BREEMA in the Sacred Valley of Peru Post 6
Thursday, September 7, 2023 2:43 PM
I am grateful that I can say more about Gratitude, and I see that comes from working with Breema's Nine Principles of Harmony.
One of the blessings of Gratitude is that it is directional. By this, I mean that I can begin by choosing something to give thanks for and then include whatever comes up. I don’t have to make myself experience gratitude. In fact, we all know that as we begin any intended plan, there may be protesting or negating voices that chime in like kids from the back seat on a long road trip, except these kids are within our own minds!
A gift of Breema: The Art of Being Present is that the cornerstone of this system is body-mind connection. It gives me a direction that is do-able. So, if I am sitting quietly by myself and begin to say (to myself) “I am grateful for the roof over my head,” and the mind comes in and adds, “Yes, but this roof is not so nice as I’d like, and I’m still paying for it, and I really ought to paint the walls…” I could just notice that those are thoughts, and not go with them. If I’m a student of Breema, I could remember that cornerstone principle of body-mind connection, and when I notice those thoughts, I could simply experience one breath. As the mind registers the activity of the body without trying to change it, slowly a relationship begins to form between these two who often seem estranged in our busy culture that encourages us always to be on to “the next thing." As I stay with that connection and come back to my original intention of expressing gratitude, now I experience a new moment of gratitude - for the fact that I saw thought as thought. I did not have to get rid of those thoughts, but with the help of the direction that Breema gives me, I can see that they are not me. In this, there is freedom.
All of Breema’s Nine Principles of Harmony have this same directional quality. Take the principle of No Force, for example. Perhaps one morning as I finish my daily practice of Self-Breema exercises and meditation, I decide to take the principle of No Force with me into my day. I might actually say to myself, “Today when I remember my wish to be present, I will use the principle of No Force by doing whatever I am doing just like it is a Self-Breema exercise.” Then three hours later, I am reaching into the washing machine to get some damp laundry, completely oblivious to my morning intention and lost in hurried thoughts about what to do after this. Right there, I remember my wish to benefit from the principle of No Force because right there, I am using a lot of force! Until that moment of remembering, I was “in my head” as we say, and not experiencing my body at all. I was also physically using a lot of force and had unnecessary tension in my shoulders, belly and back.
The good news - none of that wandering mind in the past and future is a big deal, because now I’ve seen it. In that moment of being reminded, all of that force has helped me come back to my wish to be present. Now I have an opportunity to do as I had wished - to let this activity of my body be just like a Self-Breema exercise. What I choose is to allow my body to ease forward in a way that is comfortable, receiving the support of the front of the washer, and I simply register that movement with my relaxed attention. The mind uses less force and so does the body, and as I reach and scoop up a damp blanket, I am actually nourished, there is a taste of fulfillment. Naturally, the mind quiets down.
In this one simple experience, my relationship to force changes. Rather than perpetuating an attitude that force is something to get rid of or having the unseen idea that “I am not a person who is forceful or carries undue tension,” I see that I do use excessive force, and I do carry undue tension, but by having an aim to be present, that aspect of myself can support harmony and even guide me in the direction of knowing the purpose of my life. That might sound like a big leap, but in my experience, what is meaningful can be revealed to me in very simple moments and activities if I approach them with honesty and availability.
As I look into all of this, I’m reminded of a helpful analogy. In Breema, we sometimes talk about the Nine Principles of Harmony being like windows looking into a beautiful garden. It’s so beautiful, we all wish to be there with no effort, No Force, No Judgment, experiencing only this Single Moment and Single Activity. Of course we all wish for that, but we have to start where we are. That’s where this directional aspect of the principles comes in. Each principle gives me a slightly different view, a sort of distinct perspective or entry into the garden of being present. However, when I experience being in that garden, meaning when I am present, I see that it is all one garden.
I also see that all of the principles are there as part of one inclusive whole. So when I experience No Force, I may also see that simultaneously there is much less judgment or even No Judgment in that moment. I could say that about the example of those nourishing, simple moments reaching into the washing machine and lifting out the laundry. Gradually, I begin to learn that all of life is an opportunity or a support for me to be present and move in the direction of fulfilling my potential. Sometimes I may even see that what appears to negate is just the support I need!
At Luna Rumi in Peru, we gathered regularly in the same classroom space, which happened to have nine windows looking out at mountains, trees, birds, plants and a few buldings in the distance - the fertile garden of the Sacred Valley spread out before us. One of our participants, a Breema Instructor herself, pointed out that there were nine windows, just like the analogy we sometimes use for the principles. You can see three of those windows and the view below, plus other images of some of our Breema classes and natural surroundings. I can still remember the first pictures I ever saw of Breema bodywork and Self-Breema exercises. It was 1996, and I was on break in the study lounge at massage school. Those photographs immediately made an impression on me that is hard to put into words, but I will try. When we work with the principles of Breema as we practice the partner bodywork and Self-Breema exercises, there is a naturalness to how we move and touch that is balanced and also nurtures balance. Somehow, looking at those photographs was not much different for me than walking through an actual garden, a place where I would be nurtured by the beauty all around me without any of it “trying” to make an impression on me. The pictures conveyed a similar naturalness to pictures of mountain streams, vibrant flowers and even architecture informed by the wisdom of the earth. The words in the article made sense to my mind, and the images spoke directly to my heart and body.
Thank you for reading. I am glad you are here.
Breema class photo credits on this page go to Tsvia Isenberg
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