Aligned, Relaxed, Resilient: The Physical Foundations of Mindfulness

Shambhala Publications

The emphasis on the mind in meditation can be somewhat misleading: If we pay attention only to mental processes and overlook the experience of the body, we can remain stuck in our heads and not be able to break free of the involuntary thinking that we find so claustrophobic and toxic. This short, practical guide helps us embrace the fact of our embodiment—the experience of the sensations, movements, and gestures of the body—and to realize that mindfulness is the natural state of awareness of a body that has learned how to experience its feeling presence. Johnson takes us through the three primary principles of the posture of meditation: alignment, relaxation, and resilience. He devotes a large part of each chapter to specific practices to help the reader experience different aspects of physical presence. This book is of interest to meditators of all traditions—Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Jews, and others—as well as therapists, bodyworkers, and anyone interested in body-centered psychology and other natural modes of healing.
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About the author

Will Johnson is a certified bodyworker and director of the Institute for Embodiment Training in his hometown of Cobble Hill, British Columbia.
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Additional Information

Shambhala Publications
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Published on
Jul 5, 2000
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Body, Mind & Spirit / Mindfulness & Meditation
Health & Fitness / Yoga
Religion / Meditations
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Poems and commentary that open the door for a new generation to experience the ecstatic and embodied spiritual truths contained in Rumi’s poetry

• Reveals how the four practices of eating lightly, breathing deeply, moving freely, and gazing intently can invoke the divinity within us all

• Explains how these practices dissolve the self’s need for identity so that we may experience a state of transcendent ecstasy and union with the divine

• Takes Rumi’s path to finding God from theoretical to embodied practices

The great thirteenth-century Sufi mystic and poet Jalaluddin Rumi began his life as an orthodox Islamic believer but felt that to fully experience complete union with the divine he must abandon institutionalized religion and its prescribed forms of worship. Surrendering his will to his overriding urge for a much more immediate, intuitive, and compelling union with the divine, he found that by manipulating certain behavioral aspects of his physiology--eating lightly, breathing deeply, moving freely, and gazing raptly--he was capable of loosening the rigid confines of the self, thereby overriding its limitations and achieving a transcendent merging with his own divinity.

His message is simple: if you wish to affect the spirit, you must first make changes in the way your body responds to the world. Through clearly written commentary interspersed with Rumi’s beautiful poems, this book details these four practices in a very precise way. As such, it is a sweet and open invitation to follow the examples set forth in order to embark upon one’s own path of inner illumination. The freshness of Rumi’s poetry dissolves the 700 years that separate his life from our own time, making his message as pertinent today as when he walked the streets of Konya, Anatolia (present-day Turkey), reciting his inspiring verse. This book allows us, through Rumi’s gentle guidance, to touch the face of God that resides deep within us all.
An account of spiritual awakening told through the rites of passage of a father and son

• Reveals the essential role spirituality can play in our mundane lives

• Celebrates not only traditional rites of passage, but also the more subtle moments of change that continually take place within each of us

• Reflects on the power of prayer and intention in guiding our life journey

Part spiritual travelogue, part personal memoir, The Sailfish and the Sacred Mountain is the story of the profound moments that forever change our lives, told in the context of a father and son’s journey to the sacred Mount Kailas in Tibet.

Every moment in life is a moment of passage. While many culturally prescribed rites of passage--baptisms, bar mitzvahs, and confirmations--may not necessarily transform the participant into a higher level of maturity and understanding, there are many other moments that stand out as true passages into a new phase of life. These are the moments of triumph or of pain and defeat--the first taste of love, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one--moments after which we know, in the quiet of our hearts and minds, we will never be the same.

The Sailfish and the Sacred Mountain presents a unique view into how we can create the circumstances that invite profound spiritual awakenings to occur in our lives and how we can recognize and embrace the powerful lessons these events have to offer. As Will Johnson reflects on his own life passages, he tells the story of the remarkable journey with his son to Mount Kailas--a journey that proves to be a moment of passage for both father and son.
Presents three simple yogic principles from Tilopa's Song of Mahamudra

• Explains how balance is the key to achieving higher consciousness

• Includes somatic koans

Mahamudra, literally "the great gesture," is often looked upon as the highest manifestation of consciousness known within the Tibetan Vajrayana tradition. In Yoga of the Mahamudra, Will Johnson explains how it is possible to bring forth the condition of mahamudra naturally by utilizing the mystical yoga of balance to create what he calls the embodied cross.

He presents three simple yogic principles from Tilopa's Song of Mahamudra. The first principle, "do nothing with the body but relax," forms the vertical axis of the embodied cross. It is an internal process that focuses on the upright structure of the body, which opens up our relationship to the divine source. The second principle, "Let the mind cling to nothing," allows the horizontal flow of energy to our mind. This horizontal axis represents our relationship to the world: what we see and hear, and what our mind does with the objects we perceive. The establishment of these vertical and horizontal flows of energy allows us to embody the third principle, "to become like a hollow bamboo." In this way the body and mind become extraordinarily fluid, surrendering to the currents of the life forces that constantly flow through them like air through a flute. The author concludes with a number of somatic koans, exercises that allow the direct experience of balance and lead to the creation of the embodied cross.
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