In the shamanic world we look for what we call the crack between the worlds, the times when our internal and external routines are most easily interrupted or suspended, when we can open to and access the dreamtine, the realm beyond natural laws where new realites are conceived and incubated.
This week, inbetween Christmas and New Year’s, the crack between the worlds always feels more easily accessible to me. After the holiday rush, but before the normal routine of daily life is re-established, a pause can arise if we allow it. It’s a time to open to the void of not-knowing, of suspending our conscious and unconscious stories about who we are and what we can do, to make space for something else- something we do not yet know about ourselves- to emerge.
I have a breathing exercise that I often do at the start of my meditation practise that gently opens me to the physical experience of the crack between the worlds. It’s very simple.
Right now, wherever you are, take a slow deliberate inhale through your nose. Allow your belly to inflate with your breath, and then allow the wave of breath to leave your body completely. Feel your belly sink and your shoulders drop as all the air is expelled. Let the chair you are sitting on and the earth far beneath you support you completely as the weight of your body drops down into the chair at the end of the exhale.
And then, at the end of the exhale. . . . pause for a moment. Do not immediately and automatically begin the next inhale. Wait for the impulse to take the next breath to come from deep within your body. Do not hold your breath or resist the impulse, but do not reach for it. Let it come. See what it is like just to lightly pause at the end of the exhale, relaxed and waiting for the next breath to find you. And then, ride the wave as it enters and leaves your body.
Explore the moment inbetween, the place where you are neither inhaling nor exhaling, the spacious stillness at the end of the exhale . . . . This is what the crack between the worlds is like. . . . a momentary pause in our daily routine and mental chatter that allows something else to enter . . . that invites new visioning and deeper listening.
Don’t work at it. Just explore it, play with it, with a little curiosity. What are we when we are neither inhaling nor exhaling but are here, fully conscious in this moment. Who are we if we do not automatically carry forward how we have been into the next moment, or the new year?What are the possibilities that arise? What longing is awakened? What risks ask to be taken? What dreams call out to us to be birthed?
(c) Oriah 2011