(download into iTunes)
For the Six Realms,
- Hungry Ghost,
a guided meditation by Claudia Hansson to help us detect these six realms in our ordinary lifes:
Claudia: Okay, as Ken mentioned, what I’m going to do is try and do a guided meditation with you. So, I’d like you to get into a posture that’s comfortable. For this, I would recommend probably closing your eyes.
Ken: [Whispering] Don’t forget to keep your voice down low, because your voice tends to drop when you do get [unclear].
Claudia: [Responding to Ken] Okay.
Claudia: So, let’s begin simply by moving our attention to the breath; feeling the body come to rest. Feeling relaxation in your shoulders, in your arms. Noticing and experiencing the breathing happening in the body; how the breath moves, naturally, on its own. You don’t need to control it. Finding its own pace. Now we’re going to shift our attention, keeping the breath in our awareness.
We’re going to imagine beginning our day in the hell realm. The alarm goes off; that’s your first irritant. You slam your hand down on the top of it. The alarm clock falls on the floor. You drag yourself out of bed, take your shower, get dressed. Go to have cereal and open the refrigerator, and one of the kids drank the last of the milk. You feel in the pit of your stomach a fire starts to burn. Your body starts to tighten up. You kind of slam the refrigerator door, grab a piece of toast, and out the door you go.
You get in your car. You notice it’s raining. That really pisses you off. It’s going to slow the traffic down. You make your way to the closest Starbucks to grab some coffee. You’re standing in line. There’s a high school kid in front of you. A bunch of the kids’ friends walk in the door and join ahead of you in the line. [Laughter] Now the fire in you just surges up. [Laughter] The world is out to get you. You finally get your coffee.
You get in your car. You grip the wheel. You feel tightness in your chest. Your shoulders are rigid. You try and keep a space between you and the next car. Because it’s raining. And every time you have a space, somebody cuts in right in front of you. You know they think they’re better than you.
You make your way to work. You get to work. And of course, the person that you least want to see is right in your face. And so you begin your day rigid, stuck—body angry and hot. Nothing is very pleasant about this life.
So, take a couple breaths. We’re going to begin the day again, shifting to the hungry ghost realm. The first thing you hear in the morning is one of the kids yelling, “Where’s the cereal? I can’t find the cereal! We’re out of milk!” Right away there’s kind of a wrenching. You feel your day hasn’t even begun, and somebody wants something from you. You need a little peace and quiet. You have a sense you’re not going to get it. While you’re in the shower, your partner comes in, tries to have a conversation with you. Complaining that you’re spending too much time at work, “We’ve got to have a conversation about things.”
You just want to get to work, but all these people want something from you. You feel a deep hunger in your body already, and the day has barely begun. You get in the car to go to work. You just really want a little peace. Everybody around you wants something from you. You get to the Starbucks. All the kids—happy, talking—they don’t pay attention to you. They’re not going to give you the time of day. A person in line at the Starbucks screws up your coffee drink; that’s not going to help fill you up very much.
The need in your body is starting to ache. Your need is growing stronger as you jump in the car. Nothing seems to make you feel full. It’s like your life is a bottomless pit. Everyone around you wants something from you, and you can’t get what you need. You feel the strain as you get in the car to drive. You go to pull into a parking place; somebody beats you in. They even want your parking place now. You are hungry. You just want to survive. You just want to get your coffee, get to work, do your job, and even that isn’t working very well.
The first thing in the door at work somebody comes at you with a pile of work that they want done. You want to explain that you need some time to catch up on all the backlog at work. But you know it’s hopeless. You’re never going to get caught up. You’re never going to feel like it’s done. That need is just going to keep growing. And that’s the way your day is.
So, take another breath or two. Now we’re going to be shifting into the animal realm. Your alarm goes off. You turn it off. It’s just another day. You feel, “Oh well, I’ve got to survive here. Nothing very interesting going on.” You take your shower. You eat the same thing every day for breakfast. You go outside and you notice it’s raining. “Oh well.” [You] get in your car. You drive to the Starbucks. You don’t even notice that the school kids are jamming in line in front of you. You just want your coffee. Your body feels heavy, dull, nothing coming in, nothing going out. You’re just doing what you have to do. You can’t feel your heart. You can’t feel much of anything.
You pretty much ignore everything that’s going on around you. You put your body in autopilot, and you drive to work. You don’t know what you passed. You don’t even notice when somebody pulls in front of you. If you need to put on the brakes, you put on the brakes. You can’t really afford to have your car wrecked, so you do what you have to do to survive here. You manage to get yourself safely to work. The same people are there, day after day. The same annoyances. “Oh well.” Your body’s just kind of numb. You don’t really care much one way or the other. You just do what you have to do to survive, from moment to moment.
Take another breath. Now we’re going to begin in the human realm. You wake up in the morning. You go to give your partner a hug. Just want to feel that connection with that person. And they kind of stiffly hug you back and say, “I…I had a really bad night.” [Laughter] And right away, you kind of notice a little ache in your heart. It’s like, “Well, that didn’t feel very good.”
But that’s kind of the way it is in the human realm. If you have kids, you send them off to school. They’re already fighting. You look up at the sky and you notice it’s raining, and you say, “Well, I’m glad it’s raining. It’s been dry around here. Feels kind of good.” And you get in your car, and the first thing you notice is there’s a bad accident on the road from the rain. And kind of a sadness moves over you. Kind of sinks into your body. You know somebody’s suffering. You feel some empathy that somebody’s life is going to be messed up for a while one way or the other.
You go to the nearest Starbucks. You have a clerk there that you kind of feel a connection with. So you kind of like that person…you have a little conversation with him. And they do a better job of making your coffee drink, so you’d really like to have them wait on you. So you kind of pace yourself so you know that that person’s going to be the one, so you can have that little conversation that makes you feel good in the morning. And a bunch of the school kids come jamming in the door and kind of screw up your whole plan. And you get the other clerk that isn’t very friendly and that doesn’t make you such a great drink. You kind of sigh, and you kind of feel that in your body. You sort of missed that connection. There’s a little bit of sadness there.
You get in the car. The commute traffic’s really bad, people are jamming in all around you. You can feel yourself kind of getting frustrated with the whole situation. But you know, that’s kind of the way it is. Some days are better; some days are really crummy. You get to work. And you have people that you really care about at work that you’re really connected with. And one of those people comes up to you and says, “I need to talk to you for a few minutes.” Sits down and tells you that they’re moving on. They’re going to move out of town. They’re going to be quitting their job, and they’re going to be going away. You feel in your body right away that sense of loss. You know it’s hard to keep those friendships active when people leave. Your heart aches a little bit. You start grieving before the person even leaves.
And that’s the way it is in the human realm. You want those connections. You want to have a little fun, a little enjoyment in life. But nothing is permanent, and things constantly keep shifting. And a lot of sadness sort of flows in and through your body.
So, take another breath.
Now we’re going to begin the day in the titan realm. You wake up. This is an important day. You need to get to work. You’re going to be doing a presentation. And you’re going to be really good at it, because you want that next promotion. So you’re all business this morning. You get yourself dressed and you pick your clothes just right, so you’ll look really good. You grab something quick to eat. You notice it’s raining, but you’re not concerned. You know you can handle that. You feel strong. Your body feels good. You feel a sense of power moving through your body. You get in your car. You notice there’s maybe an accident on the road. And you think, “Well, those people probably weren’t paying attention. But I’m careful, I can do this.”
You get to Starbucks to get your coffee. Bunch of school kids start to cut in on you. You just walk right in front of them. [Laughter] You’re powerful. You’re not going to put up with that. You get your coffee. You make sure it’s made the way you want it. Because you tell the clerk that’s making your coffee exactly the way you want it—so it’s right.
You get behind the wheel of your car. You feel good. You feel strong. And then you look over in the lane beside you, and you see somebody with a brand new, beautiful Lexus convertible. And there’s a little pain that rises up, cause you know you’re not quite at the top yet. You’re good. And you’re going to do it. But that person, they probably’ve got it. So there’s a little bit of envy that starts to move in your body. And you can feel that. It’s like a burning desire.
You want it all. This is a juicy world. And you want to get it. So, you’re moving with all the energy you can bring to force to get what you want. And you’re pretty much going to step on anything in your way. So, there you are in the rain in your car. Somebody starts to hedge in. “Oh no, that’s not happening in my lane!” You step on the gas, and you move forward. And you feel that kind of surge of pleasure that comes up when you’ve done it. You aced them out! And it feels really good.
You get to work. And you get ready for your presentation. And another person who’s doing a presentation the same day—and you know they’re your competitor—and you kind of look to see what they have. And you kind of notice that one of their ideas is pretty good. So, you tell them, “Oh, that’s, that’s…yeah, that’s good…” You don’t say too much. But when you get in to do your presentation, you just casually bring out that idea into your presentation. You steal their thunder, and you do it really well. So when they get ready to make theirs, they’ve sort of lost their little pitch. When it’s over, you feel really good. Because you know you were the shining star that day. And that’s how your day goes in the titan realm.
Take one more breath.
Move into the god realm. You don’t have an alarm clock. The cook’s already in the kitchen, taking care. The nanny’s dealing with the children. You don’t have to worry about that. You just wake up naturally in the morning. You run the company. So you get in when you feel like getting in. You feel a sense of real luxury around you. You take your time getting dressed. You have a huge walk-in closet. Lots of shoes and lots of clothes to choose from. You take whatever you need, whatever you want. You’re very confident. You know that what you do is really good. You get yourself dressed.
You get in your luxurious car. Or if you don’t feel like driving, you have your personal assistant drive you to work. When you get to work—you run this company. Your decision is always the right decision. You’re confident and you know it. In your body there’s a sense that you’re just on top of the world. You don’t notice who works around you. You don’t have to go to Starbucks, because people bring you coffee. So you don’t have to stand in any lines.
This is the god realm. Everything is wonderful. And you feel that surge all through your body. You’re right. You know it. You don’t have to listen to anybody else. And you don’t. And that’s the way your day is in the god realm.
Take a few moments to come back to your breath. And gently open up.