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.
Saturday, January 07, 2017
The Practice of yoga involves not only the poses (asana) and the breath (pranayama), but also the yamas and niyamas or the things we should abstain from and the things we should observe if we are to live a spiritual life. The object of these four stages is to cleanse the body-mind so that the life-force can flow through and lead us to higher levels of consciousness. This means to become more balanced and aware.
The poses are not yoga, but through the practice of the poses we have an opportunity to discover yoga. For example; balance can best be understood when we do a tree. It takes strength, focus and stillness to find balance. In life you will need all of these to maintain your balance when life’s stormy emotions pervade your life.
Pranayama is the control of the breath. It is not the breath, but the life force that gives rise to the breath. When we sit in Zen and take a few controlled breathes we clear the astral channels and allow a flow of energy throughout our body-mind and this produces contentment and peace.
The astral channels correspond to the nerves of your body. The nerves are the only part of your body that does not regenerated throughout your lifetime. When we clear the astral channels we touch the soul. Think of this like touching something with your body. We need the nerves to be able to feel. Damage the nerves and the ability to touch disappears. Damage the astral channels and the ability to touch the soul becomes impossible.
The yamas and niyamas are guides for living a spiritual life. In the weeks to come we will discuss each of these. For now let’s focus today on the poses and the breath.
Using the body and the breath we learn to harness prana or the life-force. This week pay attention to your sense of touch and your breath. Flow with the force of life and you will bring balance and harmony into everything you think, say and do.
Tuesday, January 03, 2017
The greatest obstacle in your way is your mind. Our thoughts often time direct our life without us even being aware of it. Thought patterns repeated become habits. These habits can be positive or negative. Positively they free the mind to focus on other things. For example – tying your shoes is a habit. You can do it without thinking. You can focus on other things at the same time you are tying your shoes. Habits therefore can be time saving and a great sense of freedom. However, habits can also make us their servant. Repeat a bad habit over and over, like smoking a cigarette, and soon we are enslaved.
Now there are several ways to free the mind of negative habits. One is to feed it positive thoughts and the other is to deny it negative thoughts. But this requires controlling the conscious mind. The conscious mind has a tendency to move in many directions and is easily influenced.
How do we control the mind? By paying close attention to our thoughts, words and deeds. If they are serving the greater good you have removed the negative and replaced it with the positive.
Merely replacing negative with positive energy is like trying to fill a cup that is riddles with holes. No matter how much you try to fill the cup it will be empty. First you need to fill the holes by paying attention to your thoughts, word and deed and then fill the cup. How? Be at peace and content with what comes into your life, as well as with what must depart. And always think, speak and act towards the greatest good.
The ego pulls you away from the center. The higher power brings you back. Live from your center and you will be wise.
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Spiritual progress should be natural like the growing of a tree and not forced, frenetic and chaotic. It requires commitment and patience and the greatest obstacle in its way is the “chitter” or chattering of the mind. Although we like to think that we construct and direct our world from our conscious thoughts, it is really from the subconscious that our life takes shape.
The subconscious mind is the storehouse of all your thoughts and experiences in this life and in past lives. To best understand the subconscious mind thinks about driving a car. How many times do you automatically drive your car while your mind is a million miles away? Suddenly you realize you have been driving without awareness of where you are or where you are going. The subconscious mind does the driving while the conscious mind speaks on the phone.
The subconscious mind is responsible for the automatically triggered feelings and emotions that you suddenly experience upon facing a new situation. You begin a new job feeling a bit insecure or unsure of yourself. This is the subconscious mind bringing emotions to the conscious mind.
The conscious mind on the other hand is responsible for logic, calculations and all actions that are performed while you are conscious. The subconscious mind also controls other functions in your body like breathing and heart beats.
Right now you are breathing without any conscious effort. But if I ask you to stop and focus on your breathing each breath becomes conscious. This is how we lift from the subconscious to the conscious mind relaxation, peace and serenity.
We need to go deep into the subconscious and then cultivate it so as to bring to the conscious mind health, happiness and peace. How? Quiet your thoughts stay present and focus on discovering balance, strength, flexibility and peace.
Let’s get started.
Just like your body has got its defenses against physical wounds and injuries your subconscious mind has got its defenses against emotional shocks and wounds.
These are called ego defense mechanisms or unconscious defense mechanisms. Some of these mechanisms are denial, suppression, anger and regression. The ego defense mechanisms' main function is to protect your well-being and to help you overcome emotional shocks. But it doesn’t always work because the ego is what separates us. To unite the subconscious and the conscious we must be willing to surrender the ego to something higher; our higher self.
Saturday, December 03, 2016
The process of spiritual growth should be natural like a growing tree and not forced or frenetic. It requires patient to find stillness and contentment. Think about how many things you do in hopes of resting after you have achieved your goals. First let me get this and then let me get that and then I will relax and enjoy life.
Thus we acquire the habit of seeking more and more in an attempt to be able to relax and enjoy our life. The problem is that we never arrive. We get caught up in the rat race. Stress becomes prevalent in our lives. Soon the stress leads to illness.
It is not that we should cease to be active. It is that we should be peacefully active in all our activities. When we are doing we should be doing with a sense of peace and contentment no matter the outcome.
Yogananda once was asked if the spiritual path had an end. He said “No end. You go on until you reach endlessness.”
Don’t let your approach to life be so achievement oriented that you forget to enjoy the moments. In the end you can’t take with you even one copper penny.
Let’s practice today not to achieve anything, but simply to enjoy the process of discovering peace.
Peace isn’t waiting for you over the next hill. It is not something you construct like a house. It is something you already possess deep within your soul. The ego will constantly pull you here and there searching for satisfaction, but the soul, if you let it, will teach you to be, as Yogananda said,” Calmly active and actively calm.” This is how to find peace in a restless world. Be at peace with what is…