Under the new moon, last wednesday, I went dancing after a wonderful yoga practice in to the late night and this song resonated very powerfully with my state at the time. As it began to play, it awakened some connection in me and made me feel in bliss. It made me feel at peace and also in curiosity to time past since the new moon before and to now and my heart as well as my mind connected to all things. It made me feel a strong sense of desire and the need to stay connected with the things I love. It made me explore the balance of it all and to push up against the ideologies and ideas the mind creates of right or wrong action, but to feel alive in the moment and to live in the moment of connectivity, of presence, of thought.
The lyrics of the song felt like they were the words of my heart speaking to me, as each word passed through me, like particles passing through my flesh. No control, no time, no logic, simply moving through me... but not wasted. Unlimited in their ability to lift and ground me at the same time.
The ancient yogis didn’t have X-rays or MRI’s or even microscopes. They practiced meditation and methods of breathing and body postures, and based entirely on what they could feel they came up with ideas about how the body functions. The yogis located the seat of the life energy in the centre of the chest (the heart is the home of the prana) and they believed that the body contained approximately 72, 000 “rivers” of energy called nadis. The nadis are very similar to the meridian lines of acupuncture, and current research on the structure and alignment of connective tissues seems to suggest that there are correspondences between lines of biomechanical pull and some of these meridians.
Of all the nadis, three are of particular importance: the shushumna nadi runs through the centre of the body and encompasses the spine. On either side are two secondary channels, the ida and the pingala. The ida represents the expansive, fiery energy of the sun, and is associated with the masculine. The pingala represents the quiet, receptive energy of the moon, and is associated with the feminine. The ida and the pingala spiral around the central channel and intersect with each other six times, similar to a strand of DNA. Each of these intersection points holds an energy centre or “chakra.” The yogis believed that to achieve health and longevity it was necessary to move the energies of these channels and chakras in specific ways, and they developed techniques and body positions designed to do just that.
The goal of moving this energy around was to still the mind, and once the conscious mind was quiet; our true, interconnected, divine nature could shine through. The resulting mind-state is known as Samadhi, a state of bliss where there is no longer a separate sense of self.
Yoga was designed to move energy around, with the goal of shushing our crazy minds
After the bliss i felt from a strong yoga practice and earthing dance, I took action of many kinds on that very powerful evening and since then have listened to this song on repeat. What it does is remind me of the changing times and states and the movement of energy that flows through us. It reminds me of how very different my spirit feels as change occurs, the seasons change, I change, we change, others change, our responses change. It reminds me of that changing state we experience and the in-separateness of it all and on a deeper level, on a cellular level, the particles moving, at all times!
To stay uplifted and to remain grounded is an art. Like dance and yoga, it's an art of discipline, connectivity and trust, all interplaying together, as we learn to hold the balance of all things.
The art of discipline in it all, meaning 'to impart knowledge' and 'to enlighten' ourselves through staying disciplined, yet with allowing change and movement, in body and mind.
I have been exploring this in my yoga practice this week, both on and off of the mat and we too will explore this in class. The ability to stay focused, enlivened and lifted in body and mind, to allow energy to pass through us in joy and in suffering and yet not to become 'high' or 'low' but completely grounded and still, without stagnancy but through movement, motivation and attainment.
In class this week, we will look at some of yogas most delicious balancing asanas and work with ways of using the breath for balancing both sides of our self, alongside fluid movement to allow changing states to not become fixed in our whole self. To find a stillness within it all, an acceptance to what is.
As Florence and the Machine is singing all over the radio this week "we all have a hunger" and whatever that hunger for life is, we can get carried away, we can also starve ourselves of the beauty right in front of our eyes and deny ourself the beating of the heart connection to ourselves and to another. So why not stop that thinking mind of yours doing all the singing and dancing, and explore using your body and the unity of your yoga practice to speak for you. To sing loudly as we let the midsummer solstice do its thing on thursday this week, especially, in silence and stillness. Become united and at peace with things that you cant change and the things that are forever changing.
We can practice seeing everyone as a refection of ourselves, as we begin to apply the effective 'brahmavihara' practices and share the suffering that comes with swallowing our collisions and share in these. As we share, we realise that our 'own' suffering is not 'our' suffering, but a universal one. As we continue to believe that there is an 'i', a 'me' an 'us' and a 'them', we only create a scaffolding that begins to support our separateness.
We begin to see things differently by surrendering to a different point of view, we can't get there from our current perspective. Our happiness depends on seeing ourselves for who we really are. To see beyond the physical form to the nature that lies beneath it. To trust in what we feel, like those ancient yogis did, feeling in to the affects to articulate the body, our actions and our true self.
Raga is the third klesha or obstacle that for me really comes in to play, as we become attracted and form an attachment to the impermanent things in life. This is born out of 'not seeing' or avid, the ignorance that we discussed in last weeks blog. We might think we are getting our acts together and then something triggers us or someone and we reignite old habits or have an overblown reaction and to the degree that we defend our reaction, is usually a strong indicator that we are in the vicinity of our personal blind spot.
Patanjali reminds us that there are nine obstacles to mental clarity...
1. lack of effort 2. fatigue or disease 3. dullness or inertia 4. doubt 5. carelessness 5. laziness 6. inability to turn attention inward 7. perverted or distorted seeing 8. inability to establish a firm ground for practice and 9. ability to sustain a firm ground (regression). Depression, frustration, disturbed breathing and restlessness are all signs that the mind is disturbed by these obstacles.
His four recommendations for mental clarity, begin by not advising us to retreat in to a cave or escape our home environment, but to clear up your social relationships and develop the four attitudes known as the 'brahmaviharas', to life challenges and apply these in all our relationships and in all situations.
"These qualities of the heart are conductive to peace of mind and enable us to overcome the distractions that already exist in the mind and prevent more psychological distress." Farhi.
1. Friendliness toward the joyful
2. Compassion for those who are suffering
3. Celebrating the good in others
4. Remaining impartial to the faults and imperfections of others.
Our spiritual fitness can be tested only in relationship to others and testing these in our relationships can show us with great accuracy our present state of mind and level of conditioning. it is very well being able to attain control when absent from life and all its triggers, but what happens when you step off the meditation cushion and out in to the challenge itself.
Maybe, putting these in to practice in our everyday relationships dismantles our resistance to seeing ourselves as unified with life?
The remaining tranquility that arises when I listen to the song above, as I stand in Tadasana/ Mountain Pose in total resting state, strong and light. it reminds me that as we inevitably encounter people we like, dislike, situations we like, dislikes, desires we have and aversions, that the potential to encounter these will never change, no matter how much we lead ourselves to solitary confinement or belief and so, can we change our attitude to the predictable difficulty of relationships, situations, people and things - to life?
This 'change' in attitude has been THE MOST transformative of all the yogic teachings for me to date. Allowing the difficult to remain, without needing to escape and to find a way to change my attitude towards it.
It can be so satisfying to be right and to put systems and processes in place that we believe to shelter and protect us, but that's what they are doing at times and this cuts us off from the gift of living in freedom. Do you finger your wounds and show off your scars as proof of the difficulties we have experienced? Why remain attached to the stories and why not, live on and change our own perceptions and need for support outside of ourselves.
What we refuse in another, we refuse in ourselves, it is said. We can reclaim the dimensions of ourselves that are the necessary polarities of love, compassion and kindness, we can better accept those traits in others too.
These attitudes simply foster the conditions of the mind to become tranquil. Without applying our practices off of the mat, we are reminded that none of the resonance of the other practices can be beneficial, as our minds are caught up in fear, anger or defensiveness born out of living a 'me' and 'them' existence.
'seeing' is born from acceptance AND the inseparability of all things, the oneness that remains.
The wonderful Farhi wisdom once again reminds me to ask myself...
How do we find the volition to practice? How do we transform motive in to motivation and aspiration in to attainment??
I will not and can not live my dream through any other, and yet am living the dream each and everyday. That simplicity of loving kindness is my legacy.
Lets enjoy some 'metta' meditation this week together, some balances, some grounding and that midsummer solstice changing state.
Love you all, especially you men out there, all the fathers and the masculine qualities in us all that we celebrated this week.
Find the faculty of your own power through using will and stay connected to your heart, summer is here.