• Sheila Foster

What is Samyama?

The practice of Samyama is one way to meet what is, to feel what we fear or don’t want to feel, in order to experience the Grace that is inherent in all situations, even the worst, most heart-breaking ones. Every experience, no matter how awful, can open to grace, to love, to peace, if we are willing to feel what is. We don‘t have to like or condone it-- we simply must feel it. Life is an extraordinary adventure full of love and joy as well as heartbreak and horror. We live with the ongoing realization that everything is impermanent, what is born will die, including everyone and everything we love, as well as our own bodies. It does not help our hearts, our beloveds, or serve the awakening of consciousness in ourselves or on the planet to deny, avoid, cut off, go numb, go into addiction, or get bitter and trapped in stories of misery or victimization. Yet we become lovers of leaving, masters of disappearing, Houdinis in the face of what is. What can we do? How can we be with what is, as it is, with that which isn’t going to be different just because we want it to be, or pray like crazy for something else? How do we face the difficult moments, the painful or horrible experiences that happen to us and to our beloveds? How can we also open to the joy, the delight, the love, the unbearable beauty of each moment? How do we stay? How do we become welcomers of what is? Samyama is a simple, heart-centered spiritual practice that can be used for sitting/moving meditation, for simply being present and in the here and now, moment to moment, and for opening to what is, as it is, whatever it is. It is a vehicle for opening the heart, meeting what is, and dis-identifying with ego, thoughts, suffering, and wounded identities. It is a powerful vehicle to stop suffering, struggling, agonizing, and running away from ourselves and from Life. We can know ourselves deeply via Samyama. Sacred Witnessing is a powerful, alchemical process and an essential aspect of Samyama. We learn to witness ourselves, as well as to witness others, and Life itself. Sacred Witnessing is alchemical and consciousness-expanding, and happens naturally during the practice of Samyama. We can learn to do Samyama with a question, a problem, a flower, or an intangible quality such as compassion or love. While it is a simple practice, it is not always easy, as it requires a certain amount of focus. Learning to hold the focus for more than half a second is the most challenging part, but focusing is a skill that can be learned and developed with practice. Practice with Samyama is like the necessity to practice if you are learning to dance or play an instrument. It is essential; practice builds the skill, cuts the path, and makes the portal to the Mystery very accessible. Samyama offers a form of deep psycho-spiritual healing that brings pain, grief, anger, even rage—everything—to the altar of the heart to be transmuted by love into love. It weaves together an ancient spiritual practice with a deep understanding of psychological territories and subtle spiritual realms, Jungian psychology, and the archetypal process of spiritual initiation. The beauty of this work is that anyone can learn the basic Samyama practice and use it for themselves—not just in difficult times, but daily, as a meditation practice, as a living ritual to open to each moment of life fully, directly, no matter where we are. Samyama is essentially alchemy of the Great Heart. I capitalize Great Heart because Samyama takes us into and through our own, personal, emotional heart to the Great Heart, the Heart shared by all human beings. It can bring us into the realization of union with all beings, where we don’t take what happens to us so personally, where we feel a growing compassion for the others who are in this same fragile human boat, adrift on calm seas as well as tidal waves. We come to understand that this is not my broken heart, but rather it is The Broken Heart that we all share.

© Sheila Foster 2016