03 Dec The Five Levels of Experience
Living in an awake way requires working from the inside out on a path of self-transformation. As we study ourselves through the lens of various wisdom perspectives—Yogic, Buddhist, Taoist, depth psychology—and apply holistic methods to an examined life, we become the artistic visionaries of our own existence. With compassion as our compass, no area of our human experience needs to be censored from scrutiny, as eventually everything within us that is unintegrated and hiding in the shadows of our psyche will need to be exposed to the light of our awareness.
Motivated by the humble aspiration to hold and heal all aspects of ourselves, we learn we can sincerely become our own best friend, naturally growing into a trusted touchstone for others. As we learn to hold and heal aspects of our own wounded psyche, we often will seamlessly find more capacity to skillfully and empathically relate to others in a more positive wholesome manner. In this way, our inner work becomes the essential ground of support for extending that healing to our relationships and communities. As we enliven our inner worlds, we may also discover we are cultivating cleaner, higher-vibrational energy to devote to the protection of this fragile planet and all of its creatures. The further we go with love and care, the more capacity we will see for compassionate action outward in all that we do.
With the loving intention to flourish in this most continuous of long-term relationships—with ourselves—we can view the self as coexisting on five levels of experience: physical, energetic, emotional, mental, and interpersonal. Although these realms are innately interdependent—meaning they develop simultaneously—we will begin with what is most concrete, working towards the ever more refined.
AY CLASSES IN RELATION TO THE FIVE LEVELS OF EXPERIENCE:
Aqua Firma: we focus more on developing and maintaining strength, stamina, stability and pliancy in the muscles as well as joints to increase vitality, mobility and functionality in our physical system, while encouraging an increased psychological capacity to rest in awareness in the face of often challenging sensations. The inner methods provided with the poses allow us to become familiar through the body-based practices with ways to engage with internal levels of our nature.
Aquanimous Yoga: we dive into our energy body—the subtle dynamic vitality that animates our physical form and rides the changes of our moods and mind states. This inner energetic kaleidoscope mirrors our physical health or sickness, our ease and upset. We can learn to develop a felt sense of this invisible inner map, adjusting and upgrading this verdant terrain as well as our body-mind health on a day-to-day basis as we learn to balance our belly, heart, and head centers, the seats of intuitive knowing, compassionate expression, and cognizant insight.
Lotus Restore: we bring our emotional body and personality onto this yogic path by developing an openly curious attitude toward healing the wounds of our psyches where needed, while enlivening our personal integration as we relate to all facets of our feelings and thoughts without ignoring those we consider disturbing or distorted. By dialoguing with different aspects of ourselves and holding fragile emotions in a safe attentive space, we learn more about the workings of our emotional expressions and also find the deeper, quiet ground of presence underneath our swirling mindscape.
Mindfulness Meditation: this class relates to our mind states. Using mental observation and mind training from a Buddhist perspective, we can learn to relax and appreciate our busy thinking mind, while also developing access to our intrinsic, naturally occurring awareness, which is spacious and effortlessly quiet. Once we have explored how to grow and develop more intuitive physical, energetic, and emotional perspectives, we are ready to turn back to the mental body we so often rely on exclusively, often to the detriment of developing these other integrated parts of ourselves. Here, we look at engaging with the ideas of suffering, personal responsibility, compassion, and training the mind.
While our four (4) AY classes consider our personal and transpersonal experience, our invitation is to apply them in your interpersonal encounters. With the continual healing of our inner system, we attempt to welcome the unpredictable domain of social contact and communication as not only a mirror of our inner life but also a most meaningful arena for expanding and expressing love. When we free ourselves from the fear and pessimism of chronic distrust in others, we can begin or continue to allow ourselves the natural vulnerability of wholesome intimacy and interconnectedness in all our interactions.
My hope is that even in the midst of life’s inevitable uncertainties and at times harrowing challenge, Aquanimous Yoga can offer a means to keep coming back to yourself. Even when we feel lost, we need not despair, as there is a reliable way to find ourselves again. Through connecting inwardly on multiple levels regularly (from the physical to the subtle), an integral path of awareness works to include all aspects of our humanness, both our light and our shadow. This internally engaged living allows us to uncover intrinsic meaning in ordinary moments by means of cultivating receptivity as well as growing a natural capacity to experience profound connections as we become more open-minded.
With regular practice, the changing nature of our fleeting lives can become a conscious journey of ever-growing maturity. As we awaken into each new day, pausing to realign ourselves with the mysterious forces of the universe dwelling within us, we will more regularly experience the joys of being a unique and benevolent bridge for creativity, love, and understanding.