“An ideal is something we believe is right, but it may not be practical. Whereas an attitude should be something that we can put into practice right from where we are.”
TKV Desikachar

What Are We Seeking?

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-01-23

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  • curious expression of japanese culture in skiing slalom race – when most athletes miss a gate they stop and express some kind og anger #
  • twice 2day, I've seen japanese athletes come to a screeching halt, climb like crazy 2the gate and complete the track … intense commitment #
  • they have no chance of winning but they will do whatever it takes to finish the track … they don't hesitate at all … they just do it #
  • more thoughts on house heating requirements; stove-heat that is already available used for… almost everything else http://bit.ly/e0X7Ei #
  • a little confession about what I mean when I say "sustainable": http://bit.ly/hbPajD #
  • hug to the right – bring hearts together! #
  • if you are considering building a hemp home in the UK you really should check out Modece Architects: http://bit.ly/g5TFof #
  • just received a 1st quote for designing a custom heating system – still can't believe we are really doing this #
  • building with hemp removes so many insulation related framing issues – makes the work so much simpler and cleaner #
  • same goes for all firestopping framing elements – hemp is cast around the frame, sheathes and protects the wood and is also fireproof #
  • but when building with hemp u need to add extra framing elements for hanging things like high kitchen cabinets that a hemp wall cant support #
  • Andreea gone 2meeting about local grown hemp, I'm reading about framing and l8r we have a meeting with the dean of faculty of architecture #
  • @ecominimalnick civilizations seem to also decay by doing many important things without thinking of them …once more balance is needed #
  • we met with some eco-skepticism today so I thought I'd try to separate the bullshit from the real shit: http://bit.ly/gNhvAb #
  • @gregorylent yep 🙂 as far as we know, the 1st hemp-built house in Romania! #
  • @gregorylent thank u 🙂 here's a gr8 hemp building video: http://bit.ly/hOTpaG and an in depth free ebook: http://bit.ly/gIVHns #
  • there's only one USA company actively present in my life – they still think "spend more save more" is a good business proposition … sheesh #
  • realizing that we are not only building the first hemp house in Romania – but also the 1st Romanian hemp building team 🙂 so much fun! #
  • listening to Puff the Magic Dragon (Peter Paul & Mary) – you should too: http://bit.ly/UlHEB really 🙂 #
  • careful is literally "full of care" not full of fear #
  • @Shuliji #omcru yes 🙂 #
  • waiting and not doing created space and space carried me beyond survival: http://bit.ly/dGanuI #
  • @Shuliji 🙂 @karmapawo @espritrelax #
  • @msurman I'd be happy to try and help you create a WordPress look of your own #
  • I love that we both go crazy for the soupish substance left over from cooking lentils …. delicious #
  • back to the basics #
  • learning to read architectural plans – feeling proud that I can make some sense of these diagrams: http://bit.ly/eOmIJB #
  • and now we find this person talking about hemp construction rooted in vedic philosophy IN ROMANIA: http://bit.ly/ezNbYf #
  • there's comes a point in every chocolate cake's life where the slicing needs to shift to a perpendicular direction #
  • though I doubt there r many self-builders among you – this an excellent free eBook about concrete http://bit.ly/ehgtLY from down-under! #
  • a trillion is a miliion million #
  • observing my last two weeks of Pranayama – there has been a rich mixture of refinement, chaos and sound: http://bit.ly/eAuwhV #

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Space Carried Me Beyond Survival

n

I was raised under the influence of a survival mentality. My fathers parents were holocaust survivors – and though I managed to evade the direct effects of that intense experience on my life (mostly by refusing to partake in rituals that are designed to sustain its presence) I am sure it was indirectly present in my consciousness through my father. My parents are another kind of survivor – they are socio-economic survivors who managed to make a comfortable life for themselves and their children.

My grandparent’s life achievement was life itself – the biological process of survival in the face of death. My parent’s life achievement was food and a roof. These mentalities were hammered into me consciously and subsconsciously. This mode of existence has a paranoid flavor – it’s a life strategy built predominantly on the expectation that what happened will happen again. It leads to an insurance mentality in which much (if not most) of the effort is diverted to sustaining what has already been achieved and then directing what is left towards improvement. It’s kind of like running a country where most of the budget is directed to security and leftovers are invested in education.

One example of this mentality in action recurringly appeared during my career. I was taught to look for a job (secretly) while I still had a job. Continuous income was the top priority.  Yet despite my addiciton to security, the best transitions in my life didn’t occur like this at all – it was actually the other way around. I had to first leave one job (leading to a period of unemployment) before another good job appeared.

In retrospect I have learned that the best conditions for good change is space. There has to be space for something new to appear. There has to be space for creative movement. Space created an opportunity to ask myself what I wanted and pursue it, to peacefully consider what appeared before me and to identify what was best. Safety would have lead me to more of the same – to changing the name of the employer printed on my salary slip. Space led me to exciting and fresh challenges. Safety would have trapped me in familiar comfort. Space led me to frightening voids.

I’d like to say that I knew this all along – but that isn’t true. I was scared shitless, I was worried about money, I felt pressure to compromise and take whatever comes. But there was something better guiding me – unconsciously at first. I wasn’t really in the driving wheel, but there was some kind of magical cruise control working for me – my achievement may have been staying out of the way.

Now, when I want to create change I start by creating space. It still isn’t easy for me to do but I have experience and faith supporting me. I am ingrained with impulses of survival that have been out of context most of my life. These impulses never really go away but I’ve learned to wait until they pass and to not-do until they do. It’s a cliche but I’ve found it to be true – the cup has to be emptied before it can be filled with something new.

It took me well into my 30’s to appreciate that my achievements in this life time stand on the shoulders of the achievements of my parents and their parents. It was difficult for me to see because I had to struggle against survival patterns that were holding me back. It was difficult for me to see because my achievements seemed to be in conflict and contempt of my parents and their parents achievements. To this day there are many situtations in which my parents will take action and worry I will wait and (try to) relax.

Posted in Expanding, inside | You are welcome to add your comment

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-01-16

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  • http://veryawesomeworld.com/ #
  • Asana and Pranayama practices have a beautiful and complementary energy-relationship: http://bit.ly/hoIcvY #
  • how to create data-ENTRY forms on WordPress using Contact Form 7: http://bit.ly/foyMTi #
  • @raymondpirouz what brought on the spiritual wave in your thoughts and words today? 🙂 #
  • @raymondpirouz that 9 year old left you a precious gift in her death 🙂 may it stay with u and move u for a long time. #
  • @zenpeacekeeper I think this is true of any change – it's so much slower then we want it 2b: http://bit.ly/gs1Yb2 @alanna_shaikh & @fpfj #
  • @zenpeacekeeper "outsider" or "tourist" is a taking relationship, "resident" is a participating give and take relationship #
  • @zenpeacekeeper time is just one factor … not deciding … people can be "outsiders" for many years without ever connecting #
  • @zenpeacekeeper as for change … all one can do is sow seeds with good intentions … the rest is not really up to us is it? #
  • @zenpeacekeeper ironically … I think it's possible to be an outsider not only towards your surroundings but towards yourself as well #
  • we have a date tonight with another couple who are looking to build a sustainable home in Romania … excited 🙂 #
  • we have established contact with the local faculty of architecture … two meetings expected there in the coming weeks 🙂 #
  • @zenpeacekeeper so much is out of our hands 🙂 all we can hope 2 master (not quite control) is clear perceptions, intentions and actions 🙂 #
  • starting a new series of posts to tell an "in real time" story of how a website evolves: http://bit.ly/eJHKNn #
  • Passivhaus, though a commendable effort, feels 2me like more of an academic excercise then a practical building method: http://bit.ly/iaWlu1 #
  • @lifeinromania multumesc 🙂 more on hemp coming tomorrow (I hope 🙂 #
  • I offer Samual Mockbee's Rural Studio as a reality check for the Passivhaus peple: http://bit.ly/eAoj3N #
  • this is one of those days where meditation leaves with an overflow of inspiration that overwhelms and drowns my mind #
  • and the crazy thing is that everything is connected on a thread … these aren't some out of the blue unrelated to anything ideas .. #
  • approach yoga with empty-hands and an open-heart, do not approach Yoga with an agenda: http://bit.ly/dQlenv #
  • starting an excel for construction costs … this is actually happening!! wow! #
  • man standing outside of Cluj market carrying a leather-bag … pulls out a chicken for sale 🙂 #romania #
  • what happened to Hemp in Romania? http://bit.ly/eXCxy2 if you know something about it please drop by and leave a comment #
  • the best freely available information I found (so far) on growing hemp was published in the USA in 1942: http://bit.ly/e0DaAa #
  • started reading the #1 book on my house-building reading list – about wood framing … empowering to sense I can do this w/my own 2 hands #
  • alpine skiing on Eurosport, coffee, fresh home made chocolate cake … life is good 🙂 #
  • oh and … when did poker become a sport? mind boggling … though it does make it easier to digest dart throwing as a sport #
  • @Shuliji may you find loving kindness towards your disappointment and anger 🙂 #
  • @Shuliji may you find loving kindness towards your disappointment and anger 🙂 #
  • embarking on "firefox-tab-closing" mini-project, 2 many open threads, need to do some writing, linking and closing #
  • I whistle better pulling air in then blowing air out! #
  • so now I really get the difference between wood framing and timber framing: http://bit.ly/hPo1nW #
  • JOB = Just Over Bankruptcy? #

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Yoga Will Not Deliver

n

Do you practice Yoga? Why?

Is it explicable? Is it because there is something about yourself you don’t like? Is it because you’ve seen someone else do something you can’t do but want to do too? Is it because someone has promised that Yoga will make  you thinner, wiser, kinder, strong, more flexible, forever englightened?

Is it inexplicable? Is it because there is something deep inside you that you can’t quite put into words that is looking to make a connection? Is it because something seems to be missing from your understanding of this thing called life and the world around you?

It doesn’t really matter because either way Yoga will not deliver. Yoga will not live up to your expectations. This isn’t a chance occurence … it’s a systemic quality of Yoga … as if it’s designed to challenge and shatter them. Whatever your bring to the Yoga table, Yoga will probably question and undermine it.

The roots of wanting to practice Yoga are in an unknown place deep inside. Like a left-over question “why?” that you can’t quite shake off and  nothing you do or think of seems to satisfy. Yet when we approach Yoga we come at it with existing patterns – including a pattern of yearning for and seeking satisfaction. Yoga will not deliver.

You can think of Yoga as a shy and delicate entity. It needs a warm and supportive embrace to emerge from your shell. If you become demanding and aggressive it will disappear faster then you can say namaste … and then you have to be even warmer and more supportive for it to appear again.

You can also think of Yoga as a powerful and resilient entity. Your petty concerns, wishes and expectations do not even scratch its surface. It will ignore and skip over you unless you achieve a critical mass of presence and resolve worthy of its attention.

Yoga will only meet you on it’s terms not on yours. Yoga will offer you a clear and uncompromising reflection of what you are, not what you think you are or what you want to be. It will be an honest picture not necessarily a pretty one.

If you come to Yoga empty-handed and open-hearted you will come away with something new, something you didn’t already have.

If you come to Yoga with an agenda two things can happen. If it reflects something aligned with your agenda, something you can “like”, then you’ve got nothing new – just confirmation of something you already knew. If it reflects something in conflict with your agenda, something you can “dislike”, then you’ve got something you need to lose (as if your going to do that without putting up a fight!).

With an agenda you can either gain nothing or lose something. Without an agenda you gain something every time.

If you want to sustain your Yoga practice leave all your expectatins at the door. Definitely stay away from doors with a door-man hading you a menu or a fortune cookie telling you what you will find inside.

A good reason to practice (probably the only one that will get you to practice) is that you want to. A good reason to avoid practice (probably the one that will keep you from practicing) is that you don’t want to.

Unmet expectations will suck your well of motivation dry – leaving you with good reason to avoid practice. Unmet expectations is your own personal baggage – it is you that brings it to the practice and it is you that walks away not wanting to practice.

Posted in Yoga, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to add your comment

Pranayama Before Kriya

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There is too much evidence that Kriya practices have, like many other Yoga practices, devolved into a fashion based on superficial information. This includes practices like Neti (cleansing of the nasal passages for which  you can find “instructional” videos on YouTube or accessories in Yoga shops) and Vasti (enemas) which (though thankfully not yet represented on YouTube) are sometimes offered by fashionable “Ayurvedic” clinics as periodical cleansing treatments. So I thought it may be a good idea to visit the HYP (Hatha Yoga Pradipika) where these practices are described to gain some perspective.

Before delving into the specifics of the the Kriyas (and yes, their relationship with Pranayama) it is important to establish a correct and contextual relationship with the HYP. It was written when the typical Yoga practitioner was a healthy young man living and practicing in monastic conditions. These conditions facilitate a focus and intensity of practice that most of us are not afforded. That means that we need to drastically tone down and reconsider any advice that is given in the text within the context of our own modern lives.

The HYP is made up of four chapters:

  1. Asana – physical practices where energy is stimulated (this is one of the most extensive description of Asana available).
  2. Pranayama – breathing practices where energy is regulated.
  3. Mudras – energy practices where energy is directed.
  4. Samadhi – a meditative state of integration.

Kriyas are described in the 2nd chapter – the one dedicated to Pranayama (breathing practices). Why is that? What do Pranayama and Kriya’s have in common? They are both instruments of purification, of removing impurities. They are both cleansing practices.

Why then do we need both Pranayama and Kriyas? What is the difference between them?

  • Pranayama addresses the energetic body – it is engineered to achieve a natural cleansing process that occurs when energy (Prana) can flow freely. A healthy flow in the energetic body restores the physical body.
  • Kriyas address the physical body directly – if you think about nasal cleansing and enemas – they are used to literally remove excess matter from the body.

The question is then when to use Pranayama and when to use Kriyas. The text offers both an implicit and explicit answer. The implicit answer is in the order in which the two are presented: Pranayama comes first. The explicit answer comes in the form of two warnings (like those found on cigarette packages) – one in the verse that precedes the description of the Kriyas and one in the verse that comes after they have been described in detail.

2.21: “If there be excess of fat or phlegm in the body, the six kinds of kriyâs (duties) should be performed first. But others, not suffering from the excess of these, should not perform them.”

2.22 – 2.36 descriptions of the six kriya practices.

2.37: “Some âchâryâs (teachers) do not advocate any other practice, being of opinion that all the impurities are dried up by the practice of Prâṇâyâma.”

Translations by Pancham Sinh

I want to address the second warning first because it holds simple and applicable advice: Anything Kriyas can do, Pranayama can do too. Any purification that can be achieved using the Kriyas can be achieved with a consistent and quality Pranayama practice. So much so that, as the text insinuates, some teachers are completely opposed to any use of Kriyas.

The first warning requires a deeper underdstanding of the metaphyics of Yoga. Specifically, the three doshas Vatta, Pitta and Kapha which can be roughly correlated with the elements of air, fire and water. The doshas work together like an engine where the elements mix and combust. As long as the engine is used and maintained properly it runs OK, but if the engine is neglected it requires more serious intervention such as taking it apart and cleaning it out thoroughly.

Asana and Pranayama are the tools needed to maintain our internal engine. Kriyas are needed when the engine has been neglected – when “there be excess of fat or phlegm”. They are a gross intervention in a system that no longer responds to more subtle interventions. But if you are generally healthy – practicing Kriyas is like having open-heart surgery to cure a common-cold – it’s an abuse of practice.

You have to have a really good reason (serious illness) to benefit from Kriya practices. Yet anyone alive and breathing can benefit from Pranayama – as it is a subtle tool of regular maintenance. BUT … Pranayama too should to be used properly otherwise it too can lead to adverse effects. In the words of the HYP:

2.16: “Correct pranayama will weaken all diseases. Improper practice of Yoga will strengthen all diseases.”

Translation by Brian Akers

Posted in Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Pranayama, Yoga, Yoga Texts | You are welcome to add your comment