Category Archives: I had to write about it

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!

Fighting Poverty on the Frontline

DSCN1847Fighting Poverty on the Front Line
You don’t have to sit for hours in equipoise meditation before you become a Yogi. No, the path of Kama Yoga is one of action. Of course, not just any old actions will do; they must be actions born from good intention and benefit others. The great news is anyone can do this. It requires neither flexibility nor lungs like bellows. In fact all you need is a big heart! It would matter not even if your heart had a slight defect. Why, because intention is not a physical act it is a psycho-emotional one, even a person with a heart problem can give generous amounts of love. I recently had the pleasure of meeting such a man. David Calvert Orange is a Yogi, without ever having practiced yoga in the conventional sense. He is a retired school master who was forced to leave work early, due to a heart defect. Since then, all he has done is unconditionally give to others. The ripples of his work have changed the lives of hundreds of poverty stricken families in South India.
Lottery Wish List
Supposing you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you do with all that lolly? David told me he would spend it on his charity ‘The Wheel of Hope’ which feeds and educates more than 150 deprived children on a daily basis. He expressed his urgency to win the lottery so the charity could purchase a building instead of renting. David is one of a small group of individuals who run the charity, appropriately named the ‘Happy Home’. David, Pamela and Suresh alongside a board or trustees selflessly give their time to raise funds to keep Happy Home operational. The school provides valuable life skills and tuition to youngsters from poor fishing families, who would otherwise fall slaves to the slums in which they live. But the charities work delves much deeper than child education. Due to most children coming from broken and abusive homes, Wheel of Hope also provides counselling for mothers to help ease welfare issues in the home. As a result, the project has a profound impact on the whole community. However, the work is relentless and due to increasing property prices the charity is under threat unless it secures a building of its own.
You may be able to help
Whether you buy from your local Oxfam or donate to a chosen charity, you will know that supporting a good cause is as rewarding for the giver as it is the receiver. But just how much of your cash do the beneficiaries actually receive? Some large organisations have so many overheads and salaries to pay that it is hard to locate where exactly our donations go.
Aside from these large organisations, which without doubt do great work, there are those fighting poverty on the front line, individuals and small charities that give from hand to mouth. Wheel of Hope is one of these. Sadly the charity relies on fund raising from people such as you and me. However, this could all change with one final push. This latest campaign, to buy a property, will ensure long term sustainability. Without such facilities, the project will inevitably rely on fundraising activities, the likes of which David’s team will not be able to sustain forever. After seeing his work, my own lottery wish is to see that Wheel of Hope does not vanish without leaving a legacy. If David’s story inspires you, as it did me, and you would like to help, you can get involved in a number of ways.
See the website http://www.wheelofhope.co.uk for more details.
AND be sure to like our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wheel-of-Hope-Charitable-Trust-UK/466172786833578?ref=hl

A Cleaner South India

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A Cleaner South India

At a first glance, you could be mistaken that the people of Kerala are carless when it comes to environmental matters. Visit most cities, towns or small villages and you will be appalled at the amount of litter you see. However, this is not down to ignorance; you cannot be ignorant about something you are not aware of. Traditionally, in the kitchen, clay pots, banana leaves and bamboo were used. This meant they could be discarded onto the land without concern. Of course these natural materials biodegrade over time and present no pollution to the environmental. The problem nowadays, is that the same mindset is being followed but the materials have changed.

As India develops, the use of plastic is increasing; but this is not being balanced by education and resources for recycling. The Government may have taken a stance on such issues, by banning the manufacture of plastic bags in Kerela, but without education their message falls on deaf ears.

What to do?

In matters of religion and how to treat others, India far supersedes its western neighbours. But, as India competes in the global marketplace, many ancient traditions are being lost. Also, education with regards to global warming and protecting the environment is sadly being overlooked. For this problem to be solved India must better educate its youth, because they are the messengers of tomorrow. Sadly the common youth looks to the westerner and aspires to be more like him.

There is hope however. Thanks to Yoga and Ayurveda some of India’s ancient wisdom is being celebrated and preserved. Westerners are visiting India in their droves, in the hope that they can learn some of India’s secrets. They know, all to well, the side effects of progress and how this affects the body mind. But such visitors must bring with them a give rather than gain mindset; how can they contribute to a better India? The results of such mindset will greatly impact the India of tomorrow.

To learn more about recycling and child education visit www.wheeloofhope.co.uk

Clash of the Coconuts

om frogAs meditators, we spend many hours, inwardly gazing at the ocean of karma that crashes against our insides. But no matter how strong the need becomes, to understand our idiosyncrasies and undo suffering, we must not lose touch with the outside world. Sure it is nice to find that perfect, quiet spot where the world leaves us alone once in a while. But it is wise to remember that meditation is a means to an end, a way of finding peace with the other – whoever that may be. Only then can we find true unity.
Of course, it is not easy to ‘find’ peace and even more so when we go looking for it! I liken the seeker of peace, through meditation, to the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The golden ticket is the prize that every child in the land seeks, but it seems the more they search, the less chance they have of finding it! Then, along comes Charlie, he throws his faith into the wind. He knows that buying a winning ticket is not something he can will, but it is something he can enjoy, regardless of the outcome.
Through meditation, we become more like Charlie; we forget the ‘prize’ and simply remain aware of the process. Here, our afflictions to peace are revealed, and we learn to drop them one by one. We do this by observing our thoughts and witnessing the presence of our karma. We notice the disturbance this brings and allow any aversions we have to come through. Next, through the breath, we release anything other than peace – all that we are not. A peaceful, compassionate state becomes the by-product of our observations.
But that’s not the end of it! Next comes the tricky part, integration. How to remain peaceful and compassionate in daily living? Like anything worth working hard for, the process can be challenging. It matters not how peaceful you are inside the outside world will do its best to stretch you. The real work begins at the parameter of our inner world; here we build a bridge to the outside world. The two must merge. To remain inwardly focused is not the life of a liberated human being.

 

Imagine the scenario: you are on a tropical Island and have found the perfect meditation spot. Here, palms sway gently back and forth as the sea breeze cools your skin. The only person in your vicinity is a local man perched high-up in a tree picking coconuts. You sit down breath in the salty air and go inward; it is so much easier when in paradise. After a short period, it seems bliss is well within your grasp. You are in perfect harmony with your environment – or are you?
You cannot believe it; a voice appears, ‘Excuse me sir’. Your heart jolts, causing your nerve ends to tingle, but you try to remain poised. This is your time and nothing will disturb you. Your inner voice tells you; it is probably some fellow selling beads or possibly a beggar. You remain steadfast! And so, the outside world continues turning while you get back to your inner work. But seconds seem like hours and you cannot maintain focus. Your inner and outer worlds are in conflict, and there is no escaping this. Something is not right; you open your eyes, and there standing in front of you is a man waving a machete. His limited English affords him, a second excuse me sir. He then points to a rope dangling from a cluster of Coconuts in the tree he has just climbed from. When released the coconuts could swing in your direction, which would result in your head being removed from your shoulders. You jump to your feet as though you have sat on a termites nest. Thus confirms, your stubbornness to remain locked in peace was anything but harmonious…

It is a good job someone was practicing momentary awareness.
It happens – it happened to me. (lesson learn’t : go inwards by all means, but remain aware of the outer world).