates my mind out of autopilot (a mantra repeated an odd number of times, some kind of tongue twister).

These actions aren’t taught just to humble us or build character. They are beneficial and doable (though perhaps not by me right now). I attempt them with more gusto when I realize that the challenge is what focuses my attention and draws prana into my body and mind. It invites my pranic body to synch up with my physical and mental bodies.

Yogi Bhajan described it this way: “We have one central nervous system. When that one central nervous system goes out of control, the re-entry of prana into the physical body is proportionately less. I want you to experience that. I want you to understand that the inflow of the pranic body and the physical body have an established relationship.” Included in the Vitality & Stress Manual (& in Transformation) is a kriya “Pranic Body Physical Body,” which specifically addresses this.

Be a Bowl

 A lump of clay sits on the potter’s wheel.  The wheel spins and the potter drops her thumbs down to open the interior space.  Forcing doesn’t work.  She allows the spinning of the wheel, the properties of the clay and her own intention to interact. She acknowledges her medium, explores it, and it responds.  In order to bring the clay up and out she must first drop down.  From that deep center her fingertips mark a spiral as she stretches.  Even after the shape is fired that spiral connects the rim of the bowl to its foot, its root.

Be a potter now.  Your body will become the bowl. It is the clay on the wheel.  Lie on your back.  Drop the top of the sacrum into the floor.  Drop the navel toward the floor.  Engage the muscles deep inside which will allow you to do this. Muscles near the surface of the body may be more accessible at first. Let them rest. Relax the abdominal organs. Relax the face and the jaw.  Access your deeper strength with great intensity.  Drop into your sacrum and stretch out from that center.  Remember the potter—she doesn’t force or even push, really.  She engages the clay and drops into it.

From that root she pulls the clay up and out. Stretch long through the crown of your head.  Firm the thighs, point the toes and stretch long through the legs.  Stretch long through the arms, the palms and the fingers and toes. Let the navel foundation and the intensity of the stretch allow the heels to lighten off the floor.  Use your deep strength only.  Back off and readjust if you notice any surface muscles of the belly or face volunteering, or if the sacrum gets uprooted.   At first the heels may not even leave the floor.  Visualize them stretching long and up 6-12 inches, or 15 centimeters off the floor.  Stretch long from the sacrum through the crown of the head, lightening the shoulders from the floor.  From the navel foundation let the deep muscles of the back raise you up to look at your toes. Arms, palms and fingers stretch long and straight and lighten off the floor to point at the toes.  Your circumvent force, the rim of your bowl, expands out from your navel center.  Relax and readjust when you reach the limits of your ability to keep the connection between your hub and your rim.