Arguing In My Head

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Greetings Dear One,

Have you ever been having a powerful argument, explaining your side, being absolutely right… I mean you are absolutely winning this battle… But, it was a completely one-sided conversation– the person you were arguing with wasn’t even there.

Our brains developed from ancestors who were survivors: they avoided being eaten by sabertooth tigers, they survived wars, they procreated despite unspeakable odds.  Whether you call it karma or genetics (aren’t they one and the same) we are the descendents of these amazing individuals.  

When our ancestors prevailed over their adversaries, it was beneficial for them to be able to tell their story around the campfire.  Imagine how helpful it was to explain how to increase someone’s chances of survival in a dangerous and primal world.

Our minds still like to tell a story.  Whether it about a car accident we had that we have to share on social media; or, it’s rehashing past grievances–even if only in our head.

Perhaps you’ve heard of autobiographical memory.  It sounds like an amazing super power.  Paradoxically, several scholarly articles explain this nearly perfect recall makes it more difficult for people to let go of the past.

Often, we believe if we reflect on our past we will garner a bit of information, we will make some more sense of… it–whatever “it” is.  In some cases this is true; however, for most of us rumination isn’t helpful.

As much as our mind has a habit (samskara) of time-travelling nostaligically into the past and anxiously into the future, our life is happening now.  This is the essence of mindfulness.

“I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”

Mark Twain

However, being mindful doesn’t mean always attending to the world out there.  It’s a flexible attention, shifting outward and inward appropriately.  This skill is garnered with meditation.

When we meditate regularly, we begin to observe our mind a bit more as if it were in front of all, the yogi’s describe this as being the witness.  Then we can see our mind has a habit of retelling stories when certain triggers are switched.  Next thing we know, we check out of our life and are arguing with those who have wronged us.

I am not saying we should allow ourselves to be victimized.  However, many of us (myself included) can find that we’re pining for a lost love, wishing a dead perpetrator would come to justice, or hating the first boss who fired us twenty year ago.

Life is happening NOW.  Now is all we have.

“You can be right or you can be happy.”

Gerald G. Jampolsky

Now, this is only one article–it’s not the answer for perpetual happiness.  Living in the “now” can be an excuse to procrastinate and avoid our obligations.  Mindfulness has to be in conjunction with our Values–it is a servant to a Higher purpose.

–That’ll be the next article.

Please, click on the links.

It’s been a while.

Life Happens,

Namaste

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.

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

All Yoga Paths Subscribe to Dharma

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Part 4 of “How Do You Qualify Yoga

Please let me forewarn you, this may be a polarizing post.  Humans, on many levels, enjoy their misidentification with nonself (to borrow a Buddhist term).  We cling desperately to all that we are not–all that we are attached to.  The ego is a collection of false identities, which the teachings of Yoga systematically deconstruct.  The ego gets particularly obnoxious when we perceive we are being told that we are doing something “incorrectly” (or at least differently from how it was intended).

Dharma is a Sanskrit term which is utilized in many traditions; however, it has no true English translation.  Dharma can mean, law, right-way, and order; Feurestein ascribes it to morality.  Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Hinduism are all called “dharmic traditions (or religions)”.  Truthfully, there really is no “religion” called Hinduism.  Hinduism is a term that originated from the British trying to describe the various traditions of the people Sindhu River.  Hinduism is a collection of philosophies, among them: Shaktism, Vaishnavism, and Shaivism–all of whom, like the branches of Yoga, describe the Ultimate Reality in different ways.  Sanatana Dharma means the “Eternal Way” (or law, morality, etc.).  It is the wellspring out of which the dharmic traditions sprung.

Yoga and Sanatana Dharma cannot be separated.  Their lines are intrinsically blurred.  While it’s possible to practice Yoga and still adhere to other religious tenets–Christianity is very much a Bhakti Yoga practice–the origins are one and the same. Conversely, it is possible to be a Hindu and not practice Yoga; however, they originate from the same source.

All types of Yoga (not mere asana practice), have a dharmic component.  In some paths the tenets are spelled out in recommended actions and restraints.  In other paths, there is a call towards looking inward towards ones own moral compass.  Regardless, there are no Yogic recommendations towards: competitiveness, hyper-sexuality, greed, or lying.  However, that is often the case in the contemporary Yoga scenario.  Studios are selling expensive clothing, hyper-mobility is lauded, scant dress is praised, and teacher’s don’t have a personal sadhana.  It’s not a judgement, you aren’t bad if you’re doing these things.

Yoga is not about a punitive deity waiting to judge–it’s about becoming so clear and so aligned that you wouldn’t want to do these things.  Patanjali calls this the “great vow”.  It is not about becoming pious either; but, there is nothing wrong about being aware of what Yoga is and is not.

Love Maker, Earth Mover

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The old rule, are you ready to break it?
Convention just isn’t strong enough to make it
It collapses under the weight
of a new world order played out in faith
enlightened by a good man worthwhile
An indigo child running wild
sparkling eyes so sweet, noble to the core
No story quite like this has been written before
He speaks kindly and clearly to every man
He’s a language that everyone understands
He’ll stay with you come whatever may
Staring down the impossible, he always sees a way
So simple yet so profound is his gift
No need to struggle, he’ll lend a hand and just lift
this burden into the ether and off your shoulders
He’ll laugh with you as you grow older
A hero that wants only your favor in return
A fireman to rescue you as this world burns
A great example that equalizes the good books
A man that forces you to take a closer look
at the version of truth you’ve chosen to greet
and if you look both ways before you cross this street
you’ll surely see his gorgeous, speeding karma
blow by brilliantly and run right over your dogma