Hangry for Sleep!

 

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Alex Grey, “Insomnia”

 

I was posting the newsletter for the monthly Yoga Nidra practice I help to facilitate. It reminded me of an acronym used in treatment, to describe various triggers which catalyze substance abuse: HALT–hungry, angry, lonely, tired.

The ancient yogis recognized these primal urges, which are identical to those of our animal brethren: self-preservation, sex, food, and sleep. The four primitive fountains.

Self-preservation isn’t merely the urge to protect one’s body from death; it is the urge to protect our numerous personae. Sex isn’t merely the urge to copulate; it’s also driven by loneliness and insecurity. Food is a necessity; but, it’s also a sensual pleasure which can overrun other urges when unchecked. But, today, I want to talk about sleep.  A blessing many of us are not partaking of.

In the Himalayan Tradition, there are three primary levels of consciousness (there are more, but brevity is helpful): waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. They are correlated with three states of energy: gross, subtle, and causal (hence, the name of the blog).

Yogis assert that the level of deep sleep in the causal plane is the most cathartic. It is the realm of pure potentiality, the place before the subtle manifestation of dreams. This is intuitive, think about the deepest sleep you’ve had… Right where you feel you’ve vanished for a while. This level is so close to the realm of pure being (or, turiya, the fourth state).

Yet, so many of us are sleep deprived–myself included.  We go to bed too late, we have too much caffeine, and there are those darn LED lights.  One article I read recently explained, soon lack of sleep will be viewed like smoking.  It asserted in the near future, we will realize the detriments: depression, obesity, and cancer.  Another NPR story suggest we get out of the city and spend some time in the dark–isn’t it bananas that we need to be reminded of needing dark!

Yoga Nidra is another name for deep sleep in the causal plane.  It is also the name of a progressive series of exercises to bring one to that place, while, paradoxically, remaining awake.  It is the psychic sleep of the Yogi .  This is a tool for developing more than better quality sleep, it is a method for dealing with negative karma.  I suggest clicking on the link that I attached above for detailed instructions on this ancient practice.

The causal plane is a womb.  It is the realm of rebirth.  A cleanse which we have the opportunity to partake in and give ourselves a spiritual reset.  Challenge yourself to try the practice for 7 nights in a row (in a dark room without caffeine) and see how you feel.

(Post 13 of 30 Days of Peace. Let peace begin with me.)

When You Think You’ve Got “It”…

…”It” can be so challenging to not slip into self-judgment. When, you believe you’ve crossed some magical threshold and you can let your spiritual practices take a back burner. Ironically, this may happen even though you may be striving to “improve” your life.

The endeavor of entering seminary has been amazing for me. I’ve developed a deeper understanding and appreciation for an array of the world’s spiritual traditions. But, finding time to do my studies added another layer of busyness.

Next thing I know, old behaviors creep in… 

…After a long day the couch and T.V. beckon.

As a mindfulness instructor, I know it’s not the T.V. that’s inherently evil. It’s the diversion instead of relaxation that causes harm.

Diversion is when you don’t make an effort to clear the mind and set down your obligations. Diversion is pleasant; but, it is ephemeral. Relaxation takes effort; but, it is cathartic.

Intrinsic relaxation is a skill. You don’t turn on music. You don’t do more–you subtract. There are an array of exercises for autorelaxation: yoga postures, shavasana, pranayana to name a few.

Paradoxically , it’s recommended to do something more engaging when the mind is busy (or if your newer). Move your mind around and it’ll settle down and focus.

As I share this, I remember a great quote, “put down the book [turn off the T.V, computer, device] and meditate”.

That’s what I’m going to do now.

(Post 12 of 30 Days of Peace. Better late then never. Let peace begin with me.)

Advaita (Nondual) Lord’s Prayer

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Advaita Vedanta is the Philosophy in which the Individual Self is understood to be one and the same with the Unifying Nondual Supreme Consciousness.

This an interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer from the perspective of Nondualism.

As this body breathes, I connect with the Supreme Consciousness (which is infinitely named) that exists in and as me.

This is the Silence at the end of Om.

Absorption in this state exists in the Now.

There is no other; I am awake to I am.

From the depth of my heart, I offer gratitude for Self Realization.

Knowledge from this state removes attachments.

Nothing is mine. Nothing is mine.

I ask the grace of the Guru inside, to forgive myself if I stray from the Path of Fire and Light.

My mere mind cannot sustain this awareness. Grace, in the form of Divine Love, is the gravity that pulls me to my True Self.

Nothing exists that is not Brahman.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

Keep Up The Good Work!

 

2nd anniversary

It’s the blog’s two-year anniversary.  Thank you for sharing the love and light!  Mommy dharma has kept me preoccupied; but, all is as it should be!

A tardy Day 11 of 30 Days of Peace (but, I forgive myself)!

One of my spiritual teachers, Rev. Richard Burdick, is a musician.  He recently shared that new piano students would focus on the mistakes they made while playing.  He explained that he would try to shift their focus to celebrating the dozens of right notes they played instead.

We’ve all been the aforementioned novice musician.  We gave a presentation and focused on the one slide we flubbed.  We made a beautiful meal and focused on the salty side dish. We were snappy with a loved one and forgot all of the hugs, kisses, and wiped tears.  Or, we got distracted from our spiritual practices and labelled ourselves a failure.

An essential component of inner peace is forgiveness.  I know it sounds cliché; but, forgiveness begins with ourselves.  In several previous posts I note the importance of maintaining regularity in practicethe benefits of small sessions, and not judging yourself harshly if (and when) you slip.  The reason these tips are repeated so often is I speak from experience.  There are so many opportunities to become distracted from the path of fire and light.

…But, each slippery rock is a stepping stone.  One deep breath and you’re back on the tightrope.  The important idea to hold is the only reality is this moment.  That is what all of the new-agey whoey phooey means by “The Now“!

Whatever you did before is over; whatever you think you may do is not guaranteed.  This moment–which appears to move linearly through this imagined construct called time– is really not moving.  This moment is Eternity–in experiences of flow, deep connection, and the blissful states of meditation we chip away at its veil.

When you have full awareness in the moment it is the zenith, the ambrosia, heaven on earth.  Isn’t attainment worth the effort?

But, even if you find you’re distracted from The Now by the illusory pull of the ephemeral world, it’s right there just waiting for you to wake up enough and let it pull you back in.

I was just there.  Were you?

 

Are You Your Relationships?

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I eliminated duality with joyous laughter
Saw the Unity of here and the hereafter
Unity is what I sing, Unity is what I speak
Unity is what I know, Unity is what I seek

Rumi

Part 7: 30 Days of Peace

Appearance plays a particularly interesting role in the Himalayan Tradition. The Master’s of these practices elucidate, from their direct experiences, that All that exists is One Power, One Presence, One Consciousness (call out what you will, I will NOT anthropomorphize). But, it appears to present as multiplicity.  This appearance goes by many names: maya, avidya, shakti, illusion.

The cosmological apparent multiplicity is mirrored in the microcosm. People appear one-way outwardly. But, what is going inwardly may be entirely different.

We all have different expectations for our relationships. Most of them are made from our attraction (raga) to about particular outcome: we expect loyalty, companionship, perhaps even financial support.

Some of these expectations are stated when we commit to a relationship, some of them are implied. But, this can lead to assumptions.

Furthermore, there are societal expectations and norms for where what kind of relationships we need to be in based on constructs such as: age, sex, race, and socioeconomic status.

People can disappoint us (which leads into a whole different post about expectations and attachments). They may even harm our bodies (I write this with the assumption that readers of this post know they are not merely a body).

If we allow it, all of this creates stress.

It’s no wonder many wise sages sought refuge in monasticism! Even there, unless you’re a hermit, there are still vows, obligations, and relationships with other monks!

The irony, and purpose of this post, is that it’s all the Power of the aforementioned illusion, the Leela, the Play of Consciousness.

We started this post discussing Unity, not connection–that would denote that the One could be separated.

What’s really going on is utterly magical. Through its own will the One manifests as many. Therefore, relationships are a way the One expresses its magnificence.

This is important for a seeker to understand.

We are relationships. We are the result of relationships. We create and sever them. Our actions may create humans that, in turn, share this web of karma. It sounds really ominous; but, it’s actually beautiful… We are every apparent individual that exists. We are not separated.

When we remember this we can practice lovingkindness to everyone. So many master teachers have tried to impart this wisdom. Because, as stated in many previous posts, there are no others.

One practice from this tradition is a meditation on the Four Attitudes.

  • Friendliness : an attitude to cultivate with the general public
  • Compassion : an attitude to cultivate with those who are suffering
  • Gladness : an attitude to cultivate with those you are envious of
  • Neutrality : an attitude to cultivate with those you have strong negative feelings towards

During your seated practice you can bring forth the image of a person who evokes these responses in you. You breathe and hold their image in your mind-field. Allow the attitude to fill the space and send the recipient the blessing of your positive wishes. Neutrality is the most profound of these attitudes. If you can become neutral, by remembering those who cause pain are also in pain, you may eventually progress to compassion.

Click the links!!

Hugs and Kisses for Your Soul

20 sec kiss

Twenty-second hugs are so healthy.

Twenty-second hugs make you strong.

Twenty-second hugs are so healthy.

They make you flourish all day long.

Clementine Hurt (age 5)

Hugs and kisses are good for us. They trigger the parasympathetic nervous system and make us feel safe and loved. So, does meditation. Think of it as kissing and hugging yourself!

OK, if you’re not already convinced that a regular meditation practice is one of the greatest gifts you can bestow upon yourself–I’ll try to bait you with a little evidentiary support.

I am writing this semi-sarcastically because the Yogis understood the profound effects their sadhana (practices) had on their body, breath, mind, conscience continuum without doing experiments on others. They were the laboratory.

But, my Master’s degree is in Public Health; so,  I appreciate a good peer-reviewed journal.

Benefits of meditation include (each one is linked to a recent peer-reviewed article):

However, these (as I’ve posted previously) are the fringe benefits.

I love teaching meditation in hospital environment. I am supremely grateful for my job. But, our focus is on the aforementioned benefits and mindfulness. 

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to, and seeing clearly with nonjudgement, whatever is happening in our lives.

But, this benefit, as valuable as it may be (and as well-promoted as it is, right now) is also a fringe benefit (that does not diminish its value!).

The teachings of the Himalayan Master’s (the convergence of the three streams of Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra) reveal, through repeatedly corroborated direct experiences, that there are many stages of unfolding during meditation. The physiological responses (although pleasant) are merely a threshold to cross. Mindfulness (although extremely beneficial) is a result of another doorway. But, the final stage is absorption (samadhi) with the Center of Consciousness… Which is True Inner Peace.

Part 6: 30 Days of Peace (1 day late)

We are Ooommm

Part 3: 30 Days of Peace

The cosmic syllable “Om” can be understood to be one and the same with the Center of Consciousness.  Although “Om” is not a mere human construct, it can be used as a way to conceptualize the indescribable.  According to the Mandukya Upanishad, it symbolizes the states of Consciousness receding into their Silent Source.  According to the Yoga Sutras, contemplation on its vibration brings stabilization in meditation.

Previously, I have discussed the Center of Consciousness being pervasive with everyone and everything.  Granted, insentient objects do not have mind to illuminate their True Nature; but, they are manifestations of the same Divine Perfection.

Purna from the Isha Upanishad

Om
Purnamadah Purnamidam
Purnat Purnamudachyate
Purnasya Purnamadaya
Purnameva Vashishyate
Om shanti, shanti, shanti

Om.
That is perfect,
This is perfect.
When perfection is taken from the perfect,
Perfect alone remains.
Om, peace, peace, peace

Therefore, EVERYTHING IN CREATION IS PERFECT.

This may be challenging to affirm for numerous reasons.  However, the chief issue is the clouding of our minds.  They are colored by perception of separation (egoism), mistaking the unreal for the unreal (or ignorance of our True Nature), fear of death, attraction, and aversion.  These colorings are removed by a regular practice of going inside–away from the ephemeral to the Eternal.

When we are firmly established in this Supreme Awareness we realize no one is broken.  They are asleep.  How can anyone want to harm another–there are no others! We are One; We are Om.