23 May 2018

how to use mindfulness

Why is mindfulness the latest spiritual "thing"?

This subject is either: a "don't get me started"!! topic; or, I get really inspired and delve into the spirituality of mindfulness.

But first: our minds are not the be-all and end-all of ourselves. No, not at all. We are so much more than just our minds!! And this, for me, has a lot to do with the problem of mindfulness. I feel that mindfulness limits us. And it is tiring. It is tiring being aware of so much by using 'mind', and the brain. When our brains are being active so much, they use up a lot of oxygen and glucose: our primary brain foods. And, when our brain gets tired, our whole body gets tired.

Our minds, according to my Tohunga (Maori spiritual guide) teacher, Ruatau Perez, are for working things out. In other words, like a computer. Data goes in, gets sorted, and collated. From this, decisions are made.

Instead of doing this, the current obsession of mindfulness is encouraging us to obsess about our thoughts, by always being aware of them.

Our senses and mindfulness

We have senses which absorb information. We are also encouraged to be aware of what we are receiving through our senses. Do we need to be aware of each piece of sensory input? How can we possibly? Our senses are always active. Often we are receiving very subtle sensory input, too subtle to notice.

Why do we think that our senses are to do with our minds? Sensory information does have nervous system input, however, if we take it back to the experience of:
  • feeling, such as the breeze on our face when we are walking 
  • seeing, using our eyes fully rather than trying to engage other mental activity
  • hearing a sound, in our ears, where we are supposed to recognise a sound
  • using the acute sense of smell to recognise an odour, whether pleasant or unpleasant
  • focus on the experience of taste especially when we are eating
Then we can tap into the wonderful experience of being more whole. This in itself is intensely spiritual. We can just be. Be still, and just be. Luxuriate in be-ingness. Let the senses roll.

                               Image result for hafiz on awareness

I was taught, in the Satyananda system, as an example with senses: there is a sound, we receive this sound in the ears. We are aware of the sound, the reception, and also aware of the awareness. Simultaneously. This gives an incredibly intense head rush. Our brains are firing with nervous impulses. This is quite addictive. In retrospect, I cannot understand why this was considered to be beneficial. It was touted as a way to get into the state of pratyahara, pratyahara being sensory withdrawal. But pratyahara is not difficult. Truly. And why do we want to get into sensory withdrawal? It is for the purpose of deep states of meditation.

But, those states can be achieved with eyes wide open, with being simultaneously in the inner and outer worlds. It can be done, and it is is an advanced state of being. It is not, however a state to remain in. 

The happiness of mindfulness?

Do you know what happens when we allow stillness of mind to happen? Do you know that in these moments, we can 'Just Be'. We can Just Be in a place of harmony, peacefulness.

When we restrict ourselves to being aware of so much that is going on, we are not allowing that space for that Inner Stillness to manifest.

16 May 2018

the three forces

                       Image result for iccha shakti

What are the three forces?

The three forces are goddesses, known as shaktis. In yoga parlance, being shakti, they would also be called energies. An energy is a force. But they are far more than that: they are goddesses.

They are:

Jnana Shakti: this Goddess is the force of knowledge

Iccha Shakti: this Goddess is the force of will


Kriya Shakti: the Goddess force of action

These three Goddesses/Shakti are all present  in all creation. They are creative forces, and without them, where would manifestation be? Without them there would be nothing created. And, this includes oneself. Just as the manifest, manifesting, and unmanifest universes are part of the interplay between many forces, between many energies, between many Gods and Goddesses, so are we.

Where do they fit into our own humble lives? In the grander scheme of things, each is present in many ways. However, according to Swami Sivananda, Jnana Shakti rests in the vijyananmaya kosha, which is the sheath where our chakras and Higher Intelligence, reside. Iccha Shakti rests, inside oneself, in the mind sheath, the manomaya kosha. Whilst Kriya Shakti rests in the pranamaya kosha, which is our life-force energy sheath.

Jnana Shakti - knowledge - vijnanmaya kosha - Higher Mind
Iccha Shakti  - will            - manomaya kosha  - mind
Kriya Shakti  - action        - pranamaya kosha  - life-force

The Three Bodies

Interestingly, these three sheaths: vijnanmaya kosha, manomaya kosha, and pranamaya kosha, all form our subtle body. As being distinct from our phyical body, and our Bliss body. The three bodies create a descent, a lineage, as thus: bliss > subtle > physical.

The Koshas

As do the koshas, the sheaths: anandamaya (bliss sheath) > vijnanamaya > manomaya > pranamaya > annamaya (food sheath/physical body). Each of these sheaths/koshas rest their base on a pertinent aspect of each sheath, which (sort of) 'feeds' each:

anandamaya:   the cause of one's existence
vigyanamaya:  the inherent powers contained within the chakras; the tattwas (elements) which lie behind the chakras; the power of kundalini
manomaya:      mind: conscious and subconscious; sense organs of knowledge
pranamaya:      life-force. There are several different types of prana
annamaya:       the food sheath

The Ascent, The Descent

In yoga, we start with fine-tuning the physical body and then work on ascending upwards through the sheaths. It is an excellent spiritual method, and, done properly, it 100% works. But, this is not the only way to live a spiritual life. I study with a Tohunga (Maori spiritual guide), and here we are are learning a descent from the original nothingness, down through creation, the Gods and Goddesses involved with the differing aspects of the universe, and down to one's existence.

So, yoga is an Ascent. Maori spirituality deals with The Descent.

There could be some confusion about the role of Jnana, Iccha, and Kriya Shaktis. The Goddess Saraswati is the Goddess of Knowledge, however it is a different sort of knowledge than that of manifestation. And, many people believe (erroneously, I might add!), that Manipura chakra is where our will-energy emits from. And of course, there are still is mistaken beliefs about our life-force and our physical body.

Our life-force is gifted from the Gods, as is our Mind and our Higher Intelligence. We are right down the spiritual line....

12 May 2018

Vintage sadhana

A sadhana is one's daily yoga practice.

I found this sadhana that I'd written thirty years ago, for a course that I was teaching, which included yoga. Actually I was teaching a small morning practice for energy, and a small one for evening which was about body toning. And there were no downward dogs, warriors nor chaturangas in the toning sadhana!

Thirty years ago, most people were more slender (including me... ) and that does make for quite a bit of agility. Moreover, it is easier to maintain body tone, when one is slender. What people did not have so much of, was body strength. Nevertheless, this wee practice was to ease people into a small daily yoga practice, in a time when not so many people were into fitness, nor knowing much about yoga. And this in particular, is for easing into learning an old-fashioned, yet excellent, version of Surya namaskara (salute to the sun).

I did this sadhana this morning. It was nice. I felt great afterwards. So here goes....

Warming up....
                                 Image result for yoga dynamic spinal twist seated
Dynamic spinal twist: Sit, with your legs as wide apart as is comfortable. Keeping the arms outstretched in one straight line throughout the exercise, inhale as you raise your arms out to the sides at shoulder level. Exhale as you twist your torso and take the left hand to the right foot, and the right arm to behind the back, keeping it as high as possible, looking back, toward the right hand. Inhale as you return to start, exhale to the other side. Inhale back to start.

This can be done in the above manner, about five times to each side. Or, move briskly, just breathing normally, 27 times each side.
                                        Image result for yoga butterfly pose

Butterfly: a) Sit on the floor, with the soles of the feet touching, and the knees are bent out to the sides. Place the hands on the knees, and bounce knees up and down, twenty-seven times.
b) Clasp the feet as in the above photo, and exhaling, gently push the knees towards the floor, using your elbows, as you bend forwards, aiming the head towards the floor. Inhale to upright. Do this five to seven times.

                                              Image result for yoga standing forward bend

Standing forwards bend: a) Standing, feet together, or a bit apart, with arms hanging by your sides, exhale as you drop your head towards your chest and then gradually relax the torso downwards as though there are no muscles in your spine, until you are down as far as you can do. Have the knees soft, bend them if necessary. Relax and hold the position, for five to seven breaths. On an inhale roll the vertebrae one by one, until you are back upright.
b) Standing, as above, arms by sides. Inhaling, raise arms overhead, arms straight. Drop head back, push hips forwards, weight on heels. Stretch back. Slowly straighten up, then exhaling, bend forwards until your arms and torso are at right angles to the floor, keeping head, torso and arms in a straight line. Then take hands towards the floor, either in front of you or alongside feet, head towards knees, drop back of the head down. Inhaling, swing the arms upright and stretch backwards again. Keep going backwards and forwards until you have done four times.
b) was done with straight legs......

                                               Image result for yoga kneeling lunge

Equestrian Pose/kneeling lunge: On the last time forwards, inhale as you extend the right leg back as far as you can, bending the left leg at the knee. At the same time, look up and arch the back. The weight of the body should be supported between the two hands, left foot, right knee and toes of the right foot. Exhale back to standing forward bend, and repeat on the other leg. Do three to five on each side.
                                            Image result for yoga downward dog
Mountain Pose/Downdog: Begin on the hands and knees. Tuck the toes under. Exhale and raise the buttocks high and straighten the legs. Hold the breath out briefly, then inhale back to all fours. Do three to five times.
                                            Image result for yoga striking cobra     

Striking Cobra Pose: Begin in the child pose, sitting back on heels, forehead on the ground, arms stretched in front of the body, wide enough apart for your body to pass between them Inhaling, bend the elbows as you slink forwards, keeping your chin and chest as close to the ground as possible, until your abdomen is on the ground as you arch the upper body back, look at the ceiling (cobra). Exhale to slink back to start. Do three to five times.Relax after in child pose.

Simple alternate Nostril Breathing: Sitting cross-legged. Raise your right hand, with the first two fingers between the eyebrows and a bit above that. Use your thumb to open and close your right nostril; ring finger opens and closes the left nostril. Close the right nostril; inhale left. Close left nostril; exhale right. In right, close right nostril as you exhale left. This is one round. Do five rounds.

Afterwards, have your eyes closed and be still, be present with yourself, briefly.


3 May 2018

Head, Heart, or... ?

Why do we need to know: head, heart, or ... ?

The issue here really is in knowing the difference between what each is used for. When we know this, and use each accordingly, we can have much more peace of mind. And, a happier, less stressful life.

                              Image result for hafiz quotes on thoughts

Our heart is for:
  • love and compassion
  • truth
  • integrity
  • governing the health of our physical body
  • it is the connection between the physical part of us and the spiritual part of us
                          "let your heart be the centre of your being"

Our head is for:
  • listening
  • speaking
  • collating facts
  • working out facts
  • making decisions based on facts
  • remembering things                         
                         
                          "use your head (mind) for thinking logically"

But, we tend to use our head, in this case, our 'mind', to work out things emotively. Or, we make decisions and judgements, based on our likes and dislikes, and our presumptions according to what we 'believe'. We are strange creatures.

Sometimes, erroneously, we believe that we are 'intuiting' decisions and judgements, but unfortunately, our intuition is for something else:

                 "intuition is the act of pure knowing. It has no judgement."

                           Image result for hafiz quotes on thoughts

Once we add thoughts or feelings, to a pure intuitive 'thought', or 'knowing', we have then contaminated that flash of intuition. But, even the most intuitive of people do this, because we are all human. However, if we can catch onto that intuitive moment, and take it as it is, without 'colouring' it with our own 'stuff', then we have a powerful tool to use in our lives. A user-friendly tool.

Intuition is not, however, the only form of knowing that we have. We receive information, on so many levels. We see others' body language, and often without realising it, we receive silent visual clues as to their behaviour. A dog always knows what is going on, according to it's owner's habits and body language. We often pick up such information, too. Without recognising it.

But there is another area of our being which is constantly communicating with us, and which we often ignore:

                  "our feelings are our inner knowings trying to talk to us"

Why are our feelings important? They are telling us about our own reactions. They also often 'pick up', in an intuitive form, what is really happening around us. Many of us tend to ignore, or bury, feelings. Unfortunately, when someone has been traumatised, this whole area of our being, gets jumbled up, and our feelings from the trauma can also be very overpowering.

However, we are feeling, loving, creatures. And our feelings have been vastly under-rated, in the spiritual scheme of things.

If we can understand that our feelings create our thoughts, then we can understand how vitally important that they are.


27 April 2018

Gods, manifestation, and chakras

                           Starry Galaxy - Elements of this Image Furnished by NASA
                         
The Gods and Goddesses within manifestation

When we get past thinking of the Gods and Goddesses as merely objects of worship and trying to attain 'realising' them, having visions of them on a spiritual level, trying to feel their energy, (and I this is the process which I did on the yogic path - and I'm sure that many others have tried to do this, too) and instead start the process of appreciating that the Gods and Goddess are present in all creation, are Masters of creation, they are always there, then the reality of them, changes our perspective.

There are different Gods and Goddesses, for different areas of being. They don't all do the same thing. In the Maori Lore, about 2,000 are acknowledged; I don't know how many are deferred to in the yogic scheme of things.

The descent of Divinity

However, there does come a point in spirituality where the Divinity and the Gods and Goddesses become real to the aspirant. If we sincerely keep going, no matter what the path, they will be a reality on our journey.

And then we can move into the descent of energy from them. This does not happen all of the time, and we may have to wait many years for it to happen, but happen it can, and it does. Forget Kundalini being the be-all and end-all; it pales into significance alongside the Divine descent of the energy and reality of a God or Goddess. Having said that, the kundalini journey is a profound way for coming into the reality of the Gods and Goddesses.

Chakra Divinity

And with chakras? The Gods and Goddesses of the chakras are a reality too. Their divinity feeds each chakra with the manifested quality of that chakra, on both a knowing (God) aspect, and also a doing (Goddess) aspect.

We do not own the qualities of the chakras! They are gifted to us, they emerge, a level at a time. First there is stimulation of a chakra, and that stimulation is to do with prana. It is increased prana that is usually the means of stimulation.

Then there is awakening. These awakenings can be pleasant, or.... scary. When Manipura woke up inside me, the prana sheath, pranamaya kosha, woke up first, and it was a tumultuous happening; I shall never forget it. Nothing in any book could have prepared me for that event. Manipura chakra woke up that night, and, a few months later, the energy and force of Ma Kundalini awoke. I felt as though the energy of an atom bomb was building up inside of me, when the energy of Mother Kundalini was loosening, and this all happened in the blink of an eye, before it exploded. I won't forget that, either!

The chakras, they awake one by one. The ascent of kundalini is different from the awakening of kundalini. And, even after this ascent, there is still more to come, to do with the chakras.

When Mooladhara comes to life, a bolt of white lightning shoots up inside the spiritual spine, Sushumna, to the crown. It is not kundalini awakening, however. Between this, and full kundalini ascension, full chakra awakenings on all levels, there are many, many levels of understanding which emerge.

When a special energy Crown chakra (sahasrara) experience happens, the full chakra qualities are gifted by the individual Gods and Goddesses of each chakra. And, with that Crown chakra energy experience, they will show themselves, in all of their glory, seated on their chakra.

How blessed are we to have this happen!

                                     Image result for chakra gods
               mooladhara chakra with it's sounds, animal, god, and goddess

Incorrect information

I always cringe inside when I hear people talk about the chakras, fully confident of their 'knowledge' about them. And I feel this way, because the so-called knowledge out there, is incorrect.

Chakras are to do with our psyche. They are realms which each have both a personal power, and differing abilities. I have mentioned, so often, in this blog, how the base chakra, mooladhara, is about our consciousness, and everything that we experience emotionally and mentally, becoming separate.

That is, we have a different sort of awareness. And, when we are no longer defined by what we think and feel, what we want, what we like and dislike, we are, indeed, a different person.

We are stronger, more secure in our awareness and knowingness. Perhaps this is where the silly notion that mooladhara is about security on a material level. No, it's about an inner security which is separate from the usual human condition that we have. Plus, one no longer has longings for material acquisition.

And, still using mooladhara as an example, that awareness, which does have strong intuition in it, gets strengthened with the differing layers of chakra awakenings. The non-attachment to the material realms, is also strengthened, more and more. Knowing this, personally, is why I get irritated at people being fed chakra misinformation. How can, again using mooladhara as an example, what we 'think of' as our security, bear any resemblance to the non-material gain of inner security, of this chakra?

These other awakenings are not in the books, they are not common knowledge, but they do exist. I do understand, very clearly, and from personal experience, that until we experience something for ourselves, we cannot truly understand it.

And, as far as manifestation goes, these chakra awarenesses,  on any level, are part of the manifest ascension of spirituality.

When we meet this, with the descent of the Divine spirituality from the Gods and Goddesses, this is indeed powerful, and divinely profound.