Move 1—Quieting the Heart
Quieting the Heart is the Ur move, the Great Practice. You can enhance the experience by washing your heart throughly with clean and pure energy of universal qi. All you need do is breathe deeply with your whole body, not only your lungs, and direct the vitalizing qi to every living cell of your body, imagining that both sides–your cells and the qi— are reaching out to touch one another, like lovers. On her deathbed Queen Elizabeth I was reported to exclaim, “All my possessions for moment of time.” Here is your unique moment in time.
Move 2—Finding Your Power/Becoming a Great Wave
Integrative vitality is about energy (qi and love), and energy is about power. This is an important link often missed in most meditative practices. The question is: what will you do with all this new life force and power? Ah Hah! That is part of our adventure!
Move 3––Discovering Beauty
In Beauty we encounter one of those boundaries between conventional western science and something else and profound. Neuroaesthetics is a new field of research at the intersection of aesthetics, psychology, neuroscience and human evolution. Its main objective is to characterize the neurobiological foundations and evolutionary history of artistic and creative experience. It is a deeply fascinating inquiry. And yet, like most contemporary neuroscience it is firmly located in the brain and oversteps the heart. Victor Hugo understood the heart’s domain very well when he described the refuge of his hero Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. He wrote: “A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in–what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.”
Move 4––Connecting with Nature
What if all of Nature is intelligent and in constant communication? What if every cell, or intracellular organelle, like your mitochondria which have their own DNA and operate to some extent inside your body autonomously are alive and in constant communication among themselves, with every cell in your body, and the world around you? Can you imagine this!? What if it is possible to find new meanings inside these communications? What if there is a practical way to learn how to do all of this?
The poet-naturalist-explorer Stephen Harrod Buhner offers in his two seminal works, Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal World and The Secret Teachings of Plants a method:
You begin by Quieting the Heart, forgetting yourself. Your heart is your primary instrument for connecting to Nature.
Open your heart, in particular the energy field surrounding your heart. When you expand this energy field, your sensory gates open to outside stimuli. We are continuously bathed in these signals, but we regularly filter them out because of fear, anger, grasping desires, or other constricting emotions.
Listen intently and be patient for the signal.
When you receive a signal—it may come from any of your senses or combinations of these senses (called synesthesia)–pay careful attention. See if you can detect its unique quality or flavor. Stephen Harrod Buhner calls this the “Golden Thread.” It will lead you deeper into the Intelligence.
You proceed along the Golden Thread until you reach what the poet-scientist Goethe called the “pregnant point.” At this juncture meaning is revealed to you. The plant, the stone, the moonlight, the brook convey their own secret teachings; as Shakespeare wrote we “find tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.”
An interesting question now arises when we connect with Nature in this way, “Who am I?”
Move 5—Downloading Musical Genius
I will tell you a story. In the old days I would drive from Santa Barbara to San Francisco along U.S. 101 which ordinarily takes about six hours, depending on whether you stop. There are some lovely stretches, but by and large it is a tedious trip, and I would find myself exhausted. Then one day I flipped on Glenn Gould playing Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier. Among my earliest memories is my father playing this great work on the piano. Now long dead, he appeared to me in his music, and I drove along with the memory of this happy time. Suddenly here I was arriving in San Francisco! Somehow six hours seemed like one or two, and I felt refreshed. What had happened? The road was the same, but the journey was different.
Many of the world’s spiritual traditions use sacred sounds (in India mantras) to connect the aspirant to the Universe. Great geniuses are able to take sacred sound and turn it into music. In other words, they can listen to the celestial harmonies and convert them into musical language that gives pleasure to our hearts. In electronic terms they act as “step down transformers.” What if our heart is a step down transformer able to direct the vitality of creative genius to our living cells? What if musical notes, infused with Beauty, can act like magical herbs to restore and recreate ourselves? Let us explore this idea together?
Each of the following excerpts has its own distinct resonant frequency. Can you detect its special flavor? Try not only to listen but also to hear in the deep heart’s core. What do you discover?
Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony—For me, I discover Mozart’s Olympian power. Your experience may be different. What is Mozart telling you?
Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata—For me this work embodies Beethoven’s smoldering genius at its wildest. What shall we do with all this power?
Handel’s Overture to Atalanta –Allison Bascom’s noble trumpet elevates my spirit. I see the world from the high notes. How about you?
Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone—In this song Dylan asks the key question, “How does it feel?” The Rolling Stone is vibrantly alive!
Jimmy Cliff, The Harder They Come—How great is his spirit. The harder they come, the harder they fall. Yeah! When I was a young man, I trained in an Aikido dojo in Tokyo. I had so much vital energy after leaving the dojo that I fancied if I was hit by a bus, it would be too bad for the bus!
Sean Rowe, Leaving Something Behind—I love this song. I first encountered Sean Rowe in the movie, The Accountant. He touches a yearning for many of us that when we depart this earth, at least something has made sense.
We can build a living library in our hearts of our favorite musical works, and they will nourish and sustain us anytime we wish.
Move 6––Connecting Laughing Heart with Everything
Just as Laughing Heart can be a step down transformer, as explained in Move 5, so also can Laughing Heart become a step up transformer,
This process may have unanticipated beneficial side effects. An axiom of neuroscience is neurons that “fire together, wire together.” Here the Explorers Wheel process may not only foster a connecting of nerve cells in your brain but also create new neuronal and energetic pathways between your brain, heart, solar plexus (Chinese dantian: largest radiating nerve center in the body), and the qi field that connects you to all that is good and nourishing in the Universe. I strongly encourage you to explore this idea in the context of the Move # 7 Enhancing Your Immunity through Love.
Move 7—Enhancing Your Immunity by Love
The Blue Cliff Record is a compilation of Zen koans or meditative gates through which explorers since the 10th century have entered and expanded their levels of awareness and perception. Here are three of my favorite koans that particularly address the question of illness and health.
The Whole World is Medicine—The Great Master Yunmen addressing his community said, “Medicine and disease are in accord with one another. The whole world is medicine. What is the self?
Sun Faced Buddha, Moon Faced Buddha–Master Ma was quite unwell. The temple superintendent asked him, “Teacher, how has your venerable health been in recent days?”The master replied, “Sun Face Buddha, Moon Face Buddha.”
Each Branch of Coral Holds up the Moon—A monk asked Pa Ling, “What is the blown hair sword?” (a sword so sharp it can slice a single hair) and the teacher replied, “Each branch of coral holds up the moon.”
Koans are not meant to be solved intellectually as you would a puzzle. Actually, they are designed to be companions for our life’s journey. You might find it interesting to experiment with any one of these koans simply by holding it in your loving Laughing Heart and observing what happens. You needn’t do anything more.
John Tarrant—Bring Me the Rhinoceros (2004)
Move 8—Paying Forward
In his famous essay On Compensation the 19th century transcendentalist philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “In the order of nature we cannot render benefits to those from whom we receive them, or only seldom. But the benefit we receive must rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody. Beware of too much good staying in hand. It will fast corrupt and worm worms. Pay it away quickly in some sort.”
Why “beware”, and why “worm worms”? Is this simply 19th century superstition, or is there an insight here into the deep workings of nature?
As explained, Laughing Heart is a state of flow. When we hold on to the good that comes our way, the qi becomes blocked and stagnates, which can cause all kinds of imbalances, including dis-ease. Paying forward has thus very little to do with charity—in its pejorative sense in the U.S. today– and more in the original Greek meaning of caritas, or unconditional love. Paying forward is also very close to the Indian philosophy of Karma Yoga as taught by Vivekananda and other teachers. The core tenet of the karma yogi is not to hold on to the fruits of our labor but to pass them on to others. In this way the yogi becomes a-karmic and attains freedom from suffering in life and death.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, On Compensation (1841)
Vivekananda, Karma Yoga (1896)
Move 9—Creating Your Own Luck
The ultimate goal of the Creating Your Own Luck Game is, like paying forward, to enhance your sense of freedom and balance. Each of us has a choice in how we respond to this moment, as Brother David Stendl-Rast advises to stop, look, and go. Gratefulness and freedom seem to run together.
Most of us are so busy we split our daily lives apart in discrete blocks or slices of time. By producing a “wave form” the Game helps us to become more aware and draws our attention to the deeper currents and patterns beneath the surface of things. It is very easy to play. It takes only 2-3 minutes each day or less. Sometimes really deep experiences in life can be simple, easy, and fun.
Reference: Elmer and Alyce Green, Beyond Biofeedback (1977).
Move 10—Realizing Laughing Heart Advantage Through Emergent Art™
You can think of Emergent Art as an individual and collective dream state, whereby an entire community can come together at the level of hand, mind, and heart to create its own myths. After he discovered the hexagonal structure of benzene in a dream of a snake swallowing its tail (an archetypal image known as an “ourobolus” depicting the cycles of nature), the Belgian chemist August Kekule remarked “Let us learn to dream, gentlemen, then perhaps we shall find the truth.” In Australia the aboriginal peoples have recognized since pre-history a distinct state of awareness they call “time-out-of-time” or “everywhen,” a land inhabited by ancestral figures, often of heroic proportions and supernatural abilities.
Emergent Art inspired by Laughing Heart presents local communities with both an opportunity and a choice. We live in dark times of murdering hate when our hearts can turn to stone. But these are also times of light and love. Emergent Art offers a process to restore hope, re-create ourselves, and invoke the angels of our better nature.
George Bernard Shaw wrote, “You see things and say, “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say, “Why not?”