Archive for June 2010

Perennial Yoga

Om asato ma sad gamaya

tamaso ma jyotir gamaya

mrityor ma amritam gamaya

Om shanti, shanti, shanti

This Shanti (peace) quartet or patha, is a traditional introduction to several of the Upanishads.  It is a beautiful prayer that many recite daily.  Do you know that it is in sung in one of the movies of the Star War Trilogy.

Om Lead me from the unreal  to the real

lead me from darkness to light

lead me from mortality to immortality

Om peace, peace, peace

These are the ideas that live in the perennial teachings of yoga.  Not this stretching and getting healthy aspect that is often expressed as yoga.  Just look at the reference of these words.

Etymology

Gamaya has it’s root in movement.  Movement here as translated as “leading”.  Leading whom or what?  Moving whom or what? and where?

Moving from this selfish aspect of myself that is mortal  and moving to this self that is eternal never ending.  Moving from this focus on materialism (and gaining knowledge, power, wealth and all the things of this sensing and doing part of life) to or towards wisdom and love where we all are no longer separate beings looking at only what is in front of our external eyes.

Philosophy

This type of yoga is not exclusive to seperating ourselves on the inside from the outside.  It is not to admonish and deride the life we live daily.  Truly yoga is to bring together this life we have been living on the outside and “include” this life on the inside.  Allow this movement of the mind to awaken to it’s being vs always trying to become something yogic or ethically better.

A major aspect of yoga is this movement is a natural tendency of the mind to this state of awareness and light.  Able to see clearly once all the obstacles and grim are removed from the path of moving and seeing.  What is there is this truth, light and immortality of our true selves.

  • Recognize what is truth at the deepest level.  Then the confusions of this vs that fades.
  • Recognize what is dull and dark and simple uncover the light that always shines.
  • Recognize what is limited and live from what is without limit (not the motivational “you can be anything”)

Simply do a practice of cleaning up on the inside and outside.  Let this natural movement lead one into a life that brings together and stops pulling all of us apart.  Listen for the breath that moves through this life.  This force of life, this breath called prana will connect us or reconnect us in our love and wisdom.  It will not happen from finding out something or doing something.  But in not finding or doing, we have to work very hard.  These paradoxes are real and one must stay engaged in ones practice of cleaning in order to truly know this simple truth.

Tasmai sri-gurave namah

Ponderisms

This has proved very popular and so thought I should share it more widely–Enjoy

PONDERISMS


I used to eat a lot of natural foods until I learned that most people die of natural causes.

Gardening Rule: When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a
valuable plant is to pull on it.
If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.

The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

There are two kinds of pedestrians: the quick and the dead.

Life is sexually transmitted.

Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

The only difference between a groove and a grave is the depth.

Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.

Have you noticed since everyone has a camcorder these days no one talks about seeing UFOs like they used to?

Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again

All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

In the 60’s, people took acid to make the world weird.
Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?

Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, ‘I think I’ll squeeze these dangly things here, and drink whatever comes out?’

Who was the first person to say, ‘See that chicken? I’m going to eat the next thing that comes out of its butt.’

Why is there a light in the fridge and not in the freezer?

If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a song about him?

If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests?

Do illiterate people get the full effect of Alphabet Soup?

Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog’s face he gets mad at you, but when you take him on a car ride; he sticks his head out the window?

Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

Posture and Attitude

Body Posture

When I think of posture an image of balance comes to mind.  What is this balance that we “see”?  Are not the rocks in the above (Bill Dan -rock artist) picture “in balance”?  This is how my balance is at times and many people also.  Is there a problem?  Yes and No.  Isn’t it amazing the adaptations that we get into in order to say and be in balance.  Certainly since we are organized to move this type of static exaggerated skillful balancing act is not effective except to look great in a picture.

Yoga of Posture

Head, Neck and Trunk straight like a tree.  This reference of posture as one of the preparations for meditation is an old perennial teaching.  I’ve read it in the Upanishadic literature and the Bhagavad Gita (6.13), as well as the oral teachings of the Himalayan Tradition.

Interestingly enough is the verse number 12 of Chapter 6 in the Bhagavad Gita.  This preceding verse speaks to focusing the mind into a single point.  Well that is a pretty tall order.  We can at least start with paying attention.

Isn’t interesting that yoga starts posture from the mind first.  Most postural guidelines start with organizing the body into whatever is the model of choice.  It certainly is sensible to start a bit more subtle.  Nothing fancy, just get that ole mind’s attention first.  Then work with the familiar body.  The way in which we may advise working  might be unfamiliar.

First feel where is your weight on your feet.  You can do all the sensing of moving to create more sensation to first sensitize front-back and sides of feet (just by swaying the bodies attitude).

Outline of Posture

  • Center your weight on your feet (see above exploration first)
  • Front of chest in line with front of pelvis (explore trunk flexing and extending first)
  • Breathing How?  Belly or Diaphragmatic (3-D) or Upper Chest
  • Centralize your breathing with centralizing your spine and trunk
  • Lower neck and head in balance over upper chest (explore with 4 direction turtle)
  • Hip Girdle activated
  • Shoulder Girdle activated
  • Keep rechecking your weight on your feet
  • Then translate loosely through spine and feel how you return to center in posture and breath
  • Do the above in normal stance and then do same in a slight split leg stance

Mental Posture

On another post, we can do the same with where and how the mind is sitting.  You know the mind has it’s own posture as well.  This is attitude.  We’ve got lots of attitude somedays.

There are many details to fill in for understanding posture both from a body system and mind system view point.

At least we can keep watching and paying attention.  Try experimenting with movement in order to expand what we feel and notice.  Develop your own balance and methods.  Share it with us all.

3 Observations in Yoga

In yoga class and in physical training, we often advise paying attention, doing it “right”, and make sure you are breathing–“Don’t hold your breath!”  Remember.

We can look at this advise/coaching/key points as 3 essential observations

3 Observations

  • Body
  • Breath
  • Mind

Body

There are many ways to organize the observation of the body.  We could look at it from what is moving or the qualities of the movement, or both.  (There are even more ways of course we will just limit it now)

Try observing the movement of the body from three key areas

  • Shoulder Girdle
  • Trunk/Spine
  • Pelvic Girdle

These areas will help guide your attention and organize your discoveries.  These three places represent keys and key links or relationships.

Breath

Breathing is a key in all activities.  It can be approached from the gross to fairly subtle aspects.  One of the great gifts of yoga is this emphasis on the breath.  Their approach starts at the subtle breath which then organizes the gross breath.  We can more easily start at the gross breath and it’s characteristics first.  The breath is the link between the body and mind.  This is a main point so well described by one of the great Saints of India, Swami Rama of the Himalayas

6 Main Qualities of the breath

  • Nostril vs mouth
  • Diaphragmatic and lower chest vs upper chest
  • Smooth
  • Deep
  • Noiseless
  • Continuous

Mind

So much can be written and has been written on this mind.  Do we mind?  That is the real question–what are we minding.  Observations of the gross mind can be divided into:

  • Sensing mind
  • Thinking mind
  • Pleasant mind

This last observation of the pleasant mind is a question I find missing.  Well not the question as much as the pleasant mindedness.  Whenever I think of this observation, an image of my teacher, Swami Veda comes to mind.  He has spoken so eloquently of this aspect of the mind.   Also he is able to demonstrate it under conditions most of us would never entertain such a pleasant state.

Well–paying attention and what and how we pay attention is key.  Otherwise we will have to pay for not.