"EVERYTHING WAS POSSESSED OF PERSONALITY, ONLY DIFFERING FROM US IN FORM. KNOWLEDGE WAS INHERENT IN ALL THINGS. THE WORLD WAS A LIBRARY AND ITS BOOKS WERE THE STONES, LEAVES, GRASS, BROOKS, AND THE BIRDS AND ANIMALS THAT SHARED, ALIKE WITH US, THE STORMS AND BLESSINGS OF EARTH. WE LEARNED TO DO WHAT ONLY THE STUDENT OF NATURE LEARNS, AND THAT WAS TO FEEL BEAUTY. WE NEVER RAILED AT THE STORMS, THE FURIOUS WINDS, AND THE BITING FROSTS AND SNOWS. TO DO SO INTENSIFIED HUMAN FUTILITY, SO WHATEVER CAME WE ADJUSTED OURSELVES, BY MORE EFFORT AND ENERGY IF NECESSARY, BUT WITHOUT COMPLAINT."- CHIEF STANDING BEAR, OGLALA LAKOTA (SIOUX)
This week I feel so incredibly passionate about the power that we have as individuals to unite and make change in the World. I know that Yoga has the power to transform your minds to simply begin to comprehend how you might even begin to set yourself up for the mighty task and I feel so inspired and blessed to witness this happening all over the world by our incredible brothers and sisters, especially those at Standing Rock.
How wonderful is this quote above. How united can we become to transform this world in to a place of peace. Can we do it??????
I wanted to share with you this documentary. I stumbled upon this today and I invite you to take from it the complete motivation to become devoted to firstly becoming that person in the World that has self love and values, that are not selfish, but that are selfless. It is only then might we take that first step towards peace in our external world.
Why do we breathe? Essentially, ask yourself, you breathe to stay living, but what is your purpose here? What does living mean to you?
Some of us run around living life in a way that seems fulfilled, new experiences and channeling our energy in ways that fill us up to the brim with what we consider living, but is it action that serves just you, or is it devoted to something or someone else? I have been heavily immersed this week in the philosophies of The Yoga Sutras and Patanjalis 8 limbed path. If you dont know yet what this is, fear not. In a nutshell...
Patanjali is thought to have been a sage of some kind and whom extracted parts of The Vedas and categorised these in to exploring aspects of the mind and compiled these in to one word Sutras or threads. Patanjali positions the belief that everything is real or sat “the truth”, in all experiences and cannot be denied. When recognising every aspect of life, good and bad, including what is known as Duhkha (suffering), we can gain deeper understanding and clarity that leads us to peace in every changing state that presents itself to us in our lives. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is considered to be the heart, hrdaya, giving a permanent definition and form to yoga. Desikachar describes this text as being universal because it focuses on the mind, what its qualities are and how we can influence it. The topic of the mind is accessible to everyone, regardless of other personal beliefs and this system neither rejects nor forces the ideas of God and the Supreme notions, making it a pathway that all humans may follow openly and comprehensively.
The System developed by Patanjali is a process that offers tools for self-understanding. It is an ordered system that is organised traditionally in to four sections. The first is the Portion of Contemplation (Samadhi Pada), giving the theory of Yoga and advanced practice of Samadhi, contemplation. The second is Portion on Practice (Sadhana Pada), a practical section that combines philosophy with expounding the first five steps of the eight limbs of Raja Yoga, offering benefits, accomplishments, obstacles and how to overcome these. The third section is Portion on Accomplishments (Vibhuti Pada), discussing final three steps of the limbed path and their powers of transformation. The final section is Portion on Absoluteness (Kaivalya Pada), discussing Yoga in a cosmic way and from a philosophical viewpoint.
“If the appropriate means are selected and practiced with the help of a teacher, our turbulent minds can be brought to peace and extraordinary wisdom and well-being is our potential.” – (Mark Whitwell. In: Desikachar 1995: P.146)
This is the goal of the sutras to create fully illuminated beings that are in a state of permanent peace, happiness and selfless dedication to the entire creation. If we consider the ability to focus the mind, we might say that this process is beneficial to all people to help live their lives in a productive and motivated way, with focus, making it practical and transforming of spirit, away from the pains, successes, likes and dislikes in any experience, changing our perceptions towards these in each new moment.
By practicing the 8 limbs or stages of Yoga is described as dwindling away the impurities, creating the light of wisdom and leading to discriminative discernment. The eight limbs of yoga are Yama (abstinence), Niyama (observance), Asana (posture), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (sense withdrawal), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (contemplation, absorption or super conscious state). These are each considered to be as equal to each other.
How might you apply this thinking in to your practice. Well...
Lets look at Asymmetry. What I hear you say? Well, todays World is full of asymmetry, in particular with regards to warfare. Asymmetry meaning not identical on both sides of a central line; unsymmetrical; lacking symmetry.
The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the war in Afghanistan are among the best-known recent examples of asymmetric warfare: conflicts between nations or groups that have disparate military capabilities and strategies. We could also suggest that what is taking place at Standing Rock is an example of this too!
What is developed here is disparate capabilities and strategies.
Yoga, in its original and peaceful state, is not influenced by the changing outside world. It identifies our perceptions as being only in the mind. By controlling the thoughts you are therefore not bound by the outside world, known as Chitta vritti nirodhah. You, known as the Seer in Patanjali, then may abide in your true nature, witnessing the mind and body reacting but knowing not to become involved in its desires. When the mind is not quiet, it may distort the truth, so the goal is for the mind or chittam to become free from vrittis to see your true Self, as opposed to the distorted reflection. If unclear, we come to identify ourselves with modifications we have made and assume these to be true. However, it is believed by Patanjali that a human, an inanimate object or an animal itself are all different forms of the same unchanging energy or spirit. Hence, if we are able to calm the mind, we are able to realize the unity among everything and how it is all inseparable. This is the Yogic way of life and is Yoga ‘Union’ or ‘One’. When finding this through practice, it is considered we all may then live more harmoniously, as we will see no differences in our own identity to another and treat them just as happily as we treat ourselves, based on self-reformation, self-control and self-adjustment.
That ‘One’ begins to change due to our mental modifications and sense of identity. Patanjali says there are five modifications or vrittis, which are grouped in to two, one bringing pain and the other not. These are known to be selfish and selfless thoughts that can begin as pain but end as something else, not one or the other. This concept is described by Sathinanada using the analogy of Love and Anger. Love can begin as a painless thought, but can end in pain if it is based on selfishness due to having selfish expectations. Anger may cause pain, but can lead to self-improvement of another, if the anger comes from a selfless person with no personal motive. We are encouraged to cultivate selfless thoughts and this requires developing the art to watch your thoughts arise and to analyse them. The five vrittis are known as Valid Cognition (Pramana), Misconception (Viparyaya), Imagination (Vikalpa), Sleep (Nidra) and Memory (Smriti). These must be controlled to make the mind void and peace to shine through. This involves controlling the mind, and this is where Patanjali arrives at the Abhyasa Sutra. Patanjali identifies to control the mind is a continuous ongoing practice that is never-ending and requires three qualifications being patience, devotion and faith, in practice meaning for a long time, without break and in all earnestness. With these qualities in action, the mind is more settled and the action you take will be more considered and likely to be more perfect. When the mind has reached this place of control, Patanjali’s system arrives at the second core principle, Vairagya meaning Non attachment.
What will be your strategy in your own Asymetric Warfare? Well maybe it will be:
Developing a home yoga practice
Finding the art of concentration
Developing the art of meditation
Some of you might reach Samadhi - but we are all on our way there, right...
Reaching a place where you begin to understand and firstly apply the first 2 limbs, in fact, is essential. Can you take the teachings of The Yamas and The Niyamas and meet yourself here. Balancing the internal and the exteral world for yourself. Can you then move in to your asana practice without the obstacles of The Kleshas surfacing? Leaving any Ego, desire, and clinging to life behind you (as discussed in last weeks blog post).
Where does that take us? Ill tell you where.
To a place of peace. Not a mighty fuelled war ground! That might be your external world still, as of course we cant singlehandedly change that yet (the world is pretty messy right now) BUT there is always creative potential in everything and everyone to transform!!!!!!!!
SO is there LOVE!
Love exists in the heart of us all, we can project it right back out to the world and what might return to you is LOVE.
Marvin Gaye sings about it here... I in fact have this as a print above my bed and get up each morning and remind myself of this the moment I wake. Mantra is one way to fully offer it out to the world. You may have noticed on the Yoga i-D FB page that I shared Deva Premal Ganesha mantra in aid of Standing Rock last week - that same day there was a shift in the state of the situation and this was the positive vibrations being sent there, no question about that, but believe as you will.
I am totally and utterly connected to every single male and female out there that doesn't just take life as it comes and live with complete Avidya (ignorance) but that questions it and creates art, music, activism whatever form it comes to make statements that can make us all rise up and want to join their Tribe! Become a warrior! A person that fights for what they believe in no matter what, whether that be to eat organic food, not buy plastic and new, and to value all that is Sacred (a few of my personal beliefs)... it can be anything, but for all mighty sake, join the Tribe and become a Chief that stands tall, that rises against the force, even in asymmetric situations or warfare and yet has no need to cling, but becomes this within their true nature from the steps you take in life, to the words you say, the smile you give out, to the self study and work you undertake.... let this all unite in to 'One' place of Peace to serve something far greater than yourself. Call it God, call it The Supreme, call it the universe or for the sake of this planet here and now, transcend your beauty!
FKA Twigs is a powerful young girl creating music and art, within youth culture today, and I really took a lot from this interview with her. What I love about this video is the way the body can move with strength and expression. It becomes a dance of thought and emotion - this is life. So move yours, in your yoga practice, in a way that is passionate, strong and for the greater good!!! And then, apply that to the way you move through your LIFE!!!!!! So return to the Sioux quote of standing Rock - DEFEND THE SACRED - whatever comes, adjust yourself, put in more effort and energy if necessary, but without complaint - with peace and with love. This aint hippie S*** it is what is needed in R E A L I T Y. Lets start with truth on our mats this week!!!!!!
See you in class.