By Michael Kane
not much of a sports oriented kind of guy, but I recently noticed some similarities between playing Basketball and moving
forward with an intention or goal we might want to accomplish. Achieving what we want in life, our goals and dreams, is a
lot like playing basketball. When a player gets the ball and needs to get the ball up the court and into the basket (our intention
or goal) he has to start right where he is. He or she has to be present and grounded. At some level of consciousness the player
also knows that anything can happen between him and the goal and isn’t even sure if his journey up the court will achieve
the outcome he desires. But he also knows that there is no chance of fulfilling his goal if he doesn’t take the first
step. As the player moves up the court things begin to move very fast and he has to
rely on his experience, instinct and the ability to let go and move with the spontaneous flow around him. Confidence in his
skill helps him to make clear and quick movements. But of course very few things can be accomplished alone. As well as his
own skills he also has others on his team that he can rely on to help get the ball up the court. To achieve our goals and
intentions we need to be willing to accept help from others. In the end whether he makes the basket or not he has gained experience
during the journey and is more prepared and skillful for the next goal. He has also made a few friends along the way.
So how do we create a plan to move toward our goals and dreams?
First we need to create an intention, one that can shift and move with the changing nature of life. Next we need to ground
ourselves, know where we are and our capacity. We need to be willing to take the first step and open to any fear or resistance
that may arise. We need to be willing to accept help and support from others. We need to let go and move in a different direction
when life seems to be pushing us in that direction. We may not always get what we originally wanted but if we are willing
to be fluid and spontaneous we will surly be ok with whatever outcome arises and have fun doing it. There are infinite ways
to any destination. Enjoy the ride.
Illuminating The Unconscious
By Michael Kane
When we sit and "stop" we have
the capacity to see the unseen, the hidden unconscious becomes conscious. Have you ever been in a crowded noisy room
and tried to hear what's going on around you, it's not easy. But if everyone in the room became silent you would begin
to hear many sounds in the room that you were unaware of. It's the same with natural meditation. Because your stopping
and allowing everything to be as it is, your mind and body begin to settle naturally and you begin to notice thoughts, feelings
and stories that you were previously unaware of. This is truly seeing and has the power to illuminate the darkest
parts of ourselves as well as those parts of us that bring more joy and contentment into our lives.
We can begin to see how these unconscious experiences, that are usually below the surface, effect
our every day lives and how we act and speak around others. We can see our urge to push away and hide from those things that
we perceive to be unpleasant and grasp onto those experiences we want to keep. For most of us this judging and preferencing
is happening below the surface and creates suffering for us. Why? Each time we judge something good or bad, right or wrong,
pleasant or unpleasant we are creating an argument with the way things are. The tree does not hold on to its leaves when fall
comes or yearn for them to return in the spring. There is a natural flow at play and we are part of the flow.
good news is that all we need to do to reenter the flow is stop and listen to what’s arising; to see clearly the unconscious
stories and begin to open to the natural pendulation (the natural movement of contraction and expansion) of life. Then we
can begin to rest as awareness and be comfortable in our bodies and in the present moment.
By Michael Kane
I'm sure you've seen or herd the
cd's or courses that say; "learn to meditate in three easy steps" or "buy this course and learn to be calm
and serene in 30 minutes or less." While calm and serenity happens, it's not what meditation is about. Calm and serenity
are effects of meditation, not the rule. It wouldn't be honest or authentic if I told you that meditation is about being
calm. If you believe that meditation is about being calm, then every time you sit down to meditate and you experience a restless
mind or unpleasant feelings you might think; "this is not working" or "I'm doing this wrong" and if
this continues you might just give up, thinking; "this meditation thing doesn't work for me, I can't do it".
In truth, when we meditate we are allowing everything to be as it is without the need to change or resist anything.
It is this kind of surrender that creates the "effect" of calm and serenity. When we allow everything to be as it
is, our thoughts begin to thin out and our emotions and feelings freely flow without interference. At the same time, we are
able to see more clearly the nature of mind and experience as it moves through our awareness.
Another misconception is that meditation has to be difficult or structured. While it's true that some schools of
meditation are tightly structured and take part in practices that can seem quite difficult, this is only one view of meditation.
In its simplest form, meditation is a way of resting as awareness. It helps us to see more clearly the arising and passing
away of experience and to come home to the present moment and ourselves. There are many forms of meditation, from just sitting
in nature to sequestering yourself in a cave for a year, but the foundation is still the same - simply being.
last misconception is the belief that meditation takes away life's difficulties - it doesn't. What meditation does
offer us is the capacity to meet life's challenges with openness, patience and compassion without being overwhelmed. We
learn to pause before we react and create the space to work with what arises. It's like being on the shore and watching
the storms pass by without being lost in the storm itself. There will always be challenges in life, how we meet them is the
There are certainly more misconceptions we haven't talked about, but that's enough for now. If you
have any others you can think of or questions about meditation let me know.
Opening To Our Natural Condition
By Michael Kane
Many of us have forgotten our natural
way of being, the way we experienced life as a child, new, naked, unconditioned and completely free. The key is that we didn't
know any different, we didn't think about it or try to be any different. It was just natural. From time to time we still
experience this natural way; when we see something that "stops" us, a feeling of boundlessness, like the ocean,
a sunset, a special place like the Grand Canyon or just being in nature can bring us home to ourselves. But in the moment
we experience this openness we usually don't remember that it is our true condition, we think that it is what we are seeing
or hearing that is causing the openness. But the experience is happening in you, in this body. How can it not be you? If it
were caused by something external then when you closed your eyes it would disappear, right? But it doesn't, why? Because
it is our own capacity to be free and open that we are experiencing, this is conscious spirit.
To help understand
this natural way of being we can use an analogy of sky and clouds. Even though we are not separate we will break ourselves
down into mind, body and spirit. Our conscious spirit, our natural condition can be seen as a boundless
infinite sky, unconditioned, no end or beginning, no up or down, not good or bad; pure without definition. This body and mind are the clouds, that which is conditioned and impermanent; sensations, emotions, sounds, thoughts, even our sense of self, what we call our ego, all arising and passing through the boundless sky. This is the
nature of being an embodied human. But what happens is that we forget that we are the sky and start to believe we are the
clouds which are conditioned and impermanent, its like being in the fog and not remembering that its just vapor.
Sometimes it can be difficult to see clearly, to be present, we might feel like we are in a storm, a storm of difficult
emotions or thoughts. In this situation we are literally the "I" of the storm. In these times of being completely
overwhelmed we can simply notice our breath, rising and falling or we can walk outside and be in nature listening to the external
sounds around us. Being in a larger open space can help us to feel less contracted and trapped. This can be very helpful until
we can feel present again and notice a bit more spaciousness.
When we can just stop, rest and allow we find ourselves
here in this present moment where we have the capacity to rediscover our true nature as awareness, as sky. When we are present
in this way we can start to use wisdom to find our way home, wisdom is like a ray of sunlight that pierces through the fog
or storm we are in and shows us what is true, that we are not the clouds, we are not our feelings, emotions or thoughts but
the boundless awareness that these experiences arise and pass through.
Coming Home To Yourself
For many years my work with people, both one on one and in
groups, was about awareness, present moment awareness and being here, in the now. But again and again I found it challenging
for many students, clients and even myself to open fully to this very moment. What is it that doesn’t allow us to be
in the moment where life happens, to be authentic and fully alive? One word kept rising up: resistance. It seems any time
we are feeling uncomfortable in the moment, not able to be fully present, we can drop into our body and there we will find
resistance, either subtle or pronounced – A resistance to this moment or what is arising in this moment.
wasn’t until I started to explore deeply the process of Emotional Connection, a natural process, that I fully understood
why I, and many others were not able to be comfortable and fully present in the moment. With the EC process I began to explore
resistance and its effects on our lives: physically, mentally and spiritually.
The EC process created a new set
of tools that merged seamlessly with my own teachings and gave me the capacity to help my clients and students unfold into
this moment and to be more comfortable in the body. Let’s face it, if we feel safe and comfortable in our bodies and
in this moment, we will feel safe and comfortable in the world and with others.
Part of being comfortable in this
body means having the capacity to listen to what wants our attention, including emotions, sensations, energy and thoughts.
If ignored, resistance can create a form of toxic energy in the body. So the spiritual process and the process of healing
end up being mostly about resistance and expansion. A process of seeing resistance, welcoming it and
letting it go when it dissolves, as well as embracing emotions and feelings when they arise. When we surrender to all that is arising with a non-judgmental loving awareness, there is a greater capacity
for expansion and contentment in this moment and in the body.
There are three
main tools I use as a teacher and a counselor to help open to resistance and create expansion: Meditation, which strengthens
our capacity to be aware and present; Loving Presence, which gives us the capacity to gently hold what ever is arising and
the EC process, a direct experience of what is arising in the body. Together, these make up a potent set of tools to help
you come alive.
So lets take a moment to check in and explore the process. First let go of any thoughts that may
be arising. This is a direct experience of the body, we feel first, think last. See if you can open to this moment and the
body. Scan your body; are you comfortable? If you notice any resistance, bring a gentle, loving attention to it, surf it and
any other emotions or sensations that arise until you notice an expanded state. But before you move on, stop for a bit, allow
yourself to surf the expanded, open feeling. Notice if there is any resistance to feeling expanded. If there is, surf that;
if not just rest as awareness. This is truly learning to be comfortable in the moment and in the body with both resistance
and expansion, with all experience. Enjoy the ride.
A Magical Space
By Michael Kane
We can replace the shadow of our over stimulated, conditioned mind and emotional system
with an open space of wisdom, acceptance and curiosity; a magical space of expansion and mystery. This is the way we
once were as children; everything was new, vibrant and exciting. This was before we were told what to fear, what to believe
and not to believe. At some point we began to believe the mind stories that now limit us from doing anything that remind us
of a painful or scary experience. If we continue to live in this limited way we only re-enforce our conditioning and continue
to condition those around us, especially the young ones.
This doesn't mean that we ignore the feeling of danger, become reckless and do things that might
be dangerous or unsafe - that's where the clarity of wisdom comes in handy. We know what's safe without being driven
We can notice our conditioning if we are paying attention. We might go for a walk in the woods
with our kids or grand kids and feel very uneasy, saying to them; "don't do that", "be careful", "we
should go back". All the while, not being able to experience this time fully and joyfully.
moments we can do three simple things. One, be aware of what is happening in your mind and body. Two, if there is a thought
that is limiting you, let it go, surrender that thought. Third, surf all the emotions that are arising without needing them
to be different or judging them.
When we can meet a moment in this way and allow the thoughts
and emotions to dissolve, we will feel expanded and fully open to experience whatever new adventure awaits us.
October 2011 Article