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I am going to write about how clarity can arise during meditation.  And it can also arise when we are offering bodywork.

Garchen Rinpoche is one of my heart teachers.  He is one of the few individuals on the planet who I honestly think, loves everyone and everything around him.  He is the embodiment of loving-kindness in my eyes.  And he is more than that as well, his wisdom fire is vast and deep, so he also embodies the wisdom-gnosis of Manjushri.  If I get the chance to attend his teachings, I make every attempt to go.

In a recent post of one of his teachings, he mentions that with devotion to the Guru or to one’s root lama, that clarity can arise when we meditate.  If we have the dedication of years of practice, and if we are truly devoted to our heart teacher, then clarity can easily arise when we do Guru Yoga or offer a Tsok feast and Lama Chopa practice (offering a delicious feast to the blessing-bestowing lineage holders of one’s particular Tibetan Buddhist lineage).  If we have a question, we might not need to ask our root lama in person, unless it is easy.  [Of course it is good to check in from time to time to make certain we are not being blown about by the winds of delusion]  Rather, if we have a question, we can ask it at the beginning of a meditation session or before we do Guru Yoga, and Garchen Rinpoche says that by the next morning, we might have our answer.

I believe there are some definite parallels between meditation and doing professional, compassionate, skillful, ethical bodywork.  I personally practice Craniosacral Therapy, I work with a little bit of trauma resolution by working with the Vagus nerve and the Polyvagal system and I am starting to get into Pre- and Perinatal therapy (PPN therapy) and Birth Process work.  I have been giving and receiving bodywork for over 12 years now, and I feel that the levels of embodiment I am discovering are very difficult to describe in words and that my body communicates with me on a regular basis.

If we are doing bodywork and something comes up in the session, we can get to the point where we can ask our own bodies – “what is going on here?”  And we can get a definite, accurate answer.

Here is an example of this:

I was giving a treatment a little while ago when I started to feel the client’s pain coming out into my hands.  This can occur anytime someone has emotional or physical trauma and we as healing facilitators are both wishing them well and attempting to get their body to release old stuff.

The problem with the above situation though, is that I want to be able to give a treatment session and have some energy remaining to enjoy my day.  I want to be able to give at least four treatments in a day without feeling drained.  So if I am starting to take on my client’s stuff, I have to pause and notice the yellow flags my body is raising.  “Hello Kirby – do you really want to continue down this path?”  No, I don’t.

Therefore, I paused and asked my body – specifically my gut and my kidneys, “What do I need to know right now?  Why am I taking on this person’s stuff?”

And it was pretty wild.  I got an instant response of, “There is nothing to do, nothing to fix, nothing to make [as healing facilitator].  I am merely connecting to this person’s innate health which is never lost.”  I stated something like this out loud – that their body knows how to heal itself and that I am just coaching their process.

And within seconds, I stopped taking on anything from this person, despite my hands remaining on them the whole time.  I got them to do a little technique to move the energy through and out of their body (without me as middle man!) and they deeply appreciated the session.

It is always good to remind ourselves of the basics.  Going back from time to time to review the basics is very helpful for me.

I think I was taking on this person’s stuff because I had temporarily fallen back into an old pattern of trying to help or fix one of my parents (an old pattern of mine).  Once I named and noticed it and shifted my intention and my awareness, I was able to no longer be hooked by my old pattern.

Likewise, we can get questions answered when we sit on the meditation cushion.  Or we can answer our questions (sometimes instantly) by having years of experience working with our bodies and having a tradition enhanced with wisdom to lean into.  In other words, we can bring meditation into various contexts we are working in.

Thank you for reading!

~km

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Dharma injection

If you want to be inspired to do more Dharma practice, host a Tibetan lama or even just a humble retreatant for a few days.

I was fortunate to do just this as I hosted a retreatant for a few days last week.  He has spent time learning the Tibetan language and he has spent thousands of hours now in isolated retreat in India for close to seven years or more.

Prior to his arriving, I was doing about 30 minutes (tops) of structured practice a day (on my own), along with a meditation group or two here and there each week.  However, in the days leading up to his arrival, I think my body could feel the improved energetic dynamic coming, and I started to do a little more practice.

It is difficult to describe.  And I’m sure if you asked him, he’d say that he has absolutely no special qualities.  But I felt inspired to create more when he was downstairs doing his practice.  I cooked almost every meal at home and it was easy.  Not just because I was cooking for a friend, but it was more than that.  The creativity flowed.

He was sharing my space for less than 72 hours, but it made a difference.  At least for a week afterward I felt a momentum I typically only feel after a retreat with Tibetan lamas.  I did more refuge practice and felt compelled to resist any urge to watch Netflix.  I did more yoga and more Zapchen somatics.  More self care.

I am having a change of heart I think.  For a while there I thought I was not meant to do any kind of structured, extended retreat in this lifetime.  But I am now rethinking that.  Not that I have any desire to do the traditional 3 year – 3 fortnight retreat that the Lamas typically all complete.  But even just a 90-day retreat in Ladakh would be incredible.  I wonder if I could even complete it (of course, if I set it up just right, I might not have a choice but to go through with it!).

Who knows what the future holds.  One thing is for certain though: if I get married in this lifetime, my partner is going to need to be open to the possibility of my doing a one to three month long retreat at a retreat center or monastery.

Thanks for reading!

May you be blessed and a blessing,

~km

I recently hosted a friend who is primarily a retreatant in India – as in he sits in a small room doing specific Buddhist practices day-in and day-out for about seven months a year.  He has been doing this for a number of years, which is inspiring in and of itself, but doing so requires a special type of dedication, good fortune and organization (most of us could not afford to take this kind of time off from our families, etc).

However, one thing he mentioned stuck with me, actually a lot of what he said stuck with me.  He has become skillful and patient in his time in retreat (surprise surprise!).

He mentioned that, in order for an animal to eat our food or to bite us (think ants in your kitchen, mice in your pantry, mosquitoes or ticks, etc), there must be a karmic connection to that animal and we must owe that animal a debt.  Maybe we ate that animal in a past life, maybe they loaned us money and we didn’t repay it!  Who knows?  But what we know is that we have to repay that debt before the animals will leave us alone.

So how do we repay that debt?  That is a great question.  I primarily have experience of this through Buddhism.  I was raised Christian, but you don’t hear about the methods for how to repay karmic debts in Christianity.  Just saying.  So in Buddhism there are many methods to repay karmic debts.  I know there are methods in other religious traditions – but we must be careful such that we do not create more negative karma in conducting a religious ceremony (do not sacrifice an animal or use animal parts if possible).

For one, we can do a smoke offering puja (ceremony) where we offer burnt substances to unseen beings – wisdom beings, local spirits and others.  Apparently there are some beings whose karma is such that they can only enjoy food when it is in smoke form.  Another method for repaying a karmic debt is to do a Sur Chod or feeding the ghosts offering.  I have heard that when someone dies, they go into the Bardo state for up to 49 days – this can be animals dying or humans or other beings.  The Bardo is an intermediate state where the being is ethereal in form – most humans cannot see Bardo beings.  And it is a state where they hang out and explore while they wait for their next rebirth.

The Sur Chod is the method for feeding these Bardo beings – because they too can only imbibe what is offered to them (and I am guessing this is through smoke).  I am not an expert by any means, however, I have conducted a number of these ceremonies – both Sur Chod and smoke offerings.  If you have questions, you should find a qualified spiritual teacher, like a Tibetan lama or monk or nun and ask them.  🙂

I suspect that another way to purify this karmic debt to animals is by freeing animals that are set to be killed.  Buying back a crate of live shrimp or lobsters for example and putting them back in the ocean – with the motivation of freeing them from harm, of preserving their life, might help to produce some positive karma.  This might start to add up though, as far as the check book is concerned.

Just be mindful though – if we poison the termites or ants or wasps in our house or deck, we are actually making our negative karma worse.  The pest problem can only get worse in the future if we do this.  Sorry to say it, but if you are involved in extermination, I can’t imagine how much negative karma is getting accumulated every week – unless it is a green pest control system?  Maybe we can use Have-A-Heart traps that trap a live mouse and transport it miles away from our house – this is better than poison or mouse traps.

This is a very precarious topic though.  So many people hate the pests in and around their homes (with good reason!).  But what if we gave a smoke offering a try first?  What if we participated in a Sur offering ritual?  What if this improved the situation with the ants in my house?  Wow – that’d be pretty cool right?

Thanks for reading as usual!

~km

This might be a little sacrilegious…  but I want to share these thoughts nonetheless.  I want to preface what I am going to say with the fact that I am, deep in my heart, a Buddhist practitioner.  I have a strong connection with Tibetan lamas from the Drikung Kagyu, Nyingma and Gelugpa lineages.  Also, I am not expert, so it might be good to take my opinions with a grain of salt.

With that said, I have been practicing Tibetan Buddhism for 12 years now, in addition I have also studied trauma resolution and Craniosacral Therapy (a form of therapeutic touch and bodywork) for about the same amount of time.  More recently I have spent time exploring and studying Pre- and Perinatal Therapy (Birth Process work) which looks at the world from a baby-centric perspective.  Therefore I have a number of tools at my disposal for working with the body / mind.

I am presently doing a limited retreat.  I am withdrawing from stressful situations, from stressful people and from stressful patterns within my own being.  I am seeking to cultivate loving-kindness, joy and openheartedness.  And overall I think I am doing pretty well with this intention.

Of course I need to make ends meet, so I am working a couple of part-time jobs and I am seeing bodywork and astrology clients when they set up appointments.  But for the most part, my days are full of juicy Svaroopa yoga (gentle supported yoga which focuses on loosening tension in the spine and opening the pelvis), heart opening Zapchen exercises, beautiful walks by the river, spending time with good company and doing a little bit of meditation and Dharma practice.

One pattern I am looking at within myself is my tendency to be hard on myself if I miss a day of Dharma practice.  Nearly everyday I sit on my cushion.  But I have a commitment to finish my preliminary practices – to say the refuge mantra along with doing prostrations.  So when I miss doing that, I feel a little guilty.

However, I need to be aware that this pattern may be something I inherited.  Who in my energetic field (when I was very little) was hard on themselves?  Who might have had a guilty conscience when I was young?  Did I pick that up from Mom or Dad or another care-taker?

The stress of living in this fast-paced, rat-race-inducing, technologically advanced culture leads to my feeling a lot of compression.  Physical compression of my heart and spine, emotional compression of my heart’s generosity and capacity to experience joy and lightheartedness, and energetic compression as I notice any stress in people around me.  Yes, I am a bit sensitive.

I am also vitally aware of how much I need good unconditionally supportive company around me.  I don’t want to spend time with people who are incredibly judgmental or critical.  People who are stuck up in their heads, logically analyzing and discriminating about everything around them.  No, I want people who have discovered a balance between the compassion of the heart, the potency of the pelvis and the clarity of the head.

I have been studying Pre- and Perinatal Therapy (PPN) over the past few years.  And last summer I had the good fortune to go up to Nelson, Canada for 2+ weeks for an intensive workshop.  And I have since discovered that the incredible levels of safety and trust which is cultivated has made for a container of support and good company which I have NEVER experienced anywhere else.  And I mean anywhere else.  When I go to my Dharma center, the majority of the people there are not exactly embodied.  They mean very well and they have excellent motivation and intentions.

But the Sangha (group of students and practitioners) which I have experienced around this PPN work is something extraordinary.  To come together as a group of equals who are all seeking to open our hearts compassionately to the terrible knowledge which existed for many of our childhoods, to build in solid resources and new kinder ways of being with ourselves.  To work through psychological double-binds together and to touch each other in platonic, professional and unconditionally loving ways, is something extremely difficult to find.

The reason I mentioned this might seem kind of blasphemous earlier is that I am looking to see how I can build in more of this second Sangha in my life.  If Buddhist practitioners do not work with their bodies and merely spend time focusing on the bigger picture (which is extremely important of course – looking to purify karma, planning for future lifetimes, and deepening their levels of renunciation), then I’m not sure I want to spend that much time with them at present.

How can I find a balance between Dharma practice (focusing on refining the subtle consciousness and moving toward Buddha-consciousness) and embodying kindness-inducing practices which move us toward greater compassion toward ourselves and others?  The amount of kindness I want to practice toward myself is radical, basically not talked about in any circles of mainstream society.  And I want to spend time with people who practice radical kindness toward themselves.

This is what I am sitting with at present.  I might go up to the Dharma center next week, and I might choose to stay here in town and sit in my semi-retreat of kindness toward self.  Because I am really looking at doing things differently.  Being differently.

I don’t want any judgmental stuff coming through others, even if it is being projected through a Buddhadharma lens.  I don’t want to spend lots of time with people who are repeatedly hard on themselves with no end to this pattern in sight.  (Sometimes people beat themselves up and maybe they even use their meditation practice as a way to continue this trend..)

Wish me well in walking this fine line.  I will continue this discussion soon.

Thank you for visiting!

Gratefully,

~km

 

Hello dear ones,

I haven’t posted here for a while due to technical difficulties at home.  (I am currently limited to an iPad at home which makes posting quite tedious.)

However, if it were easy, I would have posted one or two pieces about astrology.  I am getting back into doing more interpretations which I enjoy doing.

I am actually planning a class on Spiritual Astrology that includes embodiment exercises.  It is my intention to go slow.  To allow people to feel their feet, to slowly come into their hearts and pelvises, to ground and to discover some innate joy Before they approach the astrology chart.  I want this because so often my clients come to me and they are locked into hyper-arousal (anxiety / fear) or they are locked into hypo-arousal (freeze / depression).  I want seekers to have more choice, to experience more joy and to not be approaching astrology with trepidation and worry – rather it is a tool, it is a glimpse at our psyche, but our psyche is flexible and malleable.  We can slowly change our minds.  🙂

So far I am looking to offer this class in Charlottesville.  But if it goes well, I will look beyond Central Virginia.

These days I am continuing to not work full time.  I am mostly recovered from ending a serious relationship back in late January (my heart is finally starting to open more fully and stably).  And I have not decided whether or not I want to get back into nursing school.  It is still a little activating to consider it, so I am withdrawing and allowing myself to rest as deeply as I know how.  I am doing more outdoor activities – gardening, kayaking on a local river, walking near the Rivanah River behind my abode and hiking occasionally.

As I mentioned, I am seeing more clients as a result and I am loving it.  I am assisting with two bodywork classes – Craniosacral Therapy and a Vagus class (Polyvagal trauma resolution bodywork).  This is rewarding and a great reminder of the many tools and tricks in my toolkit as it were.

If you want to schedule an astrology interpretation let me know.  I do Skype sessions, phone, Google Hangouts and Zoom calls.  Also if you live in Virginia, we could always do a session in person!  Plus the bodywork that I practice is very efficacious and resourcing.  My website here: Kirby’s Website

Thanks for reading and I hope to post more soon!

~km

So whether I want to or not… I have been asked to lead group meditations for a couple groups in the past week.  I am reluctant for a number of reasons.  And I am expressing my objections / resistance and moving forward with a one of the groups.

A friend and teacher put my name forward as a potential meditation teacher (we are simply talking Buddhism 101 or Meditation 101) for a group of UVa students.  A 2nd year level course involves the students doing a survey of Buddhism from Theravada (Hinayana) traditions all the way through Dzogchen / Mahamudra (Vajrayana) traditions all in one semester!  That is quite a lot of ground to cover!

I learned that these students take a class-room section of this course where they receive a lecture, then they go to a weekly discussion group where they talk in small groups.  And then they have a meditation lab where they meditation 50 minutes / week.  What an interesting immersion in the study of meditation / Buddhism.

However, I also learned that the students have been pushing pretty hard.  As in less-than-kind immersion in meditation.  (I believe that starting off slowly – like 2 to 3 minutes at a time at first and slowly working our way up from there – is important and kind.  Because a part of us does not actually learn if we are objecting to the activity.)  I plan to offer something radical – how about we make meditation fun and joy-inspiring?  How about we cultivate warmth and enthusiasm for the thought of sitting on our cushions?  Well that is my intention when I go to lead one of these labs.  I hope my style is not rebuked – but is not loving-kindness a critical ingredient on the Buddhist path?  Radical kindness.  What a concept!

Also, my mentor, Janet Evergreen and I are going to be giving introductory teachings (for Dharma practitioners) on the Common Preliminaries – the 4 Thoughts and basic teachings on Refuge.  Contact me if you are interested by the way!  It is happening in Charlottesville, April 29th and 30th.  9 – 12 and 2 – 5 pm both days (Saturday and Sunday).  You can email mkirbymoore [at] gmail . com for more info or to register.

I am definitely reluctant to call myself a meditation teacher.  I am an embodiment coach (meditation is one way to get there).  I do have permission from my Lamas to teach basic meditations and intro Buddhist concepts.  So that is all to the good!

Thanks for reading and wish me luck!

~km

 

Hello to all my dear readers, seasoned and new!

I have been slowly and delicately describing my transition from old self – feeling stuck in certain areas of life and not doing anything about it – to new self: making necessary changes and reforms with mindfulness and kindness to self.

So to recap: I left my partner of three years in January – some elements of that relationship were not healthy and it was time to change it.  I left nursing school in February (again).  This was very complicated because due to a health crisis last year, I also left nursing school.  So I re-entered it this January only to discover that due to my working late nights at my full time job, I could not sustain a healthy body and mind and attempt to complete nursing school the way things were.  Let’s just say I hid my head in the sand for a few weeks after that stomach churning decision!  And just this month, I have put in my notice at my restaurant job (where I was feeling stuck and listless) and I am ready to move forward!

I am feeling better about my transition now.  At first, resting in “I don’t know” mind was very difficult.  I think change is difficult for anyone – and the transitions I am going through this year are staggering.

I have applied to numerous jobs at UVa in clinical research and I am applying to the local community services organization here in C’ville.  So hopefully something will pan out shortly.  I am okay with a couple weeks of not working – enjoying nature, hiking, sitting by the river, doing some writing and reviewing old Dharma teachings.  But I would rather be working by May 1st!

I am also excited about an opportunity to give some basic Dharma teachings myself.  Not that I am at all qualified!  But I have been asked to do the majority of the teaching at a weekend retreat at the end of April – two days of teachings on the common preliminaries – the Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind toward Enlightenment and basic teachings on taking refuge – what to visualize, when, how to do prostrations, why we do them, etc.

So that is where I am at.  I finish up my long relationship with the food and beverage industry this coming week.  And that is all to the good.  I am so relieved to be saying that actually – I feel like it is years too late..  But enough with beating myself up.

I am realizing (through dream guidance) that nursing may actually be the best way for me to move forward.  I am disappointed I could not complete this semester, but I had to take care of myself.  Hopefully they will let me back in, or if not, I will transfer to another school.  Nonetheless, clinical research or offering community services type work will both be good as they are in alignment with nursing.

Thank you all for wishing me well and continuing to read my random missives!

~km