Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Heart of a Yoga Practice

Meditation is the Heart of a Yoga practice.........
In both Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep Meditation) and formal sitting meditation, the Yogi is asked to observe thoughts as they are generated by the thought generator, the mind. The mind is the instrument of Awareness. "The mind is an instrument; Awareness is who we are." By observing thoughts, we are able to get a little distance between Pure Awareness and the mind and the more distance that is created, the healthier the thought patterns become. Healthy thoughts create radiant health.
"We witness the internal stream of thoughts and images as if we have stepped away from it. Disentangled from its steady diet of associations and impressions, awareness is pervaded by a quiet sense of being present to itself. This state of mind is referred to as a state of self-remembering or mindfulness (smriti, in Sanskrit).
Mindfulness has been likened to the relaxing experience of sitting near a stream, watching the water flow by. As the water winds along, one point in the stream is replaced by the next without arousing or engaging attention. Similarly, a meditator experiences awareness itself as having stepped away from the automatic stream of mental activity."
Rolf Sovik
Yet sometimes, the thoughts that are generated are thoughts we would like to suppress. We are angry, jealous, fearful, sad or anxious about something even if we would prefer not to be. In Tantric philosophy, there is not an element of choice in the nature of the thoughts that bubble up. This bit of wisdom has been enormously helpful for me in my life. The thoughts that are generated are produced by past impressions and conditioning. What is even better about this bit of wisdom is that this act of realization actually helps to diminish the power of the unwanted emotion or thought and future thought patterns become healthier. While we do not have a choice in the nature of the thoughts that are generated, we do have a choice in whether we choose to act on those thoughts. If we choose to speak or act on those negative thoughts, we only encourage more of the same negative thought patterns to be generated. The mental schematic looks like this:
Samskaras (past impressions) create Vasanas (tendencies) which create Karma (action) which creates more Samskaras, so the cycle begins again.
Unless and until the cycle is broken, we simply have no control over the thoughts that are generated by the mind. It would be most beneficial to not speak nor act from that place of negative emotion or unhealthy thought. This effectively stops the cycle. Bite your tongue if you need to! And slow down enough so that you understand your motivations and agendas in performing action.
A Yoga teacher once taught me a technique for dealing with angry thoughts that included a visualization of exploding the thought- this is essentially self mutilation and a violent act. Peace is not created from violence.
"I would not look upon anger as something foreign to me that I have to fight, to have surgery in order to remove it. I know that anger is me, and I am anger. Nonduality, not two. I have to deal with my anger with care, with love, with tenderness, with nonviolence."
Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh

P.S. In the 10th book of the Rig Veda, a Vedic text dating back thirty-five hundred years, Kundalini is addressed as Vak, the deity of speech and in some of the Tantric texts, it is called Vegashwari, the Goddess of speech. There is some intimate connection with spiritual growth and the instrument of expression, speech. As we cultivate right speech, we cultivate expanded states of awareness and higher states of consciousness.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Fire Ceremony with Punditji

Traditional fire ceremony (havan) with Punditji Rajmani Tigunait, the spiritual head of the Himalayan Institute in Pennsylvania and successor to Swami Rama.