On the Art Of Return

Posted on July 31, 2008
Filed Under Breathing practices, meditation | 4 Comments

The last three years have been quite busy for me, and there’s aspects of my meditative practice that I minimized or ignored (at times while starting other practices), so I’ve engaged in a comprehensive effort to return to them.

A lot of my work involved abdominal breathing and energy work, which required gradual build-up in order to realize (with deep abdominal breathing your entire breathing changes).  So my first goal was to merely repeat my previous works and build back up the way I had before.

And after a few months, my breathing work wasn’t going so well –  I stalled out and didn’t make any progress.

This was frustrating and curious to me at the same time.  I’d done this before, but suddenly I had no progress despite having done some deep breathwork for years.  How could I now be stumped?

After a lot of analysis, work, and quite a few other methods, I came to the rather simple conclusion that it wasn’t working because, having achieved some deeper states of breathing, my attempts to repeat it didn’t work because I was in a different state of mind.

  • I’d had experiences from my past breath work that set different expectations – expectations I didn’t have the last time.
  • Some of the exercises i was using were frankly unnecessary – I was restraining myself from deeper practice by deliberately forcing shallower practices that I could frankly leapfrog.

In short, I was a different person, with different experiences and a different state of mind.  The proper “prescription” was not repeating my past work, but finding how to approach it in a way that worked for who I’d become.  I knew how to ride the bike, so training wheels were just a distraction.

Despite our hope for regular practice, our meditative and magical practices are interrupted at points.  However as we leap back to them, we have to keep in mind that once we achieve certain skills and have certain experiences, the paths that led us there may not be entirely the ones we have to take again.

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