Praxis: Practice. Can mean an act; by extension, a function: also can mean deed, office, work.
Wisdom is always taste — in both Latin and Hebrew, the word for wisdom comes from the word for taste — so it’s something to taste, not something to theorize about. “Taste and see that God is good,” the psalm says; and that’s wisdom: tasting life. No one can do it for us. The mystical tradition is very much a Sophia tradition. It is about tasting and trusting experience, before institution or dogma.
HEART and HEAD
In this the first in a series we explore the “heart and head” meditation. The heart and head meditation is utilized in many traditions. Here we explore three examples. The heart and head meditation focuses upon “points of energy” at the “heart” and the “head.” This simple meditation is a great way for any beginner or expert to simply connect to the divine and cleanse the self. Indeed the emphasis of this meditation is largely to awaken one’s self toward theosis. The concept of making one’s self a hollow reed (sometimes referred to as theurgy) allows the practitioner to enter into a bargain with the divine. Here the practitioner is becoming a vessel, a container; ready to be filled with the divine.
Through the heart and head meditation we help build the temple and awaken the grail. Some may see this as far too simplistic; of course the simplest things are of course usually the most sublime and complex. Practiced daily, or as often as possible, the head and heart meditations will allow one to walk further toward the intoxication of the divine as spoken of by the Sufi.
This traditional meditation has many versions and parallels. But the simplicity allows for an opening that may change your life forever. Of course, the purpose of meditation is not so much to change yourself, but more to become who you already are.
The head and heart meditation, as we shall see, essentially involves meditating upon two “forms.” These are done through rhythmic breathing touching the head and the heart. We breathe in and touch the heart and focus place a focal “point” in our mind”; we breathe out and touch our head and focus upon another point. The head is generally the place of the “third eye” on the fore head, while the heart can literally be our hearts or in some traditions can be the solar plexus. Although, as we see in the below examples this can differ, but the overall idea is the same.
First we explore a Neo-Gnostic meditation
Here Br. Puma shows us a neo Gnostic meditation using the two Aeons (Gnostic emanations/Platonic Archetypes) of Christ and Sophia. Although slightly different from our below examples, this example has the same overall “feel.”
For the full text please follow the link.
Begin breathing slowly and steadily. Focus on your breath. There is no need to “count” your breaths, just allow them to flow naturally into one another. Breathe from the diaphragm, not the chest– your stomach should move in and out and your chest should remain still. Now, shift your awareness to a spot two inches below your navel. If it helps, make a spot at that point with a magic marker before you begin (this seems funny, but it works!). As you breathe in, mentally say the word “Christos” (pronounced KRĪSH-tos) As you breathe out, mentally say the word “Sophia” (pronounced so-FĪ-ya). In, Christos, stomach rises, out, Sophia, stomach falls. Christos, Sophia. Focus on your spot and repeat these words.
Invariably, thoughts will begin to arise and your mind will begin wandering. When you notice that your mind has begun wandering, say to yourself, “thinking,” return your awareness to your spot and begin again with Christos, Sophia. No matter what sensation arises other than your Christos, Sophia and your spot, acknowledge it and move on. If you have an itch that distracts you, think, “itching” and move on, return your awareness to your spot and your breathing. If it does not go away, scratch it, but say “scratching the itch” and return to your spot and your breathing. If you find yourself slumping, say “slumping and straightening” and pull the imaginary line taught. Continue in this way, simply being, acknowledging all thoughts but letting them pass away.
You will find, after a while, that the instances of “thinking” etc. are fewer and fewer. You are opening an inner gate and cleaning your inner stables, so you might have some thoughts that are utterly mystifying. No matter how unusual or bizarre the thought, let it pass away as soon as you are aware you are thinking it. You might think, “I’ve always wanted to kill so-and-so,” but do not be amazed; it is just a thought. Just say “thinking” and return to your spot and your breathing. Your mind might be muddled with problems stemming from work or your social life. Do not attribute the thoughts with any value, simply say “thinking” and let them fade away, returning your awareness to your spot and moving on.
Next we venture into Judaism and the Kabbalah. Praxis will explore Kabbalistic meditations further, but for this entry we follow the Jewish version of the Head and heart meditation.
The meditation focusing on the Hebrew word Shalom goes back to the book of Ezekiel. First as in the other examples, we should enter into a meditation posture. Free from distractions we should enter silence as you normally would to meditate. We can shake our hands to draw out unwanted energy. However you find it best, we must now relax.
We begin by touching our foreheads and verbally chanting Shhhh, we can do this out loud or silently (feel free to try both). We breathe inwardly and chant Shhh. This signifies divine energies being brought into our being. Hold your breath for a moment and concentrate your awareness on the divine.
As you breathe out chant Ommm and bring your hand to your heart. Repeat this action, so that the Sh blends into an Mmmmm sound.
Traditionally kabbalists teach that you should only briefly focus upon the “MMmmmm” initially and build into it. We can vary our focus on the Shhhh and the Ommm making our attention longer or shorter or equal as regards both “places.” We should not be afraid to feel and go with what feels best.
Eventually you may like to enter into silent communion. Here you can focus on the divine, your loved ones or whatever your focus for the exercise may be.
To close you may like to say a verbal or silent prayer.
The task of Jewish meditation is to open the heart to union with the infinite; this is the same fundamental and underpinning point that underscores everything else within the tradition. It is ‘Ehyeh asher Ehyeh,’ God in our breath, God and us in Oneness. When we meditate, we watch Zot, a feminine word that is both one of the names of God and the meaning of ‘thisness.’ When we meditate we naturally expand and cultivate Chesed – compassion and loving-kindness…..When we meditate we become healers not only of our own wounding, which we repair by connecting it to God, but also of the world around us.”
– Avram Davis and Manuela Dunn Mascetti (Judaic Mysticism (Mystic Library)
Finally we have the modern Manichaean Orthodox Church’s version:
Sit upright in a relaxed fashion, neither slumped nor rigid. Quiet yourself and relax for a few moments, feeling your breath go in and out of your nostrils. Relax and just listen to your breath for a bit, thinking of nothing else but how it feels going in and out of your nose. Release any tension in your neck or other bodily area and be at peace.
Place your fingertips on your forehead and take a quiet but deep breath inward whilst ever so quietly saying Aumen as you breath air in, moving your lips but speaking almost inaudibly. Hold the breath for a comfortable moment while thinking about far off worlds of light and your Heavenly Parents who are there. Try to invision and feel your spirit rising up to them through the top of your head. After a moment or two of having your awareness focused upward, move your fingertips to your heart and whisper Hay-ya in a soft out breathing. Feel Life, Goodness and Love pouring forth from your heart like clean pure water from a spring, quenching the thirst of all outer worlds from the hidden source of Aumen. Feel life force flowing through you and pouring forth freely through your heart center.
(If you have trouble feeling it, then breath out a little more forcibly for a few rounds. If you still don’t feel anything, continue to do the exercise anyway.)
Repeat this breathing and uttering of the divine name Aumen-Hayya for several rounds or a few minutes, feeling yourself connected with the Source of all goodness, love and light and channeling that goodness out into the world through the compassion of your own being. With each breath take new confidence that you have a right, as Their child, to connect with your Heavenly Parents above and receive love and light from them, especially when your motive is to bring in downward in order to share it outward from your heart center to help and heal all those in need. Become a conduit, forgetting oneself and concentrating on Aumen above and Their Life force flowing out of you into all the world. Feel empty of yourself, like a hollow tube, and full of Them like a gushing spring. Flow Their compassion and wisdom freely toward all, without reservation or direction. After a time, when it feels right to quit, let the word Aumen-Hayya, and yourself, melt into oneness with Them. Release any and all thoughts in your mind and contemplate, or feel, your connection with Them in your heart and with all your being. Say a silent non verbal prayer to become ever more one with Them in the future and end with “Aumen”.
Feel free to adapt and change any of the above Praxis, to suit your needs.