Full Body Experience

Good Bye to the Gloom and Doom School...from George Draffan:

Full Body Experience (from MUB05: Monsters Under The Bed (retreat) 00:32:54.00 - 00:51:54.70)

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George: [Volume very low here. The sound level will increase.] I ended up in Ken’s gloom and doom school because I was, you know, gloomy and doom-y. And I was kind of half animal, half titan and half…I don’t know…animal and titan. My body was dull and stiff and kind of numb. But I was a titan, so, you know, let’s sit in meditation. So that’s the way I would sit. And the pain and the burning and everything would start to build up, and I didn’t care. Because I’m energetic and I’m pretty strong and mostly I’m really stubborn—like to the point of stupid. [Laughter]

Animal realm, right? This is the way we do it. This is the way we always do it. This is how it’s done. And if it burns I don’t care, because I’m going to meditate. And somebody else over there is moving, but I’m not. [Laughter] So, there may be…fifteen years this is the way I sat. [Laughter]

Then Ken starts in on his gloom and doom stuff. Like there’s pain; there’s suffering; there’s confusion; you’ve gotta go through it; you’ve gotta experience it fully. Well, that fit with my experience. [Laughter]

And I was getting sick, and like, you know, my back was in horrible shape. And you know, I…I’m breaking down, cause I’m not that strong. But I thought I was. And then one night up in the zendo my body just exploded. I mean, it was like Star Wars inside. And everything just went haywire. And luckily it was at night, so I didn’t have to, you know, sit there for more there for more than—how long is the night session, like, eight hours or something? [Laughter]

And so I crawled out of there. And my vision was weird and my balance was weird. And I made it back to my cabin and I laid there. And all night long my body’s just going “whew, whew, whew.” All the nerves and everything’s going crazy. And the next morning when I came into the zendo…you know, I crawled back up there in the morning, and my body’s just like “this.” And about halfway into the session, I thought, “You know, this feels kind of good.” I can actually feel my body. There’s like…I have internal organs. And if I want to sigh, I can get some air and sigh. It was like, “Wow.”

And so, if you make that gloom and doom website, I’m going to put together a team of hackers, because there’s…I mean, it’s true, you do have to experience all the struggle, all the resistance, all the pain, all the burning, all the wanting, all the competition—whatever you’re into, you’re going to have to experience that.

And you’re going to have to experience it until you get to the point where you really understand physically, emotionally, mentally, perceptually, socially—you don’t care how stuff’s going anymore—you realize that the struggle’s not going to work. The fighting is not going to work. The needing is not going to work. The dull, “Just do it the way it’s always done” is not going to work. It doesn’t work. That is what the realms are. Each one’s got its own flavor of struggle. But the whole thing’s kind of self-contained and self-referential, and it doesn’t work.

What works is giving up on that struggle. And each of you is going to have to find the way, you know, to do that. It’s not really even something to do. You’re going to have to stop struggling. If you’re dumb and stubborn like me, then you’ll wait until you explode. Or if you’re stronger than me, you’ll go through your whole life struggling and then you’ll die, and that’ll be—[Laughter]

So, that’s the gloom and doom part. How do you get to the good part? It’s better than love and light, it’s like bliss and freedom. And it’s there. I don’t care what Ken says. I’ve escaped from the gloom and doom school. I’m still hanging around with him because he gives me tools. But I’m starting to use the tools to hack into a different system. And I’m not at all clear about how to do it. I think, again, it’s giving up on some level—every level—whatever your, you know, favorite kind of struggle is. You’ve gotta give that up and die to that realm. That’s how the realms are emptied.

The only tool I think I can give you is the physical one. We call it physical. We call it the body. And then we have the emotions, and we have the mind. Well those are conceptual, you know, things that we put on them. The body doesn’t exist. This is a field of energy. It’s a field of awareness. And all the emotions, all the sensations, all the thoughts that you ever experience—ever will experience—take place in this field. It’s not like the emotions are here, and the thoughts are here, and the body is, like, somewhere, “I can’t feel it.” It’s like, there’s a field here, a field of experience.

How can you sit, so that you can feel the field of experience? And when emotions arise, thoughts arise, you can feel them in your body. That’s where they’re taking place. So, sit however you want to sit. You stay like that, and yeah, everybody stay where they are. Don’t get into meditation posture. Posture has the same root word as pose. So you find this pose, and then you hold it. It doesn’t work.

Sit how you’re sitting. Feel your spine from the top of your head to your tailbone. Just feel it. You might feel like, “Eh, nothing.” Or it might feel, “Well, I can feel my tailbone, but I can’t feel anything, you know, my upper back…” Just feel what you feel from the top of your head to your tailbone. That is kind of the central core of the nervous system that’s the communication system for this field of experience.

So feel your spine. Is there tension in your body? Does your lower back hurt? Is there that monster between your shoulder blades that just kind of lives back there? Do you have a kink in your neck? Move your spine as a whole. Don’t straighten your neck. Don’t get rid of the kink. Move your spine. And find a way—find what makes that pain worse, and then find what releases it. And play between those two points. One way to do it is by rocking your pelvis—which the guys, especially, are not going to want to do—but try it.

Feel your belly button or your pubic bone and rock the pelvis itself. What happens to your belly as you rock your pelvis forward and back? What happens to the small of your back? What happens to your shoulder blades as you rock your pelvis forward and back? What happens to your sternum? What happens to your ribcage? What’s your head doing?

When you’re moving your pelvis, is your head locked up? Or is your chin, your head rolling on top of your skull? Your spin is curved like an S. If you’ve got a kink in your neck and you try to straighten that kink, then you’ve just put a crease or a kink in your shoulders blades. If you try to arch your back—your lower back—while keeping your head, you know, slumped like that, you’ve just introduced tension. So move your spine as a whole. If your head moves, then your lower back better move, or else you’ve just put a kink in your nervous system.

Same thing with rotating. Can you rotate your shoulders—doesn’t have to go more than half an inch—can you rotate your shoulders and participate with your ribcage? Can your shoulders move independently? If they aren’t moving independently, you’re holding something, because your shoulders are only held together by a little tissue and a couple of tendons. Your collar bones are only attached in one place. Your shoulder blades and your collar bones should move independently. That will unlock whatever that demon is between your shoulder blades.

Same thing with the sternum. The sternum is a little bone that sticks down here all the way up to the little hole up on top. All your ribs are connected to the sternum. We think of it as a cage, cause we’ve built a cage. And we hold it rigid. And when we turn, we turn like that. And we bend, we bend forward like that. We’ve turned this into an iron cage, cause guess what’s behind the sternum? The heart. Guess where grief comes from? Right in between those ribs. Guess what happens if you, you know, slump? You’re shoving down on your solar plexus! Guess what’s…what emotions come out of the solar plexus? What comes out of the lower belly that we’re always holding in?

You can move your sternum half-inch in and out, encourage it with your fingers. You can actually bend there. What happens to your shoulders? What happens to your shoulder blades when you move your sternum back half an inch? It doesn’t have to be very far. And it may start to crackle and crunch. That’s cause you’ve been holding it for about fifteen years. But it actually does move, and all those ribs move independently.

So, I can go around when we go up to the next session. But I’d like you to start by sitting. Find your sit bones. Let your skeleton hold you up. Gravity, your skeleton, and your chair will hold you up. You can let go. Let your belly hang out. Let your head do whatever it wants to do. Feel your spine. Find the place on your sit bones where you can balance and all your weight is on your sit bones, and you can let go.

Five minutes later something’s going to start burn. There’s going to be some pressure. It’s cause your back is arched. Or you know, you’re, like, trying to be Mr. Soldier or something’s holding. See if you can move your whole spine by undulating it, you know, forward and back, rocking your pelvis—the pelvis is really important—or by doing the rotation thing. See if you can find where that holding is, and what you’ve gotta do to let go. And if you want to sit like this for five minutes, because it feels good to twist a little bit, then fine. You’re allowing the fight or flight mechanism—that anxiety that wants out—and you’ve been holding it back. It wants out. So if you just let your body twist a little bit, it’ll pop out.

The patterns that we’re trying to dismantle, they operate on physical, emotional, mental levels, perceptual levels, social levels. There’s a physical component to every pattern. You’re working it with your brain, with your mind. You identify it. Now you’re going to be willing to get rid of it. You’re going to chip away at it. But if your body’s like this—the pattern that you’ve held in your body, the knot, the samyojana—the knot itself that is that memory of that pattern that you’ve been carrying in your body is not going to be able to release.

So you’re going to have anxiety. You’re going to have fear. You’re going to have hatred. And you’re just holding it there. If you let go, your body wants to move. Those knots release by themselves when you have enough awareness and the field of experience is open and relaxed enough to let that movement happen. You are not going to dismantle a pattern of anxiety until your body can move the way it needs to move to release that knot. So, with so many things in life we’ve set up a contradiction, “Sit still, you know, find the pose, the right place. Sit still, and now dismantle your patterns. You know, like, release all the knots in your body…” Okay, well, you can try.

When I go around this morning, when the bell rings, you know, find that place. Take the time to find the balance, so that your skeleton holds you up instead of your muscles. That’ll work for about three minutes, and then your body’s going to want to move. Move it. Riding the bike. Riding the horse. You’re not holding still. You’re balancing. Whatever has to happen, let it happen.

I’ll come around, but I can’t ask you how you feel and where’s the pain and how long’s it been there and do you have a physical injury and all that and then, you know…I could do that if we each had an hour together. But I’m going to go around, so if you have a persistent pain or a habit of holding, if that knot between your shoulder blades is your big thing, then when I come around to you, like, point at the problem or say “Shoulder blade.” Or you know, if you’re holding yourself up all the time and your lower back is starting to go out, say “Lower back.”

So, like, identify a place in your body where there’s tension, burning, pain, you know, something like that. And I’ll do whatever I can in the context of, you know, silence and the time limitation. But the essence of it is to remember there’s a field of experience here and it has to be open. The spine and the nervous system have to communicate. It has to move. There’s energy moving inside.

When you can do that, the tingling, the burning, the fear—all those things that, when you’re in the realm, you’re struggling with them, either to hang onto them or to get rid of them, or to ignore them, because you’re trying to meditate—all that struggle, the sensations, the emotions, et cetera, in themselves, are a source of exhilaration and movement and flow. And I shouldn’t say this in front of Ken, but bliss. That doesn’t mean everything feels good. It means everything feels like “Whoa.” And, like, the pain is like, “That, you know, that is amazing. It’s like, you know, my back is, like, burning. Or something, you know, in my solar plexus keeps coming out and my jaws just keep going [pops cheek]. It’s like, Whoa, this is like an adventure.” [Laughter]

So whether it’s pleasurable or painful, there’s something…that’s the third mark of existence, right? Nothing but suffering. Everything is unreliable. Everything is suffering. Well, the flip side of that is when you let it be that way and let it flow, everything is bliss. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s pain or pleasure, it’s a full-bodied experience. It’s always moving. It’s never stuck. And it’s really exciting. And it’s actually the full-bodied experience that we’ve been looking for. That’s what the struggle is all about. Whatever you’ve been locking in and stuffing and trying to control and manipulate and keep or get rid of is—what you’re missing, that sense of incompleteness—is the full-bodied experience of the field of the body.

The body, the mind, the heart is all the same. It’s a field of experience. And when it flows—and you let it move—it’s pretty amazing. And there are problems and there’s pain and, you know, etc. If you have injuries and whatever, it hurts. But it’s different. And there’s not a struggle. It’s just whatever it is.

I’ve left Ken four minutes. [Laughter] It’s about right. [Laughter]