I audited a First Sphere this weekend.
A "First Sphere" is what we refer to the introductory weekend of workshops in which you learn the basic techniques of Ascension. There are several groupings of meditation techniques, referred to as "Spheres." In the introductory weekend (a class that happens over Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons but isn't usually an overnight-stay kind of retreat) you learn the first grouping of techniques - the First Sphere.
Once someone has taken the First Sphere, it can be audited for free as many times as they would like. I think this was my 8th.
I was attending the First Sphere this weekend primarily to support one of my best friends, Kim, who decided she would like to learn to Ascend, and also to connect with the local Ascension community, since I missed the Advanced Retreat last weekend.
Kim is someone I have known for many years, and had always hoped she would find something like Ascension. She is a wonderful, cheerful, and eternally loyal friend. But like many of us, Kim gets stressed out. Sometimes the craziness of a mind that won't shut up and emotions that refuse to disengage get to her. It just makes life harder than it needs to be.
I'm proud of her for deciding to do something about it. She's been having a rough time lately, and I think it shows great strength to be dealing with that kind of thing and then make the decision to do something proactive, rather than just giving up.
Now the key is sticking with it. I hope she will - between me and Ian and my mom, she has a lot of support.
I've seen a lot of people go through the First Sphere and not keep up the practice. The difference between the ones who do and the ones who don't usually has to do with whether they have a support system - friends and family - who encourage them to keep up with it. or, if they're someone who is really, seriously on a path for self-improvement and this practice just resonates.
But more often it's because there's someone in your life to remind you to "drop an attitude" (as we call using the techniques)when you're upset, or to sit and Ascend instead of watching TV before bed.
Thank you, Mom.
What I learned
As I said, this is my 8th First Sphere. Yet every time, I hear something in the teachings that I didn't before. Or I understand it better now that I've had some of the experiences Lyrea talks about. I still take notes every time; they always turn out differently.
In many ways, this weekend provided an excellent reference point for hindsight. Being there with Kim reminded me of where I was in life when I started this process, and just how far I have come. It's reassuring to have those moments, because the practice of Ascension is so subtle. Oftentimes we don't realize we have reached moments of higher consciousness until well after the fact, when we review and see the differences between that experience and what was before.
As Lyrea talked about different aspects of how Ascension can effect your life, I started realizing how they had effected my own. (Look for a future post on "Dating and the Shadow Self" related to this.)Perhaps most unexpected from this weekend was what I got out of it. I thought I was going to support a friend, but I gained a lot for myself, too.
Approaching With Innocence
Lyrea always reminds us to go into every sitting with innocence and without expectation. Every time you Ascend is different.
Yet I found myself preparing for this weekend thinking "oh, it's just a First Sphere." As if the time we spend Ascending is somehow less valuable or powerful during an introductory weekend. It's not.
You have to meet yourself where you are today. I have heard yoga teachers talk about this in terms of doing the yoga that your body needs today - not expecting to stretch as far as yesterday, or assuming that since you did 20 sun salutations before, you should be able to do 21 now. Today you may only be ready for 15. I've always taken it to heart, but sometimes I have to remind myself that it applies to the yoga of the mind, too.
Today's Ascension might be a hen house. Or it might be an Exalted experience. Or you might fall asleep. Whatever it is, you can't decide ahead of time how it's going to be.