“The fate of all of us here has been to know that we are prisoners of power. No one knows why us in particular, but what a great fortune!”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

How to End a Pranayama Practice

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Pranayama can lead to a delicate place, one that is easy to disturb and lose. The inherent structure of a Pranayama practice leads to an ending that may disturb the very delicate quality it created. My practices bring me with two such obstalces: (1) lowering my arm from the nostril control position; (2) stopping the metronome that is ticking in the background.

Continuous Breathing

One way to maintain a smooth transition is to keep breathing. Whatever breathing technique you use in your practice, you can continue with a few basic ujjayi breaths which don’t require nostril control. So as you lower your arm back down you are maintaining a continuous breathing experience – sustaining the qualities of the practice. Similarly you can continue the same ujjayi breathing pattern as you move to stop the metronome and then continue for a few more breaths counting inside without the guidance of the metronome.

I recommend an ujjayi breath that is:

  1. Shorter  – between one half and two thirds of the inhale length of your practice.
  2. Symmetrical – equal inhale and exhale.
  3. No holds – do not pause the breath between inhaling and exhaling, stay with a continuous and fluid movement.

Butoh

In the bigger picture of Yoga – Pranayama is a transition from asana to meditation. When I continue into meditation I use an additional gesture – delicately bringing together each thumb and forefinger until they gently touch. The gesture, as it was taught to me, has a containing and sustaining quality to it. Sometimes I would use the last exhale to slowly bring the fingers together. Recently I’ve made a connection to another practice I once experienced – Butoh.

Butoh is a form of Japanese body/movement theatre. One of the qualities in it is slow and attentive movement. The beginning of this video demonstrates this quality – notice how slowly the lighting comes into the space and for movement to take place (there is much more then to Butoh then slow movement as you can see in the second part of this clip and even more so in the third part).

So I’ve been playing around with an application of this idea from Butoh into the gesture of touching thumb to index finger. The transition is now longer, it continues from a refined breathing into a very refined, barely perceptive movement – that together lead into a special experience of stillness.

You can move the fingers on both hands at the same time or you can do it one hand at a time. You can start by moving slowly and then gradually develop that into slower and slower movement – it cane take 20 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, 10 minutes … there is no limit to what you can do with it.

It’s been an amazing support in further refining the transition from Pranayama into meditation.

Play around see what happens and please come back and share your experience 🙂

Posted in Breath, Meditation, Pranayama, Yoga | You are welcome to add your comment

The Writing IS on the Wall

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Quotes taken from Wall Street Journal Interview with Google CEO Eric Shmidt:

For one thing, just a couple days earlier, Google had publicly estimated that 200,000 Android smartphones were being activated daily by cell carriers on behalf of customers …

… Google gives away Android to handset makers for free. But not to worry, says Mr. Schmidt: “You get a billion people doing something, there’s lots of ways to make money. Absolutely, trust me. We’ll get lots of money for it.” …

… “I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions,” he elaborates. “They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.” …

… Let’s say you’re walking down the street. Because of the info Google has collected about you, “we know roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are.” Google also knows, to within a foot, where you are. Mr. Schmidt leaves it to a listener to imagine the possibilities …

I am greatful for Google Search, it makes it possible for me to reach the online world and for the online world to reach me. BUT I never logon to Google for ANYTHING – NOTHING WHAT SO EVER. I occassionally delete what cookies they do leave behind (quite a few). I trust Google completely to do what is best for their business – which will always require them to bend & stretch the limits of privacy to server their business needs.

How much you depend on and like  Google defines how much abuse you will be willing to tolerate from them. Google will cash in on everything you “like” about it. If you trust Google with anything other then search then you are an IRRESPONSIBLE  FOOL – YES YOU! A fool because you should know better, irresponsible because your poor choice effects not just you, but the people in your life as well.

I don’t and won’t live in a future where a corporate information service is breathing down my neck. There is a better, doable alternative.

Posted in AltEco, Business, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment

Observing Pranayama: August 2010

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Following is a 10 day journal of observations in and around my Pranayama practice.

My current morning Pranayama practice is:

10 –  0  – 15 – 0 Gradually build up Ujjayi breath
10 –  0  – 15 – 0 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 –  5  – 15 – 0 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 –  5  – 15 – 5 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 – 10 – 15 – 5 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 – 0   – 15 – 0 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
6 –   0 –   6 –   0 x6 Ujjayi

My current evening practice:

6 – 0 – 12 – 0 x40 Anuloma Ujjayi
6 – 0 – 6 – 0 x4 Ujjayi

Recurring ideas/terms in observation:

  • Late/Early Morning: early morning practice begins before 07:00am, late morning usually around 08:30. Body is very different in the late morning – warmer, more dynamic, lends itself to movement – but there are more disturbances in outside world.
  • Panick Exhale: a combination of mind and body experience when extending overall breath length – manifests in exhale. Mind expresses a sense of urgency early in the exhale – as if it isn’t expecting to hold out. Breath demands refined attention – usually ends up with a push and struggle in the end (manifesting as overly-tight abdominal control).
  • This period of observation is fairly aligned with the phase of Andreea’s cycle in which ovulation takes place. We are open to pregnancy – which makes this a more physically taxing period of the month for me. Pregnancy has brought with it much tapas – and this is an emotional period for Andreea and therefor also emotionally taxing on me. I need to remember that this is a period of sustaining.
  • The eletric metronome I am using has a flashing light in addition to the sounds. After practicing numerous times in relative darkenss and noticing the light more often then I care to admit – I realized that my eyes are having difficulty staying closed peacefully.
  • I have known a more subtle experience of Pranayama – I feel that life frictions are effecting the quality of my breath. Dealing with frictions in Pranayama does seem to offer support in life – is it possible to take it further?

Observations:

Date Time Observations
Aug 21 Morning
  • Off-the-mat: weird/confusing day yesterday – decided not to practice.
  • Physicality: Late morning practice, left shoulder feels inflamed – agitated by inhale movement. Body seems to be pulling to the left.
  • Flow: Both nostrils slightly congested – overall flow OK
  • Left-Right: Left side panick on exhale from the point at which holds are added. Overall better on right side – smooth consistent exhale.
  • Presence: Good -steady counting with only a few mental distractions
Evening
  • Repetition was experienced as boring.
  • Though a relatively short breath ratio demanded more subtle control in nostrils.
  • Flow OK – there is definitely space for refinment.
Aug 22 Morning
  • Off-the-mat: hot practice last night followed by spontaneous late-night wealth-celebration dinner – including french fries.
  • Physicality: Got up (a little later then usual) feeling heavy – did late-morning 20 minute practice standing & seated forward bends. Sitting was fine after practice
  • Flow: Both nostrils slightly congested – overall flow OK. Grew tired towards end of practice – less endurance.
  • Left-Right: Left side much more blocked then right side. Right side fairly smooth flow
  • Presence: So so – background drilling and construction noises didn’t help.
Evening
  • Better adjusted but still adjusting to the 1-2 ratio which I haven’t been experiencing as frequently as this practice demands.
  • Left side requires no physical nostril contol, right side requires nostril control to peacefully maintain the ration
  • Left side is more congested then the right side.
  • After practice left side felt heavier and tighter – right side felt more open and spacious
  • Better overall presence then yesterday
Aug 23 Morning
  • Slightly compromised food day yesterday – getting over and through the unusual dinner from the previous day.
  • Physicality: later then usual late morning practice – heaviness in body, short standing forward bend practice then Pranayama.
  • Flow: echoes from last night neutral (40 breath) practice carrying over into quality of exhale, more attention to using finger for nostril control – led to a slightly refined exhale experience – softer & smoother.
  • Left-Right: the same
  • Presence – surprisingly OK – was expecting easy diversion – maybe heaviness had stabilizing effect?
Evening
  • Crappy energy day – a head-ache-like presence, still managed to be productive, just didn’t particulary enjoy it.
  • No asana practice – just Pranayama
  • Surprising quality of presence.
  • Adjusting to 1×2 ratio – barely needed physical pressure on either nostril to sustain it.
  • Left still more congested then right
  • Thankful for practice.
Aug 24 Morning
  • Resumed complete morning practice
  • Left-Right: same deal, left inhibited, better flow on right
  • Presence – OK
  • Added a bit of chanting at the end
Evening
  • Full practice – including mahamudra.
  • Used a short mantra chant today (haven’t done that in a while) – both after morning and evening pranayama practices.
  • nothing to add on breathing practice – same as before
Aug 25 Morning
  • Heaviness in practice – though it didn’t inhibit me from completing the entire practice sequence
  • Left still less flowing then right.
  • Surprisingly – it was difficult to sustain the crown of the practice on the left side – usually it’s easier because the blocked nostril acts as a natural valve – though today something wasn’t in place. Inhales in the crown practice (and partly in tht stage before it) were a bit forced. There was objection in my mind to doing the crown formulat – but I did manage it and though it began with friction – it ended on a softer note.
Evening
  • Long and mindful day – much mathematics and programming – left me with a mind in overdrive.
  • No Asana practice – just Pranayama
  • Poor presence
  • Sides have been reversed – left side was more open and better flowing then the right side which was slightly more congested
Aug 26 Morning
  • Nice, full practice.
  • Usual pranayama – nothing to note
Evening
  • Day included two demanding conversations – drained my energy. Second conversation stretched longer then planned – consciously overriding my practice.
  • Objection to practice in mind and body
  • No practice.
  • No pranamaya
Aug 27 Morning
  • Had a very difficult time falling asleep – much disturbance in the body, itches that can’t be itched all over my body. Took time and patience to find sleep.
  • No motivation/will to practice. Not forcing it.
  • By not forcing it, appeared a space for Pranayama.
  • Began with chanting which opened the door softly into practice.
  • Surprising quality of presence.
  • Surprising quality oe balance between the two sides (though both still a bit blocked)
Evening
  • Another day of math and code – softer, better pace and more rewarding then previous day.
  • No asana practice today. We went for a short walk.
  • Pranayama practice – ok presence.
  • Again left side has better flow then right side.
Aug 28 Morning
  • Heaviness in body, late practice – standing sequence only + chanting
  • Pranayama practice – with OK presence.
  • Overal balance between the two sides.
  • On inhales – physical pressure pain around left shoulder – reaching shoulderblade on back side and heart space in front.
Evening
  • Money is on my mind
  • Short standing sequence, savasana + reiki + Pranayama practice
  • Flow blocked more then usual – very prominent on left side.
  • Basic presence
Aug 29 Morning
  • Woke up and practiced later then usual
  • Nice practice – appreciation
  • Pranayama was a bit difficult – especially sustaining the crown formula – especially on the left side
  • The two sides were different – but not in a consistent/describable way.
Evening
  • Money fears and now the presence of death near by
  • Good practice
  • Good pranayama – refined experience of exhale control
  • Fairly similar experience between two sides.
Aug 30 Morning
  • Again woke up late
  • Shakuhachi + very short standing sequence + chanting + Pranayama
  • Though nostrils felt blocked more then usual in regular breathing, Pranayama was surprisingly OK
  • Funny – I can’t seem to recall anything about left-right experience
Evening
  • Nice practice + pranayama + short meditation
  • Both nostrils slightly blocked – but with less noticeable difference between the two sides
  • Nice presence
  • First time in a while that I’ve felt pranayama usher me into a meditative space
Posted in Pranayama Journal, Yoga, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

After the thing went off

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“Time comes, and this tremendous flash out there is so bright that I duck … I look back up and I see this white light changing into yellow and then into orange. Clouds form and disappear again – from the compression and expansion of the shock wave.

Finally, a big ball of orange, the center that was so bright, becomes a ball of orange that starts to rise and billow a little bit and get a little black around the edges, and then you see it’s a big ball of smoke with flashes on the inside of the fire going out, the heat.

Finally, after about a minute and a half, there’s suddenly a tremendous noise – BANG, and then a rumble, like thunder – and that’s what convinced me … the solidity of the sound at that distance meant that it had really worked.

The man standing next to me said, “What’s that?”

I said, “That was the Bomb”.

After the thing went off, there was tremendous excitement at Los Alamos. Everybody had parties, we all ran around. I sat on the end of a jeep and beat drums and so on. But one man, I remember, Bob Wilson, was just sitting there moping.

I said, “What are you moping about?”

He said, “It’s a terrible thing that we made.”

I said, “But you started it, you got us into it.”

You see, what happened to me – what happened to the rest of us – is we started for a good reason, then you’re working very hard to accomplish something and it’s a pleasure, it’s excitement. And you stop thinking, you know; you just stop. Bob Wilson was the only one who was still thinking about it, at that moment.”

Richard Feynman from Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!

Posted in AltEco, Business, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-08-29

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  • Living in a house where one person meditates creates tranquility for everyone else #
  • Guided by my Yoga teachers I am beginning a long term exploration of Pranayama, u r welcome to tag along: http://bit.ly/cnUBV6 #
  • @gregorylent thank you and pleased to meet you 🙂 I agree, Pranayama is one of the most potent and least known of the Yoga arsenal in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent I've been practicing Pranayama for years, now have been gifted with a precious opportunity to further refine and develop it #
  • @gregorylent I'm hoping that by documenting it I'll be able to better observe and share some of the knowledge & insights that surface #
  • I say again, in case you missed it: "From bitter searching of the heart, we rise to play a greater part" http://bit.ly/cFx0XD #
  • RT listen with your mind, heart, gut … @gregorylent "chakras" are a great concept 4filtering diffrnt levels of experience #
  • RT hmmm … Ubuntu has taught me the opposite @gregorylent apple has taught me to avoid upgrades of software, apps, and products #
  • a good day is a day that leads me to good Yoga practices: http://bit.ly/cgfXGu #
  • sitting w/Andreea – nice yogurt+fruit+muesli – beautiful sky … and a small venemous snake appears right outside the window – unsettling! #
  • just had amazing experience/insight of resistance – working on algorithms 4 describing movement of body – does anyone care to know more? #
  • my mind is twisted from math & geometry, moving illustrated joints around each other has boggled my mind, off to find mental release 🙂 #
  • @gregorylent then it is also natural that china will suck out of capitalist countries – also just for the bucks 🙂 in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent I believe that higher values have already been mostly lost, which is why the world seems to be shaking of finance: healing!! in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent all that has gone needed to go to make room for something new – eventually something better – such is change in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent have u tasted Robert Pirsig's Metaphysics of Quality? Great/useful tools 2 answer "what is better/best" 🙂 http://bit.ly/cx43tR in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent In my yoga studies, when I encountered ishvara-pranidhana (God) – I replaced it with Dynamic Quality – and it fit magically! in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent The gr8 things about Pirsig's work in Lila, is setting aside "highest" and addressing earthly values with excellent resolution! in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent re words and meanings: Enemy http://bit.ly/bhgfOR in reply to gregorylent #
  • You'll have to talk my word 4it4now – but the yoga illustration stick figure is showing 1st signs of movement via drag&drop! #
  • @gregorylent have care! (1)israel exists in state of war; (2) all non-critical movement is banned; (3) has nothing to do with "human rights" in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent most importantly: israel has no idea what is stands for, 2busy with wars 2address that question. Enemy: http://bit.ly/bhgfOR in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent Israel's momentum of "we deserve country because of holocaust" is wearing out, leaving it lost and increasingly violent in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent in some way Israel is probably grateful for the antisemitism still out there, which continues to be internal excuse 4 existence in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent popular line of thought in Israel: "If Israel didn't exist, Jews all over the world would be in grave danger" … dead end! in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent oh and … most journalism in Israel is poor and sensationalist – feeds on violence and induces fear & violence … sad sad sad in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent I'm involved in a project to create an alternative "who to follow" anchored in eastern philosophy … hope 2start testing soon! #
  • @gregorylent thank you for taking the time to look around 🙂 in reply to gregorylent #
  • @ronenk איפה אני יכול למצוא טורנטים/הורדות של מוזיקה ישראלית? #
  • Yoga practice feels like an opportunity for the forces that I am to play together with a curiosity – lets see what we can do together #
  • @gregorylent when the mind settles (and stays put) it is indeed almost as if Yoga does me 🙂 in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent 🙂 such practices are a rare gift, and in general as the years go by I feel a need to re-examine what is "practice" in reply to gregorylent #
  • "… Einstein came in and said pleasantly, 'Hello, I'm coming to your seminar. But first, where is the tea?'" Richard Feynman #
  • @Shuliji "malfunction" is actually a function too – usually protective 🙂 in reply to Shuliji #
  • off to a morning practice – calling on chanting http://bit.ly/bSopIK to collect my diffused self #

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