Many people who come to work with me have had some kind of life changing experience. They’ve encountered life in a profound way. No longer are they outside of life looking in, but smack dab in the middle of reality and all of its power. Words like energy are no longer concepts, but part of being inside of the belly of life.  And they have to learn to function, to walk around and meet life in this new way of being. Often they are struggling to just be in their bodies.  It can be like, “I’ve really seen something profound, but I can’t seem to walk around well with all of this moving through me”. Maybe it was through a drug experience or a spontaneous energetic opening. Even a true awakening experience. Or some are just born this way. 

It can be that they have had some kind of opening, but their bodies need time to coalesce. It may be that they even discovered that they are not their bodies, and yet all of these physical processes and openings begin to unfurl, sometimes forcefully. So part of my work is to help people create a container to process these openings in a healthy way, and to ripen over time.

In the process of finding my way to connect with life in my twenties in Japan, I found that I needed to spend periods of time physically exploring movement and harmony. This was aside from my normal practice. I am not talking about the seated zazen or the Zhan Zhuang, or even the Non-directed body Movement. I’m talking about creatively walking around and exploring how to make it all work. I want to take away even more of your idea of practice. It was necessary to have time to investigate what it was to move through space in a way that felt true.  

Sitting all of those hours, training twenty-four hours a day, my internal world became so full, bursting. I was obsessed with how to actualize it as I walked around. I was obsessed because I felt physically bursting and stuck all of the time. This fullness needed integrating to coalesce. I felt a cellular need to express and harmonize it. It was not a choice. I was either suffering or finding a way to let this hugeness through. To step one, step two. To marry heaven and earth. In this exploration, this letting go, I would have to let go of all ideas of good and bad, I’d often lose track of up and down, in and out. And mostly I was in pain. The pain of not meeting reality in a unified way. So I would go out into the garden and explore. Explore walking around and meeting the environment. Of the ineluctable reality, the uncompromising truth of being in a body in the full volume of life. It was as natural and real as breathing. It was all I wanted to do. It was my way to relief. Nourishment. It was keeping my head above water. There was no good idea there, surviving became my motivator.

What happens when I take a step?  What happens when I lift my arm?  Can I soften the hard edge of my awareness separating me from all things? Can I allow the whole universe to permeate me? Am I brave enough? Something deeper is happening, am I patient and spacious enough to feel it?

With this fullness, this buoyancy I felt through this internal work, my body blown up like a balloon, how could I function from that place? How could I integrate it? How could I penetrate the mysteries of movement, connection, transparency? The books never described it the way it felt. I had to feel it for myself in my own way.  Can I blend, merge into the air around me, the garden, the sound of the cicada?  Can I remove the barrier between self and other, expand, meld, connect?  Rock and dirt and pine trees around me. Roof tile, the smell of old tatami leaning on the wall. What is it to move through space? Where is my breath? Is there a more subtle breath always there, always opening me up? Is there a mystery there and is that great mystery healing? Is there a yes always there? How can I stay in sync, stay in this internal momentum, not fall out of this harmony, this wave pummeling me, guiding me?  How can I feel the flower in the garden, become it, allow my body to be filled by the environment?  How can I let go of the gravity of thoughts, exist as receptivity? Love? Grace? And the miraculous joy which erupts out of this naked, honest longing and merging.

Later, as I deepened… Can I actualize all that I have dropped into on the cushion or in my standing meditation, the samadhi, the vast mind? How does the rubber hit the road?  How can I be in it and communicate, function from this unified place? Close the gap? How can I be a light to others through this truth, be a vessel to share this light with the world. Move from this place inside of this huge moment, not lose it as I encounter people or have to interact. This was a very strange, unique, sometimes lonely, amazingly connected and faithful couple of years, merging and becoming my every step.  

I spent hours testing, finding a way to be in tune, harmony, in this energetic truth. It could be as simple as taking a slow walk. It became my salvation, my love, my joy, my creative outlet. It was a natural overflowing of the practice of stillness. It became my life. My way of moving through the world. It’s what I came to share with the world after training, what I am still sharing. It’s my main work today, served through a few different modalities. I am communicating now but I am always communicating this. Everything I ever say or share is about this.

I recommend that open time of exploration. It may be very difficult at first. After opening up it may be difficult to stay connected, stay in that sweet spot. To stay real! Real. Real To translate this energy, this momentum from the cushion, from stillness to life. You may lose your bearings. You may have to move very slow at first. Cautious. It may feel like you are focusing on a tiny never ending thread of light. Elusive, delicate, intangible. And over time you will be able to integrate it, carry it. Trust it. Your body will be a song for it.  You’ll always be doing it, always have something to do, this shining light coming through you will just be what you are. It is what your body is, what your awareness is.

What I am talking about here is as natural as breathing. It’s just how we are hardwired. It’s not even necessarily spiritual. It’s just how we orient through life. The guts of life. Please keep going. Actualize this great life energy.  It’s a process which I’m still in and will be deepening for my whole life. Making more real. If you have no idea what I am talking about, that’s okay, but I am not sure I can help you. I can’t force anyone to be fascinated or to choose to saturate themselves in this.  To spend the time it takes to absorb the gifts that emerge out of this unknown process. Inside gifts which emerge from dropping the rational mind and feeling into something bigger. So, I think it is necessary to take time to explore how this inner process actualizes physically in space and time. We’ll join you and ripen together. Thanks for reading.  You can do it!

“New York-1” (1978) | © KEIICHI TAHARA. Photo of Min Tanaka