The Hidden Splendour

A person who meditates sincerely generates tremendous energy within and around him.  Existence blesses him with healing powers that are also felt by others.  The same could happen to a devotee whose prayers originate from his heart and is not a mechanical ritual taught by priests.  Authenticity is needed in both the cases.  The healing with the meditator or the devotee is not something of his own, but a blessing from the divine or God’s grace.  When the flower blooms it has the fragrance that spreads around.
The flower does not go into an ego trip.  In one of his discourses on THE HIDDEMeditation dhyanaN SPLENDOUR, Osho makes this point with a Sufi story :  A Sufi mystic was so full of love and joy  —- his life was filled with laughter, music and dancing.  So God became very interested in because he never asked for anything, he never prayed.  He never went to the mosque, he never even uttered the name of God.
God became intrigued with the mystic and came to the Sufi and said, “I am immensely happy because that is how I want people to be.  I don’t want them to pray for an hour and do the opposite in the remaining 23 hours.  I don’t want them to become pious once they enter the mosque, and when they go back, they leave their piety in the mosque and are just their own selves : angry, jealous, full of anxiety and violence.  I have watched you and I have loved you.  That is why you have become the prayer.  You are, right now, my only argument in the world that something more than man exists —– although you have never argued, you have not even uttered my name, but you live, you love, you are so full of joy that there is no need for any language, your very presence becomes the argument for my existence.  I want to give you a blessing.  You can ask for anything.”
The Sufi said, “But I don’t need anything.  Forgive me, I cannot ask, because I really don’t need anything.  You are generous, you are loving, you are compassionate, but I am so full, there is no space within me for anything else.”  God said, “I knew you would not ask for anything.  Don’t ask for yourself, but you can ask for others, because there are millions of people who are miserable and sick, and have never known anything for which they can be grateful.  I can give you powers to do miracles, and you can change the lives of all these people.”
Yoga meditationThe Sufi said, “If you insist, then I can accept your gift under one condition.”  God said, “Condition ? You are really strange.  What is the condition ?”  The Sufi said, ” My condition is that I should not become aware of what is happening through me, by you.  It should happen behind my back.  It should happen through my shadow.  I may be passing and my shadow may fall on a dead tree, and the tree may become alive again, but I should not know it, because I don’t want to fall back.  If I know it —– that I have done it, or even that God has chosen me as the instrument to do it —– it is dangerous.  So my condition is : a blind man might start seeing, but neither should he know that it is because of me, nor should I know that it is because of me.  My shadow behind my back will do all the miracles.”
And it is said that God said to him, ” You are not only strange, you are unique and rare.  And this will be so : You will never know what things are happening around you.  Miracles will happen.  And I will remember your condition.”
————- Swami Chaitanya Keerti.
Advertisements

Nishkama Karma

Nishkama karma


NISHKAMA KARMA (State of No – Action) becomes possible only for a yogi at heart.  Meditating on what is unimaginable is considered to be the ultimate sadhana.  It is supposed to be beyond any conceptualisation.  If we imagine light, that is also a kind of form.  If the mind keeps thinking about the term ‘unthinkable’ to focus on, that is also limited in sphere.  So it is a challenge,  one has to overcome and the secret is that it can be attained by not pursuing anything with an intention to pursue, by becoming absolutely blank.

That is the state of ‘no – action’ in every sense (the state of Godhood) that supplies the energy for all action.  Why do we need sadhana of the unthinkable ?  We need the strength to pursue the most fruitful action.  Ramakrishna talks about three thieves, representing three gunas : RAJAS (can make you exhausted), TAMAS (can completely destroy you ) and SATTVA (the thief that has a lot of compassion)  SATTVA also guides you to the road that takes you safely home, the STATE OF NO – ACTION.

Kabir Das called this SAHAJA YOGA.  If we can become completely blank even for a moment, that is the real state of GOD – REALISATION.  In deep sleep, we may attain this stage.  But from a spiritual point of view, this state has to be experienced when we are awake.

It is very difficult to become completely thoughtless.  After remaining blank for a while, w may feel sleepy, but even then it is worth practising.  The effort to make ourselves thoughtless is also an action.  So, that action has to be discarded.  But as a beginner, we may take some form or light and remain blank, which may ultimately lead to the state of nothingness and thoughtlessness .

A sage suggested, you may think of God’s feet to begin with, but do not try to perform anything on the feet.  Just remain stable.  A state will come when the feet will disappear ——- what would remain is ‘nothingness’.  As one attains the state of ‘nothingness’ spontaneously, permanent peace prevails.

That is why it is said that BRAHMN is ‘unspeakable’.  Even one who realises cannot utter a word about it.  Buddha simply smiled and said nothing as He was asked to comment on NIRVANA.  It is for individuals to experience it.  Those who follow the path of sadhana and human welfare are able to perform this selflessly.  Thus, NISHKAMA KARMA becomes possible for a yogi at heart.

———– Arup Mitra. 

An integrated science

Rishi Patanjali


The Sutras of Patanjali cover all aspects of human life, prescribe a code of conduct to lead a life of fulfilment and end with a glorious vision to reach our full potential.  Yoga Sutras begin at the very root, mind and intelligence, called CHITTA.

In the first chapter SAMADHIPADA, Patanjali analyses the movement and functioning of the mind.  The second chapter SADHANAPADA deals with practise.  Patanjali goes on to provide deep insight into the nature of KLESHAS (afflictions) that affect the body and distract the mind, resulting in distorted behaviour patterns of an individual.


Yog sutras


In SADHANAPADA, Patanjali reaches out to the lowest level of the seeker who is spiritually yet unevolved.  He coins the term KRIYA YOGA .  Kriya means action and Kriya Yoga emphasises the dynamic efforts on the part of the sadhaka.

Kriya Yoga comprises eight yogic discipline ——— yama, niyama, asana, pranayama,pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and Samadhi.  Through asanas, the seeker becomes familiar with his body and sense intelligence.  Pranayama gives control over subtle qualities of the elements ——– sound, touch, shape, taste and smell.  Pratyahara is withdrawal of the senses and organs of actions.

According to Patanjali, Yoga is a preventive healing art, with its science and philosophy.  Pantanjali also warns us of the pitfalls that may impede spiritual growth and advises us to stabilise body and mind so that we are not shattered when confronted with  tragic realities of human existence.


Yog


The 3rd chapter VIBHUTIPAD, deals with attainments.  Patanjali exhorts  us to continue the practise of yoga so that the intelligence of consciousness and soul may be equally balanced.  Then we attain the highest state of wisdom where the person exists in a perfectly ‘integrated state’.   This is known as KAIVALYA.  This is the subject matter of the last chapter in the Yoga Sutras called KAIVALYAPADA that focuses on ‘absolute liberation’.

Yoga is an INTEGRATED SCIENCE which alone can restore the wholeness and integrity of our divided being and lets us enjoy real well-being.

——-  Nivedita Joshi (she teaches yoga in Delhi)    

Take it easy

Yogi


A Yogi walked around the room bare-footed, wearing his white robe.  He was in stark contrast to his audience, who were all executives from a large corporate.

The Yogi looked at his audience benevolently and then took out a stone from his bag.  He asked his audience how heavy they thought the stone is.  The room rang with answers ranging from 2kgs to 8kgs.  A few people asked to hold the stone before they could answer the question.
The Yogi smiled and said they are all correct as the absolute weight of the stone does not matter.  He said,” If I hold it for a minute, it is weightless.  But if I were to hold it for 10 mins, my hand will ache.  If I held for a day, maybe my hand will go numb.”  He then continued, ” The stress that you have is just like that stone.  Think about it for a short while and nothing will happen.  However, if you cling to it all day long, you will go numb and won’t be bale to do anything.  Remember to put that stone down before you go home.”
Yogi meditating paintingThis Yogi’s word rings true for all of us as well.  Stress may be a fact of life, but being stressed is not.  Stress can not only impact you mentally, but can have an effect on your physical well-being.  Eliminating stress from your life is a matter of choice and the good part is, you get to choose.
Effective management of stress requires balancing between work, rest and exercising.  While we do rest to recover from the fatigue, we forget the importance of exercise.  Being physically active reduces the stress hormones and increases your endorphin levels.  Cycling, running, yoga or a work-out in a gym  ——– just choose your favourite activity and get busy.
Practise relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation.  Consciously and progressively work through your body to tense every muscle for ten seconds and then release.  Take your mind to a nice and happy place.  Think about happy thoughts.
Whenever you get extra tensed, remember ———– THIS TOO SHALL PASS. 
—— William James.

Yoga on the go

Travelling for long hours means stiff joints and poor blood circulation.  Prepare your body, mind and spirit for travel fatigue.
You could be on a long road journey, a train ride or a two-hour flight ……… the seats are small and constricted and your legs are cramped in a tight space.  Travelling for long hours also means loss of blood circulation to the lower body.  One must straighten the legs and move the feet forward and backward periodically.  Feel the tension in your calves.  Rotate ankles, clockwise and anticlockwise.  Flex and stretch your toes too.
Gyan mudraSTRENGTHEN NECK MUSCLES :  While a neck-pillow works well in cushioning your spine during travel, some basic yoga steps only make your travel more comfortable.  ** Look up and bend your head back.  Then bend your head down and look downwards.  Move only your neck, breathing normally.  Repeat this three to five times.  ** Now turn your face as far right as possible.  Then turn to the left.  Repeat three times.
BENEFITS : Removes stiffness of the neck muscles and counters spasms, corrects the neck posture and aligns the joints.
LOOSEN UP :  ** Take your hands behind your head.  Place your right hand on your left shoulder and your left hand on your right shoulder.  Your elbows should point upwards.  ** Interlock your fingers.  Cover your forehead with your palms.  Exert force with your hands and neck in opposite directions.  The palms should force the neck back while the neck forces the palms forward.
BENEFITS :  Removes all traces of stiffness in the shoulders and neck muscles.
ARM STRENGTH :  ** Outstretch your arms, at shoulder level.  With all your strength, clench your hands into fists and then unclench them.  ** Rotate your fists in both directions.  ** Keep your hands on your shoulders and rotate elbows clockwise and anticlockwise.
BENEFITS :  Removes weakness in the arms, cures stiff shoulders and neck, alleviates joint pains.
yoga-reflectionsGYAN MUDRA :  ** Sit in a comfortable position in your chair folding your legs, keeping your back and neck straight.  ** Form the Gyan Mudra by touching the tip of the thumb with the tip of the index finger, the other three fingers straight and joined together.  Place your hands on the knees, palms facing upwards.  Close your eyes gently and focus on your breathing.  Hold this position for 10mins.
BENEFITS :  It improves concentration and reduces negative thoughts.  Regular practice eliminates insomnia, migraine usually associated with long travel.
POST-TRAVEL ASANA :  Stand erect, heels together and place both hands on your chest, fingers interlocked.  Stretch your arms ahead and slowly raise them up while breathing in.  Raise your heels, stand on tiptoe and stretch your entire body upwards.  Repeat two or three times.
BENEFITS : Strengthens the spine, ankles, knees, thighs and abdomen.  Relieves physical exhaustion.
———- Inputs by Yogacharya Dr. Surakshit Goswami.

Samarth Namaskar

Surya Namaskar


While the country is gearing to celebrate WORLD YOGA DAY, an innovation on the SURYA NAMASKAR ———- christened SAMARTH NAMASKAR by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is sitting at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) awaiting a National Launch.

The new routine, that has added 9 postures to the traditional 12, has been  essentially developed by a Pune-based orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Pavan Kohli, with the blessings of the late yoga guru BKS Iyengar and in collaboration with offshore branches of a yoga institute and the Sports Medicine Association (Singapore), SAMARTH NAMASKAR is an attempt to woo over people.  The PM’s astute selection of the name SAMARTH was to signify capable of benefitting all.
Samarth Namaskar“I faced a lot of resistance within the country to my efforts to innovate on the iconic SURYA NAMASKAR, so I chose to involve foreign institutions in my endeavour,” Dr. Kohli told Mirror.  It took him over a year to develop the routine, during which time BKS passed away.
“BKS was already in a frail state of health when I began.  After him, I have been guided by his son Prashant Iyengar,” Kohli recounted.  However, Prashant Iyengar told Mirror, “It is completely designed by Kohli and all the credit for it should go to him.  We only approved his innovations as they were brought to us.”
Dr. Kohli took up the experiment to address the needs of modern life-styles.  “Most people these days suffer from backaches and neck pain due to long hours of sitting.  The problem has become almost epidemic.  SURYA NAMASKAR lacked the sideways movement and could not relieve these issues.  I have made additions to take on these modern-day physical demands with SAMARTH NAMASKAR.”
Early this year, Dr. Kohli submitted his research report to both ICMR and the Union Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH).  Vouching for the efficacy of SAMARTH NAMASKAR, Dr. Ravinder Singh, senior scientist at ICMR said, “SAMARTH is definitely more powerful  and energetic.  Its back and neck postures are helpful.  PMO was to launch it on the eve of International Yoga Day, but the plan was held back due to various reasons.  Now, at ICMR, we will do a controlled study of SAMARTH on different subjects to establish stronger evidence of its efficacy.”

94th birthday Celebration of B.K.S. Iyengar


Confirming that SAMARTH NAMASKAR has found acceptance with the Modi government, Union Ministry for AYUSH Shripad Naik, added, “The file is pending with us and a date for the launch of this “innovative routine” will be set on Sunday after the celebrations of International Yoga Day wind up.”  Director of the finance department of PMO also told Mirror, “PM will soon be launching SAMARTH NAMASKAR through AYUSH.”

Given that the research had BKS Iyengar’s backing, not many yoga experts are contesting the efficacy of SAMARTH.  “There are several SURYA NAMASKAR variations some with more than 12 poses.  SAMARTH NAMASKAR has 21, of which 10 are from the classic sun salute.  I think the additional poses, which seem to “have a beautiful flow”, will make SAMARTH NAMASKAR more intense and involving,” opined Mumbai-based  yoga guru and author Shameem Akhtar.

Trikonasana6


“SAMARTH NAMASKAR seems to have incorporated certain movements of the body that were missing in the traditional SURYA NAMASKAR like the Trikonasana, Marjariasana and the Virbhadrasana kriya.  Since, it has been developed by medical experts, it must have been done keeping in mind the musculoskeletal system.  And if there is an easy flow from one posture to another —— that is the most crucial aspect —– it should work fine,” certified Asheet Ambekar, yoga teacher who has trained under Iyengar.

———with inputs from PM Features team.

Smile, breathe deep, live long

Tao-Porchon-Lynch

At 97, TAO PORCHON-LYNCH is the world’s oldest yoga teacher.  Here, she talks about how she keeps a body of a 30-year-old.
She says, “In my head I’m still in my 20s.  I don’t feel my age”.  She is a French-Indian Yogi from the US, who is a Guinness World Records-certified Yoga Teacher at 97.  She takes classes every day, even after going through a hip-replacement surgery.  When she is not teaching yoga, Porchon-Lynch gets busy making “fitness videos”.  One of the oldest yoga teachers apart, she has been an actor, couture model and a producer.  In her memoir : Dancing Light : The Spiritual Side of Being Through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master, she says, “There is nothing you cannot do”.  The former MGM actress had studied with BKS Iyengar and K Pattabhi Jois.  Here are her lessons from living with yoga for 73 years.
(1) BEING AGELESS : “We can renew ourselves.  I look at the trees and know that even though they are thousands of years old, some of them are reborn every spring”.
(2) YOGA & INDIA : “I started yoga when I was eight years old, on the beaches of Pondicherry.  It shaped me mentally, physically and spiritually”.
(3) LESSONS LEARNT : “Don’t procrastinate.  Whatever you want to do in your life, do it today”.
(4) WAY OF LIFE :  “Don’t look at life as if it was some dreary thing.  Learn to see the wonders of nature —– and know that the wonder of nature lies within you too.  Be constantly on the move, enjoy every experience.  Don’t wake up with fear in your mind”.
(5) SECRET OF A SHARP MIND :  “Tell yourself an know that within you lies the power to do anything.  Don’t just sit there — go out and do it.  Go out and practise what you preach”.
(6) SETBACKS IN LIFE :  “They are a sign that something better is coming along.  If something didn’t work out there’s something that is even better that’s on its way.  I look for the good in everybody and everything around me”.
(7) HAPPINESS IS …… : “All sorts of things make me happy ……. seeing the birds fly or animals around me”.
(8) HEALTHY HABITS : “Eat light, eat slow.  Breathe deep.  Do shoulder stands at night.  It helps with blood circulation.  Eating fruits in the morning cleanses your system”.
TAO’S FOUR RULES TO BEAT EMOTIONAL STRESS
** Don’t everything so seriously —- laugh at the world.
** Tune into your breath.  ** Breathing is life.
**Smile and you will send good energy out and bring good energy to you.
** Practise Yoga.
—————— Nona.Walia@timesgroup.com.