Category Archives : Inspirations


Transitions & Sacred Keys

This is 50

My old school friends and I had a weekend away and we laughed as we placed on Instagram a photo of the hall table with three sets of reading glasses – ‘This is 50’ was the caption.

Since that weekend I have had many conversations with women friends surrounding the nature of this transition time, which falls into the pit of the curve of the psychology model, the ‘U Curve for happiness’. These are thoughts collated from conversations with women who have entered the phase of life ‘This is 50+’, yet there is relevance below no matter your turning point in life.

At our age there is a lot going on, a letting go, quiet unheard sighs, even tears, as we are no
longer required in the intensity of the nurturing role as we once were,
our bodies have shed the physical need to procreate, we are in ‘change’ and in this change an opening
occurs into a space for a new beginning – which is wonderful, as the poet Lesbia Harford declares in her poem ‘Periodicity

‘Women, I say,/are beautiful in change,/Remote, immortal, like the moon they range.’

Moon Women

Like the moon they range

 

Self stories change

Yet we carry fatigue from the past, from farewells to loved ones and an emotional tiredness from the holding onto our old stories that we are having difficulty releasing into history. Our role, our stories in the world  shift, some women comment on invisibility, some on condescending responses from bright young things who are just beginning high on the ‘U curve’ – as Kitty Flanagan depicted beautifully in her show ‘Seriously’.

So it is up to us now to redefine ourselves on our own terms. The need seems to be apparent in many of us no matter where we sit on the professional and family band stands – a need to get to the heart of the matter because perhaps for the first time the years ahead may well be shorter than those behind. This is a true freedom and in most conversations has required a deep period of introspection and often a spiritual seeking. In some cases a withdrawal occurs from social activity a kind of spiritual hibernation, a delving into a pilgrimage if not physical then at least metaphysical. This is 50, can thus create a cocooning effect where the busy-ness is less meaningful and an emergence is sensed as imminent. It
is a massive transition phase of life and yet little is spoken out into the
Western world to offer guidance, there are no rituals – thus there is a perceived aloneness to it too.

It is self care (often articulated incorrectly as selfishness) that will define our next steps. The
flowing outward from us to others, if we dare nurture within, will be an abundance that
will surprise as it gently unfolds – do we dare to let the
petals of our true selves part from their closely held comfort-current-expectation space?

Painting by Jennifer Cope

Welcome colour during the cocoon effect Painting by Jennifer Cope

 

Sacred Keys

It all brings back to my mind the teachings of Tantra x 3 ‘Sacred keys’ and William
Whitecloud x 7 ‘Secrets of Magic’ as shared to me by Andrew Mournehis (Divine Grace Yoga) in his intensive ‘The Three Sacred Keys to a Magical Life’:

3 Sacred Keys from Tantra
1. Iccha: What’s your heart’s desire/passion/intention/how can I share
from the truth of my being – Recognise your heart’s desire to open doors
2. Jnana: Ways to create/information to know ‘How’ to create and manifest
– discover rational and intuitive ways that will lead you to unlock the
doors your heart seeks to open
3. Kriya: What actions do I take to make a reality and manifest my
creations? – The action, structure and ‘will’ that is required from you to
open the doors

Magic happens when we align these keys.

There is likely already recognition of the doors and familiarity with the locks and a ‘knowing’ of how to open them, we have perhaps even sketched out the actions…so now for the will to
implement the structure to meet our heart’s desires – with the courage, the integrity, the sight of the clear eyed warrior within. Balancing and strengthening at Manipura Chakra always helps here – respect the wisdom of the gut, the second brain.

7 Secrets of Magic from William Whitecloud to challenge you and rock your
perceptive reality view
1. Your thoughts and feelings are not real
2. Your focus creates your reality
3. Everyone has a heart
4. There is nothing to do, but there is always action to take (truly accepting the current reality and then acting on it)
5. Structure has integrity – if the structure doesn’t work change it
6. You get energy from a higher source Always focus on the higher vibration
7. It will always take your will…Take action

And Andrew also asks, ‘Can you be with the tension that seeks resolution…’

Friction out into the world is always created when a skin is shed.

It seems to me it is a deeply felt letting go, allowing the unfolding of that tight held bud …the keys are apparent in the
secrets above – now to acknowledge this within ourselves and begin to allow
an inner heart celebration of love to self, accepted with joy from the
great heart of the universe – the higher vibration you are reaching
toward.

A Poem by Pesha Joyce Gertler

The Healing Time
Finally on my way to yes
I bump into
all the places
where I said no
to my life
all the untended wounds
the red and purple scars
those hieroglyphs of pain
carved into my skin, my bones,
those coded messages
that send me down
the wrong street
again and again
where I find them
the old wounds
the old misdirections
and I lift them
one by one
close to my heart
and I say    holy
holy.
© Pesha Joyce Gertler

References: Andrew Mournehis, William Whitecloud as shared by Andrew, Vale Pesha Joyce Gertler, Sally Kempton who introduced me to the Great Heart, Lesbia Harford, ABC RN interview with Renata Singer for her book ‘Older, Bolder’, Helen Garner, Kitty Flanagan, Jennifer Cope, heart-opened-raw conversations with friends.


Meditating on the World’s Soul

 

How did we become so Separate?

As I open the paper each morning – yes I’m still a hard copy newspaper reader – I keep asking myself how did we human beings become so separate? How is it that we appear to have lost our reverence for life, for each other? We shun the other and yet the other is us…locally we are affected: our humanity toward asylum seekers, child abuse, violence toward women, elderly abuse, homelessness, mental health negligence, murder, corruption; and globally: MH17, Gaza, Syria, Ebola virus, jihadist activities in Iraq…the list goes on and our language itself is weighted down with the words terror and fear. How did we become so separate?

Kali Yuga

In the Mahabharata this age is named Kali Yuga when the world’s soul turns black (http://www.grahamhancock.com/forum/DMisraB6.php) It is not an age of the Goddess Kali but of the apocalyptic demon Kali setting up discord, strife on earth manifesting as greed, anger, deceit, corruption, sin, animosity between peoples and an ever increasing gap between human beings and the divine, peace, faith. It is an age where extremes oscillate and the pendulum of virtue no longer has a centre point – the axis is degenerating toward loss. This concept of Kali Yuga seems evident in our histories of violence toward each other, toward other life forms and toward the planet. It is suggested only one quarter virtue remains and in that we may have some hope and yet it is predicted to dwindle to zero by Kali Yuga’s end.

There were preceding ages though, Dvapara, Treta and the sublime state of the time of SatyaYuga. Each of these yuga provided a better existence for all matter and living things.

Light or particle or universe?

Light? Particle? Universe?

Yet, yoga also offers us practices to transform this age. Yoga offers us space to see, feel and experience oneness. Patanjali’s Sutras offer a plethora of practices, something to suit all personalities, practices that encourage us to open into full communion with a greater consciousness. Connection, union, grace, love, trust, service…expansion and return to abundance and peace.

In La Luna’s classes this week we worked with verse 1:40 of the Yoga Sutras and ended our class in sivasana with this meditation:

A Practice for Verse 1:40

Begin to imagine what it would be like to see a sub atomic particle, smaller than the atom, composite or elementary… Perhaps focus on an elementary particle named the Higgs Boson or God particle what does this particle look like to you? Don’t worry if you can’t access a scientific textbook image…what does this smallest of all particles look like to you?
Is it spherical? Plain? Patterned? Coloured? If you have no visual can you sense the particle, conceptualise the idea of something so minute?…

Now bring the mind forward to the world that can be seen and imagine a tree the trunk, bark, the texture, the scent, then the branches, leaves, the textures, the colours of each – there is nothing else in your mind right now but this tree formed behind closed eyelids. Can you smell the earthiness, the fragrance of the leaves?

Trees and Consciousness

Trees and Consciousness

Can you sense the mighty root system offering nutrients out into the earthy floor below feeding other plants, animals, matter…generously sharing without an understanding of borders, or different species…without fear

Next extend your mind outward into the darkness of the night and observe a star, a solitary star, go deeper passed the twinkling light that you can see, feel the heat, see the luminosity, sense the magnetic field, the ancient energy billions of years old…the light, fill yourself with starlight, flood it in to your entire being…

Now sense the whole of the universe…which is a complex and orderly system – an example of a cosmos. Our universe composed of all matter and energy including the entirety of the earth, the galaxies and intergalactic space regarded as a whole. See the whole universe, sense the energy, feel the matter and experience cosmic vibration as you immerse yourself within the universe
Bring this state of being as one with the universe back into this room…be the universe
Return the light to the world’s soul.

Learn from the trees: The consciousness of Trees


Book Review: Stepping Stones to Meditation

 

About the Author

Jennifer Hanning was my first Hatha Yoga teacher at Hampton Yoga. I’d experimented over the decades with Ashtanga and Iyengar but although I enjoyed both I knew I hadn’t found a practice that resonated with my centre… then I walked into Jennie’s classes where I found yoga blossoming, beyond postures, settling into my mind and spirit. Each of her classes began with breath and meditation and ended with a visualisation that let me loose in bliss. Jennie’s visualisations are written from her heart to your heart.

I began questioning her about her writing and about yoga until she eventually suggested I take the Yoga Teacher Training course. Jennie was our meditation teacher throughout our studies and she guided us through yogic meditation techniques which both challenged and calmed our consciousness. Our group of students was thus blessed with the gift of meditation.

Stepping Stones to Meditation

Stepping Stones...water

In her book, Stepping Stones to Meditation, Jennifer Hanning has found that rare balance of writing her meditation course into an informative book for beginner and experienced meditators alike. It is indeed a book of insights encapsulating the magic of meditation within a yogic context and instilling it with her own creativity. It is often said by students that meditation is not for them but in this book Jennifer Hanning provides a concise, yet meaningful practice collection where there is something for all personalities to explore. It ranges through breath, muscular relaxation, deeper philosophical moments, physical awareness, a short course on the chakras through to guided imagery. So begin your journey one stepping stone at a time and find what stone your foot rests on most comfortably and practice, practice… coming back again and again and see, feel, experience the benefits that unfold.

I will admit though in a moment devoid of santosha/contentment I wanted more from this book…I was looking forward to its completion to access more of Jennie’s written visualisations…for this though I believe all I need is sahana/patience. One stepping stone at a time.

Find the book here:

http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00BZQ2STO


Luminosity Lotus Lake

 

I began a recent class with participants seated, right hand over the belly and left over the heart connecting in with two places of intelligence within the body and we asked the third intelligence, the mind, to follow the breath with ‘I am’ or to choose ‘So Ham’ meditation. We sat like this for three minutes then when we reached an inner quiet we sat to ‘be’.
In that state the natural breath flowed and in the background I introduced the final verse for Chapter 3 from the yoga Sutras:

Yoga Sutra 3:55 ‘In the merging of pure being and self there is absolute freedom’

And I hope as the class breathed that I shared aurally some of the substance in the below notes:
To free our consciousness from attachments, aversions, afflictions this leads to clarity – like a murky lake let all the muddied water of your distractions, habits, conditioned thoughts drop like sediment below and reveal the transparency of your inner light – let your lake glow in clear light. This is the luminosity that Pandit Rajmani Tigunat refers to when he discusses the guidance provided in the Sutras – ‘to reclaim your luminous self, your joyous self’, free from preoccupations, acquired conditioning, mind-plays, limiting beliefs. The Sutras provide the means to identify all behaviours that serve to enslave us, ‘get to your essential nature, let the inner wisdom illuminate…the Sutras simplify everything taking us to the main point in life…’

Non-attachment

The lesson of non- attachment is critical to reaching this point of essential nature luminosity. The letting go requires non-attachment materially and mentally, not just our less attractive traits but even when we are serving fully, positively – to serve without expectation, to give with love and unconditionally. This will bring freedom because we stop placing the weight of expectation on every action, we stop anxieties developing because we think were are not good enough or liked enough if some acknowledgement or other didn’t come our way. Offer outward to others freely and do not be attached to the outcome …practiced with clarity, ‘absolute freedom’ –free of doubt, at least in those moments – will be experienced. Practice again and again.
In one of the Yoga Nidra texts Satyananda describes: ‘The water never touches the petals of the lotus flower.

Lotus Water Roots

Lotus Water Roots

Though the lotus is rooted at the bottom of the pond, and it rises up through the water, yet its petals are never wet. Therefore, the sages and yogis advise us always to be detached from everything in the whole universe as the lotus is from water, completely non-attached. The lotus comes from the water; it only survives due to water,yet it does not get wet; the water cannot touch it. …we eat, we enjoy we suffer…yet we should be detached from all of this.’ If we can become the lotus we can never be hurt and yet we can love fully, we can be luminous.

Ultimate Samyama

The Sutras may simplify everything that confounds or limits us – but the work to follow them, in my experience, is rarely simple. Yet when we do let go and let all acquired traits drop as sediment below the lake of pure being, consciousness and self merge – it is another way of standing in the world – another way of saying ‘I am’, or better still ‘Sat Chit Ananda – Existence, Consciousness, Bliss. It doesn’t matter if you are working, enjoying time with family or doing practical chores – in whatever way you serve in the world each day – nothing can shake you from this clear position of being – this is your centre, your light and you can choose to be there and go forward with clarity no matter what life throws your way. Receive each challenge with the grace of your inner light which is revealed to you through the pure and equal merging of consciousness and self – this is freedom.

Lake Practice 10 – 20 mins:

Prepare

Settle into a seated position or perhaps sivasana, let the breath settle, each inhale feel the weight of the body connected to the floor, each exhale release energy allowing the body to rise…play here for a few minutes, you may like to reconnect right hand to belly, left hand to heart.

Visualise

From the eyebrow centre begin to create the image of a murky lake, it may be a lake you know, it may be a classic landscape lake from a photo, painting, your imagination. In this lake you can’t see the lake bed for all the thoughts that are running through your mind, all your thoughts are the mud that clouds the lake. Can you see those thoughts? Can you shape them in the darkness of your lakes water?

Lake Juno

Lake Juno

Perhaps choose one or two thoughts or behaviours that you really would like to let go…then begin to watch that thought lower in the water falling through 10ft, 20 ft, 30ft… of water and see it settle as sediment below. Try this again with another mind imprint, distraction, acquired habit…continue with a few examples until your lake is clear. Then allow your entire being to ‘be’ this clear lake. You are this clear lake.

Add a mental repetition of ‘Sat Chit Ananda’, the perfect mantra to encapsulate the meaning of the Sutra 3.55. The perfect mantra to express the state the Sutras guide us toward.

Release the mantra hold this view of your clear lake, this metaphor revealing the state where self and consciousness have become pure, the same.
Gently externalise, return into your physical body, carrying within the ability to reach your clear lake at any time.

‘With our thoughts, we make our world.’ Dalai Lama

[References from: Govindan, Marshall., ‘Kriya Yoga Sutras’ / Pandit Rajami Tigunant on Yoga International.com / Swami Satyananda Saraswati., Yoga Nidra]


Offerings and Aha moments

Self Study on the road as I drove to a friend who was assisting me in building this website…

As documented in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras svadhyaya or self study is listed as the fourth Niyama or daily observance. Each observance provides us with a practice to apply to our day to day activities as we open toward our spiritual path. Svadhyaya, sometimes spelt in english as swadhyaya (to assist pronunciation) in itself has an inner series of practices: studying the scriptures; viveka – discrimination; contemplation; witnessing and cultivating awareness. These are all discussed beautifully in this article Swadhyaya (Self Study)

What I wanted to add here is how once we begin on this path the practice of svadhyaya can become less self conscious. It actually occurs naturally through us once we have planted the seed. Yes, we may consciously choose to read a yoga sutra a day or a verse from the Bhagvad Gita and contemplate these teachings as we move through our work, tasks, chores and interactions, but insight may be gifted to you when you least expect it – spontaneous svadhyaya.

It happened for me this week, as I said I was on the road driving in my car focused on the route I was taking, and not particularly thinking about anything more when the Spirit of Things program came up on the radio. Rachael Kohn was interviewing the musician Ben Lee – so whilst it is a program about spiritual things I had no expectation of a spiritual shift inside me.

A little aside here to give you some back ground. I, in my middle years have embarked on yoga teaching this came about as I hit some personal road blocks and I could no longer ignore that the corporate world was not my fit – I also needed healing. Along this journey of setting up on my own to teach self doubts crept in…the difference when practicing yoga is that you have a tool box to reach into when you need to work effectively through ‘stuff’ – however at times I need to repeat lessons again and again. Sometimes the tool box actions are not quite enough – you need someone to articulate things in a different way so that you can have an aha moment – a flickering towards your own inner light.

Steps through tea tree into sand dunes

Ben Lee did that for me. His words resonated on several levels.

Despair

Those times when you feel knocked flat, that all your efforts are not getting you any where. My motto for those times is ‘Do the work, keep showing up’. Yet, if we repeat our mottos too often they become brittle. Lee reflected on belief systems, that any system needs to be practiced with an open heart, to really activate a spiritual system you need to reach into the juiciness. This is essential when practicing a religion where you can get caught by tradition, ritual and perhaps through ego-expectations you let the heart close in an effort to be a perfect practioner. It is also essential within svadhyaya. Keep the heart open and the juiciness will follow. So for Ben when despair knocked on his door in the form of criticism it made him… “I made more music…I kept going…you can’t allow yourself to become stagnant…waiting…The Buddha’s test: only one person needs to ‘get’ my work…only one person.”

Consciousness

Lee distinguished between Jesus the individual and Christ the consciousness.
He applied this to Swami Narayani Amma. Who is both an individual Lee visits in India and female consciousness an expression of the divine mother who took him closer into the embrace of understanding, feeling unconditional love. Amma said to him that music was his dharma but he questioned the what and the how of music and Amma answered “bring joy”. In that moment Lee understood that through his music he served others, his music was the offering. Once he could envision music as his ‘offering’ criticism of his work was no longer relevant – “this is my offering to you, enjoy it or if you don’t move on.”

“I feel guided …how if we get with the program, the rhythm of the universe and allow it to turn me[you] into what it wants me[you] to be… the universe desires us to blossom, unfold”

In the svadhyaya series after studying the scriptures we practice viveka-discrimination the opportunity to…as Lee says:

“In any moment we have a choice to move towards the divine or choose self importance, materialism…a sort of spiritual death” There is a magic moment before we perform, any action that allows us to choose wisely. In choosing wisely any one of us when following our true path to serve can become a ‘Peak Experience Generator’ (Lee references Ken Wilbur in reference to actual performing) where our offerings given with an open heart take on a heightened status purely because we have drawn on our inner light to create and offer to others.

Aha Moment

A Cuban musician plays the trumpetBefore any action surrender to the gift of the moment that allows you to draw your offering up from the divine within you. Know that your offering when it comes from awareness is just that an offering, your offering of joy. Self doubt no longer has currency.

Thank you Ben Lee and Rachael Kohn

Link to the podcast


Make it happen

At this time of year, Christian or non, the year is folding in on itself, the new year is imminent, there may be family functions to attend, histories replaying, celebrations to enjoy or there might be an intense feeling of loss, aloneness or grief for those that did not make it through to the turning of the year. Emotions are heightened, the streets are busy, the roads congested and the weather is warming, or at least here, in the southern hemisphere. This can result in a perception that we are too busy to simply ‘be’. The to do list is long and deadlines loom, tension creeps in, even when we are in excited anticipation of the festive season.

This is actually the perfect time to stop and pay attention to personal practices that restore our equilibrium, our sense of peace and lead us to stillness. A restorative yoga practice can provide this relief, a walk dedicated to ourselves without dependents wanting to play or a ball to be thrown, a swim, a defined time to read, listen to music, all these things and more, can be, should be, sought. As you have your morning or evening shower explore how you would like to shape your, personal, perfect time – and make it happen. It doesn’t have to be a half day or day affair, try for 10 minutes to start with, then think of ways to build on this and plan the time ahead – make it happen.

When in yoga classes you will often here the teacher say ‘create spaciousness’ this is a way of asking you to practice in the tangible body how to make space for extra movement, extra stretch or a momentum for you to step closer into your own light. As we train our bodies, our mind and life practices follow. So when you are next in a yogic posture or any exercise posture think on what it means to create space not just for the body, but for the mind and the self. When you practice for spaciousness you are creating room for inner transformation.

10 minutes is not a lot to ask

Single tree on rock

when you have the promise

of walking closer to your inner light

As your inner light flickers

create more space

so that you can give the gift

of luminosity this festive season

– make it happen!