“Just as it is more moral for a doctor to kill a germ than a patient, so it is more moral for an idea to kill a society than it is for a society to kill an idea.”
Robert Pirsig

Lila

What is Arjuna’s Problem?

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The Bhagvad Gita is a famous Hindu text. I studied the first 3rd of the text on retreat and I’ve read two translations. There is something that captivated me when I first encountered the text, though now I have less space and need for it, though it does call out to me. So over the past week I’ve been revisiting some of my notes and I came across two ideas that shimmered for me and I though to share. One is the cultural setting of the text and the other is a curious perspective about it. But, for the uninitiated, a brief orientation.

What’s the Story?

The Bhagvad Gita is a long poem and actually a part of an even longer poem called the Mahabharata.  The Bhagvad Gita begins with a description of a battle that is about to take place. The story that led up to it is not unlike a modern soap-opera:

  • There’s a blind king Dhritarashtra who has 100 sons called the Kauravas.
  • The king has a brother Pandu who has 5 sons called the Pandavas.
  • The Kauravas are a feisty bunch and they managed to cheat the Pandavas out of their rightful inheritance of land… which brings us to the war.
  • Due to the familial relations between the king and his brother, there are friends, teachers & pupils on both sides of the battlefield.
  • Arjuna is one of the five Pandavas and is said to be the greatest warrior alive – master of the bow and arrow.
  • Arjuna was required to choose between Krishna (God incarnated) and Krishna’s army.
  • Arjuna chose Krishna.
  • Krishna’s army is on the side of the Kauravas.

And so our story begins.

Cultural Setting

The historical setting  begins with the Vedas – the oldest written texts and roots of all Indian philosophy. This cultural branch of human spiritual development seems to have been very practical – and so it was focused on spiritual pursuit within the settings of family life. The Vedas were off-limits to ordinary people and remained in the hands of poet-priests – who provided guidance on how life should be lived (the Vedas are dominated by carefully prescribed rituals).

The Vedas were followed by the Upanishads – which rebelled against the domination of priests and rituals – this was a period of “power to the people”. God was said to be “within” and therefore available to all. Practitioners were considered heretics, they broke away from the caste system (and their families) and lived in hiding in forests.

Then came Buddhism which brought priest-like patterns back into the picture. Buddhism claimed that enlightenment was achieved under monastic conditions – and not in the typical settings of the Indian family values.

This brings us to the period of the Bhagvad Gita – which comes to rescue family-values. It is a call to arms to reinforce the position that a pursuit of spiritual enlightenment goes hand in hand with full family-life. You can work, get married, have kids and still achieve enlightenment. It is literally a call to action – about living a full life – about pursuing your Dharma. It is tainted with the cultural needs of its time – when it suggests “better to follow your Dharma badly then someone else’s good” – it lays the foundations for social control – manifested in India as the caste system.

Arjuna’s Depression

At the beginning of the story Arjuna asks Krishna (God incarnated, acting as Arjuna’s charioteer) to take him to the middle of the battlefield. Once there he rises to stand and looks to the enemy lines. There he sees his uncles, cousins, friends and teachers. He then collapses back into his seat in despondency and depression saying to Krishna that he cannot fight this war. The greatest warrior alive gets depressed at the outset of the greatest war in history.

The Bhagavad Gita documents the ensuing dialog in which Krishna teaches Arjuna’s the true nature of reality. Simply put – Krishna explains to Arjuna that his own misapprehensions are blinding him. His opposing cousins and uncles are already dead, because that is the nature of things and of their choices. Krishna says to Arjuna that it is his nature and fate (Dharma) to fight this war – and that he must not let his fleeting human nature blind him from his course – “You are a warrior – go and fight your war”.

I recall the first question that Paul set out for us to contemplate when we began studying the Bhagavad Gita – which to this day I feel paints in a simple and relevant light: “What is it that prompted Arjuna in the first place to ask Krishna to take him out into the battlefield knowing in advance what he will find there?”.

I have a feeling that if you peel enough layers from the question, it boils down to the question Vedanta attempts to answer: “What causes the initial disturbance from which all reality manifests?”. I take solace in an answer provided by Samkhya philosophy – which says “Don’t ask – because it doesn’t really matter, all that matters is that we are here now and we are clear about how ‘here now’ works”. I don’t know about you, for me “being here now” is a full-life-job.

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Krishna takes advantage of Arjuna’s predicament to teach him spiritual teachings. Simply put – Krishna explains to Arjuna that his own misapprehensions are blinding him. His opposing cousins and uncles are already dead, because that is the nature of things and of their choices. Krishna says to Arjuna that it is his nature and fate (Dharma) to fight this war – and that he must not let his fleeting human nature blind him from his course – “You are a warrior – go and fight your war”.

I recall the first question that Paul (my teacher) set out for us to contemplate when we began studying the Bhagavad Gita – and with it I will leave you to your own contemplation. What is it that prompted Arjuna in the first place to ask Krishna to take him out into the battlefield knowing in advance what he will find there?

Posted in Yoga, Yoga & Life, Yoga Philosophy | You are welcome to read 5 comments and to add yours

Student & Teacher

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The following is an excerpt from “What are we Seeking” by TKV Desikachar & Martyn Neal.

What are the qualities of a good student?

A good student is one who is inquisitive and is searching….
A good student will have pertinent questions… and this will bring out the best in the teacher… It is up to him to learn about all the aspects of himself through the teacher.

Patience is a must. Patience is where we do not change track, irrespective of whether something happens or not, after our efforts. Patience is [also] one of the most precious qualities a teacher should have.

A good student manifests his trust in the teacher. Trust and confidence develop gradually in the relationship…

Respect and faith are essential qualities because they help a student to find his center. This is a mysterious effect of the correct relationship: the divine aspect in the teacher will reveal the divine aspect in the student.

What are the qualifies of a good teacher?

A teacher is someone who can recognize the potentials in a person and aid him in developing them. A potential is a predisposition which may not develop if certain elements are lacking… We in India believe that there is some sort of continuity and that the potentials of any person are influenced by past actions… Some things need to be done to open the way for their [potentials] development… [the teacher] will help the student learn how to use the right techniques, in the appropriate manner and at the right rhythm. He will adapt the teaching in order to respect temperament, age, health, way of life and all other factors, in such a way that the least possible conflict is caused, both to the student and his environment.

The teacher must meditate on the student in order to discover his positive features and to find the best way of removing the obstacles which prevent their development. The primary concern should be for the well-being of the student above all other considerations, and if the teacher does not have the necessary resources he should advise him [the student] to go elsewhere, in order to get the best out of the gifts which God has given to him. This means being open, humble and realistic.

Observation is one of the foremost requirements for teaching. If a teacher is just distributing technical information without observing the people who are receiving it, he will fall short of the real goal. Teaching should be like meditation, where the teacher’s focus is on the student.

A good teacher encourages independence. Dependency, loss of freedom on the part of the student, is undesirable. It is a negative result and avoiding it is a constant challenge to any teacher… Unfortunately, there are teachers who seemingly prefer that their students remain dependent.

Mutual respect is indispensable in the student teacher relationship. Without respect it is impossible for a teacher to help a student in his quest. This means taking full into account his beliefs, ideas and possibilities, understanding his lifestyle, family situation, and so on – on factor whatsoever should be rejected …Without this approach we can make mistakes. Being faced with a problem is like being in a maze; the mind creates a labyrinth around the problem and one of the worst things that a teacher can do is to take the student by the hand and show him the exit… sometimes the student is very happy in his labyrinth.

… A teacher should always look after his own personal discipline … The efforts he makes to evolve, and to see more clearly, are the best preparation for his teaching and a mark of respect for the students.

A teacher should also be accessible, able to listen to the student’s problems with an understanding ear… a teacher should know how to facilitate communication and this will inspire confidence.

[A teacher] should be an example. However, his example should not go beyond his true capacities. No one can learn from a teacher who over-stretches himself.

Continuity of learning is the basis of teaching, and any teacher who loses the will to learn, loses at the same time the capacity to teach … the guarantee of the depth of his teaching is the desire to learn, to constantly search beyond what has already been understood.

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Posted in Getting Started, Yoga, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to read 3 comments and to add yours

Where can I get WordPress?

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There are two ways for you to use WordPress. To appreciate the differences we need to get acquainted with  two terms: Domain & Hosting.

What is  a Domain?

A domain is a reserved name on the internet. For example “iamronen.com” is a domain that I have reserved for myself. It’s really just that – a reserved name that appears in the “yellow pages” of the internet. A domain is not a web-site! If we want to create a website we first need a place to put the web-site. Essentially what you need is a web-server – a computer that can run the WordPress application with all of your posts & pages. This brings us to Hosting.

What is a Hosting?

Hosting is the term used to describe a storage space for web-sites on the internet. The simplest way to think of it is as computer that you rent for your web-site. You maybe asking yourself “Why do you need to rent a computer, why can’t I simply have my web-site on my home computer?”. The truth is that you can, but you would run into some problems such as:

  • Connectivity – you would have to make sure that your computer is on and functional at all times, because you don’t know when people may be visiting your website, this could be at any time.
  • Bandwidth – your home internet connection has a limited capacity, you can only send & receive a limited amount of information to and from the internet. Remember when you chose your internet connection speed – it was 1.5MB or 2.5 or something like that?  That number indicates how much information you can transfer at any given time and it’s fairly limited. Your internet site may attract lots of visitors and some of them may not be able to get through because of your limited internet connection.
  • Security – all of your website visitors will be accessing your computer and that could lead to some security issues – such as (1) exposing all of your private information to the world; (2) allowing people to place damaging software – such as viruses on your computer
  • Backup – if your computer malfunctions, your site will not be available (it will offline) and if you lost any information (people are not too good at making backups!) you may also lose the information that is required to run your website including all of your web-pages.

Hosting takes care of all of this for you. The word “hosting” comes from the idea that your web-server computer is hosted in a place called a data-center. These data-centers are designed to ensure that your web-server is always connected to the internet, that it’s connection is fast enough to handle all of your visitors, that your web-server is secured, backed up and even protected from electricity failures.

What is Shared Hosting?

Most web-sites, especially personal web-sites that are just starting out don’t really need an entire computer (which can be prohibitively expensive) to operate. They probably use only a fraction of the capabilities of a web-server. So along came some ingenuous people and companies and invented Shared Hosting. What they do is magically transform a single powerful web-server computer into smaller virtual computers – which are just right for most web-sites and much more affordable. It’s kind of like renting an office-space in a large office-building. You don’t need an entire building to run your business, a one or two room office is more then enough.

WordPress.com

The simplest & fastest way to get started with WordPress is at WordPress.com. This is hosting service dedicated to WordPress. They offer a basic service that is free of charge and what you get is:

  • An automatic, secured and updated (WordPress releases new version 3 or 4 times a year) installation of WordPress.
  • A domain name of your choice at WordPress. For example: myname.WordPress.com.
  • A (limited) set of themes-  visual designs (we’ll talk more about later in this series)  for you to choose for your blog.

This service imposes some limitations to what you can do with your WordPress. Matt Mullenweg (the lead WordPress developer) once described it as living in an apartment complex – you have to be considerate of your neighbors. It’s very easy to get started – all you have to do is write your content – everything else is automatically taken care of by the team at WordPress.com. You can check out the free features here and the premium (paid) features here.

WordPress.org – Self Hosting

Remember we mentioned that WordPress is open-source and free for you to use? WordPress.org is where you go to get it. But getting it is the easy part and unless you are technically proficient in computer and internet technologies – you will probably need help to pursue this option.

You will need to get your own domain, find a hosting service, install WordPress, install & customize a theme, install & activate plugins, etc. If you encountered a few words in that last sentence that you don’t recognize, that’s OK, it just means you’re going to need help. If you are inclined to do it – you may try to tackle these issues on your own. There are many resources online on how to do this, you will need patience and perseverance.

There are many people who can help you create your self-hosted WordPress installation, I am one of them. You can find others here, or on freelance sites such as Guru, oDesk, or you can search the internet for WordPress freelancers.

Next up in the series – laying the foundations for your WordPress web-site.

Posted in outside, Tech Stuff, Wordpress | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

My Business Model

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This is a business model I have started using in the WordPress projects I do. I try to apply it to other things as well.

Like-Hearted People

I am getting involved in projects with people who are involved in some kind of personal spiritual practice. This indicates to me that there is a good chance that these people share some of my core beliefs.

  1. They live as if their actions have consequences and they are aware of and care about those consequences.
  2. They are conscious of their intentions and their intentions are meticulously selected and constantly refined.
  3. Their intentions go beyond themselves – their work is dedicated to others.
  4. Their work touches other people – they are sensitive to individual predispositions and preferences.
  5. They have faith in what they do and in the people with whom they work.

This connects me with people who are caring, sensitive, curious, passionate and trusting.

A Simple Objective

I don’t enjoy doing complex things, so I do simple things. If there are complicated needs I break them down into small things and choose one as a starting point. The rest are set aside for a later time. A project starts when we can embrace a simple and shared objective – something that can be stated in one or two sentences without any technical terms. A good objective brings a smile to everyone’s face and a general feeling of lightness.

No Schedule

There is no project schedule, though due to their simplicity projects are relatively short. Time is not an issue. The most precious resource I allocate to a project is my caring attention. It is a limited resource so I treat it with care. The people I work with naturally recognize this because they do the same in their work. A project receives a limited share of my attention.

Pricing

I do not have and do not give set fees. Payment is up to the people I work with. I have faith in their perception of value and  their ability to translate that into money. Whatever the payment, it is offered and received with a smile and an open heart.

Success

A successful project is an enjoyable project. This is pretty much guaranteed when working with like-hearted people.

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What can I do with WordPress?

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Well the simple answer would be almost everything, which to some extent is true. But there is one thing WordPress does really well, and the closer you to stick to that the more you will enjoy using WordPress and the better it can serve you. WordPress is wonderful at creating Blogs.

Time

Blog is short for Web-Log – you can think of it as an online diary. A core idea around which blogs operate is Time. The most basic Blog is like a list of diary entries – where the most recent entries are displayed first. In a way its like newspapers and magazines where time is a reference – what you are reading pertains to the time it was written. Some things, like news, are tightly bound to time – yesterdays news is almost not relevant for today. Some things are less bound to time, such as articles in a fashion magazine – they last longer then the news, but they also fade with the passing of seasons.

So a Blog is one specific kind of website where the pages are presented in reverse chronological order – the newest & latest entries are always presented first. WordPress is an exceptional tool for creating Blogs.

Do I Want a Blog?

This is key question and now is a good time to ask it (before we delve into the specifics of WordPress).  A few years ago it was fashionable to create web-sites as a kind of “online business card” – and there still are many websites that have a few pages that rarely (if ever) change. Blogs are not like that and not intended for that kind of web-site.

When you create a blog you open yourself up to the force of time. This force can support you and it can weigh you down. A blog is great if you want to create a continuous and fresh presence – it has tools to support you in doing this (we’ll talk about some of those tools a bit later). One thing a blog does not have is a motivation to create – that has to come from you.  A blog works when you keep it alive, you write consistently, you write well and you write from your heart. If that sounds like something you want to do then a blog is just the thing for you. So, do you want a blog? If so, read on.

Posts

A Post in WordPress is the equivalent of an entry in your diary.  In slightly more technical terms, a Post is a web-page with a time-stamp on it. When you publish a post it is given a time-stamp that indicates when it was published. This places in a relationship with all the other posts in your blog.  Posts that were published after it will appear before it (remember – the most recent posts are displayed first). Posts that were published before it will appear after it.

Most of your web–pages will be posts. A post can contain almost anything you want: text, images, video, audio, etc. You can publish as many posts as you want. Just remember – posts will always be displayed in reverse chronological order!

Pages

A Page is exactly the same as post except for one thing – it is not given a time stamp. Pages are used to display information that is static and doesn’t change often. Here are some example of pages:

  • An “About” page that provides general information about you and what your blog is about.
  • A “Contact” page that contains a contact-form visitors can use to leave you a message.
  • On this site I maintain a “Reading” page where I keep an updated list of the books I am currently reading (and books I’ve read in the past).

Pages are usually made  available to visitors at  all times. You don’t want them to mix with your posts, because they would quickly disappear from view.

Categories

Categories can be used to group posts together – like sections of a newspaper. This is helpful to readers who want to go directly to one topic instead of sifting through everything to find what they’re looking for. With WordPress you can create as many categories as you want (though it may be prudent not to over do it so visitors to your web-site don’t get lost). You can then assign a post to more then one category. This is one of the perks of technology – you can find a relevant article in more then one section of the newspaper.

You don’t need to decide in advance whether or not you want to use categories or what your categories will be. You can create and modify categories as you go. For example, you may, after writing for some time, recognize a recurring theme and you may want to bring that them to the attention of your readers. All you need to do is create a new category, and then add that category to the relevant posts. WordPress will automatically display the new theme to your visitors.

Comments

Comments facilitate a dialogue between you and your visitors.  WordPress makes it simple for visitors to comment on your posts & pages. Comments are usually displayed at the end of every post or page in what is called a comment thread. Each comment is added to the end of the thread – so a conversation can develop around your posts. You can decide whether or not comments are allowed (you can open some posts to comments, and close others), who is allowed to comment, you can review comments before they are published and you can also partake in the conversation by adding your own comments.

Trackbacks

Links are so common on the internet you hardly notice them. A link is something that points to a page on the web – links are usually intertwined with content and given an emphasis (such as a different color or an underline) to get your attention. For example – this is a link to my Reading page.

But there is more to links then meets the eye. Lets have a look at a sample scenario:  a visitor who reads your blog comes across an interesting post; this visitor also has a blog of her own and she writes a post on her blog about your post – and she includes in it a link to your post. This link symbolizes a relationship between you and her, it means you have something in common, something she cares about enough to write about and share with other people through her blog.

When this happens, wouldn’t you like to know about it? It’s not unlike a comment, only it’s not created on your blog. WordPress takes care of this too – it’s called Track-backs. In many cases WordPress can automatically identify when someone creates a link back to your blog and make a note of it. It can also display this information inside your comments – so when someone reads your post and then reads through the comments, they may benefit from reading what someone else wrote about it.

Track-backs also work the other way around. When you write a post and link to another person’s web-site you can also send them a track-back to let them know about it. It’s pleasant, polite and you never know who you will find on the other end of the line.

Comments & Track-backs are a doorway to connecting and socializing with visitors to your blog and with other people and their blogs.

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Yoga Sutra – Chapter 1 Sutra 20

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“For others Faith precedes firmness, remembrance, integration and insight”
Translation by Paul Harvey

This sutra describes a kind of positive feedback loop which is rooted in and nourishes faith:

  • Faith leads to resolve, a focused quality of energy.
  • Resolve acts as marker, it highlights the things that need to be done – right action.
  • Right actions leads to attention.
  • Attention to insight.
  • Insight nourishes faith.

YS1-20-Faith

There is another, less functional feedback loop that feeds on and breeds doubt:

  • Doubt leads to heaviness and lethargy, a dispersed quality of energy.
  • Heaviness breeds forgetfulness (of remembering of wrong things).
  • Forgetfulness leads to distraction.
  • Distraction to confusion.
  • Confusion increases doubt.

YS1-20-DoubtDoubt is the fire that consumes wisdom.

Posted in Yoga, Yoga Philosophy, Yoga Sutra, Yoga Texts | You are welcome to add your comment

Viloma Ujjayi

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Viloma Ujjayi is in a way an “opposite” technique to Anuloma Ujjayi.

The breathing cycle in Viloma Ujjayi is:

  1. Inhale through the left nostril (closing the right nostril by applying pressure to the thumb).
  2. Exhale with both nostrils open using Ujjayi (throat control).
  3. Inhale through the right nostril (closing the left nostril by applying pressure to your ring finger).
  4. Exhale with both nostrils open using Ujjayi (throat control).

IMPORTANT: never use two breath control techniques at the same time. In this case when you exhale using Ujjayi, both nostrils are open; when you inhale using nostril control you release the Ujjayi – DO NOT use Ujjayi when using nostril control. This is true for all Pranayama techniques. Ujjayi and nostril control both act as valves to affect the flow of breath – only use one at any given time.

If your practice includes holds then add them where necessary. Like Anuloma Ujjayi –  one round of breathing is made up of two breaths. When practicing, you should always do an even number of breaths – so that the practice remains symmetrical (unless you’ve been given specific instructions by a qualified teacher).

Here is a practice to get acquainted with Viloma Ujjayi. It begins and ends with regular Ujjayi breathing and in the middle the technique is changed to Viloma Ujjayi. Find yourself a comfortable seated position and do the following practice sequence :

1   –   0   –   1   –   0   (x4 – Ujjayi)

1   –   0   –   1   –   0   (x4 – Viloma Ujjayi)

1   –   0   – 1.5 –   0   (x4 – Viloma Ujjayi)

1   –   0   –   1   –   0   (x4 – Ujjayi)

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

What is WordPress

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WordPress is a software application that lives on a web-server. It contains everything you need to create a web-site (with as many web-pages as you want) and then transform those pages & present them as a website to people who browse the web and visit your web-site.

WhatIsWordpress01Community

The most unique quality of WordPress is not its technical capabilities or functionality but rather that it is a community. WordPress is an open-source software application which means it’s developed by a community of developers and is offered to you to use freely, without any limitations. This is actually protected by a unique license agreement which promises that no-one can inhibit that freedom – it is actually illegal for anyone to limit what you can do with WordPress – forever. The WordPress community is active in many countries and languages, it includes developers, designers, support forums, and what not.

WhatIsWordpressCommunity

When you choose to use WordPress you are essentially connecting with all these people, their intentions connect with yours.

WARNING: There are people who abuse the qualities of the WordPress community. As a rule of thumb everything related to the WordPress software is offered free of charge (donations are always appreciated and a great way to say thank you).  There are some so called “Premium” services around WordPress which charge for their services – some of them are legitimate, others are not. If you encounter such services, see how they resonate with the values of the community. Most of the quality Premium providers also offer some of their services/products freely to the WordPress community – they will be soft-spoken, generous and heartful. The lesser/abusive ones will try to bait you in and usually their services/products don’t hold a candle to similar solutions available freely within the community.

Functionality

WordPress is actually a bundle of two application that work together seamlessly:

  1. Admin is an application made available only to you (or other authorized people of your choosing) and enables you to create the web-pages you want visitors to see and decide how those pages should be presented to viewers – this is called the Admin part of WordPress.
  2. Blog is an application that displays those web-pages to viewers who visit your web-site.

WhatIsWordpressCommunityRWYou will probably spend most of your time using the Admin while most visitors will be experiencing the actual Blog.

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3 Monkeys

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3 Monkeys is a rare breathtaking experience. I was amazed by the amazing dance of direction and photography in this film. There were scenes in which the power of human presence was overwhelming – the backdrop was silent yet filled with potential that was ignited by the most delicate human presence. Characters had just enough time (never too little and never too much) to appear.  Small gestures, powerful relationships, unspoken words. Delightful movie.

I so enjoyed it that this time instead of a movie trailer I put together a sequence of still images that I loved in the movie. Enjoy 🙂

[nggallery id=3 w=600 h=255]

Posted in Movies, Photography | You are welcome to add your comment

What is a Website?

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WordPress is a very popular program that is used to create blogs. You’re probably reading this because you’re wondering if you want to give it a try, or you’ve already decided but don’t quite know exactly why or what to do next. To appreciate the special qualities of WordPress we need to gain some perspective on what makes up a website, preferably without getting to technical.

What is a Web-page?

When you look at a website (like this one) you are actually only seeing half of the picture. You are looking at what is called Web-page which has a lot more then your eye can see. For example it contains information that tells it that if you click here it should open a new window and show you another Web-page which has some information about me. You don’t see all that information, but it’s there. If you hear some technical people talking about “HTML” – that’s the language in which web-pages are written. The reason you are not seeing HTML is because the web-browser application you are using to view this page hides all the information you don’t need to see and only shows you what makes sense to you.

What is a Web-Sever?

Web-pages are sent to you from another computer. When you type in a web address (called a URL) such as “www.iamronen.com” into your web-browser you are actually telling it to go to a computer that’s connected to the internet, it can be anywhere in the world, and ask it to show you what is on it. That computer is called a web-server. It is called that because it’s job is to serve you web-pages! Makes sense.  Somewhere out there is a Web-Server which has been told to answer when you ask for “www.iamronen.com”.

What is a URL?

URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. It is a technical term used to describe a “place” on the internet. Most “places” on the internet are Web-pages. Every web-page in the world has a unique identifier (pretty amazing if you think about it) – this is it’s URL.

URL’s are made of two parts. The first is usually the name of the web-server. The second part usually comes after the web-server name and points the web-server to the unique page within it. For example.

  • “www.iamronen.com/category/yoga” will lead you to a page that contains a list of yoga-related web-pages.
  • “www.iamronen.com/contact” will lead you to page that has a contact form you can use to send me a message.

What is a Home-Page?

When you reach a web-server it shows you one web-page, a first page – this first web-page is called the Home-page .  Usually it has  some information on it and links that you can click. Those links point to other web-pages. Sometimes links point to other web-pages on the same web- server, sometimes they point to web-pages on other web-servers. For example:

  • this-link will take you to a web-page on this web-server that contains an article I wrote about WordPress.
  • this-link will take you to the another server – one that has lot’s of web-pages about WordPress itself.

What is a Web-Site?

Now it’s pretty easy to answer that question – it’s a collection of web-pages that exist on a web-server. You probably already knew that instinctively, but now we have a few basic terms to communicate some more about websites and WordPress 🙂

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Posted in outside, Tech Stuff, Wordpress | You are welcome to read 2 comments and to add yours

Anuloma Ujjayi

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Anuloma is a recommended technique for getting started with Pranayama breathing practices. Anuloma breathing combines Ujjayi breathing, timing and counting breaths, reading a Pranayama breathing practice and nostril control (this article assumes you are familiar with both) so it is an accessible step-forward from Ujjayi.

The breathing cycle in Anuloma Ujjayi is:

  1. Inhale with both nostrils open using Ujjayi (throat conrol).
  2. Exhale through the left nostril (closing the right nostril by applying pressure to the thumb).
  3. Inhale with both nostrils open using Ujjayi (throat control).
  4. Exhale through the right nostril (closing the left nostril by applying pressure to your ring finger).

IMPORTANT: never use two breath control techniques at the same time. In this case when you inhale using Ujjayi, both nostrils are open; when you exhale using nostril control you release the Ujjayi – DO NOT use Ujjayi when using nostril control. This is true for all Pranayama techniques. Ujjayi and nostril control both act as valves to affect the flow of breath – only use one at any given time.

If your practice includes holds then add them where necessary. Please notice that one round of Anuloma Ujjayi is made up of two breaths. When practicing this means you should always do an even number of breaths – so that the practice remains symmetrical (unless you’ve been given specific instructions by a qualified teacher).

Here is a practice to get acquainted with Anuloma Ujjayi. It begins and ends with regular Ujjayi breathing and in the middle the technique is changed to Anuloma Ujjayi. Find yourself a comfortable seated position and do the following practice sequence :

1   –   0   –   1   –   0   (x4 – Ujjayi)

1   –   0   –   1   –   0   (x4 – Anuloma Ujjayi)

1   –   0   – 1.5 –   0   (x4 – Anuloma Ujjayi)

1   –   0   –   1   –   0   (x4 – Ujjayi)

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

My Enemy – My Beloved

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In Hebrew the words “Enemy” and “Beloved” are very similar:  “Oyvi Ahuvi”. I met Shai Dayan through my work with Shahar. Being in his presence is soothing and magical. A couple months ago Shahar facilitated an opportunity for us to spend some time together in a studio. On the way there, Shai told me about this song. A few days later it was in my inbox and now I am sharing it with you. The words are taken from a poem by Marcia Kreisel, composition, performance & production by Shai.  (lyrics in Hebrew, Arabic & English).

click to play My Enemy My Beloved

My Enemy – My Beloved / Marcia Kreisel
I will call no man my enemy,
For he can only be my beloved brother,
Whom my heart has forgotten.
But I promise you my brother,
That I will know you again,
And falling to my knees in gratitude,
I will learn to love you,
my enemy – my beloved,
In the same way
as I am learning to love myself.
I will no longer call myself, my enemy.
For this can only be my child, my soul,
Who cries to me from within.
But I promise you , little one,
I will know you again,
And embracing you in compassionate understanding,
I will learn to love you,
My soul, my inner child,
In the same way as I am l learning to
love, Another.

My Enemy – My Beloved / Marcia Kreisel
I will call no man my enemy,
For he can only be my beloved brother,
Whom my heart has forgotten.
But I promise you my brother,
That I will know you again,
And falling to my knees in gratitude,
I will learn to love you,
my enemy – my beloved,
In the same way
as I am learning to love myself.
I will no longer call myself, my enemy.
For this can only be my child, my soul,
Who cries to me from within.
But I promise you , little one,
I will know you again,
And embracing you in compassionate
understanding,
I will learn to love you,
My soul, my inner child,
In the same way as I am l learning to
love,
Another. (or – My brother)
Posted in Enjoy, Expanding, inside | You are welcome to add your comment

Pranayama – Nostril Control

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PLEASE NOTE: This article assumes that you are familiar with the prerequisites for practicing Pranayama: being able to sit effectively and comfortably,  familiarity with Ujjayi breathing and the four parts of the breath, the tools and knowledge for timing and counting your breathing and understanding a written breathing practice.

What is Pranayama?

Pranayama is a collection of practices that are usually referred to as breathing practices. While it is true that the practice takes the form of breathing it is aimed at the subtle substance called Prana. Prana is associated with the animating principle of Purusa (Cosmic Spirit) described in Samkhya philosophy – a life force.

This subtle distinction between air and Prana is useful in understanding the purpose of Pranayama. Unlike air which moves in and out of the body, Prana is a fixed and limited resource – a pool of energy that resides within the body. Prana flows in channels called Nadis. Pranayama practices have a potential to clear these channels and facilitate better flow of Prana throughout the body. This can bring about a change in the quality of Prana – it creates a collected and tightened field of energy, an increased vitality.

Though there are many forms and variations of Pranayama practices the one thing they all have in common is using the nostrils to control the breath. Why the nostrils? There are two primary channels called Ida (associated with the moon & feminine energy)  & Pingala (associated with the sun and male energy). Ida & Pingala are associated with the two nostrils – so by using nostril control we are manipulating the flow of Prana in two primary Nadi and through them with the entire energy system.

Nostril control, as we will soon see, requires the use of the right hand. Therefore Pranayama is an independent practice and cannot be performed as a part of an asana (physical) practice. Ujjayi breathing, which is used extensively in asana practice, is not considered a Pranayama because it does not involve nostril control.

Nostril Control

Nostril control is performed with the right hand (the left hand is reserved for counting). The index and middle are folded out of the way into the palm of the hand.

pranayama_fingers01

Then the thumb and ring finger are brought closer together and form a dynamic vice we will use to control the nostrils.

pranayama_fingers02

The hand is brought up to the nose and the thumb and ring fingers are placed on it – the thumb on the right nostril, the ring finger on the left.

pranayama_fingers03

The picture above demonstrates a common tendency to leave an unnecessary tension in the little finger. You can and should release it and let is rest below the ring finger. The little finger is not involved in nostril control.

pranayama_fingers04

The fingers should be placed right below the bridge of the nose – the soft area right below the bone. In this location you will need very little physical movement to apply control. If you place the fingers at the end of the nose – you will be required to make larger movements which are less effective and unnecessary.

pranayama_fingers05

In practice the fingers do not need to be taken off the nose at any time – all that is required is a subtle change in pressure between the two fingers.

pranayama_fingers05b

The arm should be slightly active and distanced from the body. This may cause some discomfort at first, this will pass with practice. Please pay attention to your wrist joint – it should be flat – a relaxed continuation of the arm.

pranayama_fingers06

Because of the asymmetric position of Pranayama practice there can be a tendency, during practice, for the head to twist to the right. This happens when the right arm tires and instead of being placed lightly on the nose, weighs down on it – it is an escape for the arm at the expense of the head, neck and back. When you are starting out with Pranayama it can be useful to open your eyes once in a while and gaze down to make sure your head remains centered.

That’s a lot of details to contain and we haven’t even started to breathe. Pranayama is a subtle practice – some say it is an art. A correct and effective practice will serve you for a long time. Cutting corners now will raise obstacles to your progress and will require more effort and attention to correct later on.

Coming next – Anuloma Ujjayi – a first Pranayama practice.

Posted in Breath, Pranayama, Yoga | You are welcome to read 12 comments and to add yours

1st Degree Burns

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I studied for my BA in a distance learning program – which meant that I did a lot of reading and summarizing. I specialized in nothing – most of the courses I took belonged to social sciences, and because I wasn’t on a fixed track I tasted from as many disciplines as I could. I was coerced to study because people who cared about me felt it would open up career opportunities (I think work and money were implied) for me. It didn’t.

Ever since then I’ve had a pile of books following me around. Over recent years I tried to unload them and donate them to someone who may benefit from them. That didn’t work out – I got silly replies – like there’s no room in the library, we don’t have time to pick them up. When we moved to our current house I decided this would be their last transition – so they never made it into the storage room.

Shortly after we moved, it came to me that the books were taking up not just physical space, but also mental and karma space. So I decided it was time to free that space and make way for new knowledge and new experiences. when a huge pile of dried wild-growth branches was ready for burning and set on fire, all of my books and summaries joined in. The following day these image occurred (some higher resolution images are presented as StillCreation):

Posted in Images, Photography | You are welcome to add your comment

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-08-23

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  • Vedic Philosophy – Vedanta – what starts a cycle of existence? http://www.iamronen.com/?p=1697 #
  • RT 150 is a useful number! can u c thin line separating makers of software from users of software? @ronenk 150 Tools http://bit.ly/jtVrm #
  • RT 🙂 @gotoAndSmoke: Is a cheap circumcision.. a rip off? #
  • Care is the underlying issue, it's been an issue with business before the web, and like many things online it has escal… http://disq.us/1xbm #
  • a wish has come true 4me, in one month I will be playing this fine Shakuhachi: http://twurl.nl/26xjib #
  • RT @KathySierra: w/a few exceptionns useful "self-help" books are those not found in Self-Help. TheyR in Music, Astronomy, Gardening, etc. #
  • Sowdi Arabia – really enjoyed listening to this guy: http://twurl.nl/venpun #
  • RT @ronenk: יש מילים, שאומצו לשפה העברית ע"י קהילת הבלוגרים, שאני ממש שונא. מילים כמו שאפו וקודוס. תעשו לי טובה ותדחפו אותם לחורים עמוקים #
  • is Thunderbird 3b3 stable enough to use (=upgrade) ? #
  • another Shakuhachi recording: http://www.iamronen.com/?p=1703 #
  • Vedic Philosophy overview nearing it's end – Kasmir Saivisim http://www.iamronen.com/?p=1709 #yoga #
  • How to choose a seated posture that is good for you in #yoga: http://www.iamronen.com/?p=1717 #
  • 22:44 I bid you farewell, I don't know when I'll be back #
  • is there a pleasant and more enlightened substitute for the word "Wife"? #
  • RT sounds like an order of beef at the butchers doesn't it? something with more spirit & space? @kfirpravda: @iamronen better half #
  • The 4 parts of the breath http://www.iamronen.com/?p=1731 #yoga preparing for #pranayama #
  • listening to "Windmills of your mind" ♫ http://blip.fm/~c0ezi #
  • unbelievable how much bullshit/misapprehension is out there about Yoga, its a challenge for me to embrace and c the light in that! #
  • RT hmmm, better… but academic/technical… more heart? @kfirpravda: @iamronen spouse #
  • refining #yoga asana with breath – movement within breath: http://www.iamronen.com/?p=1755 #
  • silence sounds different after playing Shakuhachi #
  • RT @photomatt: My thoughts on starting a bank: http://ma.tt/2009/08/starting-a-bank/ #
  • @ronenk looks like a deep breath is in order 4 u 🙂 in reply to ronenk #
  • someone spent 15 minutes reading at my blog about #Yoga … that has to be an attention record! #
  • so nice when people have something clear to say and say it clearly ♫ http://blip.fm/~c26y6 #
  • Hush child, I can't help the look of accusation in your eyes In your eyes ♫ http://blip.fm/~c271h #
  • conclusion of Vedic Philosophy: Kasmir Saivism – how Spirit & Matter came to be: http://twurl.nl/cpcihy #Yoga #
  • part 2 of preparing for #Pranayama – how to count and time breaths: http://twurl.nl/j75a6k #yoga #
  • image of Kakimaze Pilot Playing Shakuhachi: http://twurl.nl/s8uk2t #
  • RT @JangalaRetreat: RT @zakaraya Life is a foreign language; all men mispronounce it. —-Christopher Morley #
  • My teacher Paul Harvey talks about What is Yoga: http://twurl.nl/7ny5s0 #
  • if Judaim and Buddhims share ancestry then it feels like Judaim pursued the mind part & Buddhism pursued the heart! #
  • 3rd and last part of preparation for #pranayama – a sample practice: http://twurl.nl/rcbzr0 #yoga #breath #
  • Namaste can be interpreted "I recognize the eternal that is you" so great to be able to say that, and in 1 word #
  • soul is addicted to mind, mind to senses, senses to nature, nature is soul #
  • silence tastes different after playing Shakuhachi #

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

A Sample Breathing Practice

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Now that we can communicate breathing formulas and have the tools to time and count in a breathing practice let’s try a sample breathing practice. Here is the practice structure:

1   –   0   –   1   –   0  (x4)

1   –   0   – 1.5  –  0  (x4)

1   – 0.5 – 1.5  –  0  (x4)

1   –   0   –   1   –   0  (x4)

The number indicates in the parentheses at the end of each line tells you how many breaths to breath in each formula. In this case, to keep it simple, each formula is applied 4 times.

Let’s transform that into a personal practice, this time using a base duration of 6 seconds:

6   –   0   –   6   –   0  (x4)

6   –   0   –   9   –   0  (x4)

6   –   3   –   9   –   0  (x4)

6   –   0   –   6   –   0  (x4)

Reminder:  we count the seconds in each part of the breath (6,3,9) using the metronome, and we count the number of breaths in each formula using our left hand!

Please remember to apply and use YOUR base duration to formulate your own practice. A Yoga teacher can help and guide you through a gradual process of growth and expansion using breathing practices.

Posted in Breath, Pranayama, Yoga | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Paul Harvey Interview – What is Yoga

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A 1986 radio interview with Paul Harvey (one of my two Yoga teachers) that does a great service to Yoga. Click here for the full transcript.

It took some years to come across a teacher to whom I could relate and a teacher I felt could relate not only to me as a person but also to my Western Psychology. There are many teachers around who are willing to teach you, but I wonder if they are asking you to be as they are rather then respecting who you are

If we interpret Yoga just by looking at the form an Easterner is adopting and then trying to match ourselves to that form, we’re misunderstanding Yoga.

“For me the breath really is the tool which allows you to understand what’s happening on the mental level and what’s happening on the emotional level, and it also allows you to measure what’s happening on a physical level”

“Life must always go on and Yoga is not about an escape from life. Yoga’s about a way of dealing with life more effectively; to be able to involve oneself with one’s family, one’s friends, one’s social commitments, one’s job and at the same time maintain one’s center.”

Posted in Getting Started, Yoga | You are welcome to add your comment

The Thomas Crown Affair

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Witty, sexy and entertaining movie time and again. Enjoy 🙂

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

Kakimaze Pilot Playing Shakuhachi

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I found this image here. It’s the last one on the page and it is labeled “Kamikaze pilot playing shakuhachi – 1943″. Anything I say (and I tried) falls short of the capacity of this image – so I won’t say anything. Enjoy 🙂

kamakazeshakuhachi

(Courtesy of Tom Caperton)

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

Timing & Counting Breaths

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Breathing practices involve counting (which is also one of their meditative qualities – you need to focus on the counting to stay with the practice) of two things:

  1. Timing of each part of the breath – the number of seconds in each part of the breath.
  2. Counting a number of breaths.

We are going to need a few simple tools & techniques to help us do this.

Timing Breath

As we saw in the 4 parts of breathing – Pranayama  practices are based on timed breathing – the length of each part of the breath is indicated in seconds. So for an effective practice you are going to need something that makes an audible sound every second. The simplest tool is a simple mechanical clock that makes an audible clicking noise every second. Another popular alternative is a metronome.

There are plenty of metronomes on the market – some are mechanical, most are digital. I used to have this Wittner mechanical metronome until it fell and now has an interesting off-beat which isn’t very useful. I now use a digital metronome that I chose because one of it’s sound options feels natural & pleasant to my ear (I don’t like the digital sounds most digital metronomes make). I couldn’t find a reference for it online because it’s not a well-known make – but I did find this one which looks similar. If you go digital I suggest you visit a music shop and find something that suites your ear and budget.

You can also try this metronome application.

Counting Breaths

We will be using the left-hand to count breaths. We can use this technique to count to any number up to 12. We do this by moving and placing the thumb over 12 numbered areas on the hand.

handcounting

You begin a counting sequence by placing the thumb on the first location. Then every time you begin a new breathing cycle by inhaling you move the thumb one position forward. With some practice you will become familiar with the association of numbers and fingers. This way you know which breath you are on by the position of the finger and your mind is free to focus on counting the seconds in every part of the breath.

samplecount

Posted in Breath, Pranayama, Yoga | You are welcome to read 5 comments and to add yours