The Inward Bend provides one with an opportunity to have a breakthrough on one or more of three levels of one’s being:
1.One can have an emotional release that frees up a great deal of bound-up emotional energy and gives one insight into the source of one’s suffering;
2.One can surrender completely into physical pain and learn that all suffering – whether physical, emotional or mental – is caused by one’s resistance to intense sensation, and that when one totally gives up the resistance, there is literally no more pain/suffering;
3.One can experience a spiritual opening.
The exercise can be done in a number of different postures, the purpose of each being to allow oneself to increasingly experience and enter into physical pain:
1.One can sit on the floor in a position with the legs together in front of one, or with the legs spread out or crossed, so that, when one bends forward, one’s head rests about a foot to a foot-and-a-half off of the floor. Sometimes, it is necessary to put a pillow or two under one’s buttocks in order to get one’s head down this close to the floor. Keep the arms behind the back to esist the temptation to push against the floor;
2.One can stand with one’s arms held out to the side, spread eagle, perfectly parallel to the floor;
3.One can sit in full lotus posture;
4.One can sit with one’s arms raised overhead and repeatedly clench and open one’s fists;
5.One can sit in a chair and repeatedly raise and lower one’s legs.
As the exercise progresses, the pain will become increasingly intense. As it does so, one needs to increase the intensity of one’s attention/letting go into the pain. One may experience deep feelings, such as fear, sorrow, and anger. If you need to express these emotions, feel free to do so. When you are done expressing, continue increasing one’s attention/letting go directly into the pain. This will allow one or more of the possible openings mentioned above to occur.
One may use music in the background to assist in the process, if one finds music useful in this way.
It is helpful to do this exercise with a partner, as both can support each other’s efforts when the pain becomes intense.
The Cross of Gold is similar to the Inward Bend, except in an upright standing position with one’s arms held parallel to the floor and a partner standing in front of one, asking repeatedly and increasingly urgently (as if the person’s life depends on it – which it does!), “What do you want?” until the person doing the Cross of Gold comes fully to life.