A Conduit to Experience

“We do not want merely to see beauty . . . We want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.” – C.S Lewis

In yogic tradition, the ultimate goal–the reason we do so many forward folds and pay attention to our breath and meditate–is to someday find a sense of being–where one strips down all the things of being human (greed, jealousy, desire, lust, competition, ego)–and finds a simple state of just being–of allowing themselves not to be controllers or transactors of experiences, but rather, to have experiences transfer through their physical bodies.

Last week, I attended a gong bath at the 5 Star Salt Caves in Denver (No, you do not get ‘wet’. The idea of the bath is that you lay in a lawn chair for 75 minutes and someone plays a gong–the sound vibrations rinse over you, transacting through you–and you are washed over by sound). The meditation for this particular gong bath was to allow yourself to be a conduit for the sound vibrations–to let the waves pass over and through you, but not to rest within you.

Numerous studies look at the physical side effects of holding onto emotional energy, which can result in stress, anxiety, depression, heart disease, cancer. In my head, I picture something like an amethyst stone, or a quartz rock; overtime, those emotional energies have turned into physical properties–crystalized and chunked onto of something beautiful; once the crystallization occurs, more junk just continues to accumulate on top, until something comes along and begins to chisel away at the hardened stone. What causes these hardened forms to build? All the things of being human–unmet expectations, lingering desires, anger, frustration, holding grudges for too long, comparison, bitterness and negativity, holding onto grief. It is in these emotions that we allow the experiences to dam up–to reside in our tissues, to occupy our minds, be housed within our essences.

Inhabiting these emotions collects all of the negative energy into a concentrated space, thus making the formation volatile (right, like little specks of radiation, or of lead, or Chick Fil A isn’t SO BAD when it’s little isolated particles–but at high concentrations–when congregated together in one space–is dangerous). But, as C.S. Lewis says, to be a conduit for experience means to allow that experience to transact through us–to witness the experience, to allow the experience to move us in that particular moment, to be empathetic, acknowledging, sensitive to that experience–and then to release it down the causeway–allowing the particles to dissipate, dilute, disperse–and to avoid collection onto one isolated space.

I do not think that being a conduit of experience means that you stand in the middle of the parking lot, allow the wind to waver you back and forth, while angry shoppers bump into you and car horns blare for you to move. I do not think that being a conduit of experience means that you hide in your house and refuse every invitation to a social gathering so that you avoid picking up the formations. And, I certainly do not think that being a conduit of experience means that you roll out your yoga mat, sit crossed legged in the middle of your coffee conversation with your to-be-sister-in-law, hit a mudra with your fingers, close your eyes, and ‘meditate’ on the experience while she blabs your ear off.

Because we still must participate in our worlds. In order to reach a sense of enlightenment, we must be present in conversations with others so that we may learn from their experiences (as Shakespeare supposedly said, “Listen to many, speak to few”); in order to tap into collective human consciousness, we must attend those social gatherings to pick up on the frequencies from others; in order to make a meaningful life experience, we must pose membership of which the society we exist in. We cannot ‘dip out’ of living, simply because we are trying to avoid what might turn into stress and anxiety, depression, heart disease, cancer.

So, what does this skill of “being a conduit to experience” look like? Of course, the holidays present a kariotic moment in which to practice this yogic skill of simply being a conduit to experience (right, because the holidays offers all kinds of human experiences that could potentially be collected and hung onto–unmet expectations for your company’s holiday party, irritation and frustration at your in-laws for not abiding by your parenting practices, comparison on social media to how cute everyone ELSE’S holiday family pictures are…)

I think it means that, when we are standing in the parking lot and the angry shopper honks at us to move–we move, perhaps wave back, and then move on–not ruminating and allowing those feelings of anger and frustration to boil up. I think it means that, when we receive that invitation for that social gathering that we really want to avoid, and something we don’t want to discuss comes up in conversation, we quell our jealous and judgmental thoughts, we redirect the conversation, and we move on. I think it means that, when we go to coffee with our to-be-sister-in-law, and she breaks out in sobs regarding her wedding stress, we listen, we offer words of compassion (maybe offer to purchase her coffee because, inevitably one of the things she’s sobbing about is how expensive the wedding is), we table the discussion, and we carry on with our day. We are still visible, active participants in the experience. But, once the experience is over, we do not allow it to transact or trail–to accumulate and fester–any further than it needs to.

We receive, we experience, we observe. And then, we release the particles back into the air to disperse themselves.

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