Migrate Home with Meditation

birds-216827__340“…No matter how far the wild gander flies, at some point it remembers, and migrates back to its home, always at the proper season. In the same way, we as spiritual beings following a spiritual principle must, like the wild gander, remember, and migrate back to our spiritual home…” – Goswami Kriyananda

When I began exploring a meditation practice some years ago, I found it difficult to remain present at first.  Who hasn’t?  Luckily there are a myriad of techniques available for generating awareness. And, through trial and error, it’s possible to discover a method that speaks to you. In the end, a meditation practice should give you energy, enthusiasm, peace and joy.

Today I am introducing what may be the most effective concentration/meditation technique that I have encountered in my training and practice. It frequently helps to remove the attachments and fluctuations from my mind so that I can focus on my breath and generate positive energy.

What is it? Continue reading “Migrate Home with Meditation”

Turn Off & Tune In

pratyahara“See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil.”

This phrase is often associated with the image of three monkeys covering their eyes, ears, and mouth. Confucius, who is credited as the message’s originator, defined it as a warning to avoid all things evil or distracting that can hinder a person’s development.

Similarly, The Yoga Sutras, as organized by Patanjali, describe the fifth limb of its eight-limb system that is yoga. Through the sutras, we learn that pratyahara means to withdraw your senses. Like a turtle that retracts inside of its shell, pratyahara will teach you to go inside yourself and retreat from the external “noises” that exist around you: the opinions, the interruptions, the distractions, the associations, the influences. Once you detach from this commotion, you can be free to choose the sensations that you wish to introduce into your field of awareness.

Your challenge this week is to practice these techniques of pratyahara or sense withdrawal: Continue reading “Turn Off & Tune In”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: The Art of Sitting

simply sitting

“Perfection in an asana is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless and the infinite being within is reached”. – Yoga Sutras.

Learning to sit peacefully with the breath is founded on the postures of yoga. Yoga asana is performed so that the body is able to sit comfortably  in stillness. Pranayama or breath control is the fuel that sustains us to stay steady in our bodies and minds.

In the practice of yoga it is important to find a restful seat. Using a wall, a chair or other props to keep your spine upright is suggested if your hips or back muscles are weak or tight. Another method for learning to sit on the floor is to gradually introduce the muscles to the practice.

Here are my tips for crafting a comfortable seat: Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: The Art of Sitting”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Light Your Fire

“The wider practice of yoga is not about arranging our life so that it is perfect and easy and non-challenging. Rather it is about using the discipline we find in asana practice to be able to remain easy in the midst of difficulty. That is the true measure of freedom…” – Judith Lasater

The Sanskrit word tapas is the third niyama on our list. Tapas is often defined as heat. Yet it’s more ancient roots explain tapas has having the ability to remove impurities. In fact, the word tapas is used to define the process of heating alloyed gold until the debris is burnt off, revealing only the purest product.

Through the practice of yoga we can also use heat to burn away the nonsense and expose our true power. sun-1106981__340This does not just apply to intensive ashtanga, hot or vinyasa yoga forms. Any type of asana, pranayama or meditation can generate tapas.

This week choose a portion of your practice where you feel you need to apply more will power.

If you can’t sustain downward dog without stressing your shoulders, approach the posture through child’s pose and gradually build on the time you remain in downward dog until you feel stronger.

Maybe you can’t relax in savasana for more than 5 minutes. Use a timer to add one minute to each practice until you relish a full 10 or even 20 minute savasana.

As you bring more self-disipline into your practice, you will realize that you have more confidence. This “I can do it” attitude leads to greater contentment. Ultimately you will find that when you persevere in your practice (and your life), you feel more balanced, purposeful and joyful. A little work will release your attachments and free up your consciousness for higher realizations.

If you are interested in learning more about the concept of tapas, click on this previous post: “Tap Into Your Strength.”

Be the Light!

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Can You Accept Yourself?

“Contentment comes as the infallible result of great acceptances, great humilities–of not trying to make ourselves this or that, but of surrendering ourselves to the fullness of life–of letting life flow through us.”  -David Grayson

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This is an opportune time of year to consider contentment. Many people acquire things like beauty, fame or riches because they believe it will make them happy or content, especially around the holidays. But contentment can never be purchased. It cannot be accomplished by changing your hair color, getting cosmetic surgery or capturing that perfect Instagram. True contentment (or santosha as it is called in Sanskrit) is attained through altruism. It is felt in times of love and compassion. It appears when you eliminate superficialness, selfishness, and greed.

So, how can we incorporate contentment into our asana practice? Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Can You Accept Yourself?”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Let Go

“In the entire path of yoga, there is really only one lesson. It is the one lesson we have to learn over and over again. Whenever we relinquish our craving, clinging and grasping, whenever we are totally present and undivided, we are immediately in union with our true nature.” – Stephen Cope

Through yoga, we can address our attachments, our extreme possessiveness, with the concept of non-attachment or aparigraha. Aparigraha is the 5th yama or abstinence in the 8 fold path of yoga. In Sanskrit, the word aparigraha is broken down into graha = to take/grab, pari=all sides & a=against. So, aparigraha means “against taking all” or non-greed. While we can certainly have attachments to physical things, we can also be possessive on an intellectual or verbal level.

Here are some basic methods for practicing non-attachment or aparigraha this week in your asana practice: Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Let Go”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Is This Too Much?

Remember the most essential aspect of healthy yoga is going inward and growing more mindful with each breath. Let us not get distracted by “getting better” at yoga with our drive to achieve more. Instead, let us focus on deepening our relationship with our bodies in a way that is empowering and mindful.

One of the most difficult yamas (restraints) within the 8 limb-fold system of yoga to define is brahmacharya. 

Literally, it means celibacy. However, it can also be defined as non-sensuality, which is the detachment from fulfilling the senses. 

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When we dwell over objects of the senses, we tend to develop attachments. And, attachments can cause us to become imbalanced. Excess is almost always harmful.  Ever hear of too much of a good thing?
Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Is This Too Much?”