Gathering of friends for holy weekend practice.
Seeds for meditation: Some thoughts on passover, easter, the mystic christ- what these stories hold for us as interspiritual, interbeings. Meditation: communing and listening. Conversation and close.
- Opening: 4:00 to 7:00
- Stretch and breathe: 7:00 to 17:50
- Meditation: 17:50 to 30:30
- Silence 30:30 to 48:30
- Chant 48:30 to 51:27
- Open Floor and Close 51:27 to 60:00
We’re being called to a time of real interspirituality, interbeing, amongness. No division between embodiment and ascension theology, the oneness and the coming back in and being fully individuated. A world where we’re living in the activity of building a life that acknowledges our amongness and the space between us.
So, this morning, because it’s Holy Weekend and Maundy Thursday in particular, the day of the Last Supper, which is also the Seder of the first night of Passover in the traditional calendar, although it didn’t coincide this year, the Mandate Thursday.
So, what I’d like to do is to prepare with a little bit of microbody opening, some shoulder rolls and neck stretches, a little bit of kapalabhati, just like I do on any morning, and then a little bit of seated meditation with a few ideas to share around what the meaning of this particular day in the traditional story of Easter Weekend means from a mystic perspective, and what it might mean in our life. And then, maybe we can have a little exchange on that and close with some more meditation and a chant. How does that sound? Good?
7:00 to 17:50: Stretch and Breathe
Okay. So, if you’re in a regular chair, that’s cool. But it would be great if you had space to really get tall and pull away from the computer a little bit. And just begin by doing some really, nice, big shoulder rolls. Like, bring your shoulders up to your ears, and then roll them back, squeeze in the shoulder blades together, and just getting a full range of mobility in your
Go both ways. And notice if your rib cage wants to rise up. Just keep it pulled down. Pull the belly in so that the shoulders are taking all of that opening. Maybe bring the arms up high, stretch out to the skies, turn the palms up, rotate the shoulders. Bring the breath into that, inhale.
Hands up overhead, and then exhale. Bring them all the way down to the hips. One more time. Inhale, reach high. Exhale. Come up again, and this time, really reaching the fingertips out like they’re straining to grow, like you’re a tree that’s straining to grow at the edges, all the way up.
And then, when you come down, take the right hand to the left knee and twist. Exhale. Inhale, back up. Go to the other side. Left hand to the left knee. Inhale. Inhale back to center. Right hand to right knee, exhale. Back to center.
One more time on the left side. And back to center. Take the right hand out to the side, take the left hand on the top of the head, press the heel of the right hand down to the floor, and then gently open the side of the neck.
Just breathe here. See what amount, if any, tension can be released from the shoulder and the neck, letting it just hang down.
And then, give yourself a little pat on the head as the head comes to neutral, slide the left hand down, bring the right hand up, exchange, opening the left side of the neck. Big, beautiful breath. See what happens as you turn your chin a little bit down and up, and if you can find any special spots meant just for you.
And then, let the head come to neutral. Drop the chin all the way to the collarbone, open the back of the neck. You can even give it a little rub. And then, if it’s safe for you to do so, lift the chin up and look all the way back up to the sky. Stretch the front of the throat. Back to neutral. And then, lateral, right over the shoulder, like you’re shaking a very, very slow no. I heard someone say yesterday that, “No is the immune system of the spirit.” No, no, no, no, no.
And then, around a couple of times. Both ways. Shake your hands, shake your head, shake your body. Get some blood flow in there. Just a little bhastrika. So, 10 rounds of inhaling and filling your diaphragm as much as you can. You don’t have to make the sound.
You’re stretching out as much as you can, using the lungs, filling to open up the body from the inside. And then we’re going to turn that into kapalabhati, which is rapid breathing. If you’re practiced in yoga, you know it. If you’re not practiced in yoga, we’re just taking a big inhale. And see my belly? And you’re pumping really fast. There’s no effort on the exhale.
Through both nostrils. One minute.
If you have to pause, just pause. Or, if you feel lightheaded, just pause.
And if you … Come back to center whenever you’re ready, and just notice for a moment, stay in stillness, and notice how your body feels now. Do you have tingling? Is there more of a lightness of oxygenation? Kapalabhati is like a double espresso for the body.
And then, a big, just nice, even breathing. Pranav pranayama, just normal breath. With your eyes closed, looking from the inside out, being inside of your body and watching where the breath transitions from outside to inside, right outside the nostril, how the breath becomes a part of your body, how it moves into the bloodstream, how welcomed the breath is by your organs.
And once it picks up it’s load of whatever it’s supposed to clean out of you, how joyful it is to exhale and let all of that out, and to be empty. And how the inhale, again, is this receiving of life itself. And how, even if you wanted to hold it in and hold onto that breath, you couldn’t. Can’t hold onto life. And how much of a relief it is when you exhale again.
You know, just in the watching of it, we become aware of the millions of tiny actions your miraculous body is doing on any given day in the background, the processes of breathing in are just one.
And if you were please, then just take a big breath to prepare for om. And this time, we’ll do this om like we are cluing in to the vibration between the trees. So, start slow and low, listening first to see if we can hear the om from the room that we’re sitting in. Can you hear the om in the refrigerator, or the om in the dishwasher running, or in the bird outside? And then, we’re going to join with them. And just keep it going. Don’t wait for me. When you run out of breath, just inhale again and keep the om.
Like a beautiful and joyful sound, you are also a sound at the end.
Meditatio 17:50 to 30:30
May this gathering of friends be blessed. I think, for a lot of Christians and Jews who found yoga, there was a little bit of a rejection of our religion of origin for a long time. Like, there was something in the religion of origin that wanted us to be sinners or separate, that had patriarchy at its heart, and we walked away from that. But I was really lucky in my early-30s to meet Brother Wayne Teasdale, who’s a jesuit monk. And he taught lectio divina. He would pick up one piece of the Bible, and he would read a line, and then he would close it. And you would just meditate on that and let it penetrate your being without any intercession. It’s a mystical Christian practice.
And another guy, Ron Miller, who ran the Ecumenical Council up in Chicago where all the religions of the world would gather, represented. They would send a delegation to the Parliament of World Religions, and they were practicing interspirituality way back.
So, through these guys, I was introduced to the oldest concept of the mystic Christ, what was there before there was church and why he was such a radical MF at that time in history. He’s coming into a culture where it’s 98% of the people are living in abject poverty, and they’re still tithing and giving their money to the Roman Empire and to the religious councils of the time, and comes to them and he says, “Listen, you don’t need anything to access divinity. It’s right there in your heart. You don’t need an intercession.” And that radical idea, that you had a direct connection, is what was at the foundation of his teaching.
And then, the other component of the teaching is, “You’re all included. No matter what your behavior is, you are worthy. You are divine. And when you see it, your desire to do the kinds of the behavior that we’ve been judging will diminish slowly of its own accord.” And so, there’s this also radical non-judgment that came with the core teachings of the mystic Christ.
And so, every year around Springtime, coinciding with Ostara … Or, I can’t say that right. The pagan holiday of the time, the spring rebirth, the celebration of the Passover in the Hebrew calendar, we have this opportunity to replay the short narrative of the culmination of his teaching and his death and rebirth in a way that transcends the religious component of that teaching. So, I am really excited to be able to share that with you. Yeah. It’s just such a beautiful thing.
So, today, as I was saying, is Maundy Thursday. And Maundy comes from the Latin word for “Mandate.” And that’s the translation from the great commandment of the day, the Last Supper’s commandment, the mandatum. Novis Mandatum, the New Mandate is when, at the Last Supper, Jesus is saying, “I give you a new commandment, to love one another.”
So, that’s the whole name of the game, right? The whole name of the day. So, I want you to imagine if I try to do this exercise … Like, you know if you’re in this … Let’s imagine you’re Jesus of Nazareth. You’ve come into the Holy City on Palm Sunday … Here’s where we are in the story. You come into the Holy City. You’ve gathered your people. You’re sitting in the Garden of Gethsemane already, that’s already happened. They’ve come to you and they’ve attempted to arrest you. All this is … You know.
So, you know something’s going down, and you’re in this place of knowing, and it’s the Passover Seder, and you gather all of your close colleagues and friends around you. You gather your girlfriend and your top disciple, Mary. Let’s not forget here. Mary Magdalene. You gather your mama. You bring all your people together and you have this feast. And you know that your life is going to end, and you know that the message that you have is so vital for the culture and you want the people who have been around you to carry it on, and you don’t want them to forget what’s important, what your whole life was devoted to.
And so, you put all the beautiful food down on the table, and you say, “All right, I want you to remember three things of all of my teachings. The first is, I’m going to give you a new commandment.” Not even a commandment. “A new suggestion, and that is to love one another.” And when he says, “Love one another”….The word in Latin is diligo, and the root of that is to respect and esteem one another. The fullness of seeing each other, also, as the light of divinity. So, to live from this, “I see you. I respect you. I esteem you in my heart, and I love you, and because of that, I will build a culture that shows that love.” So that’s the very first possibility for the meditation today. If you could just sit with that in the seated meditation, what does it mean, this Novis Mandatum, to love one another? I wish I could say it in the Aramaic, but my Aramaic is sucky. So, that’s the first component.
And at the Maundy Thursday dinner at the Last Supper of Christ, at the Passover Seder, the other thing that he was doing was showing communion. Now, communion as it’s practiced in the Catholic Church, or whatever, is a little bit cannibalistic. Like, “Here, eat my body. Drink my blood.” But the core of that teaching was breath in the life force and just the life force on a conscious way, on the regular. At least once a week, come in and breath in the universe, the life force. Bring me into your body. Bring it into yourself and become conscious that you are living with divinity all the time. So, the second thing that was provided that that dinner was communion.
And then, the piece of … He’s also present at that meal with the knowledge that they won’t be able to carry his message forward the way that he’d hoped. Even his rock, even Peter, his solid, bestie, right hand, is going to deny him. And so, even in the hopefulness, there’s no idealism. There’s like, “It’s going to go wrong, but it’s also going to be perfectly fine in the long run.” And so, for those of us who are activists and on the front side of trying to remake a world, don’t be disappointed when people show their frailties, when you show your frailty.
Hey, you’re confronted with somebody who’s scary and they ask you, “Hey, weren’t you with that guy, Christ?” And you say, “Who? Me?” That might happen. But there’s something in this acceptance of the imperfection of carrying it forward and just doing your best that is also inherent when he’s saying goodbye to his people.
So, all of these three principles of the mandate to love, the breathing in and taking communion with the universe, a life force, acknowledging that you are both/and this body of human frailty and this aspiration to unity. Or what the amazing spiritual teacher, Matthew Fox, a Benedictine Monk who got excommunicated from the Catholic Church for talking about these kinds of things, about how we’re the cosmos, called “Amongness.” That you are dwelling in your body and your body is dwelling in the sea of amongness, and that the translation of, “God is within you,” is actually, if you look at the Aramaic, “God is among you.” It’s right there. It’s that soupy ocean of spirit.
And then, I think the last sort of content thing … Maybe the second to last content thing I wanted to share about the holiday is the Kabbalistic view of Passover. And in the mystic idea, like, what does it have for us? The Kabbalah tradition says Egypt isn’t Egypt the land, but Egypt is Egypt the ego, and that Israel isn’t Israel the country, but it’s the state of wholeness and unity consciousness, and that the freedom that comes in the freedom from bondage is when we stop wanting to receive for ourselves alone. That when you begin the moment of wanting to receive the breath because it’s a gift and receive your blessings because it’s given to you, and then your desire to receive and pass it out through you happens in equal measure, that this is the freedom from your bondage.
And that the tug of Egypt and Israel, the being trapped in the ego, or being trapped in the wanting to receive for yourself alone, and the pull toward the sacred is happening all the time in us. And that we sort of have these moments of wanting to be free and in unity and in love, and then we return to these moments of, like, closing back down and wanting it for ourselves. And that when the balance of the pull is to receive not only for the self alone happens, then the Red Sea parts and you’re on the other side. You’re in the land of love. And so, that understanding takes it beyond a geopolitical story, beyond a generational story that happened thousands of years ago, into this moment.
So, we’re going to go now into a quiet sit. Kyle is going to plunk around on the guitar for us. And if you would do this in lectio divina style and pick one of those ideas: love, communion, crossing the land of Israel, the wholeness or unity, or acceptance of the human condition of imperfection. Just pick one of those ideas and take it into your own heart, and we’ll sit for about 20 minutes in silence now.
All right. So, if you could take your seat again, wherever that is for you. Sitting bones deep down in the cushion or on the chair. Nice, long spine. Close your eyes and let the eyeballs sink back in the head. Let the jaw rest quietly. Make the mouth loose like you had giant gumballs in your mouth. Maybe even touch the tongue to the back of the teeth. Lift the perineum. Relax the shoulders. And open your inner ears and your inner heart. Open the top of the skull to receive. And let the spirit speak in your own way.
Silence 30:30 to 48:00
Chant 48:00 to 51:27
We are called to a time of interbeing, to a time of love. Possibly, to spaciousness, to making more time for the things that are important, for the deep connections and experiences in this body that fade with our death. To not be distracted by the things that are not everlasting. Enjoy them, but don’t think they’re the thing. Let love win in our hearts.
This is a chant from the Hindu tradition. If you’re singing kirtan and you want to do the response, do the response at home.
Govinda is the name of the young Krishna. A lover Krishna, a playboy Krishna, beloved by the Gopis to whom he appears in many forms, and always the perfect form. And [Hari 00:50:32] is just thank you and praise and wonder. So, when we sing his song, the [Budjen 00:50:41] Bolo, we are singing … We’re just singing to love and wisdom.
And then, I’m closing with a big om. Inhale.
Open floor and close: 51:30 to 59:00
I want to thank you for showing up and joining me in my morning practice. That’s basically my morning practice all the time, a variation on that. But this weekend is especially beautiful. So, tomorrow, I’m going to continue the story. Tomorrow is Good Friday, and it’s the day of the crucifixion, but it’s not what it’s commonly taught as either. And then, Saturday is the day in the tomb. You know? And that’s got its own messages. And of course, Easter Sunday.
Anybody want to say anything and connect? Just, the floor is open. We have about 10 more minutes.
Manena: I want to say that when you were talking … It really resonated when you were just guiding us in our breath, and you sort of brought to our attention how it’s just so automatic to breath out, and even if we wanted to, we couldn’t stop ourselves from breathing out. And that sort of sat with me, and then I was listening to the story. And then when we were doing the meditation, I was thinking about we’re receiving and the blessings of that, and giving them. And like, that process of receiving and then giving it back. And it linked up with that idea of the breath, and it just kind of coagulated. You know?
Like, feeling like the depth of the disease of not giving when you receive is just like withholding your breath, and it’s just as natural to be in flow with the receiving and giving as it is to breathe. And we’re resisting our own nature of flow of breath when we withhold giving. And that’s what came through.
Christine: Yeah. In the Kabbalah teaching, they visualize a pipe, and that the pipe is open at the top and it’s equally open at the bottom to receive and to give, and that if it’s closed at the top, you can’t receive, then you become depleted. And if it’s pinched at the bottom, you implode from greed. It’s such a beautiful idea. Like, how do you keep the pipe open? But I had not connected it to the breath, and you’re absolutely right. It’s just as natural as breathing and it feels bad to be just a greedy little receiver by yourself in your court. Beautiful.
Or even when you refuse to receive. And you become the disease of the martyr, you know?
Yeah, I mean, we really come into balance when we model after our own nature, our way of being people.
Shannon: I mean … I just want to say, I just love sitting here in communion, which is what I meditated on, and hearing the story in this way, hearing the stories of this weekend, I mean, for me, it’s just really beautiful. I’m very touched that you’re offering this space together to hear the story again in this different way. Yeah. I really appreciate it. It’s really nice to be here with all of you. Thank you.
Kyle: I resonated as well with that notion where you can’t hold onto your breath….while they were sharing, I think that is a really simple yet poignant and overlooked idea. You can’t hold onto your life, like your life force. I think that’s a really powerful symbol in meditating.
Christine: Anyone else? All right. Well, the other thing that this day usually is used for in the liturgical calendar is a cleaning. A really long bath, self-anointing, cleaning your space. The color of the day is green. So, you can put greens in your home, you might wear a little green, the color of spring and rebirth, preparing for rebirth. So, if you’re called to do that, to add a little of the ritual to the day, put a little green on your altar, take extra time in bathing yourself, do that and hold the idea of the New Mandate in your heart. And I hope you come tomorrow, and we’ll talk some more. Okay? All right. Blessings on your day, everyone.