“….relinquishing forever the thought of roaming the earth in the traditional way to effect the regeneration of mankind, a fantasy in my case born from the desire for power, the yearning for mental conquest, which often accompanies the activity of Kundalini in the intellectual center, causing a slightly intoxicated condition of the brain too subtle to be noticed by the subject himself or by his uninformed companions, however erudite and intelligent they may be.”
Gopi Krishna

Kundalini – The Evolutionary Energy in Man

I Should Have

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During my morning Yoga practice, a thought came to me about a change I should make in it (something about it’s energetic qualities). It was a special moment -  a new, fresh and subtle perspective – a crystallization. It happened in an instant and then, within a few seconds, a second thought appeared in my mind: “I should have done this a few weeks ago”.

The Yoga Sutra – Chapter 1 Sutra 30 offers a list of 9 obstacles/distractions to clear perception: disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, over-indulgence, delusion, non-achievement & instability. The problem is that when perception is clouded it doesn’t know it!

So the next Sutra (31) gives us a diagnostic tool – how do we know our perception has been clouded? These are the signs: suffering, negative thinking, unsteady body & unsteady breath. Yes it’s that simple – when our perception is clouded we don’t feel good. This works both ways so – when we don’t feel good it is because our perception is clouded.

I place attention and effort in my life (off the mat) and my practice (on the mat), on being present. I call on faith to put aside inhibitions from the past and hesitations about the future. In my practice (on the mat) I do this by working with familiar postures and going into subtle details in body and breath – remaining open to experience and making small adjustments. Simply put, I’m doing my best to do my best.

Today’s experience was mixed. On one hand, I clearly knew (still do!) what to do about my practice, I also know it needs to be a gradual process over time. On the other hand, I was harsh and judgmental about my past choices – it felt wrong – it was “negative thinking”. My sweet moment of clarity came with the distraction of doubt.

Yoga Sutra Chapter 4 Sutra 12 says:

“The substance of what has disappeared as well as what may appear always exists. Whether or not they are evident depends upon the direction of change.” (translation by TKV Desikachar)

This is a warning that no amount of practice will change the past. All of our experiences remain within us, they are a part of we are. They may be dormant, but they are forever present. We must always be vigilant because we never know when they may reappear. They are tricky and slippery – just when we think we got it – they pop up and pull us down.

“I should have…”  is a bad call. When it happens you should recognize it for what it is – clouded judgment. Embrace it so it doesn’t sow the seeds for future “I should have’s….”. Don’t let it take away from your present clarity and experience. What you realize now is the truth of this moment. What you realized before was the truth of that moment. Appreciating them both is a good practice for the truths yet to come.

Posted in Yoga, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life, Yoga Sutra, Yoga Texts | You are welcome to read 2 comments and to add yours

Strong Undercurrents

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I followed a twitter status from Fred Wilson to a blog post by Seth Godin about “freemium, abundance, and scarcity“.  Seth demonstrates  his point about “free” (as in a business model) by referencing a company that gives “free Yoga lessons” in order to sell and promote their brand of yoga clothing. I followed the link and read the article and lost heart (disclosure: I am a yoga practitioner & teacher).

Fred & Seth have way more practice & experience then I do when it comes to business, so I can’t challenge them on that front. There is only one thing I can responsibly relate to in all of this – and that is Yoga. That stuff that was given for “free” in the park is not Yoga – it is an illusion made to look like Yoga  – a misapprehension due to a lack of Yoga. Therefor, any logical argument based on that illusion is tainted by it. I very much wanted to reach the conclusion that Seth is wrong – but I honestly couldn’t because:

  • I think he’s a smart guy and I’ve have been inspired by him numerous times.
  • I wasn’t able to follow his train of thought.
  • I didn’t care to make an effort because I felt that this post (which is just a case in point, that happened to brush closer to me) doesn’t qualify for a  “wrong and right” argument. It lacks context – as did most of the battle around the idea of “free”.
  • I believe that his thoughts would shed a different light if they were applied in a context.

I’ll stick to the Yoga. The fact that Yoga is so popular indicates that:

  • People are suffering (this is so spiritually obvious, yet seems to get overlooked – after all those yoga-clothed people in the park look happy – don’t they?).
  • From that suffering shines a small yet unwavering light of seeking (there is hope).
  • People associate Yoga with a remedy to this situation (people know good).

People are looking for something – and that’s a promising prospect. Seeking is a treasure of potential energy that can be used or abused. Yoga (and I am assuming other spiritual) teachers rely on that energy to guide people towards freedom. Others ab-use it to create bondage. Business, the way I see it as of the writing of these words, is dominated by ab-users (though I can see islands of inspiring change).

As a Yoga teacher I often get an urge to shout out to people “you are getting it wrong, let me help you” – but  I don’t act on it. It doesn’t work for me because that very thought is an act of enslavement – it insinuates that I know better and you should follow me (and abort your way – your freedom), and I know, from my practice, that’s just plain wrong. In the Yoga-related article Seth linked to there is a quote that depicts an opposing position:

“You don’t need anything to do yoga. You don’t even need shoes. ”

This is also misleading. To take on a practice of Yoga you have to have a caring and passionate interest in yourself, in others, in life and in nature , a sense of purpose – and maybe, just maybe, if you carry those with you for some time you may encounter a teacher. Passion, care and purpose can’t be sold off shelves in stores. Fortunately – they exist in infinite abundance inside every one of us and all we have to do it sit still long enough to take notice of them.

The only conclusion I’ve been able to reach and sustain about the idea of “free as a business model” is that the people who support and use it, think they can afford to. There are strong undercurrents in this post of my critical views of current business practices. I have not yet matured enough to connect all the strings needed to make my point in writing. So, I leave you with two video clips from two seemingly unrelated issues – and I leave you to invest your own caring efforts in making your own connections:

Posted in AltEco, Business, outside, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-09-13

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  • ripping CD's and organizing files…. preparing to disperse my physical CD collection … #
  • sustaining vibrant energy is a delicate art, especially when it's not so vibrant and I need to be patient with it #
  • it feels like summer is over here in the north, days are getting cooler nights are cold – amazing air :) #
  • "when you doubt you know; when you know, doubt" #
  • meditation is observing the path you are on, not trying to pave a different one #
  • What are we? the building blocks and forces of nature – a #Yoga perspective: http://twurl.nl/abuzqh #
  • RT @JangalaRetreat: RT @PJA64X Eating In Heaven and Hell http://bit.ly/1wiRwZ A great story. Must read! #
  • every day I wake up and wonder why … ♫ http://blip.fm/~czd8k #
  • I was hypnotized by a strange delight under a lilac tree ♫ http://blip.fm/~czdc2 #
  • for you dear I was born ♫ http://blip.fm/~d0z59 #
  • my kind of shopping: helped neighbor collect eggs in chicken coop, came back with a tray of eggs :) #
  • a #Yoga journey: mind to heart and beyond http://twurl.nl/2b7tw6 #
  • a core Vedic principle: something cannot come from nothing #
  • social is mediocre #
  • yoga is "containment of the mind's activities" and deserves a supportive practice space: http://twurl.nl/3cp3rn #
  • good morning all :) a little something about writing: http://twurl.nl/obv77u #
  • beauty flowing freely and gracefully from the inside out: http://twurl.nl/b6dz1k #
  • finally got around to writing about Kundalini (there's a good chance it's not what you think it is): http://twurl.nl/1yvu7g #
  • all of my photography posts have been brought home: http://twurl.nl/iaeo8u – photography site is images only http://twurl.nl/aoor2m #
  • a good way to experience me is through the glimpses posts: http://twurl.nl/bwia5j #
  • 99% of Israeli government web-sites/services I encounter are not compatible with Firefox – bad bad government! #

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Posted in About, Twitter Updates | You are welcome to add your comment

Energy – Kundalini

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Kundalini is a famous myth in the realms of Yoga & Energy – there’s even a school of Yoga named after it.  It is considered a majestic goal of Yoga, but it is by no means the end of the journey.

Like Granthis, Kundalini is an obstacle/blockage – actually the king of all obstacles. It is located above (and gets it’s name from) the Kanda – the point of origin of all Nadi – (HYP Chapter 3 Sloka 113).   The metaphor used to describe it, is that of a coiled snake – which prevents a merging of energy flowing in Ida & Pingala into and through the center channel – Sushumna. The snake is said to be coiled three and a half times so symbolize “om” – which is actually made of of three sounds a/u/m – a coil for every sound and then a gap of waiting.

kundalini

HYP Chapter 3 Sloka 2: “… when the sleeping kundalini is awakened by the grace of a guru”
HYP Chapter 3 Sloka 3: “then the cleared path becomes the royal road for prana…”
(translation by Brian Akers)

After careful and intense purifying preparations (assuming you are a young healthy man who is dedicating his life to Yoga and living in a hut)  including asana, pranayama and kriyas (mentioned in the first two chapters), Kundalini is introduced. The tools to awaken Kundalini are intense energetic practices – intended to awaken the serpent and causing it to straighten – and in doing so opening the blockage and allowing the two energies (ha & tha) to merge.

HYP Chapter 3 Sloka 12: “Thus the kundalini will stretch out, like a snake that has been hit by a stick The two nadis die off thereby, because the prana leaves them.”
(translation by Hans Ulrich Reiker)

The posture prescribed for beating Kundalini is an asymmetric  seated posture called Mahamudra – which is very uninteresting externally but can be very energetic inside. I am not going to get into the posture in this article – because (a) it has many subtle points; (b) requires intense, specific and personalized breathing; (c) needs to be incorporated in a practice with proper preparation and counter-postures; (d) should be taught and practiced with a teacher present; (e) all of which means you REALLY shouldn’t play around with it (you can, and people have, suffered injuries from it). I do want to point out that a core seated posture, and not some convoluted circus posture, is at the gateway to the higher-plains of Yoga.

If, like me, you are of a western mind-set then the words “prevent” & “obstacle” are calling out for you to do something. But, before rushing off to awaken your serpent and get your juices flowing, please ask yourself if there maybe a reason it’s there? I invite you to read one story of a person who apparently did manage to awaken the snake: Kundalini: The Evolutionary Energy in Man.

Posted in Energy, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Models & Metaphors, Yoga, Yoga Texts | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

WordPress – Write Now

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Your blog is about you, the things that interest you and your passion to share them with others
Your blog is about you, the things that interest you and your passion to share them with others
Your blog is about you, the things that interest you and your passion to share them with others

Once you’ve gotten past the technical hurdles of setting up WordPress (or found someone to help you through them) you are most likely going to find yourself facing two issues: (1) writing content and (2) designing the look of your blog. This post will be dedicated to writing, the next to design – and this is the order in which you should do it too. Let your content lead into your design.

You don’t need WordPress to start writing

You can start writing now even before you’ve got your WordPress installation working. Get a pen & paper, cue-cards, open your favorite text editor, take our your drawing pad – start creating your content.  Publishing your work on WordPress is the END of your writing process.

You have all the time, space and freedom to explore writing. Here are some things you can do to get started and explore:

  • If you could walk on stage and talk to a bunch of people who were curious about you and what you have to say – who do you envision sitting in the crowd? what would you like to talk to them about? You can do this exercise more then once :) Your blog can make this happen for you.
  • Make a list of topics you’d like to write about. Stay close to things you know, things that are in your heart and things you are most passionate about.
  • Make a list of ideas for posts that come to mind – try to give them working titles.
  • If you have more then a working title for some of your ideas then write down your thoughts, list links to other resources (books, websites, images…).
  • Spend some time with your list – you may encounter more ideas to add, you may decide to remove some ideas you don’t wish to pursue.
  • When you feel ready, choose one idea, the one you like most, the first one, and try to write a first draft.

Look around and see how others do it

Find inspiration – look around. Search and keep your eyes open for other blogs and writers. When you read something you like: pause and take a moment to appreciate it, ask yourself what it is you liked about it, read more posts by the same writer, look for links to other posts and other writers. Exposure to things you like will inform you on conscious and subconscious levels.

Pay attention to things like length of posts, styles of writing (1st/3rd person, formal/personal, etc.), how they affect you and motivate you. See what turns you on and what turns you off, what provokes you to think, what causes you to want to comment and then to actually do it.

Practice & Explore

You are at the beginning of something new – try to approach it with curiosity and an open mind. Everything you don’t know is a creative opportunity. Claim the freedom to try & explore – seek and create the answers that are best for you. Throw them out when they don’t feel comfortable and try out new ones. You will find that WordPress is wonderful at changing with you. The first steps on this journey can shape your experience for years to come.

Your writing will change as you practice writing. Your perception of blogging will shift and change as your blogging experience accumulates. Changes in your life will change the way you blog, and changes in your blogging may change the way your life.

I strongly recommend you do not read blogs about becoming a succesfull blogger – they will narrow your perception and inhibit your imagination.

Your writing will inform your design

Designing an empty blog – is an empty design. The next articles in this series will elaborate on the visual design of your blog – but for now think of design a skin that wraps your contents and shapes how it is presented to your visitors. Without content any design is an empty shell.

Your content will create a feeling and atmosphere which can help in making design choices. Designs will also be more truthfully experienced with your content already inside. An empty page, or a page with some generic content is not the same as a page with your content in it. Having your content inserted into design ideas will help you relate to them and make better choices.

Doing the other way around can be inhibiting

Design is a creative process. It is relatively easy and tempting to “have” great design ideas, but it is something else altogether to followup on them. A recurring pattern I encounter when working with people on new WordPress blogs is long shopping lists: we want an area for articles, a contact form, a customizable news-letter, a place where people can comment and interact, a place for special announcements, collapsible menus and on and on.

Technically almost everything on the lists is possible with WordPress. But most of the work is not technical – it’s content. Each and every item on the list needs to be filled with relevant content – this means writing. Essentially your shopping list becomes a task list for things you need to write:

  • You now need to write at least one post (preferably more!) for each content category (it’s kind of silly clicking on a “category” and finding no posts or just one).
  • You now need to choose a special event you wish to advertise, author & design a graphic banner, write a page with more details about the event and upload all that into the blog.
  • You need to write every single page on the list (try writing an “about me” page – and see what happens!).

You are now flooded with work – facing a huge project, you have so many things to do before you can actually open your blog and it looks like an impossible task. 99% of the time this will block your creative energies and drain your motivation to even get started. This will prevent you from writing and you look around for something else to keep you busy and focused. There’s a good change you will end up obsessing even more about the design of your blog and find yourself immobilized in a negative feedback loop.

Focus on what you have to say now, not on what you think you may want to say in the future. WordPress is great at changing and accommodating your changing needs.

Energy and motivation are subtle elements. They thrive and prosper when there is space and playfulness, they fade and hide when crowded by demands and expectations.  Let your heart and what you have to say lead the way.

Your blog is about you, the things that interest you and your passion to share them with others

Posted in outside, Wordpress | You are welcome to read 3 comments and to add yours