Opening the Heart - Part 2
Alexander McDonell in conversation with Shannah White
We are looking for flow and joy. One technique is to find that part of our body that seems to be the source of flow, joy, peace and love.
Some talk about stress being in the head with the mind and thoughts then coming to the heart
to find joy and gratitude. Others find the centre in the head where they are connected to higher realms or the belly where there is power and energy and not quite so sweet. Alexander found relaxation at the base of the spine.
Even when Shannah was little she knew her northstar was love energy, the ultimate power of the universe, but she didn't know how to realise it. The connection happened naturally not as a creation of her mind but as something that came to meet her internally when she moved the seat of her soul/consciousness to her heart centre. As she abides in her feeling sense, a sphere around the heart centre, she continues to listen deeper and deeper in to the heart centre.
The experience feels like being aware of two places from which to run the entire mind. It's like in Star Trek where there is the main bridge and the battle bridge.
When Shannah feels the point of consciousness is behind the eyes, that is the war bridge. The point of consciousness can be moved down to the heart centre and other places. There is something going on within each chakra of the body.
The 7 chakras are centres of energy that map to tiny physical parts within the body.
The first root chakra has the function of grounding and is connected to issues of safety. It maps to the perineum at the bottom of the pelvis.
The second chakra of creative energy maps to the pelvic bowl. It is the origin of our relationship to the physical world. When we are distressed or broken hearted and told that love is found outside ourselves, that distortion is acted out in the second chakra.
The third chakra is where the belly connects to the rib cage. This is the enteric nervous system (ENS), one of our brains. This is the lower will centre, how we move ourselves in the world. This chakra tightens up when we push and force.
The fourth chakra maps to the heart, another brain studied by the HeartMath Institute. This is where Shannah connects to divine love, which is the basis for alignment in her experience. (divine love is the basis for alignment...meaning that which produces alignment; but alignment is experienced throughout the whole chakra system).
The fifth chakra is the throat chakra, the centre of expression.
The sixth chakra vision centre. Some people like Alexander experience this as psychic visions. It contains the perceptual processing of the 5 senses.
The seventh crown chakra connects us to more ethereal energies.
What is Alignment? We are always listening to a voice in order to move be it the ego or another voice. We are in alignment when we listen to that other voice.
Shannah worked very hard getting through the labyrinth of subconscious beliefs associated with the second chakra She really believed that the unconditional love that she saw in her mind could be realised in a relationship with this one particular guy.
The pain around her love was a feeling of being overlooked.
It took her a long time to find her way out but when she did she realised that the reason she felt overlooked was because she was overlooking her own heart space.
The way she envisioned unconditional love being fulfilled by a romantic partnership, could never be realised so she let go of that idea and went through a transformational process after prioritising her heart space and meeting someone that changed her energy fields.
She had changed the emotional learning and the thoughts associated with that false idea of love but the energy patterns were still trapped in the second chakra.
For whatever reason the energy field of this man was able to change her energy patterns. Overnight her ideas about sexuality and her sense of safety changed.
Her sense of safety was tied up with concerns and fears around sexuality. When the fear around sexuality cleared Shannah had an amazing experience of grounding and feeling happy.
"Wow, I feel like a martial artist where no one can push me off balance right now."
Without thinking about it, a 12 inch column of energy went down through her first chakra and into the earth. Her second chakra bloomed open as if to say:
"I have all the power you could possibly need to create anything, what would you like to create?"
All the chakras have functions. Opening the heart is about making a connection to a reference point of integrated love. There's still a lot going on, a lot to experience and a lot to explore in all the chakras.
Back to the Chakras
We have the word chakra but we also have the word plexus. Each chakra has a corresponding plexus like the solar plexus, luna plexus and all the planets because the ancient Greeks also knew about these energy centres.
The Greeks defined the plexi slightly differently to the Indian chakras as energies within the aura that map to different parts of the body. Although there are seven chakras we have hundreds of these energy centres that are not within the body. That's why the energy centres above the head and below the feet seem a bit less part of our core, otherworldly
We also have energy gates, energy that shifts in and out from our palms and other parts of our body. Then there are meridians where energy flows through the body. The chakras are one particular energy system.
It's a really good exercise to practice focusing on each chakra to get to know them.
With the base chakra you can just focus on your butt.
With the second chakra, the sacrum, you can also focus on the sexual organs and what's going on there.
The Indian chakra system put the third chakra at the belly button rather than the base of the ribs but this is just a distinction between energy inside the body and the plexus that flows through our aura.
The heart chakra is obvious to most people.
The throat chakra is where you can feel a constriction.
With the third eye you should be able to feel the tension in your forehead and the energy going on in your head.
The crown chakra is subtle, as soon as you try to focus on it you don't feel it within your body you feel it moving outwards.
Tlalit has a question about listening to one’s ego or to one’s alignment.
"I want to know something. Many times I don’t know which is the ego and which is the alignment and in fact, I have more than two as in, many times I can hear many voices…
I see a lot of versions of the same idea. If I'm in a conflicted situation the ego might come up and say all sorts of things, then alignment might come up and say all sorts of things.”
"When I say see or hear I mean my mind can see many explanations, ideas, or versions of reaction that can come up. It's not just two and I can't tell which is the ego and which is alignment."
When we're talking about the ego there's a lot of figuring out from many choices. Perception is of equal weight. They can be many things that we want and we may not know how to resolve the choices in a given situation.
Alignment is singular, there's only one thing that feels right and not so many choices. If you're caught in a situation where you're confused about what choice to make then empty your mind and feel without thinking. Thinking can create feeling which becomes confusing because it feels real. The feeling that comes with alignment is not created by thinking.
Is This Fear Intuitive Or From Thinking
A story that helps determine if a feeling is based on intuition or thinking.
While Shannah was walking down a street full of redneck neighbours she suddenly got scared for her safety. She was confused if it was intuitively good to walk down the road and she was just harassing her mind with fearful thinking or was the fear based on intuition that she shouldn't be walking down this road because it's not safe?
You have to get rid of the fear thoughts so the emotions can clear and you can feel intuitively for what to do in the moment.
Shannah realised that she doesn't know her neighbours all that well and one of them sells chemical free bedding so they are kinda hip in one way. The fearful thoughts were learned from movies and people doing inappropriate things.
Once the fearful thinking was counteracted with rational thought then she was able to climb into the unknown space where your thoughts are quiet. After descending into her feeling sense she found the feeling of safety.
It can be a foreign experience and difficult to feel intuitively if you are so used to feeling based on your thoughts.
One meditation technique is to empty the mind of thought but you're still sitting on the edge of cognition. Another exercise that can be helpful is to move out of the head and noticing what the inner space of your body feels like, becoming so curious that it consumes your attention.
What Does Alexander Do With His Root Chakra
It's very similar to what Shannah describes when she goes into her heart centre. The first inklings came from a Chinese Taoist Chi Gong master who taught him how to relax.
Alexander didn't realise that you could relax in meditation because he thought the whole point was to focus and concentrate. At the beginning of the class the master told everybody to relax, that he didn't want to see anyone concentrating and if it felt stressful then go and have a cup of tea.
After doing these relaxing exercises in the form of body movements Alexander noticed he was developing muscles that were not there before and losing weight, "This is cool stuff". He then applied it to his mind so rather than trying to find something to do he would relax and find what was natural.
The experience of learning to relax was essentially the same thing as going into his base chakra.
The technique to enter the base chakra taught by the Chinese master involved strengthening and tightening the butt muscles in order to move your arms. It's a strange thing to do at first but it turns out to be quite effective. Singers use that as part of their vocal training.
Does Your Perspective Move To Your Base Chakra?
"I have to check... no!"
Alexander sits in the base chakra but looks out at the world through the heart.
Shannah proposes the possibility that what they are both doing is not that different but that the language used and the perspective for how it is understood and focused on is different.
Shannah can focus on her root chakra and explore what grounding feels like which is relaxing. She wouldn't want to sit in her heart to the exclusion of that awareness.
When is Alexander goes into his heart he doesn't feel quite in alignment.
So how do you know when you're in alignment?
Jessica chimed in to say when she is in a really joyful moment, in alignment, she feels butterflies in the lower stomach area but in a good way, "yes, this feels so right to me". She also needs more relaxation than most in certain circumstances, and this requires more focus on the root chakra to feel grounded.
It's also important to find your North Star. You're in alignment when you relax, breathe deeply in the lower belly and feel good. You can relax by focusing on any of the centres but the difference is it takes concentration. If you allow yourself to drop wherever it feels natural then you end up feeling comfortable in your particular centre, it's sustainable and easy to hold without constant effort.
After you make friends with all of your chakras then you can decide on which one is your best friend.
Alexander finds his alignment centre changes according what is most suitable for who he's with. This also changes his behaviour.
Shannah thinks alignment and the connection with love is important because it raises the possibility of a different world run by different rules. Natural moral law comes out of love and people don't harm each other when they feel love in their heart.
She would never have felt safe were she not on a journey to find and integrate trust aligned with the energy of love.
Ego is a word bandied about but it is vastly misunderstood. What is it, what do you do with it and what other choices are there?
We learnt very early on to navigate the world from memory and imagination rather than the inner unknown and feeling centre. We learn this from being in situations we don't understand, by example from our parents and peers, and by going to school where we learn to regurgitate memorised facts.
We end up storing ideas and emotional learning like getting punished when something didn't go our way in the sandbox, or when a parent passes away when the child is very young. The child might learn that God is loving but he has better things to do than care for the child.
The ego is a collection of mental and emotional files that have been stored away. We need to become aware of the stories we tell ourselves that make us dysfunctional because they are harmful and scary to us.
By bringing these aspects of our ego, these shadow stories, into the light we reeducate our soul and replace unhelpful emotional files with helpful ones. It's learning the skills of how to navigate each moment without drawing on the ego but staying in the unknown feeling.
As we swap out ineffective emotional files with more functional integrated love energy then when we have a challenging moment where we fall out of our inner unknown and away from feeling, we don't fall as far because our ego structure catches us closer to what now feels like.
Ideally we've replaced our negative memories with trust in the now, it's a transition of trust.
As a child, Shannah learned to trust the painful ego idea that God was loving but had better things to do than care for her. It positioned her to have very low self worth and do crazy things in relationships trying to fix that self worth.
Feeling the experience of love energy points to God
She needed to trust the source of order in the universe and she didn't believe that source cared about her. She believed in love but it didn't involve taking care of herself. Healing that idea was important to feel safe.
That idea has been healed to a great extent by having an ego structure with healthier files. When Shannah has moments where she is not in the now, she is more functional than before because she has a healthier ego structure.
We have the pure experience of love energy then the ego is a construct built on top, made of our beliefs, our ideas and our personality. We don't need to get rid of the ego but it'd be nice to educate it to be a bit closer to the experience of love energy.
The ego becomes personified when we identify with it and like data on a hard drive it can be changed.
We'll never be without the ego because we do need something in place when we fall out of the now and still need to function well.
Sunny Side Up
Many talk about an egotistical person as someone that is selfish, they care more about themselves than others. They talk about becoming selfless by getting rid of the ego to care more for others than themselves.
It isn't really possible to get rid of the ego because we always have a sense of self at some level. It is possible to transcend the self and experience the nature of another reality but we don't live day to day in that state.
Because we can't get rid of the ego we can expand it to become greater.
If a person is working on their level of selfishness then in the process of growing up and becoming closer to love energy they realise the self they care for includes others. By identifying with themselves, their friends and their neighbours they become more loving because they're expanding their sense of identity. Eventually that identity could be expanded to be universal and include all beings.
The ego is developed by expanding our circle of care.
What is the Self?
What is the self that we are being selfish about?
We might be running a subconscious program that tells us we should make everyone around us happy. That makes it impossible to feel our own alignment.
Shannah's goal is to become love, to ascend her sense of self.
At first she started out as a small worthless body that needs to look attractive to men to earn love. Gradually her sense of self ascended to a point where she experiences a higher sense of self, an immortal sound, a frequency that is spirit that will never change or fade. She also identifies with the love energy that flows through her in moments when she feels expanded.
This sense of self includes others in the acknowledgement of oneness.
"This is how I tell the difference of whether I'm tripping on a crazy sense of self or I'm connected with a true sense of self. It comes down to alignment."
A person can be crazy in an unhealthy ego pattern or unconscious emotional learning pattern and if I believe I need to make them happy then it can be like playing twister with your own energy field trying to please someone else's craziness.
This is the importance of connecting with a universal sense of truth that doesn't come from what we think in the head but comes from deep inside.
That truth allows us and others to be free.
The Constant Tango
How else can we have an enjoyable harmonious experience on this planet unless people own their relationship with this universal flow. When we feel our part in the dance and allow others to feel their part then we flow together.
That is how this conversation came about.
Without knowing each other well, Shannah started talking to Alexander and felt they were both moving in their own alignment. The conversation wasn't forced at all and she felt a natural inspiration to dance together.
She felt she could trust dancing with him because she could feel him moving in alignment, constantly checking and coming back to it. She knew it would be an inspired dance with no harm but only harmony.
Shannah and Alexander intentionally avoided too much talk before the conversation in order for participants to witness how they got to know each other, shared ideas and opinions rather than coming up with some prepared version beforehand.
To Alexander the conversation felt like contact improvisation because there was no rehearsal.
Contact improvisation looks like people rolling all over each other in some form of three-dimensional acrobatics.
There are no rules or moves, just a focus on the experience, a focus on what it feels like when you touch and move with a person.
Shannah got into tango as a follower because followers don't know what comes next. In order to do that kind of dance she needs to hold her own balance axis. To Shannah this conversation was the movement version of spiritual practice.
The leaders role in tango is different because they have to understand how to drive a car that has four legs and 2 axis or sometimes 1 axis. It's a skill that requires a long period of learning.
Men often take the lead role because it's hard to do nothing, to just allow it to happen, it's easier to choose a direction and take it. The more masculin the person is the harder it is to follow.
The Answer For Life
If it is important to follow the inner spiritual connectedness and the sense of a greater self in order to live a harmonious life then how good at it do you think you are?
"Better than I was and not as good as I will be. I'm good enough to have fun and keep out of trouble most of the time."
"Not as good as I'd like to be. Certainly I feel I have learnt a lot, life is easier, more fun and I think I'm more effective. There is always more to learn."
One of the greatest cello players was a very old man practicing 4 or 5 hours a day and someone asked him "why do you practice so much when you're already a master?" to which he replied:
"I think I'm making a little bit of progress."
He didn't think he was very good at all, that there was still so much to learn and that is how it will always be.
Shannah feels she has enough trust to navigate the inner unknown that she can connect with other people and offer helpful insight. It's beautiful because it takes you to a whole other level of love, of heart expansion.
When you listen inside to the voice of truth you are checking your alignment in what you say and do in each moment. What comes out of that process for yourself and the other person Is an experience of big love.
"Where two or more gather in my name there I am in the midst."
Jesus is a symbol for the embodiment of love.
Shannah could only experience so much love in her journey of healing the mind. In the experience of dancing with others she feels a big love that she would otherwise not achieve on her own.
In a similar way Alexander feels doing things on his own is quite depressing.
If I don't have someone to serve then what's the point.
He finds joy being with and serving others and is really excited and committed to help others find this joy in themselves even if the conversation requires mucking around a bit. It's important to try even if you don't know how.
Imagine a society where it's popular for people to have this joyous celebration experience whenever and wherever they want.
Contact either Alexander or Shannah to schedule a 30 minute call at no charge to talk about anything...