Balancing Koshas with Asana Practice
A question came up recently that I thought I would tackle, that being which Asana or sequences are relevant to balancing the five Koshas. Koshas in Yoga lore are known as the sheaths or 'bodies' that are layered together a bit like an onion. Presumably our true essence is found in the center somewhere a bit like layers of clothes covering a person. From my angle I can't quite get that, I rather go with the idea of our consciousness as completely non-localized and projecting into these 'bodies'. This goes beyond the so-called electro-magnetic field. Various studies have revealed that for example any decision that we make is registered in electrical activities up to seven seconds before we 'consciously' make the choice.
Most folk now-a-days are familiar with the presence of a field around our bodies and extending below and above. Let me hasten to say that this form of electro-magnetism is dis-similar to the commonly known form in our electricity and techno world of today. The so-called aura of our bodies is generated by life-force or Prana. This is also called Ki, Qi, Ether and others. It's probably worth saying that this field creates our physical body rather than the other way around. Prana itself absolutely extends throughout the conceivable universe and I believe the life-force that animates us is engaged by the luminous shell that in turn creates us physically.
In terms of Koshas, we have a sheath (field) of Prana, a Physical sheath, Feeling/Emotional sheath, two mental sheaths - Wisdom mind and Observing mind.
So sure, we can take various asana sets or a specific pose for re-balancing, and this is all good and helpful.
In my own practice I do tend to work with the subject a little differently.
The first thing we need to do is just get quiet for a moment and focus our attention on the feeling of the physical body. When we do this we immediately get in touch with sensation. That may be warmth or coolness, comfort or discomfort, flexibility or tight feelings, tired or energized and so on. What we are coming into direct contact with is our vital energy. This vital force is absolutely electrical since every single cell, organ, bone and system in our physical layer requires voltage to operate. Naturally there are sub fields, more macro fields and all are inter-related and eventually inter-dependent.
More or less as soon as I'm connecting with my physical energy I begin using the breath more consciously. The breath should never be forced in any way, rather free style and comfortable. Just by the simple expedient of becoming aware of how our breath flows is already a harnessing of life-force into our attention. Natural flowing and connecting of the breath is always best. Once these first two levels of vital energy and breath are in our attention we will notice that it wasn't the rational aspect of mind that we used. In fact the analytical component is not required at all for this practice. So the aspect of mind that we do use is more the observing mind. 'I' as an awareness, directed by my 'Intent' became more aware of energy and breath.
What I have called the Feeling/Emotional sheath is also engaged here and so I came to gradually call this 'Feeling Awareness'. So this leaves the Wisdom Mind. Well, the wisdom mind is the aspect of mind that can discern, choose, direct. So along with the Observing aspect we are actually engaging this part too as a function of Will. Once again let me hasten to say that the true, discerning, spiritual 'mind' is not the rational aspect. Direct knowledge that bypasses the thinking processes arises from our Heart and constitutes True Original Mind.
Now if we take the natural knowledge of Asana that says forward folds are calming, back bending are stimulating, balancing poses are centering, jumping is invigorating, inversions are rejuvanating and so on we can apply a natural progression to our daily practice.
Self observance or Mindfulness is such an essential basic practice. Without that there are literally many folk around who are quite out of touch with their bodies, their energy, their feelings and more. The more we follow a pre-determined script or program written by someone else, the more we become prone to this. Likewise the more we try to automate our practice the same thing happens - we actually lose touch with our vital energy. It's as if it has been hijacked by the machine or the script, which amounts to pretty much the same thing.
To balance the anandamaya kosha or feeling layer, we firstly need to examine how we are fundamentally taking asana practice. If you are ignoring your feeling layer perhaps you may be driven Intent-wise by the need to present a deeper forward or back fold than the guy next to you in class. Or perhaps impress the teacher or if you are that teacher, to live up to a socially pre-determined image.
Ananda in sanskrit is 'bliss'. So not surprisingly, this is mostly associated with a state of awareness that is transcendent and is considered a high accomplishment of spiritual state/experience. But realize that that bliss is experienced via our Feeling faculty in the Heart. So when applied to asana practice, we need to first be in connection with our feeling faculty and then employ this into a greater awareness. Many are in reality connecting their feeling to the analytical mind and so experience the sense of competition and comparison with each other.
Assuming we are feeling lethargic and sluggish, naturally a program of movement with rolling and jumping actions is appropriate. Back-bending is also great for waking us up and building a quality of sharp awareness. Anxiety and stress responses can be calmed with forward folding and when we feel very scattered we can practice balancing poses. We should also remember that twisting actions tend to promote energy flow since all energy moves in spirals. Twists can also be part of de-tox program.
Generally a good yoga session will release endorphins and serotonin and often fosters a sense of community as well which further helps.
So you can likely see by now that a reliance on a specific posture to 'do' something for us, although to a certain extent accurate, is not really sufficient. Without using our attention and therefore a consciousness we create skillfully we will likely simply be doing an exercise form such as gym or jogging or tennis, and that's fine so long as we are aware and that's what we want to do.
To genuinely balance the koshas into a deep harmony, we have to also consider the role and function of each major cakra in our energetic/physical body. No amount of practice of a sequence or pose will be able to work properly if we keep on with the thoughts, behaviors, attitudes and so on that unbalance the cakra in the first place.
So I do hope this has shed a little light on the subject. There is a lot more to say, but perhaps for another article.
Use this meditation to create balance and harmony in our three major bodies - physical, astral and mental. Spiritual insight, wisdom and general evolution of our being tends to be a natural by product of regular practice. The higher levels of Spirit work downwards, so to speak, into the mental, emotional and physical levels.
All of the materialized plane is governed by the natural elements of fire, water, air and earth. There are actually only two true elements – fire and water, with the air and earth as subsidiaries. The fifth element, the akasha, is properly an aspect of Spirit. Akasha is the emptiness or vacuum underlying all form. This has an infinity quality that contains all the etheric blueprints for all forms.
While doing the balancing meditation it is essential to have a background intent to create equanimity within each element as well as collectively, including from the akashic realm.
Sit comfortably but steadily in your meditation posture with the back straight. Maintain an upright sense but stay as relaxed as possible in limbs and joints. Our spine should be well connected into the heaven earth axis via a background attention. Become aware and turn your attention towards the background life force energy of the body and mind. By connecting with feeling we already include the Astral level. So mind via attention, physical and feeling sensations, all come together. Keep releasing, softening the face and skin generally. Loosen out any residual tension you find as you focus on this level of body and feeling sensations. Now connect into this awareness, the activity of gentle in and out breaths. Guide your whole physical feeling and skin to expand slightly as you gently breathe in and return or contract slightly as you breathe out. Continue this for a few minutes. Use the gentle exhalation to further release tension and bothering thoughts or unwanted feelings and emotions arising. We should know as we enter into this deep practice, that the elements express real elemental beings whom we shall be engaging. So, an attitude of warm greeting, salutation, honoring and respect needs to be present at the start. We pay our respects via attention, awareness and a genuine feeling. This should never be false or omitted. This is one of a few rare exceptions when dealing with beings in the astral layer, where we take the initiative and greet with honor and respect. In the majority of interactions in the astral plane, the other entity should take the initiative in greeting, not us. If they do not take the lead, they may be hostile towards us or disinterested in interacting. Should the entity be in some way hostile towards us, by initiating a greeting, we open a door, so to speak, for engagement to occur and we may have to deal with an unpleasant interaction. Now turn your attention to the fiery principle in the head. Image a huge flaming sun with extreme heat and blinding light. Use the full power of the senses to embrace this fire. Allow every aspect of your being to merge into the fire. Now expand this to imagine the entire universe is an infinity of fire. All of the old familiar self has been subsumed into the endless fire of heat and light. Don't hold back whatsoever, no harm will come with this practice, rather we are using the literal face of the element of fire to contact and commune with the living elemental being that is animating the fiery principle in the universe. This fire is the electrical quality of animating, getting things done, instigating/initiating actions. This is the masculine principle of creating, taking the lead, giving the method and so on. This is the hot cosmic Yang principle descending as it streams down the axis between the heavens and the earth. Always remember to hold a sustained but gentle, background intention to balance the element within one's own body and life. Now move on to the great water elemental in our belly area, seat of creativity and emotions. Concentrate here for a while and breathe gently. Imagine the glory of a huge waterfall. Hear the roaring sound, notice the fresh, clean scent of humid air, feel the cold spray and mist, taste the clean, pristine water. Now merge with this gigantic flow of water. The falls. The river, the pools and cascades. Be the water as it flows and tumbles, washed clean and hold formidable power. As your concentration deepens, bring in the infinity quality. Imagine you have merged with the entire universe of water. You are the great water and the great water is you. Water symbolizes pure love and is nurturing, life supporting, cleansing and is the life blood of bringing creativity to materialize. Realize that all rich, fertile soil in Earth can only ever be so by the action of water. Remember to hold the intention of equanimity and restoration of the element in your body and life. Now we move to the great element of air in the chest. Breathe gently for a while as you engage this mediating principle between fire and water. Imagine you're on a high mountain top viewing out into a vast valley. Spacious awareness is dominant. Water and space work hand in hand. Now merge into the fresh, pristine air. Feel the expanding quality as you breathe your way to an infinity sensation. Merge with and 'be' an infinity of air. Air is clarity and clear perspectives. Blowing the cobwebs away. Sweeping out old, stagnant, no-longer-serving dust and debris. Air helps balance and mediate fire and water. Hold the gentle but firm intention to balance the air element in one's body and life. Now we move to the great earth elemental. Earth is heavy and dense like stiff clay. Earth can be rich fertile soil and strong solid rock. Earth can be sandy barren soil and crumbling rock. Earth is is the vast cauldron where the fire, water and air mix and bring every-thing into materialization. Become the earth element as you expand and breathe and move into the infinity quality. Hold the intention of balance and harmony, peace and success, joy and fulfillment. Now hold the intention of balance and harmony with all the element's working together as you contemplate gently on the four elementals. Notice the underlying emptiness, the vacuum quality beneath each elemental. Breathe into this akashic quality and expand into the infinity principle, tangibly, in feeling and mentality. Balance the akasha as the master, governing element, the formless blueprint beneath every form. Now it's time to honor, acknowledge, take ownership and 'be' in resonance, the original spirit behind all these levels and qualities. Take full ownership of this identity as a universal being rather than a small self on the physical plane. To finish this meditation, come to rest your attention peacefully into the solar plexus. This great inner star becoming that you are. Rest attention here in this natural still point between heaven and earth, yang and yin, rising and descending forces. Stay here for a while breathing very quietly and cultivating the deep stillness arising from the practice. This stillness is the expression of emptiness, the akasha p
So last week I took a look into non-attachment. The condition of detachment as I mentioned in that post, has a slightly different angle.
Mindfulness, equanimity and a non-delusional view of samsara (the apparent reality we are all so familiar with) are superb tools for leverage on our spiritual path. When applied correctly and practiced diligently, they gradually begin to render in our general day to day consciousness, a sense of detachment. This operates physically, mentally and emotionally.
Detachment is not to be confused with aloofness and disinterest. As said previously, we are fully engaged, fully responsible and living life to the fullest, yet maintaining the condition of non-attachment. This has been superbly said: 'we're in the world, but not of the world'.
Our inner observer has taken on an all important role as we gain the opportunity to continually drag ourselves out of immersion and engrossment in the outer reality and likewise, the inner whirlpools of internal dialogue and emotional swings.
A high level of detachment combined with deep equanimity and a new and appropriate use for our attention, results in the alignment of the important spiritual qualities and is a vital element in our emancipation from the churning samsaric wheel.
Regarding those attributes of the spirit, practitioners that attain very high degrees of authentic detachment, find that they experience higher levels of direct knowledge arising from the heart, sometimes called insight. This occurs naturally as we become more unplugged' from the common, analytical daily mind and more tuned in to other layers of our intrinsic being that become obscured as we slept ever deeper into the common daily programming.
Furthermore, deep concentration and meditation practice becomes easier, following that one has gained greater control of how we use our attention. This means that if we so choose, now having greater detachment and discipline, we will not be continually pulled into every breeze or wind that comes along. Genuine samadhi becomes doable instead of a mystical, unattainable state reserved for the privileged few.
I dig much deeper into the whole topic of non-attachment and detachment in our Sacred Spiral Teacher training programs which detail you can view on our main website. www.sacredspiral.yoga
I hope and trust this throws some light on the differences between non-attachment and detachment.
I shall continue the theme next week to build up a bigger picture of what our practice should be all about and where it is all leading.
Non-attatchment is is a term often bandied around in Buddhist and Yoga circles. I often feel it's somewhat misinterpreted by many and can be quite confusing. So I thought to aim for casting a bit of light and so maybe help serious folk endeavoring to engage and so get proper benefit from this all important concept.
Gautama Buddha's famous saying that the state of nirvana is non attachment to attractions, aversions and delusions is key.
Many folk take apharigraha along with the idea of Maya, to become generally aloof and disinterested in life. Along with that there's a close danger of not taking proper responsibility for ourselves and situation.
Perhaps it's good to remember that an illusion (Maya) is a case of mistaken identity. We see a big white bird in a tree on a windy day getting ready to fly off. As we come closer we see it's actually a white plastic bag flapping in the breeze.
Similarly, Aparigraha (non-attachment) is taken to mean that we need to rid ourselves of desires in order to attain equanimity (samata)
The Buddha also said that of the four sublime states, equanimity is the only one that can lead us through to nirvana. So non-attatchment, equanimity and a correct interpretation of Maya is absolutely essential.
Without desire, nothing would ever happen and life would be a colorless, dull, meaningless state where we simply exist from day to day, probably wishing it to end soon. So we really cannot throw out desires, hopes and deep longings. Indeed emotion is exactly what the term says - the energy for motion.
So an aspect of that key is to mindfully employ desires and emotion to move and get things done and to live a full, joyous life. To become hooked and dependent upon the desires and emotions is what leads us to the suffering and delusions. Equanimity is the condition of maintaining balance in all situations. That does not mean we'll never get angry or elated again, rather we're not identifying with our emotions and so can maintain some 'space'. To authentically pull that off, we have to have non-attachment as an underlying and governing principle.
So Aparigraha can be said to be the disentangling and dissolving of grasping and clinging from the physical, emotional and even mental events and experiences of life.
There are many aspects to discuss on the topic, however if we can take this first step and really work with it daily in contemplative meditation, it will take us a long way indeed into the spiritual journey of liberation.
One thing to close off, without a high degree of mindfulness during all activities of our lives, it's going to be extremely difficult if not impossible to straighten out the idea of non attachment in clarity and order.
I hope this helps and I'll look forward to continuing next time. The idea of 'Detachment'
has a slightly different meaning to non-attachment, so perhaps we can look into that.
Sacred Spiral Yoga
A question from one of our teachers prompted this short writing on Kundalini.
Firstly, even though certain schools of Yoga focus their whole dedication to 'Kundalini', in reality the entire subject and practice of Yoga is actually about Kundalini.
The whole issue of Kundalini revolves around the principles of Shiva and Shakti and their relationship and interactivity. Shiva is the static, unlimited potentiality of the Universe (Multiverse) (Spirit) and Shakti is the active materialization into a myriad forms of that potentiality. (Materia) Swami Janeneshvara of the Himalayan Master tradition, uses a fabulous analogy of 'ink' and a 'writing pen' to convey Shiva and Shakti - millions of words (forms) can be written with only one medium - ink! (Shiva)
The word 'Kunda' means bowl or cave. This refers to the potentiality of our 'Being-ness'. The word 'Lini' refers to what is in that bowl - our current level of perception and understanding and spiritual knowledge and experience. (awareness as light) The word Shak is the root word of Shakti, and means 'to be able', or to 'have power'.
Hence, 'Kundalini Shakti' is the power of the knowledge of consciousness that is coiled in a latent form, in the 'bowl'.
Yoga is the process whereby we attain the ultimate potential of the Kundalini Shakti - the dance of Shiva and Shakti united. (Kaivalya)
So the practice of Yoga can be seen as two fold: the information and experience about the bowl - this is beyond simply our physical body but also includes the entire 'layer' of our world. Secondly, the contents of the bowl (current consciousness) - our Soul with its components of Heart, True Mind and Spirit (Atman in Yoga)
Much awe and mystique and coveting, surround the fabled 'Kundalini experience' where it is said that we can unleash electricity like energy up our spine that should reach our crown Cakra and result in a burst of radiant spiritual light and glory and usher us into the higher spiritual realms of Ananda and hopefully Kaivalya too!
From my own perspective and experience, consciousness and spirituality are synonymous. Therefore whatever energy is involved in these realizations, is a natural and intrinsic energy. In other words we do not ever have to go off seeking energy experiences and to do this for the sake of having said experiences is utter folly and can very easily lead you into very serious trouble indeed. Subtle energy channels (Nadis) that are not ready to receive a large charge of energy can literally 'rupture'. As a result we could incur physical damage to our nervous system and even worse, if neural pathways are unnaturally forced and damaged, we may go crazy!
This all said, the spine in our physical body with its electro-magnetic vortices is absolutely a super-antenna that we all have as the core of our psycho-physical being. The problem is that we cannot ever move faster than our current level of 'realization' in consciousness. Physical practices such as movement and breath along with mantra chanting and various Bhakti and Kriya, are meant to be supportive methods for Contemplation, Meditation and Yoga Nidra, which of themselves are also still not the target - the target is union with Purusha, the ultimate megha-samhadi realization of original 'Self' - Yoga - Union with the ultimate cosmic consciousness, Purusha, Divinity!
So all practices, including specific Kundalini awakening exercises should aim to support Self-Realization and that is all.
When we try to force Self Realization via 'forced' exercises and mantras we run the grave risk of 'smashing our own head' with a big hammer so to speak, or if we are lucky, emulate a fly batting against a window pane. (meantime there's an open window just a foot away to the side)
When we achieve Realization grounded and anchored and rooted in consciousness, no hammer is needed whatsoever. (in fact you could be just sitting quietly under a tree drinking your vegetable juice) Realization is completely natural and the flow of 'kundalini energy' that runs through our entire being via the unity of our spine, is like the experience of being hot and thirsty after a long hike in the mountains (life) and then coming to a cold crystal clear mountain stream and then drinking from that exquisite, pure water. We feel it coursing through our every cell and flooding our entire bodies with wonder and joy and the very life essence itself. (so not to mistake this experience with simply having a healthy, vigorous physical body)
So this is not to say that impressive and even transcendental 'energy' experiences are not possible, they absolutely are - but we need to be careful not confuse various kinds of energetic charges that exist in the Universe with Self Realization or even Ananda. The true experience of Ananda will always accompany True Self Realization anyway. I would also say that true Self Realization and therefore the true Yogic Kundalini experience occurs beyond the three states of waking, dreaming and deep, dreamless sleep - so this 'third point of reference' (state) is only to be aligned within a specific band of consciousness and associated 'Realization', found only within a specific quality of Deep Meditation (Samhadi with Atman)
How different is that to practicing on and on for something always in the future sometime as we psyche ourselves up with raised arms and breathwork and rolls . . .
So yes, the spine is a super conductor antenna. But we ourselves are the arbiter of our own consciousness. If there are skeletons in the closet - which we all have in abundance, I assure you, then those are ours and will be ours until such time as we have genuinely changed our consciousness. We can chant and roll and breathe and eat lettuce forever and this will not bring us one step closer to Self Realization. Those, along with all the various facets and approaches are good tools and assistants for our quest - however please don't worship the tool. You will entirely miss the point and join the legion ranks of fashion and fad as you entertain a bunch of very expensive, time consuming empty spiritual promises. Furthermore, if you do manage to align fabulous energy charges and even beautific, blissful realms, be careful - this too is unlikely to be Self Realization. Remember the warnings around the siddhis - they are 'obstacles' to Self Realization (Patanjali)
Y.A.I 500h Sacred Spiral Yoga
Have you ever wondered what a truly ideal life would look and feel and experience like? Many of us do this, at least some of it,
in the odd, passing, snatched day dream fantasy. Or If you do something like what I do, you quickly write it off as fanciful, wishful thinking. Put that aside and
get on with something more practical - work at hand!
There are lots of dollar hungry folk out there endlessly offering us the latest perfect method and solution to getting what we want in terms of happiness, money, health, security and so on - Just pay here and take these simple steps today! Probably most of us are sick of this nonsense by now and dont give them a second glance. Yet still, that gnawing need or dull, uncomfortable, inner Heart and Soul ache is still present - or we just learn to live with it and get along.
Now I'm not going to offer any path to quick riches or road to marvellous joy, fulfillment and happiness -
However what I am on a BIG mission to get out into the world and promote, is knowledge of our original inner being, our True Mind, Heart and Spirit. Spiritual knowledge and knowledge of our Soul.
I define 'Knowledge' as information + experience that is given the appropriate Spiritual angle.
We can all gain 'knowledge' that renders us limited and constricted because we have a limiting belief 'lens' (program) running in our sub-conscious minds, or we can gain 'knowledge' that empowers us and sets us free, because of a different type of lens that supports growth and freedom.
Perhaps from a true Spiritual angle, we should be aiming for a place beyond all belief stuctures.
Deliberate, consciously adopted, empowering belief stuctures, are a huge improvement on the limiting, default variety, however a third option exists past any belief software program.
In this zone, or state of awareness, we operate from any chosen belief stucture that will serve our purpose in the moment, or simply directly from INTENT itself.
Intent is the Spirit, that aspect of Consciousness that is both Immanent (now, personal) and transcendant, God the Holy Spirit, Purusha in Yoga.
Intent as Spirit, is way different to simple intents and purposes. A simple intention is 'I shall go to the shop and buy some groceries', 'I shall buy this new car' and so on. Intention could be said to be a 'consciousness' that we live or try to live by, like a moral or ethical code. Or perhaps a deliberately assembled consciousness that we express. A doing of some thing in order to achieve some goal..
However, 'Intent' as Spirit is something far more profound. Intent at this level is the entire edifice, immanent and transcendant of a set of circumstances and conditions. It may be said to be a kind of road-map that we 'our-selves, did not concieve the details of in any way. In this way, Spirit or Intent is transcendant. This of course is the reason that from our personal self angle we simply focus on the best use of our energy, otherwise known as impeccability. We do our best, in the moment, in our own eyes for our-selves - not in the eyes of society, peer groups, culture and so on.
A little dwelling will reveal that within the realm of our own Soul - Heart, True Mind and Spirit, we experience in life via our feelings. Intelectualism is cold and academic.
Warmth, genuine friendship, courage, empathy and all the other attributes of Soul can only be brought to the fore, activated, even just recogniszed, once we realize and take up the reigns of captaincy of our own Heart, Spirit and True Mind.
Those of us endlessly influenced by the rational logical edifice (visible where ever we look around us) can only ever in truth, be lost in an endless maze of mathematics, grid system formulas, linear clock time, the heavy, thick conditioning of culture and the traditional religious, social and intelectual systems.
Having so said regarding the Rational mind, equally mis-leading, is to be endlessly swayed and enamoured with the apparent reality circumstance and conditions. Samsara and Maya in Yoga. This first and very powerful reflection, is a feedback loop that we all fall prey to at one time or another, sometimes for an unpleasantly long time. Nevertheless, take heart, it is perfectly possible with a little effort and self work, to learn to deal effectively with the endless reflections of our 'Self' – in short hand, stop trying to scratch the mirror surface to see a change. Rather change your-self as the reflector of the images. The Spiritual path gives us the exact knowledge that we all require to achieve this.
The bottom line is that Spirit is antithetical to mathematics. The forefront, leading edge, emminent scientists in our modern era, in hot pursuit of the final reduction - the God Particle, shall never truly find it by continuing to employ the vehicle of 'Science'. They have hit the Hard Problem anyway - Consciousness. The ultimate Observer Effect. Historic, obstinate refusal to include consciousness in mainstream science is at last breaking down down now as researchers and experimenters begin to factor in this most obvious element that the ancients have been pointing towards for centuries.
Past all conditioning and even past the physical body and rational mind, we coast into the waters of our True Original Being - the luminous fiery flame of our Soul, unschackled from its immersion and imprisonment in dense matter, the rational, logical mind and physical bodies. This state of awareness/Con-sciousness is the great treasure found when we begin exploring altered states and Deep Meditation.
Our Soul, at this un-fettered level of Con-sciousness, can only 'Know' without words and thoughts. Subtle Feeling is interpreted directly by our True Mind in the Heart, not the common neo cortex variety in our Head.
Here we can only 'Be' original, raw, un-conditioned awareness. This is the source of the great biblical saying I Am - Before Abraham was, I AM. (Abraham as the father of modern human races) After Abraham passes. I shall be - I AM.
Some time back I developed a guided Audio for assisting us to get past the physical body and linear conditioned mind. I have had consistent good feedback, so here it is again. Many of our new subscribers, students and new teachers will not have had access to this Audio.
Guided Audio for Out of Body Experience.
You can use it as a deep meditation and I would suggest a careful reading and applying of the notes that accompany the Audio before you do so. Also, best results are always obtained from practicing many times. So take it over a number of days or 3/4 times a week for a few weeks.
Clarity and sincerity of 'Con-sciousness' is so vital as we reflect and Contemplate deep within our own Being-ness as an aspect of our Daily Spiritual practice. Without the highest level of inner sincerity, we will just be backing for whatever level of internal deceit and dis-honesty currently apply.
I am up-grading the original Coaching course now to a general Spirituality version. Hopefully out quite soon now and covering the material addressed in these newsletters and a lot more.
Deep blessings, and as always, do reach out if you need to.
Pranic Breathing is a super powerful practice capable of substantially improving our base line health and vitality, but more importantly, drastically altering our common everyday consciousness.
Waterfall Breathing video here.
The health benefits of all sorts of breathing techniques have been well documented by many professionals. This includes exponents from the medical field, psychology, alternative health practitioners, meditators, sports people and and others. So I don't really want to go into that aspect here as good and valuable as it is.
Consciousness these days is a hot topic, from what exactly is it, to what it does and how it functions. There are many debates and commentaries around spirituality, meditation, physics and so on.
For myself, awareness is the bedrock, so to speak and 'consciousness' is the next level up. So, a shared, consensual perception and understanding between the beings that have basic awareness and are of similar ilk. (such as humans or beetles or birds and trees, or maybe even rocks and planets and suns and other items that we commonly disregard as being not conscious) Modern physics is busy postulating now whether the entire Universe/Multiverse is 'conscious'. I personally believe it is exactly so, but of course I have no consensually agreed professional 'reputation' to guard.
So starting with the basic movements of Pranic Breathing, with a little conditioning and other Yoga practice, we soon gain a beautiful sense of freedom in the harmony of body, breath and basic awareness.
Those of you either actively involved with this practice, teaching it to students or just starting out on the journey, will know that I rather soon, introduce and emphasize the faculty of our imagination. When we close our eyes and move the body and breathe, we rapidly realize that what we are all familiar with as our physical bodies, is really just a sensation. Our foot for example, or arm or head, is just a feeling. And so I speak about 'feeling awareness'.
Harnessing this feeling awareness as we play with our imagination by coupling the two together, gives us a superb feeling of 'plasticity'. I quickly lose the idea of exactly where and what my arm or chest and rest of body is, and just experience the unity of feeling awareness. In this 'state of awareness', I can 'be' as huge or small as I wish. I can be whatever I wish to and I can include or exclude any items I so choose to.
We are all deeply habituated to leverage our awareness (and consciousness) around our actually very limited physical body feeling and sensations.) We are all likewise deeply habituated to not include in our awareness and consciousness 'things that are not there'. (imagination) If we do this openly, we run the very real risk of being seriously frowned upon and considered to possibly need some help by our earnest friends and fellow humans. However, this is standard practice for pranic breathing. We start by including the sky and natural surrounds such as trees, gardens, clouds, rivers, even buildings and cars and so on. This gives us a springboard place to move to other scenes for visualization.
Pranic Breathing offers us a wonderful opportunity to harness and engage our 'Spirit'. Generally I feel 'Spirit' is a poorly understood idea all round. Perhaps a good starting place is just the will to live and love and find joy and happiness and balance. We all have this intrinsically built into our being-ness. Spirit can be discussed in terms of Intention and also the underlying 'Intent' of things, but it seems to be closely linked to 'feeling'. So if we consider mechanization, machines, digital tech, mathematics and perhaps empirical logic and reason, we will understand everything Spirit is not. Warmth, feelings, caring and kindness, emotions and so on is all related and entangled with the elusive concept of Spirit.
In the breathing practice, well really any effective visualization practice as well, we need to harness feelings or else it will be a somewhat dull, static, and basically 'dead' effort. A vibrant walk on the beach in my imagination, especially if I am with a good friend perhaps, conjures up plenty of feelings and emotions. This of course provides us the necessary energy to leverage and channel our awareness and consciousness.
Years of pranic breathing have shown and taught me many marvels. From substantial aid in relaxation, (direct correlates) stronger meditation, better ability to 'see' how a plan may turn out, greater mental control, improved energy and health and many more advantages.
So anyhow, I trust this will be some inspiration to explore, to practice, to share and teach and deepen the technique into a solid, and staple daily anchor for body, mind and spirit.
Do watch the video and if you have not got involved with this wonderful technique, give me a shout and we can chat.
Y.A.I 500h Sacred Spiral Yoga
With the dramatic emergence and rapid spread of COVID-19 currently causing global fear and widespread disruption. It seems that we all need some urgent relief and some effective solutions to re-balance our-selves and counteract the psychic waves of fear and negativity. Covid-19 counter measures taken by governments world wide have forced us all into a condition of isolation, which we feel as an onslaught upon our expression of warmth and feelings with friends and colleagues. Usual freedoms have largely been removed and our personal and collective economic structures have in many cases come under severe threat and some have completely collapsed. Mindfulness, along with the ancient traditions of yoga, meditation and others, is a profound practice in itself, and could, when embraced correctly, make a huge contribution to helping us all with the current world wide fiasco. A core component of Vipasana Buddhist practice, Mindfulness is a deceptively simple method and quite easy to explain: 'we actively engage a portion of our attention into what we are experiencing right now, without judgment and preconceived interpretation, in the present moment'. This uncommon element, added to our awareness, has some highly useful effects. Primarily, by engaging mindfulness regularly, we insert a component of detachment into our otherwise smooth, absorbed, flow of awareness. The practice of mindfulness, further, invites us to make an effort to become hyper-aware from moment to moment. All too often we are so busy rushing headlong into the next event, meeting, deadline or maybe a party, that we actually miss a lot along the way as we are so deeply absorbed by all the activity. In that very ‘space’ that is created, we experience and realize something extraordinary. We realize profoundly that ‘we’ as participants in unfolding experience, irrespective of what that experience is, can also simultaneously be the observers of that same experience. In the moment of that realization, we have the choice to either identify our-selves with what we are perceiving, or choose to become detached. In the first choice, that of identification, we feel that we 'are' whatever the subject is. Feeling that we 'are' something, means we take it on fully and completely, our very fabric and essence 'is' whatever the subject is. The second choice, detachment, leads to a measure of peace and freedom. Identification takes us into a condition of limitation and stagnation by reducing our perspective to our own personal self reflection, while the second option sets us free. We can live and love always with the door open to change and without any preconceptions since 'we' are not ultimately absorbed and attached to our creations and experiences. Nor to our thoughts, feelings, emotions, intentions, attitudes and so on, since we can regulate those same items. This of course is the first and vital step to taking charge of our-selves. This is such a relief once fully comprehended and accepted. Now of course one big issue with the whole covid-19 situation is that it is literally forcing us all to make a radical re-assessment, economically, socially, politically and spiritually. It is relatively simple to see that the major challenges facing humanity today, are the forces of division, separative behaviors and attitudes, abuse of our environment, commercialism/materialism at all costs, a general lack of caring and kindness and above all, a serious lack of wisdom. So the solution appears simple. If the collective is made up of communities and those are composed of individuals, the true work lies at our own door to transform ourselves. By improving our sense of 'space' in our perceptions and interpretations and moving forward with a sense of detachment instead of endless identification, we gain a valuable moments opportunity to begin making wiser choices and firm decisions that reflect a greater level of coherency with our thoughts, feelings, motives and physical actions. Moving forward with this tool, we can all begin taking serious stock of the components of our mind and consciousness and make an effort to become more loving, wiser people beyond our endless pursuits of personal gain and beyond our personal narratives. Once we are truly ready to ‘own’ our consciousness in this way, with all its many ramifications, and begin taking steps to understand how this very consciousness works to create the realities we all find ourselves in, then mindfulness becomes a great friend and tool that we can use in our journey of personal transformation and empowerment, as actualized beings of soul, heart and spirit. So to sum up, Mindfulness is the great tool for Pythagoras' and Socrates ancient dictum 'Know thyself, and thy shall know God and the Universe'.
What lies at that undefined barrier between the conscious and unconscious mind?
Can we pierce through and gain extraordinary control and work miraculous feats?
The majority of people have at least heard of the placebo effect, even if many are not too sure of the deeper implications. A placebo is a sugar pill or saline solution, that is given to patients without their prior knowing it to be so. Usually done in a 'blind' test to try and assert the efficacy of a new drug. A placebo only works when the receiver does not know they are taking one.
Something is going on here between the conscious and subconscious layers of our mind. Our voluntary control and the layers traditionally relegated to auto-pilot. Our deep-seated belief seems to be immensely powerful. Placebos are very alarming to large pharmaceutical companies since they are sometimes extremely effective!
Let's talk now about a quite amazing human being alive and active at the current time of writing. Wim Hof a.k.a 'the iceman', has some truly astonishing accomplishments to his credit. Holder of 26 world records, many but not all to do with cold, Wim has made himself available for mainstream science to 'study' and has also developed a method to train others to do what he does, with a very high rate of success.
'Yogi's' and meditators have been living and doing their story high in the snowy Himalayas for centuries. Meditating Lama's in the snowy mountains of Tibet can 'melt the ice' around there stationary bodies. (gTummo Meditation) So what Wim is doing is not new and unique, just unusual for a western person.
What emerges from this inquiry is that there is a barrier that needs to broken. The line is drawn for average folk as to what they can and cannot do. This barrier lies at the limit of our conscious mind and is defined by our deepest seated beliefs, built by our programming and experience in life so far.
Cellular Biologist Bruce Lipton speaks about a fanatical religious sect living remotely, that spend a lot of time demonstrating their faith in extreme acts, apparently without any adverse effects. Among other things, drinking deadly poisons like strychnine. Interestingly, among the astonishing things Wim Hof has done, he drank a vial of active bacteria under laboratory test conditions that should have resulted in high fever and other symptoms, without any noticeable effect. Furthermore, he then trained 12 people who repeated the test, all with the same negative result. What is going on here?
To break through this 'barrier' and gain conscious command, of our autonomic nervous system and immune system, we have to take very deep stock of our belief system and what we believe is normal and possible. The big problem is that many of our 'operating program' beliefs, are very much in the depths of our subconscious mind and so are not normally under our voluntary control.
Wim has developed a three-tier method to train people. 1 - Mindset 2 - Cold - 3 - Breath. Needless to say, considerable effort and training are involved, probably mostly to re-train the deep-seated beliefs into more suitable ones.
Wim has what would be called a 'powerful personality'. His 'presence' is forceful and brooks no doubt. Not surprisingly, given what he does, he has brushed with actual physical death at times. This if anything, seems to have simply made his 'mindset of no doubt' even stronger.
Psyching up and Hyping up is almost a signature element people engage in when squaring up to challenges and testing their 'faith'. Wim does his fair share too. Psyching up is an integral part of achieving a 'can do' mindset, and the obvious thing is the energy of the emotion. Many 'great' evangelical preachers, orators and politicians do exactly this too. Drum up emotion and sentiment woven onto the frame of belief and attitude. This seems to imbue the recipients with extra charisma and faith.
In Wim Hof's method, he has developed, the 'cold pillar' as a resistive component. We don't have to tackle the snow and blizzards and water hovering around zero degrees, but the terms of our challenge don't change either. So if we are not keen on cold, we will have to find something else - or even more effectively, have it find us instead. This is where the wake-up calls mentioned earlier often come in. Severe illness, trauma, financial crashes, back-against-the-wall stuff can all function as a resistive element that we have to break through as we literally 'force' our conscious minds to break through barriers and penetrate deeper into previous dark layers and come under our volitional will. Wim sat in an ice cube with just his head out for slightly under 2 hours (one of his 26 world records) When measuring the temperature of his skin in contact with the ice, it was 'normal'. as mentioned earlier, certain monks in Tibet sit in meditation in temperatures hovering around zero with just their usual robes on. These are then removed and ice-encrusted blankets are placed over their shoulders. The task of the monks is not just to stay warm body-wise, but to melt and dry out the blankets. This they duly do and the process is repeated.
Within deep states of meditation, our quite flimsy, construction of reality and conditioned perception and understanding become altered, As Dr. Joe Dispenza recommends: Become No-one in No Time with No Body in No Place. Just Pure Awareness. Under these conditions, perhaps because the conscious mind can so obviously recognize that our prior construction was just a learned design, it becomes much easier to 'choose' and so 'spin' a new and different reality into material existence. So-called miraculous things happen. Healings occur, astounding feats become possible al la Wim Hof, Spiritual awareness increases.
In my book 'A Path through the Darkness' I explore further into the intricacies of awareness, our deep conditioning related to our consensually created world reality, and offer a method of my own. A toolkit for transmuting our consciousness into a new paradigm. It is my deep belief that the only way our current deep global crisis is going to ease and a new and healthier world order come into existence, is by every, individual taking up deep and serious accountability for themselves. We need to take charge of our awareness and consciousness as we never have before.
The book discusses feats of astounding nature such as in Wim Hof's work, but also, and more importantly, how to become a coherent, fully conscious being, fully aware and deliberately choosing to live and therefore reflect, the age-old values of caring and kindness, empathy and understanding, peace, harmony, wisdom and genuine love, not the sanitised and pre-packaged variety so commonly touted for purposes of selling items. Nor the sanctimonious variety of love often espoused by various pious folk.
The days of listening wide-eyed to the gifted speaker are on the way out. Being swept up in the cunning story they weave. We all have to sober up and assume responsibility for finding ourselves in a body, in these times, with a mind, with the capability of exerting intention. Change our beliefs if needed, and above all else, taking up the reins of the captaincy of our destiny, mastery of our own heart and soul.
Paul Carlos is the author of A Path through the Darkness - The book will be published shortly to Amazon and other leading outlets. Both paperback and audiobook versions will also be available.
Sacred Spiral Spiritual Coaching is offerd to selected personal and online clients via zoom and other platforms. Introductory and in-depth courses are also being developed.
Contact Paul Carlos or you can stay in touch with our online material via the buttons below. Future updates to these posts will include direct widgets to the bookstores and course service providers.
How often should we be practicing?
This question seems to come up quite frequently.
As much as we like to be told exactly what and when, unfortunately it's not quite so simple.
Firstly, why are we practicing in the first place?
If you want to feel stronger, fitter, more mentally alert and emotionally stable, you will have to find the right weekly input and rhythm that will work for you to achieve this. This varies person to person for many reasons.
The bottom line is, give and take a few factors, we get out what we put in. So make an effort and you will see some result.
In the final analysis, practices like Tai Ji, Yoga, Meditation and so on are more a mind state than anything else. Our core beliefs, attitudes, feelings and physical actions will operate to roll out how we gradually gain and benefit or go round in circles or just fall off completely.
These kinds of practices are currently popular, so many folk may just be in it because everyone is doing it. We may want to ask ourselves the question, how real is this for me? Is it really meaningful? and so on.
Director Sacred Spiral Yoga
Paul Carlos is the founder of Sacred Spiral Yoga.