“You pass through life like early morning…”


Sakura Blossom

Dreaming, not waking 

Early morning breezes tickle,

Dandelions dance.


       Amidst many changes in my life I am called to write. There is a certain kind of feeling experienced when you leave everything behind for a completely new path. It’s a feeling like floating on a wave – not quite awake, not quite asleep, dreaming, not waking. Every moment is full of endless potential. But, then again, isn’t it anyway? It is in these times of transition that we find ourselves – our real, true, unbiased, no-illusions, self. We tend to find that the Self is completely unlimited. That, in fact, there isn’t a Self, definable as such, but a series of comings-and-goings. A kind of desperate plea for uncertainty. At first, it feels liberating. You have no responsibilities, nothing in your name, no job to get to, no school, or family, or friends calling for your attention. Everything is just space. Everything is limitless. Driving over the mountains, clearly endless blue skies above us, we felt as though we were on top of the world. We had 14 hours of homelessness, in one of the most beautiful parts of this country. The air is so much fresher all these miles above the busy cities and refineries. It’s almost too easy to forget all of this modern world.

       Forgetting is what our minds want to do. It is the easy way out of responsibility. Caring is difficult. Caring takes time and attention and energy, none of which are easily replenished as every action takes time to see the result. Caring can be overwhelming. Up here, on top of the world, there is nothing to care about. It is here where I experience true release, true happiness. You see children smiling for no reason at all, smiling at the smell of the flowers and the songs of the birds and the feel of the air against their skin. It is up here that I can truly say I understand what they are smiling for. The sun feels so close and so warm, and time slows down.

       It has been one full week since we experienced that. It didn’t take long for the 14 hours to pass and for us to take the seemingly short descent into the valley that we now call home. You see the city before you see the ocean, all lights and busy people. It is like waking from an existential dream of non-duality. The experience is much like taking that first step out of a retreat hall and onto a busy street. It’s a bit overwhelming, but you’re lucky, because you have all this stored up happy energy from the experience of release. This stored-up energy allows you to see the new landscape with fresh eyes, non-judging and compassionate. You make it through the busy city, as your new home lies on the far side, only blocks away from the vast, free ocean. You get here unscathed, still holding that happy, light energy close to your heart. This energy had permeated your whole body, and it lifted you to a lightness that was like you had become a cloud. The flowing and pulsing dance of wind and life-energy still coursed through you, with you, as you.

       As you enter your new home and proceed with all the formalities, you take a deep breath, and feel suddenly dizzy with realization. The search you have been on for your whole life, this search to be happy and free like you feel on top of the mountains, you feel it now too. It hasn’t left. The only thing that changed is your perception. Rather than seeing it for what it is, always present, you see it as something only attainable in certain environments. You close your eyes, letting your other senses experience the moment, and you feel this dreamlike happiness. Opening your eyes, it’s still there. You take a step, and still, it’s with you. A smile spreads on your soft lips and your eyes brim with tears. Regardless of what life calls on you for, you are there, completely present, and it is okay. Everything is okay. Everything is okay because inherently, you are free. You are expansive and huge, infinite. You are potential. Everything is potential.

       Cherry blossoms line the streets, mingling with flowers you don’t recognize. You can pick up probably a dozen different bird songs. You tell yourself that the steady thrum and vibration is the sound of the nearby ocean, though you’re probably kidding yourself. The tides pull at you as the pulse closer and further, grasping and releasing. Even the concrete buildings squished into city-blocks pulse and vibrate with life. Everything exists in meditation. Everything meditates.

       Abandoning your few possessions, the first stop is the bay, the soft sand squishing between your toes, the smell of salt-water and fish a welcome reminder that you are home, and you are safe.

Photo Copyright (c) April 2014, Chraeloos

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Working with Subtle Energy and Chakras – Awareness Intensive Week 5


Thank you all so much for being here today. It’s such a pleasure to share this space with you. Most of this session will be guided meditation, and at the end we will open up space for questions or comments. Please refrain from hitting the bowl to my right as everyone can hear it and it will be used as a tool for the meditation. Thank you.

Let us take a moment to dedicate this practice to those who we want to remember. Please type the name or relation into local if it suits you.

Over the first few weeks we dealt with embodiment, feeling, or the felt sense, and lastly with breath. Let us start delving into our awareness by practicing these a bit. I will lead a guided meditation in voice. Please follow along if you’d like or you can mute sound and do your own practice. I will ring the bowl once to start and twice to end, so make sure your sounds are on so you know when we are continuing the practice.

Today we will bring our attention to a different level of awareness. In our bodies there are many energy channels. Depending on what tradition you come from these may be called nadis, meridians, or various other things. These carry the prana or qi thoughout your body. There are three main channels that run from the root of our pelvis up to our third eye centre. The main one is called the sushumna nadi. Energy moves with breath. Each time we breath we are sending energy throughout our bodies.

Today we are going to work with this subtle energy, prana or qi. Bring your attention to this central channel, running from your pelvic floor to the space of the third eye. Each time you breath in, the energy moves up this column, and each time you breath out the energy moves down this column.

When you feel comfortable with this, we will try expanding this awareness outwards horizontally. You can do this simply by expanding this central channel outwards, or, work more precisely. I will walk you through the more precise practice, but if you feel more comfortable just expanding it outwards please practice that way.

Bring your attention to the root of your pelvis, or the muladhara chakra. Imagine a glowing red light there. When you breath in, this light expands horizontally in a complete circle. The light should therefore expand in all directions, each diagonal, forward, backward, right and left. When you breath out the light will pulse back into centre, and continue this motion with the breath like a wave.

Next, moving up the channel, bring your attention to the heart level of this central channel, or the anahatha chakra. Imagine a glowing green light there. When you breath in, this light expands horizontally in a complete circle. The light should therefore expand in all directions, each diagonal, forward, backward, right and left. When you breath out the light will pulse back into centre, and continue this motion with the breath like a wave.

Next, moving up the channel, bring your attention to the eyebrow centre of the central channel, or ajna chakra. Imagine a glowing indigo light there. When you breath in, this light expands horizontally in a complete circle. The light should therefore expand in all directions, each diagonal, forward, backward, right and left. When you breath out the light will pulse back into centre, and continue this motion with the breath like a wave.

This is feeling yourself as Stillness, the formless in form.

Take your time slowly coming out of the mind-practice. Bring your attention back to your body. Deepen your breath. Slowly wiggle your toes and fingers, and when you feel ready, slowly open your eyes. As you are opening your eyes, try to notice how you are feeling.

What did you notice in this practice?
Has your definition of awareness changed doing this exercise?

Tantra: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra Ch 1


Good morning, I wanted to share with you folks today a podcast that I feel is a very good overview of the four noble truths and the other teachings of the Buddha. And! It’s under an hour long. It’s a Zencast episode, talk given by Andrea Fella.

Also, I believe I did not yet upload the notes from Tuesday’s chat. We’ve started going over Patanajali’s Yoga Sutra. We made it part way through the first chapter, but I’ll give you the notes I have for the whole chapter. Please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments! If you’d like to join us next week you can, just click here for the SLURL. We meet every Tuesday at 7pmSLT.

I will be hosting a special event this Saturday at 11amSLT on Dogen’s Mountains and Waters Sutra. If you’d like to read it ahead of time, which I do suggest as it’s a pretty heavy text, you can click here. Many other translations are available on the web as well. Join my group “Creativity; Karma” or my Google+ Community to keep up to date on events.

Tantra: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

Welcome to Perfect Paradise! I’m so honoured to have you all here with me today.

I’ve decided to host this as we do yoga postures because I’ve found it helpful on my journey. If you would prefer to sit please feel free to let me know and I can rezz some pillows for you. If you are chosing to do yoga with me you can feel the poses as they manifest in your RL body while we discuss. Allow the energy of the water and the full sky above us to fill you up, and give back to the earth below what you don’t need.

Let us open with a brief mindfulness exercise…please take a moment to make yourself comfortable, drink some water, and stop any and all distractions you are able to.

Once you’re comfortable, preferably sitting, with your head, neck and truck straight, eyes open or closed, whatever is more comfortable, become aware of your body where it comes in contact with the earth…

Notice how the earth is providing continual support…

Notice what it feels like to be supported…

Now become aware of the sensation of weight…

Notice what it feels like to be an object of gravity…

Feel the sensation of weight in different parts of your body – from your head, to your shoulders, to your chest, trunk, hips, legs and feet…

Avoid using thoughts, rely instead on physical sensation, and really examine what weight and gravity feel like.

Please find yourself coming back into the discussion with ease, take a drink of water or tea if you feel the need, and we can get started in just a moment. If you’d care to share, please tell us how was your experience?

1.1 Now is when yoga begins.

Some translations take sutra 1.1 to be an explanation of the text. In my experience, however, the first sutra of any text is the most important description of the meaning of the entire text. This, to me shows that yoga practice is accessible in every moment, in every “now”. Some other translations are: “Now, instruction in Union.” and, “thus, with certainty, we delve into the definitive explication of yoga.” So, thus we go.

We won’t be able to go through the entire Yoga Sutra, since there are 196 sutra’s in four chapters, but we will have a brief overview today. You can find many translations online free of charge. A concise overview (and fairly accessible translation) can be found here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/yogasutr.htm for further reading.

I got the photo’s on the board behind me from this outstanding website: http://atma.mobi/category/ch-1-sutras-1-1-1-51/

1.2 Yoga is the control of the (moral) character of thought; the re-channeling of the impressions and habits of the mind and the control of the fluctuations of consciousness.

In other words, yoga aims to reflect the true nature of the person. Persons, in Patanjali’s view, are intrinsically pure, benign moral beings. You may be familiar with the moral code, more frequently known as the eight limbs of yoga. We will explore this a little later, but they first appeared in these Yoga Sutra’s as well.

Patanjali holds a dualistic view that distinguishes persons from the natural world, but this view should be distinguished from the dualisms prominent in the western world where the mind (soul) is regarded as the essential feature of persons. For Indian dualists such as Patanjali the mind is typically seen as a feature of the natural world, dependent on the conditions of the elements.

1.3 Then, the seer can abide in its essence; dwell in their own nature.

Upon realizing union, the seer can be free of the creations of the mind; free of the misconceptions that lead us to wrong-doing and immoral action. We can find our original state.

1.5 There are five characters of thought, or mental habits – some afflicted, degrading, others not afflicted, uplifting.

Sutras 1.6-1.11 deal directly with describing these epistemic states.

1.6 These five states are: knowledge, illusion, verbal delusion, sleep and memory. In other words,

be aware of what is actually in front of you,
mistake what is in front of you,
imagine or fantasize something,
be unconscious, or
remember something.

1.7 We attain knowledge through (empirical) perception, inference (logic) and the scriptural traditions (ie. a reliable source).

1.8 Illusion is the improper comprehension (of real objects) not based on their true forms.

In other words, you are trusting your senses, which could be (and probably are) flawed. Perceptual error always contains a grain of truth in it, because Patanjali sees illusion not just on pure imagination but but a misperception of real objects.

1.9 Verbal delusion arises when words do not track (real) objects.

All of language is a metaphor. You can say with certainty, “That is a couch.” But, it could be used as a bed, or a table if you were sitting on the floor, and if you take it apart all of the things that make it up are not couches in and of themselves, they are bolts and screws, planks, wood, material, padding, etc. And even that doesn’t give you the true essence of what those things are. Any time we use language we are put our own perceptions and understanding behind it, and the person we are communicating with may not have the same perception or understanding, therefore making the communication delusional.

1.10 Deep sleep is the morally evaluatable character of mentality conditioned by the relationship between the awareness of nothing and nothingness; it is the mental habit characterized by the absence of form.

Sleep is a positive state of experience, note, this is not necessarily referring to dreams. In the practice of yoga nidra, for example, we give our minds something to focus on, such as embodiment or following a sound or guided imagery in order to maintain the mind. These objects of focus are not real object as they exist only in our minds, and therefore are nothing, empty, and inconsequential and meaningless to existence. This suggests that the mind can’t function without being “turned off” regularly.

1.11 Memory is the prevention of loss of experienced content; sensory experiences.

Samskaras, or the imprints left on the mind from past experiences make up our karma, and are barely distinguishable from memories, except that they exist unconsciously most often, where we may not remember them. It is said that we actively hold on to these by participating in the continuous cyclic existence of suffering. Through yoga, we can relinquish these impressions. This implies that, by putting effort into defining ourselves through past experiences, we can also let go of these experiences and redefine ourselves. This can be accomplished over time with many different practices, namely nonattachment.

☯☯☯☯☯☯☯

1.16 Greater than detachment from the material world is to lose all interest in the very fabric of our reality. This comes from experiencing the nature of Consciousness (soul).

Here we are transcending the qualities of nature and directly perceiving the soul. This practice takes a very long time to achieve. Essentially this is achieving bliss.

Sutras 1.23-1.29 deal with attaining union, or success in yoga, through meditation on the Lord. It mention chanting Om, the primordial seed syllable. In doing this you can reach the knowledge of consciousness, intelligence and volition, and also nullify the impediments to that knowledge.

1.30 Illness, apathy, doubt, negligence, sloth, non restraint, delusion, perspectivism, failing to be grounded (flightiness/hyperactivity), and inconsistency, scatter the mind and constitute an impediment to yoga; act as barriers to stillness.

These are the obstacles to practicing yoga.

1.31 Accompanying these distractions are discomfort, depression, trembling of the body, and disturbed inhalation and exhalation.

Interestingly, these are all signs of poor health. It also mentions breathing, or pranayama. If you’ve been to my other discussions you’ll be familiar with a few pranayama practices.

1.33 Consciousness settles as one radiates friendliness, compassion, delight, and equanimity toward all things, whether pleasant or painful, good or bad.

In order to overcome these disturbances one can practice compassion and equanimity…beautiful words of wisdom. In Buddhism these four practices are called brahmavihara, or the “divine state”. Rather than the yogi transcending right and wrong, they are to view them with equanimity. In other words, you can’t look down at someone who is unsuccessful in yoga, but great them with compassion. Every situation, good or bad, that we are in is an opportunity to practice yoga, and we should be thankful for this.

In order to do this successfully we need to rid ourselves of negative reactions and worrying over problems. Patanajali lists the ways of doing this as practicing pranayama, meditation (“binding the mind into stillness to observe the contents of the mind as they arise”), non attachment, awareness, embodiment, insights culled from sleep and dreaming, and oneness.

That is all I have for tonight. Thank you all so much for coming and sharing your energy with us today! It truly was a pleasure. Namaste, hugs! I now open the floor to casual conversation.

Tantra: The Subtle Realities


Tantra: Subtle Realities October 8 2013

Welcome to Perfect Paradise! I’m so honored to have you all here with me today.

I’ve decided to host this as we do yoga postures because I’ve found it helpful on my journey. If you would prefer to sit please feel free to let me know and I can rezz some pillows for you. If you are choosing to do yoga with me you can feel the poses as they manifest in your RL body while we discuss. Allow the energy of the water and the full sky above us to fill you up, and give back to the earth below what you don’t need.

Before we get started I invite you to take a few deep breaths with me. Let go of the day, join me in the present moment. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let it out with a sigh. Repeat this until you are feeling relaxed…I’ll give you a few moments…Let me know when you are ready and we will start.

**

Tantra: The Subtle Realities

“Because every embodied individual is composed of a body, a mind and a spirit, the ancient Rishis of India who developed the Science of Life organized their wisdom into three bodies of knowledge: Ayurveda, which deals mainly with the physical body; Yoga, which deals mainly with spirit; and Tantra, which is mainly concerned with the mind. The philosophy of all three is identical; their manifestations differ because of their differing emphases.” Robert Svoboda Motilal Banarsidass

The human experience is more than just the physical body. Between the material universe and the ultimate Reality are the multiple layers of subtle (sukshumna) existence.

These other realms of existence are considered in the Vedas to be the home of deities, ancestral spirits, and other entities, including various kinds of demonic beings (elementals).

All beings participate in these other realms, although we are rarely aware of it. In fact, our existence is active in these realms simultaneously as it is in the physical realm. In this sense, these realms are called sheaths, or kosha. These kosha’s are said in some schools to conceal the ultimate Reality, although in hatha yoga they experience them as a natural extension of the human body.

The Taittiriya-Upanishad names them as follows:

1. Anna-maya-kosha, or “sheath composed of food,” is our familiar physical body, by which we navigate in the material world.
2. Prana-maya-kosha, or “sheath composed of life force,” is the energy field associated with and sustaining the physical body. It is the connecting link between the physical body and the mind.
3. Mano-maya-kosha, or “sheath composed of the mind,” refers to the mind in its lower function as a processor of sensory input. Manas (thinking-mind) is driven by doubt and volition (or desire) and vacillates between externalizing our consciousness and with-drawing it into the realm of imagination. This aspect of the mind is governed mainly by the factors of inertia (tamas) and dynamism (rajas).
4. Vijnana-maya-kosha, or “sheath composed of intelligence,” refers to the mind in its higher function as an organ of discernment between what is real and unreal, that is, as the seat of wisdom. Where the lower mind causes doubt and uncertainty, the higher mind (often called buddhi) also brings certainty and faith, as well as a sense of stillness, because the lucidity factor (sattva-guna) is predominant in it.
5. Ananda-maya-kosha, or “sheath composed of bliss,” is equated in the Taittiriya-Upanishad with the transcendental Self (atman) itself, though subsequent Vedanta schools consider it to be the final veil surrounding the ultimate Reality, or Self. In any case, ananda (bliss) must not be mistaken for an emotional state, which is hierarchically higher than intellection or intelligence (vijnana). Emotions belong to the anna-maya- and prana-maya-koshas.

**

Within the subtle bodies is a subtle network of energy, which flows through the nadi’s (ie. meridians in TCM, or energy channels much like blood vessels but on an energetic level).

“This energy, called Prana in Sanskrit (Qi in Chinese), exists in many forms from the extremely gross to the infinitely subtle and life is an interplay of these energies. Metaphorically a cosmic dance of Shiva and Shakti, Yin and Yang, the Sun and the Moon. Within the human body these energies flow along a network of channels or lines (nadis or meridians).

Health in eastern philosophies is regarded as a state of balance between these energies, where all the systems of the body, including mind and spirit, function in harmony with each other. And disease (dis-ease) is seen as imbalance or disharmony in this flow of energies. But beyond feeling good physically an enlightened definition of health encompasses feelings of vitality, strength, inner peace and joy.” -http://www.adishakti.org/subtle_system/nadis.htm

nadis, the vast network of energy channels that makes each individual an integrated, conscious, and vital whole. The Sanskrit word nadi derives from the root nad, which means “flow,” “motion,” or “vibration.” Very similar to the meridians of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the sen lines of Thai Massage.

The nadis are our energetic irrigation system; in essence, they keep us alive. According to many Tantric texts, the human body contains 72,000 nadis that channel prana (energy) to every cell, each nadi having a specific function and energy that it deals with (although other sources vary, some in the millions!). When this system flows freely, we are vital and healthy; when it becomes weak or congested, we struggle with poor mental and physical health.

Three nadis are of particular interest to yogis. The sushumna (most gracious) nadi is the body’s great river, running from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, passing through each of the seven chakras in its course. It is the channel through which kundalini shakti (the latent serpent power) —and the higher spiritual consciousness it can fuel—rises up from its origin at the muladhara (root) chakra to its true home at the sahasrara (thousandfold/crown) chakra at the crown of the head. In subtle body terms, the sushumna nadi is the path to enlightenment.

The ida (comfort) and pingala (tawny) nadis spiral around the sushumna nadi like the double helix of our DNA, crossing each other at every chakra. If you visualize the caduceus, the symbol of modern medicine, you’ll get a rough idea of the relationships among the ida, pingala, and sushumna nadis. Eventually, all three meet at the ajna (third eye) chakra, midway between the eyebrows.

The ida nadi begins and ends on the left side of sushumna. Ida is regarded as the lunar nadi, cool and nurturing by nature, and is said to control all mental processes and the more feminine aspects of our personality. The color white is used to represent the subtle vibrational quality of ida.

Pingala, the solar nadi, begins and ends to the right of sushumna. It is warm and stimulating by nature, controls all vital somatic processes, and oversees the more masculine aspects of our personality. The vibrational quality of pingala is represented by the color red.

The interaction between ida and pingala corresponds to the internal dance between intuition and rationality, consciousness and vital power, and the right and left brain hemispheres. In everyday life, one of these nadis is always dominant. Although this dominance alternates throughout the day, one nadi tends to be ascendant more often and for longer periods than the other. This results in personality, behavior, and health tendencies that can be called ida-like or pingala-like.

Bringing ida and pingala into equilibrium is a major focus of hatha yoga (tantra)—so important, in fact, that the term hatha symbolizes this balance. Although the word hatha literally means “forceful” in Sanskrit, it is composed of ha and tha, two esoteric bija (seed) mantras that have arcane meaning and power. Ha represents the solar qualities, the vital force, of pingala; tha represents the mind and the lunar qualities of ida.

All the Nadis spring from the Kanda, the junction where the Sushumna Nadi is connected with the Muladhara Chakra. This Kanda is thought to be about 12 inches above the anus. Out of the innumerable Nadis, 14 are said to be most important. They are Sushumna, Ida, Pingala, Gandhari, Hastajihva, Kuhu, Saraswati, Pusha, Sankhini, Payasvini, Varuni, Alambusha, vishvodhara, and Yasasvini.

**

At the main points where nadi’s intersect are chakras.

In many styles of yoga and many practices of Ayurveda, the Chakra’s have great importance. There are said to be seven Chakra’s in the human body. They form a line up the spine, some say in the center of the body, others think these centers are “attached” to the spine. A chakra is a center of energy, the literal translation being “wheel” or, less commonly, “vortex.” The English terms for the chakras, starting from the bottom, are: root chakra (Muladhara), sacral chakra (Svadishthana), solar plexus chakra (Manipura), heart chakra (Anahata), throat chakra (Visuddha), third eye chakra (Ajna), and crown chakra (Sahasrara). As in most Eastern medicine systems, the goal is to have the energies in the chakra’s balanced in order to have the best possible mind/body relationship and health.

**

Pema Chodron says, “May we all learn that pain is not the end of the journey, and neither is delight. We can hold them both – indeed hold it all – at the same time…” What I take from this quote is that, among other things, within these layers of existence we can live outside of the boundaries of physical existence, therefore overcoming suffering. In the physical and mental bodies we live in this kind of see-saw with depression on one side and elation on the other. In the centre, when it is balanced, is calmness, or bliss. By taping into these other subtle realities, we can see the situation for what it really is, therefore not becoming depressed or elated by it.

By becoming aware of all five subtle bodies, we are able to undo the vehicle of karma, which lives in the causal body. It is said that this body enables continuity not only from life to life but even from one cosmic creation to another. The subtle bodies do not fall away when death occurs, but continue on to the next life, until full liberation when the individual drops all bodies and is present purely as the transcendental Reality.

When we experience life only from the senses of the physical body we see ourselves as separate from others. But when we can learn to experience life with awareness from all subtle bodies we can continuously see the connection between ourselves and all other beings, thereby making compassion more accessible.

It is shown in modern science that all beings are made of the same things – particles. When we test for properties of a particle, we see a particle, but when we test for properties of a wave, we see a wave. We can hardly say we understand the nature of things, but what we can grasp from this is that our bodies, despite us experiencing them as solid entities with definable boundaries, are always changing. If particles also behave as waves then we can safely say that our bodies are not defined by a finite boundary, but in fact must extend out past the physical “edge”. We also know that our bodies function off electricity and also emit it in waves. They also say that it can now be monitored that our heart beats and thought patterns coincide with those we are physically close to if we are positively relating.

So, next time you’re holding a loved one or having a conversation with a friend bring your awareness into your subtle bodies and see if you can feel their energy mingling with yours. You can also work with this experience in meditation by starting with embodiment – asking yourself “where is my body right now?” and feeling the floor beneath your feet, the air on your skin, your blood pulsing throughout your veins. Once you can feel that – be patient, it may take some practice – you can start to send your awareness out a bit, feeling the air around you, listening to any sounds and seeing how far away you can still notice things. Eventually you may be able to release the idea of having a solid body. In my own experience I’ve been able, through meditation, to stop feeling as though there was a boundary to my body and start feeling the whole world as one continuous experience. You may have a completely different experience. Play with your awareness as much as you are comfortable. You never know what other experiences are out there until you open yourself to them. Only do what is comfortable for you.

Let’s do a tantric practice to align the nadi’s, branching from kundalini yoga.

To practice Nadi Shodhana, the main practice of balancing the nadis, sit in a comfortable meditative position. Make a fist with your right hand, then partially re-extend your ring and little fingers. Lightly place the pad of the thumb on your nose just to the right and below the bridge; lightly place the pads of your ring and little fingers on the corresponding flesh on the left side of your nose. Gently pressing with the ring and little fingers to close the left nostril, exhale fully through the right. Then inhale fully through the right, close it with the thumb, release the left nostril, and exhale through it. Inhale through the left nostril, close it with the fingers, release the right nostril, and exhale through it. This completes one round of Nadi Shodhana.

I’ll leave you with a quote…

“…each one of us is a union of all universal energy. Everything that we need in order to be complete is within us right at this very moment. It is simply a matter of being able to recognize it. This is the tantric approach.” Lama Thubten Yeshe

Thank you all so much for coming and sharing your energy with us today! It truly was a pleasure. Namaste, hugs!

Eastern Perspectives on Compassion


Isis Pleiades has honored me with inviting me to host at the official launch of Spirit Park! So, at 10am SLT on Saturday Sep 21 I will be hosting a meditation followed by some discussion, in humble consideration of the International Weekend of Peace. Please join us to share in an exploration of the energy within ourselves and how we can transform it into compassion for all living beings.

I’m so thrilled to be back in SL and connecting with you all!

The entire weekend is full of events at this same location. The lineup is as follow:

Saturday Sept 21

6:45 am – Opening address form Isis Pleides
7 am – Rtada hosts Vedic chanting
8 am – Andre Farstrider hosts Starseed Connections
9 am – Kana Koray hosts New Hero Journey
10 am – Chraeloos hosts Perspectives on Chinese Medicine
11 am – Lyle and Sedona host Reincarnation and Immortality of the Soul
12 Noon – Elizabeth hosts The Oz Experience
1 pm to 8 pm – Live Music!
8 pm – Rtada hosts Vedic Chanting

Sunday Sept 22

7 am – Rtada hosts Vedic Chanting
8 am – Divali hosts I Ching Revelations
9 am – Andre Farstrider hosts Pleiadian Discussions
10:30 am – Regis Roubodoo hosts Inner Harmony
12 pm – The Companions Tea Ceremony/Tour
1-9 pm – Live Music
9 pm – Rtada hosts Vedic Chanting

I do hope to see you there! Namaste _/\_

**

International Day of Peace Guided Meditation and Presentation
at Spirit Gate, 10-11am SLT Saturday Sept 21 2013

Welcome everyone to Spirit Park at Nirvana Island. Thank you all for coming to share and take part in our celebration of peace, love and harmony. Thank you to Isis who invited me to host this discussion today. I’m so happy to be here!

On this day of International Peace I present the following practices to you so that we may see that each and every one of us is connected. If one of us suffers, all of us suffer. If we show compassion to all living beings as much as we can, if we feel that we are even slightly responsible for the well-being of others, and that our actions affect everyone else, we would live in a much more peaceful world. Only through love can we achieve world peace. And by love I don’t mean the type of love where you can’t stand to be apart or are reliant on the other person for your happiness, but the kind of love that is unconditional and accepting regardless of the situation. If we can all open our minds and bodies to the feeling of pure love and pure energy and send that love out to all who need it, remembering to nurture ourselves at the same time, we can achieve true happiness and true peace.

In Buddhist practice, we commit to three things:
1. Not causing harm
2. Taking care of one another, and
3. Embracing the world just as it is

Pema Chodron says, “May we all learn that pain is not the end of the journey, and neither is delight. We can hold them both – indeed hold it all – at the same time…”

With this in mind, I would like to introduce you to a practice called Tonglen. The idea is to breathe in pain, and breathe out relief. For this short meditation I will go into voice. I will also post the instructions here for those who do not have access to voice.

If you could get comfortable, whether sitting, standing, or laying. Regardless of what position you are in please make sure that your spine is aligned, so if you were sitting your tailbone would be drawn towards the front slightly, straightening your lower back, and your shoulders would be dropped out of your ears and resting in a line above your hips. Pull your chin in slightly, bowing it to your chest to make the back of your neck straight. Place your hands where they fall comfortably.

Now, take a deep breath, and close your eyes. Let the sounds of the world surround you; listen to the birds, the air, the children playing outside. Notice your breathing getting calmer, deeper, and steadier. On your next breath in, try to feel it fill up your entire abdomen. Hold it for a moment. Let it out. Repeat… Take a deep breath in. Feel it fill up your entire abdomen. Hold it for a moment. Let it out. Try to see if you can make your in breath the same length as your out breath.

Now, following this in and out pattern, bring your attention to how you feel. If there is any sadness, anger, pain, or other strong feeling, don’t judge it. Instead of labelling it, just notice it. What does it feel like? Where do you feel it manifesting? Play with it a bit. Does the feeling move? …

Now, bring your mind to something that makes you very happy: a loved one, the beautiful Harvest Moon, the sound of the ocean. Whatever it may be, let the feeling of joy and love fill you up. Let it wash over the fear or pain. …

Let us together breathe in the fear and pain and sadness that we feel. When we breathe out, send the joy and love out to the world. At first, send it to someone close to you. Then try sending it to an acquaintance. Imagine this joy and love going out to all the people you know. Then imagine it going out to everyone sitting in this room. If you can, slowly spread it out every living creature. …

With every in breath we can pull in all the pain and sadness that we feel and with every out breath we can turn it into productive, compassionate energy. I’ll leave you in silence to practice this for a few minutes. …

Slowly bring your attention back to your body. When you’re ready, deepen your breath, wiggle your fingers and toes. If you’d I suggest drinking some water to help ground you.

~~

Norman Fischer talks about us all “swimming in an ocean of compassion.” He goes on to say that everything is compassion. If we can see that everything exists in this ocean of compassion, we can be free of suffering. The practice we just did is a good way to open ourselves to this ocean of compassion.

Tantric yoga is a path of union – yoking – between the one and the many. It is the path to liberation of the “self” – the entity that the ego insists is individual, but is merely a piece of the macrocosmic world. Where would we be without each other?

Tantra worships the divine dance of Shiva and Shakti, which we can safely relate to yin and yang in Chinese medicine. The breakdown works a bit differently, though, with Parama-shiva as the umbrella of ultimate reality. This is characterized by sac-cit-ananda, or Being (sat), Consciousness (cit), and Bliss (ananda).

David Bohm described reality as movement that occurs as “a series of interpenetrating and intermingling elements in different degrees of enfoldment all present together.” This accurately describes the tantric world-view, which only adds that this dynamic Being is conscious.

Tantric practitioners believe that all of us have this Consciousness within us. They believe it is located within the heart, the heart meaning here: “that which I truly am.” “[The heart] is not the body or the mind,” says Georg Feuerstein, “but pure Being-Consciousness-Bliss.” Remember here, that these terms don’t mean what they mean in ordinary western context, as in the ultimate being there is no differentiation between subject and object.

Shiva, is the aspect of the ultimate reality that is consciousness. It is pure subject rather than object; the notion of “I,” without a sense of “I am.” You may be familiar with the mantra for this aspect, located in the heart, “aham.” This sound means “I.” Shiva is often interpreted as the masculine aspect.

Shakti, is the second aspect of the ultimate Reality. It is creativity, energy. Shakti coexists with Shiva to create the universe. Shakti is considered to be the Bliss aspect of the ultimate Reality. Shakti is often interpreted as the feminine aspect.

We can view the union of Shiva and Shakti much like we do yin and yang: as a seemless continuity of Consciousness and Power within one and the same Reality. One cannot exist without the other, one exists within the other, and one manifests the other. This union is often viewed in the west as a sexual union between a couple, but we must keep in mind that this union is transcendental and therefore also asexual.

Shakti plays the active role, whereas Shiva plays the passive role. He manifests the absolute stillness of consciousness, and she expresses the unlimited potency of Power or Energy. “Together they symbolize the play of life and death, creation and annihilation, emptiness and form, dynamism and stasis. This interplay is found on all levels of cosmic existence because … it preexists the ultimate Reality itself.”

One of the first concepts that Eastern practitioners focus on is nonattachment. The Kula-Arnava-Tantra, an ancient Tantric text, reads: “nonattachment (nihsangha) alone is the means if liberation. All defects spring from attachment. Therefore one becomes happy by abandoning attachment and relying on Reality.”

Reality is seen as a continuous process in which everything is constantly in flux. This is mirrored in modern physics: “[current models show] that the properties of a particle can only be understood in terms of its activity – of its interaction with the surrounding environment – and that the particle, therefore, cannot be seen as an isolated entity, but has to be understood as an integrated part of the whole. … The fact that the mass of a particle is equivalent to a certain amount of energy means that the particle can no longer be seen as a static object, but has to be conceived as a dynamic pattern, a process involving the energy which manifests itself as the particle’s mass.”

Here we can see that everything, on both macro- and micro-cosmic levels, is continuously flowing and changing. By teaching nonattachment we learn that change is inevitable, and that only by letting go of our preconceptions and expectations will Reality reveal itself and all the Bliss that it contains.

Georg Feuerstein, in his book, “Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy” gives a typical path of the tantric practitioner, which you may be familiar with if you know of Patanjali:

1. Yama – moral restraint consisting of non-harming, truthfulness, chastity, and greedlessness, which are said to be valid on all levels, at all times, and everywhere.

2. Niyama – self-restraint through purity, contentment, austerity, study, and devotion to The Lord.

3. Asana – posture, which makes the practitioner immune against the onslaught from the pairs of opposites (dvandva), such as heat and cold or dry and moist.

4. Pranayama – lit. “Extension of the life energy” by means of breath control.

5. Pratyahara – sensory inhibition

6. Dharana – concentration, or fixing ones attention upon a selected object, be it a mantra or the graphic representation of a deity

7. Dhyana – meditation, which is a deepening of concentration marked by a progressive unification of consciousness

8. Samadhi – lit. “Putting together,” or ecstasy, which consists in ones complete merging with the object of meditation

The Sharada-Tilaka-Tantra adds five practices to the moral restraint category: compassion, rectitude, patience, stability, and moderate eating, and in place of greedlessness, cleanliness. Through all of these practices, the sages believe one can achieve self-transformation. In my own experience, through these practices and many more, one can achieve an understanding of our connectedness to each other. Through these practices we can move beyond our limited sense of the world – how we want it to be versus how it is – and find our true happiness. Once it’s been found, once Bliss or enlightenment has been reached, one can live in the ocean of compassion with all other beings, free of violence and hatred, free of shame or greed. Through compassion for others you will grow to love yourself, and through loving yourself you will be able to feel more compassion for others.

Just remember, the people that it is hardest to feel compassion for are the ones who likely need it the most. If someone is acting really rotten, just remind yourself that you don’t know what they are going through in life. Maybe your smile or small reassurance or understanding would turn their whole day around. Just knowing that someone cares, even a stranger, can be a very powerful thing.

You may hear me use the term Namaste quite often. This is an ancient term which means: my soul honours your soul. I honour the place in you where the entire universe resides. I horn the light, love, truth, beauty & peace within you, because it is also within me. In sharing these things we are united, we are the same, we are one.

I will leave you with one final quote:
“The opposite if consumption isn’t thrift, it’s generosity. ” – Raj Patel

Thank you for your time today! May all of you soak in the ocean of compassion, whatever path may lead you there! Much love and peace to you all. Namaste! _/|\_

A Bit On ADD/ADHD/OCD


I attended a yoga workshop this weekend that dealt a bit with energy, input and ADD/ADHD. We as society are trying to sculpt each other to act and think in certain ways. We expect people to ignore all the input their senses pick up on, in order to “fit in”. In my experience, yoga and meditation both work for the opposite – to settle into your mind and truly feel reality. Don’t ask anything of it, don’t expect anything from it, but just sense it. There is so much going on in this world, so much energy flowing through and around us and so much other life. How can we expect people, especially children who are completely open and sensitive to all this, to stop noticing it? Many of us adults have built up walls and barriers to it all, stuck ourselves in a kind of cell where nothing can get in so we can stand up to societies expectations – go to school, get good grades, be a good athlete, get a job, contribute to society, have a family, etc. When really all we need to do sometimes is sit and breathe. Let our senses notice; become one with the earth. Perhaps people diagnosed with ADD/ADHD are simply more attuned to the reality around us, and less blocked up with walls shoving it all out. I know people with OCD and ADD/ADHD will find a way to let out all this energy that they are receiving from the world around them. Some tap, some draw, some organize, some make noises, whatever it is, it is just a way to release the energy that you are attuned to. Perhaps these diagnosed people aren’t in a bad place, aren’t different than us, but are just more open and receiving the energies around them, which is what we as yogis, Buddhists, meditators, etc. are all looking for. Sure, it can be frustrating and make you anxious, but is that because we as society tell you it’s wrong? When working with yoga and meditation, you learn ways to let it pass through you and back into the earth without letting it fill you up. In other words, you may always have an empty cup. Inner peace. I hope you may find a path to help you along your journey. Just remember to breathe. Don’t let your thoughts become you. Notice, but don’t hold on. Namaste, my friend.

Originally posted as a reply to a question on Google+: https://plus.google.com/116772688653951753345/posts/8cZhzLSj72E

Nadis in Yoga/Ayurveda


Nadi’s in Yoga and Ayurveda

Join us tonight, 7pmSLT at PDOM to discuss!

In order to understand the Nadi’s we must first have a basic understanding of the Chakra’s.

 

Within the body is a subtle network of energy, which flows through the nadi’s. At the main points where nadi’s intersect is a chakra. The purpose of the chakras differ depending on which body you are focusing on, but we’ll go into that more later.

 

In many styles of yoga and many practices of Ayurveda, the Chakra’s have great importance. There are said to be seven Chakra’s in the human body. They form a line up the spine, some say in the center of the body, others think these centers are “attached” to the spine. A chakra is a center of energy, the literal translation being “wheel” or, less commonly, “vortex.” The English terms for the chakras, starting from the bottom, are: root chakra (Muladhara), sacral chakra (Svadishthana), solar plexus chakra (Manipura), heart chakra (Anahata), throat chakra (Visuddha), third eye chakra (Ajna), and crown chakra (Sahasrara). As in most Eastern medicine systems, the goal is to have the energies in the chakra’s balanced in order to have the best possible mind/body relationship and health.

 

“The theoretical foundation of Thai massage lies in the concept that all of life at its most basic level is energy. This energy, called Prana in Sanskrit (Qi in Chinese), exists in many forms from the extremely gross to the infinitely subtle and life is an interplay of these energies. Metaphorically a cosmic dance of Shiva and Shakti, Yin and Yang, the Sun and the Moon. Within the human body these energies flow along a network of channels or lines (nadis or meridians).

Health in eastern philosophies is regarded as a state of balance between these energies, where all the systems of the body, including mind and spirit, function in harmony with each other. And disease (dis-ease) is seen as imbalance or disharmony in this flow of energies. But beyond feeling good physically an enlightened definition of health encompasses feelings of vitality, strength, inner peace and joy.” -http://www.adishakti.org/subtle_system/nadis.htm

 

nadis, the vast network of energy channels that makes each individual an integrated, conscious, and vital whole. The Sanskrit word nadi derives from the root nad, which means “flow,” “motion,” or “vibration.” Very similar to the meridians of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the sen lines of Thai Massage.

 

The nadis are our energetic irrigation system; in essence, they keep us alive. According to many Tantric texts, the human body contains 72,000 nadis that channel prana (energy) to every cell, each nadi having a specific function and energy that it deals with (although other sources vary, some in the millions!). When this system flows freely, we are vital and healthy; when it becomes weak or congested, we struggle with poor mental and physical health.

 

Three nadis are of particular interest to yogis. The sushumna (most gracious) nadi is the body’s great river, running from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, passing through each of the seven chakras in its course. It is the channel through which kundalini shakti (the latent serpent power) —and the higher spiritual consciousness it can fuel—rises up from its origin at the muladhara (root) chakra to its true home at the sahasrara (thousandfold/crown) chakra at the crown of the head. In subtle body terms, the sushumna nadi is the path to enlightenment.

 

The ida (comfort) and pingala (tawny) nadis spiral around the sushumna nadi like the double helix of our DNA, crossing each other at every chakra. If you visualize the caduceus, the symbol of modern medicine, you’ll get a rough idea of the relationships among the ida, pingala, and sushumna nadis. Eventually, all three meet at the ajna (third eye) chakra, midway between the eyebrows.

 

The ida nadi begins and ends on the left side of sushumna. Ida is regarded as the lunar nadi, cool and nurturing by nature, and is said to control all mental processes and the more feminine aspects of our personality. The color white is used to represent the subtle vibrational quality of ida.

 

Pingala, the solar nadi, begins and ends to the right of sushumna. It is warm and stimulating by nature, controls all vital somatic processes, and oversees the more masculine aspects of our personality. The vibrational quality of pingala is represented by the color red.

 

The interaction between ida and pingala corresponds to the internal dance between intuition and rationality, consciousness and vital power, and the right and left brain hemispheres. In everyday life, one of these nadis is always dominant. Although this dominance alternates throughout the day, one nadi tends to be ascendant more often and for longer periods than the other. This results in personality, behavior, and health tendencies that can be called ida-like or pingala-like.

 

Bringing ida and pingala into equilibrium is a major focus of hatha yoga—so important, in fact, that the term hatha symbolizes this balance. Although the word hatha literally means “forceful” in Sanskrit, it is composed of ha and tha, two esoteric bija (seed) mantras that have arcane meaning and power. Ha represents the solar qualities, the vital force, of pingala; tha represents the mind and the lunar qualities of ida.

 

All the Nadis spring from the Kanda, the junction where the Sushumna Nadi is connected with the Muladhara Chakra. This Kanda is thought to be about 12 inches above the anus. Out of the innumerable Nadis 14 are said to be most important. They are Sushumna, Ida, Pingala, Gandhari, Hastajihva, Kuhu, Saraswati, Pusha, Sankhini, Payasvini, Varuni, Alambusha, vishvodhara, and Yasasvini.

 

In the beginning I mentioned there are different body’s you can focus on. What I meant by this is that there are five different koshas (sheaths) that every living being has. “From the yogic point of view, the body/energy/mind complex is divided into five parts, the grossest being the physical body, the next being the energy body, the next the mental body, then the wisdom body and finally at the finest level the bliss body.” So, in essence, the koshas are “the sheaths or dimensions of human existence.” The chakras, when considered in the energy body are a kind of energy modulator or transducer, and in the mind bodies as a switch for the different aspects of the personality.

 

Different styles of yoga and ayurveda will deal with these connections differently, but basically one will do “work” in each chakra and body in order to develop that part of the being. Most commonly, practitioners will work starting at the root chakra and work their way up to the crown chakra. When this is completed successfully, it is said that one reaches enlightenment. But, the basic place to start is with Nadi Shodhana, to balance the nadis.

 

I’d like you all to try this exercise with me.

 

To practice Nadi Shodhana, the main practice of balancing the nadis, sit in a comfortable meditative position. Make a fist with your right hand, then partially re-extend your ring and little fingers. Lightly place the pad of the thumb on your nose just to the right and below the bridge; lightly place the pads of your ring and little fingers on the corresponding flesh on the left side of your nose. Gently pressing with the ring and little fingers to close the left nostril, exhale fully through the right. Then inhale fully through the right, close it with the thumb, release the left nostril, and exhale through it. Inhale through the left nostril, close it with the fingers, release the right nostril, and exhale through it. This completes one round of Nadi Shodhana.

 

Sources:

 

http://www.yogajournal.com/wisdom/927

http://www.yoga-age.com/modern/kun4.html#_VPID_32

http://www.bigbookofyoga.com/hathayogabook/subtle-anatomy-101-hatha-yoga-book-3.php

“Practcal Yoga Psychology” by Dr. Rishi Vivekananda, Bihar Yoga School, Yoga Publications Trust

 

Are there any comments or questions?