Author Archives: Glen Monks

About Glen Monks

Yoga teacher, writer, marketing

Divine Cosmic Dance

Shiva and Shakti – The Divine Cosmic Dance

Digital Camera P42001

Tantric Artwork – Midune 2012

 
As spiritual seekers, we often hear the phrase ‘as above, so below’ but what can this mystical equation do for us?
 
Tantra teaches such phenomenon is the key to harmonious interpersonal relationships. This provides purpose to our existence.

 
 

It is by no coincidence that we mention ‘mother earth’ when it comes to environmental awareness, or that we describe ‘the spirit of man’ when delving beyond the human mind. The Tantric tradition suggests such gender roles represent the polarities of the universe and everything in it. The masculine represents Shiva, the essence of transformation, from which everything is born. His feminine counterpart, Shakti represents substance. When the two unite, the spark of life is ignited. This delicate balance of positive and negative polarities is like a dance occurring in everything we witness. The Chinese call such phenomena yin and yang and, if you need hard evidence, scientists labelled them Protons and Electrons.

The Cellular Dance of Polarities

The nucleus of every living cell in your body is bound with a positive charge surrounded by negative counterparts. The nucleus remains centred whilst the parts revolve around it – much like the interaction between the Sun and Moon. When polarities are harmonised there is a symbiotic flow, but when the formula is broken balance gets disturbed. This can be best observed when attempting to join the positive ends of two magnets, here an energetic resistance can be felt which cannot be avoided. As humans we carry similar polarities in the cells of our bodies and, much like the magnetic field described, they too can meet resistance. Cellular resistance comes from disharmony of the elements which make up the form of our bodies. On an emotional level, a lack of accepting our thoughts and actions or those of another is often the cause of such disharmony.

Societies Demand for Equality

Tantric couple sunset
Seeking continual harmony becomes what is known in yoga terms as ‘the game of life’ to which we piece together the physical (Maya) and consciousness (Leela) counterparts of our self in relation to others. Such a game is very rewarding for those that dare to play it, but it comes not without challenge.

Because of the so called progressive shift in modern relationships, particularly men have become disorientated by societies demand for equality. The Buddha’s spoke of the ‘The Four Immeasurable Qualities’ (loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity) but in today’s society equanimity is often misunderstood. Equanimity is not a subject of gender but a mental approach towards others. The gender polarity of masculine and feminine will always remain, but seeing ourselves as equal, outside of our social and cultural conditioning is often not the case.

However, without natural equanimity thoughts of insecurity often occur. Thoughts of being not ‘good enough’ or worse still ‘better than’ is the travesty of modern life. Underneath the mask of romantic pretence there is confusion brewing. More than ever men are taking feminine roles, in on order harmonise their relationships and yet as a result women are becoming increasingly frustrated by men ‘not being man enough’. What to do?

shiva lingham
 By harmonising the positive and negative aspects of the chakras (article coming soon) students of yoga learn how to develop more harmony within their individual being (Jivatman). This in turn brings a greater connection with others and on a universal level, with the source of all creation (Brahma Atman).

On a practical day to day level, the male role, Shiva must take the reins and ride into the winds of change, because matter (Shakti) cannot be reformed without essence (Shiva). Such a hero is known as Vira, a spiritual warrior, one who is more than merely animal (Apashu), moving towards becoming a realised one (Divia).

Vira Yields All

12096334_990532831020564_1444584273368894691_nThe Vira’s role is to remain steadfast and gallant as he yields the challenges thrown his way. He must become strong like a rock, yet remain supple like water in the way he deals with others. Here, his counterpart Shakti will feel both protected and nourished by his efforts; yet feel she need neither control nor sway his path. In return, with great integrity, the Vira will honour her in both love making and in life. As the two harmonise, the seat of the heart chakra (Anahata) opens and the divine qualities, Purusha and Prakriti unite. It is here Tantric yoga spontaneously arises.

Time For Change

Esoteric texts suggest that we are in the age of kali Yuga. This age predicts men will seek quantity and not equality. It is an age where wisdom is seen as madness and is superseded by the attainment of material wealth. ‘During this time men will eat the food of the Shudras (lower casts) and sickness will be the result of this’. It is also said; he will be at odds with his neighbours and struggle to find harmony with loved ones. Perhaps today’s medical and marriage statistics bring evidence to what is often regarded as such mystical hearsay.

So, the Tantric yogi’s task is to manoeuvre through modern times with both feet connected to the earth (Shakti) and yet remain ever optimistic that Prakasha (the un-manifested light of Shiva) will bring solace to such efforts. The masculine must remain ever present, cultivating strength and agility, whilst allowing the divine feminine the freedom to manifest her desires. Such ideas may be frowned upon as new aged nonsense, but our inner strength must outweigh all outside distractions, if we are to find eternal peace.

What is clear is the more advanced society gets, the less connected to our environment and those within it we become. As a result, man’s greatest challenge is to sustain the role of playful awareness – Neti neti (not this and not that), to remain in the void of momentary connectedness.

Bruce Lee put it like this:

Bruce Lee
‘The void is that which stands in the middle of this and that. There is nothing which excludes or opposes it. It is a living void because all forms come out of it. Whoever realises this is filled with life, power and the love of all things.’
 
This is the Tao (way) of Jeet Kun Do.

A word of warning about Kundalini

Kundalini_dragon

I became a casualty of yoga after bringing to much ego and rajasic energy to my mat; you could say I had a gym mindset towards spirituality. During eight years of chronic illness, I learnt to rebuild my body using the principals of the chakra system. I did this from the ground upwards, applying what I was first taught in a more systematic and nurturing way. It was here I learnt the true essence of Hatha (sun & moon) yoga and how the polarities of the chakras influence our physical and spiritual health.

Along my road to recovery, one day after practicing child pose (Balasana) and then laying in corpse pose (Shavasana), I experienced the phenomena of Kundalini. My body began to spontaneously convulse, as an indescribable sensation continually flowed from the base of my spine towards the pineal gland in my brain. I believe this was a spontaneous happening, something that could not have not happened and, because I was open and ready to receive, my body united with the all pervasive prana. I can only describe this as a divine connection with something within me.

Since this experience, I have managed to continue building physical and spiritual strength. Although this was a fundamental pinnacle of my spiritual evolution, I would add that to push the body in order to reach such a state comes not without challenge. Go easy with your bodies brothers and sisters – it took me years to build back my ojas (the fluid of life). http://www.artofliving.org/ojas-%E2%80%93-fluid-life.

 

As a result, my favourite phrase in life is: “there is nothing quite as useless as doing super efficiently that which need not be done this way”. O, and ‘Be patient’.

Lunar Healing Meditation

Full Moon Writing Excercise

Narayan Kriya (cleansing the water elelment for prosperity and health)

“There are three things that cannot be hidden: the Sun the Moon and the truth.”
The Buddha

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It may seem easy for you to worship the Sun, due to its life giving properties. But Mother Nature is at her best on the lunar eclipse, during which a writing meditation can benefit the mind and body a thousand fold.
We call upon the Moon’s energy when practicing any type of forward bending. This is the ‘Ha’ in ‘hatha yoga’ it brings a calm and nurturing polarity to our being, which is underpinned by a sense of clarity, unlike its counterpart the sun (Tha).
The Moon’s energy can help us to look within and centre ourselves. It is here, we begin to heal inner conflict and transcend habitual patterns, by turning our darkness towards the light.

Practice:
Sit in a steady, comfortable posture; ground through your root chakra (Muladhara), at the base of the spine. Gently lift upwards from the occipital bone, the lower part of the skull, to awaken the Ida and Pingala nadis (the left and right channels through which pranic energy travels). You might notice the more you lift, the more grounded you feel. Here, as the calming energy of the moon meets any inner resistance, you can experience the joyful pulling apart of any old neurosis to which you have been clinging.

Next, invoke all ascended Indian and Tibetan yogis to witness and consecrate this sacred practice. Now begin to write and then write some more: write down solutions to your fears, doubts and any ill feelings that are currently holding you back. Write loose and free as if the Divine himself were to answer your requests. As the moon governs the great oceans, you may shed some tears while writing – let them flow, for this is a ‘letting go’ of trapped emotions you may have been holding.

Now leave your words, and worries alike, in the moonlight by your windowsill to be cleansed by the healing beams of light.

Release yourself into the night knowing that you are safe and loved in her arms.

Mantra:

Sat Narayan Hari Narayan Hari Narayan Hari Hari

The Art of Dying

Dying-gracefullyAs students of yoga, our approach to right living and a thirst for truth is equal to how satiated we become by our practice. As a result, we continue to sip from the vast ocean of wisdom that the great Yogi’s unveiled to reach liberation. Their quest, like the Buddha’s, was not a selfish act but one of pure compassion; that all sentient beings may be free from the karmic cycle of birth and death known as Samara. In the west, this ideology of reaching nirvana or uniting with the source of all creation is often frowned upon and has been tainted by many religious doubts and hypocrisies.
To the layman, cleaning up one’s act and living a harmonious, fulfilling life, is perhaps easier to grasp than looking at the taboo of death. However, the ancients knew that the time of death was, like birth, a significant polarity point in one’s life. Much as the map of one’s life is determined by the genetic imprint of the parents, so too is the ongoing journey of the soul (Jiva) at the time of death. In the Tibetan art of dying, known as the Bhardo Thodol, it is said there is an intermediate state where conscious awareness continues for a period of 49 days after the body loses its life force. Here the deceased are capable of recognizing confusing and often frightening Bhardo visions as a reflection of their mental state and the way they have lived their lives (karma).
Of course, atheists endeavour to sweep such ludicrousness under a door mat of disbelief. They would prefer to continue the fight for control of their destinies as if they are immortal. Yet, on a day to day basis, life reveals that we have little or no control on the grand scale of things. Think about it, what has happened in your life that you did not expect; did not want to happen or would have avoided at all costs, and yet…
Cultivate the mind of a yogi
tolasanaTo cultivate the mind of a yogi or acquire a Buddha nature is something that even the most unpractised seek to attain in their daily lives. Why, because peace is the natural state of existence, and whenever we are outside of this we strive to change things. We may seek to have more, become more or even swap the cards of life that we have been dealt completely. Whatever the case, when out of harmony or dissatisfied with ourselves we seek to change things. Knowing this brings about the importance of acceptance. Each time we accept our current state of play we become unified with the timeless void from which we belong. It is during such moments of peace, where the vacillating waves of mind no longer distract us that we feel most at home. Here, the hankering after material processions seems insignificant, and the battle of holding onto unwavering happiness ceases.
Find the time to die every day
In order to instill peace in the world, the ancient seers of India and Tibet opened a gateway of knowledge, for us to pass through. They did this by sharing the alchemy of life and, at the cringing faces of most, death. Of course, modern science and quantum physicists now prove their findings are mysteriously accurate. However, to face death, or even mention the word, rears up waves of resistance in both laymen and aspiring yogis alike. However, to face the ‘enemy’ of death, and welcome it as part of your evolutionary process, is perhaps one of the most beneficial practices you can do.
Yoga Sleep
dying‘Momento Mori’ is a Latin phrase which practicing Monks often use to greet one another. It literally means remember death, remember that you are going to die so cherish this day like it’s your last. In Sirvasana, the corpse pose, we are taught to do die a little. If our practice serves us well, here we enter the state of Yoga Nidra or yoga sleep. This is a journey destined for astral plains and beyond, where the veils of the physical world diminish. Like the rolling up of a yoga mat, we shed the carcass of the body before its more subtle layers known as the koshas. Here, in pretend preparation for the dissolution of the elements, we get a taste of pure awareness without the bondage of the physical form. The elements dissolve back from where they came: earth melts into water; water dissolves into fire; fire transforms as air and then air into ether (space).
Such a process is often felt by patients when death is imminent. A sudden heaviness in the body is often reported (earth); before a cold sweat (water); this then leads to clammy flu-like symptoms (fire); before a tingling sensation around the throat (air); finally there is no feeling, as the vital life force moves beyond the thinking mind (either). Practitioners of yoga clearly identify with such elements when studying the chakra system and, as a result, they seek to refine this human/cosmic intelligence. We call this Yoga in action, and when mastered correctly it promises the ultimate goal of Samadhi, a state of blissful light profusion.
Spiritual Mumbo Jumbo
Of course, in the eyes of many, such mumbo jumbo again rears the ugly head of doubt; a trait that incidentally was recognized by the yogi masters as the root of all human dissatisfaction.
However, it is proven, during such rehearsals for death the mind, body and energy system seem to transcend somehow and, when consciousness remains, a new state of reality comes to light. It is here where the thinking mind cultivates the acceptance, a trait most valuable at the time of the inevitable. By accepting that the form, to which we are so attached and often obsessed about, is both impermanent and transient we loosen our fears about life – and death. The process reveals the value of every wakeful moment and, as a result, our relationships and the rest of our life’s journey are significantly enhanced.

‘Where is there delusion when truth is known? Where is there desease when the mind is clear? Where is there death when the breath is controlled, Therefore surrender to yoga’

Tirumalai Krishnamacharya

 

Artwork: theishafoundation.org and yogiramalingam.org

Wonder Cure – IBS – Dadimashtaka Choornam

Meditating Female

Wonder cure – IBS, malabsorbtion & fatigue conditions.

I have been using Dadimashtaka Choornam  Anar (Pomegranate) for some time now after being recommended the wonder powder (churna) from an Ayurvedic Dr friend in India. I found it particularly helpful with increasing my appetite after a period of chronic illness. As a result, I managed to put on weight and increase my energy levels after being told I may never be active again. When health becomes compromised, the digestive fire (agni)  is weak, due to malabsorption. Of course, it’s easy for folks to say, ‘get some food down you lad/lass’ but this is of no use whatsoever in this instance.

Ayurvedic proverb: ‘Over consumption is the King of diseases and the disease of Kings‘. Alongside taking the correct medicinal herbs, there needs to be great emphasis on following a good diet; this includes consumption, food choices and eating habits. A little like throwing logs onto a fire, too much food causes the digestive fire to be dowsed and creates even more digestive/health problems down the line. Better to take smaller portions and get the ‘fire’ strong, so to speak; the food you then take onboard is converted into energy more efficiently. The churna, made from powdered pomegranate skin, has a combination of tastes (sweet, astringent, sour, slightly hot and unctuous)  and so pacifies all the Doshas (pitta, kapha,vata). It is not exactly the tastiest drink that will ever pass your lips, but its healing properties are far worth the trade off. Taking this churna 1 hour before meals and at bedtime, on an empty stomach, has reduced all my symptoms completely.

Drink your food and chew your drink

Reducing meat and dairy can have profound positive effects on digestive related illnesses, which, by the way, is recognised to be most health conditions according to Ayurveda – because we become what we eat. However, if one is to irradiate meat and dairy altogether it is best-done gradually using alternative protein sources. Believe it or not, how the food and drink is swallowed is equally as important. The phrase ‘drink your food and chew your drink‘ is my most used mantra. When hungry, it’s easy to gulp down food, in order to stop your hunger pangs, but as a result bloatedness and lethargy soon follows. This way of consuming has no bearing on healthy eating – no matter what quality the food is. Eating quickly and washing your food down with lashings of cold juice, wine or even water also impairs digestion (think of the fire analogy). The goal set by my Doctor was this: one-third food, one-third warm water and one-third empty. This equation gives the gastric juices time to process the contents of your belly and time to rest before the next sitting.

Happy digesting!

Anar (Pomegranate) outsourced article

Medicinal plants, herbs, spices

Anar: fruit and medicine

Dadima or dantabeeja literally means a fruit whose seeds resemble the teeth and Lohitpushpa stands for red flowers; that is how anar — the popular fruit — has been mentioned in Ayurveda. Though it is a native of Afghanistan, Baluchistan and Persia, its small trees are cultivated in large parts of India. The root bark, flower bud, fruit and fruit rind of anar are used as medicine.

Almost all ancient texts of Ayurveda, including the works of Charaka and Sushruta have eulogised the medicinal qualities of anar. Though it has been categorised under three types — sweet, sweet-sour and sour, the Kandahari anar is considered best.

Anar is sweet, astringent and sour in taste and light, unctuous and slightly hot in effect. It pacifies vata, pitta and kapha — all the three doshas.

Different medicinal benefits are attributed to the various parts of the anar tree…

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