The Human Shaped Bubble: Exploring Your Potential
If you’ve read some of my past articles discussing meditations based on Tibetan Buddhist Tantric practices (role modeling / healing mentor guided meditation), I use Loizzo’s notion of the meditator emerging as a human shaped bubble after dissolving the ordinary body (self). Loizzo’s latest work “Sustainable Happiness” is a tome that addresses Tibetan Buddhist Tantra in light of Western Psychology and Psychotherapy. In this work he describes the dissolution process in meditation as “psychological death” or “making death a path to openness”. In some traditional Tibetan practices the dissolution follows a pattern of solids to liquids to fire to gases. This dissolution of the body and reemergence as embodied openness (human shaped bubble), allows for the meditator to completely change their orientation to challenges and obstacles. At times, I give these instructions to meditators as seeing the newly emerged self as a powerful, flexible and expansive being. I like to think of it as losing the limited sense of self or the small self and trading it in for the power of openness. When I guide people through this practice and would like to have them not to lose all sense of self, I ask them to allow their small, limited self to dissolve or step into the background for a moment. This isn’t a complete obliteration of the self, but enough of a suspension of the ordinary self to change one’s relationship to personal challenges. Some practitioners may find it useful to completely dissolve the self if they possess adequately balanced ego strength, but this isn’t absolutely necessary. In either case, if one is not identifying with the ordinary ego centered self, the possibilities for healing are more creative and much greater.
I often do directed and personally tailored versions of guided meditations with clients, detecting a theme during a therapy session that seems to come forward as an underlying challenge for some of the things discussed in a session. I may notice worry, trust or self-compassion issues occurring in the session and suggest them as themes for reflection. I often discuss these themes and see where the client is at with them as a topic of relevance. If they confirm that this theme resonates with them, I will move on to guiding them through a personally tailored meditation practice. In some cases, I introduce the obstacle or challenge directly using a meditation that helps them to befriend the challenge. I may direct them to try to make contact with worry, trust or self-compassion. In the role modeling meditation I direct them to show the mentor the specific challenge we discussed, which is often more readily visualized after the preceding therapeutic discussion of the matter.
When the meditator make’s contact with the specified challenge in the guise of a human shaped bubble or open embodiment, I am guiding them to consider it in light of a powerfully opened and somewhat elusive form of self. It is orienting the transformed body, in a way that allows for ideal openness and flexibility when dealing with challenges. When doing the role modeling version of a guided meditation the meditator is facing the role model with the power of their own openness which primes them to easily borrow the role model’s capable nervous system.
Try the brief reflection below: You may do this with eyes opened or closed.
Take a few deep breaths imagining the in breath going all the way down to the lower belly and the out breath coming up and out of the lower belly and out through the nostrils.
Return to noticing your normal breathing.
Count your normal breath backwards from 10 to 1.
Allow the counting to dissolve.
Imagine the Universe (as you see it) and allow it to dissolve around you.
Allow the galaxy to dissolve.
Allow the solar system to dissolve.
Allow the planet, continent and your current location to dissolve around you.
Now allow your limited or small sense of self to dissolve or move into the background and re-emerge as a human shaped breathing bubble or more expansive, powerful, flexible and capable self.
Place yourself at the top of a mountain overlooking a still clear blue lake.
Sit briefly in silence.
Return to your waking sense of self and allow the room around you to materialize.
Allow your notion of the planet, solar system, galaxy and universe to return to the way it normally appears.
Return to the awareness of your breath and as you breathe in feel expansion and as you breathe out release.
Slowly open and close the eyes with the in and out breath until you are fully alert with eyes open.
What was this experience like?
I see potential in this for the queer community (inclusive of LGBTQIA) in that meditation practices that cultivate embodied openness, bring new tools with which to experience humanness outside of the gender binary. Emerging as a human shaped bubble (openness) orients one to a potentially non-gendered perspective. Furthermore, the Tibetan Buddhist Tantric practice of visualizing oneself as a female bodied deity, male bodied deity or integration of both (not dependent on the practitioners identified gender) as a mean’s to liberate oneself, may play a role in coping with and transcending the binary. Additionally, gender in these practices reaches beyond itself and represents the notion of opposites. These opposites which are also inextricably merged, are at times represented as sun and moon, heat and cold, method and wisdom or wisdom and compassion. I would posit that these practices are a call to transcend social and cultural conditioning. Perhaps incorporating the binary and ultimately dissolving it reorients one in light of past biases. Male and Female archetypes are fraught with bias, but the nature of a Tibetan deity is ultimately elusive and may take on other gendered forms. This also has the potential to be utilized creatively mixing gender and identity in new ways or not identifying with any gender at all. It is a chance for not only queer communities, but all human beings to see beyond gender and sexuality labels. These Tibetan practices may be interpreted as ultimately dissolving the gender binary system of the practitioner, even if not consciously designed to that end. I would like to revisit these thoughts in future posts.
Resources and texts of interest:
Sustainable Happiness: The Mind Science of Well-Being, Altruism, and Inspiration – Joe Loizzo
Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others – Sara Ahmed