by Donna Quesada: I remember this old AT&T commercial that came out when the idea of a wireless internet connection was still new.
The naive dad walks into the room while his young daughter downloads a movie in just seconds. He can’t fathom the idea that this could be possible without wires and asks her where the cord is. She understands how to speak in a way that he’ll understand, and tells him “it’s an invisible cord.” Later at the cafe, she says to him, in response to his perplexed look, “it’s a really long invisible cord, Dad.”
By explaining the situation in terms her father would understand, she was using the right angle.
The role of angles in Kundalini Yoga has layers of implications. On a physical level, the idea is that, when the body is held at certain angular positions, this stance exerts pressure on various glands and organs, so as to open the energetic meridians, which allows energy flow through those channels, in a way that’s not possible when misalignment blocks that course, just as water can’t flow through a bent hose. And in a more intellectual way, but no less tangible, when we are able to find the right approach—the right angle—it often gives us a better handle over challenging situations (and people!).
In thinking about this, I thought of a real life example. I recalled the moment when it became clear that my grandmother needed more care than we could give her. My mother and I realized that it would be dangerous for her to continue living alone in another state. But, convincing this strong and independent woman to move to an assisted living situation would not be easy. When we sat down to have a conversation with her about the places we had found for her, we knew that our proposal would have to be interpreted as concern, rather than control, in order to be heard, at all.
The right angle gives leverage. There is a scene in the movie Peaceful Warrior, where “Socrates,” played by Nick Nolte, throws down his protégé, explaining to his student that his leverage is weak. Life is all about developing the right leverage, he explains, but the trick is in emptying the mind first, in order to gain distance from our own biases.
While reflecting further on this idea, I considered those teeter totters that used to be common on playgrounds in my day… If you were to walk up to the person sitting on the end of the teeter totter and attempt to hoist him up directly, it would be very difficult. Yet, it’s very easy to lift that same person up, when you go to the other side of the plank and just sit on it. Just as Socrates in the movie suggested, it’s because the distance between you now gives you an advantage. Archimedes called it leverage. The longer the distance from the pivot point, the less force needed to lift a heavy object.
To the point of this article, I have found that life is not so different than the world of physics. If I can gain some distance from the challenge, I can also gather deeper insights into other people’s motivations and this tends to engender compassion and in turn softens my reaction and approach. (If only I could always remember to do this!)
Spotlight on the Grace of God Meditation
“I never listen to myself until after I’ve meditated.” ~Gurudhan Khalsa (a beloved teacher of mine)
Grace is the all-pervading presence of God. Or, as Caroline Myss so beautifully calls it, “the breath of God.” It is divine action, which comes forth when we are tuned into to it, open to it and when we let go of our need to force our way. Opening to grace means letting go of our fixation with the intellectual manner of approaching problems, and coming up out of the dualistic mindset of right and wrong and winning and losing, as if life were a sports field.
Opening to grace means residing in trust. We receive grace in a spirit of openness and gratitude, without interference and without preference. Dropping what my Zen master called “the picking and choosing mind.” It is seeing what you see, rather than what you think you see because you have now gone beyond thinking, altogether. It is what is meant when Christians ask, in a spirit of surrender, to be thy will. It is seeing from the third eye.
We call it magic because of its intangible nature. We can’t buy it, we can’t eat it, nor can we restore it within ourselves with a good night’s rest. We tune into it… through prayer… by way of any meditative practice… via all manner of creativity… and when we surround ourselves in nature. When we tune in, we are able to access the abiding power of the universe.
Like a wifi connection, we type in our password and instantly have access to all the information on “the net.” Except divine grace is beyond any medium. And our password is nothing but our sincere intention to embrace the Divine.
The Grace of God meditation brings us into this state of Grace. In this atmosphere, our consciousness expands, and enlarges our point of view, so that we can relate to what we see from our soul rather than our ego-selves. This soul-perspective lets us approach situations from better angles and improves our capacity to manage situations with greater leverage.
Finally, in this state of Grace, we can relate to others and to the events in our lives with more trust. This is when we ourselves, become divine.
How to do it:
Lie down on your back and fully relax your entire body. Inhale deeply, hold the breath in and repeat silently ten times, “I am the Grace of God”. Exhale entirely, hold the breath out and again repeat silently ten times, “I am the Grace of God. This is one cycle. Repeat this cycle 5 times, then relax for a few moments.
Sit in easy pose with your eyes closed. Relax your right hand in Gyan Mudra (touch the thumb to the index finger, while leaving the other fingers straight) on your right knee. The left palm faces forward at the level of the shoulder with the fingers straight. Slow your breathing. Bring your concentration to the fingers of your left hand:
Tense your small finger, or Mercury finger, which influences your communication. Now repeat five times aloud: “I am the Grace of God” while meditating on transforming your communication. Relax the small finger.
Tense the ring finger, or Sun finger, which influences your physical health, and beauty. Now repeat five times aloud: “I am the grace of God” while meditating on transforming your physical self. Relax the ring finger.
Tense the middle finger, or Saturn finger, which influences your emotions and karma. Now repeat five times aloud: “i am the Grace of God” while meditating on transforming all challenges. Relax the middle finger.
Tense the index finger, or Jupiter finger, which influences your wisdom and ability to expand. Now repeat five times aloud: “I am the grace of God” while merging with your inner wisdom. Relax your index finger.
Tense your thumb, which relates to your ego and the many facades we all wear. Now repeat five times aloud: “I am the grace of God” and expand to your Infinite Self. Relax your thumb.
Lower your left hand into Gyan Mudra and sit quietly for a few minutes. Adore the coziness and expansiveness of Grace.
You can practice this meditation at any time of the day.
An Everyday Prayer
May we have the courage to allow a long, swollen pause before acting or responding in any way, especially in the context of a heated conversation or stressful situation. It neutralizes the reactive tendency while revealing other perspectives. For a deeper way of reconditioning our reactive reflex, practice this meditation (or any meditation) for 40 days—the minimum needed to truly change a habit.