With each conscious effort of work on ourselves, little by little, the conditioning is melted away until finally, we are clear enough to be totally committed to something that can neither be seen, nor felt, nor tasted, nor touched. The various methods and practices will help us toward this end, perhaps, but ultimately no one can but ourselves can make this commitment for us.
Reshad Feild, Steps to Freedom
The Mother’s Breath
The breathing practice I teach is based upon a natural rhythm which is sometimes called ‘the Mother’s Breath’. This is the rhythm of 7-1-7-1-7 and is based on one of the great cosmic laws of the universe, the law of octaves.
The practice entails breathing in to a count of seven, pausing for one count, and then breathing out to the count of seven and pausing for one count. The rhythm is the most important thing and not the precise amount of time it takes to unfold in each individual. Each person is unique and we should find the pace that is most comfortable for us.
For a while, the rhythm may be difficult. If our breath is not in harmony with the pulse of the universe, it will take practice in order to come back to what is our true heritage. The womb of the moment pulsates at a certain rhythm, and this is understood through the practice of 7-1-7-1-7 breathing.
We have mostly presumed the breath. Although there are further dimensions to this practice, the first step is to watch the breath, in gratefulness to be alive in each moment. We follow the breath as it comes in through the nostrils and back out again, getting used to the rhythm of 7-1-7-1-7.
Now we can start work with the placing of the breath. Within us, there is something that is sometimes called the ‘cauldron’, which can be likened to the cauldron used in alchemy through which the transformation of the base metals is turned into gold. In this practice, we center the cauldron in the solar plexus, and we breathe into this area.
When we breathe in, we breathe in not only consciously but, in a sense, selfishly. By this, I mean we breathe in what we need for the necessary transformation to take place. We can breathe in earth energy, magnetic energy, color, vibrations from the mineral kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, and so on. It is perfectly possible to breathe in from all directions at once, into this central point of the solar plexus. This should be a joyous experience, awakening wonder in the glory of being alive.
The next step has to do with the out-breath. We breathe in only to breathe out. What we have taken in on the in-breath needs to be given to the waiting world on the out-breath. And here, for the out-breath, we move our attention from the solar plexus to the center of the chest. At the same time, we visualize our breath radiating out from that center in all directions, manifesting as Light. Each individual can add their own concepts of love and goodwill towards all of God’s creatures, from the planet to Mankind Itself. I often give the analogy of the heart center being like a lighthouse for all the shipwrecked seekers in the world.
Once again, the method of this practice is to breathe in for the count of seven, all that we need in the transformation process. On the pause of one count, we raise our attention from the solar plexus to the heart center, and then we radiate out in the form of Light to the count of seven, before pausing for one count. Then we repeat this cycle over again.
Little by little this practice becomes perfectly ‘normal’, and we find ourselves in the right place and in the right time, able to be more of service every day of our lives. Reshad Feild
(from pg. 43-44, Alchemy of the Heart, Reshad Feild)
“How often do we recognize the beauty of life? There is so much beauty around us, so many miracles of God, and yet we walk around asleep to the wonders of life. Awareness is something we have to work on. We have to open ourselves consciously to the beauty around us. Listen to the effect inside yourselves. Feel what it is, without judging or comparing it to something else. Open up your senses and sensitivities. Reverse space.
“There are two sorts of space. One we have termed centric space, which is what most of us live in ninety-nine percent of the time. It is like a dot in the middle of a circle saying ‘I see, ‘I hear’ or ‘I’m doing. It is the sense of approaching everything around us with this ego-centric ‘I’. In this space we are not really listening, but think that we are. Actually, we are talking and not listening; we are too much in the way to really hear.
The other sort of space is the reverse of this and could be called peripheral space, or reversed space. It is like a circle spiraling into the centre. Instead of reaching out to grab what we want in the world, or seeing only what we want to see, we allow the impressions of the world to come to us. It is being receptive, being actively receptive. We allow the world to speak and move through us. We allow life to see and penetrate us. We are not the central focus. Here, we need to surrender ourselves to the space coming in, becoming empty of self, so that the life around us can be heard. We need to become quiet and receptive. Then we can hear. Instead of ‘I hear’ or ‘I see, it is ‘I am heard’, ‘I am seen’. Once we realize we are heard, then we can truly hear. If we can allow ourselves to be seen, we will be able to see, and hopefully someday we will see that we are loved.
To understand what I mean by this I suggest you go out and allow yourselves to be seen. Allow yourselves to be seen by the trees, the plants, the animals, the land. Go out and about, and let the land see you. If the land has been raped, you’ll feel its pain. Consider what the birds feel, the trees, the land. The moment you allow yourselves to be seen, you’ll start to really see what’s there. Things will begin to happen. It sounds so simple, but the effect can be quite tremendous and far-reaching. By reversing space, we ourselves become the mirror for life to know itself. You’ll be able to see and understand all the kingdoms, including the invisible ones, when you allow them to see you.
We are the eyes through which God sees, the ears through which He hears, the nose through which He smells, the hands through which He touches, and the mouth through which He speaks. We can come to realize God in every moment of our lives, and in this knowledge, we are in love. The truth and beauty of God are no more ‘inside’ or ‘outside’. They are beyond any such division because we are aware of God inside and outside simultaneously. ‘Some see God in creation and some see creation in God, but the Sufi sees God in creation and creation in God all at the same time.’
Begin to be aware of and open yourselves to the beauty that surrounds you. We can bring forth the beauty in each other by recognizing the beauty in each other. It is said, ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ and there is a key in this. The sole purpose of love is beauty, and love finds the beloved in the beautiful. In love we can recognize the beautiful and bring forth the latent beauty in all things.
40-day Turning Practice
Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi, often known as the Pole of Love, died on December 17, 1273. Each year on December 17th, we honor his union with the Beloved and the message of Love that he brought to the world with a Sema ceremony, including his poems and the “dervish turn.” The turn is a prayer symbolizing our turning towards the Divine and is taught in Mevlevi and other Sufi orders. Reshad Feild was initiated into the turn and asked by Suleyman Dede, 1904-1985, a Mevlevi Shaykh in Konya, Turkey, to bring the turn and its inner meaning to the West. Reshad promised to do this and to keep the turn pure, as he was taught, and it was in that spirit that he passed on the knowledge of the turn to us. On November 8th each year, 40-days before December 17th, those friends in the circle who wish make a commitment to practice and turn each day as a prayer for the world, and to turn together once a week. This cycle culminates in the Sema, turning in the traditional robes.
In 1989, Reshad and the Living School produced a beautiful video of the Sema ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland, titled “Turning Towards the Morning.” This can be found at www.chalice-publishing.com.