field
May 162015
 

Even though I have been practicing and teaching Qigong since 2007, whenever I think that I know a thing or two about Qigong, I am humbled yet again. After all, what’s the big deal about Qigong? On the outside it looks just like a bunch a slow movements of one kind or another, sometimes accompanied by vocalization. What can it possibly do?
And yet each time I’m being amazed to discover how it takes on a life of its own, expanding infinitely, just like the universe.

I began practicing Qigong when I was in severe physical pain and my life was falling apart on all fronts. I had no expectations from Qigong to give me anything and at the same time, I had nothing to lose by giving it a try – I was desperate. From the first pain relief that I experienced after only three weeks of practice, I knew that there must be much more to Qigong than what my analytical mind could figure out. It was not just pain relief; An entire new outlook on life was emerging, seemingly out of nowhere, one which has allowed me to view the world as a welcoming open door, as opposed to the menace which I have previously regarded it. It has also allowed me to experience life as a wonderful moment-by-moment-opportunity, as opposed to an uphill battle – which is the way by which I have mostly lived my life up to that point.

I thought that by age 40 I knew what the world and what life were all about and that was very arrogant of me, but of course I couldn’t see it back then. Every time that I practice Qigong, no matter what the circumstances of the moment may be, the serenity, inner peace and relief that follow, never cease to amaze me with their power and depth. It’s as if the practice allows me to open my eyes and to realize a new layer that is part of my life’s reality, one which I was previously unable to see. And with such an added understanding, the problems and difficulties that I may have experienced prior to the practice, lose much of their power over me. Fear and doubt lose their firm hold and I become free.

Before I started teaching Qigong, I realized that I was a little selfish to benefit from Qigong and at the same time keep it all to myself. Since then, I have been teaching at the American Cancer Society, several senior centers and private classes. As long as I continue to receive the feedback of amazement from people who discover Qigong’s ever-expanding depth, I will continue to teach.

If you are interested in discovering the secrets of this 5,000 year old energy practice, I invite you to join one of my classes. For more information click
http://odedbenami.com/classes/

 

Mar 262014
 

The following is a short and simple visualization/meditation hybrid. If you wish, you can record yourself reading it and then use the recording as a guide. Alternatively you can memorize it and mentally guide yourself through. The experience is very soothing, comforting and relaxing, allowing the practitioner to find relief from stress, emotional grounding, unconditional love and guidance.


Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
With your eyes closed, notice in front of you a dark black point. Notice how it increases in size to become a small circle, then a larger and larger circle.
As you look straight into this growing darkness you realize its depth is infinite.
You become weightless like a cloud; floating.
As you are floating towards the center of the darkness, it engulfs you, allowing you to experience its infinity, its absence of any content and its clarity.

You can stay here for as long as you wish, being completely free; purely being.

When you are ready to come back notice a white dot in front of you. Notice how it increases in size to become a small white circle, then a larger and larger circle, brighter and brighter. As you look straight into this increasing light, open your eyes.

Take the time to stay seated with your eyes open and just be.

Mar 042014
 

Who are you?

You are not your body!
You are not your arms, legs, brain, muscles, face, heart, kidneys, fat or skinny, healthy or sick, fully functional or disabled. You are given a body as a means of interacting with the physical world. You are aware of your body but you are not your body. Like a pilot of an airplane, or a driver of a car – you are behind the controls. You control your body which allows both input and output. Input comes from the sense organs – hearing, seeing smelling, tasting and sensing – and output comes by talking, walking, using the hands etc’.

You are not your thoughts!
Your thoughts are yours, but they are not you. You are given the capacity to think, develop abstract ideas to benefit yourself, your society and your environment, but that’s not you. Here again, you are behind the controls, but you are not your brain or your mind.

You are not your emotions!
You can experience love, anger, sadness, jealousy and much more. Similar to thought, this is an ability that you are given and allowed to have. An ability doesn’t define who you are.

You are not a woman, not a man, not a son or daughter, not a father, mother, brother, sister uncle or aunt. Those are your circumstances and they do not define who or what you are.

You are not your history! Your history is your life’s story. It is a part of your circumstances but you are what you are beyond and regardless of any circumstances.

Your are not your ideas, opinions or beliefs. These are thoughts that you adopted and made yours, by your own choice. You made those yours, but what’s yours cannot be you.

You are not your occupation; scientist, politician, CEO, judge, banker, artist. This is again a choice you made to be directing your talents, time, curiosity and exploration for the purpose of earning money and (hopefully) grow spiritually.

You are not your family, society or any mutual interest group!
You are not African, American, German, Dutch, nor are you a member of any smaller group, such as a union, groups of mutual interests or any other group.

You are not your circumstances! You are not rich/poor, happy/unhappy, successful/unsuccessful, employed/unemployed, married/divorced/widowed, jailed/free, healthy/sick or any other circumstances.

Who are you?

YOU, are that which is left, after everything else has been removed.

When you completely stop everything – the doing, saying, listening, seeing, thinking, feeling, smelling, sensing etc’, even stop the attempt to stop – what’s left is you.
You are that which is aware! The silent observer.

This is very profound and it means a lot of different things, some of which can be put to words, but most cannot.
It is very important to understand that all of those things that we are not, do not define us, do not create gain or loss on the most fundamental level. We are a non physical entity. We are allowed to interact with the physical world and many confuse the interaction which is not us, with the awareness which IS. Many adopt their life’s story to be their definition of self. This opens the gate to much misery and suffering. We become like a leaf in the wind, tossed around, soaked, trampled and crushed; moving between highs and lows, becoming happy by a promotion, angered by criticism, saddened by loss etc’. We lose any sense of grounding and rootedness. We know no peace, are stuck in infinite closed-loop cycles of thought, behavior, habit and belief, looking at what other people do in order to know what directions are possible for us, and on and on and on.
But that’s not us.
And because it is not us, it is possible (as some people discover, usually following some trauma or catastrophe), possible to simply be aware – be the observer. The moment we realize that we are beyond our life’s story, circumstances and interactions – we become free. Free from “ourselves”.
This freedom is unlike any experience of physical-world freedom. We discover the non-physical entity that we are. When this happens, life ceases to be an endless struggle. In fact it becomes like the famous song:

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is just a dream

Life is suddenly seen as a dream – very realistic and convincing, yet just a dream. This is why people who are highly spiritually evolved, are said to be awakened.

Zhuangzi, a Chinese philosopher also known as Chuang Chou, once said:
Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.

This is directly related with personal growth. We cannot experience growth before we know who we are. And since everything is in constant motion, when we don’t grow we become less. We contract, decrease, recede, become reduced and diminished. We shrink. Our world seems smaller, some even experience claustrophobia. And let us be clear; Growth is not a job promotion or a raise, it’s not a change in occupation, it’s not moving to a new neighborhood or a new country, it’s not undergoing plastic surgery, changing our name or finding new relationships. In fact, these are all ways to run away from that inner feeling of emptiness, lack and inadequacy. We convince ourselves that these external changes in circumstances are growth. They are not!  just as our circumstances are not who we are. When growth is experienced, it is a completely non-physical experience.

I can understand if some of you find his post confusing. Describing non-physical and spiritual phenomena through physical tools such as language, are akin to seeing the shadow of a beautiful painting – all that is seen is a dark rectangle. The only way to truly discover what’s behind all these words, is to completely stop everything – the doing, saying, listening, seeing, thinking, feeling, smelling, sensing etc’, to even stop the attempt to stop. In the silence and stillness that emerges, bit by bit, we discover who we are.

The next time that you find yourself complaining, suffering, when you are in the grips of physical pain, anger, stress, losing control or anything else that feels anything but wonderful –
ask yourself one fundamental question:

Who am I?

 

Feb 102014
 

Here is a tool for getting unstuck. From going around in circles, not finding answers or solutions, to effortlessly having the answer fall in our lap.


We’re familiar with seeing a question mark following a series of words that are to be understood as a question. Interestingly, questions in writing don’t really need to be terminated with a question mark, since they most often contain words that are known to be questions, such as: why, what, where, when, how. Or constructed as a question, as in:
Is it happening today (?)

Contemplating the entity of the question, I realized that there is a inquiring energy that is beyond any particular question; As if we were to have a question mark stand alone, without any words preceding it – an inquiring attitude – and it may or may not be equated with curiosity.

When we are stuck with a problem, we try to think in terms of a specific question or group of questions: Why is this happening, what am I not seeing, etc. When we do this, we create a sphere that is made of existing knowledge, understanding, experience, attitude, opinion etc, all from our past. This sphere is static. The questions seem to be rotating constantly in the same space without going anywhere.
I found that when I go beyond any specific question and simply enter a questioning state of mind, which I can also call ‘openness’, ‘allowing’, ‘inquiring state’ etc’, that instead of creating a sphere, I create motion. This motion expands out in all directions to infinity. When I do, I have no sense of being stuck – quite the opposite – I get a sense of traveling into the unknown and unfamiliar as well as becoming connected with something vast of infinite intelligence. This leads to unexpected results; Sometimes I come back with an answer. Sometimes, I come back with a question which becomes the key to the answer. Sometimes nothing happens, but a few days later the problem no longer exist.

It is interesting to note the way we use our voice when questioning: It opens out through a rising pitch. Body language and facial expression also reflect this expansion. Seeking is a motion of expansion outwards. This allows us to grow in heart, mind and spirit.

The opposite of this is dogma. An exclamation mark at the end of some words, exclaims an attitude of ‘That’s it’, ‘I am right’, ‘You are wrong’, etc’, in a way stating a fact. This so-called ‘fact’ may or may not be what its exclaimer believes. Many times we get stuck because of our own misunderstanding or limited understanding. Getting stuck repeatedly affects us detrimentally in heart, mind and spirit and is the cause of much unhappiness, quarrel, relationship problems, illness etc.

The attitude delineated by the exclamation mark creates an inward motion. This inward motion acts to disconnect us from growth. It causes our world to shrink, causing us to feel trapped, become paranoid, have panic attacks, feel claustrophobic etc’. The voice used in conjunction with the exclamation attitude is with the pitch coming down, similar to the inward motion – a closing. The facial and body muscles tend to tighten, a furthering of the closing that’s in an inward motion.

It’s interesting to see how many people with an expanding inner motion, seem to be happy, healthy, successful and loved, while many people with a contracting inner motion seem to be unhappy, fearful, feared of and lonely. This is by no means a “rule” but it can be seen quite often.

I found that the simple act of sitting and visualizing a question mark, without an attempt to achieve anything, becomes a light beam that takes me out of difficult circumstances – where my mind may even be working against me – allowing me to discover freedom beyond my current sphere of understating. I visualize the question mark without thinking any specific question, along with an attitude of allowing and openness. This creates a wonderful opening – a doorway leading towards relief, personal growth, and peace, which is then followed by a clear mind, renewed energy and effective, positive action.

Dec 262013
 

One night, as Mr. P was walking on a side street heading back home, he saw a person searching for something by a streetlamp. Wanting to help, Mr. P asked whether anything got lost and was told that a bunch of keys got dropped. Mr. P began searching.
After quite a bit of searching, as no keys were found, Mr. P asked the person whether they can remember the exact location where the keys got dropped. The person pointed to a dark section further down the street. Mr. P, puzzled, asked the person why were they looking for the keys here and was answered that there’s no light where the keys got dropped.

This story sounds ridiculous and foolish. After all, real people don’t search for a lost article where it’s easy to look. They search where they believe the item could be found. But there’s more to this story than meets the eye.

For many people, life goes on along a general plan which looks something like this:

  • School for twelve years.
  • Finding something that we like and are good at, preferably in a field where we can make a lot of money.
  • Going to college and getting a degree in that field.
  • Getting the best grades possible while getting as much hands-on experience working in the field.
  • Finding a job that we love or starting a business.
  • Moving up the ranks as an employee or having a business which grows steadily.

This of course, is a gross generalization, and there’s too much that it doesn’t cover. And yet for many, this is the general plan. There is much comfort and reassurance in having a general direction to follow. Otherwise, how would we know what to do? And although the above is a gross generalization, it’s amazing how many people actually follow this path.

Sometimes things don’t work out exactly this way, but many of us believe that that’s due to circumstances beyond our control, not due to anything that we do or fail to do. Circumstances such as bad luck, bad genes, bad history, bad relationships, one critical mistake etc’.

But isn’t this treading, in a more or less familiar path, akin to searching for something in the wrong place because it’s convenient?

Consider this;
The word ‘tenure’ is practically history at this point in time, with minor exceptions. The same is true for words like: retirement (that one can actually live off of), work benefits, a full time job defined as a 40 hour week, and many more. People used to go to college for four years and then get a job. It made perfect sense to go to college because that was the key to getting a job. For the same reason, it also made perfect sense to take loans to pay for college education. Later, four years were no longer enough, and many had to get a Master’s degree before they could get the kind of a job that they sought.
But change didn’t end there. The world constantly changes socially, economically, spiritually, ideologically. The giant employers of the past – GE, IBM, General Motors and others – have been downsizing. The same happens with government offices, universities, and generally speaking – with employers and employment. There are simply less employers out there today, compared to twenty years ago, and so there is obviously less employment. Taking a college loan today is extremely risky, when many of those unemployed have – not only a college degree – but also many years of valuable experience.
Additionally, getting a college degree is meant to please an employer; with increasingly less employers available, the price tag, time and effort that’s needed for the purpose of getting a college degree, may no longer justify attending college at all for many people.

And of course employment and college is just one part of a much bigger picture. There isn’t a single aspect of life lived today, that is identical to how it used to be not too long ago: relationships, family structure, sexuality, communication, relocations and much more. Still, the general life-plan that people today envision, looks almost identical to the way it was in the past.

It looks as though something has been lost along the way, and that we are searching for what the unseen future has in store for us, using the familiar old maps. But what are the options? What are the new guidelines for living life in this new and unfamiliar reality? When we look left and right in search for clues – looking at what may work for others – we could become even more confused, unable to get any clear ideas.

This however, is the case only if we search under the streetlamp. Our current experience, knowledge and emotional comfort is based on the past. The past is the streetlamp. But the answer cannot be found there. It can only be found in the darkness, or in other words, the unknown and the unfamiliar.
It’s inconvenient, frightening and risky to go into the darkness, but sometimes that may be the only choice that we have.

Entrepreneurs know this very well, and they live their lives in the dark unknown, utilizing a healthy combination of intuition, knowledge and thought.

What about those of us who don’t see ourselves as entrepreneurs?
Perhaps the answer is not in getting formal education, but in self-education. Perhaps the answer is not in receiving money from an employer, but in giving – by serving society. Perhaps the answer is not in studying and working in “the best fields” where the money is, but rather in slow, painstaking search for who I am, what are my natural gifts, what do I do best and how can I use these gifts for the betterment of society and service. Perhaps by trying new ways of thinking and of seeing the world, we may create an entirely new field, that doesn’t even exist yet. Perhaps for too long, we developed a laxity and an increasing indulgence in convenience, while allowing our mental and spiritual capacities to deteriorate and decline.

To what degree is it us creating reality, versus reality creating us?

It is fear that is preventing so many of us from searching in the dark. But one day, we’ll have no other choice but to realize it. When this happens, we’ll take a confident stride, and with an inner peace and confidence, walk into the darkness of the unknown and unfamiliar, knowing that the answer is now closer than ever before.

Dec 172013
 

Stillness, Silence, Emptiness; The Abyss.

This is a special meditation for those who tried meditating in the past with very little success. It is very simple and very powerful. This connecting with stillness can be done at any time, especially very stressful situations that lead many of us to lose control, clarity and grounding and which could then lead to a panic attack or depression.  This practice generates powerful results regardless of the length of time put into it.


Sit comfortably and allow your body to be loose, including facial muscles.

Become aware of your breath and accompany each inhalation and exhalation with your awareness.

Towards the end of each inhalation pause for a moment before the following exhalation.
Towards the end of each exhalation pause for a moment before the following inhalation.
This should feel simple and easy, not strenuous. If it does feel strenuous, make sure that:

  • The pause is not long
  • You are not clenching the back of your throat, as if about to pronounce a ‘K’ or a ‘G’ sound.

The pausing should be done using the lungs, to stop moving air, and not with the throat, to squeeze and prevent air from passing. It should be a floating pause rather than a jamming pause.
It’s fine if there’s a minuscule amount of air passing, as long as there’s a general sense of a pause, as opposed to an ongoing breath.

Do this for a little while . . . 

Notice the stillness you experience during the pauses. It is utter silence – perfect stillness.

Do this for a while . . .

Notice how each inhalation and each exhalation are born from the stillness and die into stillness.

Do this for a while . . .

Notice how, as inhalation/exhalation is happening, stillness is constantly in the background, behind/below/underneath the breathing – it is ever-present, infinite, eternal.

Do this for a while . . .

As you become aware of the constant presence of stillness, both during pauses and during breathing, you can now eliminate the pauses and just breath naturally in and out. Remain aware of the stillness moment by moment.

The moment you begin to think, the stillness is lost. Thought is movement and noise. Stillness is utter silence. Stillness is ever present and infinite, even during thought, however thought pulls our awareness away from stillness and we lose the stillness during thought.

Avoid the pitfall: Trying.
Trying is a concept that should be abandoned. It keeps stillness away from us and out of reach. Just like trying to sleep: the harder we try, the longer we remain awake. There should be no trying at all, and no doing at all.
Instead, there should be a Letting-go and an Allowing.

When we become aware of stillness, an infinite abyss will begin to open and expand.
Do not be afraid. Not only will you not be hurt – you will be protected and guided; guided away from the elements in your life that hurt you (whether or not you are aware of them) and guided towards inner peace, calm, happiness, wellbeing, grounding and knowing. Again; Do not be afraid.

WARNING:
Do not practice while driving, operating machinery or other types of work that may risk your safety.