My First Vipassana Experience: Fresno, California 8/17-8/28 2011

To get right to it, the Vipassana course was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done and it was a huge accomplishment to complete it. It was basically meditation boot camp.  About 100 of us, varying in age, size, ethnicity and all those identity politics, joined two teachers and about fifteen volunteers to meditate every day for about ten hours a day, for ten days.  The first bell rung for morning meditation at 4am followed by meditation in 1 hour, 1.5 hours and 2 hour increments throughout the day until 9pm.  We rested only for a few hours each day for meal breaks and listened to a one hour discourse each night from the head teacher, S.N. Goenka, who is responsible for bringing this Vipassana technique from Burma into the West.

Gobi, the Hindu doctor from Fresno who was kind enough to drive me to pick up my rental car when the course ended, told me all about Indian politics and the history of conflict between the Hindus and the Buddhists.  He was pleased that the teachings of the course were not Buddhism and told me that I was fortunate to receive the teachings void of any prior knowledge of the religious controversy.  It seemed obvious to me from the first time the teacher gave his discourse that this wasn’t a religious experience. 

Instead of learning about Buddhism, we were taught the Buddha’s (Siddhartha and his friend Gotama’s) meditation technique from over 25 centuries ago.  Goenka told us that Siddhartha discovered this technique at age 5, while sitting under a tree.  He sat under that tree for 30 years and meditated until he reached enlightenment and died peacefully in his 80s and under the same tree, teaching the technique to anyone who was open to learning it.

The technique makes perfect sense to me.  In fact, I find it to be brilliant.  Just as Freud theorized in the constancy principle that the way to keep the mind in a state of peaceful Zen (Freud also called this space ‘zero’) was to expel all negative affect and thoughts, this technique works to bring an awareness to the negativity that gets contained in the body as well as the mind.  The technique creates the space for someone to realize that they are often generating sankara - a craving reaction to a pleasant sensation or an abhorrent reaction to something that the mind/body does not want. 

The idea of the Vipassana is to learn through the meditation practice not to react to either pleasant or unpleasant situations and to remain unattached or equanimous to whatever sensations arises within the body (and by extension of course, the mind).  Since everything in life is Annica, or impermanent, if you remain unattached in each moment you can always find comfort in what IS, because what is will forever be changing.  

Think about how much peace and love there could be in this world if we could truly accept what is and never generate disappointment or anger towards others, and towards ourselves…  

I digress.  The Vipassana technique brings awareness to the sankara. With practice and the awareness that comes with it, one can be mindful to stop generating negative sankara (and not cling to positive sankara).  Furthermore, to keep practicing is to eradicate old sankara until the old pain that has manifested throughout one’s body gets resolved.  This takes dedication, commitment, persistence and will ultimately lead to enlightenment.  During enlightenment, the body will be felt as the pure energy source that it is, one with the Universe and all that is.

It was amazing to feel the technique working.  I was able to witness a thought and the way that thought affected my breath or my heartbeat (negative thoughts speed up the heart and make the breath shallow). 

The longer I sat, the deeper I went into the body to work through old negative sankara.  The longest discomfort I felt was in my shoulders, where anxiety is stored (not to mention too many years of carrying a heavy bag throughout the streets of New York City) and in my lungs (with 12 years of smoking sadly under my belt).  With my lungs in particular, it was incredible to feel myself work through the discomfort from the top of my lungs down to the bottom.  I could almost feel the smoke releasing my body.

At one point during the course, I felt discomfort inside my nose only to revisit the trauma I experienced when I had rhinoplastic surgery at age 16.  I cried from the memory’s emersion and then moved on with the psychical discomfort dissipating in tandem.  Thus, this past experience became complete in both body and mind. It was amazing.

While I practiced the Vipassana technique, I became more and more excited as my mind connected the experience to my professional interests.  In my world, it was not a coincidence that right before the course Somatic Experience re-emerged as a therapeutic practice that I am interested in (for those of you who were with me in Costa Rica, this is the type of therapy Barbara’s sister travels all over the world to practice). 

Somatic Experience is used with survivors of trauma. It is a form of talk therapy where the therapist helps the client to become aware of the bodily sensations they experience while they share about their trauma.  Just like the Vipassana technique, the idea of Somatic Experience is that the trauma will be released from being stored inside the body, thus helping to provide closure  both  within the body and the mind.  An infusion of the constancy principle and Vipassana, if you will!

            As I will soon begin to work with survivors of trauma at Safe Horizons in NYC (yep, not time to leave NYC yet!), I look forward to deepening and implementing my experience, knowledge and understanding of the mind/body connection into the mental health field to help others heal.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

With Never Ending Love,

Keri 

Therapy: A Space to Remind you: YOU MATTER!

I’ve been receiving energy-work for as long as I’ve been giving it...but I recently started working weekly with a therapist for the first time in years.

I’ve chosen to make a living holding space for others...but I haven’t given myself the same time and space to be witnessed.

Every session I’ve had so far, I’ve cried. And I don’t mean an occasional tear here and there, I mean I am letting it RIP. And not because I’m going through any major loss or depression or anything...in fact, my life is changing and transforming in the most amazing of ways right now.

I cry because someone is holding the space for me to be witnessed. I cry because someone else truly wants to SEE me and has a real interest in knowing my deepest thoughts and feelings, along with watching every move I make in the time we have together.

I cry because I feel like I MATTER again and I’ve spent way too long feeling like I didn’t. I spent way to much time putting everyone else’s needs and desires before my own. 

And it’s different then sharing with a friend...for me there’s always some place inside where I feel like I need to reciprocate or keep the sharing balanced when I’m being that intimate with a friend. It’s such a relief to have 50-minutes every week where I can just make it 110% about me.

It’s also so beautiful to remember that I get to do this for people for a living. Lots of times I’m so focused on what energy needs to be cleared with someone that I forgotten how valuable it is to just hold space and give someone else 110% of my attention and willingness to see them. That in of itself is transformative.

And I’m grateful now that I’m finding the balance between the two. It feels like starting therapy is just one of the ways in which I’m beginning (again) to own the “Receiver” in Keri Sender-Receiver.

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The Divine Masculine

I’m getting very present to my masculine side and taking a look at how evolved it is.

We hear so much talk nowadays in conscious communities about women embodying the Divine Feminine...but what about the Goddess embodying the Divine Masculine as well? 

How can we take action without our old constructs of force, manipulation, and competition? How can we generate from our hearts instead of our heads?

And what about men embodying the Divine Feminine inside of them, too. We all have aspects and energies of both genders. We all harness the Sun and the Moon, the yin and the yang. How can we move towards a reality where Love prevails and the dichotomy dissolves without us even looking deeply at the dichotomy within ourselves?

 

Power.

What does it mean to be Powerful?

In the patriarchal and hierarchical ways of the past (in the Age of Pices) being powerful meant being forceful. It meant "I'm better than you" or "I'm stronger".

It meant I can defeat you.

It was the teacher in grade school who made you sit in the corner for something you didn't do. It was the boss with the very high government position who sent you blackberry messages at 6am and expected you to respond immediately. (and yes, these are examples from my own life).

Within the new paradigm of the Aquarian Age, the realm of the Divine Feminine, and the era of 'You Are Your Own Guru' - Being Powerful simply means being yourSelf. It means being who you really are, in every moment, in every situation and with every one.

What a difference, huh?

For a lot of my life I didn't allow myself to be powerful in the new sense of the word. In fact, I gave my power away to make others feel comfortable.

I withheld who I was so that I wouldn't rock the boat....and in the process, I forgot who I was. I lost my power. I gave my power away. I lost myself.

I got real good at playing the part of whatever role I gave myself to placate the world around me.

And I started to believe my own acting so much that I couldn't tell the difference anymore.

We don't live in a society that generally speaking encourages us to be powerful and to be ourselves. Especially if we're women. We are still being brainwashed to think this way, buy this, be this to be happy. Although it has gotten much better over the years. I think of my Mother's generation and how little women where encouraged to be or think for themselves...we've come a long way, baby indeed.

There's still work to do though, and the good news is that it is easy see when you slip away from your power (because Being Powerful IS a Practice.). The outside world will reflect a version of you that's different than who you know yourself to be. Maybe it's a stranger who interacts with you in a way that's totally out of alignment for you. Maybe it's the way you feel when you're in the presence of a friend...

Just the other day, this man I know a little from around town stopped me in the store and said: "Keri -- You, You're a tough cookie."

He got me. And it felt soooo good.

Don't be fooled by my big smile and upbeat energy. I am definitely one tough cookie. And when I'm really in my power, I'm not hiding any parts of me. I'm owning the tough cookie and letting her shine without apology.

So no matter how tough of a cookie you are, be kind and gentle with yourself and practice being yourself. Just practice.

Before you know it, your Power will be so present that people can't help but be drawn to you like a magnet. No force. No coercion. Simply authenticity in magical action.

Real Power.

And imagine a world where everyone was really in their true Power....

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True Freedom

When we remember that we are consciousness, that we are everything, that there’s only one of us here, and that love IS the answer we can unhook ourselves from the social norms and mores that keep us bound inside a box. 

When we remember who we really are, in that moment the box blows it’s lid and real freedom is possible. 

We are SO burdened with the “should” and “shouldn't” that not only do we not even realize they’re there, we end up internalizing them and imposing the shackles on ourselves.

When we remember that we are everything that IS, we rip a hole in the reality that has been, and weave a new tapestry of a reality that could be.

THIS...this is the pathway to True Freedom. 

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Weekly Tarot with Keri: Week of November 13, 2017

6 of Wands and Page of Wands

Success is found by working together. Include others - or the group - in your new creative actions and endeavors.

Be courageous, confident and enthusiastic with your new adventure(s) and know that working with others will bring you victory. You will be more centered with others help.

Mirrors

Blessed to have just spent a week in London, England at a 5Rhythms dance meditation workshop called “Mirrors”.

We danced deep with ourselves to get to know the reflections that our own ego characters cast, and looked into the mirrors that we hold for each other within relationships.

Mirrors can be distorted if you don’t look for the Truth. Projections warp faces, and stories can cloak reality in a shroud of unnecessary darkness.

I learned in this workshop that to truly see, you have to really listen.

And I’m grateful for all the mirrors in my Life which help me to see...

I cracked open in this workshop. It came out of nowhere. I put down my masks and allowed myself to be vulnerable and I was met with pure connection and pure love...

It’s amazing how much time and energy we spend wearing the masks our ego creates. So much energy protecting ourselves from connection and from Life when all we actually want to do is connect, and to Live.

Through Mirrors, I saw my ego and then went beyond it, straight to pure Soul in human form...What a deep dance that is.

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