It is said in the wisdom of the Lakota that our primary “spiritual” task is to become as a “hollow bone”, and that the success of our lives depends largely upon upon how well we accomplish this task.
This concept is embodied in the eagle bone whistle— a whistle carved from the wing bone of an eagle— worn by Sun Dancers and medicine people, chiefly used for healing and for calling the spirit of the eagle to ceremony.
Many other spiritual traditions speak of the hollow bone or “empty reed”, or a similar metaphor, in an attempt to illustrate the largely misunderstood concept of humility.
As it is often seen with ”spiritual” concepts, there is more than one level to the teaching of humility. At the mundane level, it has to do with giving up self-importance in order to see more clearly, and things like that. But at a higher level, it points to a simple, powerful and certain pathway of self-transformation!
Contrary to common definitions, the practice of humility is not about self-deprecation, abasement or self-denial. It is not about “knowing your place” It is not something you do, nor is it something that is done to you. Humility is not about acknowledging good fortune or the help of others, which is more about gratitude.
The Lakota say that to become as the hollow bone is a life-long process of releasing resistance to the universal flow of energy in your life wherein the energy of the Source of Existence flows through you unobstructed by the constructions of our conditioning and self-identity.
To accomplish this flow, a “hollowing out” is required, an emptying of self-limiting beliefs, fears, doubts, apprehensions and resistance to the flow of Life. In the magic of the hollow bone lies one of the great secrets to happiness.
Also known as the practice of non-doing— which is not the same as inaction, by the way— humility is about letting go of fear and resistance. It is about giving up on trying to manage everything with thinking and analysis. It is the opposite of being a human-doing and learning to be a human-being. It is about acknowledging the flow of life and merging with what life offers rather than trying to control and push everything, which is mostly driven by fear. Most people have learned to constrict the flow of possibilities considerably in order to maintain the illusion of control and ego-identity.
Letting go of resistance does not mean being “passive,” not in the least. It means being more alive and “tuned in” to the power and opportunity that is all around you in every moment!
The hidden teaching is that the flow of energy from the Source of existence—without resistance— is what brings grace. Grace is essentially the natural flow of the Life Force that expresses as attitudes and behaviors such as forgiveness, compassion, kindness and gratitude, joy… the higher qualities of love.
It is said that the secret of the hollow bone is that it expands as we remove the resistances we have developed to the flow of that energy through us. So as you become more expanded and “hollow” through the releasing of resistance, you experience more grace!
My gift to you for reading this far is a simple but powerful tool that you can employ to hollow out the bone, as it were. If you practice this with regularity, it will bring you into more alignment with the flow of energy (and grace) in your life. In the mystical teachings of the Andes, this is called Ayni—harmony, right relationship.
Take time every day to observe what is blocking the flow of your life without judging it. Ask yourself questions like: how do I feel stuck? or what am I resisting right now? or what am I afraid of? If the answer is “nothing,” look harder. Something. Trust me. If the answer was nothing, you would be able to make it rain, and I have met only a handful of highly evolved people who can do this!
Don’t try to analyze it or try to figure out the why of it or what you should do about it. Simply observe what comes up without analysis. You might observe several different things that block you. Don’t judge them, just observe. This is very important. Don’t judge it.
Whatever it is, bring the feeling of resistance to your heart area and breath into it. Relax and just breathe into your heart while you hold this feeling in your awareness. Some blocks will just dissolve automatically as you do this.
With whatever remains after a few minutes, imagine a flow of energy pulsating up from the Earth into the bottom of your spine and up through your heart. Breathe into your heart and imagine the energy pulsating up through your heart and continuing on, sweeping up the resistance and carrying it out through the top of your head and dissolving into the vastness of energy that surrounds you.
That’s all there is to it. Practice this often. Some things take a little while to clear. Keeping working with this and you will notice a variety of interesting things as you release your blocks and allow for the flow of grace in your life.
The magic of the hollow bone lies in allowing the energy that flows to us to flow through us, rather than resisting it with our learned limitations—the preconceptions, prejudices and the fears that bind us to illusion.
Have fun clearing out the basement.