The Importance of Symmetry Awareness in a Daily Practice
by Keith M. Cowley
As we toe onto our mats or nestle into our meditative nooks, our first consideration is our sense of place. Regardless if we believe that our practice should take us to a complex realm outside our own or a simply a plane of peace, the locale we choose to consciously look inward can make a difference in how effectively we apply our experience in the world.
After all, it’s about integration, right?
Consider this. Maybe there is reason we create the human structures we do. As we “evolve” beyond an industrial age into a technological age, our buildings are getting taller, our corners closer, our lines more accurate. What if this advancement in architectural information is improving upon a global conversation about primal geometry? What if every interpersonal dialogue we share is a reflection of what we have come to learn of this conversation and our role in it?
Now that’s something to think deeply about. However our time in meditation is not always about thinking deeply. Instead, let’s open up to the flow and allow the conversation in:
So we align our posture to sit, stand, or asana quietly, and a conversation emerges. The body begins to shake (vibration is symmetrical action) and give way to the skeletal positioning, enabling relaxed respiration. Symbiotically, the breath facilitates the process, providing a rhythmic constant (another symmetrical expansion and contraction action). The area we have designated for our practice reflects a quadrant of confidence. We believe that as we press through our spines we can trust our footings, or the seat-spaces beneath us. You’ve chosen this space for that reason. A safe and somehow familiar ground. Perhaps the rectangular mat with predictable 90 degree angles sets the mind at ease. Maybe since we aligned our mat with another line in the room,(or another mat) it feels less chaotic. Is it strange that the mat reflects the dimensional characteristics of a doorway? All around our space we can observe doorways and walls, created with definitive symmetry. If we are centered in this room, does the symmetry reflect our own? Does it affect us? What does it mean?
What we do know is that our bodies are affected by the balancing act of gravity and levity on our equilibrium. So that’s one way our environment directly influences us. Also, our ability to navigate a dark space versus a lit space is a direct effect on our psyche. Open spaces versus tight spaces, liquid spaces versus solid spaces, simple patterns versus complex patterns, all affect our psyche. Of course the psyche influences our equilibrium since we build neural and muscular holding patterns in our bodies that disrupt bilateral (two-sided) symmetry and our ideal alignment. So at the foundational levels we are forever influenced by our environment. However these are all restorative prompts that may be meant to assist in our refinement as human beings.
I have come to believe that anything I experience in my environment is meant for me, as a reflection of me, for the sake of refinement. Many years of seated and standing posture training for long durations of time made me aware of this possibility. So, how much control can we have over our environment if it is a gift of knowledge? I believe we have no control over it. I train myself to make peace with this “fact”. My actions have influence, but return to me as balanced by my environment. The environment knows what it needs. So let’s forget about applying direct meaning to our environment’s signals. Instead, we’ll put faith in the possibility that the reflections are meant for us, and we can align to the lessons. Now we are aware of the process. Involved. That makes us part of the global conversation.
Now aware, we choose another space for our practice. I ask myself questions like, “Am I attracted to any specific symmetries of this environment? How do I invite them in to my body to influence the healing process in my internal environment? Can I recreate the structural symmetry I see?” We recondition ourselves to evaluate space this way, and eventually we no longer have to ask the questions. Soon we come to learn that we never chose the space in the first place.
I tell my students that the line and the circle are the same, the circle being obvious in its structure. The line is a mystery, since the curvature of the earth can alter its path. It has no beginning or end, but the segment we see holds the key to unlock its potential.
Keith M. Cowley is an author, educator, wild forager and non-martial artist in Southeastern Connecticut/Rhode Island. He is the Founder of Personal Circle Center for Awareness and Embodiment Clinic, and New-Native Foundation.