Saturday, April 10, 2010

Is Alcohol Your Personal Escape Route?

Over the years, I have realised that somethings which start out as fun, soon become a way for us to escape people or circumstances and the feelings these create in us which we do not want to deal with.

Since I have never really been into alcohol, I want to share my experiences with quitting smoking. Smoking started out as a kick, then as a tool for rebellion and not being such a good girl, then as something to do when bored or disturbed and went on to be a social crutch. Whenever I entered a party, to calm that sense of not knowing what to do with oneself, I would smoke!

Quitting smoking took a number of years of slow realization and understanding not just at an intellectual level but also at an experiential one that this was harming my body and I could do without it.

AWARENESS: To understand what triggers your drinking, all you need to do is watch when you need a drink most and how you are feeling at the time. Have the drink and then keep the awareness of whether drinking has really made you happier or more comfortable with yourself! Since being aware when you are drunk is not easy, observing the after effects on your body and mind is an interesting practice. As a smoker, I would observe the horrible taste in my mouth and my difficulty with breathing..:)

ACCEPTANCE: If you find yourself reaching for that drink when you are feeling loneliness or boredom, then a good place to start is to accept that you are lonely or bored and that it is OK to be like that. A friend of mine once said that she did not understand why people always wanted to be happy. There are so many other feelings and they all have their own experiences and knowledge to share with us.


SUBSTITUTES: Find a positive and healthy substitute which allows you to feel good and have fun. Yoga as been a lovely journey for me. It has helped me to enjoy being clean and living a healthier life. I hold evening yoga classes in Mahim from Monday to Thurs (For more Information visit, www.vedana.in)

Hope this helps in your efforts to be clean, happy and healthy!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Yoga - A Preparation For Meditation

Meditation is not something we can do, it just happens like falling asleep. We can prepare for it. For example, we brush our teeth, change into comfortable clothes, lie in bed and wait for sleep to come.

Similarly the entire 8 fold path of yoga is a preparation for reaching self realisation, meditation being a very important aid in achieving this goal. Shri Yogendraji, the founder of The Yoga Institute, Santacruz has given us many insights in his little book - Guide to Yoga Meditation.

Yamas and Niyamas help to create a pure and steady mind.

Asanas allow the body to be healthy and flexible so we can hold a posture in relaxation, leaving the mind undisturbed by the dualities of life - Night and day, pleasure and pain, heat and cold, etc.

During the 10 day Vippasana Courses, there are 1 hour sittings of adishtan or strong determination where you ideally should not open your eyes or change the position of your legs and arms. Needless to say these 1 hour sittings can be quite a torture! In his discourse Goenkaji when explaining the reason for adishtan gives us the example of Buddha who sat down under a tree with the strong determination that he would not change his position till he got enlightened. He then asks you to imagine yourself as the buddha; this always brings a spurt of giggles from those of use who failed miserably in the first ten minutes :)

Pranayama or controlling the bio energy, helps us to slow down and stop the further generation of karma by controlling impulsiveness and breaking the vicious cycle of action and reaction.

Pratyahara is the turning in of the senses which happens naturally when we master pranayama. The senses are often depicted as 5 wild horses moving in different directions which are pulling a chariot!

Dharana is concentration on one chosen object and can take place only after a certain amount of mastery over the senses.

The breath is a wonderful tool for concentration as it is constantly there with us from the moment we are born till the day we die. The breath reflects our emotional state. It gives us immediate rewards for being observers or witnesses. The breath gets smoother and subtler without any doing on our part. The smoother the breath, the more peaceful and wonderful the state of mind.

Dhyan is meditation which is the result of deep concentration. Here there is an uninterrupted flow of consciousness to the chosen object of concentration.

Osho describes meditation as relaxing into your being. We are very uncomfortable with doing nothing. Almost immediately we react; we turn on the TV, read a book, clean, call someone, think about the past or the future. To be alone, present, aware, doing nothing is very uncomfortable for the mind, so it quickly finds ways and means to distract you.

As beginners our attemps at meditation, give us lots of insight about how much control we really have over the mind. Have fun on the path of meditation and enjoy the antics of the mind.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Good Morning!

Spring time in the garden, so sharing some of the blooming and flowering with you!


Click here!


In the words of Goenkaji,

May all beings be happy!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Be Selfish!

The eight fold path of yoga starts with 5 restraints or yamas and 5 observances or niyamas.

I have always hated being told what I should and should not do and I think most of us feel the same way. Its safe then to assume that the yogis must have experienced the same reservations at some point in their lives.

We are all selfish beings, but misguided about where our happiness and well being lies. This is very apparent when we see the state of the planet and how we are systematically consuming our way to its destruction. As a part of nature, we are all subject to her laws.

When you help others, you simultaneously help yourself; when you harm others, you simultaneously harm yourself.

This is the universal law of nature and it applies to all of us. According to the law of nature, one cannot perform an action that harms others without first generating negativity, anger, hate, fear and jealousy in the mind. These feelings are not pleasant and its impossible to be a happy person when your mind is filled with these defilement's. Similarly, to perform an action that helps others requires that we generate love, compassion and goodwill first.

As soon as we start to understand and experience for ourselves what is truly profitable for us, then we can really be selfish and enjoy all the benefits it brings!

Ahimsa is the first Yama (restraints or don’t s). It is non violence, not hurting or harming of other living beings or yourself in thought, word or deed. (For more, http://blog.vedana.in/2010/04/ahimsa.html)

Satya – Truthfulness in communicating your thoughts and feelings accurately without hurting the other. Satya is communicating only when required; communication which fulfills some purpose by the other receiving this information. All harsh words, half truths, exclusions and gossip are considered lies.

Asteya – Not stealing possessions, ideas and credit for someone else’s work. Not earning your salary by being lazy at work is also a form of stealing.

Brahmacharya – Not indulging in sensual pleasures and using moderation in all aspects of life.

Aparigraha – Not hoarding or being greedy by having only as much as you require and no more.

The 5 niyamas or observances or do’s are:

Sauch – Purity of the body and the mind.

Santosh – Contentment with what you have but not with who you are.

Tapa – Burning or bearing hardship on the spiritual path to overcome old habit patterns and make way for new ones.

Swadhyaya – Self study.

Isvarpranidhan – surrender to the divine / god or to a higher reality.

The last 3 niyamas form the crux of kriya yoga or the yoga of action (http://blog.vedana.in/2010/02/kriya-yoga-or-yoga-of-action.html)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ahimsa

Ahimsa is the first Yama (restraints or don’t s). It is non violence, not hurting or harming of other living beings or yourself in thought, word or deed.

Since Osho has written so beautifully about ahimsa, I am going to share his words from The Essence of Yoga. Ahimsa is a passive state which simply says that “I will not hurt you”. This of course does not guarantee that you will not be hurt since we create our own wounds and our own misery. When a yogi gets established in ahimsa, life becomes absolutely non violent towards the yogi.

Life is not a doer, it is simply a mirror and it reflects us. The responsibility for what life has offered us is a result of our choices. We have the freedom to choose happiness or misery at any given moment. In the beginning this freedom feels like a huge burden because we can no longer lay the blame for our circumstances on anything outside ourselves. However this freedom also brings power; all you need to do is choose to be happy.

Unfortunately humans are not able to reflect correctly, we have gathered so much rubbish, so many fixed attitudes, beliefs and ideologies that our mirror is covered in dust. One of the causes of our suffering is avidya or ignorance which makes us mistake the non eternal for the eternal, the impure for the pure, the painful as pleasurable and the non self as self. So maybe choosing happiness is not as simple as it seems!

Throughout my teacher’s training at The Yoga Institute, most of my realizations involved how I was not following a yogic way of living. I immediately wanted to start living a perfect life which is not easy when faced with 30 years of multiplying craving, desire, attachment and aversion. : )

Change is the result of awareness, patience, acceptance and perseverance. Every little step you take immediately gives you many rewards which encourage the next baby step.