For the last week or so my inner guidance has been telling me to reconnect with my daily Reiki practice of Hatsurei ho. I was told that `the boat was heading for choppy waters … and if I wanted to go with the motion of the boat I needed to also connect with my tanden … with the area of the hara.’
When I first trained as a Reiki Master I would practice hatsurei every morning. It only takes about 10 minutes and the process includes dry bathing to clear away negative energy, clearing of the energy channel and most importantly focusing on the tanden and strengthening the energy in this centre.
This rather winding path of mine leads me to many places … however … for me ..eventually .. all roads lead to Reiki.
Our guidance is amazing really … how we get little hints and prompts ..and sometimes … like yesterday for me … guidance can feel like getting hit with the boom on a yacht.
Yesterday was the day when my particular boat hit some choppy waters and .. although I had `fair warning’ I still managed to get dumped overboard into the sea.
Feeling somewhat bedraggled and wet .. my hair tangled in seaweed I climbed back on board my overturned boat and when I did found at the bottom of it … a book with a bookmark in the page which read `The Hara defining exercise.’
Well .. yes… thank you inner guides … the irony was not lost on me … yet again I am reminded to keep up my reiki practice…. if I do then I will not end up in the sea soaking wet.
It is interesting as along this path I take detours … and there are many of these . Some have been rather fun … some have helped me immensely ..and others have just been like soap opera watching which one of my dreams actually informed me during one phase of my journey… all have been beneficial in their learning and part of my particular path.
The week has seen me sleeping more than I have done for such a long time.
Before this week began I could hardly remember the last time I had actually slept through an entire night. However there was one night earlier on in the week when I got up around midnight and found myself on the Reiki website which I belong to along with all those who have trained with this same Reiki group.
I joined this site about 4 years ago now ….just around the time when I had finished training as a Reiki Master. It was the first site to which I have ever belonged … and the only one to which I still belong. Throughout the last four years I have traveled here and there … literally and otherwise and I always end up back at Reiki.
It was funny as that evening when I ventured on to the site someone else was there and we had a chat … about reiki … and she was saying a similar thing about it. It seems that we were meant to have that particular conversation.
The word `Master’ for me carries with it such an energy which I have never really felt able to step into. It is only now, 4 years on from receiving the title, that I feel I am approaching being able to step into this role. However …I feel that to be a Master is an ongoing journey of clearing and refining one’s energy.
The word `Master’ carries a feeling of power … and many struggle with accepting this power which we all have within.
Soon after I had finished my training and had received a certificate with the word `Master’ on it I was in New Zealand and went to see someone called Blair Styra channel a being called Tabaash.
This was the first time I had actually seen anyone channel so I was really interested to see and hear what he had to say. At one point he jumped off the stage and came right up to me in front of the entire audience and said `You are a Master. Now own it … will you…?’ He then bowed to me and wandered off to talk to others about their lives .. leaving me feeling somewhat stunned.
Recently I have been feeling this is being asked of me again … I am being asked to step up and own my power. I feel that this is partly why I am being
guided strong-armed into concentrating on my inner seat of power .. the tanden .. the hara.
In whatever way this is something which are all being asked to own.
`Now is not the time to be afraid of your Power’ ….. these are the words which Merlin spoke to me … I just remembered that now. … Merlin once again…
Here is some more information on the Hara:
January 05, 2009 | by Bronwen and Frans Stiene
Take for example the Japanese phrase hara o waru; to slit open one’s hara/belly. This phrase isn’t literally stating that this is what one does. Instead, it represents one who is sincere and speaks the truth – open and frankly. When we remember our true nature then we are completely open and at ease with ourselves and speak the truth. Here we can see that the word hara has greater depth than simply meaning belly.
Yet another example of the less physical sense of the word hara is hara ga dekite iru; the stomach is complete. This phrase refers to being completely calm in any, and every, situation. In Japanese esoteric teachings the practitioner reaches a space where complete calm is experienced even in the face of death – this is hara ga dekite iru.
The head instead of the belly
The word, hara, in Japan is also deeply interlinked with the word, tanden (Chinese – dantian). Tanden is translated from the Japanese to mean cinnabar field and is also known as the elixir field. It can therefore be understood as a place in the body where the elixir of life is created.
In many Western schools of thought discussions abound as to whether the hara and tanden are the same thing. In Japan, however, the words hara and tanden are not intellectual concepts, they instead refer to the actual experience.
This brings us to a commonly held approach to spirituality that exists today where it is believed that to follow the spiritual path one must develop the energy centres in the head (often called the third eye or crown centre). One of the main reasons for this is the modern craving to understand spirituality from an intellectual rather than an experiential standpoint. It appears that to begin your training from the mind is to create an unbalanced energetic body.
Imagine it in this way – when you expand your energy solely at the head, with no expansion of energy below your navel or in the lower part of your body, your energy becomes like an upside down pyramid. And the problem with being an upside down pyramid is it is top heavy, cannot balance and will topple.
In all major traditional spiritual practices it is a solid foundation which is first needed in order for one to grow spiritually. This foundation is centred below your navel.
Nature itself reflects this. For a tree to reach the heavens it must first grow a thorough root system. Without this, the tree is liable to be affected by each small change of weather that moves around it until one day a gust of wind breezes along and blows it over.
Traditionally in Japan it was considered a benefit if one had a protruding belly – this was a sign of a strong hara and well stabilized life. In the modern world, however, we are always tucking away our bellies and throwing out our chests. In fact, weren’t you told at school to do just that? This is the beginning of the creation of an upside down pyramid.
When you see seated meditators, their legs are either crossed or in seiza – they physically resemble a solid base, that of the foundation of a pyramid.
According to Professor Takashi Saito, in his book Karada Kankaku wo Torimodosu (Restoring Your Body’s Feeling), people in Japan “in their 80s and 90s use relatively more phrases that include the word hara (stomach) than people of younger generations.”
So it seems that even the Japanese are stepping away from their historical and cultural foundation of being hara.
A practical approach
The physical space where the hara or tanden is located is a couple of inches below the navel, inside the body, closer to the spine than the navel. As mentioned earlier it is not so much the physical space that matters, but the energetic or spiritual aspects represented by these words. In this sense, experience of the hara can be spoken of as simply being hara.
In practical terms we talk of bringing the energy down to the hara. Yet there are many layers to be discovered within this concept of hara, so where exactly are we bringing the energy to?
In training we learn and experience one step at a time. Therefore to make the study of the hara easier to understand it is taught that the tanden is the focus point in the belly while hara is our true nature.
For this reason at a beginner’s level practices and techniques guide the mind to focus on the tanden – helping it not to wander. These practices aid you in gaining a fuller understanding of the tanden as your mind calms and you become less distracted. This is the perfect way to begin your training, and the deeper you go, the more your understanding changes and develops.
After what may take many years of practice, you will begin to experience that the tanden actually becomes hara. This growth in understanding is interlinked with a clearer understanding of who you are. At this point your mind is not focused on one point anymore but merged with everything.
If the mind remains focused at the tanden for your entire spiritual journey, you will become stuck and restricted.
At the point of hara the mind has no place to stay still for it is everywhere, completely in union with the universe, no beginning and no end. It is open and at ease. This is hara, or in other words, you have realized your true nature. Here your mind never hesitates or stops; it is like water, when encountering a rock, it simply flows around obstacles.
The Japanese story of the cat and the sparrow describes this journey perfectly. There was once a cat that kept catching sparrows. The cat is put on a lead to teach it what it may or may not do. After the training the cat is let loose. As it has learned from its training it is no longer distracted by the sparrows and both animals can live in harmony together. If the cat, however, remains on a lead it will always be restricted and never run and jump or live as a cat should.
The sparrow represents our attachments (like worry, fear etc…) and the cat is our mind. Our mind tries to hold onto these attachments. To train ourselves we sit and focus on the tanden, teaching our mind. After much practice we can then let go of placing our mind at the tanden and allow the mind to travel freely without distraction as we have now become hara.