Inhale the fullness of being
Last Saturday in this space, in a column I submitted about breathing, the focus of the exhale was in releasing, surrendering, emptying.
That is good foundational spiritual practice to support letting go of ego-identification (not ego function, which is part of being human, or spirit having a human experience). However, it is only half the picture. It is the via negativa (“Not this!”) that is complemented by the via positiva (“This!”).
The exhale can be an opening into the emptiness of presence, and the inhale can be an opening into the fullness of presence. This is good foundation work, but we still return to the human condition, which is neither everything nor nothing, but their expression in individuated, finite form.
The human condition is our opportunity to manifest the formless in form, or rather, it is the opportunity for formless presence or spirit to express itself in human form, that is, to individuate itself in a way that does not lose touch with its sacred ground of presence.
The word “individual” is from the Latin, meaning “not divisible,” but the esoteric, inner, essential meaning of the word is not about some separate thing, or even soul, but a unique, essential expression of the one self or I am presence. It is not divided against itself, and it is not divisible or separate from source or ground. The oneness of presence individuates in/as the oneness, wholeness, and integrity of the human individual. This is not automatic but takes work and intention, even though essentially it is an effortless expression of our true nature. The inherent oneness of presence, and Its innate propensity to individuate, is a deep expression of the sacred mystery.
For the human being, this amounts to awakening out of identification with form, even subtle form, awakening beyond being a separate individual, just as it is awakening beyond the rational, dualistic mind. The individual awakens to being a unique individualized expression of presence, just as the rational mind awakens to being a rational expression of nondual mind. This is the principle of “transcend and include,” or again, “being in but not of,” so that we are neither merely transcending and dissociating from our humanity, nor merely enmeshed in our identifications and circumstances.
The “not this!” means that we are not any “thing,” and the “this!” means that we are a living expression of the “no-thing.” It is up to you to live this in your “own” life. No one can do this for you, just as no one can live your life for you. But it is more than a matter of individual choice or will; it is a matter of recognition of the prior truth, the mystery, the presence.
On that foundation, here are two practices to explore. The first one can be done lying down on your back, where your body is completely relaxed, with your back supported by the earth beneath, and your front wide open to the heavens. On slow, deep, conscious inhales, gently receive the downpouring I am presence through the crown of your head, into your heart, and filling your whole body and being. Pause comfortably on the retention of the breath to let it settle in. On the exhales, completely release out through the crown. The whole practice is an expression of aligning with source presence, incarnating into human form, and also releasing identification with any form.
This first practice sets the foundation for an exhale as releasing, surrendering and emptying. The second practice is done sitting or standing, and the exhale is about unconditionally radiating outward in all directions — as unique creative expression of the one, not as egoic “self-expression.”
On the inhales, receive the downpouring blessing of the I am presence (as light, love or however it expresses) into the heart and filling the whole body and being. Pause comfortably on the retention of the breath to let it settle in. On the exhales, radiate that presence into the world from the heart, in whatever way your essential individuation is moved to express. This is the radiance of presence in human form. Yes, it is not perfect, but with intention and practice, it goes beyond egoic reactivity, inflation, greed, and all the rest. Try it out.
Ed Hirsch leads a small group in various practices to deepen into presence. If interested, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Email 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Sally McKirgan at email@example.com.