October 15, 2010

On our way to samadhi, as humans, there is one most important thing that needs to be understood, clarified, and therefore lived. There is no separation between ourselves and anything or anyone else. Once this comes into focus as a natural point in the mind, and every waking moment is lived remembering and knowing this, acting in a way that this unity of all is apparent, then the life of a Yogi begins to unfold. What this really means in terms of understanding is that Purusha, the Cosmic Intelligence, is what we are, and it is not something separate and removed from us. What matter we are composed of is the least fine matter, the gross matter, which came after Purusha; we were born, exploded out of Purusha, the finest matter that we are composed of, and the science of Yoga teaches us how to stabilize the fine matter that we are, becoming alive in it the way we are already comfortable being alive in our bodies composed of the less fine matter.

The whole material world is really a field of interplay and interaction of innumerable energies. When they are solidified you call it matter, and when not solidified, you call it energy. Einstein made this famous in the scientific world with E=mc2. When energy is not differentiated, you call it space, and beyond space and emptiness or Akasha remains the fountain, the absolute ground of existence, the Purusha. The Purusha and the Prakriti (the Seer and the Matter) exist in you and me on a tiny scale, and as the scale of the cosmos grows larger out from around us, it exists in an ever-increasing bigger form.

Yoga teaches that the goal of human life, our purpose for living, is to understand the nature of Reality. This means understanding the role of matter, understanding the role of energies, and understanding the essence of Intelligence. We human beings feel we are in bondage, slaves of matter, prisoners of mind and thought. There is no slavery, there is no prison house, it is only ignorance. In shedding that ignorance, dissolving it, you can undergo purification and transformation, beginning at the point of perception, beginning at the sense organ level.

This is the point of Asanas and Pranayama. In purifying the mental is the point of Yama and Niyama. For purifying the extra-sensory is Dharana. For the transformation in the whole content of sensory, extra-sensory, and mental, is Dhyanam, or Meditation. With the culmination of this process of purification into Dhyanam or Meditation descends Samadhi, or the transformed consciousness, the last phase. So your mutation into the transformed consciousness is caused by Meditation, which is the stabilizer of your purification that has ascended you through the gross matter existence of your being as Samadhi descends upon you.

Remember that Meditation is the non-doing, and your purification gets stabilized in relaxation, just as the health of the body stabilizes during sleep. For example, eating the best food, doing the best exercises in the world, if you are unable to sleep then there is no health because all that you had acquired through nutrition, exercise, and even positive mindset, it has to stabilize in sleep; it has to percolate throughout each level of the body, the whole metabolism, for you to feel rejuvenated and refreshed. It is the same in Meditation, it stabilizes, rejuvenates, and revitalizes.

Back to the understanding and awareness, which are the finest possible energies available to us, they have to become stabilized, and this is done through Meditation, and in the fusion of the Purusha element, the element of intelligence contained in the human body and the intelligence contained in the cosmos as a whole, there is no separation. They are fused together, no more differentiated. At this point the differentiation was an idea, all in the human mind. That is the state of “Kaivalyam”, that is the culmination of Yoga.

Yoga Muscles

October 14, 2010

Bikram Yoga, Hatha, Yoga, Vinyasa Flow, Power Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, yay, I’m doing Yoga! Are you, really? Do you have Yoga muscles? Besides seeking social validation from someone called a teacher who charges you money to be commanded into positions that sound like made-up animal names with action words in front of them like Sideways Rooster and Weeping Pigeon, you may feel relieved that someone with authority over you is encouraging you to fall asleep during the last five minutes so you can release all of your unspoken heartaches, one yoga class at a time.

People are moving in droves toward Yoga to round out their butts, tone their midsections, strengthen their arms and shoulders, and to become generally more flexible, or just to show off their gymnastics before they try to hook up with someone. Some people may think Yoga classes are just another kind of Spin or Pole Dancing class, and truthfully they are unless you take that inward journey with some kind of understanding of what it means to shed your identity and focus the mind beyond what we see as our physical surrounding reality. Not only will you be improving the outside, the gross matter, the physical body that you have through asana, but Yoga is a science that is both spiritual and biological, with movements and postures that benefit the internal organs and the systems of the body, the nervous, the circulatory, the lymphatic, the respiratory, to name a few, aligning your physical state to be more receptive to the creative energies that permeate all of us and everything that we call matter. So, if there is an imbalance in your internal systems somewhere, it can be manifesting in the outward physical from general unease to chronic pain, and toning what is perceived as the outward physical will also through asana restore more healthy internal systemic functions that may be lagging or restricted, opening energy pathways in the process.

There is yet an even more important target beyond this, but inclusive of this work. These are Yoga muscles, and if you don’t have them, you aren’t doing Yoga. You can be able to lift a car with your skeletal muscles but your Yoga muscles can be weak. In the practice of leading the body with the mind through the many prescribed physical movements and contortions that Yoga has to offer, you ready the mind for a state of withdrawal from the body, where you strengthen the finest matter that you are composed of. With all or some of the senses you command your body to move in ways that enliven the mind and give it immediate as well as long-term revelation of what it wants to experience: the opening of all possible channels between the senses and the perception of those senses by our minds, forming the experience that is rich and multi-dimensional until the mind has no choice but to require rest, solitude, and seek sanctuary where there is no longer this physical experience. Here you find your true nature and this is your Yoga muscle strength training, laying down flat on your back. This is Savasana, where you have to consciously let go of the body.

In this final and closing part of your Yoga practice, it is important to breathe deeply in and out in a smooth cycle and view the breath as the acceptance and release of the energies all around you. Of course you are relaxing from the stresses you just put your body through, but it is not a time for sleep or escape. When you open your eyes you should feel like you are reclaiming your physical body and your visual surroundings one piece at a time, having just returned from a transcendental journey. You don’t need Yoga to look great. But, if you haven’t experienced what it feels like to be one with every particle of the universe in the suspension of time across many lifetimes with the gentle whisper of the Supreme Intelligence coming from within you, you are probably doing something wrong.