Friday, January 21, 2011

WHAT IS 'HARA'?

'HARA [in Japanese] means literally BELLY ... The Japanese speak of Hara no aru (nai) hito, 'the man with (or without) belly [hara]...They speak of Hara no okii or okina 'the man with the big (or small) belly'. None of these expressions implies a visible physiological difference but a difference in character ... What then is Hara no aru kito? The answer comprising all meanings is: a man with Centre.'

Karlfried Graf von Durckheim


'We live in a dualistic culture dominated by conflicts of head and heart, thought and feeling, mind and emotions. This is a culture that knows not that lower and deeper centre of awareness - and of will and intent - that is hara.'

'An ancient Daoist saying tells us: 'When you are sick, do not seek a cure. Find your centre and you will be healed.' The centre it refers to is one located deep in the sensed inner womb space of our lower abdomen - in the hara.'

'The little 'I' reigns in the head alone. The larger 'I' is the body as a whole. Its spiritual and physical centre of gravity lies in the hara. This centre in the hara is the centre of an awareness transcending the 'I', one whose body is the entire universe.'


Peter Wilberg

Before 'I' - 'you' - 'he' - there is ... [this awareness]

Master Okada Torajiro



EIGHT PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

1. On a scale of 1-10, to what degree are you aware of your head, your eyes and your body as a whole, upper and lower - from top to toe, from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet - at this very moment?

2. On a scale of 1-10, to what degree are you aware of the entire felt surface of your body?

3. On a scale of 1-10 do what degree can you sense, from Your body surface as a whole, the entire space surrounding your body?

4. On a scale of 1-10, how much space to you feel you inhabit - in other words, to what extent can you feel your awareness extending out into the space around you and beyond the confines of your head and body?

5. On a scale of 1-10, to what degree can you feel the inner spaces of your head, chest and abdomen respectively, as hollow spaces of awareness, spaces that you feel yourself inhabiting or can feel yourself into?

6. On a scale of 1-10, to what extent can you sense and feel the inwardness of your body (your head, chest, belly and abdomen) as a singular hollow space of awareness?

7.On an imaginary line extending from a point behind your forehead to a point within your lower abdomen, midway between the navel and pubic bone, where do feel your breathing to be centred?

8. On the same imaginary line, where do you feel your very sense of self to be centred?


SELF AND BODY

We are as much aware of our self as a whole – our 'soul' - as we are aware of our body as a whole and of the entire space surrounding it, pervading and filling it.

In our ever-more globalised Western culture however, most people’s sense of self is associated with their upper body alone.

They experience consciousness or awareness itself as something bounded by their own skins, enclosed in their own ‘head space’ or felt in the form of sensations and emotions in the region of their chest, heart and stomach – all regions above the waist.

Lacking a full awareness of their lower body below the waist, they never attain to awareness of their body as a whole – and of their self as a whole. And since their sense of self is not grounded in lower-body awareness nor can it be truly centred in 'hara' – that region of the lower abdomen that is recognised in Japan as both the physical and spiritual centre of gravity of the human being.

As a result, people think with their heads and feel with their hearts, but lack the inner strength of intent and power of intuition that comes from centering their awareness, their breathing – and their very sense of self – in the hara.

‘If you ask anyone where in his body he feels his 'I' he will probably consider it a strange question at first, but pressed for an answer, he will reply 'in the head' or 'in the chest' or he will indicate with a vague gesture the region of his stomach and heart. Only very rarely will anyone indicate a region further down...’

Hara de kangaeru (‘to think with the belly’) is the opposite of atama de kangaeru (‘to think with the head’) ... The Japanese says, tapping his forehead with his finger: Koko de kangaeru no wa ikemasen(‘One must not think just with this’) and often adds, Hara de kangaenasai —'Please think with your belly.' By this he means, ‘not so rationally, intellectually, but deeper please, as a whole person from the essence of your being.’

Karlfried Graf von Dürckheim, from Hara,The Vital Centre of Man


ON THE MEANING OF ‘HARA’

'Hara' simply means ‘belly’ in everyday Japanese. In Oriental spiritual traditions however it refers to the abdomen, and in particular the lower abdomen or 'koshi'.

Within the sensed inner space of this region lies a ‘centre’ of awareness that is at the same time both our spiritual and physical 'centre of gravity'. Its locus is midway between the top of the pubic bone and the navel, approximately two to three inches behind the lower abdominal wall. This centre is called the 'tan tien' (Chinese) or 'tanden'(Japanese).

The term 'hara' is sometimes used to refer to the entire abdomen, sometimes to the lower abdominal region (koshi) containing the tanden and sometimes to the hara centre or 'tanden' itself.

‘To fill the koshi with strength means also to tense the abdominal muscles a little. If one tenses the abdominal muscles in the right way there appears, as a result of this tension, a point of concentration below the navel. It is called the tanden. The art of activating it is to release the strength of all the other parts of the body and to concentrate it there.’

Sato Tsuji


In essence however, hara is neither an inner region of the body or an inner point or ‘centre’ within it. Instead it is an inner bearing or comportment rooted in that centre - a way of being that involves our whole being and that can put us into direct inner contact with the aware inwardness or ‘soul’ of all other beings and its divine source.

‘Tanden is the shrine of the Divine’

Master Okada Torajiro


MISCONCEPTIONS OF HARA

‘It is the great error of Western philosophers that they always regard the human body intellectually, from the outside, as though it were not indissolubly a part of the active self.’


Sato Tsuji


The chief way in which this error is repeated today is to regard the tanden as an ‘energy’ centre. ‘Energy’ is a physical-scientific concept rooted in the Greek word energeia – a word that has no equivalent in Oriental languages. Connected with the false notion of ‘energy centres’ is another great error – a failure to recognize a fundamental distinction between the ‘physical’ body and physical ‘energies’ on the one hand, and what can be called the ‘felt body’ on the other. The physical body is the body as perceived externally or ‘objectively’ – from the outside. The felt body is the body as we are aware of it – subjectively - from within. It is not a body of physical subtle ‘energies’ that we then feel or become aware of but a body of feeling awareness as such. Its centres are not objective centres of some form of ‘subtle’ physical ‘energy’ but subjective centres – centres of this feeling awareness.

‘A subject can never be made the object of recognition.’

‘The point [tanden] which is the seat of the subject in the human body, must be realised inwardly’.


Sato Tsuji

‘This awareness of life working within us is something fundamentally different from observing, fixing and comprehending from the outside. In such observing and comprehending he who comprehends stands apart from the comprehended and observed.’

Karlfried Graf von Dürckheim


THE BODY AS FLESHLY TEXT

Regarded from the outside, a book is a material body in three-dimensional space. It can also be abstractly conceived as something formed and composed of ‘energy’. But its outward three-dimensional form also conceals a multi-dimensional inner world of meaning. We cannot enter this world of meaning by researching the fabric of space and time, matter and energy that constitutes the book as an object. We can only enter it by reading the book – that is to say, by letting our feeling awareness flow into the non-physical and invisible space of meaning that opens up within it, one through we come to feel the unique mood, tone and qualities of awareness belonging to another human being – the author.

What is true of a book as a physical body is true of the human body too, which is no mere construction of atoms, molecules, cells - let alone undefined subtle ‘energies’ or ‘energy centres’. Instead the human body is a living biological language of the human being – its fleshly text.

The unique space and qualities of awareness that open up within us as we read a book are not reducible to its visible, printed lines of text - whether made up of ink marks on a page or pixels on a screen. Nor is the space of awareness that constitutes our our own inward, subjectively felt bodies reducible to a set of ‘meridian’ lines made up of ‘subtle energies’.

The inner anatomy of the human body, like that of any body, is like that of a book. Its essence does not lie in flows of energy along meridians or between different energy centres or ‘chakras’ but rather in meaningful flows of awareness between different centres of awareness within different inwardly sensed regions or spaces of awareness - head, heart and hara - that together constitute a singular body of awareness.


FOCI AND LOCI OF AWARENESS

Awareness has both different foci and different centres or loci. When we speak of centres’ of awareness in the head, heart and hara it is important also to understand the fundamental difference between a focus of awareness and a locus of awareness. To simply ‘focus’ or ‘concentrate’ our awareness on the centre of awareness or tanden in the hara by no means guarantees that it actually becomes our true centre or locus of awareness. For the question is, from what centre or locus of awareness are we focussing awareness? If all we do is use the tanden or centre of awareness in the head to ‘focus’ on the tanden in the heart or hara then it is the tanden in the head that remains our real centre of awareness and not the tanden in the heart or hara. The latter become mere ‘objects’ of subjective attention or concentration on the part of the head centre, not seats or centres of awareness or subjectivity itself.


THE FOURTEEN TANDEN

In the Oriental (Taoist-Buddhist) tradition there are fourteen tandens in total - centres or loci of awareness. Their inwardly sensed locations are:


1. A specific point on the crown of the head (the heavenly centre or tanden)

2. A point behind the forehead (the principal head centre or tanden)

3. A point just below and behind the throat.

4. A point just below the heart in the centre of the chest (the heart centre or
tanden)

5. A point in the region of the solar plexus.

6. The tanden point or centre in the hara – the principal tanden or centre of
centres. This is called the seika tanden.

In addition there are two centres on each of the wrists and palms of the hand, behind each of the knees and on the soles of the feet – the earth centres or tanden.



'SEIZA' - SITTING


'Before I - you - he - exists, there is.
To have this inwardly - that is Seiza.'

Master Okada


Seiza means seating or sitting, but not 'just' sitting, or sitting with a particular posture. Its essence lies in seating, settling and centering our awareness, our breathing and our very sense of self in the hara and its tanden. It is in this way that hara awareness and hara breathing is cultivated. It is in this way also that we come to truly dwell in the inner space of the hara and to seat ourselves in its spiritual centre or tanden. Cultivating hara awareness is not a form of New Age ‘training’ that can be packaged as a commodity in the form of courses and workshops run by contemporary teachers of Qi Gong, Reiki or Tai Chi.

For as Master Okada noted in his time:

'Seiza as practiced by teachers in ordinary schools is completely unsuccessful. This is due to the fact that they practice seiza as though it were a course of training of which they learn a little and then straightaway pass on the little they have learned.'

Then again, hara awareness is not something we attain so much as find a way to return to. For the hara tanden is our natural centre of gravity and the natural centre seat of the self – that self which is nothing but a pure space of awareness.


HARA AND SPACE

'Modern man must first and above all find his way back into the
full breadth of the space proper to his essence.'


Martin Heidegger


The hara or seika tanden is the centre of this ‘essential’ space, a field or space of awareness that is not only outwardly unbounded - embracing the entirety of cosmic space around us - but also inwardly unbounded, being a space whose centre in the tanden possesses an unbounded interiority, one which in turn connects us with the aware inwardness or ‘soul’ of all things and all beings.

‘The man without hara has only a very small space within and around him.’

Karlfried Graf von Dürckheim


The man with hara however, knows no fleshy boundaries – only that infinite field of pure awareness that is space - in its outer expanse, its heavenly heights and its unfathomable inner depths. His awareness of space is an unbounded space of awareness – centred in hara.

And yet the hara tanden is also a gateway into ‘inner space’. By this I mean a space that lacks all extension - a wholly non-extensional or ‘intensional’ space. Whereas the spacious expanse of awareness that constitutes ordinary, extensional space embraces all that is actually present, visible and audible, intensional space is space of pure potentiality. As such, it is ultimately the womb of extensional space and every body and being in it. It is also the invisible medium within which all space-time universes first open up and expand. That is why this ‘inner’ non-extensional or ‘negative’ dimension of space can only be spatially visualised or illustrated in ordinary, extensional ways as a dimension of space that, paradoxically, envelops or surrounds the 'positive' sphere of ‘outer’, extensional space itself.

From the hara tanden we can allow our awareness to be drawn into this dimension of negative or intensional space – one which in turn links the inwardness of every body and being. As an entry point into the infinite inwardness of inner, intensional space which links all beings and bodies, all worlds and universes, the hara tanden is thus also a point from which we can establish direct inner connection and contact - ‘core contact’ – with the innermost core or hara tanden of another being.


HARA, KI AND ‘REIKI’

The term 'reiki' – commonly translated as ‘universal energy’ actually refers to a divine and mysterious atmosphere that lends space itself a sacred character – as for example in the sacred space of a shrine or temple. The literal meaning of the Japanese syllable Ki (Chinese Qi or Chi) is air, vapour or breath. That is why wind (Greek pneuma) was referred to by Zhuang Zhou or Master Zhuang as ‘the Qi of the earth’. In its universal essence Ki is equivalent to the Greek aether (‘higher air or atmosphere’) and Sanskrit akash – understood as the spacious airiness of awareness itself - that pervades space, flows in currents like air or wind. Yet it can also possess different felt qualities, equivalent to the Greek ‘humours’ or ‘humors’ from which is derived the term ‘hormone’.

In reading the pulse of a patient, the Oriental physician is not sensing currents or flows of either blood or ‘subtle energy’ but ‘humoral’ qualities of flow as such – slow or fast, thick or thin, strong or weak, turgid or dilute.

The root meaning of the modern term ‘psychology’ is the ‘speech’ or logos of the ‘soul’ or psyche. ‘Reading’ the pulse or multiple pulses of Ki (Qi/Chi) is essentially a way of listening to a form of subtle speech – ‘the speech of the soul’. Here ‘soul’ is understood as a type of vital inner air or ‘life-breath’ (Greek psyche, Sanskrit prana) whose essence consists in its way of flowing - which reveals the tone colours, textures and varying qualities of feeling awareness (‘humors’) that give form to the individual’s felt body and felt self.

An old saying goes – ‘where awareness goes, Qi flows’. Essentially that flow is nothing but a flow of awareness itself, experienced as the sublime and etherial essence of space, air and breath.


HARA BREATHING

The Greek language distinguished the air without (wind or pneuma) from the air within (psyche). Latin unites them in the concept of ‘spirit’ – rooted in the verb spirare (‘to breathe’) and from which the term ‘respiration’ derives.

Today few people, except body builders, gymnasts, weight lifters and martial artists have any strength in their abdominal muscles. And yet it is an extraordinary paradox of our age that countless people seek to slim down their abdomen and strengthen their abdominal muscles or ‘abs’ using all sort of expensive apparatus and all sorts of exercises – except the most natural ‘exercise’ of all - breathing.

Hara breathing is ‘abdominal’ breathing in the strictest sense. Only the muscles of the lower abdomen are used, and not those of the diaphragm or rib cage. Its starting point is simple awareness of the abdominal wall and its muscles. No attempt is made to depress breathing into the abdomen through use of the diaphragm. Instead, with the mouth firmly closed, breath is naturally drawn into the lungs through the nose by distending the abdomen outwardly, like an expanding balloon. Along with this however, goes a sense that it is not the lungs that are filling and expanding so much as the abdomen itself. And that is indeed the case. For fundamentally speaking hara breathing is not ordinary ‘aerobic’ breathing at all. For in terms of the accepted physical anatomy of respiration, the abdomen cannot fill itself with air - unless we have trapped wind!

Hara breathing is therefore essentially a type of anaerobic breathing – a breathing not of oxgygenated air but of the ‘air’ or ‘breath’ of awareness itself – of Ki. The fact that air and oxygen is nevertheless drawn into the lungs through expansion of the abdomen is simply a secondary outward accompaniment of the hara being filled with Ki.

‘Where awareness goes, Qi flows.’

Giving attention to our abdominal muscles, tensing and distending them outwardly we fill them with the air and breath of awareness itself. In letting the muscles relax, air flows out of our lungs through the nose. This is the completion of the aerobic breath cycle in which air is drawn into and exhaled from the lungs. But it is not the completion of the anaerobic cycle of hara breathing. This requires an interval in which, after each out-breath of air, we continue to feel a continuing breath-like down-flow and in-flow of awareness itself – descending from the hara to the very ground beneath our feet and below, or entering ever more deeply into the unbounded interiority or insideness of the tanden itself. In this way a longer interval is established between the ordinary out-breath and in-breath of air.

It is as if the out-breath of air were extended – except that it is not. Instead a certain portion of air is actually retained in the lungs, and the extended out-breath is in reality an anaerobic 'in-breath' and ‘down-breath’ of the very air or aether of awareness itself – of Ki.

This process can be aided by actively drawing in the abdominal muscles at the end of the aerobic out-breath (turning them concave rather than convex) and letting them relax in that position. When the impulse to draw air in to the lungs again is felt, the abdomen can be allowed to expand and balloon outwards again – but slowly and in the smallest, most incremental steps that the abdominal muscles allow.

In this way the time interval following any ordinary out-breath of air can be so long extended that ever fewer breath cycles are needed each minute - to the point where it can feel as if ordinary aerobic breathing has almost entirely ceased – as indeed anaerobic 'hara breathing' can allow it to do. For in the extended interval between the aerobic out-breath and in-breath an entirely different breath cycle begins – an extended out-breath and in-breath of awareness that precedes a new in-breath of air. It is this anaerobic breath cycle, occurring in an ever- extended interval following the out breath of air - that is the true essence of hara breathing, understood as a breathing of the vital ‘air of awareness’ that is Ki or Qi.


‘Ordinary people breathe eighteen times a minute. Less than ten are sufficient for those that practice Seiza. But if one can manage with three a minute it is really good.’

Master Okada


BASIC PRACTICES OF HARA AWARENESS


'Practice in such a way that nobody will ever again be able to constrain you.
You should not alter when the circumstances alter.'


Master Okada


1 Lying Meditation

'If one stretches stretches the knee muscles and puts strength into the legs and into the koshi [abdomen], one feels with delight how the whole body is filled with strength. Then one should withdraw the strength from the legs and take it back into the koshi, and, in this way, practice feeling the strength in the koshi alone.'

Master Okada

Meditation 1

- Lie flat on your back and gently stretch your knees and legs and flex your toes upwards.

- Place both hands on your lower abdomen, and be aware of its muscular surface.

- Breathing only with those muscles, be aware of the gentle rise and fall of your abdomen.

- Sense not just your breathing but your very awareness and sense of self centred in the abdomen.

Meditation 2

Meditation 2

- Lie down and engage in relaxed and natural abdominal breathing with the hara.

- Await a point in time when begin to feel an impulse to take an in-breath by allowing your abdomen to rise.

- At just that moment in time, briefly restrain your abdominal muscles from following that impulse – from rising, expanding and distending.

- If you do so you will learn, with awareness, to sense something like a small but powerful explosive release of awareness vitality or 'prana' from the hara centre or tanden before each and every in-breath.





2 Standing Meditation


'As soon as man gets to his feet his centre of gravity becomes evident.'

Master Okada


(a)Opening the Upper Body

- Feel your head, chest and entire upper body above the waist as light, translucent and porous to the light and space around it.
- Feel yourself breathing it in through every pore of your skin.

(b) Grounding the Lower Body

- Now feel the contact of your feet with the ground beneath them.
- Feel the weight and solidity of your lower legs and upper legs.
- Feel and be your entire lower body below the waist.

(c) Centering in Hara

- Be aware of the rounded surface and muscles of your abdomen.

- Breathe by gently pushing out and then relaxing your lower abdominal muscles.

- Sense the inwardness of your abdomen as dark, warm, safe and womb-like space.

- Centre your awareness, your breathing, and your very sense of self within this space.


3 Walking Meditation


- Engage in the standing meditation even as you move or walk…

- Feel your head, chest and entire upper body above the waist as open to the space around and above it.

- With each step feel the contact of your feet with the ground and attend also to your entire body below the waist.

- As you walk, centre your awareness, breathing and movement itself in your lower abdomen.



4 Sitting Meditation


- Whenever you sit down, do so slowly and with awareness.

- Feel as if you are not just seating your body, but seating yourself within your body and in the lower abdomen or hara in particular.

- Keeping your upper body open and alert to the space around you, sense yourself both grounded in your lower body and centred – seated – in hara.

- Maintain this sense of seatedness in hara by breathing only with the abdominal muscles.

- When you rise from a seated position, take time to re-engage in the Standing Meditation.


5 Breathing Meditation


'Breathing through the mouth is a sign of decline.'

'When exhaling one should not give out the breath enirely. One should keep enough back to speak a few words.'

'Make the exhalation long. In olden times a knight crossed the Ryogoku bridge during the time of a single breath.'


Master Okada


- With your mouth closed, breathe in only using the muscles of your lower abdomen gently pushing out and then breathing out by just relaxing your abdominal wall or drawing your abdomen in.

- With each in-breath feel as if is it not your chest and lungs but your abdomen that is filling and expanding - like a balloon.

- With each out-breath, never exhale all the air from your lungs, but keep just enough there to resist the impulse to begin a new in-breath with your abdomen.

- Feel each out-breath as a flow of awareness that move ever more deeply into and down from a centre of awareness in your lower abdomen.

- Gradually slow your breathing, allowing an ever-longer interval of time after each out-breath and before the next in-breath.

- In this way time and learn to reduce the number of breaths you need to take each minute, until you reach a point where it feels as if you barely need to breathe in any oxygen at all.



6 Listening Meditation

The hara is not only a still point of inner silence. It is also the gateway for a descent into silence which leads us into a world of inner sounds or ‘sounds of silence’. The relation of inner sounds to audible sounds can be compared to the relation between positive numbers on the one hand, and negative numbers – below zero – on the other. Every atom, molecule, cell and organ of our bodies is the expression of an atomic, molecular or organic awareness with its own inner sound – itself a sound shape or ‘envelope’ of a unique inner tone. Inner sounds affect our bodies more than audible, physical sounds do. If there inner tone becomes muddied or their inner sounds discordant we experience this as a state of felt dis-ease, which in turn may affect the health of our physical organs. Both external sounds and our thoughts and feeling themselves are constantly transformed into inner sounds and felt tonalities of awareness or ‘feeling tones’.

Meditation:

- Never respond immediately to what someone says.

- Instead concentrate, while listening, on remaining seated in hara, listening to the other by listening into and from the centre of awareness within it, the still-point of inner silence that is the tanden.

- Allow ever-longer intervals of time before responding to another in speech, intervals in which you give time to take in and linger with what has been said.

- Be aware of whatever feelings and thoughts arise in this process without feeling a need to express them in speech.

- Only speak when you feel that what you have to say comes from a place of deep inward listening and that is truly a response to what you hear in the silences within and beneath their words.


7 Speaking Meditation


'Do not try to free yourself from all thoughts. Simply be aware and keep your strength in your belly.'

'The voice must come from the belly.'

Master Okada


- Be aware that whatever you are aware of thinking or feeling about another person communicates wordlessly to them – speaks to them without any need for audible speech.

- Sense this silent wordless speech coming from your abdomen or hara – what in Japanese is called the ‘belly talk’ that can occur only in and from a deep, listening silence.

- Be aware of and inwardly ‘hear’ what the tone and tempo of your voice will sound like before you utter any words, and where your voice will be coming from, whether from your head, your chest, or from a deeper and lower place - your abdomen or hara.

- When you do speak, do so much more slowly and with a deeper tone that normal, one that echoes and resounds from the inner, listening depths of the hara.

8 Strength Meditation


'Gather your strength on one point only - in the lower belly.'

Master Okada

As the great Japanese master of archery said, use of muscles to achieve physical strength is for ‘beginners’ only. To exercise and exert physical strength, centredness in hara is all that is necessary.

- If you are about to lift a heavy weight for example, even though you might wish to take a few deep breaths beforehand, make each breath slower and longer - and leave yourself only a minimum amount of oxygen in your lungs after the final out-breath. Then, tensing the muscles of your lower abdomen, exert strength and breathe entirely with the hara - with your mouth closed, and without any further intake of air at all until the lift is complete.

9 Touch Meditation


- Firmly grip the branch of a tree or the hard wooden or metal arm of a chair with one hand.

- Now do the same again, but this time feeling you are gripping it with your whole body and whole being.

- Finally, grip the tree branch or the arm of the chair again, but this time with the sense that in doing so you are feeling and touching the entire chair, and not just the part of it you are gripping.

- Next time you touch or shake hands with a person, feel that your touch is sensing and pervading their whole body and whole being - and not just their hand or a part of their body.


HARA TOUCH, HEALING AND MASSAGE

In contrast to most other forms of bodywork, touch, healing or therapeutic massage (deriving from the misleading and objectifying language of ‘energy’ medicine and an ‘energy’ body) hara touch, healing and massage are based on four fundamental distinctions:

1. Between touching the human body and touching the human being – with and from our whole being and our whole body.

2. Between touching an individual’s outward, 'physical' body alone - or at the same time touching their inwardly felt body.

3. Between touching the physical body of another with our whole being and our whole, inwardly felt body - or touching the body of another merely with a part of our physical body such as our hands.

4. Between only touching a particular region or part of another’s person’s physical body, feeling that we are also touching their inwardly felt body as a whole - their 'soul' - with its all its different regions space and centres of awarenesss including head, heart and hara.

For though few have experienced or learned to do this, the truth is that from our own inwardly felt body and its different spaces and centres of awareness we can come to feel, touch and massage the soul inwardness of another person's body deeply and directly from within – that is to say, without any physical touch at all.

From the hara itself we can extend a ‘tendril of intent’ from the tanden that reaches through its own unbounded interiority to touch and make direct inner contact with the ‘core’ of another human being – their hara tanden.

Joint ‘seiza’ – close up face-to-face ‘sitting meditation’ accompanied by sustained and unblinking eye contact provides an ideal medium for this. Seated in hara himself, the hara master or sensei will be able to use his eyes to look out at his student or patient directly from the inner ‘eye’ of the hara and tanden itself, whilst at the same time extending a tendril of intent directly from it to the tanden of the other. By focussing on the black pupil of just one eye of the other person with a gaze rooted in hara, the hara master can use the strength of his gaze to penetrate that ‘window of the soul’ to the core of the other person’s being – with and from his own inwardly felt body. In doing so he awakens in the other person, often for the first time in their lives, an awareness of hara – that centre or locus of awareness which constitutes the innermost trans-personal core of their being.


HARA DIAGNOSIS

Hara diagnosis is all about sensing the soul inwardness of the patient’s body as they feel it themselves, from within:

1. Sensing the felt inner clarity and spaciousness, or else fullness or density of the different inner regions or spaces of awareness that make up their inwardly felt body.

2. Sensing the different degrees of closedness or openness, bounded self-containment or breathing porosity of their head, chest and upper body awareness.

3. Sensing the different tones and textures of feeling (bright and dark, warm and cool, light and heavy, airy, fluid or dense) that pervade their entire inwardly felt body - and in this way shape, tone and colour their entire bodily sense of self.

4. Sensing the relative strength, dominance and degree of connectedness (or disconnectedness) of the three main spaces and centres of awareness – head, heart and hara.

The body as a whole – in particular the physiognomy of the face and the look in the eyes – is a perfect sensory image of the soul - of the tones and qualities of awareness or ‘soul’ through which an individual feels themselves in a bodily way and through which they look out upon and feel the world around them and other bodes and beings in it.

The body as a whole is a perfect sense organ of the soul. Consequently it is the practitioner’s own inwardly felt body or soul organism that is their principal instrument or ‘organon’ of diagnosis, allowing them to sense the various regions, tones and qualities of an individual’s inwardly felt body in the different ways described above – whether through touch, through seat and tonal qualities of a person’s voice, or through the look on their face and in their eyes.


HEALING THROUGH HARA

Health, as a state of wholeness, is understood here as an experience of the felt inwardness of the body as a singular and indivisible space of feeling awareness uniting the regions of head, heart and hara - a space of awareness that is not bounded by the body surface but open and receptive to the space and world around it, and that allows a free flow of awareness between different regions (inner and outer, higher and lower) within that singular space and its principal centres or tanden. As centres or loci of awareness all the tanden, including the principal threefold of ‘head, heart and hara’ can be likened to nodes of a single-stringed instrument or monochord, through which sounds the individual’s ‘fundamental tone’ in all its harmonics – including the harmonics tone linking head and heart tanden, heart and hara tanden, head and hara tanden – and further sub-harmonics such as those linking crown, forehead and throat tanden, heart and solar plexus tanden, hara and knee tanden, knee and feet tanden, hara and feet tanden, crown and feet tanden.

‘Hara Healing’ is a process of ‘transformative resonance’ by which, through sensing the tones and tonal qualities of an individual’s inwardly felt body and the harmonic or discordant relation between its tanden, the practioner can (a) attain a state of resonance with the patient and (b) use their own inwardly felt body and its centres to impart new qualities to an individual’s bodily self-awareness and establish new connections between its principal centres or tanden - all of which are in turn centred in the hara tanden or ‘seika tanden'.