It has been a while since I have regularly posted on my blog. So here’s my reflection of key events that affect my view of the present moment.
First, I completed my meditation teacher training with the American Meditation Society with formal initiation occurring during the annual Summer Course that was held in Aston, PA at the beginning of July. I hope to share the gift of meditation with others as the benefits we get are many. It is interesting to note that we meditate not for the few minutes we are in meditation but for the rest of the time we are not in meditation.
Second, in June, after a year of looking for work in the field I know most about, the defense industry, and not finding anything that would not require me to move, I paused my efforts to focus on my upcoming attendance at the American Meditation Society Summer Course. When I returned home I decided to not look for work opportunities any further in the defense industry and I began to change my focus to developing my skills and abilities as a yoga instructor. It is uncanny, but in July I applied for and was hired as a yoga studio manager for Tribal Yoga, a new studio opening in the Hampton Roads area of southeast Virginia starting in September. I know the owners, very cool people, and this opportunity will help me learn the nuts and bolts of running a studio so I can open my own a few years from now when my wife and I move back to Texas. I also am one of the staff instructors so I can improve and develop my teaching skills and abilities while serving as the studio manager. Six months ago I would have not anticipated this, but having an intention and focusing energy on that intention can give surprising results.
For Labor Day weekend, I will be attending the Floyd Yoga Jam near Willis, VA which will be a 3-day festival of yoga, meditation and music. I have never been to a big yoga gathering and I am looking forward to this experience. I hope to experience a lot of shakti flowing during the event!
May the light in us all shine upon the path of our journey where the mind, body and spirit become one in peace both internally and externally where we can experience and enjoy the stillness that exists in everything.
OM Shanti Shanti Shanti
Ironman – that’s the image I have when I hear the name of Robert Downey, Jr.
So, in my mind, Ironman does yoga too. How cool!
Now if I can only do Padmasana I’d be cool too. In my journey I will, but it may be two or three lifetimes from now.
OM Shanti – Namaste
I just finished reading a book entitled “From Darkness to Light” written and edited by Dr. Vidya Anderson and Dr. Roopa Morosani. It is a collection of talks and articles by Gururaj Ananda Yogi (1932-1988), a spiritual master who taught that our perception and experience of the world is not real, rather an imposition of impressions created by the mind that shields and prevents from realizing who we really are and with that realization, how we relate to God or the Universal Consciousness. Much of what we experience in life, both good and bad, mires us in the non-reality which only continues to reinforce the concept of “I” that is also a construct of our mind. Gururaj describes situations in life that we can all relate with to present what he teaches as Truth. Regardless of religious background or beliefs, Gururaj states we are all aspiring to the same goal: being one with the Universal Consciousness. The book has many thought-provoking assertions which in a true critical thinking analysis way, bears consideration. I enjoyed reading this book and I know I will read it again–there is so much richness contained within. I know I will learn more and hopefully, understand more. Get a copy to read and see if you are challenged by it.
OM Shanti – Namaste
Many of us take our feet for granted. Can you imagine your life without them? How about your yoga practice? No doubt life will continue but in my view it will be diminished. The link to this post is to a YJ article on foot massage and care. The link here also provides some tips for caring for your feet. So, please, for yourself and your loved ones who enjoy you with fully functional feet, look after your feet now and then and your life will continue to be grounded “with your feet.”
OM Shanti – Namaste
It’s the year 2012 and most certainly there will be much speculation and focus on the “end times” supposedly to occur this year, particularly 12-21-2012. Who really knows?
I submit for your philosophical consideration remarks from a spiritual leader I follow, Gururaj Ananda (1932-1988), whose teachings form the basis of the meditation and related spiritual practices I practice. These remarks were provided in response to a question posed to him concerning the end of the world in which he provides a perspective on the “end of the world.” As with most spiritual belief systems, regardless of dire circumstance, there is a hope of “salvation” that will manifest for us beyond the “event.” It is a bit long for a blog, but the stuff here is deep and profound. As always, remember to breathe, focus on the breath to keep you in the moment, and enjoy the stillness that exists everywhere.
OM Shanti – Namaste – YogiMeditator
Questioner: Is the end of the world fairly imminent?
Gururaj: What we are interested in is not the end of the world. What we are trying to do is to live fully now, where the past and present are experienced in the moment of thenow. The vast, vast, vast majority of people never live in the now. They either live in the past or they live in the future. By living in the past, it means that their minds arecompletely muddled up with what happened in the past. Two weeks ago Auntie Matilda said something and we still keep on worrying about it. Now that has been the past completely and it does not help really to worry about what has happened in the past. Now you would say that what has happened in the past does affect the present. That could very well be so. But worrying or having our minds whirling around in thoughts of the past is not going to help us. It will prevent us, preclude us, from enjoying the present. So if thoughts of the past do crop up, we objectify the thought. Objectifying the thought means that we analyze the thought. We think of what Auntie Matilda said, and we analyze it. And by analysis we find that the sting of it would disappear and gradually the happening of the past would dwindle away.
Now the greatest gift given to man by Divinity is the ability to forget. Just imagine this whole existence that we have lived ( if you believe in past lives). It could extend back to millions and millions of years. If man had to remember all the incidences of all his past lives–and even the incidences of the present life– life would become absolutely unbearable. So the greatest gift given to mankind is the ability to forget. Now if we have been given this ability to forget, we are going against the law of nature that is within ourselves by not wanting to forget. So our mind is churning, churning all the time, whirling thoughts. Our minds are composed of not only whirling thoughts but association of ideas. Because Auntie Matilda said something, how is it going to affect Uncle? Meanwhile, they might not be caring two hoots about us. Yet we start worrying. There are many people who, if a word is said to them, will churn that little word, that little small insignificant thing that is said to them, they would whirl it in their minds so much that it would assume far greater proportion than what was actually meant.
In other words, we create a mountain out of a mole hill. And nothing happens to Auntie Matilda, but all the things happen to us. So we end up in great mental confusion and in many cases where there are very weak minds, it has ended up in a lot of mental derangement. So the general antidote for that is to be able to objectify the thought. And we all can do it. Objectification of the thought means viewing the happening or the thought as if we are viewing a cinema screen. And by doing that, we become devoid of the emotional quality that is involved. Objectification of any happening or thought means that we take out the quality of emotion from it, and when the quality of emotion is taken out from it, then it does not affect us so much.
Now we have three levels in our lives. The first level is the thinking level, the second level is the feeling level, and thought and feeling lead to action. Those are the three levels on which all human beings live and exist. What happened in the past, first comes to us as thought. The thought churns so much that it affects our feelings and sometimes the other way around. But mostly it is stimulated more by thought because thought comprises the intellect. Thought comprises the intellect where the pros and cons of the incident are weighed. And as we churn the thought more and more, and because of our conditioned, patterned minds, we always seem to find the greater portion of negativity in it rather than the positivity.
You went to a party and Auntie Matilda said the blue dress did not suit you. Meanwhile, there were 100 people at the party who might have admired you in the blue dress and said, “Ah that is really your color and you look beautiful in it.” But Auntie Matilda, for reasons of her own, could be pettiness perhaps, could be little jealousies, whatever, said you didn’t look nice in your blue dress. Now you worry about this. If we analyze what motivated Auntie Matilda to say this, we will find, looking at it positively, looking at it unemotionally, when the sting is lost, we will stop taking notice at all of what Auntie Matilda said. This is a very small instance, but never mind what proportion it is. The principle remains the same. In this way we objectify the thought, and thereby we do not feel hurt in mind or in body or in our emotional self which comprises the whole lot put together. So, we cease to live in the past, and by ceasing to live in the past, we would enjoy the present more.
That is one aspect of our trouble. The other aspect of our trouble is that we live in the future today. In other words, we don’t live today; we live next week today. What is going to happen next week when I go to work on Monday? What is the boss going to say? In other words, even before the trouble begins we are living it now. Why? Really speaking, it is so devoid of any common sense, and yet common sense is supposed to be common. So not having common sense, we lose sense and reach nonsense. That’s what we do. What is the sense of living in the future? What is going to happen is going to happen. And what is going to happen tomorrow or next week is definitely determined by how welive today.
Now, if we live today well, then tomorrow assuredly would be good too. We are here today, for example, and as I am speaking to you, your minds are not worrying aboutyesterday or tomorrow because you are now absorbed in the subject that we are discussing. Now in that way, we can live today if we can live in the present. And the secret of being able to live in today is absorption. We absorb ourselves entirely in whatever we are doing. If I absorb myself entirely in the things I am talking about, then I am not thinking of South Africa at the moment. No, I am not thinking of what ishappening in the (meditation) Centers in Australia or in Rhodesia. No. I am absorbed in you here and now. So all the things, all the worries, all the thousands of meditators in the world at this present moment, are perhaps behind at the back of the consciousness, but my main aim now is to be absorbed in you.
So by enjoying every moment, by being absorbed in every moment of our day, we naturally enjoy, because absorption in the thing is very, very synonymous with joy. And joy can express itself in many ways. And if absorption is in something that is not very conducive to our minds, even then total absorption would lose a lot of its pain. Becausewith absorption there is also objectivity involved where if we live fully for the moment, in the moment, and by the moment then automatically that very action, that very absorption, would show us the total meaning of the situation.
So what we do is forget the past, forget the future today, because none of us really knows. So whether the end of the world is imminent, is of no consequence whatsoever. In the general scheme of things, if we observe the ocean from an airplane we will find the ocean very still. It is only when we are very near by that we see all the rough waves tossing and turning.
So therefore with our meditational practices we develop the attitude of standing aside, which we have done this morning to a certain extent where the chant just went on on its own, and we just felt within ourselves that the happening was outside ourselves. So that is the whole process.
One of the purposes of meditation is that we live a fuller more integrated life. And integration, as I have said before, is integration of mind, body, and spirit. And when should it be integrated? Not yesterday and not tomorrow. It should be integrated now. So as patterns form, as we become more and more absorbed in our meditations, it becomes part and parcel of ourselves, and then that integration is for now and not worrying about if the world will end. It will end. Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Everything that is created, everything hat is born, must die. Everything that is brought into existence must have at a certain level, non-existence. But that non-existence does not mean annihilation. Non-existence means that the evolved world lives in an involved state. It means that the whole tree is already existing in the seed. The seed is the involved state and as the seed develops, it lives in the evolved state.
So there are in the universe–and when I say universe, I mean the totality of all the universes put together–there are changes. There are these waves tossing and turning all the time. The wave rises, the wave subsides. In that way, our very universe too will dissolve, will come to a state of dissolution. But that does not affect us in the least. Evenwhen we die, this body is indestructible; it goes back to its original elements. So when the world or the universe ends, what will happen is that the constant factor behind it all willremain constant because it is changeless and unchangeable. Whatever we see changing all the time is like the waves on the ocean tossing and turning. Yet the waves themselves are still composed of the very essence from which the waves come, which is the water. Through meditation we dive and find the calmness, and by finding calmness, the underlying tranquility, the turbulence of the ocean assumes less turbulence. It is turbulent but affects us less because we have now known the secret of calmness and can objectify the turbulence so the turbulence could be looked at objectively.
So this whole universe will dissolve. It will come to a dissolution because the law of nature is creation, preservation, and dissolution. Those three things take place in everything, from the minutest atom to the entirety of the universe. And in preservation, things carry on, and in the preservation there is another process taking place. The process of evolution is in the process of preservation until it reaches dissolution.
Now dissolution is not the downward curve of the circle, as many people imagine it to be. Dissolution means that the grosser matter of the universe becomes finer and finer andfiner until a stillness, a tranquility, is achieved, a tranquility between the three elements that govern the universe. In Sanskrit the three elements are known as Tamas, Rajas andSattva. Now these three elements are graded. Tamas is inertia. Inertia means a kind of stagnation. Inertia is at one end. At the other end is the refinement, the finest relativevalue of refinement of that gross inertia. Anything which is inert is gross, while anything which is Sattvic reaches its finest relative value. And the activator between Tamas andSattva is the factor of Rajas which activates the inertia and leads it on to Sattva. And that is the process of evolution. So if you say imminent destruction of the universe–destruction is not the word but dissolution is the word–where, through the process of evolution, the gross Tamas, activated by the Rajasic, the activating factor or Rajas, takes it to a finer and finer level of Sattva that is the finest relative. And when it reaches the finest relative, it assumes a tranquility.
So in our daily life, we are trying to find equality of tranquility, composure, calmness. And when that happens be sure that the prominent factor in our lives or in the universe is Sattvic, the finest relative value that dominates. But that does not mean that Rajas, the activation or the activator, or inertia, Tamas, is destroyed. Nothing ever is destroyed but it is transformed and assumes new form and shape. What happens to the universe and which has been happening to us, might seem millions and millions and millions of years, millions of light years perhaps, as we would like to call it, but in cosmic time things happen. What seems to us to be a million years could just be a fraction of a second; the bubble comes up in the water and the bubble bursts. So, everything dissolves and disintegrates into its original element and reaches a tranquility that in Sanskrit is called the “Night of Brahma,” the Pralay, that is the classical word for it. It reaches Pralay where there is a certain tranquility. But within the tranquility Rajasic qualities, theactivating qualities, although having become tranquil, still have the faint impulse, still have the faint impulse that will regenerate itself, become grosser, and form anotheruniverse. So this universe that we hear of or know of is nothing but composed of the same matter and same material, same qualities, the same Gunas of the previous universe. So when we say destruction of the world, destruction of the universe, we mean that things disintegrate, dissolve, go back to its original finer elements. That is what is meant.
So nothing is lost. I have said this over and over again, that not a single ounce of energy can be added into this universe, and not a single ounce of energy can be detractedfrom the universe. So it goes on and on and on. The reason why it goes on and on and on is because the composition of matter itself is eternal too. Anything eternal can never bedestroyed because even matter is beginless, and what is beginless is endless.
The changes we see are just the transformations of matter into different and various forms. So we think that it has died and it is reborn again. Figuratively it could be true. But it is just a continuous change, a continuous transformation of name and form. The thing itself remains the same. This chair is made of wood, this table is made of wood. Both are wood, but we call one a chair and the other a table. So name and form are the only elements that will determine to us the nature of change, and name and form are created by man’s mind. We call this table a table now, but if the originators of language had called this table ‘chair’ and the chair a table, then we would know today that I am sitting on the table and the chair is there. So name and form are created by man.
So nothing is ever destroyed. The relative universe is subject to various changes, and it goes on from change to change to change. And we will not be affected by the changes of daily living or by the changes that happen in the entire universe if we discover, through our meditation and spiritual practices, the calmness, the stillness, the unchanging factor. Then all this change does not matter.
I just got one of these. They are great! I love all the room I have on my round mat than can accommodate just about any asana and sequence I practice. Besides, it’s cool.
Now, how about using it in a yoga class at a studio or gym? Well, it would depend if there is enough space available without taking space for other yoga practitioners to use. In most cases, I don’t think it would work well for the standard yoga class in a studio with having available space for students being a primary consideration. But if the number of folks practicing in a class is smaller than usual or the studio is quite spacious, then it might fit without “hogging” up the available floor space.
As an instructor and with my classes that I teach having a few students, I plan to use it so I can change direction and my facing to the students as necessary to allow them to have better perspectives so they can see my demonstrations.
In my home practice, it is quite nice when I do the twelve iterations of Surya Namaskar chanting the 12 mantras associated with Surya Namaskar and facing a different direction in a full 360 degree rotation, all done without having to move my mat. Sweet!
Here’s a link from PlacesToYoga describing their experience with the round yoga mat from Mandala Yoga Mat.
OM Shanti – Namaste