“To learn how to chant develops this precious ability to listen without preconceived ideas or interference from our memories and habits.”
TKV Desikachar

What Are We Seeking?

Nyaya – Introduction & Right Knowledge

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Nyaya suggests that we are in an uninterrupted flow of misapprehension, faults, activity, birth and pain. Not very comforting- but we can break out of this flow by “understanding the true nature of things”. How do we achieve this? By realizing that (1) pain should be avoided; (2) it has a cause; (3) it can be avoided; (4) there are ways to do this. Sounds very much like the 4 Noble Truths by Buddhism! An interesting quality of Nyaya teachings is that they are not just about discerning true from false but also protect us when our knowledge is still growing and not yet matured.

Nyaya approaches philosophy by studying it’s method of inquiry. There is an innate capacity for truth seeking in human nature, logic enabled it to accomplish its aims.  Nyaya offers insights into the psychological aspects of obtaining knowledge, how the mind partakes in this process and what pitfalls it may encounter.

Nyaya mentions 16 categories of knowledge. The first 9 deal with logic and the remaining 7 are about preventing and destroying error. For now we will be focusing on the first 9.

The Means of Right Knowledge

Perception is that knowledge that arises from contact of a sense with its object. It mus be real, discreet, specific and not vague. It it also unnameable – the name of a thing has no connection with the knowledge of a thing derived through perception. Perception is in the sphere of the present.

Inference is knowledge that arises after perception. It may lead from cause to effect (clouds = it is going to rain) or from effect to cause (flooded streets = it has rained).  It may also be “commonly seen” – if its raining – there must be clouds. Inference is in the sphere of the past, present or future.

Comparison is knowing a thing from it’s similarity to another, previously well known, thing.

Verbal Testimony is instruction from a reliable person – one who is possessed of true knowledge and is truthful.

The Objects of Right Knowledge

There are countless objects of right knowledge. The 12 listed here are unique because truly knowing them is said to dispel delusion while false knowledge of them holds man in bondage of sorrow and suffering.

Soul is an intangible reality. It cannot be apprehended through the contact of the senses; therefore is must be known from either verbal testimony or the appearance of it’s qualities: desire, aversion, effort, pleasure, pain & knowledge.

Body is the site of motion, senses and objects of pleasure and pain. It is the field of the soul’s experiences as it strives to reach what is desirable and avoid what is undesirable.

Senses (and their objects) are the instruments through which the soul comes in contact with the outer world. This refers to the powers of smell, taste, sight, touch and hearing.

Intelligence is the power of forming and retaining conceptions. The mind’s faculty to discern, judge, comprehend, apprehend and understand the meaning of right knowledge. It is the power to contemplate the eternal.

Intellect is the capacity for reflection, inference, testimony, doubt, ready wit, dream, cognition, conjecture, memory, desire and feeling of pleasure and pain. It is unable to perceive two things at the same time, even though the sense may be in contact with their objects. It is the power to seek worldly factual knowledge.

Activity is that which sets the mind, body and voice in motion. False knowledge leads to desire which leads to actions that hold man in bondage.

Faults are the cause of all action. They are attraction, aversion and delusion. Delusion is the one to watch out for because it breeds attraction and aversion (which make you forget that there is nothing agreeable or disagreeable to the soul; therefore liking or disliking is pointless). Faults appear when we confuse parts and the whole (unreal and real). To deal with faults you should study and reflect on these teachings.

Rebirth – birth consists of the connection of the soul with the body, sense organs and mind. Birth is not the production of anything new, but only re-association. Death is not the destruction of anything, but only separation.

Fruit is the product of all activity. It may be in the form of pleasure or pain, depending on the nature of its cause.  Fruits sometimes appear immediately, at other times there may be a lapse of time.

Pain is an obstacle to the progress of the soul. The body is said to be the abode of pain; the senses are the instruments of pain; the intellect is the agent of pain, birth then is association with pain; therefore, life is a passing experience of sorrow and suffering. Pleasure is an interval.

Release is defined as absolute deliverance from pain. Only the soul which is no longer associated with the body, sense organs and intellect is freed from pain. When the mind is awakened to the true nature of things by right knowledge, pain will fade away.  Then, faults will have disappeared, there will be no incentive to action and the soul will be freed from future rebirths.

The teachings say:

  1. learn that rebirth, fruit and pain are to be known.
  2. learn that actions and faults are to be avoided.
  3. learn that release is to be attained.
  4. learn that is attained by true knowledge.

True knowledge is attained by constantly turning over these teaching in one’s mind.

True Knowledge is developed by first learning to withdraw the senses, then they must be held steady by continuous effort, then the mind will unite with the soul (see definition of Yoga from the Yoga Sutra). There are objects that force themselves on consciousness so intensely that the mind cannot achieve this abstraction (hunger, thirst, heat, cold, disease, the elements, etc.). Yoga practices enable you to overcome these obstacles. This capacity for practicing Yoga comes from accumulation of previous efforts in past lives. Preparation for Yoga is the study of philosophy.

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Mahavakya

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In Matrix Revolutions (the 3rd and last movie in the series) – there is a chant that is played once when Neo steps onto the tarmac for the final battle and then numerous times as the ending credits begin. You can hear it in this clip. Ever wander what it means?

This is based on a Sanskrit chant that belongs to a category of mantra known as mahavakya – great sayings.

asato ma sadgamaya
tamaso ma jyotirgamaya
mrtyorma amrtam gamaya

I wish to go from what is unreal to what is real
I wish to go from darkness to light
I wish to go from what dies to what is eternal

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Shakuhachi in Play

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My Shakuhachi has recently relocated into my yoga practice space. I brought it because I felt it could support me in my practice. It has worked wonders for me. Sometimes I play it before a practice, it helps me to collect myself, detach from everything on my mind and slowly make my way into a practice. Sometimes I play it at the end of a practice and it helps me bring the practice to a close. Sometimes I only play the Shakuhachi.

It’s really amazing for me to re-experience myself through the Shakuhachu. As I previously wrote, playing the Shakuhachi gives me a glimpse into into my inner space, it’s usually very different before and after a practice.

practicespace

Posted in Coming Through, inside, Shakuhachi, Yoga, Yoga & I | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Yoga – Philosophical Roots

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As I was preparing to write about Prana in the “Yoga – Energy” series (which I haven’t yet done – at the time these words were written) I went back to Samkhya philosophy which I was introduced to briefly and where I found a root axiom which inspired me. But I wanted to go further back so I went searching again and found at DharmaDownloads what I was looking for – a book by Theos Bernard titled “Philosophical Foundations of India”.

I am not a fan of academic philosophy, it tires and bores me. This book seems to carry both that and inspiration, so I find myself sifting through it. I am trying to get a bigger picture of Vedic philosophy and make it more accessible & relevant for myself. Much of the text reads to me like “yadda yadda yadda” and so I am trying to whittle it down. This morning it dawned on me to do it in writing and on this blog, so maybe others can benefit from it as well.

The preface of the book hold what is to me the single most useful guide on how to bring any of this wisdom into your life. I quote it as is:

“According to the classic school of Hindu Philosophy, the method by which the individual can evolve himself during his life is through the practice of Yoga. This is the universal technique recommended to enable man to acquire actual insight into the true nature of things. All schools agree that until the faith is fortified with understanding, little progress can be made, for knowledge without application is like medicine that is not taken.”

Indian tradition is a collection of six “insights” – perspectives on one agreed “Ultimate Reality”. These are the six philosophical systems of India. They are attributed to philosophers who eventually put them into writing but they are not a creation of an individual mind – their real founders are unknown. The six system are interrelated and dependent on one another. They are often referred to as “Vedic” because they all grew out of texts called “The Upanishads” which are a part of the Veda – which is the most ancient known Indian texts – pretty much the root of it all.

All six systems share a few core concepts:

  • All accept the eternal (without beginning or end) cycle of Nature which goes through periods of creation, maintenance and dissolution.
  • All accept the principle of regeneration of the soul (life and death are two phases of a single, continuous cycle – which!!! can be stopped).
  • All accept Dharma as the moral law of the universe that accounts for the eternal cycle of Nature and the destiny of the human soul.
  • All agree that knowledge (don’t take for granted that you know what they mean by knowledge!) is the path to freedom.
  • All agree that Yoga is the method to attain final liberation.

The six system can be viewed as pairs.

Scientific – the physics and chemistry of how manifestations come into being:

  • Nyaya – a system of logic about acquiring “right knowledge”
  • Vaisesika – knowledge of the objective world of being.

Cosmic evolution – based on logical principles (this is my practice in this lifetime):

  • Samkhya – a metaphysical perspective showing that everything is made up of spirit and matter.
  • Yoga – the application of Samkhya for an individual.

Refinement – a critical analysis of the basic principles:

  • Mimamsa – correct interpretation of rituals and texts.
  • Vedanta – an inquiry into Brahman (the Ultimate Principle).

The book offers some background information on the known principals behind each system. I found that information mostly redundant at this point, but there is one thing that called out to me and I believe is useful to remember. These were all flesh and blood people (all men!), single individuals, each immersed in his own journey and each carrying his own system of faith that was relevant to and supported his reality. It is inevitable that, despite all attempts at philosophical objectivity, their personal beliefs and orientations tainted whatever knowledge they embodied and aspired to spread. They were as committed to suffering as you and me.

Posted in Yoga, Yoga Philosophy | You are welcome to read 3 comments and to add yours

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-07-26

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  • all geeks – gather around: http://twurl.nl/sjkfbt #
  • meditating while picking leaves for tea: http://twurl.nl/exw5y4 #
  • RT it never does @ronenk: It never happened #
  • mind is a great place to store stuff, heart is a great reason why #
  • @shanacarp no media (TV, Radio, Newspapers) in our house for many years… so I really wouldn't know. Sorry! in reply to shanacarp #
  • RT @shanacarp: got a way to stream israeli tv? my hebrew has gotten so bad that I can't read my friends fb profiles anymore! #
  • FEM – Fertility Awareness Application http://www.myfem.org is now available in German too 🙂 Wooohooo … stay tuned for more… #
  • Blip.fm says "You are iamronen"… I concur #
  • RT @ronenk: *Applause* This is really happening. ~ RT @iamronen: it never does RT @ronenk: … ♫ http://blip.fm/~aa3g7 #
  • something is leaving my life, something new is coming ♫ http://blip.fm/~abx05 #
  • fatherland raped motherhood ♫ http://blip.fm/~abyai #
  • RT I've called his mom… she crashed too…. grrrrr…. @ronenk: Firefox crashed. I'm calling his mom. #
  • 10:10 #
  • gravedigger, when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain? ♫ http://blip.fm/~ac180 #
  • RT how wonderful 🙂 thank u @geekami: MONORAIL! In the future we will all travel in pedal powered monorail pods… #geek http://bit.ly/DlI4l #
  • sleepless #
  • good fiery morning 🙂 http://www.iamronen.com/?p=1444 #
  • a man with a guitar, a gentle caress to start the day, namaste ♫ http://blip.fm/~ae7ez #
  • @ronenk what did you have in mind when you sent me to the Game Theory course? in reply to ronenk #
  • just learned about BumbleFart… and I am so there…. #
  • RT 3rd Life @SaraJChipps: I made a pretend group on meetup to test something and people are joining and I think they are coming to my house. #
  • there is no us and them, there is you, there is me, and when there is stillness there is also we #
  • firefox crashes are becoming more painful … a shame! #
  • no, I won't #
  • listening to "Yumeji's Theme – In the Mood for Love" ♫ http://blip.fm/~age26 #
  • picked the first of our mature mint leaves…. wonderful aroma! #
  • @SaraJChipps re:Pandora – can't see it outside USA. can you please do a screenshot? in reply to SaraJChipps #
  • @shanacarp shana how do you tweet your disqus comments? is there a comfy way to do this? in reply to shanacarp #
  • @natalie it felt stupid trying 2 get noticed in high school and it still feels stupid? maybe its time 2 switch off the popularity contest? in reply to natalie #
  • @natalie waddaya mean just won't happen? it already has, for some? others will be high-school jocks for life… c'est la vie in reply to natalie #
  • 21:21 it keeps coming #
  • @shanacarp nope doesn't seem to work, found the setting, changed it, now how do i use it? in reply to shanacarp #
  • so sad: @biz says “We want to have a real positive impact on the world, and the only way to do that is to make tons and tons of money.” #
  • after 2 days of programming: http://www.iamronen.com/?p=1449 #
  • RT g'z man, stop bitchin'. walk away! @ronenk: פייסבוק בא לי רע. #
  • "the Macintosh was the first PC good enough to be criticized" Alan Kay #
  • I've been indulging in coffee for the past months, my body is starting to shown signs of rejection again! #
  • RT inspiring @t: brilliant @zeldman intro http://zeldman.com/x/41 to Bert Bos's design essay.. inspired much of @microformats' focus+design. #
  • @ronenk I can only hope the universe answers in kind and that whale meat never eats you 🙂 a good weekend to you 🙂 22:26 in reply to ronenk #
  • @shanacarp I just barely can guess it's a 3D software I heard about once, nothing more… sorry in reply to shanacarp #
  • @shanacarp there is no accurate info, u will have to make ur own mistakes, get lot's of memory and a good (fast & more memory) graphic card in reply to shanacarp #
  • RT @somestranger RT @inkupakor Goodbye Letter Days http://www.inkupakor.com/?p=152 #
  • hahahahaha…. ooops 🙂 #
  • could it be that in trying to solve a problem I am actually creating and perpetuating it? #
  • every assumption you make reshapes the world a little bit #
  • I've read the bill of human rights and some of it was true, but there wasn't any burden left so I'm laying it o… ♫ http://blip.fm/~al85c #
  • 22:22 farewell #

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Flat Sensations

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2 day ago I started doing some more programming on new features for FEM. Whenever I start programming my days get longer and I spend more time at the computer then I usually do (which is also more then I would like to admit). I also feel that my energy changes, my patience changes and my body stiffens up.

This morning after only 2 days of programming I sat down for a short meditation and in it I experienced what a profound affect this has on me. One word that really stuck in my mind was flat. I felt flat, my sensations were flat – kind of like listening to a wonderful high fidelity sound system, but from another room with a door closed and some people talking in the background.

A prominent sensation is that my thoughts are traveling fast between many ideas and lingering longer on each idea. This is different from “regular meditation noise” – where my thoughts will wander aimlessly and cling to fears & petty issues. When I am programming I have many ideas in my head, features, ideas, technical challenges, design, etc. My mind is actively engaged in them even when I am away from the computer. Sure I know how to “turn it off”, but as long as I am in the programming “period” there is a different quality to mind.

Then there came to me the sensations of hearing and my own voice. My hearing seems to be … well flat… tones are less rounded, the sound is more mechanic, less embracing. When I did some chanting my voice seemed to have similar qualities – only this time it wasn’t just the sound. I felt as if the sound was coming from a shallow source instead of a deeper sensation I am used to. The resonance of the sounds inside me was also thinner and has much less body.

So I took action. I spent the first few hours of the day in the garden. I collected leaves we use for brewing tea from the plants around the house, collected them into bundles and hung them to dry. Some grounding to complement the abstract programming work that lies ahead.

dryingleaves

Posted in Expanding, inside, Meditation, Yoga, Yoga & I | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Playing with Fire

n

Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I did an asana (physical) yoga practice at night instead of in the morning. I was reminded, again, of how different my body is in the morning and at the end of a day – it is more supple, more responsive, softer, extended, light. These are qualities I can hope to experience at the end of a morning practice. Yesterday this was the starting point.

This opened the door for a high intensity practice using breath and body. I gladly walked in and relished in a flowing practice. I was able to effectively intensify the practice and bring it to an intended peak posture in which I was also able to travel further then I usually do. I got the fire to burn high and steady. However I did not do enough to let the system settle again (some pranayama breathing practices and meditation would have done the trick) . The result was a sleepless night. I tried going to sleep in bed but that didn’t work. I was eventually to fall into rest watching a movie.

This morning my gums bled intensely when I brushed my teeth, this is another sign in my body I have learned to recognize of an out-of-balance system (maybe it has something to do with blood pressure?). I am very alert, borderline edgy. I couldn’t sit too long on the porch with the morning coffee, I preferred to sit down to work.

Andreea said that this night was also a new moon, that it may have affected us as well, she too had a restless night. Even our cat had a difficult night – she was chased around by some of the neighborhood dogs. Experiencing the world with these perceptions and perspectives brings into it mystical and magical qualities – it’s fun to live this way.

Posted in Breath, Energy, Expanding, inside, Yoga, Yoga & I | You are welcome to add your comment

Gravedigger

n

It indeed would be great to see Dave Matthews Band live in concert again!!!

This is the original album version and video clip.

This is what one man can do live with a guitar:

This is what a band can do live:

enjoy 🙂

Posted in Coming Through, Enjoy, inside, Wishes | You are welcome to add your comment

Tea-Leaf Meditation

n

We have plants growing around the house that are great for brewing tea (we drink it hot in the winter and make iced-tea in the summer). I have found that picking leaves is an instant & wonderful meditation practice.

A part of me is still very mindful, so sometimes when I approach a plant, I am flooded by reasoning. Pick the leaves that are already starting to dry, pick another one that is not enough, don’t pick too much (umm… so we have enough to dry and last the winter)… loads and loads of mind chatter. It all happens so fast that just watching it flow by is awesome.

Then comes the fun part. First waiting for the noise to settle. Then looking at the plant, just watching and waiting. Then magic – I know what leaves to pick. Sometimes it takes an instant, sometimes it takes a bit longer, but there is always a clear answer. No reason – just an answer. Certain leaves are there for me to pick. Sometimes they are out in the open – and my attention is called to them. Other times I need to run my hands through the plant and look deeper inside until I find the leaves that are looking for me.

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

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-07-19

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No More Financial Transactions

n

A purely financial transaction is one in which nothing is created – money (or a potential for money) changes hands. It is like a game of chess in which moves are selected, sacrifices made all for the sake of one goal – victory (and defeat – depends on which side of the table you are sitting). With financial transactions the goal is to move money around. Like chess masters, people who live playing with financial transactions are masters of their art.

You can choose to sit down and play a game of chess. You cannot choose to play a game of money – if you have a bank account, credit card or any monetary device – you are in the money game. You have no choice. You are now on the same playground with some crafty & masterful  professionals. This playground is not friendly and neither are they. Their objective is to make all the best moves to manipulate your money into their pockets. They are winning because they are better at it then you.

There is nothing inherently wrong with money or financial games. In my mind they have the potential to be a wonderful exchange of creative potential. Misdirection comes from a distorted sense of purpose. The purpose of the money game is to use the money you have to make more money. There are individuals who have played this game to it’s fullest potential – they have more money then they (or entire countries) could use and they have nothing to do with it (so they are inventing a new game – this time it’s about giving money away).

What if purely financial transaction were outlawed and banned? What would happen if an exchange of money was outside both the accepted and enforced norms of society? What if a financial exchange had to have a stated purpose and to result in something that is created within the context of that purpose?

  • What would happen to banks and bankers?
  • What would happen to investors?
  • What would happen to philanthropists?
  • What would happen to entrepreneurs?
  • What would happen to individual and families?
  • What would happen to communities?
  • What would happen to countries?
  • What would happen to borders?
  • What would happen to you?

I get a great feeling from playing with this idea. If nothing else, it would challenge many existing systems into reorientation, restructuring and hopefully to finding a new purpose.

But this is not practical? Or is it? Initially I thought this was just a fantasy, there is no way that any legislative and economic system would allow such radical reform. But then I realized that ironically making this an immediate reality is in my hands and yours. Your (and many millions like you) are what fuels and supports this system. Any money you have “invested” – from a safe low-interest savings account, pension funds, mortgages, stocks … any financial instrument you are using to “insure your financial future” is directly supporting existing financial markets and enslaving you.

  • Can’t afford to buy a house? Rent one.
  • Can’t afford to rent one in the city? Move to an area where you can afford one – it will probably be a nicer house.
  • Can’t afford to by a nice new car? drive an old and battered one, drive less.
  • Looking to invest your savings? Find something you believe in, take an interest, offer your support.

You have so much power in your hands, use it, don’t hand it over to others!

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

Yoga & Breath – Directional Breathing

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Directional breathing is a more subtle refinement of locational breathing. This is actually a recurring theme in Yoga – a gradual transition from gross to subtle. If you feel well rooted in locational breathing (inhale=chest,  exhale=abdomen)then you may want to explore directional breathing, if not is may lead to unnecessary aggravation. So please proceed with care. This transition will require an increased level of attention, awareness and practice.

Range of Movement in Breathing

If you haven’t already done so then please have a look at this brief explanation of the anatomy of the torso – where breathing takes place.

yoga_anatomy_torso02

What is of interesting to note in the context of breathing is that the skeletal structure limits the range of motion of breathing. There is relatively less potential motion range in the chest (and it takes considerable conscious effort to do so) and there is relatively more potential motion range in the abdominal area. This is why the movement of natural breathing is more likely to appear in the abdominal area then in the chest.

Directional breathing is about applying a conscious effort to movement that takes place when breathing.

directionalbreathing_range

Directional Exhaling

As with locational breathing it is usually more accessible to start exploring with the exhale. The idea here is to gradually and in sequence activate muscles that partake in exhaling. The following diagram reads from left-to-right. The exhale begins with the lower abdominal muscles, moves up to the mid-abdominal area, through the breathing diaphragm and then, only at the end of the exhale there is movement in the chest.

directionalbreathing_exhale

You can practice this by revisiting the practices we used for locational breathing. Resume your familiar locational breathing and this time as you exhale try to exact more elaborate separation and control and to experience this gradual activation of muscles. Again, it can be useful to place your hands on your body – one on the abdomen, the other on your chest. Use them to really make sure that when you being to exhale, your chest doesn’t immediately collapse – it should remain active and expanded until after the lower muscles have been engaged.

For future reference we will refer to directional exhaling as an upward movement – it begins in the lower abdomen and travels upwards towards the chest.

Directional Inhaling

Inhaling is a reversed gradual process. Inhale begins in the chest area (watch out for the abdomen – it tends to pop out, you need to develop refined muscular control to really keep the abdominal area steady while the chest begins to expand).

directionalbreathing_inhale

Once you have a good sense of directional exhaling you can introduce directional inhaling. Over the time your breathing will develop into a subtle and precise wave movement up and down your torso.

For future reference we will refer to directional inhaling as an downward movement – it begins in the chest and gradually travels down towards the abdominal region.

Attentive Practice

Take time to gradually build directional breathing. Let your mind assimilate the idea. Let your body experience and assimilate new sensations. Let your mind connect to the new physical sensations. It takes time to develop this muscular control, it takes time to build a sustainable  effort. If you rush through it, you may find yourself forming misapprehension instead of clarity. Please remember this is a subtle form of practice.

As you develop this and bind it into your asana practice you will discover more and more subtle aspects of practice.

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

Yoga Anatomy – Torso

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This article was born out of necessity – so it may evolve over time as it touches on more contexts. It got started when I wanted to explain directional breathing. When I sat down to write it, I realized that I needed to establish a simple and basic description of the upper torso where active breathing takes place. So here we are.

yoga_anatomy_torso01

The image above is intended to give you some orientation and perspective on the workings of the upper body. Things to notice – scanning the image top-down:

  • A relatively fragile connection between the neck and the upper body.
  • A rather solid looking chest area – it’s a well formed structure built around the spine that fills the chest area with a ribbed structure
  • A structurally empty void in the abdominal area – this is considered a more “liquid” space – filled with internal organs. It is walled off in front by a set of abdominal muscles.
  • Then this entire system is again connected via a relatively fragile connection to the pelvis. This is the lower back where many back problems manifest.
Posted in Anatomy, Yoga | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Geek Retreat

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Give your mind a great ride – your body!
5 day retreat for technology leaders & entrepreneurs

What is a retreat? It is an opportunity to take some time for yourself, to step back (retreat!) from your familiar day-to-day patterns and … well … see what happens.

Is it a vacation? Yes the idea is to “vacate” and create space for new things. No because you don’t just sit around.

What actually happens? Days are arranged to accommodate a combination of physical activity, conversation, free time & rest, food & sleeping.

What do you mean by physical activities? Don’t break into a sweat, it’s stuff anyone can do, some of it is playful, some of it is meditative, some of it will be on your own, some of it will be with others.

Who will be there? People like you. The idea is to create a setting that is relevant for you. Something you can relate to. So though you will be going towards something unknown, you will be doing it with people with whom you have shared interest and passions.

Can I bring my iPhone? Yes you can but you’re going to have to keep it turned off (and away from your body) most of the time. You will be able to use it once a day at a given time in a given place (so as not to disturb others who may want to sustain their retreat experience).

Who am I? iamronen & this is my blog. I am a yoga teacher, I’ve worked with some awe-inspiring improvisation artists, I had a 15 year technology career, I am involved in numerous projects in which I try to create a bridge between technology and my sense of purpose.

Interested? Great 🙂 You can (1) drop me a line (iamronen [at] iamronen.com );  (2) let me know if you can help in getting it together – I will be happy to travel to a location good for you all; (3) see if any your friends may want to join.

Posted in AltEco, Featured, outside, Wishes, Yoga | You are welcome to add your comment

Energy – the Cakra Thingys

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It reads “Chakra” – but that is the correct Sanskrit Spelling. I tread carefully around this topic, because it has already received soooo much attention. I really don’t think it’s an important subject, but it deserves some space and some demystifying in the overall picture.

In the previous post we talked about intertwined moon & sun channels & sushumna. As the three channels dance around, they create points of convergence – hubs/centers of energy. These centers are often called Cakra’s – but, like many western, interpretations – that is not the entire picture and a but misleading. Cakra is a name attributed to a healthy center of energy. Granthi is a name attributed to an unhealthy center of energy. A Granthi is a knot – it is an obstacle to the flow of energy.

Cakras

It is not my intention to mince words, but there is a recurring subtle theme here that I feel is useful to recognize. I find that when people talk about Cakra’s it almost automatically leads to a healing approach in which “something needs to be done” in order to open/tune/align (there are many popular words to choose from) the Cakra’s. When I think of Knots I am reminded of a core idea – a knot/obstacle is often a result of overdoing, so more doing may not be the best thing to do. Maybe it takes some undoing/not doing/doing less/different doing to transform a Granthi into a Cakra?

Energy centers rotate: when healthy they rotate in one direction, when unhealthy they don’t rotate, when seriously unhealthy they rotate in an opposite direction. Contrary to popular references – energy centers cannot be opened or closed. They can be affected by regulating the flow of energies through Nadi – one good way to do this is Pranayama – breathing practices (which I’ll get to in an upcoming series). I have witnessed Andreea use a pendulum as a diagnosis tool – she will hold it over a physical area associated with a center of energy – and it will move & rotate in conjunction with it.

Energy centers are associated with colors, sounds, visual images, smells, elements, etc (search the internet and you will no doubt find loads of information on these dimensions). They are a powerful metaphor. For me their power lies in their metaphor rather then any fashionable truth that is attributed to them. Metaphors are tightly related to a mindset. Viewing the body as a biological system is one mindset, viewing it as a system of energy is another. I find the latter to be more inspiring and dynamic.

It is interesting to note that there is a natural physical process which affects the structural integrity and behavior  of the energy centers: age. The 3rd energy center (marked in yellow and said to be located approximately behind the belly button) is also considered the center of of the entire energetic system. It also correlates with the fire model mentioned earlier in this series.

Two changes occur around this point as we get older. Have you noticed the physical change in elderly people – how they are bent forward? This tendency causes a compression of the top part of the energy system towards the center. Then from the center down there tends to be downward sagging (this is especially true for women – who’s pelvic floor is more prone to sagging).

cakras_saggingAsana (physical postures) practice can, to some extent, counter this natural tendency. Actually most asana will affect the structure of the energy system. Therefor a key ingredient in a balanced asana practice are counter-postures – which are intended to counteract affects of previous postures and bring the system into re-alignment.

Next up – Kundalini!

Posted in Energy, Yoga | You are welcome to read 2 comments and to add yours

Energy – Nadi

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Yoga suggests that we are wired with a vast network of subtle channels – Nadi – through which energy can potentially flow. All Nadi originate in one point – somewhere around the base of the spine. Teachings (for example: Prasna Upanishad 3.6) say that there are over 72,000 channels, 3 of which are endeared by popular knowledge resources & modern teaching.

Before touching on the famous spiritual 3 I think it can be useful to notice a few more that are directly related to everyday life. These are Nadi that relate to sensing the world:

  • 2 nostrils (smell)
  • 2 ears (sound)
  • 2 eyes (sight)
  • 1 skin (touch)
  • 1 tongue (taste)
  • 2 genitalia (procreation and defecation).
  • 1 umbilical cord

I particularly like that last one – the umbilical cord. Two things come to my mind: (1) the significance of the umbilical cord as both a source nourishment in the womb and the first thing to die when babies are physically separated from mothers at birth; (2) a recurrent theme in Carlos Castaneda’s books about the umbilical region in relation to both seeing as an evolved means of perception and as the source of will – a power that is used to act on the world.

Now for the famous Nadi. There are three major Nadi which are at the heart of the Yogic energy system. They can be a source of knowledge and inspiration, and like all things in the hands of man, can be a source of much misapprehension ( and deception). This is what I was taught:

There are two Nadi that are associated with female (moon) and male (sun) qualities. The feminine Nadi is called Ida and the male Nadi is called Pingala. Some resources describe them as placed alongside the two sides of the spinal cord. Some resources suggest that they cross over at one point. there is agreement that Ida is related with the left nostril and Pingala with the right. I was taught that they cross over numerous times in a spiraling pattern (the signficance of this will be covered later in this series).

3nadis

The 3rd and most popular of the three Nadi is Sushumna. It runs up the spinal cord. It is blocked (more on that later in the series). A popular goal of Yoga practice is to unblock the Sushumna so that the energies of Ida & Pingala can mix and merge and … it hasn’t happened for me so I don’t know what happens (for an account of what may happen you may want to read this: Kundalini: The Evolutionary Energy in Man) . However this does represent for me a core inspiration and idea in Yoga – integration. Mind tends to separate things in it’s attempt to make sense of them. Yoga has taught me that when integration replaces separation there is clear perception. The idea of mixing two raw forces of nature of opposite qualities – this I like very much.

Of course you are required to find your own context and inspiration in these teachings.

If you want more details on the Nadi mentioned in this post – you may want to look here.

Posted in Energy, Yoga | You are welcome to read 4 comments and to add yours

Energy & Modes of Yoga Practice

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With a framework for relating to energy we can approach and create a framework for Yoga practice. There are 3 modes of practice:

  1. CIKITSA: recovery. This mode of practice is associated with dispersed energy. Dispersed energy can be felt as low or unstable energy. Yoga practice in this mode is a relatively soft practice – one that can be gracefully executed by a person with dispersed energy. Yoga in this mode can facilitate a process of recovery – collecting the energy. In practice this is a therapeutic mode. Chronic back problems, asthma, depression are examples of situations in which a Cikitsa practice can be useful. The dominant tool in this mode is Asana.
  2. RAKSANA: health preservation. This mode of practice is associated with collected energy. Yoga practice in this mode is intended to preserve and sustain a stable state of energy. The intensity of the practice should be adjusted accordingly. A practice that is too low in intensity will have little to no effect on the system. A practice that is too intense can cause and disturbance and potentially lead to illness (which would require a Cikitsa practice for recovery). The dominant tool in this mode of practice is Pranayama.
  3. SIKSANA: intensifying. This mode of practice is associated with condensed energy. This is the classical mode of practice in Yoga. It assumes that energy is readily available – collected and condensed and that the system can be pushed into more intense modes of practice. This is literally playing with fire. The dominant tool in this mode of practice is Mudra & Bandha.

ModesOfEnergyAndPractice

Weekly Yoga Classes

Yoga practiced by common people like you and I is usually integrated into a hectic and busy life. It is not practiced in monastic conditions with an entire system of support dedicated to the practice. It is injected into a tight corner of a crowded life alongside a career, family, friends, hobbies, etc.

This means that most people meet Yoga in a dispersed mode of energy. The relevant practice for most people is therefor Cikitsa – recovery. Indeed, many people come to weekly Yoga classes with an expectation to recover from a hectic week. In some cases, when the practice is effective, they will experience a sense of recovery, a rejuvenation of their system. When this happens people leave a practice with a collected energy. If they were to start a practice now, when the practice has ended, they may be able to contain a more intense Raksana practice. But alas they are not going into a practice, but going back into a hectic life and back into a dispersed energy. So a weekly Yoga practice, for most people, will be a movement back and forth between recovery and health preservation. People can practice Yoga for 20 years in this way without a substantial change in the system. Their are preserving a baseline of health, preventing, slowing a process of degeneration.

Daily Yoga Practice

I know of only one way to move beyond this basic loop of preservation. Practice more. My teachers have described Yoga practice as a savings account, the more you put into the more you have. My experience as a practitioner supports this. A more frequent practice can eventually leads to a more sustainable mode of health. If you practice 3 or 4 times a week you are altering the balance between disturbed energy and collected energy. You are no longer facing a week’s worth of dispersed energy but only a day or two. This may lead to improved health and in time open a crack into more intense Yoga practices.

SIKSANA

For most people this is an irrelevant mode of practice. Unfortunately some of the most popular brands of Yoga in the western world preach and teach intensifying forms of practice. It is a matter of personal responsibility and conscious effort in choosing a proper yoga practice and teacher. Learn to walk, then learn to run and then train carefully for a marathon.

“Living in this hut, free of all anxieties, one should earnestly practice Yoga as taught by one’s guru”

(translation by Brian Akers)

Posted in Energy, Models & Metaphors, Yoga | You are welcome to read 9 comments and to add yours

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-07-12

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  • I entered 102 as my age in an online survey I was asked to fill and it said that is an incorrect number! #
  • altEco – Disruptive: http://www.iamronen.com/?p=1312 #
  • if your vision does impress you, it's not very likely to impress anyone else #
  • personal attacks really affect my energy… can take a whole day to fade out….. #
  • FEM – Fertility Awareness Application for woman http://www.myfem.org – crossed 50 users… slowly but surely… #
  • if words could make wishes come true… ♫ http://blip.fm/~9m9sy #
  • you said always and forever is such a long lonely time… ♫ http://blip.fm/~9m9uw #
  • masterful musicians, light touch, so little goes so far ♫ http://blip.fm/~9makl #
  • updated my projects page http://twurl.nl/xoczbs, acknowledged that art got pushed down, so I put Yoga back in 1st place, not happy! #
  • Collect yourself: http://www.ontekusuto.com/ #
  • indeed another day ♫ http://blip.fm/~9o96s #
  • there is not world to change, it's only me…. #
  • those who like "free" are those who can afford it, and that, I fear, is an illusion! #
  • RT @raymondpirouz: Biz models of future have to be about win-win. 'the people' have had it w/the win-lose scenarios of the past. #
  • gratefulness reminder: I saw DMB live in Portugal… you should too, anywhere… #
  • Does wisdom come in the form of questions or answers? #
  • academic books about happiness are sad and depressing #
  • @raymondpirouz ultimately to me design is about caring.. and indeed the world would be a better place if there was more care in business in reply to raymondpirouz #
  • 42nd Street – Art & Business: http://www.iamronen.com/?p=1354 #

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42nd Street – Art & Business

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Art

Most of my life I didn’t get art. On my rare visit to a museum (granted – I have not yet had an opportunity to visit a major museum) I would look at walls rather disinterested. On rare occasions I would encounter something I considered aesthetic or interesting. Most times I felt disappointed and ignorant – because I didn’t get what everyone else seemed to be getting. I also recall the last time I visited a theater play – it was a famous and well received play. I wanted to leave after 15 minutes (I didn’t). I felt like I was watching some cheesy, insulting comedy. At the end of the performance – the crowd stood and sent waves of applauds and appreciation to the stage. Again – I felt ignorant and stupid – what was I missing, why is every body cheering this lousy & uninteresting performance?

I was completely alienated from Art, instead of inspiring me it mocked me and left me feeling that I was not yet mature enough to appreciate it (everyone promised me that when I grew up I would learn to appreciate Classical music… still waiting). As a result I pretty much stayed away from Art. I felt is was “nice-to-have”, belonged to rich people who could afford it and had nothing to do with me.

Then in the summer of 2006 I met Shahar and everything changed. When I witnessed Shahar creating and performing I was completely engaged, mesmerized. It was magic. I was moved, I felt it in my heart and in my stomach. I was inspired and elated. I was pulled in and embraced by this magical force. Over the coming years I immersed myself completely in Shahar’s world, exploring in his bubble. From the beginning I encountered unbending faith in me, completely and utter confidence that I too possessed this magic.

I left behind everything I was ever taught & knew about art and had to fill that empty void with my own experience. My own experience has so far shown that Art is a discipline with a unique opportunity to reach into a precious quality of human nature – inspiration. Art, to me, is no longer “nice-to-have”, without it, life is empty and lacking direction. I reclaimed “Art” and gave it my own personal context – rooted in direct and involved experience.

Business

Business was one of the things I gave up when I embraced Art. Within a week from the day I left my job, Art, in the form of Shahar, appeared in my life. Ironically, artistic exploration brought me full circle and I again found myself approaching business, with a new disposition. I set out to share my new found inspiration with the world through SweetClarity. Since then I have been re-involved in numerous technology-based projects. They all come from my heart, they are all with a sense of purpose and so far they have all completely failed as “businesses”.

During a recent conversation with Andreea I shared with her an observation I made about myself. I observed that almost all of my attempts to reach out and connect with people have failed. I have consciously made a choice and an effort to ask people for help (this is not something that comes naturally to me) – and so I spent time and effort in seeking and reaching out to people – many people. Most of the time  there was no reply, and when there was a reply, it very rarely translated into any action (a very few times it did, and I am immensely grateful for those people and those times).

Granted I am an intimate person, but this was an intense experience. So I came to a conclusion that this is probably something of my nature, that I am not a “people” person. Lucky for me Andreea can spot bullshit from a distance – and she objected. She said that I thrive when I am with people – this doesn’t happen much – but when it does I enjoy their presence and they enjoy mine. It was the “art story” all over again – this time I found myself mixing with an irrelevant crowd online. I am still hard at work trying to reclaim business as a personal experience and giving it a personal context.

42nd Street

I started tap-dancing when I was 11. Around that time there was a broadway musical hit called 42nd Street – filled with tap dancing. My parents saw it when we lived in LA but didn’t take me, and regreted it. Some years later in my late teens, when the show came to Israel I went to see it. It sucked. It was a 3rd rate traveling cast, it was lifeless and uninspiring, the sound was terrible – I could barely hear the tap-dancing. It was a business operation pretending to be a mythological broadway show.

Posted in Expanding, Featured, inside | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Disruptive

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There is a myth about Yoga in the west – that it is a calming and relaxing practice. People come to Yoga from a restless lifestyle and expect Yoga to restore and induce a sense of relaxation. This is one of many misapprehensions about Yoga. Yoga is actually a disruptive practice – it is intended to disturb the system. Like forging a sword, heat it used to make mind & body malleable, then pounded (more literally than you may care to imagine) into a new shape and given time to cool off and re-assimilate. Originally, to quality for Yoga practice you had to arrive calm, relaxed and fit.

I was taught that because of the disruptive nature of Yoga it needs to be applied with care and attention. A physical Yoga practice should be a process of gradual warming, a peak intensity practice and then a gradual cooling off and settling of the system. Over a long period of time mind & body become more resilient and tolerant of heat and capable of sustaining higher levels of disruption. That facilitates a gradual development of “levels of disruption” over a period of time. Without these two elements of settling and gradual increase of intensity there is a risk of over-heating and damaging of nervous system, injuring body and disturbing mind. Unfortunately many forms of Yoga practice in the west are not aware & respective of these aspect and are actually an agitating practice for people who are already agitated enough. Literally an unhealthy practice.

Andrew Keen

This journey started yesterday on Fred Wilson’s blog – he wrote a post about a hot and trendy topic Free and metioned Andrew Keen. I encountered Andrew Keen by chance on Twitter and his observations caught my attention, though I haven’t invested much time and attention in his work. Fred’s post sent me to his website.

In browsing around Andrew’s website I found he wrote a book called “The Cult of the Amateur” – and a generous excerpt of it is available on his website. This is how the book starts:

“First a confession. Back in the nineties I was a pioneer in the first Internet gold rush. With the dream of making the world a more musical place, I founded Audiocafe.com, one of the earliest, digital music sites.”

I got a feeling of one of those karma-waves hitting me (which is what is fueling this writing), something clenched in my heart.  Over the past two years I have been dedicating my life (in what seems like an uphill battle I am doomed to lose)  to a similar project in visual arts and I completely relate to Andrew’s observations both as an entrepreneur and an artist.

So I continued reading through the excerpt of Andrew’s book. I felt much resent and pain in Andrew’s words and I feel it is rooted in great personal care and interest that has been met with equally great disappointment in people who are active in shaping  what we call “the internet” – and I can completely relate (because I have similar experiences). But I don’t like to live my life in this disposition and so I try to move on.

Andrew, as I read your words I realized that as a fringe artist I didn’t have much of a chance to reach exposure (not even talking about financial reward) in the pre-Internet world (of galleries and museums) and I don’t have much of a chance in the Internet dominated world. The Internet hasn’t induced a qualitative change, it has (so far) been an amplifier of what is already there. My experience shows that mediocrity is a natural human  state – it takes great, dedicated, sustainable and conscious effort to go beyond it. There is a long delay until greatness is recognized by society and so those who do dedicate their lives to greatness are usually not recognized or rewarded for it. I carry with me as an example John Coltrane – it took  over 40 years until recognition of his greatness reached beyond circles of fringe musicians and artists.

This wonderful amplification afforded by the internet is reflecting back to us what we are – and it’s doing it painfully loud and clear – more then ever before. Everything gets amplified, the mediocre things and the great things. I see vast oceans of mediocrity and emptiness in the internet but I have also come to learn about many more islands of greatness and inspiration. Some forces will embrace, exploit and cash-in on mediocrity (as they always have), but other forces will embrace greatness. I have faith in quality. Not only will it prevail, but it will do so at perfect times and in perfect measures.

Disruptive Technology

Like Yoga in the west, I have a feeling that disruptive technologies are misused. Like Yoga, they have a great potential in facilitating change, but to do so effectively there needs to be some settling and cooling off and a gradual process over time – there are disruptive forces that are inhibiting both.

Andrew communicated agitation. Fred reciprocated with out-of-character agitation. I hooked into that and spent 24 hours in a state of agitation. Another commenter on Fred’s blog picked up on my agitation and took it even further. This is how it works. Thankfully calm and care can spread just as effectively.

Freedom

The Yoga-Sutra mentions Svatantra – which can be translated as “Freedom”. “Freedom” is also an undertone in this cross-blog conversation – there are many qualities to internet technology that have a potential to facilitate Svatantra. But it is never easy, never fast, it requires care and guidance, patience, time and loads of personal responsibility.

Personal Freedom cannot be given nor taken away from an individual.
Personal Freedom can be offered to an individual.
Personal Freedom has to be claimed and cared for by an individual.

Posted in AltEco, Featured, outside, Yoga, Yoga & I | You are welcome to add your comment