There is an important connection between the internal martial arts practice of ‘bone marrow breathing’ and the mystic concept that ‘God loves you.’
They are not philosophical or intellectual ideas. They are both felt experiences that positively support us.
Moreover, both experiences have strategies for deepening them.
The internal martial artist may seem very different from the mystic, but they are working with similar principles.
I was thinking about this, lying in bed, recuperating from a tough couple of weeks. I had been knocked out by a kidney infection and then, partially recovered, found myself caring for other members of the family facing health crises. I was exhausted to the point of irritability.
But I teach and practise self-care. So, I turned up the volume on my bag of self-healing strategies.
How do we turn up the volume?
For stronger and deeper healing, we have to become softer. Our attitude and mood need to resemble the lightest touch of the most delicate feather.
In yoga and internal martial arts (Qi Gung) there is a saying: the softer, the deeper. For the healing energy to sink more fully into your body, it needs to be soft, gentle and subtle, not vibrant and intense.
This is explicitly taught in the Taoist approach to health, Taoism being the source of Qi Gung and bone marrow breathing. In the Taoist model, the universe is a flowing, moving, ocean of change. It is essentially benevolent and to benefit from this goodness, we need to place ourselves in harmony with it and become part of its flow. One crucial element in this harmonisation is for us to soften, become lighter, more flexible.
Just as the Tao is benevolently harmonious, so too the mystic’s experience of deity is benevolent.
For the mystics who want a deeper spiritual connection and experience, there is also similar practical advice. They are asked to empty and yield softly to benevolence and love.
In mystic poetry this is often described as a form of swooning — but your lover is the Divine. Dissolve me like sugar in warm tea, wrote Rumi the Sufi mystic.
In practice, this mystic emptying and yielding is, I suggest, the same felt experience as softening to go deeper.
I notice too that there are parallels in the practices of many spiritual traditions. The metta practice of Buddhism, for example, points in the same direction. May I be at ease in my own body . . . May I develop compassion . . .
Different cultures have different ways of expressing the same concept, practice and experience.
A Quantum Leap
To even better experience the softness, the love, the flow and healing, there is also a quantum leap we can make.
This is a sincere personal surrender and commitment to the love, benevolence and compassion of the universe.
You, and you alone, know whether you have made this shift.
Having committed to this love, we are not perfect. It is always work in progress. We still have the usual human faults, but essentially we are at peace with the universe.
This means that our self-care and self-healing can go ever softer and deeper. Good for us. Good for those around us.
Be as comfortable as you can.
Patiently contemplate that the cosmos is benevolent.
Notice any good feelings.
Soften your attitude and mood.
Allow the goodness to sink into you. Yield. Breathe it in.
Practise this again and again.