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Five Wisdom Energies

  • April 5, 2019
  • Blog
Intro to the Five Wisdom Energies

Each of us expresses a unique mixture of energy through our thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and actions. Although we often think of the world and our bodies in terms of our physical existence, it is the underlying energy that brings to life the quality, texture, and feeling of our actual experience. Meditation is about getting in touch with that basic energy, and through that energy cultivating a more intimate relationship with ourselves and our experience.

What are the Five Wisdom Energies

The Five Wisdom Energies offer a framework for cultivating a greater understanding of our own energy as well as how it arises in relationship to others.

Applying knowledge of the Five Wisdom Energies allows us to alleviate confusion and negative emotions, and invite clarity and wisdom to arise in their place. We do so by working with the energy of our bodies and minds. It is important to consider how the spiritual practice rests within the physical practice. That is to say, how meditation practice helps us to become more grounded and present in our lives–physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

The Five Wisdom Energies are grouped into five “families” known as Buddha, Karma, Ratna, Padma and Vajra. Each Wisdom Energy is connected with particular elements, energies, and emotions. The way we hold our bodies in meditation and the way we breathe strongly influences the movement of energy in our bodies and our minds. The practices associated with each of the Wisdom Energies are designed to create a container that is conducive to awakening our innate wisdom.

The Buddha Family

The Wisdom Energy known as the Buddha Family is associated with the element of Space and a felt sense of spaciousness. If this energy is out of balance, we might feel spacey or like there is not enough space in our lives. When this energy is in balance, we might feel open and available to meet life as it is. The Wisdom associated with the Buddha Family is called All Encompassing Wisdom, and when this energy is in balance, we may feel open, spacious, and available to meet life as it is in each moment.

In his book Healing with Form, Emptiness, and Light, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche writes: “Everything arises from space, exists in space, and dissolves into space. In us that sacred element of space manifests as awareness. Experience is what arises in awareness, as the content of awareness, but it is not something other than awareness. When the space element is balanced in us, there is room in life; whatever arises can be accommodated. There is enough time, enough emotional capacity, enough tolerance.”

Suggestions for Connecting with the Wisdom Energy of the Buddha Family
  • In meditation practice, settle into stillness and connect with space. Let go of the need to grasp to a specific meditation technique and just open fully to whatever you are experiencing. Play with keeping your eyes open and raising your gaze and/or allowing your hands to rest palms up on your thighs.
  • When walking outside, take time to look at the sky. Open yourself fully to the vast expanse of the sky and feel that expansiveness in your body. Discover in yourself what the yogi Milarepa taught: “The body is ultimately like a cloudless sky.”
  • In daily life, take time to pause and open your awareness to the world around you. Resist the temptation to fill up any open spaces with unnecessary activity (checking your phone, facebook, chit chat, etc…) Pause and breathe and notice what you are present to.

If you’d like to learn more about the Five Wisdom Energies, please join Kelly online via Mind Oasis for a 6 week series of meditation classes beginning Tuesday, April 9th. Kelly will also be offering a 5 week women’s group at Dharma Yoga in Austin beginning April 14th.

Community Spotlight: Leanna Gilliam

  • February 22, 2019
  • Blog
Leanna Gilliam
Where do you live?

Austin, Texas

How did you come to meditation?

Initially, meditation was a refuge and resource during a health issue that caused extreme pain and a lot of anxiety. Four and a half years ago I attended an MBSR program based on the teachings and research of Jon Kabat-Zinn. The practice was transformative and I stuck with it on my own, then through instruction with several meditation teachers using shamatha meditation practice.

What inspires you to meditate?

Meditation brought to light a deeper understanding of the sacred connection of mind and body. This was crucial to my healing. Now I’m open to all of life- pain, suffering, joy, and happiness- knowing everything is temporary. The transformation I’ve gone through physically, mentally and emotionally is the reason I still sit everyday. It helps me be more at ease in the world, in the circle of people I see day to day, in my family and in my own head. I’m a kinder, more present Mom, Wife, Daughter and Friend because I meditate.

What does your meditation practice look like?

I gave myself permission to not have a “set” time for my daily practice. With two teenagers and a third grader in my home, my practice may happen first thing in the morning, last thing in the evening or sometime in between. I go with the flow on the timing of my practice because everyday is different. Luckily, my meditation space is separate from my main home so it is private and clear of distractions of family life which for me is really helpful. I use a zafu meditation cushion. In addition to a daily solitary practice, I enjoy practicing in group classes as often as possible.

Do you have any rituals or routines that support your practice?

Yes! I am a routine kind of person! I have to admit that I like to do the dishes before I sit on the cushion. It’s become a ritual that actually is quite pleasant. I mindfully clear the kitchen of dishes and clutter, moving slowly, and somehow this practice has become a beautiful segue to sitting on my cushion. Also, I’m experimenting with journaling prior to sitting and am finding this to be beneficial. I always light incense when I practice.

How is your life different because of meditation?

I’m awake! I’m awake to the beauty all around me, to smiles from strangers, to knowing most everything is workable and that I am enough (this one can be hard though!). I think I live more wholeheartedly because I’m not distracted by unimportant things as much as I used to be. Meditation helps cultivate inner wisdom which guides my decisions more and more as I grow within my practice. I can’t say it’s 100% of the time, but a lot of the time I’m now able to respond to a difficulty or question versus react to it. I am able to distinguish between thoughts and emotions and can look with curiosity at what is happening instead of getting swept away in the story my mind creates.

What are the biggest challenges you have encountered in your practice?

Consistency. As I healed and felt better physically, I didn’t sit on the cushion as often. Although I still had a practice it was not as constant and I found the benefits of meditation floating into the background of life. I am now happily practicing daily and can’t imagine not doing so! I am so much more at ease. Also, I’ll say that travel tends to be a challenge. I give myself permission to sit for shorter periods of time so I can work it into a more active travel schedule. And I bring my cushion with me. Literally having the support of my cushion makes meditating on the road more doable for me. So proud to wear my Dakini Meditative backpack and cushion around the airport!

What advice would you share with someone who is just starting a meditation practice?

Be kind to yourself. Self-judgement is sneaky- be aware when the inner critic shows up and know that this is called a practice not perfection. Consistency will go very far in bringing the benefits to the surface. Rejoice in the fact that you’ve started on the path. Beginning is courageous!

What does your heart most long for?

Peace. I want to be a light in this world.

Connecting with Solitude

“We need to acknowledge that solitude is an invitation to the soul to come alive.

Solitude is utterly luminous if we lose our fears and enter it more deeply.”

~John O’Donohue

“Solitude is an invitation,” O’Donohue writes, speaking to the openness and gentleness with which we might enter an experience of solitude, whether it be a long solitary retreat or simply our daily practice of sitting meditation. We have a choice: we can either approach the experience of solitude with a motivation of achievement or to change who we are, or we can approach our practice with an open heart that wants truly to know who we are and embraces what we discover with loving-kindness and acceptance. The results of these two approaches are very different, even if the practices we do are exactly the same.

He continues: “for our souls to come alive,” suggesting that solitude is essential to connecting with the deepest parts of our being and awakening to the truth of who we are. This is in part because solitude asks us to surrender all of our ideas about who we think we are and the identities that we usually use to define ourselves. We may be women, men, lovers, partners, friends, teachers, students, writers, artists, healers, but ultimately those labels do not define the deepest truths of who we are. Our true nature is open, available, spontaneous, free. It is pure potential.

“Solitude is utterly luminous.” Solitude provides the space for us to discover who we really are and to learn to rest in that true nature. That true nature (our soul, spirit, Being, Awareness, Buddha Nature, basic goodness – whatever label you want to put on it) is often described by Wise beings as having a quality of light – luminous and radiant. That light reveals itself through practice, sometimes in little glimmers and sometimes in full bursts of sunlight within. This awareness illuminates and helps us to see clearly what is. Solitude also helps us to discover for ourselves what is most meaningful and significant in our lives and to find out what really moves us and motivates us to live our lives. In solitude we find ourselves and discover each other.

And finally “if we lose our fears and enter it more deeply.” The truth is: the spiritual journey is hard. When we decide to commit to waking up, we will come face to face with our darkness – all the ways in which we are stuck in a perpetual cycle of busy-ness, of doing, striving, achieving, constantly trying to find happiness somewhere out there. When life brings us to our knees because we’ve seen that happiness does not lie just around the corner, in the next job, next home, next relationship, next new anything…we’re actually in a good place, painful as that realization may be. Happiness is here, inside of us, and when we finally stop and try to get quiet and listen, we come into contact with what scares us, and we see our fear directly. Staying still and silent and solitary takes courage, a willingness to face our fears and to move deeply towards an understanding that everything we need is right here.

Bringing Solitude Into Your Life

Here are a few suggestions for connecting with solitude in your own life:

  • Take a long walk by yourself, either on a trail where you’re not likely to see someone, or on a busy street – either way, stay anchored in your own experience as a way of honoring solitude.
  • Enjoy a meal by yourself, either at home, or in a busy restaurant. When you are alone, notice what draws your attention.

What it is like to be by yourself, either truly alone, or simply having a solitary experience amidst others?

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