Welcome friends! OM Shanti!

People come together in all kinds of ways, what matters is that they get together.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Meditation with Sister Sunshine - Fourth & Jackson Art Space

1-25-11 Workshop #3. As I sit at home watching the snow fall recalling the events from last night, its amazing to witness how calming meditation really is.  Prior going to class I was associating so much with the body, the aches and pains I was feeling due to my monthly cycle.  But afterwards I don't even remember thinking about it.  I was so connected and in tune with the students that only the connection between us existed.  Nothing else mattered, and in fact I am still painfree.  We discussed Yama and Niyama in depth as well as Pratipaksha bhavana as a way for dealing with distracting thoughts in meditation and daily life.  Visualization meditation using tradak of printed yantra for each student to hold at eye level.  Discussion afterwards was great as each student was able to open up about what happened for them.  Each of us saw different things.  Wrapped up the class with an inner visualization of golden light expanding from the heart and spreading throughout the body and then surrounding the body.  Each class begins with a new chant and by the end, we close by repeating the mantra nine times together. Absolutely blissful to hear the unison of our voices, connected so strongly. Hari OM!!!

 Six weeks of Meditation with Sunshine #3
Six week workshop designed for the introduction and integration of meditation.
Learn chanting, breathing techniques, and meditation practices.
Come one - Come all. Love all - Serve all.

Lokaah Samastaah Sukhino Bhavantu
May the entire universe be filled with Peace and Joy, Love and Light.  May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.

lokah: location, realm, all universes existing now
samastah: all beings sharing that same location
sukhino: centered in happiness and joy, free from suffering
bhav: the divine mood or state of unified existence
antu: may it be so, it must be so
(antu used as an ending here transforms this mantra into a powerful pledge)

This is a prayer each one of us can practice every day. It reminds us that our relationships with all beings and things should be mutually beneficial if we ourselves desire happiness and liberation from suffering. No true or lasting happiness can come from causing unhappiness to others. No true or lasting freedom can come from depriving others of their freedom. If we say we want every being to be happy and free, then we have to question everything that we do - how we live, how we eat, what we buy, how we speak, and even how we think.

Yoga is based on 8 limbs
Yoga is the blending of the individual consciousness with the Divine consciousness.
1. Yama = abstinence                   5. Pratyahara = sensory withdrawal
2. Niyama = observance               6. Dharana = concentration
3. Asana = posture                       7. Dhyana = meditation
4. Pranayama = breath control      8. Samadhi = Self-realization

Yama - Universal Abstinces
1. Ahimsa - non-violence, harmlessness, the supreme of all yama. Applies to word, thought and deed, intention and action with all human beings, animals, and inanimate objects. Shows us how to love ourselves and others. “Do no harm.” - Hippocrates
2. Satya - truthfulness in word, thought, and deed. Seeing and reporting things as they are instead of as we would like them to be. Think before you speak.
3. Asteya - non-stealing, the prohibition against taking for ourselves what belongs to another, including improperly benefiting from others thoughts or ideas.
4. Brahmacharya - continence or abstinence. Walking in God-consciousness. “Be efficient.” -Sri Swami Satchidananda Moderation, the middle way, not too much nor too little (eating, sleeping, working, etc.) Conserve energy in thought, word, and deed.
5. Aparigraha - non-greed, non-possessiveness. Greed comes from cravings, and unsatisfied state of mind. Free from greed we can see how our desires affect our life.

Niyama - Govern Spiritual Growth
1. Saucha - purity of physical and mental levels, regulating what comes in and out of our body and mind and to clean any present toxins in the body. Looking beyond the flesh to “see” the spirit, Cosmic beauty, not cosmetic beauty. Purity of heart leads the mind to become one-pointed, and with the mind calm, the senses are calmed.
2. Santosha - contentment, delight, happiness, joy. The ability to live in the present absent of cravings. Joy is the outcome of cultivating a vision that sees the unity of Self behind all names & forms. Whatever we have in the present moment is enough.
3. Tapas - accepting but not causing pain for purification. Accept pain as a teacher, showing our limitations. Asana is tapas for the body, meditation is tapas that purifies and focuses the mind.
4. Svadhaya - to recollect, remember, contemplate, and study for a complete and harmonious development of an individual. Scriptural study, mantras, and study of nature - human, animal and plant. Act in harmony with your goals.
5. Ishwara Pranidhana - self-surrender. Dedicated and selfless service for the welfare of others without selfish expectations. Transcend the limitations of the ego and join in the Divine energy. Thy will be done.
The yamas and niyams regulate our wants so our lives aren’t consumed with cravings and attachments.

What is meditation to you?
Meditation is the art of staying in this present moment.  It is unwavering attention and awareness. In meditation we bring the mind to a state that is peaceful, clear, one-pointed. Through regular practice we experience the full benefits of yoga. Preparing well for meditation is meditation. This includes chanting, prayers, affirmations, and breathing. Setting an intention and following through with action. What are some examples of meditation in your life? What activities do you partake in that you give your undivided attention to?

1. Sound 2. Breath 3. Visualization 4. Introspection
Choose any object for concentration as long as it is uplifting and you like it.

Distracting Thoughts
In yogic philosophy, there is a term called Pratipaksha bhavana which is a useful tool for preventing or correcting negative thoughts. "When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite (positive) ones should be thought of. This is pratipaksha bhavana." (Patanjali Yoga Sutra 2.33) An invaluable technique - a remedy to take when in the midst of the negative episode and a preventative that immuinzes the mind from their recurrence. Turn hate into love, anger into peace, greed into contentment, and fear into an open heart. When you are in the car listening to the radio and a song comes on that you don't like, what do you do? Change the channel. Think of the mind the same way, just change the channel and do something else. Let go of the distracting thought and come back to the object of your meditation.

Ujjayi - hissing breath. Begin with five deep inhalations and exhalations through the nose to increase breath awareness and to still the mind. After a complete exhalation, inhale slowly and evenly while tightening the glottis, which partially closes the opening of the windpipe, so a continuous hissing sound is heard. The exhalation is performed the same way, with the closing of the throat. It is the Darth Vader breath. The sound should be a soft hiss and of even pitch and intensity throughout. The sound comes from the back of the throat, not the nose. In the beginning it is normal to have a loud sound, but with practice and regularity the sound will get softer and softer. Eventually you will be able to use this breath with very little sound. Ujjayi breathing enables you to make your breath smooth and even. You can focus your mind on listening to that soft hissing sound. Ujjayi increases control over the breath and is an aid to concentration. It relieves heat in the head and increases the digestive fire.

Visualization two ways: tradak and inner visualization. The mind can be steadied by practicing repeated concentration and meditation on a visual form. The particular form may differ according to personal tastes - remember you may choose anything for meditation as long as you like it and it is uplifting.

Tradak: Using the steady flame of a candle, a picture of a beloved saint or teacher, the symbol OM, or a yantra. A yantra is a mystic symbol in the form of a geometric diagram. Those who went into deep meditation experienced something in the unconscious levels of the mind. Upon returning to normal consciousness, they expressed what they had experienced in the form of mantras, mystical sounds, and yantras. The yantra is a visual of a mantra. This yantra is a diagram of the cosmos. The dot in the center represents the absolute consciousness. The surrounding circles are the subtle expressions of the three forces of nature which begin to manifest as the yantra spreads outward. To use the yantra for meditation, hold the picture at eye level and gaze at it, holding the main part of the attention on the central dot. Do not strain the eyes. After some time, close the eyes and visualize the form mentally. When visualization becomes difficult, open the eyes and begin the gazing again.

Inner visualization: Tradak with the eyes closed may be used if used in regulare practice. You don’t need to open the eyes unless the mind is restless. Today we will close our eyes and picture golden light - the light of love, wisdom, and compassion - at the center of our hearts, removing all darkness from our lives and radiating to all.  Feel the light originate at the heart and grow outwards, spreading through the entire body nuturing each cell.  Feel the light surround you now and feel protected in your light bubble.  If you get distracted you may start again at the heart and let the light grow outwards.

"Enlightenment is a process of peeling back the many layers of the ego to experience your true radiant Infinite Self. It is a process of opening to your innermost being, and as a result to the entire Universe! Reaching towards the center of "you" you may find a spiritual cyclone. Yet, keep diving, beyond that there is a deep stillness. In the very essence of your being is where your true spiritual knowledge resides. This is the Source of your Reality and Universe. As you continuously rest deeper into the quiet peaceful still center in the heart of your being, you will eventually awaken to the Divine being you truly are. The longer you can abide in this center, the faster you'll find yourself manifesting a rich life, full of depth, meaning, clarity, love and abundant with bliss."  
~Jafree Ozwald

1 comment:

  1. Nice posting. Do you know about these yoga books?