“My parents are at a Power of Eight gathering tonight.” My friend Meredith told me over oolong tea.
“What is the Power of Eight? I asked, looking curiously over the rim of my tea cup.
“It’s a powerful healing circle that yields amazing results that I’ve personally witnessed, which have been scientifically proven.” Meredith told me with shining eyes.
I knew right away this was something special! That night, I googled “Power of Eight” and found a book by that name by Lynne Taggart and I ordered it immediately. Lynne has been conducting Power of Eight circles for decades and presents her scientific evidence very convincingly. So, so many amazing testimonies of miraculous healings, including seedlings in a lab half way around the world that received focused healing intentions, and grew many times faster and stronger than those in the control group. Whether groups gathered in person or online with Skype, the stories and evidence Lynne presents are very strong and self-evident and this body of evidence grows as people all over the world gather together in these healing circles.
Of course there is a whole plethora of evidence from the Transcendental Meditation research and experiments with group meditations that show amazing healings, lowered disease and violent crime rates and other factors directly attributable to these collective intentions. Andy Teg Avtar can tell you all about this body of evidence in his meditation classes.
I have personally seen amazing results from the many prayer and healing circles I’ve organized, in which we select a certain time of day to collectively focus on a family member or close friend in need of great healing: For example my sister-in-law with advanced cancer suddenly got up from bed to go dancing on New Year’s Eve, something we all thought was impossible.
Each year, I attend a week long silent meditation retreat, led by the great Advaita teacher Adyashanti at Omega institute – what a blessing! Adyashanti always talks about how the members of his non-profit organization bring their concerns into the group’s circle for discussion and listening, as they mine for the best solutions. He explained that if the members of the circle don’t try to divert the natural energy flow, if the ego mind stays out of this natural flow, “solutions bubble up to the surface like precious jewels. You can almost see them shining”. What a poet!
MKY has had several workshops, and is actually engaged in one right now, in which participants share and as each person is earnestly listened to by the others, deep emotional healings become apparent as each person feels seen, heard, understood and supported.
So last summer, Cate and I decided to start our own healing/prayer circles, as we continued to study the work of Lynne Taggart’s ‘Power of Eight’ and other similar works and experiments with directed intention, like that of Joe Dispenza. The Zen Heart Circle Sangha and other Sanghas of which I am a member also emphasize this kind of listening and sharing, often utilizing a talking stick in the middle of the circle.
Then, like the cherry on a mountain of ice cream, I was able to attend this year’s elder gathering at the beautiful Sunray Peace Village in Vermont. There, I met David Lonebear Sanipass, Native American Elder and Leader of Mi’kmaq nation, along with his beautiful wife. They regularly hold “teas” with nine to twelve people in attendance, to just listen as each person talks in turn, and everyone else just listens with one-pointed attention. Listeners, he explained, just listen! They do not think about what they want to say or about advice they want to give, they just listen, bringing all their attention to the one who is speaking. Lonebear mirrors the wisdom of so many sages and teachers who have urged us to do just that.
As Lonebear spoke, we were all sitting on the Mother Earth in a circle, about twelve of us, with a quietly crackling fire nearby. A very special feeling came over us that is hard to describe. Lonebear went on to tell us about the blue orbs that regularly appear in the middle of the room when he and his wife hold their ‘teas’, as the group members listen intently to each other. The appearance of these other-worldy blue orbs actually inspired Lonebear to call these listening type of gatherings and teachings ‘Blue Star Teachings’ and he encouraged us all to gather in circles of our own.
I excitedly told Lonebear about how my yoga partner and I had also formulated this idea, I told him about Lynne Taggart’s work, and related that we were about to start regular listening circles of our own.
So, we look forward to monthly gathering together -- the first Saturday of the month from 1:30-2:30pm -- with you to just listen to each other from the heart, allowing equal ‘air-time’ for each participant, as the rest of us just listen and bathe the one speaking in light and awareness as the speaker finds their own interpretations, understandings and solutions. And yes, we will be serving hot tea and cookies.
Miracles happen ALL THE TIME at MKY, so who knows what Divine presence might appear in our midst to assist at a soul level - the jewel of truth that bubbles up to the surface, as Adyashanti so poetically relates. We look forward to listening, seeing and understanding together.
Every time I practice I work with my mind. I try to remain focused on the sacred by feeling my breath, by turning my eyes up and in to the third eye, by repeating sat nam (truth is my identity). When distracting thoughts arise, I refocus, reorient to the sacred.
Yesterday, though, when I came to class, the usual tools didn't quite work. My mind was churning over how to fix some pressing problems and on some tasks that I could not put off anymore. Then there was some self-judgment mixed in. Why did I put them off in the first place? What's wrong with me?
It didn't matter that I know better than to be hard on myself. It didn't matter that I know that when I'm hard on myself I only compound the anxiety. It didn't matter because the truth is it's not about knowing better. It's about embodying better.
Yesterday, my mind needed some extra help to embody better. Fortunately, Kathy (Harjot) was teaching the Kriya for All Chakras, and the kriya provided an additional framework for my messy, suffering mind. (Without direction, I contend that most minds will go to messiness and suffering to different degrees.) The kriya provided the focal points of the chakras, energy centers, and I was able to experience my presence, and in presence I found relief.
As we moved through the chakras, with Kathy's inspiration, I used visualizations to make each energy center's quality feel more real, and I used affirmations to remind myself that I (like everyone) am blessed with these qualities.
I wanted to share with you the visualizations and affirmations I used yesterday because they may be helpful to you. I hope these tools serve you when you need them most. I hope they bring you back into present moment awareness, back into an embodied state, when the mind threatens to overtake you.
(If you're reading this and thinking, what the heck is a chakra? No worries. Please check out Kathy's Blog, Floating Along the Chakra Cruise for more background. )
First Chakra, Root Chakra, Sense of Safety
With any exercise that involves the base of the spine (such as pulling root lock, spinal flexes, crow pose, and body drops), visualize thick roots shooting down and out from your base (if you're standing, your feet; if you're seated, your sits bones) and into the rich soil. Repeat to yourself: I am rooted. I am held. I am safe.
Second Chakra, Sacral Chakra, Source of Creativity
With any exercise that involves the pelvis (such as sufi grind or frog pose), envision a beautiful body of water within. Then, see a single pebble drop in its center and see perfect, concentric circles emanate out and out and out. Affirm: I am in flow. I am inspired. I am creative.
Third Chakra, Navel Chakra, Source of Will Power
With any exercise that involves the navel center (such as stretch pose, spinal twists, or leg lifts), see a fire at the belly. See your effort as stoking the fire that fuels your dreams and goals. Say to yourself, I am strong and determined. I persevere. I keep up.
Fourth Chakra, Heart Chakra, Center of Compassion
With any exercise that involves opening the chest or directing energy to the heart (such as cobra, holding the hands in prayer, or ego eradicator), envision a bright sun swirling at the center of your chest. Visualize that sun as melting any and all ice around the heart, any ways in which you've gone numb or stopped feeling. Repeat to yourself: I am open to love. I am love.
Fifth Chakra, Throat Chakra, Speaking Truth
With any exercise that involves the neck or chanting (such as head rolls and head turns and singing mantras aloud), see a lotus flower. Visualize the lotus at the throat opening, opening, opening with infinite layers of petals. Affirm: I speak my truth with confidence.
Sixth Chakra, Third Eye Chakra, Intuition
With any exercise that involves bringing energy to the brow point (such as bowing the head to the mat or holding the hands in prayer with the thumbs gently pressing the center of the forehead), envision a third eye. Imagine that your physical eyes disappear and your only vantage point is the third eye. Trust that what appears in your mind's eye, whether it's colors or images, is coming from the intuitive space. Repeat to yourself.: I see the way. My soul knows the way.
Seventh Chakra, Crown Chakra, Connection to Spirit
With any exercise that involves the crown of the head or directing energy to the crown (such as the arm position in the photo above and many meditations), visualize a beam of light entering from the heavens and into the top of your head to illuminate the center of the brain. Say to yourself, I am connected to spirit.
Eighth Chakra, The Aura, Magnetic Field of Protection
With any exercise that involves sweeping the arms around the body or extending the legs beyond the base (such as breath of fire with lion's paws or wide leg, life nerve stretch), see your aura, extending nine feet in every direction -- a beautiful bubble, a force field of protection. Understand your movement as clearing the aura. Affirm: I am protected. I am radiant.
Please make these visions and words your own. Trust that you can guide yourself into presence even in the most anxious moments. Sat Nam.
Co-owners and Instructors of Montclair Kundalini Yoga, Cate Baily and Savitri Narayan Kaur. See their bios here.