This last Saturday in Tel Aviv I held a workshop on the Power of Prayer and manifesting intention into the miraculous!
We really dove straight into the power in setting intention, creating a designated direction through our thoughts, words and ultimately action. We may call this prayer, but it doesn’t require an outside force to bow to, neither religion to subscribe to. Rather it is connection to Self. We learned to bow to the infinite inside of ourselves, finding ways to accurately and with precision manifest our deepest goals.
There is a great power in setting intention, creating a designated direction through words. We can call this prayer, which doesn’t require an outside force to bow to, neither religion to subscribe to. Rather it is connection to Self. We will learn to bow to the infinite inside of ourselves, finding ways to accurately and with precision manifest our deepest goals.
We will through yoga and meditation access the essence of prayer/intention to create our reality that is in the highest and best! And then the letting go, non attachment to outcome, trusting and flowing! Ask and you shall receive. Learn to do this consciously and gracefully.
Join me in London on 1st December and in Tel Aviv on 7th January for workshops on Prayer! For more information click here
The power of prayer is probably the most powerful aspect of spiritual practice I experience. I am connected to many vernaculars that speak to God, through myriad forms of yoga and meditation, Journey work, Kabbalah, healing to name a few. Yet the simplest and most direct conduit to realize our heart’s deepest expression is prayer.
In the Bible it is said, first there was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. This forms the essence of my connection to God. The power of the word to come into union with the God nature or Divine aspect is not only the most profound, but seemingly instantaneous. It appears often that a direct line exists between the prayer and its manifestation. As you speak it, so it is.
In Hebrew the words Abracadbra mean:
אברא כדברה – I will create as I will speak.
For me this bears testimony to the creative power, just like a magic wand, of our word. Our impeccability with our word is the clay with which we create and mold our reality. What begins as a thought is given more energy as it is formulated into word, then more propulsion as it becomes action. These actions are the lego of our created reality. They determine how our lives are and what they become. So if we can learn to allow that first thought to be an emanation of our heart, its whisper which echoes the highest and best intentions for us, then we can start to be more proactive in the creation of a reality that reflects our truth and one that is the perfect landscape for the realization of our dharma or life’s purpose.
It seems so simple and in truth, ‘ask and thy shalt receive’, just as the Bible says, is the way prayer works. You ask and you pretty much get the request. In this way we need to be careful what we are asking for. When we pray for something and get a result that doesn’t seem to be at all what we thought we wanted, we tend to slide into doubt, fear and a loss of faith.
And the thing about prayer is, is that it is predicated on faith. Which likely results in me losing the attention of the empirical reader, the one who relies on a scientifically palpable, rational based view of reality. Prayer falls into that zone where you, empirical lover of proof, are going to feel at best uncomfortable, likely disinterested. Faith is something born of that which cannot be proven, quantified or measured. Faith is the fuel for prayer’s journey into manifestation and consequently an essential component for prayer. And I don’t mean faith in a God type entity or someone or something outside of yourself. On the contrary the faith that propels prayer is a faith in something intrinsic inside of you, indeed is You, your creative, Divine or God type nature.
Let’s for a moment demystify what I mean here by God. I intend no reference to any perceived or notionalised deity that may be prescribed by religion or conditioning. I definitely don’t intend to refer to that long, white bearded fellow that wields omnipotence over our lives and to whom we cower in reverence and fear. Neither to any other expression of deity, that divinity that may have been concretized from the abstract into a form like Shiva, Durga or even your Satguru, (although feel free to speak to whatever expression of Divinity works for you). What I mean here is the essence of the Divine that is contained with us all without exception, irrespective of our current incarnation’s religion or conditioning. The light of creation itself from which we are emanated, indeed is our essence.
G.O.D can be a reference to G as generator, creation; O as organizer or sustainer; and D as destroyer or death, the holy trinity as I like to see it. The cycle of being from birth, life and death, that is the nature of LIFE! Perhaps this notion might give you the freedom to cultivate a faith in Self, (irrespective of your conditioning), in this nature within you of pure creation. It is this that we speak to in prayer. This is the fountain from which our effervescent divine flow is eternally connected. Our faith needs to be no more than a faith in self, in the wisdom with us. The so called Guru within. But if God works for you, ess mein kind (Yiddish for enjoy it, baby).
So how do we pray? Sitting quietly, with our hands either in the lap, or in a chosen mudra (like prayer pose or gyan mudra), gently close the eyes. Take a few breaths to center yourself. For me I like to open with some existing prayer or a mantra, some vibrational words from Sanskrit, Hebrew or Gurmukhi that lubricate the opening into Source by their sound current. Mantra for me works profoundly to still the mind. In fact the word mantra comes from the Sanskrit word man meaning mind, and tra meaning vehicle or instrument, that which transports the mind to stillness. There are myriad to choose from and I suggest choosing any that resonate with you. A good old OM works beautifully, chanting OM three times, but feel free to play with opening into your chosen prayer until you find that resonance that redirects your attention from the mind into the heart.
When you land in the heart, speak from it, and let it guide you. Your heart truly knows what is in the highest and best for you and it speaks the language of truth, of what is intended in this moment, the here and now. It is the birthplace of intention, the fountain source of that thought that will ultimately bear fruit in reality. Let the thought be an expression of the spiritual heart or hridayakasha, and when spoken from the heart, we can be assured that what we pray for is what we truly want, as we are likely going to get it. Let your prayer for NOW be spoken out loud, in a soft voice to Infinite consciousness, God, G.O.D or Self, to the Guru within. The same voice we speak to our beloved with, is the voice we use in prayer. We connect with the beloved, the Infinite and in asking, so we open the gateway into receiving.
Humility is a virtue beautifully apt in prayer. Humility for me isn’t being small or to imply our nothingness, but rather a surrender of our ego self, our separate self into our higher God consciousness. I find getting down on my knees (which life often buckles me to) or even lying prostrate on my belly, engenders the humility that is so necessary in prayer. In Hebrew the word for knees is berech (ברך) and comes from the same root as the word for blessing, bracha (ברכה). Get down and let the wisdom of the mind bow to the wisdom of the heart. Let blessings ensue.
Speak from trust, as if what is being asked for has already been realized, from a place of empowerment, from deep inner knowing. Speak from an attitude of gratitude. Thankfulness that your prayer is already realized. Pray from love rather than fear, from trust rather than begging for something. For many of us more secular in nature, our prayers often come when the shit hits the fan and we are scared, in need or desperate. This is why we first need to still the mind, which is commandeered by fear and ego. Open every sentence with ‘thank you for…’ Let our prayer emanate from the heart, which asks for what is highest and best for all without exception.
Speak in your own words, your own language to the Infinite within. Ask for whatever you want, regardless of its seeming impossibility and forgo modesty. Go big, really giving full expression to your heart’s desires. If someone you love is on death’s door and your prayer is for a miraculous healing, do not be afraid to ask for it. Prayer is indeed the most magical mode of miracle making. Be realistic and plan for a miracle! In order to manifest the miracle, all we need to do is ask.
And the final catch, the closing seal on the container of our prayer, and the cog without which, prayer doesn’t really work, is non attachment to an outcome. Let go, and let G.O.D! If what we prayed for doesn’t manifest, it’s also OK. With this, we surrender out attachments, our ego, and all its accouterments, mind, fear and separation. In this surrender, the power of prayer and the possibility of manifesting into the miraculous is truly made real.
So be it! Amen!
Close your eyes
Look into the vast space of nothing
Stay there and be aware
Feel whatever you feel and stay with that
Give it time
and on the count of 3 let go
1 2 3 into freedom
The attachment is no longer there, for there is freedom from the feeling of pain
and the mind is still so are your thoughts and body
My daughter was probably three years old. She and my father would play for hours. She would be the waitress, the doctor, the maître D’. My father would indulge her every game, role-playing along in various accents and scenarios. This one particular day, they were playing the role of teacher-student. My father was giving Tia a test. He would ask her a question and she would scribble an answer (scribble being the operative response as at three years old she couldn’t yet write anything other than a semblance of a letter or two, kribbel krabbel we called it in Flemish). I remember my father’s questions to her…How deep is the ocean? She would scribble out the answer. How high is the sky? Lyrics from one of his favourite songs were his questions, her answers then put to page. How much do I love you…
At the end of the ‘test’ I was asked to be the examiner and to mark the test paper. I took the few pages of kribbel krabbel, and ticked various ‘answers’ playing along with the game. I then turned the page and noticed clearly amidst the scrawl, the words: “I am free.”
I was amazed. There was nothing intelligible save a few random child-like letters that showed a child’s learning in process. And then in the middle of the pages, these cursive words “I am free.”
I lost my brother 20 years ago. His life had been a deep struggle characterized by mental illness, tragedy and an unexpected and seemingly untimely death. Six weeks after he passed, he appeared to my mother in the space between wakefulness and sleep. She reached up to him and he said to her, “I stepped out of my body and into freedom.” This message and its timing had allowed us to feel the perfection of his passing. It allowed for the recognition of the incarceration of the body and the release of the form into freedom on death. When I read Tia’s play-play test results, it felt to me like my brother Shaul had spoken through Tia to say that he is free and that his spirit remains omnipresent and eternal. And that the fact that he had died five years before her birth didn’t preclude their interconnection as well as continued communication and contact with us.
And then tonight, something caught my eye from the inside flap of the book I am reading. The book, ‘Papaji: Amazing Grace’ by Premananda is a series of interviews with disciples of Papaji (Sri H.W. J Poonja) who was a disciple of Ramana Mahrshi, both of whom I am in deep connection with. There was this picture of his writing, these three singular words:
I have no knowing of anything at all. This is pretty much the only knowing I have. Yet this felt like a message to me coming to me in a moment, where I needed reminding of the freedom that I am. Something in me makes me wonder if it was not Papaji who wrote those words all those years ago through Tia. Something whispers that Shaul, Papaji, Freedom. Same, same. And the lyrical perfection of timing gives us the divine messaging just at the moments we need to hear them. Right when we need to remember the truth. The truth of freedom. The freedom of truth. That we are all free. That the shackles of the body and mind are simply illusory separations from our essential freedom. That I am free.
Both Papaji and Shaul passed in September, just before the Jewish New Year.
In gratitude to Shaul Forman who stepped out of his body and into freedom exactly 20 years ago.
In memory of Papaji who took mahasamadhi and left form for formlessness exactly 19 years ago.
In reverence to the One that is Infinite, Eternal and Free.
And to the recognition of that One within us all and to the freedom that is our essential nature.
I am that.
I am Free.
Om Namah Shivaya
Sat Nam and love,
What is courage? Is it a new found emotion that I have yet to encounter?
Courage isn’t found in words. It is born of the power within you to act on the knowing that whispers through beneath the din of the mind’s chatter.
Courage means living with integrity and holding true to what you know to be right, even if every thought from your mind begs you to do otherwise.
Courage is in letting go when you don’t want to, but staying true to what you know is in the highest and best.
Courage is outrageous, draws on every impetus that you have to be able to live aligned to your truth.
Courage means all acceptance and all compassion especially for yourself.
Courage requires the ‘rage’ of ‘cœur’, the fire of the heart, propelled by a momentum that defies mind and its limitations.
Courage is acting now and in clarity.
Courage is in saying no even when it takes every morsel of your power to do so. Courage is in saying yes despite it defying all logic. Saying yes to Self.
Courage is there as an undercurrent, like presence or awareness. It is not something you have to acquire or garner. It is an extant place to access, like a secret doorway to limitless power.
Find the key to the doorway. Open it. Unlock and fall into the Unknown. Be content to not know. To never know. You never can. There is only the unfathomable. Here you are Home.
OM sweet OM.
Yoga has a rich philosophical landscape which opens the practitioner to a vast world of application of its principles.
The philosophical context of yoga comes from the Yoga Sutra. Although there are other sources like the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, the Yoga Sutra is said to embody the essence of yoga.
The Yoga Sutra were compiled around 400 CE by Patanajali where it is said that he organized all prior texts into one seminal work. Patanjali was a sage that in truth nobody really knows much about. He is credited for many works on Ayurveda and Sanskrit grammar. It is not even certain that he was an individual, but believed to be a name representing several people. Despite concrete facts about Patanjali, the voracity of the Yoga Sutra and its lessons remains as relevant today as ever.
The Yoga Sutra is a series of 196 sutras (threads or aphorisms) that codify all of yoga. It is divided into 4 broad topics or chapters called a pada or path:
- Samadhi Pada: about enlightenment or really what yoga is.
- Sadhana Pada: about the practice or how to attain the state of yoga.
- Vibhuti Pada: about the results or the benefits of the yoga practice.
- Kaivalya Pada: about liberation or the freedom from suffering.
The Yoga Sutra outlines what yoga is and the eight-fold path (Ashtanga). Each chapter gives a directive on enlightenment (Chapter 1), instructions on practice (Chapter 2), what the results of practice are (Chapter 3) and its ultimate goal of liberation (Chapter 4).
The word sutra derives from the same root as suture and is a thread, deliberately concise to contain and transmit its quintessence.
Although it is composed of very few words, each verse is so rich in its meaning, depth and interpretation that one could spend a lifetime deepening into an understanding and application of it.
What follows is a cursory outline of the Yoga Sutra with attention to a few of its threads:
The first reads:
Atha yoga aunshasanam (1.1)
And now the teachings of Yoga
This is Patanjali’s dive straight into the present moment. ‘Atha’ whispers a subtle reminder that all yoga teaching emerges from and leads us back to the timeless, ever-present now.
He continues to expound on what yoga does:
Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodhah (1.2)
- Yoga, which is union
- Chitta is the mind matter
- Vritti are the thought fluctuations
- Nirodhah is the cessation or ending.
In other words, yoga brings about the cessation, end of the fluctuations of the mind matter.
If the nature of the mind is to think constantly, and thought is the cause of all suffering, then yoga is the panacea for suffering by ending the constant mind turbulence.
A yogic equation could be as follows:
Thought = Suffering
Yoga (= thought x 0) = = Liberation from suffering
Patanjali then says
Tada Drashtu Svarupe Avasthanam (1.3)
Then the seer abides in himself.
The seer is the witness. I often refer to the yogi as the witness in the yoga practice. The witness is not the I that is bound by a finite identification. The witness is the first meeting with awareness. Where we begin to observe in a detached witness role. This detachment offers us the opportunity to determine our reactivity. The space between action and reaction is expanded so that we can pause before response. It is in this space that we can then abide as our true self. This is what Patanajli refers to in this sutra. The seer, witness can realize that who it truly is, which is the infinite Self.
Yoga refers to liberation as self realization. It is not an attainment, which requires a reaching towards a goal. It is a waking up to that which always is, an awakening process of realizing that extant Self. The seer abides in Itself, resting in its own True nature, which is called Self Realization.
Papaji tells the following anecdote about a dobi or washerman who was down by a river when a lion appeared to drink. A hunter in the bush shot the lion and only wanting him for his skin, he pulled out a baby lion and left it on the bank. The dobi cared for the baby and brought it up along with his donkeys. So the lion grew up being treated like a donkey and carrying washing on its back.
One day a lion was hunting and came across the donkeys grazing in the grass. He was incredulous when he saw a lion eating alongside of the donkeys. He wondered how the lion had not eaten the donkeys. The lion jumped out of the bush and started towards the herd. All the donkeys started running as did the tame lion!
The hunter lion chased and caught the tame lion who was very afraid. The tame lion begged him to let him go and join the others. ‘But you are a lion replied the hunter lion.’
‘No, sir I am a donkey.’
So the hunter lion took the tame lion to the river where he asked him to look into his reflection.
‘We are the same.’
The lion looked into the water and saw two lions reflected.
‘Now roar,’ said the lion.
And the lion roared!
It’s as simple as that, Papaji says. Don’t practice being a lion. Roar!
Easy right! Wake up and roar! Let the Seer abide in Itself.
Patanjali’s Eightfold Path of Yoga:
The core of the Yoga Sutra is an eightfold path known as the Ashtanga (ashta means eight; anga means limb), which forms a structural framework for yoga practice.
Upon practicing all eight limbs of the path it becomes self-evident that no one element is elevated over another in a hierarchical order. Each is part of a holistic focus which eventually brings completeness to the individual as they find their connectivity to Self. Because we are all uniquely individual a person can emphasize one branch and then move on to another as they round out their understanding.
In brief the eight limbs, or steps to yoga, are as follows:
- Yama : Universal morality
- Niyama : Personal observances
- Asanas : Body postures
- Pranayama : Breathing exercises, and control of prana
- Pratyahara : Control or withdrawal of the senses
- Dharana : Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
- Dhyana : Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
- Samadhi : Union with the Divine
What is interesting to note is that the aspect of asana of which much of the focus in the west is on yoga is according to the Ashtanga simply a limb of many aspects for achieving yoga.
The eight limbs are set out as follows:
- 1) Yama: Universal morality
The Yamas refer to our conduct to others and are fundamental principles or moral codes.
There are five of them:
- Ahimsa – Non-violence
- Satya – Truthfulness / Honesty
- Asteya – Non stealing
- Brahmacharya – Continence / Celibacy
- Aparigaha – Non-hoarding / non possessiveness / non covetousness
- 2) Niyama: Personal Disciplines or Observances
- Saucha – Purity / Cleanliness
- Santosha – Contentment
- Tapas – Heat / Austerity / Endurances
- Swadhyaya – Self-study
- Ishwara Pranidhana – Dedication / Surrender to God (God as Divine or Higher Principle)
- 3) Asana: Yoga Positions or Yoga Postures
Patanjali refers to asana in the yoga sutra as ‘a stable and comfortable posture which helps attain mental equilibrium.’
Sthira Sukham Asanam: asana is steadiness and comfort. (2.46)
- 4) Pranayama: Extension and control of Breath
Prana is vital life force and yama means expansion or extension. Yogis believe that the limb of pranayama will not only rejuvenate the body but also extend the life force itself. It does this by balancing the respiratory and nervous systems which have a positive impact on the other bodily systems. On an energetic level, pranayama expands the breath body (pranamaykosha) and helps to expand the vital life force.
This fourth limb focuses on breath control and cultivates a deep connection to the soul. In Hebrew the word for soul (neshama) and the word for breath (neshima) derives from the same root. This indicates the interconnectivity between the breath and the soul.
- 5) Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses
Most of our daily interaction is based on our five senses. Through sight, smell, touch, taste and feeling we sense the world around us. Pratyahara invites us to withdraw our senses from the outer world and outside stimuli. This limb engenders an opportunity to become a witness as I refer to above. By witnessing and observing our reactions we are given a chance to notice our habits, thoughts and reactivity and cultivate an inner growth and personal evolution. Through pratyahara we become self observant.
- 6) Dharana: Concentration
This limb of concentration is where we give the monkey mind tools to tame its freneticism. This means that by offering tools of concentration, the fluctuations of the mind matter can be controlled.
Once we can effectively still the body/mind through asana and pranayama and withdraw the senses through pratyahara, we are then ready to focus on developing a one pointedness. We do this in a myriad of ways.
Examples are focusing on the chakras (energetical vortexes in the body), on a tratakum (single point of focus like a candle flame or a picture of a guru or deity) or by repetition of a mantra. Dharana however is not meditation in itself. It is a precursor to meditation.
- 7) Dhyana: Meditation or contemplation
Contrary to popular understanding, meditation is not something that we do. It is a consequence of concentration (dharana). The effect of dharana is thoughtless stillness. It is born of the efforts that lead in the first 6 limbs of the Ashtanga.
It may seem like a daunting and unattainable goal, but with commitment and discipline, the results of our efforts are attainable. The stillness experienced as meditation is indeed the connection to Self or union that is the goal of yoga as expressed in 1.1 by Patanjali. Meditation is where awareness abides as itself.
- 8) Samadhi: State of Ecstasy
This final stage of ashtanga is where transcendence takes place. It is in the coming together of all the limbs that the meditator comes into union with the Divine or true Self. This union is the ultimate marriage. The connection to the Infinite is connection to peace itself. This is called enlightenment or liberation (moksha) which is the ultimate goal of all incarnations; To realize the True nature of being.
The Ashtanga as set out by Patanjali is a life long process of integration and processing. We can use it as a framework for application, learning, teaching and personal and spiritual growth. There is no specific goal, other than Samadhi in applying these limbs as delineated by Patanajali. They can be applied sequentially or as they are realized within any given moment.
This forms the background for the practice of yoga, intended to provide the philosophical landscape so that you may better understand the bigger picture of yoga.
Application of yogic philosophy into daily life
The offering of this framework gives various tools for us to be able to integrate into our daily lives. For many of us the entry point is through asana or posture but as is clear this is just a step on the path to self realization. This works on the level of the body, the breath and the mind and is wholly transformational in and of itself. Yet I consider it a portal, through the most tangible aspect of our bodies, which can lead us into the deeper work which opens consciousness. At essence the attention to the body and postures as one’s singular focus may prove distracting and can lead to more ego when we are goal based regarding the postures. If we see it as an aspect, an important one for sure, it will help to keep this vessel of the soul clear, free of blockages and healthy. Yet the real work comes from controlling the mind’s fluctuating nature.
Posture is an excellent way to do this as it cultivates awareness and objectivity. It also leads us to expand the awareness into the breath and into the mind activity, which we do through pranayama, pratyhara and dharana. These limbs of the ashtanga are a deepening of yogic practice. We expand our vital life force, we withdraw our senses and we offer anchors of the mind through these limbs. All of which lead to a physical, emotional, mental and inevitably spiritual well being.
The first two limbs of yama and niyama are useful to spread like a jam between all the latter limbs of Patanajali. We can apply them to all aspects of the latter limbs, and most significantly to our lives. We may choose a specific yama or niyama, and direct our awareness to its application in any aspect of our life from our yoga practice to our daily routine. This application is dynamic and ever present depending on what presents for us.
An example may be to take ahimsa (non violence) and adapt it to our postures, in not pushing ourselves too much; to our eating habits in choosing conscious food or electing a vegan diet; in our relationships in working with challenging dynamics and injecting the concept of ahimsa into what may be usually confrontational or reactive relationships. Start easily with non-reactivity to road rage, Israeli bureaucracy or irritating acquaintances. Then allow ahimsa to be a introduced into the relationships that really challenge us, the ones we cannot get away from. If we can direct ahimsa to ourselves, this will ultimately inform all our dynamics. Non violence to self is an aspect of self love. Loving the self reflects profoundly on how we relate to other.
The examples are endless of how to use the yamas and niyamas to adapt to our daily life. Find your trigger, create your own process of application and let your life transform as you set yourself free from disabling and unhealthy patterning and relationships.
May this process of application effect as Patanjali inspires, the true yoga which is that of union with Self. May the mind be stilled, may all suffering cease and may our true nature be realized as we enter into the Samadhi state of true liberation.
True female empowerment is born the moment we tap into the Divine feminine! Together we will learn to recognize, access and liberate the limitless power within us. As women we have a deeper knowing, a creative force and when we open into this power, everything becomes possible! As women we can support each other, be channels for our children, loved ones and beyond. We can bring our intention into creating healing just as our bodies create and manifest life through us! Through trusting and connecting to the sacred circle of sisterhood, we can operate from deep interconnection and can literally heal or create anything and ultimately self liberate!
We often speak of empowerment as women. Women’s empowerment seems to be tautology to my ears. There is no empowerment to be attained to that that is already empowered. No feminism needed in resistance to an aspect of apparent misogyny. All that is needed is simply to be our divine feminine essence. The very fact of the female aspect implies a deep connection to all that is Source: to Mother Earth, to divine flow, to creation herself. We are Goddesses!
Historically we may have been undermined, disempowered and even abused as women and through this struggle it might have appeared that our female empowerment was in question. At essential level, at the level of spirit, this sanctum of womanhood could never be questioned. In truth our women-ness is a sacred blessing. Our female selves are expressions of creation itself. This is evidenced through our bodies and their capacity to create, hold and nurture life. It is demonstrated by our connection to the moon and our menstrual cycles and how our reproductive systems connect in flow with each other. Notice how women’s moon cycles come into sync when spending time together. It is demonstrated through our interconnection to the Source of Truth, to Divinity. We are clear conduits of the Divine. Our nature is nurture. We heal through our capacities as the embodiments of unconditional love. Nothing is needed for us to be expressions of this. We are by our very nature this unconditional love.
Sometimes we get stuck in ideas of male versus female. Notions of what masculinity and femininity should look like. Perhaps in reaction to the patriarchal cycles society has been though, our resistance translates as a shift from the disempowered feminine into an idea of empowerment that concretizes as notionally masculine. Yet there is no mould. Male and female are fluid gender paradigms that we can play around with. We are both aspects of them as well as the freedom beyond them. We are the strength, proaction and dynamism of the masculine God, the sun vitality of giving and hunting, doing, energy itself. We are simultaneously the softness of the inner feminine Goddess, gathering, receiving in the womb of our femaleness, nurturing, in the flow with the lunar cycle, being, consciousness itself. And as we meander between these polarities between Ida (female/moon energy) and Pingala (male/sun energy channel), we arrive in the balance of Sushumna, the centre of being.
The energetics of yoga allow us to experience this seamless interconnect between Ida and Pingala, two of the three main energy channels (nadis) that run through our bodies.
Ida is the left channel. It is white, feminine, cold, represents the moon and is associated with the river Ganges. It originates in Muladhara, our root chakra and ends up in the left nostril.
Pingala is the right channel. It is red, masculine, hot, represents the sun and is associated with the river Yamuna. It originates in Muladhara and ends in the right nostril.
These two nadis nadis run through Shushumna, which is is the central column and is associated with the river Saraswati.
The technique of Kundalini Yoga consists in using the prana (vital life force) guiding it through Ida and Pingala and awakening the Kundalini energy lying there. This energy is called Shakti which is the power of the feminine itself, lying dormant, coiled three and a half times at the base of our spines.
The various practices of yoga, pranayama (breathing exercises), meditations and kriyas, arouse the Kundalini from its latent state of slumber and allow its ascension up the spinal column. Its trajectory is upward through the Shushumna nadi (central energy channel) parallel to the cerebral spinal fluid. As it rises, it traverses the chakras (energy vortexes) that run along the central column of Shushumna, starting at the base of the spine at the root chakra and moving up to the crown chakra. Once it rises up, it releases this tremendous (female) power or Shakti, which opens up the practitioner to their infinite potential inducing an awakening of consciousness.
Its awakening catalyzes great spiritual advancement. Its aim is to resolve duality into union, a fusion with the Absolute. This state of ultimate bliss is transcendence of the dualities of the male – female, energy – consciousness, Shiva – Shakti.
It is here, in this balance that we connect to the inner male – female/energy-consciousness aspects and then move beyond them. It is here, beyond duality where we settle as our true selves, beyond the dance of all identity, all notions of self, other and separation. Beyond empowerment or the need to assert that which does not need assertion. We are whole, we are united, we are female, male, One. When our awareness abides here, beyond labels, notions and constructs, we rest in the freedom of our true nature. A nature that is Truth (Sat).
May you find wholeness, healing, liberation and creativity as the Divine Feminine that you are.
May all identity be transcended to reveal your true nature as the Infinite One.
May you live as this, from this, as Truth itself.
And may you always abide in this remembrance of Self!
Sat Nam – Truth is my identity
In Grace and Gratitude,
This is what I just realized. I felt really sick yesterday. It escalated rather quickly. What started with a sore throat moved into a sleepless night and then into painful ears. I endured the night, with a rumble of kvetch and then this morning cancelled my appointments for the day. Deciding to stay in with my five year old. Take a bed ridden day rather unheard of in my bumper to bumper schedule of life! Today when sharing with a friend how I felt and her normal suggestion of medication to alleviate the pain, I replied,” No I don’t take want to take medication. How would I be able to identify what is really behind what my body is telling me?”
With all this time on my hands, I decided to schedule a private session of healing for myself. The healer suggested taking me out of my comfort zone. I said being out of my comfort zone is my comfort zone. It is where the conscious application of awareness comes into effect. I can understand the bodily alarm bells, as it whispers or occasionally screams out its need for my attention. And my notion of comfort, bodily, emotionally or existentially has shifted so that there no longer is a needing, or wanting of comfort, but rather an acceptance of what is, just as it is. Devoid of any judgment of good or bad and free of desire or attachment to any particular state. Just an acceptance of the here and now.
This is a massive evolution from a lifetime of seeking highs, desire based interaction and recoil in the face of sickness, pain or emotional decline. This was effected initially by recognizing what my mother in law calls, the ‘Yay moment’: The moment when the shit hits the fan and instead of lament, we celebrate the engrained opportunity for growth, adaptation and spiritual evolution. I got some serious practice at it. Yay to cancer in an inordinate amount of my loved ones. Yay to enforced immigration of my parents’ due to my father’s illness. Yay to a steady flow of challenge. Yay. Yay. Yay. I got really lucky I guess. I get to yay through a lot.
And as a result of the healing work that I do, I get to say yay almost daily in the lives of people coming for healing and growth. I recognize pain and challenge to be the doorway into awakening. Indeed it has catalyzed a tremendous kick through this portal for me. Moving out of our comfort zone is where awakening can really start. And somehow in this recognition of the opportunity of the challenge, the challenges morphed into miraculous outcomes, awe inspired healings, and welcome blessings.
Today though, it is no longer even a yay moment. It just is what is here. And if it here, it is perfect. It is here for my growth. It is here for freedom. The sore throat. The undulation of life’s curve balls. The ups. The downs. All are simply here for the opportunity to cultivate steadiness. To recognize the bigger picture and to keep drawing the camera backward until the fullest, most pervasive perspective is in view. All provide the deepening into this that is awareness itself. And this counts too for the desirable moments we would likely aim for, want or strive for. These too warrant the same level of neutrality. The choice to shift from first class into steerage allows me to recognize that I am not even the passenger, but the awareness that watches the journey itself. And that this comfort zone is just a nom de plume for complacency, a procrastination against being awake to the here and now.
In this last trip to India, I managed to do a full 3 minutes of stretch pose. Kundalini Yogis know this pose well, generally loath it. It requires hard core abdominal strength (my weakest bodily part) and a powerful breath of fire. For years I have managed to go in and out of attaining the full timing, but always with a tremendous struggle, excruciating in fact. Now my mantra became ‘Here’ on the inhale, ‘Now’ on the exhale. There wasn’t a thought for the timing, or how long, or when the end would be called. Instead there was just this: Here, Now. The body continued its efforts but with no struggle. My awareness abiding as pure presence. Time became timeless.
This is my new comfort zone: Here. Now. Indeed a yay for every moment no matter what it looks like. A yay for this moment, just as it is.
Sat Nam and blessings,