Category Archives : Philosophy


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


Elemental Awakening – Pre-Dawn???

 

A personal weakness

This is a post for all those practitioners out there, who like me, are a little less inclined to bounce out of bed ahead of the sun – especially on these chilly wintery Melbourne mornings. Yes, what is required is tapas – the heat within to bring disciplined action on our path to purification and not only restricted to mornings but to all our disciplines and actions. Yet it is the morning practice that trips me up. I do not rise out of my warm bed with a fire burning within to greet the sun – solar energy reflector/attractor I am not…where does this leave me on the enlightened path? In the dark? Or in sync with Judith Lassater’s recent Facebook post of a haiku with a repetition in the correct syllable count:

Get out of bed Haiku posted on FB by Judith Hanson Lasater

Get out of bed Haiku posted on FB by Judith Hanson Lasater

What does interest me is that I will get out of bed before the sun for the needs of others or if there is a class to take, but offering myself that service…there is an inherent weakness and a tamasic (the least attractive Guna/charater trait of inertia, ignorance, sluggishness) snuggling back into the doona until I just must get up as tasks are calling. Then tasks are imminent and the prime predawn sattvic (most attractive Guna knowledge, purity) personal practice time is missed. For it is ideal to practice before the sun, before the world calls and the birds chirp. What to do?

Now the 10 Tips

Patanjali’s sutras begin with the word atha or ‘now’ begins the explanation on yoga. This is where we begin – Now. Always in the now.
1. On going to sleep focus in on the eyebrow centre for several minutes until you feel the shift as you enter chidakasha behind and mentally declare “I will rise before dawn” or at whatever time you are going to commit – be honest with yourself but do give yourself the gift of the precious extra time before everyone wants & needs something from you. Repeat the commitment 3 times then soften the focus with chidakasha – let go into whatever you see, feel or sense there. Sleep.
2. Wake respecting your commitment and place the seed in your mind – how can I best serve today? and then entice yourself – What form will my ritual take this morning?
3. Earth Element: Stretch out in bed, consciously through each limb, then arms together, legs together. Inhale & exhale and sit up. Take the time to plant the feet on the floor and feel the support of the earth below – without that support you will never reach for the sky.

Sunrise over hills

Sunrise over hills

4. Water element: Walk to the bathroom and if showering is to much of a challenge rinse the mouth several times. If you like to scrape/clean the tongue do so. Then splash the face. Take a drink of water or herbal tea you brewed the night before. Put your Yogic/any comfy clothes on! Pj’s are good : )
5. Offer yourself a ritual. This may be a prayer you love, a walk into the garden, cutting a flower for your altar, feeding animals, hugging a pet or loved one, lighting a candle. The ritual needs to be inspiring, irresistible & nurturing to you
6. Fire Element: Go to your practice space, sit a moment to pause and sense how your body has awoken. Begin NOW. Practice a pranayam first to tune in to the body and perhaps palm over the eyes to awaken. Then whatever practice your body yearns for – there are many suggestions based on the doshas on the internet and indeed many teachers have shared morning practices on Youtube. Yet, the best practice will come from within – one morning it might be sun salutations, another the Tibetan 5 Rites, another all that arises is the need for balasana/child with a nadi shodhana/alternate nostril breath, or perhaps a few kriyas from the kundalini series.
7. Air, space Elements & consciousness: My biggest tip is to begin with the breath and read the body from there…my second tip is from Kara-Leah Grant’s Forty Days of Yoga you need only start with a commitment of merely 7 minutes and see where you go from there – but set a parameter. The parameter for this post is a morning practice but this may in all honesty not be appropriate for your life so be open to who you are – you may work shifts, have other predawn commitments so the shape of your day, yourself will need to be respected. My third tip is to end with a meditation so that the day begins with clarity. On this website: Listen here. Read here.
8. Return to the seed you planted whilst still in bed “In this day how can I best serve” Set your intention for the day ahead
9. Celebrate with a meal
10. Step out now to meet the sun

These tips may help but it strikes me that letting go of the attachment to yogic perfection, the should be up pre-dawn or at x y z time, is the magic key that will open up the space and let the practice happen in the natural rhythm of you.

Practice options

Internet Searches you can try:

Anmol Mehta: A morning wakeup Kundalini practice

Sunrise Dreaming

Sunrise Dreaming

Yoga International: 7 Morning Makeovers
Yoga Journal: Wake up Routine
Tibetan 5 Rites
Mind Body Green: 10 min morning wake-up sequence
Esther Eckhart:Morning Yoga Flow on Youtube
Byron Yoga Morning Meditation
And the best resource to really examine what it ‘the thing is’ about you, resistance and practice: 40 Days of Yoga Kara-Leah Grant…again & again return, listen, breathe practice.


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]


Heart Aroused

Donna Farhi Intensive, Melbourne, 2014

Find the flow

Find the flow

Delving into the heart with Donna Farhi at her recent Melbourne intensive, I traversed an intimate terrain of my body…discovering the body below the skin, the muscles, the organs, the bones and deep down into the cells. I learnt to access body and mind using my head, heart and gut as my navigational tools. The doorway into the body is entered, according to Philip Shepherd, through ‘the brain in our belly’. This is an ancient idea that our autonomous nervous system is made up of 3 systems, rather than the generally considered 2: sympathetic & parasympathetic, we should return to adding the enteric system and offer due respect to the enteric system that governs the gastrointestinal function which nourishes us both in a digestive, mental and hormonal sense. The contemporary world, it is posited, has become lost in their heads and lack a connection to the body. Donna guided us through this material and challenged us each day to ‘find it’, find the body and then listen.

The heart-filled intensive was interspersed with shared materials: Philip Shepherd, Richard Miller – IRest, prayer, chants (called by the sublime Joan Miller from Mosman), meditation, asanas, poems, slides on the physiology of the heart, discussions, the Sutras, Tantra, individual enquiry and partner work. Too much to share in a single blog post! However I will endeavour below to share some key aspects that resonated with me.

The Heart

I can begin with the heart ….to discover the intelligence of this organ nourishing itself via the coronary arterial system and then flooding the body with oxygenated blood…the intelligence of this organ that transforms our breath into a transportable fluid that flows, feeds and sustains all other organs, muscle and tissue. This is the metaphor for us to approach ourselves so that we may continue to serve in this life we must nourish ourselves first. Begin each day with a ritual to nourish your self thereby creating an inner energy reservoir that can flow outward to serve humanity. Donna suggests: cutting a flower and putting it in a vase, a movement to welcome the day into the body, meditation, a breakfast ritual – find your own, ‘find it’.

Stacking the centres ….listening…instinct & intuition

Take a moment at anytime in the day to observe the posture, seated or standing, and make the enquiries: am I centred in my hub at the navel (also known as the ‘mind palace’)? Is my heart stacked above it? And my head? Can I sense the anchor of this energy centre, the anchor it provides for the centres above it? Do I tune into the gut and listen there to sense impeding events before the brain wakes up? This is instinctive intelligence. Donna answered the query about intuition by offering that intuition in comparison comes from the higher faculties of the mind & heart guiding us and assisting us to spiritually reach out to fulfil our potential in this life. The art is to listen to the intelligence within.

A guide to the bodies terrain

1. ‘Find it’ – explore & experiment, tune into the intelligence within and go deep, study the anatomy & physiology
2. Soften & hydrate particularly before stronger asanas to increase fluids and nutrients to the joints – key here is the breath
3. Lengthen & release with the breath
4. Find balance
5. Strengthen
6. Generalise all of the above – apply them all day, everyday

Sankalpa

Yoga Nidra arising from Tantric sources… an expansion toward liberation
Richard Miller’s ‘inner resource’ was introduced to have the resource sit with you in case the Yoga Nidra practice leads you into areas of the subconscious that are uncomfortable. Donna also set up a detailed list of enquiries to assist with Sankalpa (vow or commitment to your higher truth) development.

Nature's table

Inner Resource – Dream Place

Particularly pertinent, ‘remember the Yoga sutras begin with the word ‘atha/Now’ to call attention to the beginning: Sutra 1.1 ‘Now the exposition on yoga’. The present tense calls attention for the efficacy of a vow to self so that it rests with immediacy within the subconscious. Choose a vow/affirmation that feels right to your true essence, trust, have faith and remember a sankalpa may come to you as a form, colour, image or words…What would you do if you had no sense of failing? Enquire, enquire…to ‘find it’.

The Heart

I can end with the heart
Brahmavihara from The Path of Purification – Vishuddhimagga
Qualities of the heart:
Loving kindness to ourselves and others/Compassion suffering is universal not personal/Empathetic joy celebrate the good fortune of others/Equanimity not being overpowered by positive or negative emotions detach to find the strength at your centre

A Heart Practice

Explore the heart as you feel today – be honest – move through the below four quadrants and listen for the instruction
Am I at this moment…
1. Open heart or closed heart 2. Strong heart or weak heart
3. Full hearted or half hearted 4. Clear heart or confused heart

Community

I walked away from an amazing intensive. I walked away with friends and in our car pool we discussed and recapped and tried to share a deep inner sense of: ‘find it’, ‘listen’ ‘Now’. The joy of connection – heart-aroused community in dialogue.

References shared:
‘Out of our heads’ an interview with Philip Shepherd
The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michie
Blessings by John O’Donahue
How Life Moves by Caryn McHose & Kevin Frank
www.donnafarhi.co.nz