17 April 2013

advanced spiritual techniques

There are quite a few individual people & yoga schools that get hold of, sell, & promote books with advanced spiritual practices, from other sources.

I once had a big 'animated talk' (!) with someone who was doing just that: using someone else's books in their teacher training course, with no understanding of how to actually use them. Plus, handing out other intellectual knowledge of chakras & such, that were, well, laughable.

The problem with freely including, & nilly-willy practicing, the techniques in these books, is that, unless you have actually been trained how to use & apply these techniques by practicing them in a structured & methodical manner...you, or the teacher, don't really know what they're doing. These techniques are usually practiced in a safe environment, like a proper ashram that has the authority to do so. Or with a highly trained & knowledgeable teacher who has a strong sense of what to teach a person, & when.

And this is the important part:......the teacher knows what to teach, how to teach, what to have the student do, to get to the stage of the beginning advanced practices. A volatile person, for example, is definitely not going to suit techniques that stir up the internal energy to a point whereby that person is not able to handle their temper. And, someone who has not practiced meditation, simple mantra, & has not started the gentle release of the immense number of thoughts that everyone has inside them, can become a bit unstable emotionally with the very advanced techniques.

The most advanced techniques are working on the very deep contents of mind....not just those superficial layers, and, those superficial layers need some release before the advanced yoga is taught. This is generally not understood, but is a most important point. Start at the beginning. Become conscious first, tidy up your body, & emotions, work on the subconscious via meditation....then when the time is right, find an experienced teacher for working on the unconscious realms, for the advanced spiritual yoga practices are working on the unconscious mind. This part of the mind is beyond intellectual or emotional analysis, & a process is used to access & traverse it....and, guess what??  ....that knowledge is not in books.

Do not neglect a small daily practice (sadhana) for it will strengthen your body systems, and, there is a correlation between body & mind. For example, the chakras have a relationship with the endocrine system, the spiritual energy channels (nadis) have a relationship with the nervous system. Build up & harmonise these before attempting the glamorous advanced yoga. That's what the physical aspects, the postures (asanas) & shat karmas (body cleansing practices) are really for. And, the correct pranayama will build up & harmonise a part of the nervous system: this in turn will bring in the spiritual energy, via another part of the nervous system.

15 April 2013

yoga, & emotions

I went to a talk recently whereby the speaker was saying that the purpose of yoga was to 'let out' the emotions. This was the main message. That our emotions were too withdrawn, we need to express them.

Generally, in the yogic scriptures, the message is, that 'yoga is the management of the mind'; 'the cessation of the mental fluctuations is yoga'.....& other similar sayings. Included in this, is management of the emotions. When we are practicing the yoga that suits us best, we will be happier. The yoga practices should be doing this. If not, then there is something that we need to manage, or sort out, in our life. The other probability is that we are doing the wrong yoga practices for ourselves.

A small daily sadhana (sadhana means spiritual practice), & adhering as best as possible to yoga principles & guidelines, such as the yamas & niyamas, will change your life beyond most people's expectations. When we start to feel good from the yoga, we start to let go of things in our lives that are making us not feel good. Messy emotional situations are included here. We start to want to be away from difficult emotional situations, & that includes emotionally difficult friends, teachers...anyone. It is unrealistic to assume that just because a person is seen as a spiritual teacher, that they are perfect, knowing beings. If you come across a yoga teacher who is not emotionally stable, or who likes to point out your failings......run!! They are not 'the real deal' & will create inner conflict for you.

When you are doing the practices that make you feel good, & stable, you will have found a valuable tool. A  good yoga teacher can definitely assist you with this, creating a good daily practice for you.

The postures: moving poses release blocked energy, still poses create calm. Moving poses create the energy, still poses bring us to a point of equilibrium. Pranayama (breathing practices) produces deep relaxation in the brain, as do meditation & deep relaxation. All rewire the nervous system, & brain. We get new pathways in the brain, & each time that we do our daily practice, these pathways get strengthened, & they start to become stronger than the stressed, emotionally unstable pathways, so an integrated practice definitely will up your happiness quota. You won't need to 'express' blocked emotions. Singing is a wonderful outlet. If we think of emotions as an energy, we can release that pent-up energy with music, dance, kirtana (yoga singing). It will absolutely lift your spirits.

Usually when we have blocked emotions, they are emotions such as anger, fear, trauma etc. Underneath them, are the happy emotions. And, when you do deeper spiritual practices, such as working with the chakras, you will discover a source of bliss inside of you. You will experience sublime happiness.

12 April 2013


The next yama is satya, which means truth, &, like ahimsa, it's a self - restraint. We are restraining, actually, from being un-truthful, & instead we are working on being truthful, living our truth, keeping away from being dishonest & avoiding dishonest people & situations.

Sounds like a tall order. But, a lot of behaviour is involved, & rather than  pontificating about truth, we are attempting to be it. And, although with the deeper more esoteric aspects of life, spirituality, & our psyche, we continually discover, on the spiritual path, that truth is an evolving process, we really do need to live a live whereby we are aligned in thought, emotion, and deed, moment by moment, day by day: 24/7.

When we are in a situation where we get a strong feel in the gut, or heart, or just a strong knowing, that we should not be in this situation, we should not be supporting it. We know (thought), our gut tells us (feeling) & we keep away (deed). That's how we do it. We don't have to justify....(couldn't find any justification in Patanjali's Sutras, one of the definitive yogic scriptures!!) But, of course, we are all so human.....how can we do this?? Might we hurt someone??? Should we say something??? Isn't that part of truth too??? Sometimes, we would not be believed, so we keep quiet....but you know, for the spiritual seeker, truth always finds a way of wriggling out into the open.

 In situations whereby we are in situations that are not in accordance with truth, or we come face to face with a dishonest, or malevolent person, we can simply remove ourselves. If we personally want to have peace of mind, we need to, where possible, avoid people or situations, that cause us mental, emotional, or physical distress or distrust. That will reduce our stress levels, & make us feel better about ourselves.

And how do we talk truthfully? Well, we probably don't need to run around blurting everything, but we can 'be pleasant'. So, if we have to communicate where/when we are feeling upset in any way, just can just aim to state clearly & honestly, without harm or hate, & you will find it easier to have a truthful voice.

To live in truth, we must consciously avoid harm, to ourselves, or to others. We need to walk our talk, rather than appear to be one way, but secretly be a less truthful way. We don't have to be perfect, we just need to live some principles in a way that we can live with oneself. We can sleep easy at nights without having to scheme to cover any dishonesty.

For the sincere spiritual aspirant, truth is something that cannot be avoided. To embrace truth with an open heart will give you great rewards. You will also like yourself.

7 April 2013

the 5 yamas

Yamas are self-restraints. We therefore need to restrain ourselves, & where it's applied is restraining ourselves from doing things like...... himsa/violence, by practicing ahimsa/non-violence. The other yamas are truthfulness/satya, honesty/asteya, sensual abstinence/brahmacharya, & being non-possessive/aparigraha. Initially, these are all concepts, we 'think', 'believe', that we are doing these yamas. We intellectualise, justify, the yamas, according to our own inner make-up. And let's be clear.....we are all fairly similar, we all have samskaras (hidden impressions which cover the true nature, & which cause us to do/be/say a certain way), & sometimes these samskaras can cause us to believe that we are fulfilling the yamas when we actually are not. But finally, we get past being controlled by the hidden forces within us, these samskaras, & we come to realising with complete honesty, even without reading the ancient scriptures, or listening to a teacher, that we need to be a nice, decent person.

We start to make decisions, based on these  yamas. We decide to be a certain way, never to do certain things, & of course it's a learning process, a journey of discovery. It doesn't happen all at once. And a genuine spiritual seeker will come to earnestly working at fulfilling these self-restraints, even without knowing what they are. This indicates that they are incredibly important on the spiritual journey, & an important part of revealing our true nature. They are considered to be Great Disciplines.

To this day, I can remember every single detail when I made those choices: where I was, how I felt, what brought me to it, the utter complete resolution inside me about it all. Nearly 3 decades ago. But of course, one (in this case, me!!) keeps making mistakes, saying, doing the 'wrong' thing. After all, we are so very human. But, I realised, in that moment, that a mighty power was inside me, & always growing. Well, it wasn't all my own power & energy, most of it was guru. But I was definitely the guardian of it whilst it was with me! I knew that I could use it to get my own way, promote myself, use others to my own advantage. I didn't want to ever do that, not ever, I did not want to be such a person, & I resolutely decided to be another way. I took The High Road. It's actually the easier way.

Over the decades living the yogic life, earnestly I might add, I have seen people fall by the wayside, when they would not embrace the yamas into their lives. But, if you do work at living the yamas, mental & emotional fluctuations will subside. A wonderful way to start the journey to inner peace.