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Thursday, April 05, 2012

"Sound Barriers" and Personal Breakthroughs

Pushing Through the "Sonic Wall" - Not Easy, But Doable (with Patience, Persistence, Fortitude, and Time)

Have you ever broken through the sound barrier? I haven't; not in an aircraft at least. But in personal life, in terms of processing - working through "stuff" - I certainly have.

Picture of a U.S. Navy F/A-18 breaking the sound barrier. The white halo formed by condensed water droplets is thought to result from a drop in air pressure around the aircraft at transonic speeds, from Wikipedia Commmons entry on Sound Barrier

The Sanskrit term for penetrating the personal "sound barrier" - taken into the personal realm - is kriya. These kriyas are not only known, but usual and expected.

As a yoga students starts "processing" - both by doing physical yoga poses and the meditations - they start to have their "stuff" come out. This can be physical; jerks and spasms while doing yoga postures. It can also be emotional; huge "waves" of feeling come over and through a person during these times.

I first learned the term kriya from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way:

As we notice which friends bore us, which situations leave us stifled, we are often rocked by waves of sorrow. We may want our illusions back! ... And thanks to the morning pages we learn what we want and ultimately become willing to make the changes needed to get it. But not without a tantrum. And not without a kriya, a Sanskrit word meaning a spiritual emergency or surrender. (I always think of kriyas as spiritual seizures. Perhaps they should be spelled crias becasue they are cries of the soul as it is wrung through changes.)

We all know what a kriya looks like: it is the bad case of the flu right after you've broken up with your lover. It's the rotten head cold and bronchial cough that announces you've abused your health to meet an unreachable work deadline. That asthma attack out of nowhere when you've just done a round of caretaking your alcoholic sibling? That's a kriya, too.

Always significant, frequently psychosomatic, kriyas are the final insult our psyche adds to our injuries. "Get it"? a kriya asks you.

[The Artist's Way, pp. 81-82]

The term kriya, though, actually means so much more. Translated from the Sanskrit, kriya really means a "completed action." There is, in fact, a whole yoga practice built around kriyas; it entails the physical postures (asanas), energy work, specialized breathing (pranayama) and visualization. In short, kriya yoga is exactly what we are doing in dance form. (Look for more about kriya yoga over these next few years, as I learn more and infuse what I learn into what we are doing.)

Whether yoga or dance, this is all a part of our pathworking. And the important thing about a kriya being a "completed action"? It means that a person has broken through a personal "sound barrier." They've managed to get to the other side of a huge wall of personal resistance.

Not without cries and tumult. Not without tears in the night. Not without wondering if we're just crazy, or if our lives have been a total loss.

The early attempts to penetrate the "physical" sound barrier all met with resounding failure. The planes simply bucked and shuddered, and couldn't get through. It took many passes, many redesigns, and many different efforts over many years, before the first breakthroughs occurred.

Are you going through a kriya? (I was, over the last two months.) If so, the following from the Wikipedia entry on the sound barrier may interest you:

On page 13 of the "Me 262 A-1 Pilot's Handbook" issued by Headquarters Air Materiel Command, Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio as Report No. F-SU-1111-ND on January 10, 1946:

Speeds of 950 km/h (590 mph) are reported to have been attained in a shallow dive 20° to 30° from the horizontal. No vertical dives were made. At speeds of 950 to 1,000 km/h (590 to 620 mph) the air flow around the aircraft reaches the speed of sound, and it is reported that the control surfaces no longer affect the direction of flight. The results vary with different airplanes: some wing over and dive while others dive gradually. It is also reported that once the speed of sound is exceeded, this condition disappears and normal control is restored.

The comments about restoration of flight control and cessation of buffeting above Mach 1 are very significant in a 1946 document.

In case you didn't get it, let me restate: "... the control surfaces no longer affect the direction of flight."

That means, while we're going through a kriya, our lives go all to hell. Our usual means of "controlling" what goes on - in and around our lives - just don't work anymore. (Sound familiar to anyone? It describes my last two months to a "T.")

The relief is that "once the speed of sound is exceeded, this condition disappears and normal control is restored." In short, once we've passed through the kriya (the crisis, or spiritual emergence), we get some control again.

For those of us going through such crises - now, in the past, or to come - understanding this process and knowing that we regain "normal control" on the other side is most reassuring. Not to mention that we'll have pierced our own personal "sound barrier." We'll be flying in a totally different realm.

Exciting, hmm?

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