The Inner Geography of the Spine

This is a transcription from a live teaching session with a question from a student about physical pain and the energy spine. You’re very welcome to join these 3x a week live sessions and participate in the meditation instruction and the discussions afterwards. They’re great… You can try out the re- and discharging the spine practice here.


Yeah, that’s great. So those are two really great questions, I’m going to answer them in reverse if that’s alright.

What I’m very keen that we do, is that we feel into our bodies in a sort of phenomenological way, so just actually feeling what’s there before we put any maps on it.

We need to trust and prioritise our own inner gropings, snufflings and snifflings.

Eastern philosophy, Hindu philosophy, Buddhist, Tibetan philosophy is absolutely awash with maps of the inner body and of course, Western science is also awash with maps of the inner body, anatomical maps. And in some sense, they are all erroneous, they’re all just concepts.

What’s important for us as practitioners or beings or human beings is that we start to trust and prioritise our own inner gropings, our own inner snufflings and sniffings and tastings and feelings that rather than go, “oh yeah, that’s my heart chakra and that’s my throat chakra”.

In a way, this mapping-urge is an escape mechanism. We escape from the lived experience of the heart or the belly or the pelvis into a concept. And as I’m sure many of you are aware of, Hindus and Tibetans, they have different maps along the spine, there are these things that Jane mentioned, chakras and energy centres, and they all have different colours and they’re triangles or circles, vortices or spirals.

It’s more useful is to go bottom-up, really grope around inside our body with our mind, with our awareness.

And the problem with these maps is we presuppose, we go in looking for a blue spiral, we go in looking for a red triangle. And then, we’re like ooh, yes, I found the red triangle. Or no, I haven’t found a red triangle, I’m broken. But this is not so helpful. And it can be interesting and we can go off into a whole intellectual mental game of like spotting chakra colours, etc.

But I think what’s much more useful is to go bottom-up. To really grope around inside our body with our mind, with our awareness and go, “wow, yeah, this is what I am feeling right now here in front of the pelvis…”

The reason I use the spine is that it functions as quite a useful organising principle for our explorations

Or: “This is what is occurring, blossoming for me right in front, in the belly part of the spine”. And the reason I use the spine is that we do have spines, they are a fact of human beings and they function as quite a useful organising principle for our explorations.

Of course, Jackie. was talking about having actual physical pain in her lumbar spine, and many of us do have back problems, but this is not so much what we’re exploring. But more the spine as an organising principle for our self exploration and the curves of the spine.

I hope you were aware of that when we were lying down, the fact that it kind of goes up, then it goes down, goes up. It’s like a little very small rollercoaster. The curves of the spine generate these different feeling tones.

The feeling of our self at the pelvis is very different from the feeling of ourselves up in the skull

So the C-shape fused bones of the tail section in the pelvis is one thing, and then the forward-leaning curve of the lumbar spine is another. And the backward leaning, bigger curve of the thoracic spine is another. And then the forward-leaning curve of the throat and then the tiny little backward leaning curve that finishes up at the atlas.

These are all real physiological things, but they also seem to organise our awareness in the sense that the feeling of our self at the pelvis is very different from the feeling of ourselves up in the skull.

This Maypole is the centre of our being.

And all of these add up if you like, when we start to train ourselves to be able to recognise what’s going on in the five segments. And then with the organising principle of the spine, realise that all five segments are the same thing. They’re all part of the same thing, a many coloured Maypole as Ann said. This Maypole is the centre of our being.

Then this becomes, you know, with practice, what we refer to as ourself. Rather than some map idea of Alistair or Jane, or Michael or Zana, it becomes this ever-changing kaleidoscopic, five coloured Maypole. Or kind of vortex of Jane-ness or Michael-ness or Alistair-ness or Zana-ness organised along the spine of your living body.

As we become more familiar with these centres along the energy spine, we can work more intuitively.

So that sort of answers the second question. The first question about discharge and overcharge really springs from the same thing: when we put our awareness into the part of the body that we are exploring, then we may feel two basic states: we may feel overcharge and undercharge.

And very often they cause one another, we’re so overcharged with energy in one centre that we’ve used up all the energy that we have in a neighbouring one. In which case, we need to rebalance. We need to discharge and recharge along the line of the spine. One section after the other. But as we become more familiar with these centres along the energy spine, we can work more intuitively.

And, of course, it helps enormously when we know where we are discharging to and recharging from! Connecting down and connecting up. In a sense, we’re connecting into something that’s much more powerful and potent and wise than our little thinking mind.

The Earth knows exactly what we need and we can be like an electric car plugging into an electric charger.

And so when we plug our spine into the earth, for example, we don’t need to go, okay, I need to let go of a bit of tension and I need to breathe in 10% of energy and get rid of 90% of overcharge.

The Earth knows exactly what we need and we just relax into the process as if we’re an electric car plugging into an electric charger. With the extra benefit that this charger also = conditions the vehicle as well! Without extending the metaphor too much… we are plugging into something that’s so enormously more powerful and wise than we. We just surrender to it. But we’ll look a bit at this tomorrow.

Thank you for your question. Anyone else?

You can try out the re- and discharging the spine practice here.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this question. Drop me a message with any thoughts, comments, questions, queries or insights that pop up while reading the blog. I’d love to hear from you!

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