Re-informing mindfulness meditation and guided imagery- a raga of sorts


I recently completed the novel Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid while at the same time continuing my reading of the ancient Hindu text the Bhagavad-Gita. I found that these two pieces formed a kind of impressionistic raga, a voice that transcends culture and beliefs and inspires all at the same time. This is not a book review but merely an exploration into the powerful motifs of ancient wisdom, spirit mind-body awakening and their implications for healing energy, meditation and guided imagery. This then is the direction I want to take you if you have a few minutes. States of guided imagery and mindfulness are directional and can be intuitive as well!

There appears to be a significant crossover that is gaining traction in our healing institutions between the poetry of language or narrative and the poetry of consciousness as form and breath; adjuncts to current medical and healing practices. I was at once struck by one specific instance in which the author Hamid, in his elegant novel describes what for me is the perfect explanation of how integrating aspects of one’s capacity for sensing the multi-sensory forms or extensions of the visual or the auditory and its delicacy of how bits of fragments in his words elicit an entire landscape. His term is the “Arc of vision”.  An arc constitutes a fragment of a circle or of a circular functioning structure such as a wheel or a hub – yes you say, it is a center. And a center is a deeper expression or form of sense perception. It is a grounding influence, a calming impression. A healing channel.

Now for the Bhagavad Gita - stick with this or let me summarize it quickly, we have an innate gift to deepen a kind of deep seeing intuitively, a kind of inner conduit of spirit. In reading the Bhagavad Gita the commentary of Parmahansa Yoganada  (The Swami and founder of Self Realization Fellowship who mastered the channels of self through a form of yoga handed down throughout the ancient Vedic traditions as Kriya Yoga; it is an advanced form of breath control and breath utilization in deepening sense awareness and energy) the Gita further expands our conversation thus: “ the devotee has not yet attained the realization in which all his perceptions are but various aspects of the infinite. He has first to realize his inner self intuitively, then, to unite his soul perception with cosmic perception. The offering of the self denotes a narrower form of consciousness–only the limited form of intuition required to offer the self into the fire of infinite perception for the purpose of uniting it with the soul, and hence with spirit. By this does the devotee unite his wisdom with consciousness”. 

Being inwardly guided 

Here we now have two discrete approaches for accessing states of being. Hamid’s is that of the poet delicately plucking from a vast horizon a simple fleeting speck which he beautifully calls an arc of vision and in this arc of vision inspires a total freedom to experience the whole, a visual awakening to the potential of what is unseen and in what is imagined. And in this commentary of the Gita it is clearly stated “he has first to realize his inner self intuitively” yes it is a realization through intuition, “then, to unite his soul perception with cosmic consciousness”.  

The work of guided imagery in healing is in fact to harness that what is imagined as a bridge to channel either forms or states of deep listening through intention. It is a form of creative mindfulness in that it is being created in the moment of perception, not in the memory of the mindbody, even though the imprint of memory may influence that impression. Thus it is first through intuition (true the brain mind signals its own outputs and influences neural pathways but intuition is what integrates all living systems in spirit mindbody). The current practice of mindfulness meditation has powerfully advanced the entire field of complementary medicine in that it too is the channel to spirit even though some schools of mindfulness remain in the mindbody refrain sans a spiritual linking much like relaxation response has done regarding meditation.

Mindfulness meditation involves the development of awareness of present-moment experience with a compassionate, non- judgmental stance (Kabat-Zinn, 1990). It has been suggested that this process is associated with a perceptual shift (Carmody, 2009), in which one’s thoughts and feelings are recognized as events occurring in the broader field of awareness. 

In the Gita, Chapter 4 verse 26. Yoganada’s commentary clarifies “certain devotees (ed. Students that practice the arts of deepening their self development) offer, … their powers of hearing and other senses. Others offer a sacrifice, in the fire of the senses, sound and other sense objects. Yoganada in this verse makes a distinction between sensory powers and sensory objects. The sensory objects are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. The corresponding sensory objects are form and color, sound, odor, flavor, and tangibility or the feeling of touching.  The aim of the disciplined individual is to neutralize the insulating capacity of the senses by offering the objects of sense into the self controlled use of the powers of sense.”

This union or raga between senses and awareness then is a kind of map for the spirit mindbody dance fundamental to much of the work that it is being advanced and is integral in a form of deeper guided imagery which is the work of the collective i.e. for accessing and advancing complementary alternative states of healing energy that lines up to current modalities such as traditional guided imagery and mindfulness meditation.

Staying plugged in requires novelty

Is there a way into deepening this union? This is where the concept of novelty plays a major influence in maintaining the fires of creative imagination, intuition, and passion for exploration. The narrative, the form and function of imagination as outgrowths of perception offer a variety of deeper experiences that engage, stimulate and renew interest in the exploration of guided imagery. This also applies to mindfulness meditation as a practice. It offers a number of approaches that in fact can harness the concept of novelty when influenced through the breath, and the form of sense objects that together make for a deeper guided imagery palette for healing. The key then is in the intention and awareness of those practices. Coaching and the level of the quality of the guide play a major role. This is where off the shelf and quick non-disciplined efforts run aground.  Zen succeeds by way of its transmission of its teachers. The practice of Zen has its unique culture and language which can derail many since the Zen mind is paradoxical, an abstraction that can confuse the beginner in its terms such as no-mind  (how can no mind be mindful or clap with one hand you say!) It did for me as a younger student that is until after a few years’ integration and maturity took hold.

What’s the point! Allow me conclude. The inner healing work is an extension of my inner calling similar to hearing the music that draws me in on a sensory channel the way the desert landscape harmonizes my deepest energies or the imaginative impression that becomes an “Arc of Vision”. Guided imagery and mindfulness meditation each offer ways in their approaches to inner work and have a vocabulary of impressions that can enrich and deepen and give expression to the states of healing. Novelty and creative imagination in the poetics of sensory objects or perceptions are the notes within the music of creative intelligence. We are the receivers of this gift of intelligence.  The channels of transmission and the teaching in the wisdom schools and training and breath are the gate to spirit mindbody and so is creative intelligence that is channeled in spirit (inspired as in the breath). It is our intuitive power to see, to hear, to touch, and be open. These are all pathways that are unrestricted in their essence regarding the power of Spirit and of the power of healing. These are my tools to integrate my healing energy as a caregiver, healthcare professional or patient.

Tools and living poetics are there for us to craft a living practice

A toolbox for exploration as a living practice for deepening this guided imagery sensory palette are being developed and will be shared within a few months so please stay in touch.

God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita  Paramahansa Yogananda

The Reluctant Fundamentalist Mohsin Hamid (Author)


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