The practices of Shiva reconnect you with the felt pulse of the world of nature--the rhythmic flow and throb you feel coursing through the veins, tissues, and energetic pathways of your body. The awakened feeling presence of the body is the conduit through which you can access and enter into the vortex, the deep and all-pervasive ground dimension of life and consciousness that underlies the world of appearances but is invisible to the eye. It’s always there, always present, but is out of reach, out of sight, and literally out of touch, to the somatophobic dimension of consciousness (a consciousness based on linear thought, which is uncomfortable with, even fearful of, the soma, or feeling presence of the body, and the quality of consciousness it supports).
The primary reason you’re unable to see and feel into this deeper dimension is the culturally appropriated embodiment of somatophobia: tensions in the body, restrictions to the breath, the blanketing over of sensations. Release the tensions and restrictions, welcome back the felt presence of sensations, and you can begin to kinesthetically see the ground dimension of consciousness, this alternative place in which everything feels and looks to be more of a single piece.
It’s one thing to open to the awareness of the higher embodied consciousness that Shiva’s practices so potently promote. It’s another then to share the awakening of that awareness with another--a friend or lover. Through that sharing the awakened state of Shiva can be directly communicated and deepened.
Looking Into Someone’s Eyes: Touch At A Distance
Cannabis as a spiritual sacrament works extremely well for practices and meditations that have a deeply body-oriented focus, and the practice of looking into someone’s eyes and holding his or her gaze stimulates the sensations and presence of the body so strongly that it can almost be thought of as touch at a distance. The primary reason that many people find gazing into another’s eyes so challenging and daunting an act is that it rapidly activates and accentuates feeling presence, and such a rapid activation will be experienced as unwelcome and uncomfortable for anyone under the complete spell of somatophobia.
But for those of us who have had the good fortune of starting to come out from under the spell and who have begun to witness and have glimpses of the extraordinary alternate universe and the quality of consciousness that it supports will find the practice of gazing into a friend’s eyes, while she or he is gazing back at yours, almost magical, a healing balm for the soul. As
in the valley of your friend’s face
there is a well.
Go to that valley
and fall into that well.
if you want to know God,
then turn your face to the friend you love
and don’t look away.
The practice couldn’t be simpler:
Merging Back into the One through Gazing at Your Great Friend
Sit down across from your dear friend
and begin to look
into each other’s eyes.
to the journey of sensation and sight
that starts to unfold.
Let them be exactly as they are
until they start naturally changing
on their own,
which they almost immediately will.
Surrender to the current
of the changing flow of sensations.
Layer by layer different aspects of your being
may emerge and pass away.
A strong warrior,
a frightened child,
Let them all come,
you’ve been holding these parts of yourself
so no one can see.
Just let whatever wants to happen
You may cry,
you may laugh,
you may become ecstatic,
you may not be able to breathe.
The visual field may become hallucinatory.
You may see lights or colors
surrounding your friend’s face.
The outlines of his or her face
may start to soften and melt.
Suddenly the face in front of you
may morph into a totally different face,
someone you may know,
someone you may have never seen before.
Your friend’s face may even momentarily disappear.
Let the parade of visual appearances
emerge and disappear,
not resisting any appearance
nor holding onto any vision,
just as you allow the current of the life force,
without any resistance or clinging,
to keep building and subsiding,
passing through the conduit of your body,
a stream of sensations.
The longer you gaze,
the deeper you go.
The more you relax and let go,
the more the barriers between you and your friend
start melting away.
Layers of persona
keep you eternally separate.
Peel away the layers
until there’s nothing left
to separate you.
your shared gaze
will usher you both
into an inner sanctum of union.
No longer you and your friend,
just the awareness
of the great common ground of consciousness
that binds us together as one.
A Journey of Revelation and Unfolding
Exploring this practice exposes you to a whole new level of the meaning of friendship. Together, eye in eye, you go on a journey of revelation and unfolding in which layer upon layer of holding and tension—and the aspects of your personality dependent on them for their expression—come to the surface and then evaporate, revealing whatever’s been kept hidden underneath.
Some of the emergences may thrill you. Others may frighten you. What transpires doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you be with whatever it is that comes to the surface and surrender to the current that causes it to morph and change into something else.
You do not need to inhale Shiva’s sacrament to explore this practice, but for those of you for whom cannabis has become a part of your life, this practice will take you into birthright depths of consciousness that you may not even know exist. All you need to do is welcome the feeling presence that the practice so strongly stimulates, let go, and trust in the wisdom of the current.
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Copyright 2018 by Will Johnson. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission. Publisher: Inner Traditions Intl.
Cannabis in Spiritual Practice: The Ecstasy of Shiva, the Calm of Buddha
by Will Johnson
With the end of marijuana prohibition on the horizon, people are now openly seeking a spiritual path that embraces the benefits of cannabis. Drawing upon his decades of experience as a teacher of Buddhism, breathing, yoga, and embodied spirituality, Will Johnson examines Eastern spiritual perspectives on marijuana and offers specific guidelines and exercises for integrating cannabis into spiritual practice.
About the Author
Will Johnson is the director of the Institute for Embodiment Training, a teaching school in Costa Rica that views the body as the doorway, not the obstacle, to real spiritual growth and transformation. The author of several books, including Breathing through the Whole Body, The Spiritual Practices of Rumi, and Eyes Wide Open, he teaches a deeply body-oriented approach to sitting meditation at Buddhist centers around the world. Visit his website at http://www.embodiment.net.