Breathe Into Being Retreat

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a description of this weekend retreat with Dennis Lewis and Master Yu, click here.

For a retreat registration form, click here.

Once you’ve filled out the form, pay the full retreat amount by March 31st, or a 30 % deposit before that date to hold your place. Please pay through PayPal (PayPal account is listed on the registration form), and then email the form to us at hameetings@gmail.com and sundao@me.com. Be sure to send the form to both addresses.

By the way, space is limited, so register soon!

Thank you

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Stop Trying to Erase What You Don’t Like

I was in a weekend art class with Mrs Nyland, Willem Nyland’s wife, at the San Francisco Gurdjieff Foundation many years ago. As I was drawing, not very well in my estimation, she came over to me and strongly suggested that I stop erasing, or trying to erase, what I didn’t like and just move on, accepting how I manifested. A painful but great lesson in conscious living!

My wife and I were talking recently about the fact that many people say that if only they could live their lives over again, they would change this and that and so on and so forth. What an illusion! The fact is, though I might be tempted, there’s nothing that I would change (even if I could), for everything has brought me to exactly this moment with riches I never imagined! And now, moving toward the end of my life on this planet, I do indeed accept my life–all of it, including not just the great beauty and love, but also the confusion, pain, and suffering.

Copyright 2014-17 by Dennis Lewis

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“The Unstruck Sounds”: Don’t Let Yourself Become Breathless When You Speak

Many of us when we speak try to say too much too quickly. Sometimes we try to say as much as we can before we are interrupted. At other times we just get carried away in expressing our thoughts or feelings. In doing so we often find ourselves still speaking when we simply don’t have enough breath left to support our voice. When this happens we quickly find ourselves grasping (or even gasping) for air. This grasping creates tensions in our diaphragm, chest, back, belly, and so on, and not only undermines our breathing but also our communication. A voice deprived of the power of the breath does not carry the harmonic nuances and subtleties that are such an important part of the spoken word. Such a voice is no longer connected with the silence that gives words meaning and scale.

Next time you find yourself in a discussion or giving a speech, take your time as you speak. If you sense that you are about to run out of breath, simply stop what you are saying and let yourself breathe for a breath or two, paying attention to the silent pause at the end of your out-breath. Then simply continue on. These pauses are not only good for your breathing, they are also good for your soul. They give you an opportunity to see if what you are saying is worth saying and what you really wish to say.

It is important to realize that the very same same principles generally apply when you are writing articles, books, e-mail messages, discussion posts, and so on. As you think to yourself and write, you can also run out of breath and lose your connection with silence. Long concentration at your computer, typewriter, or note pad can constrict your diaphragm, cause faster breathing, and result in fast upper chest breathing and insufficient oxygen to your brain and body.

Finally, does what you say and write spring from deep within, from silence? Does it help you and others reflect on what is important? Or is it simply a mechanical expression of “like and dislike,” or of self-love or vanity? As you impartially listen to yourself speaking and writing, your words will reconnect with silence and will carry new energy and meaning. You will discover a new breadth of both discernment and openness.

This is what I have discovered in my own life. It isn’t always easy for me to listen to what I say and how I say it, but such listening brings me more and more a sense of appreciation and wonder for the “unstruck sounds”* that lie at the heart of being.

Copyright 2009-2017 by Dennis Lewis

*Rumi, Unseen Rain (Threshold Books, 1986, p. 12)

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The Words We Use

The words we use–and how we use them–have consequences, whether for better or for worse. I see and hear people (we’ve all done it, haven’t we?) begin a conversation about a particular issue with bitter or provocative words (in the name of ‘truth’) that create the turmoil and negativity that follow.

This generally happens when the speaker or writer loses sight of the larger context of the complexities and interrelationships involved in the issue, or doesn’t know how to express or evoke it, and others react to this from only a small emotional part of themselves. It is the larger context of wholeness, remembering that almost all of us wish for the manifestation of the good, of love and beauty, of fairness and justice, of intelligence, of consciousness and conscience in ourselves and others, that is most needed to carry on a creative exchange.

The study of the words we use, both spoken and written, and how we use them is a fascinating one! We can learn much about ourselves through simply listening. And the listening itself helps us awaken.

Copyright 2016 by Dennis Lewis

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Observing Our Self-Importance

img_0311“The famous Tibetan meditator Geshe Ben said that his only practice was to watch his self-importance bloat up and then crumble down again and again. Seeing how it made his mind freer and freer every time it crumbled brought meaning and pleasure to his life. In fact, it was his life’s passion.”–“Light Comes Through,” Dzigar Kongtrul

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Listening In Two Directions at Once

The effort to listen in two directions at once, inwardly and outwardly, and suddenly realizing that, in a very real sense, there is no inward and outward; there is only the vast, silent spaciousness of Presence that welcomes everything into … Continue reading

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Thanksgiving

Dennis LewisI wish you a wonderful, gratitude-filled Thanksgiving. Whether or not you celebrate this popular American holiday, you have much to be thankful for, beginning with your very existence. However difficult your life, I suggest you take a few minutes today, and every day, to actually ponder all the blessings you have been given. Put your hands on your heart, smile in thankfulness and appreciation for these blessings, and inhale through your smile into your heart. During the out-breath, radiate your thankfulness not just to the whole of yourself and to your nearest and dearest, but also to all those people worldwide known and unknown to you. Realize that it wasn’t long ago that none of us existed in our present form on this earth, and it won’t be long before all of us will be gone. In the meantime, right now, we can appreciate and give thanks for this miraculous gift of life we have been given.

Copyright 2013-2016 by Dennis Lewis

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Do You Create a Negative Atmosphere Around Yourself?

Some people create a negative atmosphere around them by frequently expressing their anger and other negative thoughts and emotions. This atmosphere, this energy field, affects them and everyone near them and, like a magnet, attracts even more negativity into their lives. Such people often have ready-made excuses for expressing themselves in this way, perhaps not realizing how toxic their negative thoughts and emotions are for all concerned.

If you are one of these people, if you find yourself constantly criticizing, complaining, and being sarcastic, the first step to real change is to become aware of this toxicity. To facilitate such awareness, it’s often a big help to experiment with not expressing your negativity to others. It’s also helpful to experiment with not expressing your negativity, including your excuses for it, to yourself. Remember, though, that resisting the expression of your negativity is simply an experiment, not a moral imperative. Try it with the next person with whom you are angry or upset. And, as you experiment, be sure to stay in touch with your breathing. This will help anchor you in the present.

Also, what’s important here is not to try to suppress your negativity or hide from it, but to fully sense and feel it, as well as its effects, at the energetic level, while resisting either outward expression or inner justification. Though experimenting in this way will not be easy, it can be very transformative, helping you to learn much about yourself.

Copyright 2016 by Dennis Lewis

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The Three-Fold Impetus of Being

Ah, nostalgia. All through history people have looked back to the good old days. I myself spent my teenage days and nights on a lake surrounded by woods and wandered freely with my dog, a boxer. I hunted, fished, swam, played ice hockey, put my tent up in the woods, and used to climb a beautiful old tree across the street from our lake house and hang out there for hours on end sometimes reading and listening to music. Computers and smart phones had no place in my life, not even in my imagination.

Life changes, though, and technological innovation has been occurring at an ever-accelerating rate since those days. The enormous IBM 360/370 computers that I used to program using punch cards have given way to tiny, powerful computers that fit in our pockets and purses and allow us to communicate worldwide through the Internet. It won’t be long before we no longer carry computers and phones outside our bodies but rather within our very flesh, including our brains. Eventually these computers will be as small as our red blood cells and transmitting over whatever kind of invisible network we have then. We will be able, perhaps, to converse with people around the world, without speaking out loud or touching virtual keys, just through our intention and attention.

It’s not a matter of whether we want that future or not. Short of a great disaster, it, or something like it, is no doubt on its way. Those who are alive then will, of course, still be faced with the sacred work of searching, accepting, and welcoming, the work of awakening to the truth of who and what we are. And a tiny aspect of truth is that our technologies are a natural extension and development of our brains. The great chess champions can no longer beat the most powerful computers at chess, and computers are becoming exponentially smarter every year. You can be sure that their integration into our lives and the affairs of the world will become even more ubiquitous and intimate.

We humans are wondrous creatures, capable of great intelligence and great ignorance. How we engage our brain power and awareness does and will depend in large part, of course, on what’s in our hearts, but it will also depend on our level of ‘being,’ a word not referenced much in today’s world. Yet how important the reality that this tiny word evokes is and will continue to be to our integrity and potential!

Karlfried Graf Durckheim wrote, “Being is the animating force in everything that lives, and it provides a three-fold impetus; every living thing seeks to live; every living thing seeks not merely to live, but to become fully and uniquely itself; and every living thing seeks to fulfill itself in transcendent totality.” The question we must ask here, though, is whether we will indeed remember the great potential of our being and do what’s necessary to create healthy conditions for its “three-fold impetus.”

Copyright 2015-16 by Dennis Lewis

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Questioning Your Starting Point

Indra's NetDepending on your original premise(s), your original assumption(s), you can make a convincing argument for almost anything. People promoting their own particular brand of psychology, politics, religion, spirituality, and so on do so all the time.

What few people do today, however, is question their starting point, which is most often just an infinitesimal point in the vast unknown multi-dimensional spectrum of Indra’s net, the incomprehensible wholeness that both embraces and reveals us.

On the surface, deep inquiry, deep questioning, is difficult work. It seems to be far easier to spin webs of suggestibility and belief and try to catch ourselves and others in them. When we begin to open our minds and hearts, however, we realize that deep inquiry and questioning are as natural and beneficial as breathing itself, which, of course, is happening right now.”

Copyright 2016 by Dennis Lewis

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Walking

I’ve done a lot of walking in my life, some conscious, some not, some with friends and loved ones, some by myself. I’ve walked in cities around the world, in forests, in mountains, in deserts, around lakes, on ocean shores, in ancient ruins, and in the many hotel rooms, apartments, and houses that I called home. And I realize now that all of this walking, and all the people I’ve walked with and met along the way, have created an intricately complex, multi-dimensional path that has brought me right here. Strangely, no matter when and where I stop on my lifelong walk I always stop now and here. Oh yes, I’ve taken buses, bicycles, boats, motorcycles, trains, planes, and automobiles, too, but I had to walk to get to them, and the walking, whether by myself or with others, has most clearly revealed my shallowest and deepest hopes and desires, as well as much of my mechanicality. What’s more, the impact on my nervous system of each step along the way has left its mark. Today, more than ever, I walk more attentively, more consciously, recognizing that each step is a step into the unknown. Though I cannot walk as far or as long today, I’m getting the feel of it now; walking is a joy and a miracle, often revealing new perspectives on myself and the world!

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Copyright 2015-16 by Dennis Lewis

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Open Mind, Open Heart

Some people today put great emphasis on heart-based perception. To be sure, the heart is a powerful brain–one of three main brains, or instruments of perception (head, heart, and gut) according to G. I. Gurdjieff, as well as to modern science. But fewer and fewer people today use their head brains as an instrument of perception. They move from heartfelt beliefs and intuitions to conclusions and actions, frequently without the perspective and discernment of an open mind. It’s difficult to have a discussion with people whose minds are closed, since they almost always return to their beliefs and intuitions as the ultimate truth or, at least, as the only truth that matters. One sees this often in religion, politics, and spirituality. It is important to ask ourselves, however, if it is possible to have an open heart without an open mind. Byron Katie, a well-known spiritual teacher, doesn’t think so. She states: “Until the mind is open, the heart stays closed. The open mind is the key to the open heart.” I agree.

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A Beautiful and Creative Act

Think of all the famous and awe-inspiring quotes passed back and forth through the worldwide web that connects so many of us. As some of them pass through your awareness notice how and where they touch you or when they help awaken something in you that has been dormant.

It’s helpful also to write something from yourself, from your own practices, efforts, impressions, and insights, and offer it to others. Of course, some won’t understand your intention or what you say, or will purposely misinterpret it to make their own point, or won’t listen to you at all, but so what? That is their problem, not yours.

To say or write something as best you can not from your beliefs but from your experiential knowledge and understanding, without reacting to someone else’s words, is a beautiful and creative act. It means that you have to actively open to what is true in you right now and discover a way to express it. You will learn much by doing so.

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What Do You Really Want?

People frequently speak of passion, sometimes in a very dispassionate way. But I tell you now that, whatever your age, it is time to go after what you really want. Your time is not limitless, and our planet and its inhabitants are in dire straits. Don’t just believe those New Age guru marketeers who tell you that everything will be fine because people are becoming more conscious. Are they? Look around in places you don’t normally look. Find out for yourself. When you really look and listen and sense, you will see that there is much to be done–and it begins with each of us.

When I went on a Freedom Ride in my early 20’s, had a shotgun pointed at my head, and wound up in jail for three weeks it was something in which I passionately believed, and the many thousands of us who did so eventually made an enormous social and political difference in the United States. You can make a difference, too. Perhaps you already have, but now is no time to stop. The politicians and others will eventually follow your lead–but YOU must lead before it is too late. Which means NOW! And in order to lead, in order to make a difference, you need to know what you really wish for and what practical steps must be taken for your wishes to come to fruition. Great ideas and ideals are plentiful in today’s world, but the ability to put them into action is rare. A good diagnosis is important but it’s just as important to work with others, sometimes the very people with whom you don’t want to work, and actually “do” something, in whatever ways you can, to help.

When I started the Dennis Lewis fan page on Facebook, an action which indeed arose from my passion, there were some old friends (and still are) who didn’t and don’t understand. They thought/think it had only to do with ego. You know why? Probably because if they were to do what I am doing it might well have been. The judgments they made were likely based on their own unseen process of ‘projection,’ a process with which I have had my own very personal, even dark, experiences over the years. Each of us needs to see this process in ourselves if we are to become free from its powerful grip.

Friends, if anything is to truly change, we need to begin to live in dynamic balance and do what our minds and hearts and bodies–motivated by passion, real intention, consciousness, and conscience–guide us to do. We need to be practical, with thought, feeling, and sensation working together in concert. That’s how inner transformation takes place! That’s how the world changes! It’s a risky business, of course. And it takes time and effort. Things never happen exactly the way we imagine–fortunately! There are so many often contradictory forces at work, many of them unseen. But as we become more conscious, and more open to our deepest passion, we begin to discover who we really are and what we can and must do.

I wish you many great discoveries, as well as inner and outer actions that matter, beginning right now.

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The Essence of Listening

Krishnamurti“I hope that you will listen, but not with the memory of what you already know; and this is very difficult to do. You listen to something, and your mind immediately reacts with its knowledge, its conclusions, its opinions, its past memories. It listens, inquiring for a future understanding.

Just observe yourself, how you are listening, and you will see that this is what is taking place. Either you are listening with a conclusion, with knowledge, with certain memories, experiences, or you want an answer, and you are impatient. You want to know what it is all about, what life is all about, the extraordinary complexity of life. You are not actually listening at all.

You can only listen when the mind is quiet, when the mind doesn’t react immediately, when there is an interval between your reaction and what is being said. Then, in that interval there is a quietness, there is a silence in which alone there is a comprehension which is not intellectual understanding.

If there is a gap between what is said and your own reaction to what is said, in that interval, whether you prolong it indefinitely, for a long period or for a few seconds – in that interval, if you observe, there comes clarity. It is the interval that is the new brain. The immediate reaction is the old brain, and the old brain functions in its own traditional, accepted, reactionary, animalistic sense.

When there is an abeyance of that, when the reaction is suspended, when there is an interval, then you will find that the new brain acts, and it is only the new brain that can understand, not the old brain”–Jiddu Krishnamurti

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