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incorporation & nonconceptual awareness

Updated: May 1

>>> musingz & such <<<  {fall newsletter 2018}

It was a morning in November, about a decade ago, when I sat quietly reading a story in an issue of Yoga Journal. I can still remember the snow falling on the front page of the article.  I do not know who wrote the story or any of the practical details, but I can still taste the sweetness of the nectar of the inner-and-outer reflections it gifted me with toward my life. The storyteller shared that she and her husband would walk their dogs everyday, and once after returning home from a vacation to a place they never visited and where their senses were fully awake and noticing everything, they went for a walk on the land where there home was and began to see things they never saw before the trip, and how each day after that, what they noticed the day before changed, lived: that life was anew in each moment. They realized that their puppy had been doing this all along. Each flower, leaf, inch of dirt would be an invitation for their dogs to engage with, to explore, to feel into… even when it was the same leaf each day - the dogs were experiencing it as its new being.  The story touched and moved me so deeply that I revisit this type of open, inviting awareness of the natural world each time I am walking on the land with pups - including this morning. Today, Gracie, one of our fur companions, was leaping and bounding through the snow trails, stopping to smell life’s dynamism. I too noticed how the snowflakes all reflected the light differently and how the smell of the ground changed overnight, and that sound dissolved differently into the snowy ground. Buddhist teachings refer to this type of awareness, not fixed to any concept or idea, as nonnconceptual awareness. In which, instead of encountering the world through a filter of ideas, memories, and labels, we connect deeply with the unfiltered and vital pulse of life in the moment. Today, when I walk on the land here without any preconceived ideas, it is different each time I encounter it. From this perspective, I can see it anew and take in its breathing, dynamic aliveness with clarity.    Walks in nature, especially with puppies, are mindfulness companions mirroring to me how present and open I am to the dynamic aliveness, the flow of the moment. Nonconceptual awarenessallows us to approach each moment as fresh and new. And the paradox within that is that perhaps Awarenessitself is perhaps the unchanging Essence.

Marcel Proust describes this paradox by stating, “The real voyage consists not of seeking new landscapes, but in seeing with fresh eyes.”

I have been thinking alot about (re)incorporation lately  --- it’s importance for understanding and fulfilling the initiation into life’s transitions as well as how it is sometimes overlooked.  As a yoga teacher, I have the opportunity to guide and be guided through transitions in daily ways --- the act of stepping on the mat and marking the threshold space to dive into the unknown at the beginning of class. As the yoga class comes to the end, I recognize how vitally important it is to invite practitioners to mark their return back through the threshold, thus what has been initiated or marked in the threshold space is able to emerge, to be carried, birthed, and incorporated into the rest of our lives. In this way, the thousands of ways we emerge in a given day or even hour really matter and can be seen with fresh eyes, a new birth. You are emerging from the center of your circle of purpose, embodying clear-eyed presence, ripe for pausing to drink in the nectar of now.

In rites of passages, emergence and reincorporation are used to describe the third phase of transitions. It is the moment when after a long, dark, cold night (or months/years) of symbolically passing through the contraction field of birthing, when the first light breaks through the dark night and touches your eyes, and you see the dawn emerging,the birth canal appears and the birthing quickens. Your bones warm up and you can feel the rhythmic pulse of your heart beating with reverence. Birth awakens through you and in you. You are giving birth to yourself and soon you will cross back through the threshold. This phase of transition is a new beginning in which you symbolically emerge as a newly born being; literally taking on the body -- fully awake.

Baraka! (to bless and to kneel)

As a faster in the liminal space during a rite of passage ceremony last February I began to question if the light would ever touch my eyes again. The “contraction field” leading up to the birth was intense and incredibly powerful medicine for the rest of my life. Light shined on the inner yes toward fully receiving the gifts I was returning with and incorporating. When the light did touch my eyes, I found myself expressing and weeping joy with the gestures of Baraka to the emerging birth of my inner marriage.

The reincorporation phase is a subtle and delicate time as well as a joyous, celebration, and communal time. Just as newborn beings, we have recently emerged through a birth canal, feeling the treading contractions and the vast darkness of the unknown. While we have died to the old skins, the new pores are slowly coming together. Newness is sensitive. We are not operating from the old paradigms anymore, and so we are realigning to a paradox of the same community, but also seeing it very differently than before, and incorporating as our new birth. Our eyes have been cleansed and purified by the dark nights. We can see the unchanging.

Sing softly

To bring in the day

Just be yourself

No one can take that away

Awareness of Rhythms: I find this time of year, as we transition more fully into the depth of fall from the equinox to the winter solstice, like the beginning of the bridge entering into the threshing phase, the liminal unknown. It is now when the earth’s cycles literally and symbolically represents the dark night of the soul and the contraction field similarly as it is during the rite of passage vision fast ceremony. In these later autumn days, the light coming over the western ridges disappears very quickly into black, blacker than black nights, a living metaphor of the west shield and psyche from the Four Shields of Human Nature (see Foster & Little). The darkest nights seem to invite us out of our world of fixed concepts --- to go inward. It quickens us to bestill and to pause in the moment, to prepare, to carry the wood and tend the fire, to carry the stories, AND it is a time which our bodies can be intuitive light beacons informing us of when and how to act. In this way, the coldness of the winter does not harden us; instead, with awareness in our bodies and in the earth body, the coldness of winter softens us, invites us to pause, to reflect, to see clearly what has been overlooked. Everything gets blanketed under the snow, dormant, for the growth in spring. We are awake for it all, we see with clear-eyed presence what is happening, even in dormancy, we are able to respond from the wilderness of our bodies, and we don’t go back to sleep (metaphorically). The dormancy of these darker fall nights enables us to “shift into a new way of seeing ourselves in relation to our world and a new way of understanding our power” (Davis, 2016).

Incorporation of the Body is to embody your relationship with the body of human and the body of the planet. We foster the connections with the child-- there is a lot of information that the child has for the adult,  so that the adult does not become rigid.

Incorporation is also vital because we are returning with what we received out there - whether out there is a solo enclosure, a vision fast, or the dark fall nights ---  there is a life force out there that we received that is essential to inform the field in which we return.

And when this phase is missing, an initiation cannot be complete and the full promise of a transformative life transition remains unfulfilled. Something is missing. Yet, the essence which never changes is always there, so full, so awake, so alive. Perhaps that is what we are marking in the initiation: the “Oh, Great Mysteriousing! I have allways loved you. I am fed by You. You are the life force.  Welcome to being fully alive together.” Perhaps underneath the initiation or transition is the heart and the inner marriage of spirit & flesh allways beckoning to re-emerge, bridge, return, belong, and be seen, lived, and celebrated as wholyness.

What if we honored the sacred pause in returning, and let our bodies inform us? What if we truly celebrated the birth and marriage of flesh and spirit from the Dark Night. Hallelujah! We slept, we dreamt, we awoke with vision, with fullness, with freedom to live as One - integrated and whole.

And no matter what pace we are moving, what if we just moved consciously, in a way that the vitality and life that is moving in us be exhaled into loving, integrated, attuned action? What if we just stay awake to all of it and not go back to sleep (metaphorically)?

Perhaps this is the Great Turning that is happening - waking up and acting from Love. I don’t really know. Nothing is for certain. It is all a Great Mystery, but it feels good and aligned to lift my face to the feel dawn breaking through these cleansed eyes. 

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, 

there is a field. I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,

the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase "each other" 

doesn't make any sense.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don't go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

Don't go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill

where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.

Don't go back to sleep.


Sending you blessings of peace, warmth, love, connection, clarity, and beautiful solitude and wholeness on your passage to the solstice. 

in love & shukriya,


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