Welcome friends! OM Shanti!

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

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


7.15.11 Final Friday class 8-9am
NEW CLASS TIME:  Beginning 7.31.11 Sundays 7pm
Starseed Yoga and Wellness of Montclair, NJ
Taught by sisters Saraswati Andrea Lee and Chitra Jessica Sunshine Klein
Sponsered by The Yoga Life Society

HariOM opening chant
Patanjali Yoga Sutra 1.8  Misperception occurs when knowledge of something is not based on it true form.
The Sanskrit word for misperception is Viparyaya and literally translates as to flow away or around.  It occurs when the mind misses the point and flows away from or around the truth when drawing a conclusion.  Our observations can be faulty when the mind lacks steady foucs.  Misperception is grounded in problems that occur during the act of perception.  These problems could be 1) the information relayed to the senses is incomplete, 2) the logic is faulty, 3) irrelevant information is added, 4) the memory doesn't contain facts related to the object perceived. 

Yogic philosophy lists the causes of misperception as:
1) Ignorance - lack of awareness of our True Self
2) Egoism - mind is restless
3) Attachment - searching for happiness through external things
4) Aversion - avoidance of things we think bring pain or discomfort
5) Clinging to bodily life - the body is the medium through the mind experiences pleasure.

Misperception rests on the fundamental ignorance of our true Self.  If our true nature is peace and joy, what else but ignorance can be the cause of all suffering?  Spiritual igorance is the result of projecting attributes of the infinte Self (blissful, eternal) onto that which is finite in nature.  Goals like name, fame, romance, beauty, youth, financial sercurity are harmless if we remember they're limited and cannot bring permanent joy.  These goals become harmful when we treat them as our source of unshakable happiness. 

Our soul is Satchidananda: eternal, knowledgable and blissful.  Our True Nature is peace and happiness.  We need not look for it in outside sources, but rather just be it.  Be peaceful, be happy.  It is the mind that gets disturbed and the body that gets old and dies. The soul is the identical spiritual spark within every living creature.  It was never born and it will never die.  We are all different shapes, forms, interpretations and perspectives of the same expression.

 Today we will be learning a new pranayama technique called Bhramari Pranayama. To review, Pranayama is a Sanskrit term that can be broken down into two words. The first is prana, which means life force. Prana can be found all throughout the body -- in the blood, the organs, and most tangibly, in our breath. The sages say that a person can live for short periods of time without food, water and oxygen, but not a second without prana. Prana is truly the essence of who we are and is something that we share with all beings. The second word, yama, is often translated as control or restraint -- making pranayama the practice of controlling our life energy to maximize its life giving properties. We do this by manipulating the breath as it comes into and out of the body, focusing on the inhalations and exhalations.

Bhramari Pranayama is named after the Sanskrit word for humming bee. As you might guess, the sound made by the body during this practice is a soft "mmm" tone, one that imitates the sounds of a bee. The humming sound is emitted upon exhaling. Bhramari Pranayama has many physical and psychological benefits. The vibration created from the humming massages the parasympathetic nervous system which relaxes the body and aids in healing. Bhramari can be practiced at any point, but is especially useful right before meditation and is useful in treating anxiety and depression.

Before we begin let's go over the mudra, or hand placement, that accompanies this practice. Bhramari can be done with or without a mudra but the mudra acts as a literal and figurative shield from outside stimulus. The fifth branch of Raja Yoga is Pratyahara or the restraint of the senses. This practice of drawing the senses inward leads to the deepest states of meditation. We block the ears off using the thumbs as earplugs; the index fingers rest upon the eyelids, the middle fingers on either side of the nose and the ring and pinky fingers resting directly above and below the lips. For now we will rest the hands and begin this practice by tuning into the breath and engaging in last week's three part breath technique. Placing one hand on your lower belly, take a deep breath in through the nose and send the oxygen down to the abdomen. Exhaling, draw the breath up from the abdomen, expanding through the ribcage and up through the chest and out again through the nose. Follow your own rhythm allowing the breath to fill the entire torso before exiting through the nostrils. Next, apply the mudra we practiced earlier and begin by exhaling silently to a count of four, inhaling for four counts and then proceed with the next exhale making the humming sound. Repeat for six rounds.

Introspection meditation puts us directly in touch with witness inside.  It is a guided meditation where we go inside to ask "Who Am I?" 

Who am I? Am I my pinky finger? [pause and listen for answer within] I say, my pinky finger. Is this where I exist? [pause] No, I seem to by the owner of my finger. If the tip got cut off, would I seize to exist? No.

Who am I?  Am I my hand? [pause] Again, I seem to be the owner of my hand. I don’t seem to be limited by my body.

Who am I?  Am I my body? [pause] Again, I seem to be the owner of my body. I say “my body” therefore I am not my body but the owner of my body.

Who am I?  Am I my intellect? [pause] I can study and learn and yet I am still aware and witness to the intellect while it learns.

Who am I?  Am I the mind itself? Here I am, witnessing the mind go through the analysis. Again, listen to the language. I say, “my mind” therefore I am the owner of the mind. I am not the body, not the mind, eternal soul am I!

Who am I?  Am I my name?  When this body dies and I am no longer Jessica, does the Self die?  No.

Who am I?  If I become famous, do I exist only in my fame?  Listen to the language, "my fame." It seems to belong to me, but I do not solely exist in my accomplishments. The soul is eternal.

Who am I?  If I fall in love and get married or share a partnership, do I exist only in my romance?  If one day the romance dies, do I die with it?  No.  The heart stays open, it is the mind that gets disturbed.

Who am I?  Do I exist in my beauty or youth? When the body ages and wrinkles, do I age with it?  When the body dies, does my soul die also?  No.  The soul is Satchidananda - eternal, all knowledgable and blissful.

I am not the body, not the mind, eternal soul am I.  Ending with a short breath meditation utilizing So-Hum.  As you inhale, silently say to yourself So; as you exhale, silently say to yourself Hum.  Inhale So, exhale Hum.  I am that I am.  I am eternal.  I am all knowledge.  I am blissful.  I am compassion.  I am love.  I am free.  I am peaceful.  I am unshakable happiness.  Inhale So, exhale Hum. 

A reading from Toni Packer's The Wonder of Presence and the Way of Meditative Inquiry:
"Can we begin to realize that we live in conceptual, abstract ideas about ourselves? That we are rarely in touch directly with what actually is going on? Can we realize that thoughts about myself -- I'm good or bad, I'm liked or disliked -- are nothing but thoughts, and that thoughts do not tell us the truth about what we really are? A thought is a thought, and it triggers instant physical reactions, pleasures and pains throughout the bodymind. Physical reactions generate further thoughts and feelings about myself -- 'I'm suffering,' 'I'm happy,' 'I'm not as bright, as good looking as the others.' That feedback implies that all of this is me, that I have gotten hurt, or feel good about myself, or that I need to defend myself or get more approval and love from others. When we're protecting ourselves in our daily interrelationships we're not protecting ourselves from flying stones or bomb attacks. It's from words we're taking cover."

Ending Peace Chants
Asaato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityor Maa Amritam Gamaya
Lead us from unreal to Real
Lead us from darkness to the Light
Lead us from the fear of death, to the knowledge of Immortality
OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
Lokaah Samastaah Sukhino Bhavantu
May the entire universe be filled with Peace and Joy, Love and Light.

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