Posted in About Yoga, Contemplations and tagged yoga
Whilst having to cancel classes in response to the Coronovirus situation, I had the following thoughts, and wanted to share them with you all. It might not be as polished as I would like, but it’s better to get my thoughts out than not.
Yoga concerns itself with all aspects of our lives, the humanity, the universe (Inc. how it works) and more. Yoga can help people to find their most creative and healthy expression as individuals. It can help us find the perfect life for us to live, although that might not always be the, richest or most famous life we would like.
One aspect, Ahimsa, or non-harming is relevant here. The cancelation of the class is a way of practicing non-harming (Ahimsa) in the present situation. By cancelling the class we avoid contributing harm from the spread of the virus.
On the other hand, to make this decision I have had to overcome my attachment to teaching the class, sharing time with you all, and the routine of the Tuesday evening.
I appreciate the cancellations might be frustrating or troubling. This is totally understandable. Therefore, I offer my personal perspective in case it is of some help.
We all have common issues we face from time to time. The specifics and triggers will differ from individual to individual, and from situation to situation. It’s possible some of these we might not even be clearly aware of. We may just experience difficulties and not have seen any patterns. Yoga can help us be more aware and see patters, then we are in a good position to be able to resolve these patterns.
Our attachments and aversions often cause us trouble. Our minds and emotions disturbed when our expectations are not met, or, we have need to do something were averse to doing. For example, because I am attached to teaching the class, I am averse to cancelling the class. However, because I serve others when teaching the class, I need to be mindful of ahimsa and other principles. These principles guide me, especially when my attachments and aversions kick in. I was able to make the decision to cancel these classes because I took a high level view centred on what was right for all those involved. I had to step past my own preferences.
We use the positive principles found in yoga to overcome the challenges and difficulties in life. Our decision making and response to these challenges can be guided by the principles of yoga. The decisions we make based on these principles may not always be easy to make. However, when these principles are applied well, they are healthy and supportive overall. They provide the best path forward, even if it is a difficult one to walk.
The challenges of life if viewed in a positive light are an excellent opportunity to push past our turmoil and become mentally stronger, more resilient and support us to open up to our inner joy. The very act of ignoring our attachments and aversion for the greater good is almost the essence of practicing yoga in daily life. Yes sometimes we fail when we try, but that’s okay, we only truly fail when we give up trying!
Yoga as a daily practice is as much about cultivating awareness, and using it for transformation, as it is posture work. Awareness and compassion leads to seeing and accepting our own problems (and pain). The yoga way, of not causing pain too others while we deal with ours is very powerful, but also challenging. Here we also see ahimsa (non-harming) being applied to ourselves and others. Let’s be compassionate to, and self-accepting, of ourselves and others. Let’s try and become stronger by not letting our inner turmoil ripple out to others whilst being caring for both ourselves and others in the process. Again, yes we fail from time to time, this isn’t failing really it’s “trying”. True failure is when we give up trying. Yes I said that twice now, why? Because this is so important. The not giving up, it is important! Most people I know, truly do try and avoid their pain affecting others. From personal experience I know we can always be tested on this point and so it’s a reminder for me more than anyone.
When we find ourselves in challenging times it can be used for the most powerful transformation. The bigger the challenge the deeper and longer lasting the change. However, when normal balance returns to our daily lives the positive habits we develop in more challenging times help is during the more mundane times. No matter how challenging the times we live in, daily life offers us powerful opportunities for change. Each day, and each moment in each day, provides us with opportunity to grow and find inner peace. Yoga provides much to help us with living our lives.
The subject of yoga in daily life is far too much to explore in this space. However it can be easier in personal discussions. So please let me know if you would like more info on the principles of yoga, or just want to chat.
In the meantime I wish you all the very best in getting through these difficult times.
Posted in Contemplations and tagged yoga
We are part of something amazing and beyond comprehension.
Lets use this to go beyond our limited mindset.
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
(c) Russell Smithers (Yoga Bija)
Posted in Contemplations
Posted in Contemplations
This article details the practice of the Inner Silence (Antar Mouna) meditation practice and discusses the topic of meditation in relation to it. Please skip towards the end to for the actual practice itself if you are not interested in the discussion.
Please note that this article was originally published on 27 Nov 2016 and was updated 23rd April 2018.
Meditation practices that focus on the awareness of thoughts, can be thought of as a time to allow reflection and integration of experiences. I have practiced the Antar Mouna (Inner Silence) meditation daily for many years. Although I practice other meditation practices, Antar Mouna is my daily practice in addition to a Japa (mantra repetition) meditation practice.
Antar Mouna is a practice that deals with thought awareness in one of its stages.
Ultimately meditation can bring ones mind to a clarity and stillness when the space between the thoughts opens up and pure experience occurs, although not always and less so in the beginning.
Meditation can be thought of as a reflection. An opportunity to witness the stuff in the mind which is normally out of sight. Sitting and watching the thoughts, or more importantly the mind space and the activities in that space, provides time for the mind to integrate experiences (impressions). We are shown the nature of the mind and also the content. Greater self-understanding occurs, both the nature of the mind and its content becomes more clearly perceived. In the process we are able to let go of negative impressions, or at least gain the awareness they exist, thereby providing an opportunity that we can work to resolve them.
One outcome of meditation is that, in my experience, is that connections between things become either established or clearer, sometimes during or after practice.
Another outcome is that the instances of insight and wisdom tend to arise more frequently and with profound relevance to our life.
There are of course other effects and benefits of practicing meditation. The others you can learn about for yourself through your own experience as that is the way of yoga and meditation. We learn by doing having learnt just enough to be able to practice it. Meditation is something that should be practiced much more often than it is talked or thought about.
Guidelines for Practice
Please try the following meditation practice. You can set an intent and commit to an initial number of days. You can if you so wish dedicate each days meditation practice to something or one etc. Decide how many days in a row you will practice, make it once a day to start with. For an intention try “I am going to practice meditation for 7 days regardless of how difficult it is. I am capable of success in this endeavour. “, or you can use and intention of your own choosing of course.
As you become more familiar with a meditation practice you may end up practice most days as a regular practice. Don’t force this though. You may also find preceding meditation with other practices can be beneficial.
All negative feelings about the practice including those that relate to your ability to “do meditation” should be ignored without reservation. It is more important to follow the sequence (the mechanics) of the practice than it is the expectations and/or the dialog in your head about it. To quote Yoda (if you’re a Star Wars fan) “do or do not, there is no try”. So just do the meditation and ignore your opinion about it is.
Inner Silence (Antar Mouna) Practice
- Sit comfortably. lengthen the spine to achieve a good upright posture. Use a chair, or whatever, but sit upright.
- Close the eyes and become aware of the physical body.
- Let go of any effort to breath, the body will do that
- Allow the body to settle into physical stillness while you move your awareness around parts of the body like; feet, legs, etc. really feel the body part, place your awareness there, notice the sensations in that part of the body.
- Now place awareness on your breathing – observation only
- After some time (you choose) become aware of the mind space
- Reverse out of the practice when you are ready to finish
- back to the breath for a bit
- back to the body for a bit
- gently start moving the head neck SMALL movements
- gradually take your time to fully externalize and start moving more
- This is no Antar Mouna, it is a stripped-down meditation technique that does work.
Options for Practicing Inner Silence
There are no timings given because you need to feel your way through the practice. However, you can try about 5 minutes in each section of the practice to get you started and tweak the timings for each section as you feel works best for you.
Approaches to use the practice are listed below.
A: Memorize the basic sequence. Use your memory to guide you. Then start at the beginning and follow that instruction until you feel it’s time to move on.
B: Record the practice sequence with your own timings. Smart phones have a voice recorder or buy a dedicated voice recorder. May laptops built-in mike. Suggested timings are 2 minutes each section.
C: Get a friend or family member to guide you through it. Guide each other ????
D: Attend a Satsang evening, or specific class or workshop which includes meditation.
Once you find a meditation practice that works for you, stick with it through thick and thin. Digging many holes gets you nowhere. Dig in the same place and the hole will go deep.
I wish you every success.
All the best
Posted in Contemplations, Raja Yoga (Yoga Sutras)