Archive for Swami Veda

FreeDiving in the Mind

3ceccdd50b43d71559a0e764c57a99ca

FreeDiving

Just read this very interesting book on an amazing capacity of the human body and mind.  The book is called Freediving by James Nestor.  This post is not to be a review of the book though it is highly recommended to many.

What interested me were the thoughts I had while reading it concerning the process of deep awareness and meditation.  James Nestor is a noted journalist having published in Outside and many other publications.  He writes in this book about some “oddball” athletes/adventurers and researchers (off the beaten path) about their unusual deep explorations of the ocean and the innate human’s capacity to “freedive”.

He began researching FreeDiving as a competition initially.  These divers are the ones who use no equipment, taking just one breath of air into their lungs before diving.  Now for a short movie segue.  If you haven’t seen the 1988 movie (which stands by itself) called Le Grand Bleau (The Big Blue) with one of my favorite film artists (Jean Reno), you must try to watch it.  Now back to the book.

Nestor’s research at the beginning looks at what these freediving competitors talk about as the amphibious reflexes of the human body.  In his book he states that it is a real phenomenon that science recognize called the mammalian dive reflex or simply the Master Switch of Life.  Please read about this sophisticated physiological response that occurs when we stick our face into the water.  Many start to describe it in esoteric terms, though the reflex is quite neuro-biologically based.

In the olden days there are stories of pearl and sponge divers taking a gulp of air and then working under 100 feet of ocean pressure for 10-15 minutes.  These reports are hundreds of years old and the details and veracity have been lost.  There are few traditional divers working this way and seemingly the art/science has not be passed on.

Here is what amazes me about this unusual response.  These same pressures experienced at these depths in the ocean, if experienced on land would crush and kill us.  The ocean and our relationship to it through “getting wet” just has it’s own rules.  So what is true in one setting is not in another.  This point is very important to think about when looking at the exploration of the mind.

My mind starts relate these described changes in the “Master Switch of Life” to some but not exactly what happens in meditation.

Meditation and Awareness Training

Let’s say you have been meditating for at least a few years.  You have had some “good” moments, maybe even amazing moments.  Yet we sometimes plod along in a more haphazard way than we would normally recognize.  We often just sit and “try” to watch our breath and mantra let’s say.  We do some exercises with the body and breath.

Is there any overall incremental plan of progressing from one milestone to another?  Do we even describe what the practical milestones or bench-marks are?

Meditation can mean so many things to so many people.  Right now I wish to restrict it to the traditional deep sense of moving towards and experiencing the different levels of Samadhi according to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  Meditation is not about relaxing and getting quiet.  That is all preparation.  The preparation is key but it is not the goal.

Meditation has these high states of awareness where true Yogis have developed amazing capacities.  Just look at the initial studies of Swami Rama at the Menninger Foundation.  He demonstrated autonomic control of the body (and much more) never before thought possible.

In this journey of quieting the body, breath and mind there are also reflexes that are elicited.  There is now a lot of scientific discussion of neurological and physiological adaptations.  The literature is quite wrapped up in EEG, fMRI and PET scans showing flow and electrical changes with these deep states of meditation.

What are the practical implications and influence on how we are organizing our practices.

A Lack of Program Design for Meditation

Diving in the ocean without equipment elicits these well described changes noted above.  Diving into the depths of awareness also elicits physiological changes.

There are changes in blood pressure and heart rate that are well described.  The breathing rate slows and the depth of breath can dramatically be increased.  The posture relaxes and popularly collapses.  There are many other changes including the described brain wave changes from beta to alpha to the deeper states involving theta and delta waves.

How many of us are measuring some simple biometrics to help organize ones process of meditating.

It seems most people start to meditate and continue to meditate in the same way they go out and casually exercise.  There is no real design, you just go do it.  Maybe you follow some initial program.  Are there regular progression in your training program that you follow?  Do you monitor your progress or is it all just following the lowest common denominator of one’s habit.

Reading the book “Deep” brought again to my mind this beautiful journey that awaits us all–whether it be the depths of the ocean or of the mind.

Maybe we need to look into how we are practicing and ask if we are truly moving progressively into the depths of the mind.  It seems we are settling into habits that make this journey just a casual practice.  If there is no rigorous program design with proper progressions and regressions and constant re-evaluations, then how can we experience consistently these depths that are mentioned and offered in the Wisdom Teachings.

Variety of Practice is Not Progression in Practice

OK, now where do we go with our meditations.  We are learning different practices and often adding them one after another.  When we add something and do not look at our overall sequence of what we are doing and what next we should work on, we fail to progress.

Do we treat our meditation as some magical practice that if we keep doing it we will just get better.  Maybe that is true at times.  How effective is it?

This is where re-evaluation is key.  If we try different practices, how are they helping our core practice.  When and how much would we use them?  What are the attributes and biometrics that we are monitoring?  Often we are just doing different things.  We are adding variety without reflecting on how it helps or hinders our program.  The level of sophistication that we use to examine whether we do one practice or another is often based on some blanket recommendation.

These recommendations maybe well intentioned.  They may be very effective for some, but where are we at at this time and where do we plan on going next week and next month and next year.

Proper Program Design

Take high level sports or movement arts.  If we casual approach playing soccer, how good will we become?  In the olden days we just focused on playing the game and not on the method of acquiring the necessary attributes and skills for performing at a high level.  Whenever a team was notably better, we just assumed the individuals were gifted.  Now we know that talent can be highly overrated and skillful training hours are underrated.  If you haven’t read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers or Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code, consider it.  Many more things in those books are discussed and they are a quick, enjoyable read.

Now we can see that a majority of high level performance is predicated on having the right training program, at the right time with the most skillful coaching available.  Do we do this with the majority of our meditation practices.

Again remember that the level of meditation here is based on achieving very high levels of awareness.

I do not think most of our programming supports this goal well at all.  Now the general programming does.  We just lack many details between where many students of meditation are now and where the goal of liberation is pointing.  Our overall goal is defined but the enabling goals to get there are poorly defined.

These intermediate goals must have ways of determining how and by what standard we have reached them.

Biometrics and Re-evaluation

Ok what is the answer.  There evidently are answers given by the great Masters and Guides.  You can read them in the classic texts like the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali.  You can hear them at the feet of a Meditation Master.  Is it then only through initiation that the answer becomes evident?

Yes.

All the rest is preparation as they say.  So what is the best preparation.  Again the Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras state it clearly.  It is worth the study of these texts and ancient teachings.  In the meantime, our practice can use some additional guides.

Simple measurements of our attributes of the breath and the minds focus can be used.  Taking your resting heart rate, resting breathing rate, and how long you keep a focus on the breath through breath counting are easy ways to train and check on the breath and mind at the beginning.

As the breath moves so moves the mind.  As the mind moves so moves the breath. Same with the body. They are all inter-related. Their skillful implementation needs specific programming that is not being appreciated by many training programs.

We can use these aspects of the breath and mind to deepen our practice and deepen our meditation. They will help settle and calm the mind. A settled and calm mind then opens up to who we are and where we are and where we going.

Resting Heart Rate

Every morning before rising (you are still in bed lying down after just waking).  Simply take your pulse and count it for 1 minute.  Simple, yes?  If you have trouble taking your pulse, practice with someone who can. In 2 weeks or sooner you will be able easily find it and count it for the minute. Do this for 30 days to get an average of your resting heart rate. Try to keep some log or record of the things of that day and week so you can reflect on the relationships of what was going on at the times of the daily record.

Someone who is well conditioned and in good health will have a resting heart rate of below 60. If you don’t have that it is not important. The relative changes are most important. What is important is that you start paying attention to yourself through physiological measurements. They can give you a surprising bit of information of how you are responding to your life and practice.

Each of these parameters by themselves do not mean a lot. They are to be put into context of your lifestyle. They will just add, not replace your current guidelines.

Once you derive an average, you can see how it changes with different practices, different relationships, different seasons, etc. It is a very fascinating way to create a better understanding of ourselves.

Resting Breath Rate

Again each morning before rising take your breath rate.  This rate is the number of breaths in one minute. One breath is both an exhale and an inhale.

Your breathing by now should be belly and/or lower rib cage style of diaphragmatic breathing. Chest breathing noted in the early morning (even in the day) is an indicator of change that needs to be noticed. Upper chest breathing is inefficient and poorly handled by the mind and body.

An average untrained person is often breathing 15-22 breaths per minute.  It is quite fast but is a cited average often in the literature.

With simple breath training that average at rest is around 8-12 for beginners. Later 4-6 breaths seem to be common to those who are training and able to manage their lifestyles.  1-3 breaths become more common the more you train and lead a more sattvic lifestyle. The latter will occur in spurts and for short periods.  It is difficult to sustain under all conditions until significant changes occur.

Also a lower breath rate doesn’t mean anything by itself.

Performance of any of these parameters will lead to a false sense of superiority and over inflated ego. At the beginning that is normal. Just get over it as soon as you can.

Concentrated Mind

Here is one of the keys in diving into ones own depths. The mind has to learn to settle down and maintain a single focus. It is a very difficult endeavor to make happen. We all can be focused on something we enjoy or are good at. We can even be laser like focused on the opposite. Under high stresses we forget about everything else and only focus on the thrill or agony of that moment.

So it isn’t that the mind cannot focus. It is that the ability to choose a focus that is not a habit and maintain that focus under consistent times and trials that seems to be the key.

Therefore training the mind to stay on a focus is very helpful in this preparation of concentration. If you will the mind to be quiet or still, the habits of the mind are so much stronger and we move into our familiar reveries and mindlessness. We keep repeating this lack of concentration only to try again and again with pretty much the same success. Maybe overtime we get a little better, but at that rate we will dead before we have trained well enough. (And don’t default just to future lives in order to deal someday with a wandering mind. Tomorrow never comes, as they say.)

Breath counting is a very simple and effective way of focusing the mind. These are simple techniques that also are embedded in a training program of cleaning up our emotions and thoughts. The Yoga Sutras and the oral tradition speak of stabilizing the mind by making the breath long, steady and subtle. (Yoga Sutra of Patanjali 1.34: prachchardana-vidhaaranaabhyaam vaa praanasya).

Breath Counting

There are many systems for counting the breaths. I have tried many. You must find one that resonates and works for you.

The most effective way for me was to follow my teachers advice (Swami Veda Bharati). He has introduced counting 1-5 and 5-1.  (among many others) This means as you:

  • exhale you hear the count 0ne
  • inhaling you hear the count two
  • exhaling you hear three
  • inhaling you hear four
  • exhaling you hear five—then again
  • inhaling you hear five
  • exhaling you hear four
  • inhaling you hear three
  • exhaling you hear two
  • inhaling you hear one

You continue this same pattern for a prescribed time or number of breaths. I like this pattern and it’s rhythm.

At the beginning, I would lose count as my mind wandered. Then I would have to start over again, egads. It took awhile. In fact, I dropped the practice after just a week, long ago when I first started it. It just didn’t work. Then I tried another counting practice. The same thing happened, so that I got to try lots of different ways of counting. This was long ago but still very familiar.

None of them worked.  Hmmmm, what was my problem?  I’m a little slow here and finally figured out the common denominator was myself. That is why it took so long because I was looking for a solution outside of myself and thinking that I just had not found the correct or best technique. Sound familiar?

One thing I find with people who practice and don’t get results is the very same problem. It is not always what we are doing but HOW we are doing the what. This cannot be overstated in training.

Yes you need proper guidance but you really need to look at the design, execution and re-evaluation of your practice. It is not “just” practice, practice, practice. Let’s get clearer about our training.  This is why we are recording and working with these parameters that can be measured.

So back to the 1-5 and 5-1 count of my breaths.

My problem is that I did not stick to the training for very long. I find this out all the time in training people. They were given an exercise and they are not stronger or better. When asked are they doing it they say yes, but…

This means that they are doing it infrequently and with not much effort. Once they learn the value of proper training methods and are working hard for weeks and months they then begin to see progress. It is guaranteed or your money back!

So recently I did a variation of this counting for 6 months. It was a great practice and very helpful. I kept records of all three components and they markedly changed over the 6 months. Again this practice was embedded in lifestyle changes that allowed for the training.

When counting the breaths after the first month you will notice and become very sensitive to the count and the breath flow. When your mind wanders you will immediately note the change in the count.  What I am saying here will become clear when you do the practice.

Then each month thereafter you can work on an particular attribute of the breath flow with deeper concentration of the mind. This means that while you watch the smoothness of the breath in counting you watch the smoothness of the minds focus. Just little disturbances of the breath and little disturbances of your focus become noticeable. Your sensitivity here really increases. The mind becomes like the breath. They work together and deepen into the subtle aspect of the breath and mindfield.

This stability of the mind through the breath allows the breath to flow as prana into the akasha or space element. The mindfield becomes more quiet and the sense of the observer becomes clearer. Now meditation begins.

Many more philosophical explanations can be received from the multitude of teachings by Swami Veda Bharati on these topics.

You can now carry these attributes to your meditation seat.

Conclusion

Diving deep has definite physiological and psychological correlates. We can use some of the simple measurable parameters outlined here to assist and organize our training and feedback of our methods.

The rest is skillful practice. It is much easier to just sit and hang out. For many who do just that–I ask: How is it going?

Be honest in your re-examination of yourself. Be brutally honest sometimes. Again as the great teachers have taught us, how we are doing is answered in our living of our lives. Are we loving and being surrounded by love, even in the midst of pain and turmoil. Can we recover from the ups and downs of life and continue. Do we only train in sterile environments of the familiar and friendly?

What does are training prepare us for in the real world?

Our depth of practice is the light that shines not because of us but because the light always shines, though we cover and obscure it.

Always my wish is that we share our efforts, both trials and triumphs. Share in a community of support and then move along the path together.

Also wishing much hard work, sweat and tears. Then enjoy the warm embrace of the love of life.

yours in practice

peter

Sitting Lesson

Sitting Better

Oh-Oh, another thing to do!  Wait, this can be a bit painless.  I have just made a short video that gives you some of the basic information you need to sit smart.  This means that it is the very basic information you can use to make sitting a bit more comfortable.  Now it does take some work.  Most of us are working way too much.  Some of us would love to get some work–(and get paid for it).  Either way we are all sitting around.  In fact as I type I’m sitting.  So it’s pretty universal.  Proper sitting is essential for those of us who are in pain due to improper sitting.   How do you know that this means you?  Just try it out!

View this video and see if it doesn’t help give you some things to work on.  Remember the work is in the practice, practice, practice–doing it well.  Of course doing it well means slowly coming to be able to feel what you are doing and then feeling how to change it.  Remember the key is finding out what you do by creating an ability to actually sense these movements and postures.  Then changing them becomes easier.  The repetition of the change helps then change the previous habit.

Note the details of sitting here pertain to sitting without the back of a chair.  The main lesson is especially pertinent for those of us doing a forward oriented tasks.  These would include writing, actively speaking or other table/desk type of tasks that focus us to the space in front of ourselves.

Video on Sitting

Conclusion

I want to thank my teachers who have taught me.  I simply have “stolen” their ideas and given them to you here.  Of course I must mention Swami Veda Bharati, who is the Michelangelo of sitting for meditation.  This video is only the introduction to learning how to mechanically sit better.  It is not a treatise on meditation or sitting for meditation.

The introductory course that is taught by me on sitting for meditation is at least 6 hours.  We break that up into two days of three hours each.  Much more is taught than just the mechanics, so this is only a start.

This sitting lesson is for all of us who sit–especially in the unsupported sitting position.  Sitting against the back of a chair–or oh my god, against the back of a sofa or pillow–is quite different.

Good luck in your practice and feel free to comment below–thank you–peter

Full Moon Meditation

Invitation

Invite your mind and body to come sit with Swami Veda Bharati on the Full Moon Meditation.

Where

Come to the place where you are simply able to sit comfortably.  Use you’re own location where you will not be disturbed.

When

Monday, September 12th, 2011

USA time zone is 7pm Pacific Standard Time

Check here for other time zones

Helpful Guidelines

No experience is needed.  Just find your place you can sit with the least disturbance.  Many people will comfortably sit in a chair (not against the back of the chair, more towards the front 1/2)

  • Bring the mind to withdraw from the outside and come inside
  • Sit with the head-neck and trunk in a straight line
  • Relax systematically from head to toe and toe to head
  • Establish diaphragmatic breathing at the navel center–breathe through the nostrils
  • Breath Smoothly, Deeply, Noiselessly and CONTINUOUSLY (beginners just observe the breath and relax, advanced students do the same and the breath then becomes this above described flow)
  • Be mindful of the flow of the breath at the nostrils
  • Allow thoughts to come and go and bring your attention back to the breath
  • Enjoy
  • http://www.globalmeditationsite.org/

These are the basic guidelines to use without a mantra or sound

Mantra Guidelines

  • Establish the above and use the observation of the mantra with the flow of the breath
  • Use any name of the Divine that you regularly use
  • Use a simple breathing mantra like So-Ham (pronounced soooo–huuummm)-Exhale ham and Inhale so
  • Use any mantra given to you in an initiation
  • All sounds are to be heard in the mind not with the lips, tongue or throat

Conclusion

Remember to make this sitting

  • Simple
  • Enjoyable

You don’t need to analyze or learn or do anything.  In fact you are at an advantage if you know nothing about meditation and simple sit and observe your breath–over and over again.

Swami Veda says to invite the mind to sit down at the calm flowing stream of the breath–it will take you inwards to this still and quiet place that we all have and share.

Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

 

 

Please see the following excerpted from Question and Answer session with Swami Veda in 2008

Question

You encourage us to meditate on the full moon day. Through the meditation we are connected. You are in India and we are in Taiwan. What is the mechanism by which this happens?

 

Swami Veda

I am sitting here and you are sitting two meters from me. That is quite a long distance! And we are connected. How does this happen? If you are sitting behind that pillar, how does that connection happen?  Your body is limited in space and time. It has dimensions, a past, a present and a future, and you think you are a body. So long as you think you are a body, you will not understand the connections that exist in the universal mind. When you and I are meditating together, and there are periods of silence, we are connected. Because at that time, you are not thinking of the body, you are purely in the mind. So when you will learn about your mind and soul, you will know that there are no distances the universe. If a master was sitting in a galaxy, one trillion light years away, and you were sitting on this mustard seed-sized planet, the connection would still be there. And when the master is not in the body, the connection is still there. In fact, the true traditions of this earth are still being passed on, mainly by the disembodied masters. They are the ones who have brought you here. Somebody dreams something, somebody gets a very strong feeling inside. Something inside you says, “Let’s go and meditate for fifteen days in Rishikesh.” From where does that feeling arise in you? Who make you think that thought? You think it was your own inclination.

 

But there is some greater hand that is guiding you. There are times when people come to Rishikesh who do not know anything about this ashram. Somebody in Brazil gets a strong feeling to go to India and go to Rishikesh. The lady arrives and goes and sits down in a hotel. She does not know where to go. Seven days she sat in her hotel room. Then she got tired of sitting in the room, so she came out and started walking. Or took a vehicle, which stopped somewhere, and she started walking, and she sees the ashram and just walks in. Somebody from the reception says, “Swamiji, there us a lady here from Brazil, and she is leaving for Delhi and the airplane tonight.” I called her to my chamber. She speaks Portuguese but she understands Spanish. I gave her five minutes of meditation, and that was enough, her purpose of coming was fulfilled. And she meditates impressively.

 

Why ask about Full Moon Meditations? Somebody is broadcasting in a machine in Moscow, or Washington or Beijing. And you are hearing it in Taiwan. The person who does not know about radio waves wonders, “How does this happen?” It is not coming over some wires, but the instrument is tuned to the waves, because those waves are everywhere. So your mind is everywhere. Understand the nature of the mind. How is it that a mother is sitting in her house and her child is in an accident. And she gets this strong feeling inside, and she runs out and finds her child. How is the connection established?

 

Because it is a link of love between the two minds the mind of the mother and the mind of the child. The mind of the masters and those who are serving the masters their mind is a motherly mind. If you are not a mother, you cannot be a teacher. When taking a teacher training program here, whether you are male or female, learn to be a mother. A mother to anyone who passes by you. A mother to anyone who comes to your class. A mother to anyone who has any suffering. A mother to anyone who has any need. Then you are a teacher. And the persons should feel that they are being mothered. So the connection between the mater’s mind and your mind is like the connection between a mother’s mind and your mind.

 

Please understand that this mind is not something limited to the size of your body. Your mind is not some kind of liquid or solid that is poured into the vessel of your skull, and kept there with a tight lid. Like the radio waves, your mind is an all pervading wave. You are a wave in the universal mind, and you are also the wave that is the universal mind. Can you take a piece of chalk or pencil and draw a boundary line between two waves in a river? Can you draw a line between two waves in the sea and say, “Wave number one, you stay on this side, and wave number two, you stay on that side. This is my country and that is your country?” Can you do that? You cannot do that. The energy is not in the shape of the water. The energy is that, because of which, the water becomes the wave. So the wave of your mind, and the wave of another’s mind touch each other. When the one mind wave and the other mind wave touch each other, and know that they are loving and embracing a fellow mind wave; when they know that it is the light waves of the mind that are embracing each other what is that called? That touching of the minds, that hugging and embracing of the minds? What is the name for that embrace? It is called love.

 

And when you truly love, you can sense what is happening with the object of your love, even a thousand miles away. How does that connection happen? It happens even in those who do not understand that they are not the body. It happens even in those who do not understand the universality of the mind principle. And it happens much more in those who have understood the universality of the mind principle. When you understand that, then you are a teacher. Not because you can recite the relaxation exercise. If you are not a mother to the person you are teaching, then you are not a teacher. You be the mother mind and let that person be the child mind.

 

Please kindly visit the following for additional information on the full moon meditation (also see their home pages)

http://swamiveda.org/html/full_moon_meditation_dates.html

http://www.globalmeditationsite.org/

http://www.ahymsin.org/main/index.php/Index-of-Practices/full-moon-meditation.html

http://www.themeditationcenter.org/jnana/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=90&Itemid=87

http://www.bindu.org/index.php?/icalrepeat.detail/2011/04/17/58/full-moon-meditations-with-swami-veda-bharati.html

http://www.himalayanyogatradition.com/

http://www.swamivedablog.org/

 

 

Full Moon Meditation in Himalayan Traditon

Invitation

Invite your mind and body to come sit with Swami Veda Bharati on the Full Moon Meditation.

Where

Come to the place where you are simply able to sit comfortably.  Use you’re own location where you will not be disturbed.

When

Sunday, April 17th

USA time zone is 7pm Pacific Standard Time

Check here for other time zones

Helpful Guidelines

No experience is needed.  Just find your place you can sit with the least disturbance.  Many people will comfortably sit in a chair (not against the back of the chair, more towards the front 1/2)

  • Bring the mind to withdraw from the outside and come inside
  • Sit with the head-neck and trunk in a straight line
  • Relax systematically from head to toe and toe to head
  • Establish diaphragmatic breathing at the navel center–breathe through the nostrils
  • Breath Smoothly, Deeply, Noiselessly and CONTINUOUSLY (beginners just observe the breath and relax, advanced students do the same and the breath then becomes this above described flow)
  • Be mindful of the flow of the breath at the nostrils
  • Allow thoughts to come and go and bring your attention back to the breath
  • Enjoy
  • http://www.globalmeditationsite.org/

These are the basic guidelines to use without a mantra or sound

Mantra Guidelines

  • Establish the above and use the observation of the mantra with the flow of the breath
  • Use any name of the Divine that you regularly use
  • Use a simple breathing mantra like So-Ham (pronounced soooo–huuummm)-Exhale ham and Inhale so
  • Use any mantra given to you in an initiation
  • All sounds are to be heard in the mind not with the lips, tongue or throat

Conclusion

Remember to make this sitting

  • Simple
  • Enjoyable

You don’t need to analyze or learn or do anything.  In fact you are at an advantage if you know nothing about meditation and simple sit and observe your breath–over and over again.

Swami Veda says to invite the mind to sit down at the calm flowing stream of the breath–it will take you inwards to this still and quiet place that we all have and share.

Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

 

 

Please see the following excerpted from Question and Answer session with Swami Veda in 2008

Question

You encourage us to meditate on the full moon day. Through the meditation we are connected. You are in India and we are in Taiwan. What is the mechanism by which this happens?

 

Swami Veda

I am sitting here and you are sitting two meters from me. That is quite a long distance! And we are connected. How does this happen? If you are sitting behind that pillar, how does that connection happen?  Your body is limited in space and time. It has dimensions, a past, a present and a future, and you think you are a body. So long as you think you are a body, you will not understand the connections that exist in the universal mind. When you and I are meditating together, and there are periods of silence, we are connected. Because at that time, you are not thinking of the body, you are purely in the mind. So when you will learn about your mind and soul, you will know that there are no distances the universe. If a master was sitting in a galaxy, one trillion light years away, and you were sitting on this mustard seed-sized planet, the connection would still be there. And when the master is not in the body, the connection is still there. In fact, the true traditions of this earth are still being passed on, mainly by the disembodied masters. They are the ones who have brought you here. Somebody dreams something, somebody gets a very strong feeling inside. Something inside you says, “Let’s go and meditate for fifteen days in Rishikesh.” From where does that feeling arise in you? Who make you think that thought? You think it was your own inclination.

 

But there is some greater hand that is guiding you. There are times when people come to Rishikesh who do not know anything about this ashram. Somebody in Brazil gets a strong feeling to go to India and go to Rishikesh. The lady arrives and goes and sits down in a hotel. She does not know where to go. Seven days she sat in her hotel room. Then she got tired of sitting in the room, so she came out and started walking. Or took a vehicle, which stopped somewhere, and she started walking, and she sees the ashram and just walks in. Somebody from the reception says, “Swamiji, there us a lady here from Brazil, and she is leaving for Delhi and the airplane tonight.” I called her to my chamber. She speaks Portuguese but she understands Spanish. I gave her five minutes of meditation, and that was enough, her purpose of coming was fulfilled. And she meditates impressively.

 

Why ask about Full Moon Meditations? Somebody is broadcasting in a machine in Moscow, or Washington or Beijing. And you are hearing it in Taiwan. The person who does not know about radio waves wonders, “How does this happen?” It is not coming over some wires, but the instrument is tuned to the waves, because those waves are everywhere. So your mind is everywhere. Understand the nature of the mind. How is it that a mother is sitting in her house and her child is in an accident. And she gets this strong feeling inside, and she runs out and finds her child. How is the connection established?

 

Because it is a link of love between the two minds the mind of the mother and the mind of the child. The mind of the masters and those who are serving the masters their mind is a motherly mind. If you are not a mother, you cannot be a teacher. When taking a teacher training program here, whether you are male or female, learn to be a mother. A mother to anyone who passes by you. A mother to anyone who comes to your class. A mother to anyone who has any suffering. A mother to anyone who has any need. Then you are a teacher. And the persons should feel that they are being mothered. So the connection between the mater’s mind and your mind is like the connection between a mother’s mind and your mind.

 

Please understand that this mind is not something limited to the size of your body. Your mind is not some kind of liquid or solid that is poured into the vessel of your skull, and kept there with a tight lid. Like the radio waves, your mind is an all pervading wave. You are a wave in the universal mind, and you are also the wave that is the universal mind. Can you take a piece of chalk or pencil and draw a boundary line between two waves in a river? Can you draw a line between two waves in the sea and say, “Wave number one, you stay on this side, and wave number two, you stay on that side. This is my country and that is your country?” Can you do that? You cannot do that. The energy is not in the shape of the water. The energy is that, because of which, the water becomes the wave. So the wave of your mind, and the wave of another’s mind touch each other. When the one mind wave and the other mind wave touch each other, and know that they are loving and embracing a fellow mind wave; when they know that it is the light waves of the mind that are embracing each other what is that called? That touching of the minds, that hugging and embracing of the minds? What is the name for that embrace? It is called love.

 

And when you truly love, you can sense what is happening with the object of your love, even a thousand miles away. How does that connection happen? It happens even in those who do not understand that they are not the body. It happens even in those who do not understand the universality of the mind principle. And it happens much more in those who have understood the universality of the mind principle. When you understand that, then you are a teacher. Not because you can recite the relaxation exercise. If you are not a mother to the person you are teaching, then you are not a teacher. You be the mother mind and let that person be the child mind.

 

Please kindly visit the following for additional information on the full moon meditation (also see their home pages)

http://swamiveda.org/html/full_moon_meditation_dates.html

http://www.globalmeditationsite.org/

http://www.ahymsin.org/main/index.php/Index-of-Practices/full-moon-meditation.html

http://www.themeditationcenter.org/jnana/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=90&Itemid=87

http://www.bindu.org/index.php?/icalrepeat.detail/2011/04/17/58/full-moon-meditations-with-swami-veda-bharati.html

http://www.himalayanyogatradition.com/

http://www.swamivedablog.org/

 

 

Relaxation of Effort

Proper Practice

In all training we are guided by certain principles.  The Yoga Community often places proper emphasis on proper practice.  One of the keys to skillfully practice is to relax ones effort.  Today we are often mindless doing and exercising.  Often the accumulated tensions of the day and life are held during our practices.  Therefore it would seem proper to point out this dis-stressful style.  Lets look at when you would emphasize this “relaxation of effort” in your practice.  Your practice could be Yoga asanas, Meditation or any movement endeavor/exercise or performance.

Enjoy It

When we start practicing an asana (again it could be a musical instrument or learning to run hurdles), we start doing something.  Often in the context of yoga asana, people are taught to do a form and then  learn to relax into it and enjoy it.  That sounds just fine.  In practice for most of us, it obviates the basics that need to be established primarily.

Sometimes a student is working at performing a particular asana (again think exercise or your choice or other skill).  If they have difficulty with it, they may stop working on it.  They no longer feel like they are enjoying it.  It just isn’t fun anymore.  This Yoga stuff isn’t really right for me.  I try something else.

Trying to perform something and then being unable to do it can be frustrating.  If the emphasis at the beginning is to enjoy it and relax and one doesn’t, then do you give up?  The whole act of practicing is not to perform something perfectly, nor to necessarily find it enjoyable and be so relaxed at the beginning.  (If you are a high level person that can hold a perspective truly of joy in the mind, then this article is not for you).

Practicing is about developing ways of sensing and doing that were not available at the beginning.  It is a journey filled with lots of work.  Perfecting this work/practice will give enjoyment and you will develop over time this “relaxation of effort”.

Hard work

Notice that a gymnast that is able to effortless perform a routine on the rings or balance bar does not start with trying to relax their effort as the primary practice.  It is only after much sweat, extreme focus/sacrifice and over a long time that they can look so beautiful and effortless.

Yoga Sutras

This classic text by Patanjali has 4 chapters/padas.  The second pada, 47th sutra starts out talking on how the posture is made perfect.  The first part in sutra 47 states that it is through loosening the effort or relaxing the effort, that then the posture/asana becomes perfected in it’s steadiness  and easefulness.

Note that the sutra before, that is sutra 46 states that a posture is that which is steady and easeful/comfortable.  Again this steady and comfortable is not what you do.  It is what happens as you WORK in asana.  Often people are teaching to become something at the beginning that we are not at the moment.  Once again, practice is needed which will provide these qualities as almost side effects of proper practice.

Now in looking at the first part of the definition of asana (in sutra 46), steadiness in Sanskrit is called sthira.  One of the first places in the Yoga Sutras that speak about sthira is in the first pada, sutra 13.  Loosely restating the Sanskrit (via Swami Veda Bharati)–…this effort towards sthiti/steadiness is called practice.

The next sutra in the first pada, sutra 14, then pretty much lists the qualities for ones practice to become solid.  (The beauty and depth of the Yoga Sutras are not being communicated here–just an introduction to some guiding principles and how they can guide this relaxation of effort in our practice).

Firm practice when:

  • Practice is done for a long time
  • Practice is done without an interruption (think long term here)
  • Practice that is done right and proper (details are 4 and beautiful, but will not be discussed here)
  • Practice is done fully, completely (not haphazard or partial)

Relaxation of Effort

So one can be guided by such a profound text like the Yoga Sutras.  In this case, one is practicing not to perform something perfectly.  One is practicing to create a steadiness and stability of their asana (again think dance performance, faster sprinter, etc).  This control of that which is not under control, is achieved through practice (only in part, see YS 1.12).

This effort to becoming steady and stable is our practice.  This steadiness is not rigidly still.  This steadiness is the absolute control of the mind and sensory motor system.  It is that which provides  the direction to correct practice.  This practice then takes time–often long hours of practice, done in the way outlined above.  It is not something that just happens without these focuses.

Then as our practice develops in these ways of becoming stable and easeful, we automatically find that there is a loosening of our effort.  Relaxation of effort is not prescribed first as a primary methodology here.  Of course practically you work and relax and repeat.  Just do not underestimate the primacy of working as outlined in the first and second padas of the Yoga Sutras.

Continuing Practice

Steady practicing leads to relaxation of effort.  It begins to flow.  (Practicing means you have a goal.  This goal is that which you focus your mind, body and effort on.)

Relaxing is always easier after working fully, completely.  There is a rhythm to relaxing.  It alternates with hard and skillful work.  Later it becomes not hard, but no less work.  One begins only later to appreciate the lessening of struggle of working FULLY.  One then moves into the  joy of “hard work.”  It is no longer an effort.  One starts noticing that they are just more relaxed.  This richness of practicing is worth the work.

Again if there is anyway I can be of service, please feel free to contact me here.

Guru Purnima

Guru Purnima

Today the Full Moon on Monday, July 26th, is the festival day honoring the Guru.  Your first Guru is your mother.  It doesn’t matter if you have or don’t have a mother at this time.   It doesn’t matter if the relationship was good or not.  What matters is this force of the mother that has brought us into this world.  The guidance and love of this same force contained in the being of the mother is what is important.   This Guru in yoga then is that force which leads one from unreality to reality, from darkness to light, from mortality to immortality.  This is a very special day which often has been preceded by 40 days of self-purification.  This cleaning up can be started even now, just in case you might feel that you have missed out.  You know mothers are very loving, ALL the time.

There is a longer explanation and many words to express the reverence and connection with this life transforming force of the Guru.  Just so happens that the first one for most of us is our mom’s.

Himalayan Tradition

Swami Rama of the Himalayas spoke eloquently and briefly about Guru Purnima.  Please see the AHYMSIN site for this article (http://www.ahymsin.org/docs2/News/06_0709/#a).  There is also more information at the main landing page in the above Ahymsin link.

Full Moon Meditation

Today July 26th is a world wide full moon meditationSwami Veda sits at different times to cover all the different time zones.  Please consider sitting for any length of time at the hour in your respective time zone.  There is not special experience needed.  Just come into a comfortable and stable sitting position, close your eyes, relax and be aware of your diaphragmatic breath.  Keep returning your minds focus to the breath and let all other sensations, thoughts and feelings take a back seat in the mind.

If you miss this full moon date, there is a sitting meditation every full moon with Swami Veda.  Sitting with Swami Veda, even though he is many miles away makes a difference.  This mind-field is not fettered by location and distance.  Try it!  The above links will guide you to the appropriate times.

Let me know if there are any questions or comments.

Shantih, Shantih, Shantih–Peace, Peace, Peace

Science and Consciousness

Swami Veda Bharati

Just a small clip of one of the current living yogis of the Himalayas.  There are literally thousands and thousands of hours of recorded lectures by this sage.  See the sidebar resources for follow up links.