Posts Tagged ‘yoga as peace’
nirvana – it’s no big deal.
Are you curious about what Kim Weeks shared on Friday night? Of course.
Ever wonder why you experience what you experience in life? Ever question how to create (or recreate) moments when you feel zero conflict with where you are and what you are doing?
Are you interested in your own transformation? Comment here or contact us for details.
a trainee’s thoughts on meditation, pt. 1
The Advanced Teacher Trainees and I have been talking a lot about what meditation is over the past couple of months, and I’m sharing on this site their recent writings on the matter. AM writes:
I have heard people explain that the mind is like a lake and that the fluctuations of the mind are the ripples that flutter across the surface, implying that a level of awareness and stillness of the mind will bring the lake into such peace and calm that the surface of the lake is flat and tranquil so it appears to be a mirror.
In thinking about meditation and asana, I’ve come to realize that the lake metaphor described above, for me, is an over simplification of fluctuations of the mind. This metaphor implies that that the water and the land underneath the surface of the water are still. But realistically, the earth (as are our physical bodies) is always moving and changing. For the earth, which is the foundation of the lake, to come into stillness means it must come into relative harmony with the forces of nature. To bring this from a lake metaphor to the context of yogic practice in today’s reality, I believe that the fluctuations of the mind of the average person come from a more fundamental, internal source. Much as natural disasters such as tsunami are caused by movement deep within the earth and whose source are miles away from the resulting waves, so are the originating sources that cause fluctuations of the mind. For many of us, the quest to seek a still mind is as much about bringing awareness to, observing, and working to bring harmony to these fundamental imbalances. In relation to the physical body, the connection is clear, as tightness and imbalance may be more readily identifiable.
Meditation is an ancient practice that, like asana, has different histories, schools of thought and techniques. I searched “types of meditation” on the internet and found meditation through virtually any means: dance, sex, martial arts, chanting, breathing, walking, stillness, concentration, and prayer, to name a few. As the types of meditation vary, so do the definitions. The Princeton Dictionary describes meditation as continuous and profound contemplation or musing on a subject or series of subjects of a deep or abstruse nature. I’ve often heard people say they meditate “on” something. I find this interesting, as when I sit in meditation, I do not have a particular subject matter or concept in mind. In my experience, meditating “on” a specific concept increases my mind’s restlessness. However, in Satchidananda’s commentary of the Yoga Sutras, he also translates “The practice of concentration on a single subject [of the use of one technique] is the best way to prevent the obstacles and their accompaniments.” In regards to what that subject may be, Satchidananda comments “Anything can take you to your goal, because you are not concentrating on the object for the sake of the object but for the sake of your goal.”
Wikipedia states that meditation as oftentimes part of a religious tradition. Meditation is yet another aspect of yoga that may seem to many as religion. Much like religious prayer, meditation is surrounded by ritual – the posture, the state of mind, the mudras that may resemble hands together in prayer, the incense or candles, the chanting, etc.
While some see meditation as related to religion, others categorize it quite differently. Many websites online consider meditation as a medical treatment that falls under the holistic or alternative therapies umbrella.
And finally, Krishnamurti defies all of these definitions with his description of meditation. “Man, in order to escape his conflicts, has invented many forms of meditation. These have been based on desire, will, and the urge for achievement, and imply conflict and a struggle to arrive. This conscious, deliberate striving is always within the limits of a conditioned mind, and in this there is no freedom. All effort to meditate is the denial of meditation. Meditation is the ending of thought. It is only then that there is a different dimension which is beyond time… When you learn about yourself, watch yourself, watch the way you walk, how you eat, what you say, the gossip, the hate, the jealousy – if you are aware of all that in yourself, without any choice, that is part of meditation.”
practice is the goal
Last week I was working with a new client. She’s 52, and she’s been practicing yoga for a long time. It shows in her attention to the detail of the poses, and, as important, in her ability to find meditation and stillness in her daily life.
As we discussed what it takes to revive a stalled yoga practice, she said, you know, I need this work with you to get restarted for 2010, but I’m so grateful that I actually do know how to quiet my mind. She went on to say:
I wasn’t sure I ever believed that you could just turn your mind off, but then, after practicing for these years, I’ve figured out that, yes, you can. It just takes practice.
She stated this fact so simply, without any drama, discomfort or complaint. She said it better than any teacher I’ve ever had, in fact: You can still your mind without any real issue — you just have to keep at it. It isn’t a drive-through experience, and it cannot happen while you are moving, unless you have figured out how to meditate while you are actually still, sitting, for a little while. Then you can be anywhere — walking, in conversation or relationship with someone, in a fast-paced vinyasa class — and you can observe whatever is happening at that moment and be still in your heart with it.
Yoga teaches that the heart is the true mind. I believe that my client was talking about being at peace when she talked about “turning off” her mind. This was a powerful teaching for me, and I am grateful to share it here.
I wish you a still and peaceful 2010, filled with practice and gratitude.
(there are many) analyst(s)
particularly as i observe my mind experiencing boundless’s imminent move, which may or may not be to 14th and T, i was struck this morning when reading a commentary by swami satchidananda, who writes a potent and clear translation of the yoga sutras:
How are we to know whether our thoughts are selfless or not? We have watch carefully the moment a thought-form arises in the mind. We become analysts. This itself is the Yoga practice–watching our own thoughts and analyzing them.
Can you run a business successfully and be selfless, I wonder? This is the question I visit and revisit often.
the other tuesday,
i read in my day-by-day calendar, insights from the dalai lama:
only human beings can judge and reason; we understand consequences and think in the long term. it is also true that human beings can develop infinite love, whereas to the best of our knowledge animals can have only limited forms of affection and love. however, when humans become angry, all of this potential is lost. no enemy armed with mere weapons can undo these qualities, but anger can. it is the destroyer.
the search for truth
so i learned last night how to customize my google home page, which was almost as exciting as when i found napster in the 90s. i was totally psyched, too, when, with two clicks from me, igoogle placed bart simpson’s and albert einstein’s daily quotes next to one another.
einstein’s quote for today inspired me to blog, and to let you know that i’ll be talking tonight at boundless yoga about the practice of yoga, 730-9 pm, for $10. we teach non-attachment in yoga, but especially as young, hoarding westerns, it’s hard for us sometimes to imagine ourselves not in possession of all the things we’ve accumulated, including our own intellectual “property.”
so the great man’s statement, “the search for truth is more important than its possessions,” provided me an instant, humble reminder of why i became a yoga teacher in the first place. i hope you can join me tonight. and, thank you, igoogle. you’re so cool!
the weather is, in fact, going to get worse.
i found this blog post on the wall street journal today describing several methods scientists could potentially use to control the climate. why not install huge solar mirrors to divert solar radiation, some are asking? please, yes, let’s spend money to send thousands of crop-dusting airplanes to blanket the arctic with engineed “particles,” others say.
the salient issue in any yoga or meditation class always comes back to control: what is in your sphere of influence, and what is not. one of the practices of raja yoga (the yoga we do in studios, the yoga of the mind) is to consider all possibilities. maybe crop-dusting planes in the artic is actually the answer. perhaps the long view is that this practice will save the earth.
i’ll be honest, though: it’s when i get to this level of justification–save the earth–that i have to stop and ask myself what we’re really considering here. what are we doing, and what are we reacting to?
the sudden hype over global climate change is obviously justified; only the diehards at this point are calling the rest of us chicken littles. but the question is: what are we trying to change and why? does anyone seriously think that a 4.5 billion year old rock won’t balance itself out, even if that means destroying everything on the planet that we–its squatters, effectively–call life?
crop-dusting the arctic is like taping the sprained ankle of a basketball player and telling him to get back on the court. as any fan has watched, this star might still be able to play and, position depending, will block, defend, and/or shoot for the rest of the game. but playing will in fact make that ankle worse, which in turn will lengthen the icing, xrays, and rehab when the game is over.
it isn’t even that our short-term, scientific solutions won’t help–the player with the sprained ankle might win the game. it’s rather that these scientific forays, and indeed the money and resources backing them, run the risk of diverting the attention from the real issue, which is where we actually are now. as a collective group of 5 billion people, and certainly the billions before us, we have created this.
the questions, then, are: what human practices have directly caused this problem? how do we stop them? how do we all accept responsibility for the fact that “developing” to this point has necessarily been derived of selfish, greedy, short-sighted, and in fact quite brilliant behavior and decisions? most important, is it possible for us to let go of the hubris of control, and to recognize that the 100 years we’re here, and any decision we make during that time, is not really going to impact the 4.5 billion more years this rock might keep spinning around the sun?
the point i’m making is that looking outward and upward is not always the place to go. the weather problems we are experiencing, and will continue to “suffer through,” are nothing more than a slap from earth, like any of our moms disciplining us as children because we reached for too many cookies at once. mom had a point: eat too many cookies, and you’ll get sick.