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The Soul of Therapy

Living Connected to a Spiritual IV Drip Line

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You may be feeling in need of a spiritual transfusion. “How do we get connected to a spiritual IV drip line? Do we need to go to a special clinic or get pre-approval from our insurance company?”

When I was a boy I had a serious infection that nearly killed me. They didn’t have IV drip lines in those days, so I remember a daily regimen in the hospital of needles that I’m sure have grown longer in my imagination over the intervening decades. Lately, I’ve realized that the more challenging life is, the more I need to live connected to a spiritual IV drip line. What do I mean?

First, let’s change the meaning of IV from intravenous to “I-Viva.” The “I” here is Large-I Self (as opposed to small-i self that controls most of our moment-to-moment awareness and leaves us prone to suffering with stress, worry, and self-focus). When we live with Large-I energy we are aligned from our most authentic self and flowing with a source of authenticity bigger than ourselves. The “Viva” in “I-Viva” just means “Life.” I want to live connected to a steady drip from my large-I Self, which is the same as a steady inflow from a Life Source bigger than “me.”

So how do we get connected to a spiritual IV drip line? Do we need to go to a special clinic or get pre-approval from our insurance company? Of course not. We already have complete access to spiritual IV drip lines. We can choose to see our breath as one such drip line. When we decide to stop seeing breathwork only as a technique to reduce stress and think of it as a 20,000-times-per-day connection to Life itself, moment-by-moment awareness of the breath becomes a constant call back from the uncentered small-i self to the centered large-I Self.

But is the breath our only option for a spiritual IV drip line? No. I spend much of my day sitting and listening to people in therapy sessions. My job is to stay centered and bring the highest energy I can to the person I am with. I have come to see each session with a patient as an hour of meditation. Throughout most meetings, I lightly touch my fingertips together on my lap—a simple kind of “homemade” mudra (meditation hand position) that goes unnoticed by most people. Feeling the tips of the fingers of my left and right hands in contact throughout the session allows me to draw from my center point (or from my large-I Self) in my effort to be present with another person.

This might seem like a nice spiritual idea, but is there any more to it than that? Without going into great scientific detail, we all have two branches of the autonomic nervous system: sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic branch revs us up (think fight or flight) and the parasympathetic branch calms us down. Steady awareness of the breath or touching a center point (as with my therapy-session mudra) sends a constant message to the parasympathetic system: stay calm, stay centered, stay non-reactive, stay mindfully present. These gentle energies that flow from being connected to a spiritual IV drip line are not just good for our mental and spiritual health. They can help with numerous health issues, including healthy blood pressure, glucose management, heart health, and support of the immune system. Chronic sympathetic nervous system arousal is related to a variety of health problems, so a steady drip, drip, drip to keep the parasympathetic system activated is a good basic health practice.

Deidre, a physical therapist who saw me for psychotherapy, said she had a great deal of trouble remembering her center throughout a stressful day overloaded with patients. I told her we all live with that kind of “spiritual dementia” (forgetting of the large-I Self) and that is why we need a simple way to re-center often. Because her work is not performed seated as is mine, I suggested she try the gyan mudra, which involves making a closed loop or circle with the thumb and index finger. “Any time during your day that you want to feel your center, just make that circle with your hands at your side—no one will notice but you,” I suggested.

When she returned for her next session, Deidre excitedly told me that she’d used the “circle thing” to go through her day without straying too far or too long from her large-I center. She told me she loved that the circle could help her remember being in touch with an infinite energy with no beginning and no end. This was her idea of God, so we could say the circle thing was helping her live with connection to The Circle Thing.

Maybe we could call this kind of spiritual practice “stealth meditation.” We can be doing it right in the presence of others and they have no idea we are re-centering on the source of our highest Self. The world has stealth fighter planes. Maybe we could use a few more stealth meditators!

This nested meditation from my recent collection captures something of living connected to a spiritual IV drip line:

I Like to Imagine nested meditation

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