Masaccio

When the dust settles on any aspect of my life at any given time, pinned in place behind all layers to be revealed with no further supportive substrate is what I call my yoga experience to be revisited time and again, deeply and ever deeper. This is my fact, an identifier of my life, something more real and true than even the truths of my life before it. The one answer to why this is can only be because yoga has shown me my existence outside of life, outside of time, beyond this life and into death, and a comfort in that connection. When you take all friends, family, individuals known and unknown out of the storyline purposefully to create the sense of not only solitude but a lone existence, that part of the mind that always crops up when you have to test just how truly independent you really are so you imagine how long you think you would survive if not another soul was there to help you, share any time with you, meet with you, or even see you, in that pure helpless scenario yoga emerges as the warm friend to console, advise, inform, support, nourish, and ultimately rescue from any possible calamity either real or imagined. With much of today’s pathology of man and woman residing squarely in the mind and extending into the physical world, both real and imagined situations have equal weight in posing danger and illness not only to the individual but all of society.

We are all connected no matter how much we repeatedly convince ourselves that we can’t be and don’t want to be for any number of possible selfish reasons, and yoga is unmistakably the clearest and strongest way to stay connected even in the stark helpless loneliness of dying alone; but this state is not guaranteed even in the yoga community among all the yoga practitioners, it isn’t a given that this is understood and experienced, to be assimilated into daily memory and being, the most important message falling on not only deaf ears but forgetful minds. It is in this fault of the current decades-long resurgence of yoga across the globe into western cultures that lies my focus on what is left of the core message of yoga that all seek and few seem to find in the confusion of fitness fads, distracting gymnasium classes, trendy diluted offshoots of yoga to feed to the masses, presumptions of religious connotations, pit stops for injured dancers, false guru creations and followings, and contortionist training groups. When the dust settles on all of these distractions, there are a few people who somehow stay away from them and get the real message in the experience at the seat of their being during moments in the practice. These few do nothing special or spectacular, they just pay close attention and actually do what all who enter can learn to do. The rest simply have been distracted and faked it while at the very most being able to say they were in attendance. Just because you were there physically doesn’t mean there’s anybody home upstairs in the secret attic closet whose door is covered in cobwebs and settled debris, evidence that there wasn’t even a recent attempt to look inside.Yoke

So now back to the importance and what the message is for modern people: Yoga is the great deprogrammer. Without removing the layers of scar tissue, dysfunction, pathology, memories, programming, personality-splintering trauma, etc., that makes each one of us unable to be us and therefore false representations of humanity because we are only operating as sums of layered programming from birth all through adulthood handed down from family and environment, how can any of us expect to be anything but a worse facsimile of the broken generations that came before us?

Erase. Rewind. Restore. Run. This is the most profound message I have gotten from Yoga, and it need not be anything else. You can talk all you want about all the peripheral distractions of Yoga that are not even remotely related to this message and get lost in your pleasure seeking narcissism that hides in “your yoga” as a predator does in concealment of night, shadow, and cover while lying to yourself and hoping nobody finds out, or you can seek a silent room for a short time and look yourself straight in the eye in the mirror of introspection and actually help yourself be you for once and allow it to spread to all of humanity. This is what both excites me as the most important priority of potential that is most often overlooked and dismissed, and equally dismays me with no hope for humankind even as I look within those barefoot disciples sitting on rubber mats. When the dust settles and I embrace my sorrow in joyful happiness, Yoga emerges again, as it always does. Now another level deeper, alone and helpless, Yoga is there.

So what becomes of this? If I can’t connect in plain as day face to face alert contact with people, that is not enough concern to give up and throw it all away. The waking consciousness of walking and talking is but one small part of consciousness as any Yoga practitioner knows, and it is the one most expected to fail so all is as it should be. My focus is now shifting into advancing all other aspects of consciousness, the ones that work on the waking mind and define its operation through habit, behavior, and ultimately ability to be attentive or to simply attend. Here is my hope, here is my goal, here is my connection to all that is, here is where truth sits undisturbed. I go there, I’ve been there, it is where you will find me, and it will be easy because I can tell you without hesitation that it is poorly attended. Members only.

Advertisements

Death Plan

February 12, 2014

20140212-112736.jpg

There is nothing more certain than your death. However, in this time that you are alive, the true certainty is that you are living. While you are still here, you need a death plan. I don’t mean anything that has to do with the material and financial, I mean a spiritual death plan. Although your death is certain, and planning is helpful, it is the antithesis of being present in the now. By planning your experience of death on the inside, alone with yourself now just the way you will have to face death, you can happily leave this living world without loose ends and hoping for more of the life you still wish you had left. This death plan is one that is pointless to try to share with anyone because it is not relatable to anyone else’s unique life and death experience. However, we can all go out content with smiles on our faces if we have a healthy death plan, and this is part of the inclusive experience of yoga, if not one of its crowning characteristics.
I admit, I may be a unique situation. After I explain myself, I may also be nothing special. To put it bluntly, I should already be dead. I could have died many different ways in my short life thus far. Luckily for me, by the age of 23 I understood and accepted death as a very real possibility and felt my mortality way before I hit 30. My most debilitating experience was when I was in the prime of my youth, full of energy and enthusiasm, yet for months steadily began feeling like I had no will to engage in physical activity, woke up not tired but weak, and I felt most of the bones in my body aching as if the marrow itself hurt, but not any of my joints. Due to testing difficulty at the time, no blood tests came back positive for the possible culprit, Lyme infection. I had to go on for weeks longer hoping this would just come to pass because I was young and healthy and strong, but I felt like the world itself was passing me by and just walking was a chore, to say the least. Eventually another test came back with more positive results and I was lucky enough to have standard doxycycline capsules bring me back to the world of the living within three or four days of a two week cycle. It was so bad that I still felt incredibly weird and not normal, but I could tell there was a change, a spark of a tiny hint of a flame that was previously out cold. Nobody could look at me and tell what I was experiencing in my body, the pains I would endure and have to put on an act to fit in with the normal and healthy world of which I used to be a contributing member. I’d say it took me about seven years before I was no longer regularly reminded of the infection through varied unexplainable pains. When I was most ill, a few months into it, I would play a game with myself just to cope with the discomfort, counting how many seconds would go by before I felt another sharp pain anywhere on my body that would stop my mind in its tracks. I would only get as far as counting to four usually, sometimes less.
For some reason, the standard antibiotics worked for me but others are not so lucky. Since I’ve been infected almost twenty years ago, I’ve learned a lot about the bacteria. The Lyme bacteria is a spirochete that burrows into all living tissue, forming what feels like a neural network of whole-body microscopic torture, and it could be different for everyone because of the variables. I could have suddenly died of heart failure or brain damage. My blood tests to this day show antibodies for Lyme, and with an illness whose victims can be treated like they need psychiatric evaluation because doctors don’t believe they are ill at all, confirmation is a good place to start.
I didn’t even know what yoga was at that time, but that small brush with a downward spiral into oblivion helps me to connect with my spiritual death plan during meditation. I know that I can own my death, be in command of my powerful exit from this body, free and strong in a way I could only imagine now while being alive, where my freedom and strength are clearly defined and limited. By drawing upon death, I can aim for a more accomplished life. I’ve seen people on their death beds whining, squirming, and sobbing for more life, admitting where they messed up and could have had ten more glorious years of health, reluctantly facing death with regret in this life. This won’t be me, because I should already be dead.
If you haven’t already, for information and personal stories from people infected with Lyme, go to underourskin.com, or see the documentary Under Our Skin.

Free Yourself From Within

December 12, 2013

20131212-212330.jpg

Like the tattoo on Thomas Edison’s forearm depicting a quincunx pattern that can be left open to interpretation, so too does every moment of our existence tell the tale of either subjugated confinement or an excursive impatience fueled with limitless creation. The only difference may be who is doing the looking, the seeing, the observing, and whether they see a propitiated projection resulting in judgement that can swing easily one way or another, or an unbiased, non-judgmental view. It is precisely for this reason that judgement should begin solely as self judgement, and preferably should also end there. The famous maxim, “If you can’t change the world, turn within and change yourself”, is a simple observance on the futility of using arrogance as a bastion to defend self-centered idealistic views disguised as character markers, imposing them quietly on all who don’t meet a narrowly defined set of criteria, in effect mirroring the already flawed self like a reflective array dispersed across the globe in place of every other living human being, leaving no real people in its place and nothing left to learn or wisdom to gain. In other words, few change the world, yet everyone wants to and is set up to fail miserably with the first attempted step, tripping over one’s own foot, catching the fall with a knee, thrown forward with inertia desperately seeking retaliation from an elbow on the ground, all before a split second later the jaw, teeth, and fleshy facial protrusions all impact with the required force to finally put an end to what seemed at first like a wonderful idea.
The artistic metaphor of judgement of others by mere human beings is most often a flaying, or skinning alive. Whether referring to Michelangelo’s “Last Judgement”, or Rabbi Akiva as discussed in the Talmud, being flayed for publicly teaching Torah, the affiliation between judgement and a most horrendous end is quite clear. Consider what wasteful displays of pseudo philanthropy occur with each person vowing to contribute to changing the world for whatever reason, only to stand concretized in immoveable inflexibility and reticent resistance to change in any way with regard to the deepest, most intimate and defining self. This, it seems, is the human condition, yet we have a choice to do otherwise. It may however feel like a dream in which you are desperately running in slow motion or crawling on all fours through thick particulate sand-like earth, taking altogether too long and going nowhere fast until your loudest inner voice begins to console you about giving up and how quitting and admitting defeat is all right because it’s the only thing left after you’ve suffered for so long, yearning for relief. But this is the misconception; it is not the relief you are searching for. Relief will be attained by moving forward, continuing through the pain until you can smile through it and learn to await and desire it, see it as your trouvaille, and in that you are set free to attain your just rewards, unburdened by what falls away as the imperfect misjudgments of others unnecessarily attached to your shoulders, relieved at last.
Constant change, adaptation to the self judged condition, newer perspectives revealed and customized by the richness of wisdom, the discovery and removal of ballasts and moorings that hold you in one place, these simple notions can free an otherwise caged animal destined to remain so until death.

The Sound Of Importance

November 27, 2013

20131127-195010.jpg

Sound can be sacred. In the presence of noise pollution, the absence of sound is sacred. Both are equally important. The misuse of sound can cheapen the experience of sound in general. Your life has a soundtrack, and it is important.
When you are done planning your life’s daily egotistical considerations with the soundtrack of horrible music made by superficial people who can barely string any sense of comprehension together, it is important to take stock of what your life is really about, and hopefully you have some important music, or some important silence while you do so. You are a sensitive organism designed to set itself to external cosmic events and adapt to the constantly changing environment. When people around us affect our environment and they are living empty or unbalanced lives based on meaningless material priorities leading them on a leash, we can easily be thrown into that vortex of distraction, requiring recalibration of the conscious mind to a state of unadulterated purity. This can be done with the cessation of thought and the careful use of sound.
Sounds of nature that are tens of thousands of yeas old and more are important, helping to reach back into our genetic past that is aware of these sounds on a limbic level of deep subconsciousness. Sounds like wind, rain, the ocean waves crashing, big undeniable sounds. Even in absolute silence we can easily imagine these sounds and have them comfort and aid our inner reflection for undistracted sight.
Although you may not be taking part in it, your human physiology has thousands of generations of genetic coding within you already programmed to unleash the dance that is the music of the universe, waiting to be unlocked. All you have to do is challenge yourself to do what you once thought impossible, or that you in your narrow view of yourself considered incapable of, because most often we are wrong when we say no to accomplishing great feats.
Unleash the power of sound in your inner code.

I will begin with a contextual description of how this book exactly ended up in my hands. A few short months ago I didn’t even know of Rod Stryker when I was called upon to do some work with the Give Back Yoga Foundation to mix and master a Yoga Nidra audio CD release, and Rod is one of the teachers whose recorded voice I had to work with for the benefit of future listeners. To give credit where credit is due, the only reason this connection was made comes in the name of Diane Ferraro, who, among other things, is the co-host of the Where Is My Guru? radio show which airs live on the internet weekly. Rod Stryker was recently a guest on the show, and Diane Ferraro had a copy of his book, The Four Desires, to get acquainted with before she and Jessica Durivage, her co-host and founder of the show (who already has prior workshop experience with Rod), began the live interview.

I am thoroughly excited with this book, and I haven’t even read half of it. Let me explain that this book is an adaptation of a workshop that Rod Stryker leads, called Yoga of Fulfillment, so although you can read it like a book, it is meant as a workbook and you are encouraged to participate in the exercises given, and the goal is fulfillment, which is directly linked to true lasting happiness. This is a true Yoga book, hitting upon all of the aspects of Yoga that are easily and commonly ignored by most people because they are either afraid to confront themselves, or don’t know how to, and putting on the face of misdirection and procrastination masked in busyness, or business, seems to be the easy way out. Luckily, this book helps, explains, guides, and shows you how to get to your true self and drop the things that make you unhappy and unfulfilled. As I told Diane when she first asked me how I like the book, “People write self-help books, and people everywhere are buying and reading all sorts of these self-help books. I don’t read self-help books. I’ve never found the need or want to read such a book. This book is quite possibly the best self-help book ever written, and I find this book exhilarating.”

So why am I reading it? I opened the book to challenge my notions of who I am and where I am in my life’s journey. I am perfectly at peace with myself and have found years ago what I can only describe as a sense of true happiness that I can call upon and see and experience at any given time, all alone and at the same time in union with all that there is. But there is more to this story; since then I am not alone, but in a relationship. I have been finding myself over the last year in a constant struggle trying to make sense, with mind and heart, of what I can only describe as a change in behavior within the relationship, and actions speak louder than words. From title to content, the explanation of the Four Desires, what they are, not what you think they are, is one aspect I found most important. This clear and concise breakdown and categorization immediately did about 90% of what I was looking for when I opened this book, not realizing that the remaining 10% of seek-worthy unknown will probably expand to another 90% that I was unaware of, and such is the excitement of experiencing all that life has to offer. The section explaining tantra is equally revealing and poignant, an extra bonus. Sure enough, The Four Desires immediately put me in line with calibrating myself, tuning me to my unique resonance where I am most efficient and productive, where I feel most at home. Who knows, when I’m done reading it, it may even end up being the best “relationship self-help book” out there.

It’s very easy for us to get lost in the world of distractions, whether it’s in work, wasting time on the internet, giving attention to needy friends, or in a relationship with your significant other. I’ve posted more than one entry in this blog focusing on meditation and how to do it. Rod Stryker, on page 72 in his book, doesn’t try to explain with too many cerebral details how to meditate; instead he goes one step further to expose where I have failed in my attempt to impart a sense of how to meditate to those who don’t know how to and probably never have had the experience. He writes directions that lead you through a meditation on the breath, and with these directions, you don’t have to think with your brain but instead just experience it, and that is the point. He suggests recording yourself saying the directions to yourself in your own voice slowly and calmly. What a wonderful idea! I have done this before with other meditations and it has proven very powerful. Keep in mind that I have no problem meditating but I do have a deep urgency in wanting to get as many people as possible to experience this; of course, being a recording engineer, I will record myself directing this meditation, and will offer to record anyone I know personally to direct themselves through this powerful, personal experience that takes about twenty minutes.

This brings me to where I am currently in the workbook, page 74. Here Rod says that the more you practice this simple, accessible, yet profound approach to meditation, the more capable you become of stilling your mind and tuning in to dharma. You see, in the first exercise in this book you are led through very specific steps that allow you to unlock your Dharma Code. This comes before the meditation, and I have already written the first draft of my Dharma Code. Rod Stryker has admitted to struggling for years before accepting his dharma, embracing it wholeheartedly. In the chapter that concludes exposing your Dharma Code and becoming familiar with it, even if only a glimpse, he shares this wisdom with us: Let your Dharma Code lead you, and the career and everything else your heart seeks will follow. In the Introduction to the book which explains that no experience is required and that you can do yoga and not do postures, Rod lays out the possible challenges we encounter in the face of suffering and how The Four Desires addresses each of these challenges, showing how to successfully navigate them, teaching you how you can fulfill your life’s highest calling. Rod designed this book as a process to be used over and over as a regular part of your life. This is not so much a self-help book, but a user’s manual to life itself.

Vishuddha

November 4, 2010

When it is time for you to die, will your heart be consumed by a monster as it is weighed heavy with matters of the earth? I was born a crotchety old man. My baby pictures prove it: I looked like Yoda. I could barely keep my head up during the photo shoot I was so weak. I came out early because I just couldn’t take it anymore, the waiting. Ever since I’ve been getting stronger and younger, and now that I’m here I have immeasurable patience. By the time I was 24 years old I looked 44, so I was on the right track. By the age of 35 I appeared to be in my twenties. I know it will be time for me to leave this earth when I start to get it just right and I look exactly my age. But even then I may be around for a long time because I didn’t come here to just sit around playing with my appearance. I have loves, and that is my purpose. You can tell who your best friends are because they are the ones who expect only that from you that you love to do. Everything else is the wrong path. The mask of society puts to you the tasks it wants so that it can thrive, and if that is your love, go with society. Otherwise, cut off your head and walk around holding it before you for all to see in horror and disgust.