Death and Birth/Rebirth – Day 3b

A preposterously absurd idea compelled me. Could I actually utilize my breathing, something I and all of us do all of the time and have largely taken for granted, in order to have a more conscious life? 

Using our bodies to illuminate the recesses of our minds is my quintessential definition of beauty

The idea ran contrary not only to my cultural norms but also my conditioned sense of reason. After experiencing the therapeutic and transcendent powers of Amazonian plant medicines, I am now about to experience something within my own body, within my own control that could, possible, be life-changing.

The mere thought of connecting to a deeper consciousness without ingesting anything, even plants and frog secretions, was a stretch for me. I was never into drugs and even this weekend is new territory for me. I guess I’ve come late to the party. I need to experience it to actually believe it but, at nearly 70 years of age, I am now ready to experience it. 

I step into the unknown with one solitary thought which its that using our bodies to illuminate the recesses of our minds is my quintessential definition of beauty. 

Drum Therapy, Meditation and Earthing are all well established phenomenons that find synergy in Holotropic breathing

Although, we were told to synchronize our breathing with the music, nothing was said about the drum beat. It wasn’t necessary. Drumming places each of us in the present moment and helps connect us to our core in ways understood by our ancestors. Drum therapy, an ancient healing approach used by various cultures, has long been part of our history as are the feelings of euphoria and well-being it induces. Rhythmic drumming affects our state of mind and results is an altered state of consciousness as the brain’s electrical state changes from our normally alert and focused beta waves to the more receptive and relaxed Alpha Waves. 

For Holotropic Breathwork, we were instructed to utilize short, intense breaths followed by long, deep breaths with the goal of achieving an altered state where self exploration and inner-healing was possible. I consider Holotropic breathwork to be a variation of the deep meditation or relaxation breathing technique, which also requires breath focus in order to disengage from distracting thoughts and attain insights into life. As well, both deep meditation and Holotropic breathing can have positive physiological and emotional health benefits such as slowing the heartbeat and stabilize or lowering blood pressure.   

We were over fifty people in a relatively small area who were told to keep on our mats. At first I thought this space economy was entirely due to the space limitations but there may be another reason as well. Laying on the mat connects us to the Earth through electrical frequencies in a phenomena knows as ‘Earthing’. The Earth has a 7.8 Hz frequency, the same frequency as Alpha waves which are associated with deep relaxation, and as we ‘ground’ ourselves to the Earth we are in electrical synchronization. 

The music started slowly as did my deep breathing.

My goal was to managed the best that I could for as long as I could. I definitely wanted to leave knowing how to reconstruct the experience at home so I was motivated to have a full altered-state experience. I enjoyed the music and the fact that I had my eyes closed and therefore not self-conscious or distracted.

I wasn’t comfortable laying on the ground for long. Once the drum beat intensified I was on my feet, despite the fact with no great toe on my left foot balance was an issue. I simply spread my legs more for better balance and, suprisingly, my gyrating body did the rest until I was able to stand tall. I’ve always had 100% dance enthusiasm to offset my zero dance skills. I can’t remember ever becoming so animated while ‘dancing’, at least, since the last time. 

Once the participant instruments were distributed it became almost party-like. When I lost my dance beat because I was air playing the drums or singing the Spanish lyrics with having a singing voice or knowledge of Spanish, it was the sound of nearby bongo drum that allowed me to return to the beat.

Each of us is on a journey. Death is part of that journey

 I reached up knowing it wasn’t really ‘up’ and that there was no heaven or God in Heaven. None of these things mattered to me as I experience my death. The music compelled me to stand tall and reach for the sky, much like my first Ayahuasca experience. Yet different, in that, it had more to do with my death than my spiritual enlightenment. 

I felt that I was leaving my body on earth and transcending into a non-physical existence, one that promised love and light. I felt relieved to shed my body, like a snake might shed his/her skin, because I had also outgrown it and no longer felt that it served me. I had died because I am mortal but I also continued to live because I am also immortal. I lost my human form, but, in my etherial form I soared into another life, another dimension. I don’t know or particularly care if it is real, or not. The unknown was joyous, not fearful. 

The cynical reader will be dismissive but I am not interested in his/her journey. They, hopefully, will have their own life-altering experiences to untangle. I am focused on the fact that my fear of dying has since ebbed as I now can imagine something more than the suffering and misery of death. It is enough to frame this upcoming time with something other than despair and bleakness. 

Then it happened. I experience my own birth/re-birth

At one point I felt the need to lay down on the mat. It wasn’t a conscious decision. Despite the 30C heat, I curled up into a fetal position and felt as if I was in my Mother’s womb. I didn’t know this was even a possibility so it took a little time to accept what was actually happening to me. At first I was self conscious then my self-awareness dissipated as I let go.

In the womb I felt warm and comfortable until the pushing started and everything became topsy-turvy. My routine, my known world was changing and I felt confused and anxious. I didn’t experience much pain, just a lot of discomfort. My most salient thought was that I felt squeezed and claustrophobic for most of the time but also safe. 

I also empathized with my Mother. She was having a different experience. I felt or, perhaps, sensed her pain. It came in waves that almost begrudgingly propelled me forward. I didn’t know what to expect but that didn’t matter, in fact it was a blessing, as my warm, wet bubble was burst when I arrived, like ‘a stranger in a strange land’ where the temperature was bitterly cold and breathing was a skill. 

The miracle of what I have experienced should be a birthright of every child who faces life’s gauntlet of soul crushing, mind-numbing struggles

The pharmacological industry is desperately trying to understand how to utilize Amazonian ceremonial plants to the point where they are ignoring native rights. A familiar story of western greed, sadly. A purely scientific understanding is showing signs of resuscitation after years of dormancy. 

Yet, as always, our culture is deeply rooted in fixed beliefs and change is not inevitable when fear and greed can be exploited. As a 17 year I saw the world as organized around the all-powerful military-industrial complex and at nearly 70 I see the same thing as well as the trauma and suicide culture it has spawned. 

Soul Quest sits on the edge of the known world facing uncharted seas and a ‘brave, new world’. Our world today is crying. Not just for respect and stewardship, but for sanity, as well as wisdom. It is a time when choices are being made and we all stand on the frontier that Soul Quest and others have led us to. For ultimately it is not about Soul Quest, it is about our freedom to live in harmony with our birth rights of non-judgemental love and curiosity.

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