After experimenting with many practices over a lifetime, my response to the last question has been to design one from a synthesis of what has been most effective and efficient for me. I call it Heart Space Breathing.
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Heart Space Breathing While observing the breath, feel the heart space.
With your eyes open or closed, simply be aware of the breath. When you are attuned to it, move your attention to the center of your chest, and tune in also to the heart space.
Any activity of the mind (such as labeling, noting, expecting, imagining, projecting or wandering) can hinder or limit the practice. Simply return attention to observing the breath and feeling the heart space, with openness and trust. Allow images or impressions to arise. Feel and observe them.
The Heart Space is still and alive, empty of thoughts and things, and radiant with being.
Heart Space Breathing can be practiced as a sitting of any duration, and brought into one's awareness over the day.
For those attracted to writing, it can be helpful and insightful to keep a journal to note such things as dreams, self-observed changes in behavior like responding rather than reacting to triggers, increased feelings of inner peace, compassion, happiness for no reason, non-separation, and so on. There are no expectations, only observing what is. Over the day, when agitating thoughts arise, enter the heart space simply by saying or thinking 'heart space' and feeling it in the center of the chest.
Some practices specify a focus — in Heartfulness (Daaji) meditation it is, 'Gently close your eyes and think that the Source of Light is already present within your heart.'
I found that feeling, not thinking, creates the experience of going beyond the confines of the conditioned mind.
Using specific language such as 'Source of Light' also limits the experiences to a mind-generated concept.
Also, the 'oneness center' is not within the heart but in the region of the heart. Feeling the 'heart space' while being aware of my breathing connects me with the greater awareness beyond the conditioned mind. I leave the details to my intuitive feeling in the moment.
Heartfulness goes on to say, 'Rather than try to visualize it, simply tune in to your heart and be open to any experience that you may have.'
Some teachings prescribe a duration for the practice such as in Heartfulness meditation, 'Do this for 30 minutes. If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your heart.'
Any pre-conceived notion binds a mental concept to the practice. Heart Space Breathing does not put a suggested amount of time on the sitting practice. Rather, trust your own intuitive feeling. In the Isha Kriya of Sadhguru, the practitioner breathes in rhythm to the thoughts:
Inhalation 'I am not the body.'
Exhalation 'I am not even the mind.'
When I experimented with Sadhguru's yoga meditation, the effect on me was contracting and separating rather than expanding and merging. It was interesting to observe and I replaced his words with my own — until I realized it also was imposing limited mental ideas onto limitless awareness.
Structure may enable a system or technique to be mass marketed, but it also makes the practice rigid. Systems tend to follow the tradition, or the persona of the teacher/teaching, rather than allow awareness to arise in the moment for the unique individual. Guided visualizations are also being fitted by someone else's version of a hat.
Deep breathing can be very beneficial on its own and even more when integrated with Heart Space Breathing.
I have added inversion (hanging upside down on an inversion table) and the Five Tibetan Rites (a simple yoga routine) to my practice and chant the vowel sounds of 'Heart space' (long A) and 'Heart source' (long O) to recall the feeling of the heart space.
I work with Cannabis indica and other medicinal herbs and play on a bass mouth harp and consider those to be an adjunct to the practice.
In a Collective Evolution conversation thread where I finally realized how simple it is and how complicated I'd made it,
Rod MacKinnon wrote:
Once again, I need to acknowledge Gary R. Smith, as one of a small group of the most sincere, self-honest, dedicated-to-living-the-inner-truth-of-oneself, individuals, it has been my good fortune to come across. Your honesty and unselfconscious humility is an inspiration... I find the beauty of infinite truth in the depths and spaces between and behind your words... and the authenticity that characterizes your writing...
Gary R Smith
In response to my post, Living from the Heart, where I wrote, 'If there is one most essential principle to apply to my life for conscious evolution, it is live from the heart. But, what does that mean? And how does one live from the heart?', Rod wrote:
R. - Having read your posts and conversations, Gary, it appears to me so obvious that you spontaneously, "live from your heart" every minute, whether or not you're conscious of it,... and have done so for a very long time, possibly most of your life... You're an inspiration....The thing is, we can't see ourselves as others do.... I don't think one can do it (live from the heart) self-consciously... that would be simply playing an imagined character-role... I think we just have to relax and trust our unseeable self to deliver... "ask and it shall be given"....You've asked, now...relax and have faith.... Always enjoy conversations with you...
G. - Rod, your words are kind towards me and I feel humbled. So much so that I haven't found words fully to respond. I accept what you say of me without ego-inflation. It came to me to joke about your earlier comment that I could not add it to a Whole Human post or would have to edit out your word 'humble'!
You commented above, and then edited to change it, to the effect that what counts is 'getting it,' not 'getting it right.' Yes, but.... getting it intellectually doesn't really count for much, does it? If living from the heart is not embodied in actions from kindness and compassion, what is it?
I was born into this world red-faced and screaming at the top of my lungs according to my dad (when, on a quest to understand misophania, I asked if there had been anything unusual at my birth). Being a Gemini, whatever one thinks of astronomy, I can see a dual nature in me. I am at peace and at war in the same body. It was not until later in life that I accepted how angry I have been in an underlying current.
Now as my self-awareness grows, I am more keenly aware of the quality of my actions, and that humbles me also.
The discussions on Collective Evolution played a key role in my design of a practice that supports the expansion of awareness, heart space breathing. That has been singularly effective is helping me to shift from envisioning how I choose to be in the world to actually experiencing it in greater degrees through tougher challenges. What else are challenges for then to show us our resistance points so we have an opportunity to merge with them in unconditional love?
Thank you for responding. I always enjoy our conversations also.
It is our Heart that guides us Home.
It is through our Heart that we are restored to the Wholeness that we are.
When your presence centers into your Heart, it informs your mind of all it needs to know.