Saturday, February 18, 2017
Non- stealing – involves thoughts, words and deeds. To most people this means not taking something that does not belong to you, or that you have not paid for, or been given. In yoga it means we should not think about taking something that does not belong to us. It is best defined as not improperly taking something that belongs to another. That includes their possessions, their dignity and their freedom of thought. If you want something you must earn it. If it has not come into your life you have not earned it yet. Anything coming into your life that you have earned will bring you happiness and anything that comes into your life that has not been earned will bring you struggle, difficulty and unhappiness. Don’t confuse stealing with simply taking things. It also means to not take another person’s self-confidence and self-esteem by ridiculing and criticizing. We are all entitled to our own beliefs and freedom to walk the soulful path. If you must disagree do it with respect.
To think of stealing that which is not yours is as much stealing as physically stealing. Verbal stealing means that you should never steal another person’s dignity, pride, happiness, moment of glory and mental values. And of course we should not take anything physically that does not belong to us. Anything taken through deceit, force or without permission will only bring you difficulty and unhappiness. If you must take something leave something of equal value. Only take what you have earned. If you do not have something it simply means you have not earned it yet. Be content.
Saturday, February 11, 2017
Truthfulness means to conduct your thoughts, words and actions according to the truth. The truth however can get somewhat murky. Thoughts, words and action that harm even if true should not be done. The guiding factor when it comes to walking the soulful path is to do no harm. However, if you must do something that will cause harm make sure you are doing it for the greatest good and for the greatest many. Look to intention.
What is the truth? All you need to do is get quiet and search within your soul. You will know. Then with a quiet mind speak and act in truthful ways, but always keep your intentions in mind. If the intention is to hurt and the truth hurts refrain from speaking or taking any action.
Physical truth means to unify yourself so as act in ways that uplifts you and all those you encounter. Truth that has been understood intellectually and expressed in words will manifest itself into worthy and good actions.
Another aspect of truthfulness is keeping your word. However, there may be times when keeping your word is not possible. Again it comes back to intent. Circumstances in life may make the truth a difficult choice. Here is something to thinks about:
Once upon a time a yogi sage was meditating in the woods. A beautiful deer jumped past him and ran off into the woods. Very soon a hunter came by and asked the yogi if he had seen the deer and which way it ran. If the yogi tells the truth the hunter will kill the deer. This will create harm. If on the other hand he does not tell the truth the hunter and his family will starve. What should he do? Always choose the greatest good for the greatest many.
Some say the truth should only be spoken from a place of wisdom and some say truth should be spoken without consideration of loss or gain. In our modern day society it is important to use wisdom. The world will often hurt each of us if we are not wise in how we think, speak and use the truth. If the truth will hurt or cause dissention be silent and do nothing. Nonviolence and truth together bring about peace. What is the truth? You are the truth. Just listen and you will know.
Saturday, February 04, 2017
Last week we worked on the practice of nonviolence. Remembers it should be practiced in thought, word and deed. How did you do last week? Did you lose your patients, utter a harsh word or raise your voice? Did you criticize yourself? Did you eat well and get plenty of rest or did you exhaust yourself with stress? Practicing nonviolence is not an easy task. Being consciously aware of your thoughts, words and actions is the first step.
Before we get into the next yama it might be good to distinguish between what is meant by spirituality and what is meant by your soul. Sometimes people call themselves spiritual. This can be confusing.
When we come to the earth according to Karma Yoga we come as a soul taking on this body and this mind for our evolution. We choose the life that will gives us the best way to get onto the spiritual path. Spirituality is a path and the attainment of it is enlightenment. Even someone like Gandhi did not reach enlightenment. He still had earthly desires. As long as you are alive you are a body, mind and soul with the ability to walk the spiritual path. Whether you get on it and stay on it or venture off is your choice. The yamas and the niyamas are simply suggestion that will help you to stay on the path.
Self-centeredness, inconsideration, lack of compassion and violence will take you off the path. Your “soul” purpose for being here is to find and walk the spiritual path. It matters not how far you get. Reincarnation will give you another chance to get back on the path. However, the farther you get in this lifetime the shorter the journey in the next. Let’s begin our practice.
Nonviolence does not mean only outward violence. It also means violence towards you. Self-criticism always hurts the soul, just as cruel and angry thoughts, words and deeds toward others will take you off the spiritual path. You are not about your body and your mind, but your body and your mind are the vehicle and the GPS for your soul. So treat them well and be kind to yourself. That kindness will come from the inside out and be received by everyone and everything you encounter.
Symbol of wisdom – flip your palms up. Focus on your index finger the symbol of your ego. Bend it in toward your palm reminding yourself to be kind. Place your thumb on top. This is the symbol of your higher power. By surrendering your self-centered ego to your soul you will be wise.
Saturday, January 28, 2017
We all need a moral and ethical code to live by. This is what guides us towards deciding what is right and what is wrong. Yoga suggests we follow the yamas and niyamas which are the things we should abstain from doing and the things we should observe.
Something we can all benefit from is practicing the yama of nonviolence. It is to be practiced in body, mind and soul. If we could remove violence what a peaceful world this would be.
When we think of violence we think of physical pain and although that is one kind of violence, thoughts that are negative and words that hurt, slander and disrespect are also violent. Someone or something always gets hurt. Fundamental to yoga is to do no harm.
Yoga does however teach us that sometimes violence is the best course of action to take. If you take it from a good moral and ethical position violence has its place. Although this seems like a contradiction think of it this way: if someone you love was being attacked would you kill the attacker? Your love is much stronger than nonviolence; as it should be.
As humans we kill animals to eat the meat. We are meat eating mammals. Meat sustains life just as killing a tree provides us with paper and books. Everything in life sacrifices. The question is intent. If you intend to hurt, for the sake of hurting, you are being violent.
The opposite of violence is kindness. All violent thoughts, words and deeds paralyze the soul. Perhaps it might be better if we reflected on our thoughts and then only spoke words that were kind. Mastering this duality will help you to live a more peaceful life.
The practice of nonviolence should not be taken too rigidly. Yoga takes into account that most of us live a social life with many different cultural norms. The easiest way to practice this yama is to remember to always try to do the greatest good for the greatest many. Examine your moral and ethical code and follow the path that gives you the least resistance. It will bring you peace.
When a negative thought pops up in your mind, replace it with something positive. This is the path of nonviolence. Step back, take a breath, change the way you look at things and the way you look at things will change.
If you find yourself experiencing violence think of the tree pose. No matter how hard you try eventually you will lose your balance. Life is not meant to be stationary. Practicing the tree is about finding your balance and then remembering to return to it each time life throws you off balance; and it will. This week you may experience an argument, a misunderstanding or gossip. Regain your balance and you will be practicing nonviolence.
Saturday, January 21, 2017
In yoga we use the postures and the breath to help us establish balance, improve flexibility and find strength, as well as a sense of tranquility. In yoga the cleansing of the mind is called the cleansing of the astral channels. This cleansing takes place so that we can arrive at higher levels of consciousness.
The astral channels correspond to the physical nerves. The nerves are the only part of our body that never regenerated during our lifetime. The astral channels are higher mental channels that connect us to the spiritual force of the universe. Just as we reach out and experience touch through the sensation of our nerves, we have the ability to reach out with our mental force and touch higher levels of consciousness. We do this through the study and implementation of the Yamas and Niyamas which are the abstentions and observances. These cleanse the mind state and allow us to reach higher levels of consciousness by cleansing the astral channels. The posture and the breath help us to cleanse the astral channels associated with the body. Together they create a state of purity in body and mind.
To understand these focus on your spine. Think of it as a long channel from which we move energy from the lower levels to the higher lives of being.
Over the next several months we are going to work on opening and cleansing the astral channels in both body and mind by focusing on the yamas and the niyamas. So let’s get started.
When the astral channels are clear the body becomes healthier and the mind becomes calm and serene. By gaining control over the life force we raise our level of consciousness so that the every day experiences of life become a blur in comparison to the higher levels of consciousness. This simply means that life becomes what life does. Clear the polluted energy out of your body and your mind and you will begin to live a life that is healthy, happy and peaceful.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength. We all need support from time to time. Yesterday a student and good friend of mine sent me an email. She has been diagnosed with colon cancer. She reached out for emotional help and support. More than anything I think the word cancer scares us all. I reminded her that she is a survivor in life. She also takes care of her health by eating well, exercising and taking time to relax every day.
So let’s get started today with a focus on taking care of our health. Eat well, exercise and take time to relax and enjoy the moments because in life they fly by way too fast.
Affirmation -: “Bones, muscles, movement, I surrender now; anxiety, elation and depression, churning thoughts — all these I give into the hands of peace.”
We never know what life will hand us so it is best to be prepared. When I went through my cancer surgery and recovery I was coming from a healthy body-mind and that along with my determination to survive was my savior. So each day take care of your health because it is your wealth. Lose it for only a minute and you will wish it back above all else in life. It is the most important thing in your life – don’t take it for granted.
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Think of your consciousness as a calm still body of ever flowing water. The overall height of the water is always the same even when we add the waves of emotion. It is the waves that disturbs the calmness of the water; the higher the wave the deeper the trough. The waves of happiness are counter balanced by the trough of sadness. That is because all of life is a duality. It is like a pendulum swinging back and forth. The only way we know anything is by its opposite swing. The swing of success is only realized by its opposite swing of failure. The only place where joy, love and peace are not balanced by opposites is in pure still ever flowing consciousness. It is a state void of opposites. To understand this we first need to become aware of the waves and the troughs and how the pendulum swings. When we practice yoga we seek balance. We only discover it by experiencing a loss of balance. In seeking to find peace we need to understand all that is counter to peace; impatience, anger, hatred and fear. The pendulum of life is like the waves of the ocean. It will rise and then it will fall.
The farther the pendulum swings in one direction the farther it must swing back. We get caught up in thinking that if we push the pendulum toward more possessions, greater fame and intense pleasure we will increase our happiness. The problem is the pendulum always swings back. The only way to end the eternal rising and falling of life is to be content right here right now. That is why we do the sitting Zen; to experience moments of pure joy. Let’s get started.
The farther the pendulum swings in one direction the farther it must swing back. The only way to find happiness is to be content with what you have, with what comes into your life and what leaves your life. It is ego consciousness that keeps you in the constant swing of emotions. Bend your ego to your higher power and you will discover the wisdom of pure joy.