Learning the brake, gears and accelerator

If you purchased a machine as complex and as wonderful as yourself, you would demand a handbook from the manufacturer. Unfortunately, the universe, the planet, and the parents who brought you forth, do not supply such a helpful guide. Yet there are things about how you work that are incredibly useful to learn. For instance in some ways you can be likened to a car. You have a brake, a gas pedal, and a steering wheel. Most of the time these are applied unconsciously by external controls. Running, making love, drinking coffee or watching a powerful film, will cause your body and mind to become more excited. Your breathing and heart will speed up. This is like pressing the gas pedal. Drowsing in an armchair, drinking alcohol, is the opposite, and slows you down. This is the brake. As for the steering wheel, other people or events influence you and your direction.
However, you can learn to press your own pedal, apply your own brake, and take more control of the steering wheel. Learning to use your own controls instead of them being constantly activated by other people or events is a life changing skill. So, for a start, if you recognise that breathing reflects excitation or quietness, learning to direct your breathing is one way of taking control. So, for a few minutes try slowing your breathing. Do not hold your breath, but simply make it as slow and smooth as you can without having to gasp for air. It helps if you sit or lie quietly. You can count as you breathe to help regulate the cycle. Being aware of the slow passage of air at your nostrils aids the calmness. So there must be no gasping for breath because you are breathing too slowly. Find a rhythm that is slow but not making you out of breath, and over time lengthen the cycle.
Realise that you are gradually changing very deeply seated habits that have been with you a lifetime. Taking hold of the breath and controlling it is like taking hold of your nervous system, or body, and gradually altering the way it responds to events and thoughts. It is like gently taming a wild animal. There should be no force or conflict involved. Practising this for up to twenty five minutes each day for three months will change the way you respond to triggers that cause stressful responses.
Being at the driving wheel of your life means you are not swept away by emotions and urges such as anger and sex unless you want to be. Equally it means you can let yourself be spontaneous if you wish. It means you can direct your feelings, mind and body where you choose, not where fears or urges deny you access. In the realm of dreams this is vital, otherwise a scary dream can send you scurrying away from something that holds vital personal information, or from releasing frozen energy and potential that would add enormously to your effectiveness and physical health.
  • Physical movement, so in traditional use of yoga postures the aim was to be able to sit without movement for three hours, and to do it each day for three months, because it took a long time to retrain the inner wildness.
  • Sexual expression is another way the instinctive self expresses. Again it should not be harnessed by repression, but by gradually changing its direction into higher forms of energy release. See Energy Sex and Dreams
  • Hunger for food or sensual satisfaction is also instinctive. This can be seen when a new born baby wants to do after it starts to breathe is to reconnect and feed from the breast. So regular fasting was an ancient method, but it should not  be done from the attitude that one must lose weight. See Fasting
  • The emotions and their instinctive expression in humans can be experienced as panic attacks, painful emotional reactions to relationships, suicidal tendencies, and generally being shattered by your emotions. This generally links with disturbed breathing patterns such as breath holding and not be able to breath smoothly. A traditional way of healing this is by using controlled breathing. Ways of doing this are – but remember, it takes time to change lifetime habits.

There is a very necessary lesson we must learn if we do not have it already – the full breath. You can easily see by places your hands on your chest and your abdomen below the rib cage. With your hands there breath deeply in and out a few times. Does just one hand rise on the chest – or do both hand rise alternately? If it is just the hand on the chest it suggests you have a massive tension that stops you breathing fully and also suggests you are unable to fully experience your emotions and feelings. To move beyond it, first learn to move the hand on the abdomen by full expanding your lungs by using your diaphragm muscle. It may at first feel as if yiu have to force yourself to breath, but you must continue until anew habit of breathing is established. Also see 1-4-2 Breath Control and The Breath Meditation

  • The voice is another way of instinctive expression. I have met a few people who cannot stop talking, and a way to deal with it is to become aware of it and harness it. Some of the great beings who took this path of the Ox Herding tell their story.

    In 1927 Buckminster Fuller stood on the shore of Lake Michigan contemplating suicide. He said to himself: ‘I’ve done the best I know how and it hasn’t worked.’ He was still grieving the loss of a daughter who had died five years earlier; his business had just failed. He was penniless and 32 years old. He wondered how he could support his wife and newly born baby, but, after struggling with his despair for hours in the dark and the freezing wind, he decided to live the rest of life like an experiment. He wanted to discover whether the golden rule of life was dog eat dog. He would find out by seeing what could be physically demonstrated. To free his mind of conditioned thinking and reflexes he stopped talking for a year. He is now known for many, many achievements.

Fuller said that at that time he had experienced a profound incident which would provide direction and purpose for his life. He felt as though he was suspended several feet above the ground enclosed in a white sphere of light. A voice spoke directly to Fuller, and declared:

“From now on you need never await temporal attestation to your thought. You think the truth. You do not have the right to eliminate yourself. You do not belong to you. You belong to Universe. Your significance will remain forever obscure to you, but you may assume that you are fulfilling your role if you apply yourself to converting your experiences to the highest advantage of others.” [10]

  • Mental activity is another escape route. It is a way people sometimes use to prevent them for experience other aspects of the mind or consciousness. Many disciplines tell people to stop thinking, to quieten their mental activity. That is one way but there is also Intuition which leads one past the age old responses. Also try Opening to Life


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