The Practice Of Being Present For Experience…

Inspired from Yogi & Author Stephen Cope

Most yoga practitioners can attest to having a similar experience: While practicing asana, feeling a wave of energy arising during a pose. Muscles ripple and dramatically open. Feelings begin to overwhelm our whole being, and turn raw, real. Maybe it’s sadness, grief, elation. After the experience, we feel better: quiet, present, and soft. This is the real secret of yoga – the practice of being present for experience.

Through yoga, we find an orderly, safe, contained technique for making forays into our deeper inner world within ourselves. We first learn to have a full experience of feelings in the body, learning to tolerate the depth, range, and realness of this life force moving in us. We learn how to ride the wave – to be present for the wavelike movement of energy – acknowledging, experiencing, and bearing the inner world of sensation. Through this experience, we can shed the layers that are preventing us from living our best truest version of ourselves. We can cultivate a deep bond with our bright inner light – our wholeness.

Riding The Wave – The Technique (Breathe, Relax, Feel, Watch, Allow – repeat)

  1. Breathe – to connect with the wisdom of prana (life force) is conscious breathing – using full yogic breath, or diaphragmatic breathing. The breath immediately penetrates the frozen structures within ourselves. Yoga postures done with conscious breathing are ten times more powerful than they otherwise might be. Because the breath is the switch that integrates the emotional prana-body with the physical body, postures done with conscious breathing open parts of the body that may have long been shut off from the life force. When the wave of breath moves into these exiled areas, the results can sometimes be instantly dramatic. The breath opens our emotional body and through it we can experience a deep reintegration of exiled sensations, feelings, thoughts, and memories.
  2. Relax – Muscular tension in the body prevents the flow of energy, sensation, and feeling, keeping areas of the body defended against the wave of energy. Even in the more strenuous postures, find parts of your body that you can relax, while still keeping your body safe and while continuing your full yogic breath. This automatically shifts our entire energy experience. It grounds us – what appear to be dense and solid thoughts and feelings become permeable to the wave of energy. We break up locked areas, our inner world becomes transparent to us, and we feel alive again. Relax and keep relaxing.
  3. Feel – Feeling in this technique is an active state. It doesn’t mean just “having feelings” – it means actively moving toward sensations, the energy, the emotions – and then moving into them. Breathe into them and develop an acuity of our awareness by feeling the whole range of sensations – their color, their texture, their intensity, their mood. We let go of our evaluations and judgements and focus deeply on the sensations without telling any stories to ourselves about what’s happening. We develop a curiosity – where in the body is the feeling most intense, what is the exact texture – are there patterns of movement? As we bring more awareness to exiled aspects of our energy body, we open these previously unconscious areas to the flow of prana. More consciousness results in more wave of life experiences – allowing life to happen.
  4. Watch – When we watch, we develop our witness consciousness – the zone of neutrality, where we aren’t choosing for or against any type of experience, but we are just being with experience exactly how it is. As we develop witness conscious, intuition arises – a knowing that cannot be experienced through the mind alone. Our attention is focused on “how is it” – not “why it is” or “do I like it”. Witness conscious is worth every ounce of effort to develop.
  5. Allow – we begin to surrender to the wave of sensation, feeling, and energy. We develop a remarkable freedom to let life as it is touch us, because at our core, we know that everything is already OK. We relinquish our resistance. We don’t have to “make” the wave of life happen – we can just “let it happen”. We don’t have to understand it. Insights may come later, and they often come when we stay present in the experience. This allowing is where life can change us – there’s an amazing sense of freedom – a deep letting go of our grip on life. This kind of surrender requires a willingness to be changed. A willingness to trust life, and to keep our awareness on the energy in motion instead of trying to understand what is happening.

Breathe, Relax, Feel, Watch, Allow – Repeat.

Yoga Lowers Blood Pressure…

High blood pressure contributes to many medical problems including heart attacks, kidney failure, and strokes. Activation of the stress response elevates blood pressure via such mechanisms as constricting arteries, conserving salt and fluids, and increasing the contractile force of the heart muscle. The exercise and the weight loss that commonly accompanies regular yoga practice also tend to independently reduce blood pressure. Yogic relaxation, in particular, appears to be effective. (source: Timothy McCall, M.D.)

Give Birth To Yourself…

When you accept you are here for a limited amount of time, you will find yourself paying more attention to your heart’s wisdom – what feels good, what makes you happy – rather than what your head and intellect tell you to do or what others demand of you. Don’t wait for a disaster to awaken you! Let your untrue self die – and give birth to yourself. – Bernie Siegel

Complete Mastery Over The Roaming Tendancies Of The Mind Is Yoga…

By Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD

Complete mastery over the roaming tendencies of the mind is Yoga. (Yoga Sutra 1:2)

The mind is a repository of all our thoughts, feelings, and memories. It is a storehouse of our likes and dislikes. We see the world – and ourselves through the eye of our mind. When the mind is clear and peaceful, we see the world as bright and peaceful. When the mind is convoluted, our understanding of the world and our relationship with it becomes equally convoluted. Our concepts of good and bad, right and wrong, depend on the quality of our mind, as do our likes and dislikes. The quality of our mind, in turn, shapes our thoughts, speech, and actions.

Memories pertaining to our deeds and experiences are deposited deep in our mind. These memories – subtle mental impressions – agitate our mind from deep within. Propelled by these impressions, the mind thinks and acts. Impressions and the thoughts and actions propelled by them are endless. That is why we find our mind constantly chasing one object after another. It has almost forgotten how to be still and be aware of its thoughts and actions.

The mind is disturbed because deep within the elements of attachment, desire, anger, fear, and doubt are active and the mind is operating under their influence. The mind is stupefied – dark, dense, and dull – because deep inside the elements of worry, grief, dejection, and hopelessness are active and have rendered the mind inert. The mind is distracted because disturbance and stupefaction are mingled with enthusiasm, courage, motivation, clarity, and purposefulness – and all these elements are randomly active. As a result, the mind is partly focused and partly dissipated.

A mind caught in any of these three states lacks clarity. It has no confidence in it’s own powers and privileges. It is indecisive and only halfheartedly willing to act on its thoughts and ideas. It seeks validation from external sources. When propelled by a disturbed, stupefied, or distracted mind, our endeavors, no matter how noble, bear little fruit. The fruit they do bear is invariably tainted by doubt, uncertainty, and fear.

This is where the quest for (samadhi) a perfectly still state of mind begins.

The mind becomes one-pointed when the elements of purity, clarity, and peacefulness are active deep within. Acting under the influence of these elements, the mind regains its power of illumination (sattva). A one-pointed mind is stable. It no longer grieves over the past nor worries about the future. The elements of disturbances, stupefaction, and distraction have been put to rest. The mind is serenely active and flowing peacefully inward.

Now the practice of Yoga, in its truest sense, has begun.

Yoga As A Life Practice…

By Donna Farhi, Bringing Yoga To Life

Yoga is not Woodworking 101 but Japanese carpentry. Our teachers may show us precisely how to bevel the edge of a table or chair, but there is only one person who can bevel that edge. No matter how clear the teacher’s description or careful her demonstration, it may still take a hundred crooked, crude, and rough attempts to become proficient and produce that smooth edge. Just as a poorly sanded surface will splinter fingers for years to come, false understanding will continually sabotage a life. What we produce through such patient artistry is a spiritual understanding of enduring beauty.

We may find that when we begin our practice we have a low tolerance for frustration. We may use any slipup as evidence that we have unwisely placed our faith in such a practice. Through our cultural conditioning, we may falsely believe that things should come easily, that life should be as it is on TV; a series of climatic moments where everyone is having a birthday. Or we blame someone else; “If the teacher were clearer, I’m sure I would get this.” But nothing can replace the minutes, hours, and days of practice, observation, and just plain old trial and error involved in a lifelong apprenticeship. It is the very slowness of this apprenticeship that is the healing, for in slowing down we fall into a more natural rhythm with life and with ourselves. Thus we gradually change, gradually understand, gradually integrate the unconscious material of the psyche into the conscious mind, and the incremental nature of these changes ensures that we metamorphose without losing anything in the equation.

Working Towards Compassion and Acceptance…

Compassion and acceptance of yourself and others is a yogi’s core value – actually we could consider it part of the first core value, or yama, called ahimsa – which is non-violence to yourself or others and includes not judging yourself or others. When we live in a place of judgment, we tear out a part of our human heart. We can even witness the ill effects through the energy shift that takes place. Think about it the next time you judge yourself or another person and pause for a moment to feel the energy that takes place. If you stay there and witness it, there is a level of toxicity and contraction and restriction. Then also witness and hold onto the understanding of what happens when we shift into compassion and non-judgment of self or others – everything opens, flows – positive radiant energy flows and is beautiful. The message of every yoga asana could be a grounded and compassionate and curious: “I love you.” As a teacher I try to always be in this place – but as a student I also try to be in this place – where I am building love, acceptance, compassion – for myself and for all others in the room. Try it out, and see if it changes your experience.

Live While You Are Alive…

Live while you are alive…

Learn to be what you are in the seed of your spirit

Learn to free yourself from all the things that have molded you

And which limit your secret and undiscovered road…

Never forget that love

Requires that you be

The greatest person you are capable of being,

Self-generating and strong and gentle –

You are your own hero and star…

Be grateful for life as you live it,

And may a wonderful light

Always guide you along the unfolding road.