Relationships, body, breath, senses and mind (conscious & unconscious) are a step by step process to reach the goal of Yoga. They are progressive steps that move from gross to subtle; each one is necessary for the success of the next. They are also in deep relation to one another. If we impact one all the others are affected.
We begin where we are, and how we are, and whatever happens, happens….So let us not forget, we can begin practicing Yoga from any starting point, but if we are to be complete human beings we must incorporate all aspects of ourselves, and do so step by step. In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali emphasizes all aspects of human life, including our relationships with others, our behaviours, our health, our breathing, and our meditation path. – T.K.V. Desikachar, ‘Heart of Yoga’ (p.7)
On an authentic path: The aspirant following a path of authentic Yoga works to train and purify 5 levels of being:
- Relationships: The aspirant builds relationship with the world through practices such as non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, remembering truth, and non-possessiveness. However, building better relationships with the world is not itself the goal of traditional Yoga.
- Body: The aspirant works with the body so as to make it flexible, strong, and steady, but working with the body is not itself the goal of authentic Yoga.
- Breath: The aspirant trains the breath so as to make it smooth, slow, and serene, but training the breath is not itself the goal of traditional Yoga.
- Senses: The aspirant trains the senses so as to be able to consciously regulate them in positive ways, although working with the senses is not itself the goal of traditional Yoga.
- Mind: The aspirant deals with the mind at all of its levels, although exploring and dealing with the mind is not itself the goal of authentic Yoga.- Swamij.com
UNION OF THE INDIVIDUAL WITH THE UNIVERSAL
THE WAY BACK HOME
“By practicing the different steps of Yoga for the removing of impurities, there arises spiritual illumination that develops into awareness of reality.” Osho
Yoga is a methodology to reveal the truth. It is a process to connect back to our centre of consciousness. To do this, Yoga teaches us to regulate our lifestyle, to train the body, breath, senses and mind.The process of Astanga Yoga in the Sutras teaches us:
- to regulate our lifestyle
- to sit in a steady, comfortable position for meditation
- to make our breathing calm, released and serene
- how to witness objects travelling in the mind
- to learn to strengthen and promote positive thoughts that support well-being
- to allow our thoughts in without being disturbed by them
Adapted from ‘The Path’ – Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
The mind is the most potent force in our life. The secret to happiness already exists within us, within our own mind. Happiness is a feeling, it is within our skin, and it is useless to look outside of ourselves for it. Conceptual frameworks are the best stories we come up with given the info we have. As we change these stories are no longer relevant, and it is good to dump them when they don’t work.
Paradigms of exploration have changed over the years i.e. medicine, science etc. We don’t give up the things we know; we just don’t apply them to everything (watch kids do things). Stories are always temporary (recognise what we felt as children, the feeling is true, but the circumstance is often not true).
Happiness is our natural state: All negative feelings and emotions are wrong computations in our minds and misconceptions about how life works.
Our early conditioning wires us incorrectly and causes interruptions in our flow and it is our energy system that is the key. Feelings and emotions are a flow of energy, as is happiness. When we interrupt our flow we block our inner experiences (learnt response). We need to bring the past to the present.
Yoga: we need to perceive the movement of life energies and learn how to shift them around.
The Left brain: tells us what is happening/stories.
The Right brain: notices patterns as just a pattern
The Practise- notice pattern without going to the left brain to tell us what is happening
Relate to as much of the human being as possible.
Yoga means finding the truth. It means connecting back to our ESSENTIAL NATURE (pure consciousness that sits behind as a silent witness that powers all the outward “layers” of being that we falsely identify with).
Our teachers tell us that our ESSENTIAL NATURE is always there, this unbounded consciousness is ready to shine through and express itself at any time. All we have to do is to remove the obstacles, the false identities that veil it. This
is the Yoga process of which to be aware and systematically remove and transcend the obstacles that veil our ESSENTIAL NATURE. To connect with truth and our ESSENTIAL NATURE that resides behind all the activities of the mind we need to deal with and train all the outward layers so that they do not become obstacles to our ultimate goal. This means dealing with and training our relationships, senses, body, breath and the layers of the mind. This is not something we can impose or force to happen as it is already there. Simply remove the obstacles, let them go and allow attention to move inwards. There is nothing to search for or seek after.
Through this process we achieve SELF REALISATION. The word realisation is used because it is something that was/is already there. Discipline means to create a centre within us. It allows us to move out of chaos, all the false identities and to create an order that allows attention to move inwards to stabilise ourselves in the centre of consciousness. If we are not in the centre (1.3) then we identify with the mental activities (1.4), we become a crowd and a crowd never agrees. We will be pulled constantly in different directions. Discipline helps us to focus our attention, to settle the waves of the mind (1.3) so that we can develop the capacity to notice and simply be and to let go through non-attachment (1.15) to move our attention inwards.
THE FOUR FUNCTIONS OF THE MIND
The four functions of the mind are extremely practical but maybe not as deep as it could be. The benefit is you can use it in day to day affairs and you can see the way in which those four functions are interacting with each other.The four spokes of the wheel makes it simple and practical.
The Mind has 4 components:
- Lower mind
- Higher mind
- Separate sense of self (ego)
- Storehouse for our experiences/memories
All our thoughts, words and actions are co-ordinate d by these 4 functions. In an unconscious life, our habits (Samskaras) drive our actions (karma) and we are set on a repetitive loop. Our path in Yoga is to understand the links between these 4 functions so that we can break the links with karma and create new habits that support well-being. As we do this, the habits that are not useful will begin to weaken.
LOWER MIND (MANAS)
This is the aspect of the mind that is the bridge between the inside (consciousness) and outside (world of objects). Manas is in direct control of the body and senses and has a two-way feed in and out through the senses.
First, our cognitive senses – sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch – give information to the mind about the outside world. This is related to the Afferent Nervous System.
The Efferent Nervous System then gives instruction to the senses of expression about how to respond or react. They are: moving, grasping, speaking, eliminating and procreating.
The lower mind receives sensory information but it does not differentiate between good/bad, or right/wrong etc. So, in an unconscious life, the expression in the world will always be the same from the conditioning in the unconscious.
THE HIGHER MIND, INTELLECT (BUDDHI)
The higher mind decides and discriminates. It decides what is useful and what is not useful. It is Buddhi, or the correct use of Buddhi that will guide the lower mind (Manas) in the right direction. In this process of change, we have to train the senses because we are largely addicted to sensation and when we try to move out of the old groove and create a new one, much resistance arises.
Here is where practice and non-attachment are important.
This demonstrates why addiction is so hard to break. Even though we may be able to decide and discriminate that smoking is bad for our health, because the addiction to sensation is so strong, without practice and non-attachment many repeatedly go back to old ways.
It is important to ask the intellect was is useful or not useful.
When the higher mind decides and discriminates, it mistakenly starts to believe that it is the creator of what arises in the world. Yet it can do nothing, as it is but an instrument for pure consciousness. In this mistaking, we see ourselves as separate to the whole, that we have a separate identity. We identify with the mental activities (waves of the mind) as being real. This can be helpful in that it allows us to function in the world but ultimately, this is the cause of suffering – this separation, which is ignorance of our Real Nature.
It is the mind field in which all our experiences are stored and the impressions from these experiences.
- all the memories from our past
- all imagination of our future
- impressions from our present experience
Chitta is the storehouse of all these latent impressions (Samskaras); they are like little storerooms in the storehouse. When pure consciousness moves over this field, these impressions get disturbed and the storerooms open up. They then become active in the unconscious mind as thoughts, dreams etc., they move into the conscious mind and we play them out as words and actions through the body/senses. In Yoga, the most important practice for us is the co-ordination between these 4 functions in order to purify the Buddhi. We must strive to support practices and a lifestyle that supports well-being. All actions leave an impression in our unconscious mind and these impressions become our habits (Samskaras) which control our life. Our identity is the collection of these habits. This ego identity then becomes our centre and the stronger the identity, the more it veils the centre of consciousness. The attainment of liberation of the Samkhya system requires that one thoroughly comprehend the process of manifesting the world and gain the ability to reverse the process.
The key to this liberation is the Buddhi – Intellect.
CHITTA – TWO WAYS BEING USED
When you look at the wheel we are looking at the 4 functions of the mind on equal ground including Chitta. The four spokes are all equal when they are drawn. We have made them all equal, then we can talk about how they dance together but in fact it’s all nothing but Chitta.
Manas is nothing but a Vritti in Chitta, same as Buddhi.
INTEGRATION AND MASTERY OF THE ACTIVITIES OF THE MIND
“God can only function when you are not” – Osho
Yoga is the integration and mastery (nirodaha) of the activities of the mind (vrittis), it means a state where mind is still, and when this happens our ‘TRUE NATURE’ begins to flow. When mind is functioning it veils and prevents us accessing our inner nature. Mind is necessary to recall a memory or work out a problem etc, what Patanjali is saying is that the mind ceases to be master and us a slave to its desires. Thinking is just an activity and like any activity it can be stopped. The mind has just become too powerful and has a life of its own. Awareness and discipline is needed to still the activity of thinking.
When we begin to witness the activities of the mind without identifying to them, then the stream of thoughts begins to diminish until finally the activity stops. We are then established in the witness and life moves us, not thoughts from past experience or what might happen in the future.
Mind– is outgoing energy
Meditation – means incoming energy
There is nothing but Vrittis (Movements of Mind).
Manas, Buddhi and Ahamkara are nothing but Vrittis.
If you have a good meditation what happens to Manas, Buddhi and Ahamkara – they recede back into the mind-field which is a mastery and integration of the activities of the mind. This is Nirodaha (Mastery).
When meditating and someone or an idea is disturbing you, you want to practice Nirodaha and let it recede/fall away. Lots of thoughts may come up and they are all nothing but Vrittis.
ARTIST, INK AND PAPER
There are hundreds of pieces of art. There are many different categories of art, e.g. Surfer, flowers, landscape, but they are all nothing but ink. Similarly there are many objects/ideas but they are all nothing but Vrittis. Chitta is the warehouse and everything inside are the Vrittis.
ATTACHMENT (GREEN), AVERSION (RED)
When we talk about the four functions of the mind we are using the four spokes diagram.
The diagram is an extremely practical level of explaining the four functions of the mind – it’s not trying to talk at the level of the Gunas (non-duality).
It’s saying that when thoughts come up in your mind, take a look at it/explore it and realise that this thing that is disturbing me arose out of my Chitta.
What is it – it’s Vrittis from my Chitta.
“Why am I feeling this aversion?”
In the Chitta there are two main types of coloured Vrittis. Red Vrittis (aversion) and Green Vrittis (attachment).
Buddhi says it’s because the memory trace itself has made an alliance somehow with Ahamkara and Ahamkara has coloured the memory with aversion (Red Vritti).
This can be said in two ways:
Ahamkara has the bad habit of taking on the Vrittis. It’s like sticky notes that are drifting around the Chitta and then sticking them on its own chest and saying look at me, I am those Vrittis.
Ahamkara is the little cartoon character walking around in this field of memories with his little bucket in his hand that is coloured red with dislike and another bucket green that is coloured with like. So he sees a Vritti or a cluster of Vrittis: Tanya’s Vrittis = I like Tanya so I, as Ahamkara pull out the paint bucket and colour her green. Tanya may also be some days Green, some Red.
All that deep memory trace of her is coloured with both, aversion and attraction, which is why we can end up confused in relationships and in life because we have mixed feelings.
If you could take that person and start to reduce the colouring, what would happen with that person is that it would probably be easier to be in pure spontaneity with them.
If man has a wife and he has both colourings going on and they are trying to have a conversation about the movie they have just seen they may find that they are in conflict; it is influenced by all of those pre-existing colourings. If you then have a conversation with your friend’s wife with whom you don’t have those deep in the Chitta colourings, then often you find you have this wonderful conversation.
We can get in trouble here if we don’t have a clear Buddhi (Intelligence). We may think my friend’s wife is way better than my own wife. Trouble is coming then!
THE FIVE ACTIVITIES OF THE MIND
Normally we are caught up in and our ESSENTIAL NATURE is overshadowed by mental activity (1.4). There are 5 types of mental activity that veil the realisation of unbounded consciousness (1.5):
These five mental activities may or may not cause suffering. The right use of the mind becomes blissful, it is a meditation. And the wrong use of the mind is a form of madness; all the false identities become the masters, with many masters pulling in different directions and veiling our TRUE NATURE (1.4). The reasons we experience suffering or non suffering (1.5) has to do with the five Kleshas.
- Advidya – primal forgetting of our true nature
- Asmita – individuation
- Raga – the taking on of me -attachment
- Dvesha – the taking on of me as defined by what I am not = I am this – I am not that-aversion
- Abhinivesa – fear of the death of anything that I have falsely become identified with.
They are all Vrittis in the Chitta.
All of our suffering arises out of the root cause of Advidya, ignorance of our TRUE NATURE (1.4). It’s like believing the sun doesn’t exist just because the clouds are blocking it out. Settling the waves of the mind (1.2) allows the clouds to part to show what was already there. It is interesting to note that it is stated that the mental activities do not create either suffering or bliss, but cause either suffering or non-suffering (1.5). The reason for this is that the mind cannot create happiness, let alone bliss but when there is no or little mental activity the mind is in non-suffering and it becomes spacious and opens so that our ESSENTIAL NATURE flows which is then the source of bliss. Thus learning to settle the mental activity is the key principle in the process of Yoga. It is dealt with constantly and first works on a gross level and progressively moves to subtler levels. Only by understanding this can the mind move to stillness (1.3) so that our TRUE NATURE flows.
When all the Vrittis have done this Nirodaha business then the true self, the Purusha, the seer rests in its own nature, independent of all of that.
Patanjali goes on to say that’s not what usually goes on.
Sutra 1-4 – what’s usually going on is that the Purusha makes the mistake of thinking itself to be all the Vrittis in the Chitta.
It’s all Vrittis and so as teacher it is important to understand these two different ways of talking about Chitta:
- I am talking about Chitta as the totality which is on the Prakrati chart.
- Am I talking about Chitta as one of the 4 spokes on the wheel?
And both are extremely useful and both are extremely practical and very difficult to put on the one chart.
TRY TO DEVELOP RIGHT KNOWING
There are three ways to develop right knowing:
Personal knowing, direct experience
Reliable testimony of others
WHAT THOUGHTS DO YOU FOCUS ON?
Our mind is the most potent force in our lives. It determines, through our beliefs and attitudes (patterning), every aspect of how our lives are presented. These stories and patterns are largely unconscious, so our first role as a teacher to ourselves or others is to bring awareness to these patterns.
What are we focused on?
And how does it play out?
What thoughts work?
What restores well-being?
How does it feel?
BREATH – PRANAYAMA
EVERYBODY BENEFITS FROM REGULATING BREATH
Everybody breathes, and literally all people can derive tremendous benefit from learning to regulate their breathing habits. Breath affects the body and mind, and is intimately related to the autonomic nervous system, which is related to stress. Thus, whether for physical health or spiritual pursuits, breath is an extremely important aspect of our being.
BREATHING EXERCISES TRAIN THE BODY AND MIND
For thousands of years, yoga science has provided methods of working with the breath for energizing, calming, and focusing the body and mind. There is a range of these practices, including those that are appropriate for all people, and those which are more rigorous and that are best done by those with a sound base of physical health.
MEDITATION THEN COMES NATURALLY
Breath is a bridge between the body and the mind. Through breath work, the body stills and the mind becomes calm, so that meditation can naturally be allowed to come.
The functions of the breath:
Provides oxygen to the cell and removes wastes
Carries Prana. Creates Energy oxygen + body –
Circulates key fluids: blood, lymph, brings in nutrition takes away waste 70% of
Our emotional and mental state expressed by our breathing pattern
Connection to plants
A healthy lifestyle ensures that we reduce exposure to airborne chemicals
Faulty Mechanics equals major stress to body
SMOOTH, SLOW, CALM AND SERENE
The breath is also directly related to our emotions. When we are angry, there is a certain pattern of breathing. There is a different pattern when we are sad. There is also a pattern of breath that supports well-being and which leads to meditation. Patanjali says that in order for us to go inwards, the breath needs to be calm and serene.
Whenever we are in an ‘emotional state’ and are caught up in it, if we, by choice, can bring in this pattern of breathing (i.e. towards well-being), we will, by and by, be less disturbed by these circumstances, until eventually, not at all. When working with clients, it is important to find this rhythm and to teach them how to apply it. Pranayama is our main tool for being able to increase our sense of vitality and the main practise in Hatha Yoga to strengthen and purify the nervous system. The other means of influencing our life-force are through food, hydration, being in nature and spending time with highly evolved beings.
Prana = life force
SUTRAS 2:49, 2:50, 2:51, 2:52
When the awareness of our body falls away, our attention becomes absorbed with the breath. We begin to slow the breath and make it subtle so we can notice the larger pranic field underneath (2.49). We then train the 3 aspects of the breath i.e.: the inhale, exhale and transition in between (2.50). The fourth aspect of the breath is the deeper, background prana which is beyond the other 3 (2.51)
Once that perfected posture has been achieved, the slowing or braking of the force behind, and of unregulated movement of inhalation and exhalation is called breath control and expansion of prana (pranayama), which leads to the absence of the awareness of both. This is the fourth of the eight rungs of the tree of yoga.
That pranayama has three aspects of:
external or outward flow (exhalation)
internal or inward flow (inhalation)
and the third, which is the absence of both during the transition between them, and is known as fixedness, retention, or suspension.
These are regulated by place, time, and number, with breath becoming slow and subtle.
The fourth pranayama is that continuous prana which surpasses, is beyond, or behind those others that operate in the exterior and interior realms or fields.
Through that pranayama the veil of karmasheya (2.12) that covers the inner illumination or light is thinned, diminishes and vanishes.
TRAIN THREE ASPECTS OF BREATH:
Three aspects of breath and prana are trained whendoing any of the specific breathing practices:
Exhalation: Training the exhalation is removing the jerkiness, allowing the flow to be slow and deep, as well as diaphragmatic.
Inhalation: Training the inhalation also means eliminating jerkiness, breathing slowly, and using the diaphragm.
Transition: Between exhalation and inhalation, and between inhalation and exhalation there is a transition, which is experienced as suspension, retention, or cessation, etc. The training of the transition is to make it very smooth, as if there were no pause at all.
Suspension means transition: When the word stambha is translated as suspension or retention, this can be taken to mean the intentional holding of the breath over some period of time, which is a practice called kumbhaka. However, it is stambha that is used here, not kumbhaka. Between exhalation and inhalation there is a transition when one is neither exhaling nor inhaling. Between inhalation and exhalation there is also a transition when one is neither inhaling nor exhaling.
BREATH SYSTEM – REDUCING AND EXPANDING
LANGHANA – YIN PRACTISE
Cleansing – alkaline (synergy)
Relaxing – inward focus
BHRAMANA – YANG PRACTICE
Strengthening – outward focus
Most students need to focus on Langhana-practise to begin with because they are sympathetic dominate. The energy pathways (Nadis) are blocked and have kinks in them and when we put more energy in its like turning the pressure up in a hose with a kink in it – it causes disturbance.
People can’t handle an increase of energy to the system and then they use various gateways to release the felt charge.
The gateways to release energy are:
The 3 stages of the breath are:
To teach students how to breath using the correct muscles.
To use practices that calm, relax and purify the nervous system.
To use practices that stimulate and put more prana through the energy channels – Also purifying.
Assessing and watching the movement of the breath is also very important:
Do students breathe through the nose or mouth?
Is the breath deep or shallow?
Inhale and we get taller as our curves lessen. We will know there is imbalance if we do not get taller or even get shorter, which represents muscular imbalances
SEQUENCE OF BREATH
- Order of breathing practises
- Breath awareness—removal of irregularities
- Diaphragmatic breathing, even breathing
- Full yogic breath
- Two-to-one breathing
- Complete breath
- Nadi Shodhana
- Sushumna awakening
FULL YOGIC BREATH
The first role of the teachers is to teach people to breathe fully and effectively; this is the process of the fully yogic breath which has three phases:
Abdominal breathing – Belly
Intercostals breathing – Diaphragm
Chest breathing – accessory breathing muscles
Technically it is not a Pranayama but a cleansing process. It purifies the nerves and removes Kapha from the body. It also cleanses the conscious mind of thoughts
This breathing process has an
Start with 3 rounds of 20
Add 10 repetitions each week
The most important Pranayama practise to purify the nervous system is Nadi Shodhana: Nadi – Nerves, nerve pathways Shodhana – to cleanse/purify. Without purifying the Nadis we cannot seek to reap the benefits of Pranayama especially the more advanced practises.
Other practises can be injurious if the Nadis have not first been purified, at the least use other practises sparingly. Also we will gain little if the practise is not done regularly.
Incorrect breathing negatively impacts our posture. Our main breathing muscle is the diaphragm and if we contract it then we are forced to use our accessory muscles of breathing up around the neck and upper chest. These muscles end up becoming over dominant and it accompanies usually the thoracic spine being held in flexion If we have decided to live a low energy life (for survival) we may also mouth breath. With this breathing pattern over time the body shows a collapse in posture.
If we had nutritionally deficient parents, this narrows the palate and then crowds the nasal airways. Body compensates by bringing the head forward, dropping the jaw open to make an oral airway. This is often associated with allergies and/or saliva on the pillow.
The body does this in order of survival, that’s all the nervous system cares about.
Exhale: Flexion, pronation, deceleration.
Inhale: Extension, supination, acceleration.
A lot of people are stuck in pronation.
Useful things in order to help correct the postureare;
- Rib cage Mobilisation
PROCESS OF BREATHING
The more stale air you can exhale the more fresh air you can take in. It is important to inhale through the nose as this maximises the effect of our Prana. In the back of the nose lie the olfactory organs, through which Prana passes to feed the central nervous system and brain. Yogic breathing helps us control prana and this controls the mind.
At birth when then prana enters the being it splits into 5 functions called Vayus. According to the yogic point of view, the body is made up of 5 elements ether, air, fire, water, and earth. All these are associated with the 5 prana Vayus. The five prana Vayus are like the limbs of a man which comprise the one body. It is this prana which moves in the body like energy waves and can be likened to an electromagnetic field where the energy is in constant motion. Prana is the basis of life and can be controlled through breath. It is through the breath that prana and consciousness are essentially linked.
From the time of conception up until 4 months, the foetus survives on mother’s prana. After 4 months it is said the prana enters the foetus and then its bodily functions are active and an individual life begins. However the child becomes independent only when it starts breathing. When death occurs the physical body dies, the mind dies, but not the soul. Death is a process of disintegration in which all the 5 elements go back to their original source-water to water, earth to earth etc. When prana leaves the body there is no force to animate it. On death when prana leaves, the consciousness departs; the magnetic force which held the body together deteriorates and hence the body. It is Yoga which works on this vital life force ‘the prana’ to bring harmony into our lives. Yoga works through the physical body, by working on the pranic movements.
PRANA VAYU is the upward flow. It nourishes the brain and the eyes. According to Ayurvedic medicine, disorders of the upward flow of breath may be a factor in asthma, anxiety, insomnia and ringing of the ears.
APANA VAYU is the downward flow. I find that many of my clients with high blood pressure are not exhaling fully and experience profound, measurable shifts in their heart when they learn to let go more fully. I have had several who were able to get off high blood pressure medication simply by learning to breathe. Apana Vayu nourishes the organs of digestion and elimination. It is essential for feelings of tranquillity and groundedness.
VYANA VAYU is crucial for everyone who exercises. It is the b reath that radiates outward from the navel to the arms and legs, literally bringing life energy to the extremities. Another description of this breath is naval radiation, the first breathing reflex to develop in the womb. If we don’t feel like moving, it may be because our vital energy is literally stuck in the core of our body, often because of a subconscious unwillingness to experience buried emotions. Vyana Vayu rules movements in the body that proceed from inside to outside. Out of balance, it can lead to high blood pressure and heart rhythm irregularities.
UDANA VAYU is important for women who want to maintain their thyroid function and metabolism. In Ayurvedic tradition, thyroid abnormalities are often accompanied by disorders of this aspect of breath. Udana Vayu is a circular flow of breath around the neck and head. Out of balance, it can also lead to sore throats, coughs, and memory problems.
SAMANA VAYU is a circular flow of breath around the waist. It corresponds to a special acupuncture meridian in Chinese medicine called the belt meridian. Its principal movement is from outside to inside. Samana Vayu helps to maintain the digestive fire. Disorders with this breath may lead to indigestion, diarrhoea, constipation, or mal-absorption. – Catherine Carrigan, Breath and the five Vayus: Catherine Carrigan explains the magic of the yogic flows of breath
THE BODY EXPRESSES THE SOUL
“What you cannot find in your body, you will not find elsewhere” – Upanishads
The body is an external representation of what is happening internally. The body organises itself around the flows of our hearts and minds.
The ways we can influence the health of the body and to maintain a high energy state are
HYDRATION- WATER OF LIFE
We’ve all been told time and time again that water is important. We’re sick? “Drink lots of water!” We exercise? “Keep up your hydration!” We’re having trouble digesting, assimilating, or passing ou food? Drink more water!” The truth is, everyone should pay attention to their fluid intake and be sure to consume enough water because after all, it is the substance of life. Our bodies are comprised of 70 to 75% water, and the maintenance of healthy fluid levels is important for:
transportation of nutrients
elimination of waste
circulation of blood and lymph
regulation of body temperature.
Fairly important functions in the scheme of things, I’d say. So how much water is enough? We should consume .03% of our body weight in Litres every day. That means that if we weigh 80 Kg, our daily intake of water should be at least 2.4 Litres. Water is best consumed at room temperature steadily throughout the day and especially 15-30 minutes before eating.
ACID /ALKALINE I
Excess acid causes our natural waste disposal systems (kidneys, liver) to be completed overloaded. In response, our body’s homeostasis stores the acid waste in fatty tissues and joints which creates a potential breeding ground for all kinds of modern day diseases.When there are high levels of acid and the body tries to balance, it searches for alkaline minerals. In today’s lifestyle we have very few alkaline essential minerals so the body naturally resorts to robbing bones and teeth of calcium and magnesium.
FACTORS WHICH AFFECT HOW MUCH WATER YOU NEED
Age, weight and height
How much is lost (through the skin as perspiration, urine, water vapour in the breath and through stool)?
How much is obtained from the food you eat. E.g. is your diet high in fruit and vegetables?
POLLUTION IN YOUR WATER
We have polluted almost every single water supply in the world with agricultural chemicals. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified over 700 pollutants that regularly occur in drinking water.Complete house filtration systems are recommended to minimise exposure to heavy metals, chlorine and waterborne toxins. If it is on your skin you are basically drinking it.
Tap water < filtered tap water < spring water
SOUL FOOD – OUROBOROUS
Ouroborous is the principle of life sustaining life. In the cycle of life, it all starts in the soil and returns to the soil. Good soil with worms and bacteria and fungi is absorbed by the roots of plants into their structure and they absorb or trap energy from the sun in their leaves. This is then eaten by the grazing animals and the animals are then eaten by man or other animals. In the end everything decays and returns to the soil, completing the cycle.
WHAT DOES THE BODY REQUIRE?
bodily growth and repair
supply energy to the body
complex – slow release
simple – fast release
aid in absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K
concentrated source of energy
cholesterol is a precursor to regenerate nerves and hormones
WHAT ARE YOU MAKING YOUR BODY OUT OF?
Let’s get back to our roots! Native diets have been studied for many years by a man named Weston A. Price. The common factors that he found throughout every native group were that they consumed:
No refined or denatured foods. “Products” and “Processes” were absent from their foods, leaving them with fully nutritious, whole foods which could be easily assimilated into their bodies providing high quality nutrients and sustained satiation.
Consumption of animal protein and fat from fish seafood, fowl, animals, eggs, milk products, reptiles and insects. Now this may come as a shock especially coming from a yogic perspective but all yogis are not vegetarian.
Consumption of four times more calcium and other minerals and TEN TIMES the fat soluble vitamins from animal fats as compared to the average American diet. Evidence that the Low-Fat craze of the 1990’s did little to create sustained health OR long term weight loss in those who bought into it.
High food-enzyme content from raw, cold-pressed foods, unpasteurized and lacto-fermented foods. Cooking food over 115 degrees kills off the beneficial enzymes that exist within it. Enzymes serve to assist with that food’s perfect digestion and provide energy to the consumer. Putting “live” food into our bodies, we will get more out of it than we would from food cooked “dead” of its enzymes
Seeds, grains and nuts are soaked, sprouted, fermented or naturally leavened. These food are highly nutritious but difficult to digest so soaking them for 1-2 days in water or sea-salt water not only softens them in preparation for easier digestion, but sprouting turns them from a legume to a vegetable.
(Don’t let this blow your mind…) 30% to 80% fat.
4% of calories polyunsaturated oils. Eating fat does not equal getting fat. Fat is an important staple of the diet as it is necessary for the production of hormones and the regeneration of the nervous system plus it is a long term energy release.
Omega 6=Omega 3
Salt. Source of minerals
Animal bones (bone broths)
Nutrient-rich foods for pregnant women and children. These tribes put high social importance on the nourishment of their pregnant women and children.
With these factors in mind, we can apply them to our own modern day Nutrition Guidelines with relative ease.
EATING MEAT – RECOMMENDATIONS
AHIMSA- NON VIOLENCE
In the rearing of the animals do they have a natural, happy life or are they raised and killed with cruel practises.
Thank the spirit of the animal for the sacrifice
Eat organic, local and educate yourself on the farming methods used
Use practises to transmute energies of the animals
It is often claimed that those who eat meat or animal products are somehow less “spiritually evolved” than those who do not. Though this is not a nutritional or academic issue, those who do include animal products in their diet are often made to feel inferior in some way. This issue, therefore, is worth addressing.
Several world religions place no restrictions on animal consumption; and nor did their founders. The Jews eat lamb at their most holy festival, the Passover. Muslims also celebrate Ramadan with lamb before entering into their fast. Jesus Christ, like other Jews, partook of meat at the Last Supper (according to the canonical Gospels). It is true that some forms of Buddhism do place strictures on meat consumption, but dairy products are always allowed. Similar tenets are found in Hinduism. As part of the Samhain celebration, Celtic pagans would slaughter the weaker animals of the herds and cure their meat for the oncoming winter. It is not true, therefore, that eating animal foods is always connected with “spiritual inferiority”. Nevertheless, it is often claimed that, since eating meat involves the taking of a life, it is somehow tantamount to murder. Leaving aside the religious philosophies that often permeate this issue, what appears to be at hand is a misunderstanding of the life force and how it works. Modern peoples (vegetarian and non-vegetarian) have lost touch with what it takes to survive in our world–something native peoples never lose sight of. We do not necessarily hunt or clean our meats: we purchase steaks and chops at the supermarket. We do not necessarily toil in rice paddies: we buy bags of brown rice; and so forth, and so on. When Native Americans killed a game animal for food, they would routinely offer a prayer of thanks to the animal’s spirit for giving its life so that they could live. In our world, life feeds off life. Destruction is always balanced with generation.
YOGIC DIETS – SATTVIC
Fresh, sweet fruits of all types, preferably taken whole
All Vegetables except onions and garlic
Whole grains, such as rice, wheat and oats
Ideally beans like mung, aduki and other types in moderation
Not overly roasted or salted nuts and seeds such as almonds, coconuts, walnuts, pecans and sesame
Butter, ghee (clarified butter) and all good natural plant-based oils like sesame, olive and sunflower
Dairy products like milk, ghee, yogurt and cottage cheese from dairy animals who’ve been treated well
Natural sugars such as jaggery, honey, maple syrup and molasses
Ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, cumin, coriander, turmeric, mint, basil, fenugreek and other such sweet spices
Herbal teas, natural water and fresh juices, particularly of the lemony kind
Foods prepared with love and consciousness
PLANT FOOD PROTEIN COMBINATIONS
To make a complete protein source and obtain all the essential amino acids certain plant foods need to be eaten together in one meal or at least a balance during the day. There are different combinations of plant foods that can be selected so we can choose which foods we prefer. The diagram below shows how to successfully combine plant proteins:
YOU ARE WHAT, WHEN, HOW AND WHY YOU EAT
Chew until food is liquid. This may mean 30-40 seconds of chewing a single bite before swallowing. The result will be easier digestion, more nutrition to our bodies as there will be less undigested food particles, and less food consumed as our bodies will have time to recognize satiation. This will also help us to relax while we consume our meal, which will put our body in a state of “rest and digest” where it can be receptive and efficient at food management.
Consume a variety of whole fresh, locally purchased, biodynamic, organic produce. Some of these terms have recently become almost “buzz words” in the food world of late but their importance cannot be understated.
Eat every 2-4 hours. Ideally this will be in the form of 3 mains and 3 snacks per day. This will keep our metabolism up and prevent bombarding a “resting” digestive system with a huge meal when our hunger overrides our common sense.
Individual needs. Listen to your own body- it has a built-in inherent wisdom that no book or set of rules can replace.
Eat good fats.
If we cook our food, cooking it slow is important as this will help to retain more enzymes and nutrients more effectively than regular grilling or sautéing and can actually be of assistance in a busy schedule; just chuck some vegetables and meat into a slow cooker in the morning and we’ve got dinner waiting when we get home-A nutritious dinner at that!
Raw. The easiest preparation of all! To preserve enzymes we can consume food straight from the tree or bush or ground. We will undoubtedly notice an increase in energy and ease of digestion. Let’s remember that extra chewing is important with raw foods as no cooking has prompted decomposition before it gets to our mouths, so its breakdown has a longer way to go.
This is the most important nutritional guideline of them all.
Australians spend about $1 million per day on weight loss attempts with little success; 1 in 20 Australian women have admittedly suffered form an eating disorder while 1 in 4 individuals know someone who has an eating disorder. 60 % of adult Australians aged 25 years and over are overweight or obese. This extra weight signifies a loss of control, and looking to outside sources as a “cure” for this “problem” will only further deplete our personal power. To counter this we take control of our own lifestyle and send it in the direction of health and well-being. No pill or quick fix can replace a healthy, nourishing diet and a sensible amount and variety of physical activity. As we apply consistently the steps of a healthy lifestyle, our mind and body will follow with ease.
ADVANCED YOGIC DIETS
Foods that may be quite adequate or even optimal for normal functioning in the outside world may not be conducive to creating the internal conditions that must prevail for the practice of advanced Yoga techniques.A diet that is ideal for good health and psychological well-being in someone who is actively engaged in a conventional life of work and relationships may not be suitable for certain intensive practices. For this reason it must be remembered that dietary suggestions mentioned in Yoga texts often apply only to specific practises and are not to be confused with the general dietary recommendations that are made for the average person functioning in the busy world of everyday life. – Swami Rama
FOODS FOR ADVANCED YOGIC PRACTICES
Ghee – balances the Doshas, has cooling effect
Rich Milk – the most nutrition with the least expenditure of energy, butterfat builds and sustains the body
Wheat – fuel for the body that burns with no residue, can be an irritant (heat helps)
Sugar – makes available a massive amount of energy (if not used it will turn to fat) Hypo/Hyper
Fruit – as above plus the addition of vitamins and minerals
In Yoga as the nervous system gets stronger and further purified we can gradually begin to decrease the amount of food, and certain liquids can substitute for meals. Doing this too early can undermine progress and can be damaging. If unprepared it can be debilitating and just an exercise for the ego. Not snacking between meals can be good mini fasts. Having a light or no dinner is useful. Not eating one day a week also gives the digestion a rest and allows toxins to be expelled
WE BECOME OUR ENVIRONMENT
We are all a product of our environment – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. We are a physical representation of every choice we have ever made and our bodies are the attitudes and beliefs we have had about ourselves and the world. Through the nervous system we begin to organise our experience about this and our body posture takes the shape of this information. We create an embodiment that reflects all of those choices which show up as limitations in the alignment of our body, the way we move or our breathing patters, how we express ourselves and the amount of life force we have.
BUILDING A BETTER BODY
In an ideal world, power, kindness and clarity would happen simultaneously. They would grow and develop in a mutual support including the nervous system and brain.
Kindness Develop at the
People will generally feel that they have an ease or familiarity with one or the other of the above, so the others might depend on that one that is easier e.g. if the heart was generous it might influence how the pelvis and belly might develop, or if the belly and pelvis were strong it might influence the heart or brain being supported and developing. Ideally, it would be all three supporting each other as they grow up, although this is rare and usually only in beings who are already awake.
There are also cultural preferences.
Choose exercises or practises that create a balance and an invitation to all power centres to align and recognise each other.
All need to be included or problems arise. E.g. power without kindness is dangerous or kindness without power opens the door for us to be manipulated. Having a brain without a heart is not useful etc.There is a reason why these three capacities to function are associated with wisdom beings.
HOW TO APPLY
If someone wanted to cultivate these three things we might ask, “Which of these things do you trust the most, which one is easy for you?” And further, “Let’s see how that one can support the others.” To become further aware of the three capacities we can use mutuality exercises so that these three capacities become aware of each other and start functioning together and supporting as one.
- Awareness of genitals.
- Support with presence and well wishing.
- Once present there bring presence to the heart, then be aware of both at the same time.
- Then when they are aware of each other we move attention to include the brain and gradually manage to be aware of all three at the same time.
- Then the three capacities (Power, Kindness and Clarity) are more likely to like and support each other.
WHAT’S HOLDING YOU UP?
Bones give us structure. Muscles give us softness and mobility. It is the fluids that hold us up. When fluids are stagnant, we are much more likely to collapse.
It is natural for our bodies to be in alignment, if given a choice it would always want to be in this place. It has just been persuaded otherwise. In Hatha Yoga we move to convince it that nothing bad is going to happen if we move towards essence.
The process of Yoga is about receding our awareness inwards until we go beyond the mind, expanding our personal consciousness into universal consciousness. This is a process of moving form gross to subtle, starting with the body. The Yoga Sutras state that for us to progress inwards, the body needs to be steady and comfortable (1.46). There needs to be a relaxation of effort so that we can go deeper, to meditate on the Infinite (1.47). The first book of Hatha Yoga Pradipika talks about all the asanas, pranayamas, mudras and bandhas. The use of all these practices is to purify the body and nervous system so that it can tolerate or reflect the higher levels of consciousness. In this regard, the second book states that the purifying process was for the sole purpose of allowing Kundalini to rise. In other words, purify and strengthen the nervous system so that we can go higher or inwards.
In Kundalini Yoga, the Kriyas (Yoga in action) are designed to create movement where there are obstacles, to bring consciousness to where we are unconscious. Again, the body becomes a vehicle for higher learning. The stretches and movements that are suggested by us as a teacher are in a form so as to purify the body, stabilise it and allow optimal movements of energy so that it does not become an obstacle to higher consciousness. Whenever consciousness has been interrupted, at the level of the body, it is reflected in a change to structure and form. It is represented in tight muscles and subsequent muscles which have switched off.
STEADY AND COMFORTABLE
Patanjali says the posture should be steady and comfortable. He is not into contorting the body or torturing it. He says balance, find the centre. Always be in the middle and don’t go to extremes. As Buddha taught follow the middle path. Asana should have the dual qualities of comfort without dullness and steadiness without tension.
We are an energetic system as demonstrated through the chakras. Our body is just a denser/material aspect of energy, so it is important that the body becomes a situation for something higher. When the body is in the middle restful and steady, then the mind is also restful and steady. This is important because if we don’t train the body correctly, then higher learning will not be possible.
RELAXATION OF EFFORT AND MEDITATION ON THE INFINITE
When we are able to sit still without effort or disturbance and our bodies cease to be an obstacle our awareness can recede further inwards. The way to do this is to focus on the infinite, which means to relax the mind and allow our attention to expand outwards in all direction. The Tibetan Buddhists have a term for this, Nyang Tong – to extend smoothness in all directions. This is about surrendering to the whole. If we try to force something there will be resistance and we are not allowing existence to do it by surrendering to the experience. Patanjali says allow the opening to happen, rest down into ourselves and then focus on the infinite. If we try to reach a state of Yoga we will move further away.
CESSATION OF DISTURBANCES CAUSED BY DUALITY
When we balance the body top to bottom, left to right, inside to outside and front to back, follow the middle path and relax effort; only when we are free of duality and we have created an order can we sit still. Asana therefore is a system to create an order or balance on a physical level. Once a centre is established we are ready then to begin Pranayama.
HIGH LEVEL ASANA TEACHING
When the Body recedes what is actually receding is the 5 Karmendriyas and 5 Jnandriyas.
We need to do something with the body (asanas) for those Indriyas (senses) to recede – if not it’s virtually impossible for them to recede.
To truly be great at meditation you need mastery of the 10 Indriyas etc.
When you are teaching a student how to work with his or her body, you do it in the context of Indriyas. Then you are giving them a very high order of teaching in the nature of what yoga is actually about and you are doing it while teaching them how to take good care of their body.
THE FIVE PILLARS OF PRACTICE
There are five techniques used in Asana Practice that allow the inherent nature to come to the surface. Together they maximise the effects of the practice and limit the possibility of injury.
BUILDING BLOCKS OF PRACTISE
Rest/ Savasana is a place for the body to think it over.
Steady and comfortable
Patanjali says the posture should be steady and comfortable. He is not into contorting the body or torturing it. He says balance, find the centre. Always be in the middle and don’t go to extremes.
As Buddha taught follow the middle path.
Asana should have the dual qualities of comfort without dullness and steadiness without tension.
Practice also needs to have the balance of the correct building blocks of practice:
When these aspects are in balance we are able to allow our energy to flow, to store it in the chakras and to contain it so that we may have an impact on the world.
- Flexibility/mobility – Sukha Energy: Flowing
- Stability – Bandha Energy: Stored
- Strength – Sthira Energy: Contained
Outer Posture = body.
Inner Posture = mind.
When the body is in the middle restful and steady, then the mind is also restful and steady. This is important because if we don’t train the body correctly, then higher learning will not be possible.In Yoga when posture is not addressed we add insults to injury. Additionally we are stressing people that are already catabolic. People are also trying to do these strong practises on low quality, empty food and no hydration. We sweat them out, yet no emphasis is on correct hydration. Always assess respiration first; if we don’t breathe we are dead. If we have a problem with breathing then body will adapt the system below the head.
Poor posture affects 99% of people.
In Yoga there is no need to stretch out naturally tight people. Bastardising Yoga however promotes concepts like losing eight pounds while we quiver and shake and feel high with the promise that we will be closer to God. We are not closer to God but become closer to death often with strained muscles and a depleted energy system.
ASCENDING AND DESCENDING
When we teach our classes there will be certain asanas that we select, these should be around the standard movement patterns which are:
In many classes we may have students with all different postures and body types and therefore different requirements and capabilities.
A good teacher should be able to alter a standard asana for each movement pattern and then be able to descend (easier) or ascend (harder) the pose to meet more of the requirements of the students.A descended pose is always the first consideration because this will greatly reduce any risk of injury.
RELATIONSHIP – LIVING SOULFULLY
- Cultivate the qualities of the heart
- Friendship with the joyful
- Compassion for the sorrowful
- Happiness towards the pure
- Impartiality towards the impure
The capacity to know oneself and another simultaneously as real is apparently quite rare. Even to know oneself in two states of experience at the same time – for example, simultaneously in the experiential states of “child” and “adult” – is very difficult. It’s one of the benefits of good therapy that we can learn to experience two realities at once. I’m told that in the U.S. no more than 15% of adults ever learn to do this. It’s quite a bit harder than patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time.
To know directly this simultaneity of being – your own with others’ – and to return to it moment by moment, day by day, leads spontaneously to compassion, an openness to love and joy, as well as a growing confidence that the deep nature of things if good.
Sit comfortable in alignment somewhere where you can see and sense any other living being, human or otherwise.
Close your eyes and become aware of all sensations that tell you that you are – not so much HOW you are, but the sheer evidence of your BEING.
When you are familiar with these sensations of being, open your eyes and look at the other person (or tree or goldfish or puppy or cockroach) and notice that they also ARE.
If you lose awareness of your own being, close your eyes and begin again.
Move attention from awareness of your own being to awareness of the being of the other – back and forth, until, as it may seem by accident, you are aware of both of you at once.
Mutual awareness, mutual presence. Notice what happens when both of you are real in the same moment. – Copyright Julie Henderson
GOOD COMPANY – SANGHA
RELATIONSHIP TO OTHERS AND SELF
Regulating Lifestyle actions, speech and thought
The foundations that the other practices lay upon us are the Yamas and Niyamas. They are practices that regulate our lifestyle in relationship to others (Yamas) and us (Niyamas).
Yam: self-restraint means not to repress energies but to build and direct them – restraining our behaviour. Gather all our energies and move in one direction. This helps to get us on purpose to create a centre in which to draw in and focus our energies, and this then reinforces the centre.
“When we relate with others consciously, they don’t create trouble for us in our inner journey.” – Osho
Yam: control yourself, not others. To others you give freedom. You love yourself, meaning you don’t dissipate your energies, you give them a direction.
The Yamas are:
- wise use of energy
Fixed observances practice means to be regular, to set a routine and to be disciplined. This creates great internal power and without this we are often then a slave to our instincts. Again our energies will be unfocused and wasted.
The Niyamas are:
- training the senses
ESSENCE VERSUS PERSONA
Five main reasons for postponing well-being:
- I am not safe
- I don’t have what I need
- My space is not respected
- Nobody sees me as I really am and loves me
- Nobody wants to embrace me
What can we do to feel good while we respond to what may be difficult?
The past is nowhere but here and like any structure it can dissolve. Most people don’t choose to because you become a new person.
There’s no such thing as real conflict; there is two people doing different things
- One pulsating
- One Contracting
Flowing: expansion, awareness opens – life force pulses
Closed: contraction, awareness closes – life force shrinks
When two people flow, they become one; they flow into each other and become one:
- Uninhibited / expansive = open in breath, movement and expression.
When many people do this – flow into each other – we call it a celebration.
We need to remember that the flowing is from us, not the other. When they move away and we go into story (do they love me, will they stay with me etc.) we stop flowing, and think we need the other person to flow again, yet again it was us that closed the space.
PRESENCE IN RELATIONSHIPS
Bring attention into some part of your body. Let’s say your left foot. Be present in and as that part of your bodily being. Then bring attention into one of your hands. Be present in and as that hand. Remain present in and as these two “separate” parts of your body. Slowly and with awareness, bring your hand towards and touch your foot. Notice what happens when presence touches presence.
This is a beginning exercise for dissolving duality. The effects of dissolving duality come into the category of the indescribable. It would be true to say that it increases wisdom and compassion. My teachers wouldn’t even say that much, preferring to let reality sneak up on you. – Copyright Julie Henderson
The more our energy flows the more: relaxed, confident, vital, healthy and productive our relationships are. Unfortunately many of us have had unhealthy role models or models so we have learnt to interrupt the flow of our energy (emotions). Without feeling skills we have learnt restraint, shame and anger.
Everybody has different reactions when they’ve reached their height of imbalance, most of which are unproductive, but provide an opportunity to learn and turn things around. Some people explode and become destructive towards themselves or others, while others withdraw into the safety of isolation, which often leads to passive aggressive behaviour. These outcomes are REACTIONS to life, rather than RESPONSES. RE-acting limits us to pre-determined, repeated outcomes, which provide no room for growth and create the same negative situations over and over. It is useful to understand how emotions are formed to have the opportunity to turn patterned reactions into chosen responses. Every situation in life provides us with a chance to re-define ourselves and co-create the outcome as an active member of the equation.
Feelings need expression:
If we do not understand or allow our feelings, or have the ability to feel them, they can run our lives in negative ways. Our family: What was supported (if any)? What was not supported? Move beyond the past, the traumas and the fake selves. I am the creator of what I observe. The sensations come from inside (peace, comfort, bliss). Take attention away from the object of our emotions, the story or reason why and focus on the feeling in the body as energy. Anger without a label is energy and energy itself is nothing to fear.
Emotion begins with a sensation moving through the body. Whether it is love, stress, fear, or excitement, emotions are quite real and influential energies cursing through our bodies felt as an increased heart rate, “butterflies” in the stomach, light-headedness, heightened blood pressure, etc. Once the sensation is felt, we immediately move into classifying this feeling so we are able to respond to it. If we label the sensation as fear, we then move into the pre-determined understanding that fear is no good, and is something we do not want. Here we begin to resist the energy called fear. This reaction is supported with the story and the “why” to justify holding it in place, and the cycle goes round and round. The more we repeat the reaction, the more strength the story has, and the more fear we welcome into our life. The change comes at the crucial point when we decide to either accept or reject the story, and give ourselves an opportunity to have a new outcome following the feeling. For example, if we were taught to fear authority, our belief may be “Authority knows better than me and is against me.” Our patterned reaction, then, will be to freeze in fear at any confrontation in which we come up against somebody we deem “higher” than us. This will result on the feeling of being out of control, “walked all over”, and will re-enforce our understanding that authority is a power that opposes us and brings us down. If, however, we choose to stand up to authority as a person of worth who may be accepted and even correct, the outcome will be different.
STORIES / PATTERNS
Babies, having formed no stories or opinions on the world, smile constantly- an average of 350 times per day. It is in their nature to enjoy the stimuli around them, and to react to most input in a positive way. Toddlers, having been taught some of the “good” and “bad” of the world and having begun training in socially appropriate reactions to these good and bad, smile around 50-70 times per day. And finally, a rather sad statistic, the average adult having formed opinions on almost every aspect or situation of life, smiles 7-12 times per day. It is a difficult undertaking to move back towards some of the fresh simplicity found in babies, but a most satisfying one. The first step is to create safety and support. Remind ourselves that although these stories feel real, they are merely the best we could do with the information we were given. Let’s change the information and therefore the habits by:
- Checking in. Be aware of our physical responses and urges towards reaction. Notice the sensations in our bodies and realize that they are simply chemical reactions and that we are in control of the meaning and outcome of these feelings.
- Restore movement, breath and expression
- Speak the unspeakable. Be open with ourselves about what we don’t like about a particular situation or our place within it. Honesty allows change through setting emotions free rather than keeping them bottled and stuck inside.
- Allow our feelings to flow through us. Give ourselves time to process these feelings.
- Massage helps to release and re-direct patterned energies.
- Keeping good company will increase our energy and allow for more frequent, positive, fresh interactions.
Feelings are very real things that need expression through words, movement, and sound. If we do not understand or allow our feelings, they have the ability to run our lives in negative ways. The first arena in which most people form their emotional patterns and understandings is that of their family. One should look at the platform on which they are formed as a useful tool in understanding where they now are.
Think about what was supported by your family.
- What was not supported?
- How has this impacted what you do or do not support in yourself and the world?
- Are these aspects you wish to embrace or move away from?
To grow is to move beyond the past, the traumas and the fake selves. We can tell ourselves: “I am the creator of what I observe”; knowing that the sensations come from inside and that it is in our nature to feel peace, comfort, and bliss. Let’s think of the smiling baby; what is preventing us from feeling such enjoyment? Take attention away from the object of our emotions, the story or the reason why, and be aware that the feeling in the body is just energy. Anger without a label is energy in a different form of sadness, etc. To label something is to pass judgement on it and stop ourselves from feeling (i.e. anger is bad, I should not feel anger). To put significance on that label gives it the power of defining us and what others may think of us.
To change this is a practice:
We change a habitual pattern of focusing on our story of “WHY we feel what we feel” to focusing on the feelings we have. We choose a new habit by FOCUSING ON WELL-BEING and well-being will be the outcome. Let’s remember, we are NOT our stories however we are ACTING OUT behaviour. We are MORE than our stories. We are NOT our psychology. We DO angry behaviour- it does not mean we are an angry person. WE can step OUT of these behaviours. Recognise this and introduce new information.
SENSES – TURNING OUR ATTENTION INWARDS
WITHDRAW THE SENSES / THE 10 GATEWAYS
When the breath becomes balanced and serene, we can move further inwards and work at the level of the senses. The 10 senses (Indriyas) are designed so that we can interact with the outside world. 5 are cognitive – they give information to the mind about the world of objects (sensory) and 5 are active – they allow us to interact with the world of objects (expression).
The main point is that their focus is outward and the process of yoga is inwards. Focussing the mind is an important aspect of drawing the senses inwards because the senses will follow whatever the mind focuses on as important. So, if the mind begins to focus on the centre of consciousness, then the senses will follow.
There is only one power in you that work both within and outside, and this is Manas, which is one of the four functions of mind. Manas can work inside, and it can also work outside yourself. To do that, it employs the ten senses. – The Art of Joyful Living, p. 80
The foundation for this practice is to have a steady, comfortable meditation position (2.46-2.48) and breathing that is deep, calm, and serene, with no pauses. (2.49-2.53). when these foundations are in place, it makes it possible for the senses to cease being engaged in the objects of the world and mind. They are then able to recede back into the mind field from which they arose. There are many objects in the world and we can interact with them through the senses on both a physical and mental level. Yoga trains us to withdraw the senses on both these levels, and to suspend all interaction, both sensory and expression, with the external world. This is Pratyahara (2.54).
ADDICTION TO SENSATION
In practice, it is useful to move away from the senses on a mental level first. If we can break the sensory attachment, the physical habits will begin to fall away.
This is often a difficult practice because most people are addicted to sensation however to be able to go deeper this is very important.
When the senses are mastered, we can go inwards to meditation (1.55). The mind does not need the senses in order to function. As this need lessens, the mind begins to turn inwards and the senses follow.
- Focus on cognitive senses
- Focus on active senses
- What are the senses repeatedly drawn to?
Body or posture is the most concrete place to start working with the mind because it’s easy to identify with. Also we can use it as a tool because the body always wants to move, and when we can still the body, the mind becomes still and we become centred. Patanjali starts with the body because we are rooted in the body. What’s important to understand is that the ‘mind exists in a system’. We are CYBERNETIC BEINGS – a system of systems, so if you change one aspect it changes all. Separation is a mistake – restore pulsation – place someone where the mistake is not operational. The mistake is just an illusion and we try to organize ourselves around it – Yoga is a way to reorganize ourselves to create a centre.
Practice is a continual and gradual release of tens ion and restoring awareness. Once the body becomes aware and releases the breath begins to be aware and releases, the senses withdraw, the mind begins to relax and our TRUE NATURE bubbles to the surface. It is nice to have a body that is good to look at and feels good to live in. But more than that we want a body where prana flows free from interruption. Our bodies are just very slow mind, when we have limitations in our minds (patterning) it’s reflected in the body as tension, an interruption to the flow of energy. Tension is mistrust. “The posture becomes perfect when the effort to achieve vanishes”. We do these exercises because they are a physical enactment that things are different now. We get to experience the present not the old story. It is an invitation to the mind of the body to notice what is not true. We engage the body where the story is and try to convince it that it is no longer true.