19 December 2017

mindfulness & it's difficulties

                           Image result for mindfulness quotes images

I have been reticent to broach the subject of mindfulness...

It has become the new Holy Grail of the affluent parts of the world, and the new Holy Grail of spirituality.

But is it? I think not. Interestingly, some yoga teachers who have experienced the Deeper States of Being, are a bit derisive of mindfulness, whereas there are yoga teachers (whom I personally suspect have just scratched the surface of Deep Spirituality), who like to teach and preach mindfulness. After all, that's what it's all about - right?

It seems that there are a few 'understandings' of what mindfulness actually is.

Awareness of.... everything

One is to be aware of everything. Absolutely everything. What you are experiencing through the senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, any physical feeling such as the wind touching you. Plus what you are thinking, and what you are emotionally feeling.

All at the same time. Total information overload.

This is simply too much to process at once, and I have seen people who have learnt mindfulness technique in this manner, get completely overwhelmed and distressed. I feel that it is damaging: it contributes to a restless and worried state of mind.

Or, awareness of your thoughts

There is also the mindfulness technique whereby one is aware of their own thoughts mostly, but also feelings. I have seen people get very distressed by this. Why?

It is helpful to understand that out minds are always busy. It simply is not possible to be aware of all of our thoughts. and to give serious credence to everything that you are thinking (and also feeling) Although I always noticed how the emphasis until recently, in the yoga world, including the Big Ashrams of India, was to do with being aware of the mental activity.

Over decades of being involved with yoga, I soon began to feel that this also made people disturbed, and yes, I too bought into it for a few years. But when I looked around me, and at myself, I started to get dis-quietened at what I saw and felt.

I saw people, myself included, have great problems with being disturbed by lots of thoughts, and I can tell you that focusing on your thoughts... makes more come... faster. Again, agitated brain wave patterns, which make us restless.

"To block the patterns of consciousness is yoga": Patanjali, 2nd sutra.

How can we block those mental patterns of consciousness? When our minds are agitated, our thoughts go around and around, like sad little mice running on a wheel, unable to get off.

What is a quick, easy, yogic way to do this? We are after peaceful brain waves ... caused by the slowing down of the mental and emotional fluctuations. Which then gives us space. Space between the "bits" of mental activity. And a quietening of the emotional fluctuations.

To put it simply, this mental activity ranges from agitated with lots of thoughts, through to lesser mental activity, and corresponding states of peace and happiness. Our feelings can range from intensely difficult through to sublime happiness.

How to slow down our agitated mind

The quickest, easiest, method of quieting mind and emotions, is to be aware of the breath. Then start to slow it down. Counting the breath is often helpful, especially when you count backwards, as this automatically takes our main brain activity away from a disturbed area, to the pre-frontal cortex where we have more discernment.

Other tools with the breath, are to completely relax on the exhale. The exhale can be longer or about the same count, as the inhale.

And then bring in a minute pause after inhale and after exhale, so that the breath is held in, or out, during the small pauses. This is miraculous for creating spaces between the thoughts, and also for calming the emotions.

More to follow on mindfulness......                                       



1 December 2017

Meditation and Pranayama

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A lovely breathing and meditation practice

This post is in response to some facebook comments about my previous post, in particular, about meditation, where I gave a link to a breathing and meditation technique in my blog.

The practice in this link is amazing for combining pranayama (yoga breathing practices) and meditation, in one technique.

Why is it so amazing? For several reasons:
  • it quickly quietens the mind. Anyone who has tried to meditate with one's mind going at a frantic pace, will know how difficult it is to meditate under these conditions. 
  • it balances the flow of breath in both nostrils. The technique causes the breath in both nostrils flow in unison with each other.
  • our mental faculties focus. Our mind stops wandering.
Why do we need our mind quietened?

I feel that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about The Mind. It seems to have become The Holy Grail of Yoga.  But, what most perceive of as their mind, is but a small part of the different layers, realms, and aspects of what we can put under the Umbrella of "mind".  Suffice to say, that when the mind is restless, our brain waves are moving through the brain in a way that we cannot relax. We cannot come to one-pointedness as one should be in meditation.

But mostly, there is identification with everything that we perceive of as "oneself": our body, our thoughts, and our feelings. Plus our likes and dislikes. Although all of these are part of our human journey in a lifetime, they are only a small part of oneself, and they obscure our Higher Consciousness. They obscure our True Self.

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Why do we need the flow of breath in both nostrils to be in unison?

Each of our nostrils relates to a brain hemisphere:

  • left nostril   - right hemisphere
  • right nostril - left hemisphere
Each hemisphere usually has different functions. There are always exceptions. And generally, one nostril is predominant at any given time, usually for about 90 minutes. Each nostril flow also has different functions.

There is a third, most important nostril flow.

And when both nostrils are flowing in unison, this is when the third flow takes place. This third flow automatically happens when we are deep in meditation. So, to get this going before meditation, means that we have a "head start" on going deep into the Inner Realms. It is a very relaxed, highly energised state of being.

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Where does this energy come from?

Mainly, it comes from the life-force, the prana, within the breath. But a big secret is that, when you are  easily able to slip into the Deeper Realms, your spiritual energy seems to increase when you are in those realms. Actually, it is these realms that we have that energy, that energy already exists inside of you, hidden. 

But we do need, for quite some time, to do something that helps us, in meditation initially, to build up the prana. Our brain is working when we are meditating, and it needs fuel. The two most important fuels are oxygen and water.

Initially, we do need extra oxygen supplies, for prana, to enable us to move into the different realms of our being, in meditation. Over the years, one becomes able to slip in and out of the meditation state, without extra oxygen.

The best thing to do, to build up prana, is breathing exercises. Most of them are specific, they have specific purposes. But if you can only do one, do the one that we have been talking about above, or, the alternate nostril breath.

Why do we need our mental faculties to focus?

Surprisingly, our brains use up more energy when our minds are drifting. Although there can be a lot of drifting in meditation, having awareness is the goal. I hesitate to use the word mindfulness, because true meditation is by far above and beyond the parts of mind, that are used for mindfulness. Mindfulness also utilises the senses, whereas the State of Meditation does not. One is in a state of sensory withdrawal, that is to say that the senses are inactive during real meditation. However, this can take a while to happen, and doing a meditation practice regularly, is the way to get us there.

Personally, I do know that the correct way of breathing in meditation will get you great results from your meditation practice. For those who don't know how to do this - try mindfulness, if you know how to do it.

13 November 2017

On being a yoga teacher

                        Lotus, Natural, Water, Meditation, Zen

about me......

I've taught yoga for most of my life. I still do. By choice, I did cut down on the number of classes that I taught each week, a few years ago.

Because teaching classes, which usually means physical yoga, postures and relaxation, is not what I am about, as a yoga teacher. I did that for years, and of course, I still do teach that way. Because that is what people want. And it makes sense to follow what one's clients actually do want.

But my forte is very deep spirituality, which, I must confess, is not what most people are looking for. And, of course, there is also the misconception that one can just google a subject, read about it, and thereby be an expert on it. Which is not how we really gain true knowledge.

                            Image result for royalty free yoga photos

now about you.....

If you are looking for work as a yoga teacher and you want to teach, for example, advanced pranayama (breathing practices) and strong meditations, you need to do three things. It might not be strong pranayama and meditations, it could be flow yoga, Iyengar yoga... whatever.

first steps for specialising in yoga:
  • go and learn from someone who knows their subject well. It just isn't the same learning out of books, or using you tube. I have listened to many 'experts' spouting off about this and that, without them actually walking their talk. 
  • practice what you learn. Regularly. It doesn't have to be a long practice, it just needs to be regular.
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secondly, when you have finished training:
  • get some classes going. Anywhere. It could be at a gym, in a hall, in someone's home, or at a yoga studio. Actually, this is the hard part. It can take quite a while to get classes up and running.
  • never underestimate the value of having to teach in different types of settings. A really good yoga teacher, in whatever area, is able to teach a wide variety of people, with differing needs, differing levels of ability. Teaching in different places will give you skills that are invaluable.
  • for this reason, wait until it's appropriate before you teach your specialty. To be honest, you will never be able to introduce your forte to some people, and that's okay. A good teacher is not dogmatic, and can adjust whatever and wherever. 
  • start at the level that your students are at, whether it is beginners, strong athletic moves, holding poses... whatever! When we want to teach in a specific way, after training, it isn't always possible, so do what's needed, and how it is needed.
  • only teach what you know. Teaching actually increases our knowledge. Be observant as you teach.
  • so the message is... build a good foundation. Teach where and how you can.
  • teach good yoga, and gradually introduce your field that you want to specialise in. Introduce gradually, and slowly. Take your time. Make it enjoyable. For example, use this easy pranayama to introduce both pranayama and meditation. People love this technique, it's so do-able for everyone.
  • If you are wanting to specialise, you do need to be an expert at whatever aspect it is. And the only way to be an expert, is by doing it yourself. Consistently. Learn all the ins and outs.
  • Develop your own knowledge from simply being a dedicated practitioner. This is how one becomes an expert. By doing.
  • live the knowledge. Keep it to yourself, don't boast. People will start to want to do whatever you are doing that is making you happy. We all want that inner essence that comes from spiritual practices.
  • there are a lot of "experts" out there, who actually aren't as knowledgeable as they think. Ignore what they write and say, and keep on practising.
  • start at beginner level, and work upwards with yourself. Some of your students may prefer to always stay at beginner level.
  • learn how to adapt things for your students. Contra-indications. Benefits. What to do, and when to do it. What you need to do, to round things off.
Never underestimate the rewards of practice, dedication, and sincerity. These will serve you well in all areas of your life, not just spirituality.

If you have any queries, please leave them in the comments section, and I'll get back to you.

28 October 2017

Emotions and The Prana Body

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                      (what lies beneath our blocked energy)

prana is needed for all aspects of our life

Definitely prana, life-force, affects our koshas, our body sheaths. And when our physical body is low on prana, we are low on vitality. Our body doesn't work so well.  Prana starts to leave the body before death, so we can assume then, that prana is essential to our well-being, to our very existence.

but it gets blocked

Sometimes, though, prana gets blocked, inside of our body. And this happens to us all. What is blocking the prana? It is our emotions. Emotions are an integral part of our existence. Emotions make us human.

emotions talk to us

We could say that emotions are part of a communication system. Firstly, they are not the only communicators, see here, plus our senses communicate to us too. But, feelings are a more direct form of communication. When we get past thinking that we are a body with thoughts, wants, desires, when we start to accept that it's not just about the little aspect of oneself, then we start to experience the totality of being a human being.

Sadly, this is not often the case in the yoga world. Too much emphasis is placed on whatever one thinks of as one's mind, and too little emphasis is given to how the complexity of the human being, actually works.

Our emotions 'talk' to us, in the form of sensations, and feelings. They are part of the human journey in a lifetime. They are linked to the body, and to more etherial parts of us, as well as that magical part of us which is to do with self-expression in a lifetime.

Our feelings are our friends. They are part of us, but are not all of us. They are always communicating to us.

action and reaction

A basic 'law' of life is that for every action, there is a reaction. And emotions are strongly involved in this.

There is a Morepork (New Zealand native owl) calling as I write this. An action. My reaction is to pause, smile, and listen. I also notice that I am experiencing happiness on hearing the bird's call. Some part of my being is letting me know, via the feeling of happiness, that this is a good, and pleasurable sound. It is a safe sound.

We hear a scream of fear. We react by rushing to see if the person who screamed is alright. We don't even stop to realise that a similar fear reaction has taken place in our own psyche.

In both of these examples, there was an action, and a reaction. Our emotions were involved. In the first instance, happiness, in the second, fear for the person who screamed in in fear. Our senses were also involved, both times it was the sense of hearing.

All parts of us, work as a whole. Each part needs the other.

It is the same with the more esoteric aspects of our being. They too, work together as part of the whole.

And so do our emotions.

sometimes we shut down our emotions

This is a major problem in life, and spirituality, today. We are encouraged to 'be detached', not react emotionally, in yoga. As one progresses along the spiritual path, ideally one should develop more equilibrium emotionally. And yet, more often than not, with the expectations of what is spiritual, we often just appear to have equilibrium, whilst deep inside, our feelings get pushed down, and they hide in the body.

where do the emotions go?

This is where both the annamaya (food sheath) and the pranamaya (life-force sheath) kosha are both affected. Emotions are often stored in our gut, and the less than desirable emotions can start to amplify. Such as sharp pains in the gut, causing digestive upset. The pranamaya kosha is intimately involved with Manipura (navel) chakra, for this chakra is the seat of energy in our body. Not kundalini, but prana. So it can be difficult for the portal to the pranic sheath, at the navel, to open and reveal the prana body., when it is tight with difficult emotions which we have hidden.

what is the true emotion

And yet, the main emotion from that area, the emotion which lies beneath our sorrows and pains, is happiness. Intense happiness. That happiness cannot be a true ongoing state of being whilst our emotions are blocking it.

21 October 2017

Koshas 3

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Each sheath has a skin

Going back to the body sheaths, which I've also written about, in part here and here.

A sheath implies that it is a holder, a container, for something. Like a knife sheath, in which you can insert your knife. Each of our five sheaths, are indeed containers. Each has a "skin", a layer surrounding it, which holds everything in.

Another dictionary meaning for sheath, is that it is a structure in living tissue which closely envelops another. Also suggesting, to me, some sort of "skin".

Every living thing in the cosmos has a skin. Of some sort or another. A container, holding the contents in, and each skin relates to a purpose. We have skin around our nerves, muscle fibres, heart, organs, body, aura. So, the skin of each is particular to, each individual thing.

It is no different with the spiritual elements, aspects, chakras... whatever!

Skin of any sort should not be underestimated. For it is one of the parts of us that collects information. As an aura healer I can definitely tell you that the skin of one's aura picks up information, energetically, and we respond, often with feelings. So, if someone dangerous is near you, the skin of your aura, and also of your physical body, relay that information, and we become uneasy, or frightened, because we have received information that we are in danger.

In the same way, the skin of one aspect of our being, "communicates" to another aspect of our being. Our koshas do not stand completely alone, alienated from each other. On a level that we may not understand, the matrix of our individual koshas, create a matrix of the koshas as a whole.

But, they do reveal themselves individually, during the spiritual journey.

Each of these bodies are part of the spiritual journey. Each needs to awaken to bring us to the Highest Aspects of our Being. And yet, none of these koshas stand alone. Each kosha is it's own living entity, but each also needs the other koshas for us to exist in a lifetime.

Each kosha, sheath, has a particular purpose, as part of the Whole:

  • Physical/annamaya sheath/kosha: the food sheath. The physical body.
  • Life-force/pranamaya sheath/kosha: the movement of prana within that sheath. The prana provides fuel in the form of life-force for all of the bodies.
  • Mental/manomaya sheath/kosha: this is our mind body sheath. Because our thoughts are created from our emotions, the emotions are part of this kosha too.
  • Astral/vigyanamaya sheath/kosha: home of the chakras.
  • Bliss/anandamaya sheath/kosha: a golden sheath pertaining to our Highest Aspects.

The Play of the Divine Aspects, is contained within the koshas.

Maya is the creative force of the universe, the Play of God. Each of these koshas has the word maya as part of it's meaning. The Play of Divine Consciousness within each kosha, manifesting as something created, within each kosha. However each kosha, has more than one "thing" inside of it.

Inside each koshas are spiritual spaces

They are spaces that have specific purposes. spaces within spaces. These spaces are realms. Just as the physical body has many different parts of it in order to function, so does each kosha.

They make up the jewel that is the Human Being

Each of the koshas contains jewels of our hidden Inner Being. These jewels are part of the journey to one's supreme nature.

16 October 2017

The Heart & it's Power

Some misconceptions about some chakras

It is often said that the lower three chakras: 
mooladhara (root chakra)
swadhisthana (sacral/second chakra)
manipura (navel chakra), are all about Oneself. 

This is so silly. Of course they are about You.

Amazing attributes have been given to them, but just briefly, we can see the Established views below, on these chakras, and once again, I'd like to be clear that I do NOT agree with these explanations. I can only concur that the people spouting this information (including those from the Ashrams which claim to be experts), actually don't know what they are talking about.

Mooladhara: commonly said to be about security. It is "said" that a blocked mooladhara means that you have personal issues about your own security, and think 'base' thoughts, are selfish, greedy, blah blah....

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Swadhisthana: sex. What else is there to say. Unbelievably, it is 'via' this chakra that people think it is okay to be promiscuous. Being 'Tantric.' Expressing oneself, being dynamic.... and these two I do agree with, they are true here. Not having sex with someone who wants it? ... blockage. Again, that's silly, and also manipulative to think this way.

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Manipura: apparently, if you are successful at business, you may have an awakened Manipura chakra. This is not true. If you have a big belly, you could also have heaps of prana (the seat of prana is to do with the navel chakra), or you have a big blockage there. Really?

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In reality, very briefly

  • Mooladhara is about the dawning of great spirituality, plus an awareness of, and an understanding, that everything is not about oneself. Amazingly, knowledge starts to unfold from within (not all knowledge!!) when this chakra awakens. One truly does not know where it comes from.
  • Swadhisthana is the chakra where we do have great dynamism, and are very expressive. The taste of Amrit (an exquisite, Divine taste) fulls one's throat, and you just don't get hungry! We start to be acutely aware of other people's deep essence.
  • Manipura: there is no worldly ambition at this chakra. There is the Knowledge of Energy, and living in that knowledge. Plus, you just wish The Absolute Best for all beings. No selfishness.

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The heart chakra and the heart

The heart chakra is called Anahata. Of course, there is a relationship with one's heart. Because both the heart chakra, and the heart, have Love as the primary attribute.

As mentioned above, it is commonly believed that the lower three chakras are All About Oneself, and it's also commonly believed that Anahata takes us into the spiritual realms. I hope that I have dispelled this inaccurate notion.

Anahata is not only about Love, it's also about the Soul. So is the heart, but in a different way.

Love as the Great Experience

From Anahata onward and upward, all Inner Experience has the vibration of Infinite and Embracing Love. I always say that if someone is telling you how highly evolved that they are, yet their behaviour, words, everything is not congruent with Love For All.... then they are not the person who is Highly Evolved.

I did a reading a while ago, for someone who did Love, Ascension, and Heart chakra workshops. Their anger and jealousy that they displayed during the reading, left me in no doubt that they really knew nothing about what they were proclaiming. This is not uncommon.

But, are the chakras, especially Anahata, the definitive Love experience? Of course not. That strong feeling that goes through your whole body and envelops you whilst the centre of your chest is so filled with love.... this is the Love Experience. As mere mortals, we may often experience this in special moments. But we all can experience it. Without having an Awakened Anahata chakra
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Love in the Other Realms

Is there Love in The Life Between Lives? (chuckle) Of course!!! Love abounds there!! I recently gave a reading to a woman whose Mother had recently Passed Over. In these cases, those of us who are left behind to continue in this realm, we are still grieving and vulnerable. This woman's mother showed her how she (the mother) was with so many people whom she had loved before, from this life and previous lives. And that she was happy.

But the most amazing part of the reading, was something I had not seen before. I feel so privileged to have seen it. Mother showed a realm of Light and Love, emanating from her heart, like a Realm. Like a circular portal around her heart where one entered the realm. Inside that realm, around the physical heart (even though that realm is not at all physical, but you get the idea, I hope), were many people, looking out of the heart portal and smiling. They were all immersed in Love.

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We never leave those whom we have loved

And this was precisely the message, in that moment. We carry that love for various people, through our incarnations, whether the incarnations are in this realm, or in the Lives between lives. Love does not die. We are connected through Love.

                          Image result for radiating heart