Stepping Away From Yoga

September 8, 2013


Yoga is the brain eraser. You don’t come in to a session with yourself in order to leave with more. You step in to let go. The reason you are even seeking yoga is because you have too much weighing you down that is making you ill or has made you ill and you now need restoration. If you are holding on and trying to gain and attain more just like you do in other aspects of materialist life, you have not only been wasting your time and energy but you have also only been feeding your ego the whole time, and most unfortunately not been engaged in yoga at all.
It’s not too late to start with proper and immediate results. The mind, not the brain, but the mind, which is where all of your thoughts exist that scheme, plot, plan, desire, lead to dishonest behavior and selfish habits just to show you what it means to be a typical weak human being among all other weak human beings, must be shut down, disconnected, and erased during each session with yourself. What happens when you do that? The body takes over, with its incredible intelligence, and healing and restoration take place.
And now the point of it all. If you’re doing it wrong, doing it while leaving the mind on and plugged in, with no erasing but instead with more accumulation, you will continue to become addicted and attached to yoga with no progress, no further results, for years and for as long as you live. To progress is to erase with each session little by little until the corrupt data is removed, the reason for seeking yoga in the first place is removed, you live each moment of every day with no weight of a corrupt mind corrupting the body, having with each session with yourself stepped away from yoga and stepped closer to yourself until you can finally walk again undivided and whole. Step away from yoga as you step in and see how much deeper you can live with yourself, what you have been missing in life.


Better Than The Fist

April 14, 2013

FistWhat I find in general when deciding to add a new entry to this blog is a common impetus: a very simple desire to spread information to those who listen. Most readers probably see the words, take in what they choose, and either get stuck on concepts that apply to their personal lives, and discard the rest from any attempt at comprehension, or the remaining few listen, the people I write for, the individuals I write to.

In many aspects of life, whether job skills, goal management, discipline in any field, I find the same situation when problems and questions arise. I will summarize this recurring lifelong situation that echoes across generations with an analogy that concerns bow technique for cello. There is much distracting misinformation that actually bears almost no importance on bow technique, and anyone that plays a bowed instrument like a violin, viola, or cello will understand and agree with this: how you hold the bow doesn’t matter. However, when one is first learning or problems arise with tone, teachers tend to focus on students using a better hold, if not your best hold. Gregor Piatigorsky, a great cellist, has been reported to have broken his thumb on his bow hand right before a performance, and having no time to go to hospital, performed while holding his bow in a fist. Nobody noticed. People even complimented his tone.

A student may say to a teacher, “when you hold the bow like I do, it still sounds like you. If I hold the bow like you do, it still sounds like me. You must do other things that you haven’t told me.” And so, much of life is all of the things that people do that they haven’t told us. I’m trying to tell you all that I can.

When you take that personal, intuitive journey, pay attention to those small details that nobody tells you that make all the difference and actually have great importance. People will have to tell you something when they are in the position of giving advice or instruction. If the words aren’t simple and common sense, they are more often just rhetoric that becomes the norm, and you’re on your own anyway. Don’t be so quick to feel you need company or instruction. Clear your mind of all the daily, weekly, monthly, yearly clutter, and move ahead with confidence in yourself. Start with anything better than a fist and then listen closely—what you experience then is the only guide you need.

Previously, I have asked, “What is Meditation?”, and “Can I Meditate?”, and now we revisit those questions after we have tried to answer them. In my experience, to meditate is to have the universe talking to you and you are there to listen. The thing that amazes me is that I don’t have to go to some remote or holy place to meditate, and I don’t remember achieving a proper state of meditation in such places like I have in the din of the city, where I have been able to concentrate and block it all out in a place no more special than my apartment. It is actually pretty simple, and here is the best way I could say it, and maybe these words will resonate with you:

The universe is always talking to you. We do not hear it because we choose not to hear it. Our minds and our senses that involve our minds are constantly jumping and reacting to our environments out of habit and because we choose to do so. In meditation we do the opposite, and in choosing not to do so, the mind stops. No more knee-jerk mind movements, no more wasted energy responding to things that need no response, no thinking, no thoughts, no sounds, no words, a total disregard for the noise of things that have no importance. Suddenly, the barriers blocking the information streaming to us are removed, and in the center of your brain you “hear” the universe talking to you. You know you are experiencing this for sure because it is no longer outside stimuli saturating your mind communication and it feels like it is coming from you, outside of you. This is your higher self coming in synch with your conscious mind, one of the most important goals for meditation. Now you are part of all that is around you and there is no more you, you are everything. Once you have done this, you can be this way more easily, at more times, in more places, tapped in to who you are more often without living a life of separation from yourself.

The single most important physical act that coincides with these thought-based, or non-thought-based, concepts is breath. Through Dharana the breath is trained to lead you appropriately into Dhayana and coincide the physical act of breathing with the flow of energy in and out of you in every dimension that you occupy. We often breathe without thinking of it. It just happens involuntarily, like the beating of our hearts. You do, however, have the ability to be mindful of every breath and here is where it can be focused, meaning attributed to every inhale and exhale; eventually you will find that you can extend this breath mindfulness to every waking minute of the day with less and less effort, connecting you to being in a constant meditative state no matter what you are doing, no matter where.

Now let’s describe this from a less personal experiential perspective:

After Dharana, the mind has become steady, peaceful, and quiet, and we are ready for meditation. In Dharana, we are aware of the ego as a separate part of ourselves, used as a tool to condition that which gets conditioned. This division of  ourselves into two ends with Dhayana. The identification with the idea of ‘Me’, the ego, ends. In meditation there is no activity at all. During conditioning the ego is used as an instrument of psycho-physical activity, and meditation is the ending of all voluntary activity, with no method or technique. Through the ending of all activity, further exploration takes place, and all through Dharana the techniques and methods have relevance and are necessary. This brings you to the transformed state that enables you to begin meditation.

To one who is not intimately familiar with meditation, or not ready to embrace it because training is not disciplined, meditation has the look of inaction, the look of lethargy, the look of lost opportunity. This is the perspective of the mind that is not still. However, through the gateway of Silence, the cessation of the thinking process, the discontinuity of mental movement, one is transported into a different orbit of consciousness, a different dimension; the thought-free, time-free, word-free reality. People have said it is difficult to verbalize about Samadhi, which comes after dhayana. It is no longer a separation between the cosmic and the individual, like one connected sea of shared energy.

Meditation is the last effort to be made, and it is effortless and methodless, because you have already put in all the effort into the methods and techniques of Dharana. Without effort, you don’t cling to the center of ‘Me’ or ‘not me’. No longer a man or woman, a Hindu or Catholic, you are in the lap of the cosmos, looking beyond duality. In this way it is a lot like sleep, where you make no effort to sleep unless you want to be up all night. The only difference between sleep and Samadhi is that in sleep there is no awareness except for a Yogi. Effort is one dimension and effortlessness is another. In life, we strive for effortlessness in everything we do. In yoga it is the same.

Effortlessness does not mean a void or a blankness, nor a darkness in inertia. Meditation is not a state of inertia, it is not a state of passivity, it is not a state of mere void, but when you relax unconditionally and totally, the Supreme Intelligence operates.

This is where the stream of communication from my personal explanation comes in. If you are still confused or lost about what meditation is, understand that it is a personal experience and you have to put the time in; someone other than you will not make it happen or bring you there. The more time you spend there, the more it feels like home and becomes an extension of how you operate. But it really is like switching the television to the channel you never want to watch, and it’s always there, and you have to switch it.

Suffering is directly linked to wrong identifications. Let us take for example the well known figure, Jesus Christ. It is important for all to understand that based on what Jesus Christ represents, if he were crucified, nailed to a wooden cross and left there to die, he did not suffer. The phrase “suffering Christ” does not make any sense to someone who truly understands the story of Christ. A figure like Christ knows exactly who he is, and has no wrong identifications or attachments, no fear of dying and death, and therefore no suffering.

Attachment is a source of suffering, a cause of suffering, and even an expression of suffering. The source of attachment is the desire for repetition of pleasure. This does not mean to put a negative connotation on pleasure and to restrict it. Avoiding pleasure, inviting pain, mortifying and torturing the body, these are all wrong identifications. In worshipping Life, loving Life, we use our beautiful senses and experience pleasure always, maybe for a moment, maybe for a fraction of a second. To seek these pleasures to be repeated, to want to capture the individual or object that has caused the pleasure in order to own it, possess it, dominate over it, exploit it, him or her, then we suffer.

There is pain in life, and it is unavoidable. You don’t go inviting it either. Pleasure is also unavoidable. If you run away from pleasure , afraid that it will excite, run away from pain, afraid it will create a permanent imbalance, you are destined for suffering.

Lastly, we are all conditioned to take care of our bodies so that we may continue living, clinging to the body, obsessing with the body, because we identify with this body as ourselves, who we are. Such a desire to cling to the physical body brings the fear of dying or death. The body becomes the center of all your attention, bringing no openness, no receptivity to open out to life, isolation from overprotectiveness. This is a kind of suffering that is the result of this inhibition of being infatuated with the body, obsessed.

To be more specific, it does not allow you to mix with people, to be with them, an inhibition in the movement of relationships, always being on your guard. Your image of yourself always has to be protected. This keeps you in a shell, weaving around you a nest of your knowledge, inheritance, ideologies, unable to receive anything new. This causes a clinging to the old, an inability to live creatively, to meet death as a culmination of the act of living, a fear of everything.

It may even be that alone and free to act on our own we do not display any of these characteristics, but in the presence of certain members of our family or acquaintances we are somehow forced to act along the paths of suffering, as a conditioned form of respect, or a difficulty to escape the suffocating grasp of a personality that dominates all attention like a black hole. A respect for old, obsolete ways of being that no longer have a place in the world of progress and enlightenment is disrespectful to all parties present, creating another dimension of tension and suffering the longer we allow ourselves to give in to it.

Once we are aware of all the paths leading us to suffering, and luckily they are few and easy to understand, we can see clear as day the habits and characters of others that create suffering manifesting before our eyes, and then we can also see them in ourselves. The obligations, distractions, and pace of our modern world is not enough to cloud this awareness, and the whole of life for everyone is waiting to be enriched by our wiser actions.

The End Of Suffering

June 10, 2010

Humans go through suffering, and this is fact. But what is suffering? Before that is answered, let us dwell on one very important fact just as strong as the one previously stated: suffering is not warranted. When we suffer, we walk in the light that illuminates a life, routines, movements, experiences being experienced from a perspective of weakness caused by a confusion about who and what we are.

Physical pain and hurt is not suffering. Let’s be clear on this. It is my understanding that those who have studied and specialize in Hatha Yoga can avoid to a very great extent physical pain and sickness, adding longevity to the body. Even so, physical pain and hurt is just a way of life because we have these biological bodies as our vehicles to experience life itself fully.

So, what does suffering have to do with how well you know yourself? This is getting to the root of the issue and once you understand it, it is simple and freeing. Suffering is directly related to ignorance about one’s own nature, about the existential existence, about one’s own being. In this way of seeing reality, if I do not understand what life is, then I identify with things that are smaller, compartmental, fragmentary. On this level, the inner substance of my being is  not perceived. My body is not me, and if I were to say “I am sick”, or “I am dying”, it is a wrong identification. If I were to instead equate my knowledge and thoughts with the essence of my being instead of my biological structure, equating my views and memories with who I am, saying “I am hurt”, to go on identifying with the experiences, then suffering begins. Both manners of equation lead to suffering, identifying with the physical and identifying with the psychological. If this identification doesn’t take place, not the identification with the body and not the identification with the inner workings of the mind connected to Egotism, then the essence of life is something additional, something qualitatively different, there is no suffering.

Shaucha is one of the Niyamas. It is purification. Purity is the result of purification, or the by-product of the process of purification. A student of Yoga will have to spend some part of the day practicing tapah, which encompasses the yama, the niyama, the asanas, pranayama, and some part of the day in study and observation – kriya yoga.

Observation comes after the studying, observing directly in one’s own life, because knowledge doesn’t become understanding unless verified by personal observation. It is the direct, immediate, intimate contact with the fact that you have with study, therefore a communion with the fact. This is Swadhayaya, both study and observation. Kriya Yoga is the yoga through activity and action together, so kriya yoga includes Tapah and Swadhayaya. The study purifies the brain, cleansing the intellect of all ignorance, of all imbalances, all impurities. After the brain is cleansed through study, the observation purifies.

Now, we can discern from clarity. When what is seen, perceived and communed becomes the substance of your life, then there is no possibility of forgetting, it is no more part of memory. It is a dimension of purity that is incorruptible, undamageable, inaccessible to confusion. When you have clarity you know it because there is no such thing as no longer having clarity at a later time. If you feel this happens, then you never had clarity to begin with.

Of the Niyamas, “Tapah” is one that can easily be misunderstood, either by improper translation or improper interpretation, both leading to misapplication of otherwise strong efforts. What it is not, is a torture, as in to make the body fast, or deny its demands, suppressing and repressing. It is an austerity. This is to live the truth you understand. Tapas is to educate the body through experience – Asanas, Pranayama, Pratyahara, etc., so that it can set itself free of the clutches of conditionings. Conditionings cannot be destroyed but you can release yourself from their hold, their domination, their clutches.

Austerity is required to live the truth you have perceived. Without perceiving the truth there can be no tapah because that is passive repetition of certain codes of conduct. If you understand the truth about diet then you do not move an inch away from your understanding about diet. If you understand something about sleep, such things as how much sleep is necessary, when to give the body sleep, what kind of bed should be given, then you live that truth. What kind of exercises to be given, what clothes to be worn, how to use sound, how to use the mind, and movement of thought, once you are acquainted with, observe, and understand it, then you live the understanding. That is Tapah.

I often hear people refer to their more virtuous behavior characteristics as something they own with pride. “I’m a nice person”. “I help people”. “I do yoga”. “I’m a vegan”. Ahimsa is non-killing, non-violence, and it is a dedicated awareness of the wholeness of Life, becoming a value of your life.

It isn’t just a physical level non-killing. If you are a vegetarian but kill the hearts of people with cruelty, cold glances and destructive, abusive words, you are a violent person and the vegetarianism does nothing for you in terms of ahimsa, in terms of all of Life. Attacking, invading the psyche of other people, most probably fueled by your “I-ness”, your own ego, you may not kill physically but you are killing psychologically, hurting by eyes, hurting by words.

Many people in the modern world addicted to smoking cigarettes, another ego weakness, somehow hypocritically choose to be vegetarian or vegan with a spiritual purpose. They carry their good deeds as badges toward validation of the goodness of their characters, missing the point completely. You don’t do one thing and then do another that is the opposite and take credit. These people may as well just eat all the meat they can and kill the animals themselves; the resultant action would be the same in terms of non-killing, but probably more in line with honesty. Ahimsa is one of the Yamas that are built upon wholistic living, an intelligent, harmonious relationship.

Start with what you call every day, normal thoughts, actions, perceptions. This is an idea filled with things we can all generally agree upon because we have all learned the names of things, definitions of surroundings, basically all that man has created for us in consciousness to refer to so that we may function in society as civilizations and cultures. Our modern way of living ignores the dimension of Silence or motionlessness. Meditation is a silence and an aloneness, a necessary self-education. If you were to still the body on the outside, stillness from walking, standing, running, sitting, you still must go deeper and still the internal movements. So, you put the body in a posture which is convenient, agreeable, enjoyable to the body and persuade it to be steady for half an hour.

Then you close your eyes so that the eyes make no contact with any matter outside the body. As soon as the eyes see an object, then your learned memory will turn up the name of the object, your attachment to the object, your likes, dislikes, prejudices, judgements, and so the movement begins, so closing the eyes is a help.

You abstain from speaking, something taught in order to function at school, at a job, communicating in public. When speaking is silenced, we do it internally, chattering to ourselves, trained to think, to acquire and organize information, comparing and evaluating, making judgements. The brain is always busy. We have become addicted to the movement of knowledge within us.

Sitting in silence, we are educating the brain to be free of that incessant movement of knowing, experiencing, accepting, and rejecting. Once you have tasted the nectar of Silence, then it does not matter whether you are sitting in a room or walking on a street, talking to people; the quality of aloneness, the quality of motionlessness, the freeness of thought does not get affected by physical or verbal movement.

Before you are living in harmony with non-knowing, stillness, silence, it may help to acknowledge who you are in this cosmos. Outside of the perspective of knowing, the man-made definitions of the cosmic life, there is no death. There is not Life, creation, and destruction. There is only emergence of creative energies and merging back, a cyclic movement. Remember that you are a newborn baby that does not yet know any of the ideas that man has put into your brain to fool you into knowing a false reality. You experienced this when you were born and it is still with you now as you strip away all of the things that keep you moving and addicted to moving. Not knowing is where Truth lies. The rivers and oceans and sky and land were here long before man came into existence, long before man gave these things their names, before there was knowing, and here lies the Truth. When you still your mind and body the Truth remains and in the Silence is Everything.

Resisting Yoga

April 25, 2010

Besides people who are frequent practitioners and people who have never tried yoga, there are also people who in the face of practicing, resist. I often hear that it is crisis that draws people to doing yoga, or to put it another way, yoga finds those in need. When bodies and souls have been neglected and become contorted and unable to operate freely without obstruction, asanas get right to the troublesome areas, expose them, and put the body in a position to begin healing. When I first began doing yoga and saw and felt firsthand all the physical, psychological, and spiritual benefits that less than 30 minutes each morning did for me, it was not difficult to suggest it to those who obviously could benefit the way I did. To my surprise, nobody I knew actually tried it or wanted to do it.

One day my mother was suffering from an upper back muscular discomfort that looked like a buildup of tension manifested into a shoulder knot. Days later I found about it, and it worsened to the point that her right shoulder was sitting higher than her left and she woke up in terrible pain. I immediately gave her instruction for tension-releasing movements in the area to massage the muscles back into shape. Ten minutes later she was beaming, ecstatic, walking straight, and so relieved that this wasn’t going to require a doctor’s visit.

If you resist yoga, you are only making a statement about your own inability to face something about yourself. You may not be searching for anything that yoga seems to offer, or you may be looking for them in other forums that are unfulfilling. One day yoga will find you and it will be your choice to listen or ignore.