When I told this topic to people, people shook head, laughed, wheeled their fingers around by their temples showing signs that they are not understanding why you are what you think and you are not what you think.
During this webinar we will:
Understand what thought is, and how it works
Breathe and relax and Visualize Self
The 3 levels of mind – how to move from lower mind to higher mind
Practice of conversion of thoughts
Practice of cultivating virtues and eradicating vices
How thought works?
When a thought wave arises in the mind, if you don’t feed into it, the wave falls back into the ocean of consciousness. The wave does not have a reality in itself. It only has reality as far as you keep feeding it. That is, we name the wave and give it meaning. Feed it, and the thought becomes more solid, and gains more power, and has reality.
We have a choice. We can make these thoughts (whatever they are) the reality, or we can make blissful thoughts reality. Yogis look at the thoughts to understand them, then don’t feed into the thought (give it energy), and let it go. They also can transform the thoughts from darkness to light.
Evolution of the mind
The mind has different levels and functions. The mind is not ourselves. Our thoughts and feelings are not ourselves. We have the tendency to repeat familiar thoughts and feelings and lose ourselves in the thoughts or emotions.
We need to learn to navigate our thoughts and emotions. If we know how to develop our own mind, we will know how to accelerate our process of spiritual evolution. Do we want to evolve? If we ask this question, most of us would say no because they do not know what evolution means. Evolution means coming closer to our core self, our blissful self, satisfying the purpose of our life, being closer to the truth, being truly happy… that happiness and fulfillment of our soul that last no matter what happens outside.
The Evolution of our mind is directly related to our connection with our blissful consciousness, our Atman.
What is the Atman? Who am I? what is consciousness?
The Self is called the Atman – the Truth about the Self is what we have been looking for all our life. It is our inner motivation. Each person will resonate with different idea about the Atman. You need to choose one word, one qualification and think about it. There are three practices 1. Listening to the scriptures 2. Contemplation, thinking deeply, 3. Realization by direct experience. Now we are listening and contemplating.
Vedanta philosophy and quantum physics talked about consciousness as the ground of being.
Brahman (or Atman) is absolute pure consciousness, it is satchitananda
existence absolute-beyond ages of the body, beyond birth and death
knowledge absolute-consciousness, awareness, not thinking automatically, not knowledge coming from the mind.
and bliss absolute-complete fulfillment, no desire, no frustration, no complain, happiness without condition, feeling perfection, beyond emotions.
Atman gives light and beauty to the universe – it is your own consciousness full of light and beauty that gives beauty to the appearances and the manifestations of nature and its beautiful forms or beings. If you change consciousness, that which was beautiful lost its beauty. Beauty is not depending on the attributes of the body. People have suffered a lot from disillusion from chasing after external beauty.
Atman gives intelligence to the mind, shining through the intelligence that you attribute to people. In reality it is the atman that is intelligence shining through.
It is unbroken awareness, unbroken sense of Self and of happiness, not functioning automatically out of habit
neither inside nor outside, dwelling within, inside inner perception and outer perception of senses, everywhere. The meditator has half eye open, half closed. He or she is living in the world and out of the world in one consciousness only, beyond all conditioning. That is why a person practices to be the same inside and outside to be close to the atman. They would say what they feel, feel what they say and do what they say and feel. They are always the same, independent of where they are, and with who they are.
beyond space-time, beyond the mind which is being conditioned by space and time. The more that you will be able to function the same way in all conditions, you come closer to the atman.
non local, non material
eternally present, it is the truth that is always there, either you are happy or unhappy. Reference to the book “The power of now” of Eckhard Tolle. What ever the problem that you have, just come back to the present, the problem will dissolve by itself. All problems can only come from the past that is also projected in the future. The more we live in the present, the more we come close to the atman.
it is the subject, without who nothing exists, it is the master, the boss, the perceiver, not the object of perception. It is the consciousness awareness that sees
The atman is not the object, not limited, indescribable, therefore can apply neti neti to refute the superimposed ideas of the mind, after which what remains is the Atman. By being not the object, the atman can not be dependent on something or somebody else. For example you feel valued when somebody praise you and you feel bad when somebody criticize you. At that time you need to come back to yourself and remember that you are the subject. Even when you are serving somebody and try to please somebody, you are aware that you are doing so, and not lose yourself. When you do karma yoga, you have to be conscious of what you are doing. For example you wash dishes but not aiming to finish the task of washing dishes. Instead, you are aware and awake while doing dishes. It is not what you do but the attitude in which you are doing that qualifies this action as liberating karma yoga. In this way the same action makes you a servant or a master.
all pervading, everywhere. You can not feel lonely if you realize that.
unbounded, free, unlimited, therefore you can not be confined to a place, a relationship, or a condition. In quarantine or lockdown, it will be helpful for people to remember that they are free in truth and not dependent. Sky is the limit when you feel consciousness expanded.
unchanged, therefore no grief or surprise or disillusioned when things change (people’s mind and emotions, our own body, our habits, way of living) because it is not true
unmoved, stable, giving sense of security
Atman is all possibilities, all coming from Atman’s will, so no need to worry
stainless, pure, perfect, not to be found in the relative world which is the mind’s creation and by nature is imperfect.
perfect, perceivable through silence not through the mind or emotions
beyond the gunas- qualities, tamas (darkness), rajas (action), sattva (purity)
beyond duality, split, here-there, in-out, this-that, high-low, white-black. No need to go anywhere just have to look within.
eternal, not ephemeral
having no equal, is one, nothing to compare to, to compete with. That is why do not compare yourself with others.
transcendent, transcending the limitations of the mind
self luminous, like the sun, does not need anything to give it light
fully illumined, bright. If you are close to the atman you feel bright.
self existent, does not need anything to show that it exists, so not lonely
undifferentiated, no quality
without names and forms, beyond names and forms
without parts, cannot be divided
transcending appearances which come and go, so we need to see things through the eyes of the soul and avoid disillusion
pure love, essence of love, behind all kinds of love, beyond more love or less love. It is 100% love and all the time.
unity of consciousness, where all connect, beyond conflicts, beyond differences of wealth (have and have not), culture, gender, race, religion.
beyond action, no need to do anything to find it or to perfect anything
aware of ego, sense of separate “I” which manipulates and plays different games
aware of mind and emotions, which are not the rulers. Atman is the inner ruler detecting all the changes in the emotions.
the knower, it is the subject knowing everything
the ruler, the boss
It is compared to the Sun, giving light and life to all,
Independent, not dependent on anything
and it is the source of all pranas, source of all lives, source of consciousness. When you are closer to the Atman you have more prana, unlimited prana, when you are away from it you have less prana. If you don’t have prana you are far from the atman.
Thoughts are waves that rise and fall in this infinite ocean of consciousness.
Therefore, it is said you are not what you think.
You are the observer, you are not the doer.
the witness of your thoughts.
You are not your thoughts.
All meditators arrive to the same conclusion. They arrive to the experience that the meditator, the object of meditation and the act of meditation become one.
The knower, the known and the knowing become one.
To answer the question: is consciousness evolving? The answer is no. Consciousness is unchangeable. In fact, it is the veils of consciousness that are changing, being thinned out – as our mind evolves- and this gives us a glimpse of the Light which is Consciousness.
So how to train the mind and unveil the Self?
How to move the mind from lower to higher functioning and be closer to our bliss and truth? We will use the theory of the 3 levels of the mind in order for us to know how to navigate our minds.
1. The subconscious mind:
the base of the triangle, the iceberg is the Subconscious Mind – lower mindIt is the first phase of the mind. It is the basic mind from which the conscious mind emerges. It is below the conscious mind; it is controllable by the Conscious Mind.
The subconscious mind consists of the unknown, thoughts that are HIDDEN, SUBMERGED thoughts;
it is very POWERFUL and governs our life 95% of the time.
The subconscious mind is the storehouse of PAST experiences
and governs many of the AUTOMATIC functions of the body such as breathing, heartbeat, etc. It also stores the LEARNED EXPERIENCES such as locomotive skills, academic skills, social skills, memories of experiences. Like a car, you can press cruise control on the highway and be on autopilot. You can let go.
The mind is made of karmic patterns, samskaras. Most of the time we are on AUTOPILOT, following the automatic commands of the subconscious mind. All the PATTERNS , HABITS of the mind are formed in the subconscious mind. We talked about KARMIC patterns, karmic tendencies. We can refer to the astrological vedic chart which shows the karmic tendencies through the disposition of the planets (Sun, moon, mars, mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Rahu Ketu).
Moon in 1st (self concerned) moon in 2 h (concerned about money, food), moon in third house (concerned about public relations, arts), moon in 4th (likes to love), moon in fifth (likes to learn), moon in sixth (likes conflicts), moon in seventh (likes partner), moon in 8th (likes psychic world), moon in ninth (likes dharma, teacher), moon in ten house (likes to work), moon in 11th (likes gains), moon in twelve house (likes liberation). Other patterns: Moon alone (isolation, feeling lonely), moon mars (fast emotions, action oriented), moon Saturn (introvert), moon Jupiter (generous, broad vision) moon rahu (delusional), moon ketu (detached), moon sat mars (perfectionistic), moon hemmed (tense), full moon (empathetic), exalted moon (lots of emotions), moon debilitated (narrow mind, attached)
Thesubconscious mind is instinctive. It is the seat of our ANIMAL INSTINCTS: Instincts are fast, strong, powerful and irresistible.
Survival – sometimes you don’t understand how people survive, they live in certain conditions, it’s incredible, but you know that the instinct of survival is alive and strong. We will do what is necessary to survive. The way to transcend the survival instinct is to offer others food, transcending the impulse to feed yourself first according to your hunger.
Procreation – we find a mate to reproduce the body. The sexual (procreative) instinct is second after breathing. Think about this, it governs your life. Because it’s in the subconscious mind, it means that you are not aware of it, but it is governing your thoughts and actions. You want to dress in nice clothes, have nice hair, etc., all to find a mate.
Herd – follow the crowd. We don’t want to stick out. If the crowd says this is the way to behave, then you follow because you want to fit in. You may not know how to fit in, but you just want to fit in, i.e., you are vegetarian, others are not. Then you feel very strange, not at ease. Because our instinct is pulling us to be part of the group. We transcend the herd instinct with satsang, being in the company of the wise who seek the Truth of their own Self, not depending on others to feel safe and secure.
Territorial – we want to have our own kingdom, like the dog that marks his territory, this is my area, then they growl at us. Emotions associated with the territorial instinct include fear and jealousy. Animals that act out of their survival instinct compete with each other to find a mate; have a leader; 2 of them fight to establish who is in charge. Some animals learn how to cooperate. Human beings can move beyond the territorial instinct through cooperation and community.
The subconscious is emotional It is the seat of our LOWER EMOTIONS: anger, fear, greed, hatred, jealousy, envy, hatred, lust. These powerful emotions feel strong and lead us on the roller coaster. Emotional impulses are imperative to us and difficult to resist. To function in the conscious mind means we have to resist the emotions, the herding instinct, territorial instinct, procreative instinct, etc., resist our habits, to be strong in the present.
The subconscious is the seat of habits. Make use of good habits but do not be victim to habits All thought patterns (habits) are lodged in the subconscious. Habits of waking up at a certain time, habit of walking, talking, meditation hours, eating hours. These are all habits that we can create in our subconscious mind. Create positive habits and you will not be victim to habits. The conscious mind is in charge, able to adapt to changing circumstances as needed. We Learn by Trial and Error.Errors are stepping-stones to success. Awareness means to pay attention, to be conscious. Awareness means we make the effort to learn from our mistakes. Examples: Learning how to drive; A baby learning how to walk; Learning headstand
Using autosuggestion: The subconscious mind is your 100 secretaries Like a computer with hidden software programmed to run a certain way, the subconscious mind can be your servant, just like having one-hundred secretaries working for you. For example, you can use autosuggestion to wake up at a certain time. You need to remove the old software when it becomes obsolete, otherwise it can run against your will.
2. The Conscious Mind
Conscious mind is our capacity to make choices.
We make choices in the present.
The conscious mind guides the subconscious mind; that is its role.
The conscious mind is more mature, closer to the truth. The conscious mind is higher than the emotions and the instincts. The subconscious needs to be guided by the conscious mind. The subconscious mind needs to be guided by the conscious mind, like a child submitting his will to a more mature elder. The conscious mind’s decisions supersede the lower mind’s wants, being itself inspired by the super-conscious mind.
Conscious mind uses intellect.The conscious mind is our reasoning power. The conscious mind makes decisions by analyzing the pros and cons of any given situation. One needs to develop one’s faculty of reasoning. If you do not use it, you lose it. We need to develop our discrimination and detachment.
For the person not on their journey toward self-transformation, the conscious mind is not often used.We function automatically throughout the day and think very little.
Intellect can make mistakes Even though more reliable and superior to the emotional mind, the intellect is limited and can make mistakes. It cannot perceive the Truth and is limited by time, space and causation. A finite instrument cannot perceive the Infinite.
Self-awareness and ego With the development of the conscious mind comes the faculty of self-awareness. Self-awareness is knowing one’s self as a separate ego – not to be mistaken as True Self Awareness which knows One’s Self as One in all apparent names and forms. A conscious mind that has not been purified can be egoistic.
The conscious mind is pulled by the subconscious mind The conscious mind can be usurped by the lower mind.The intellect can be colored by the wrapping of the emotions. This is how we make excuses and rationalize our decisions.
Self-enquiry is to use the intellect to discriminate between real and not real That is why one needs to question one’s true motivation and remind oneself of one’s true purpose.
The conscious mind helps us to own the present To be aware is to feel empowered and alive in the present.The subconscious mind lives in the past. Dwelling in the past causes us to feel victimized and powerless.
“The present is superior to the past”
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness from which it was created.”
Dwelling in the mental patterns of the past can never solve the problem. Only by coming to the present do we free ourselves from the past and open up to all possibilities, where the solutions to our problems lie.
Live in the eternal present
The past feels secure. The present feels difficult to grasp. The future is uncertain. In fact, the past is dead. The present is Real. The future does not have to be a replica of the past. If you hold the present you hold the future. If you hold the past you are victim to the future.
3. Super-conscious – intuitive higher mind
The superconscious mind (sometimes called supramental) is the seat of intuition.
Intuition allows us to know in a flash and does not make mistakes.Intuition comes from a sattvic mind and is not an impulse which comes from the emotional, lower mind – even though they look alike.
The super conscious mind is warm, nice, immediate, powerful and will not make mistake, being closer to the truth. The conscious mind can be perceived as cold by the emotional mind which desires feelings of warmth.When the conscious mind works in cooperation with the super-conscious mind, it will gain approval, and the subconscious mind will calm down.
The conscious mind takes time to think properly. The intuitive mind is immediate. However, we can make mistake and go to the subconscious mind instead which is powerful, fast, and instinctive. When we don’t have time, it is easier to go with the subconscious mind. Better to take time and think properly than to make things worse.
The super-conscious, intuitive mind has feeling, higher feeling of pure love and unity. It is luminous, warm, it considers everything, transcends time and space, and is closer to the truth. To make a conscious decision, we need to consider all the facts. Intuitive thinking knows past, present and future; it knows right away.
Intuitive feelings are different than emotional impulses even though they act alike, fast, feel strong, and we cannot resist. If we follow the emotional impulse, it will lead us down, we’ll be let down eventually. But intuitive thinking will lift us up, and we will not suffer from our decision.
The subconscious mind tries to pull the conscious mind down to use for its advantage. By contrast, the super-conscious mind inspires the conscious mind, pulling it up. Most of our efforts are to keep the inspiration going, to give us energy, prana, joy, to do good things, to keep the inspiration.
How do you get the inspiration if the subconscious mind is too loud? Through satsang, association with people who are inspired; or through scripture, to give us direction, a voice of the Truth.
The super-conscious mind inspires the intellect upward. It is correct and warm at the same time. Pure love is correct and warm.
Intuition is universal, connecting the mind to its source of wisdom. The lower mind will act selfishly to fulfill its desires. The intuition goes beyond all reasoning and yet is not crazy like unbridled emotions.
The super-conscious is not the Absolute Truth even though it is higher and is more trustworthy than the intellect. It is our higher faculty to access knowledge that is to be developed.
4. Navigating the 3 minds – The Yogi’s Journey
The yogi’s journey is an inversion of the triangle. [Show inverted triangle picture.]
The yogi endeavors to become aware of the contents of the subconscious mind, to be guided by the intuition.The yogi keeps the automatic functions to a minimum and is no longer guided by instinct, emotions, past programming and likes and dislikes. Using the conscious mind, the yogi thins out the veils of the lower mind to see the Reality, the Truth.
Develop 3 levels of mind to accelerate the process of self development
In conclusion the aspirant . . .
Surrender one’s will to a higher will
Overcomes unconscious and base instincts
Practices consciously Sadhana to accelerate the process of moving from darkness to light
5. What happens during meditation?
1. Subconscious imprints are cleaned up. Problems are resolved by themselves.
2. Conscious mind is activated and becomes clear.
3. Super-conscious can operate – intuition dawns.
6. Beyond the 3 Minds
Beyond the 3 minds is the Atman, the Absolute Consciousness, the ground of being, the pure, unborn and eternal.
Existence Absolute Knowledge Absolute Bliss Absolute
Exercises of thought conversion (from lower mind to higher mind), and from negative to positive mind, from tamasic rajasic to sattvic pure mind. By thinking about something, you will become. However, you are not your thoughts so you can change your thoughts to the opposite. In general you need to counteract the tendency of the mind. The more you do this exercise, the more you will become expert in manipulation of your thoughts from negative to positive and eventually your sattvic mind will be able to reflect your true nature. Eventually all the angularities of your mind will become smooth. That is why we live in community so our mind will friction with each other and one day we will detach from the mind.
Positive words to think about
Thinking about these words can eventually lead you to the light: this is what you want your mind to be
Happy: not permanent happiness but general disposition of the mind. Joyful: general disposition to be joyful will give you more prana Healthy: do not think about disease but think about health Loving: towards everybody, it is the quality of your heart Compassionate: Knowledge: to learn, to become curious about knowledge to get out of ignorance Wise: in order to choose the right response when face with conflicts Upwards: feeling to move upwards Expanded: feeling to be big and great Selfless: not egoistic Disciplined: in a positive manner, i.e. do the right things at the right time Uplifted: feeling light Light: instead of heavy Forgiving: not holding any grudge towards anybody Wholesome: feeling together, feeling oneness armonious: Peaceful Creative Productive United Thoughtful: instead of being indifferent and insensitive Sensitive Empathy Courageous: very important quality, it allows you to change Flexible: adaptable Flowing: floating with life instead of being stagnant Growing: going upwards Devotional: love for the highest in your heart Faith: it will make you peaceful and secure, opposite of doubt Focused: it helps you to be present United: not separated towards anybody Strong: just being yourself not abusive but anchored in your self Calm: Equanimity: evenness of mind, not up and down and high and low Tranquil: Serene: Forbearing: be able to bear and keeping calm in difficulties Honest Content: not desirous, restless Blissful: Truthful Independent: self-reliant Surrendered: having faith, relaxed, no need to control everything Forward: feeling of moving forward Bright Soft spoken: do say things but nicely Non Violent: ahimsa Respectful Austere: not indulgent Detached: opposite of attached Vigilant: Clear mind Even mind Adaptable Beautiful: see beauty, feel beautiful Connected: connected to Self, to the universe, connected to others to feel strong Relaxed: not stressed Moderate: not extreme Balanced Considerate Dispassionate: detached while being fulfilled, does not mean being bored
Words to convert to opposite
Opposite of Unhappy— happy Opposite of Depressed— joyful, energetic Opposite of Unhealthy — healthy Opposite of Hatred— loving. To completely avoid using word hatred. Opposite of Judgmental, which is thinking out of ego— accepting, tolerant Opposite of Chaotic— harmonious Opposite of Undisciplined— disciplined Opposite of Lazy: enthusiastic Opposite of Slothful: caring Opposite of Unrighteous: righteous Opposite of Careless: caring Opposite of Angry: being content, letting go of expectation Opposite of Revengeful: forgiving Opposite of Restless: peaceful Opposite of Fearful: courageous Opposite of Anxious: having faith Opposite of Worried: having faith Opposite of Shy: self-confident Opposite of Doubtful: having faith Opposite of being stuck: feeling flowing Opposite of Stagnant: felling progress Opposite of Irresponsible: responsible Opposite of Jealous: accepting own karma, accepting self Opposite of Envious: be more realistic about who you are, content Opposite of Skeptical: having faith Opposite of Proud: humble Opposite of Abusive: respectful Opposite of Frustrated: accepting Opposite of Irritable: patient Opposite of Arrogant: humble Opposite of Selfish: selfless Opposite of feeling Limited: feeling expanded, unlimited Opposite of Rigid: being flowing, flexible, adaptable Opposite of feeling Downward: feeling upwards Opposite of Indulgent: disciplined Opposite of being Addictive: being disciplined Opposite of Crazy: orderly, grounded Opposite of Self doubt: having faith in Self Opposite of Self hatred: Self-love Opposite of Spiteful: forgiving Opposite of Dishonest: honest Opposite of Manipulative: straightforward Opposite of Lustful: pure Opposite of Unstable: stable Opposite of Attached: detached Opposite of Possessive: generous, sharing Opposite of Self righteous: self-surrendered Opposite of Contempt: respect, humble Opposite of Vicious: considerate, ethical Opposite of Sinful: dharmic Opposite of Perverted: pure, good Opposite of Procrastinating: do it and surrender results Opposite of Pessimistic: optimistic Opposite of Feeling Lack: feeling fulfilled Opposite of Naïve: realistic Opposite of Inconsiderate: considerate Opposite of Weak: strong Opposite of Feeling Empty: feeling fulfilled Opposite of Desirous: content Opposite of Greed: generous Opposite of Exaggerating: being truthful Opposite of Imbalanced: balanced Opposite of Inconsistent: consistent Opposite of Wasteful: conservative Opposite of being Mean: being generous Opposite of Stingy: generous Opposite of being Sensual: being austere, turning inwards Opposite of Worldly: going inwards
8. Exercises of thought cultivation: eradicate vices and cultivation of virtues
The topic of today is highly philosophical, yet practical. It is essential to understand it so we know what to do to be healthy and free. Please be ready during this presentation to be able to do 6 practical breathing and relaxation lessons. Make sure you have space to lie down, and that your room be ventilated.
1. Lie down in sarvasana posture and learn to breathe abdominally, without pillow or with pillow. Get a pillow ready, the more it is heavy it is better.
2. sit up either on chair or cross legged on the ground and learn to breathe and relax sitting up.
3. while sitting up, learn Kapalabati breathing (cleansing of the lungs) .
4. learn basic Anuloma Viloma basic, alternate nostril breath, without retention and with retention.
5. lie down again, and learn to breathe and relax along with positive affirmations. 6. Last, learn tense and release and complete guided relaxation.
Why the topic of today?
The truth these days of Corona virus pandemic is we loose ourselves and our minds drifted in confusion. We are stressed and we have tendency to not breathing correctly. We panicked and reacted this way or another. The news of the world took our well being away, thought by thought, breath by breath. We are caught up in the alarming and contradictory news. The world seems to be negative and conflictual. The focus nowadays is “disease”, not “health”. Our key words are “ death count”, “wear masks!” , “wash hands!”, “social distancing”, “ go back to normal”, “ the old normal”, the “new normal”.
Today I like to introduce you two new key words: “breathe and relax”! a new motto “breathe and relax!”
Why breathe and relax are two important practices to remember at all times?
Breathing is life affirming. It reminds us to stay healthy, body-mind-spirit while living.
Relaxation is be detached from the illusory world of our mind. So…breathe and relax!
Disclaimer: right breathing and right attitude towards life will not prevent you from getting the virus, but it will boost your immune system and your quality of life and even if you get sick, you will be stronger to heal and you will be more equipped to know what to do to help yourself.
Switch it around: Think of Health and not of disease!
Health is our birthright! We are the master of our health, we are not victim.
Our life is worth living, therefore struggle to attain true health and to remain positive. This inner affirmation about our worthy life is a good start to help us struggle for self improvement. Breathe for your life! Relaxation gives us life !
Life is sacred, need to see the sacredness in our life and in life surrounding us. This right attitude will bring health in our life.
You are equipped and supported by Mother Nature, remember her, go back to Nature. Happy Mothers’ Day!
Go back to basics… and build up resilience and increase our immunity the natural way! We are equipped with the Power of conscious intention.
Our Thought power is in our hands! Negative thoughts spread like virus. But we are Master of our destiny.
Focus on Health and not on disease. You can build your health !
We are essentially free. Focus on our innate freedom! All is good. We are strong and courageous. Everything happens because we have lessons to take away!
Think of the analogy of the lotus flower :
The lotus is a beautiful and very fragrant flower that grows out from the mud. The lotus is the symbol well used by meditators. The lotus represents spiritual life It is the theme of this webinar: “ How to live in the world of pains and sufferings and be free!” In other words:” how to live out our karmas and be free!”
What is the true nature of the world?
There is no objective world. The world seems to be external to ourselves. But the world is in fact a projection of our mind, according to the yogis. The world is the stage where our karmas will be played out.
We are not living in the same world. Depending on our karma we will perceive the world differently.
From another point of view the world is a creation of God. Both ways of explanation say that it is not material or objective, not something we can control or see with our worldly mind but it is a matter of consciousness.
Our mind’s projections are called “the world”: We are attached to our projections of our ideas about people outside of ourselves. Our repeated mind projections create an idea that the world is solid and real.
As we keep remembering our past experiences as recorded in our minds and as we keep projecting them out or as our consciousness keeps choosing the same outcome, we replay more or less the same scenario and the world appears as objective.
This projected world seen as solid and real outside of ourselves consists of objects. We live in the world of objects and we forget that they are the products of our minds and consciousness at the first place. These objects are perceived by our senses therefore the world we live in is termed a “sensual world”.
Who am I? I am not the objects of my perception and attachments.
The objects of our perception (and attachments) can be:
people or things: people can be our family and friends, things can be our home and work environment, familiar landscape or our possessions.
phenomena of nature, made of the five gross elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether). These gross elements exist in their subtle form in the mind.
But Who is the subject, the perceiver?
I am. We are, our True Self is. Objects are multiple, but the Self is One: The key to find peace at all times is to remember the One consciousness in all people, things and phenomena of nature.
Objects change while consciousness remains same. The body changes, ages and dies but consciousness remains untouched.
How to live in the world, find the subjectand be free?
The idea of the world creates duality and separation. Unless we develop equal vision and see that it is all One, all God, it is better to not be lost in the world. We need to rethink our concept of the world to be free from separation. This is why yogis turn inwards in the beginning of the journey. They are not being egoistic but need to start from their own consciousness.
Our lesson is to detach from objects to realize our inner truth or Atman. The Atman is the Self present in all. It is not changing, stable and ancient, perfect and free, all pervading and all knowing. Sensual world is not real: Yogis turn inwards and transcend the sensual world to perceive the Self beyond the projections of the mind.
The Self is the subject: Realize your Self at all times as the consciousness underlying all things. The subject is beyond the senses, beyond duality and is Sat-Chit-Ananda.
The Self is found in the here and now: In the here and now we can access our consciousness, free from the imprints of the past or the projected future.
As a result of karma, we never lived in the here and now: Meditation frees us from karma by bringing us to the here and now. The play on the stage of the world is our karma.
Lessons from Master Sivananda (photo)
Swami Sivananda says that the world is your best teacher. There is a lesson in everything.
His last words: “remember, forget! “ (remember the Self, God and forget everything else)
He sees the world with one eye and contemplates the Self with the other eye
Lessons from Siva, the first Yogi: (photo)
He is often depicted with eyes half closed and half open. This represents an ideal state of mind that yoga practitioners want to achieve, of being “in the world and out of the world”, seeing the world of names and forms and changing phenomena that we live in, and at the same time seeing the essence of it, as opposed to seeing the manifested world as devoid of spirit and intelligence.
He also is depicted with the third eye open. This means that we are encouraged to see the world with our eye of intuition, or with a mind that has been purified of its lower propensities such as anger, greed, lust, hatred, jealousy and envy. Intuition is higher than intellect. Intuition can be developed only when we transcend duality, or the left brain/right brain split. It includes devotion, or pure love, while intellect might miss half of the picture if there is no pure love in the thinking, or when the thinking is motivated by the ego.
Lessons from Mother Nature! Happy Mother’s Day!
Nature even though is outside of ourselves is close to our hearts: We can easily commune with Nature and find our Oneness with Nature. We feel less lost in the world of nature than the world of our mind. We have a symbiotic relationship with Her. This is our spiritual relationship with God or with the Divine Mother.
Tuning to Nature is a positive way to live in the world: It is easier to find ourselves in the world of nature out of the busy-ness of cities where chaotic and confused human thoughts are bouncing on each other. Nature is God’s mind Projections: Tuning to Nature makes us humble and opens our hearts. It helps us to surrender the egos and calm our minds. (For example a disturbed mind gains much by working in the garden, walking in the sun or swimming in the river).
Nature is powerful (example storms, floods, snow fall, extreme weather conditions) but it is easier to surrender to Her and accept that she is the teacher of our ego. Modern science tried to control and manipulate Her at high prices.
The Sivananda Yoga of synthesis is the wonderful way to attain that sublime state of mind.
It combines in daily life the yogic techniques from the classical 4 paths of Yoga. We just need to immerse ourselves in the theory and practice of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Hatha Yoga, plus the philosophy of Vedanta and the techniques of self enquiry of Jnana Yoga. Tools for living in and out of the word: Serve, give, love, purify, meditate, realize.
However, remember what Swami Sivananda said: ” one ounce of practice equals tons of theory!“.
1. Breathe and relax lying down: In sarvasana posture and learn to breathe abdominally, without pillow or with pillow. Get a pillow ready, the more it is heavy it is better.
2. breathe and relax sitting up: sit up either on chair or cross legged on the ground.
4. Balancing breath exercise: learn basic Anuloma Viloma basic, alternate nostril breath, without retention and with retention.
5. Breathe and relax either lie down or sit up again, along with positive affirmations applying the 4 paths of Yoga
Breathe and relax! May all karmas become Selfless service.
Breathe and relax! I detach from the results of my actions.
Breathe and relax! I Purify my thoughts and emotions to be free from karma.
Breathe and relax! I am not doing anything.
Breathe and relax!I am not running away. I am doing my duty while I breathe and relax.
Breathe and relax! I Stop doing actions confirming my separateness.
Breathe and relax! ILove God in all!
Breathe and relax! I accept and Self surrender to everything as God’s will . Breathe and relax! I sublimate my emotions and I am detached from my emotions.
Breathe and relax!I amPure Love and I open my Heart to all of Creation. Breathe and relax! My devotion to the Divine makes me see beyond the objects to see God. I see God in the world.
Breathe and relax! I am free from all emotional identification and attachment.
Breathe and relax! I have faith. I am humble and capable of letting go of my own ego.
Breathe and relax! I am compassion for others and for my self.
Raja Yoga/ Hatha Yoga–
Breathe and relax! I am free from efforts in all of my postures or asanas.
Breathe and relax! I balance and purify my prana and calm down my mind.
Breathe and relax! my understanding and intellect are becoming clearer.
Breathe and relax! I am dissolving my sense of separateness of Body/Mind in this Meditation.
Breathe and relax! I am detached towards the thoughts in my mind.
Breathe and Relax! I slow down my impulsiveness and my reactive tendencies and my thoughts become clear.
Breathe and relax! I am balanced and content. I practice pranayama to balance myself.
Breathe and relax! I am neither active nor passive. I am neither left brained nor right brained.
Breathe and relax! I am free from stress, I am free from my personality.
Breathe and relax! I amneither logical, linear nor emotional, artistic
Breathe and relax! I am neither male nor female.
Breathe and relax! I am neither sun nor moonenergy
Breathe and relax! I am not going out searching neither going in hiding. Breathe and relax! I am the lotus. Fragrant and beautiful and free.
Breathe and relax! I am neither referring to past nor future
Breathe and relax! I am in the Here and Now. I am content to be in the present. I Let go of the past story.
Breathe and relax! I am my eternal Soul and I accomplish everything while being. I am One.
Jnana Yoga –
Breathe and relax! I practice Self Enquiry : who am I? while relaxing.
Breathe and relax! I detach from my body/mind. I am detach from my false self .
Breathe and relax! I am living, I am alive, I am detached.
Breathe and relax! I am learning my lessons and I am free from ignorance.
Breathe and relax! I assert my own Self in the face of a changing world. Breathe and relax! I assert what is True about my own Self and I get out of the projected world of my mind.
Breathe and relax! I detach from everything. I am the Self that is Pure Love. It is not rejection.
Breathe and relax! I Amfearless.
Breathe and relax! I See Divinity in my own Atman – I see the Truth about my own Life
Breathe and relax! I am pure consciousness in everything, in all situations and all things.
Breathe and relax! I see with the 3rd eye, the eye of intuition. I see intuitively with my inner spirit.
Breathe and relax! I see unity behind all things. I go beyond the preconceived ideas of the mind about myself, people and things.
Breathe and relax! I am beyond what I like and what I dislike. I am not seeing what my ego wants.
Breathe and relax! I reconcile the split, the separation inside and outside; here and there; this and that ; me and God; you and me, Good and bad. Breathe and relax! I remain centered dwelling on my own Self. Nothing can touch me, affect me. I am fine, I am perfect. I have always been fine even when I thought I was not fine I was fine.
Breathe and relax! I AM.
6. Guided relaxation : learn tense and release of muscles and gradual auto suggestions.
Wake up , take away points:
What is the main thing in question here during COVID time ? Our respiratory system, the very life we breathe in is being threatened.
To deal with it , what do we do? Affirm our life! Our birthright! breathe more! relax more! Be in the world (breathing) and out of the word (relaxing) .
This is the solution to all questions.
We dedicate our breathe to the health and the awakening of all… Om Trayambhakams …
The talk today is about Self Healing and Healing of the environment using Yogic principles. The word Yoga here implies classical Yoga taught holistically in a philosophical traditional background and not just modern urban commercial exercise Yoga taught in a hectic stressful environment. This is an appropriate topic in the context of our public and personal health and immunity crisis due to the outbreak of Corona virus. We just celebrated the 50th Earth day in the middle of the pandemic. We also face more and more Mother Nature protests in forms of global warming, tidal waves, droughts, forest fires and floods. Our urban and artificial societies are more and more sick and dependent on drugs and medication, feeding on processed food with little prana and creating health problems such as obesity, cancer, cardio vascular and digestive problems, and most recently respiratory problems. Our minds are full of disturbed media scenes of sex and violence, instead of experiencing mountains, sky, water and plants around us. Our world leaders are themselves alienated from nature and our corporations motivated by short term profits, lead us away more and more from our peace and health. Overall we are externally driven, feeling unstable and empty. Again, we revisit the the old idea of the correspondence between individual health, public health and health of the planet we live in and what can we do about it? How do we balance ourselves in a world out of balance? How to keep our faith and hope and do the right thing in this world in crisis? Together let’s explore the philosophical and practical foundation for a life in Total Harmony with Nature and let’s face our spiritual ignorance(avidya) at the root of our mistaken identity and mistaken perception of the environment we live in.
There will be a few sections to our talk today:
What is Health according to classical Yoga? What is Healing? what is Self Healing?
What are the principles to follow and certain behaviors to abstain from in order to address the root causes of our physical-mental spiritual ill health?
What are the behaviors to adopt in order to improve our energy and our body-mind-spirit health?
How do we apply these principles to the environment? How do we harmonize with the world of nature and with the Cosmic Spirit behind it? Let’s get familiar with some examples of restrictions and observances we can follow when come to the environment.
Vedanta philosophy applied to the environment. Is there any difference between the inner and outer reality? The individual and the collective energy? How to reconcile material universe and spirit? How do we solve the problems of division, separation and lack of unity? How do we practice unity in diversity?
What is Health?
Swami Sivananda said that “the laws of health are the laws of nature and they should not be violated. He said that there is an intimate connection between the mind and the body. And all diseases take their origin in the mind. The pains that affect the physical body are called secondary diseases, while the vasanas that affect the mind are termed mental and primary diseases. If bad thoughts are destroyed, all bodily diseases will vanish. Treat the mind first. Mental health is more important then physical health. “
Ayurveda says that the prime cause of disease is forgetfulness of our true Nature as Spirit. This means that when we are forgetful, we identify with body and mind vehicle as ourselves and make wrong decisions about lifestyle or about our path to happiness, thus we bring upon ourselves stress and tension leading to diseases. Yoga talks about holistic healing, i.e. healing of body mind spirit.
What is Healing? What is Self Healing?
Yoga talks about the free flow of prana and changing our vibratory level. Ayurveda talks about restoring balance and health getting back to Nature. Vedanta talks about rememberance of our True Self (the Atman) as the ultimate Truth and to have an attitude of detachment towards what the body and mind can come up with as reality. Healing means ceasing to forget ourselves in our constant identification with the body and mind.
Healing means to realize that we are Pure consciousness behind all things including our body.
Healing means ceasing to identify with our separated-ness but to see the Oneness. Healing means to cease to identify with our vehicles, and to see
through the veils of consciousness (our body, our prana, our mind, emotions and senses, our intellect and ego). At the same time, healing means connection with Nature and not just indulgence in technology. The Healing journey is a long way. In that journey, we need self aware teachers and leaders who have found the way to peace themselves. Self Healing means Self Realization, realization of our divine connection with nature and spirit in nature. It implies changing of one’s own consciousness and lifestyle to come closer to the Truth. The opposite of it is, getting lost in the habits and mental grooves of the past, getting lost in the restlessness and the desires in an unceasing pursuit of external happiness, and getting lost in the promise of more power in a more advanced technological society. The yogic guidelines for conscious self-healing help us to correct our thinking and isolated feeling, alleviate our sufferings, become clearer in our perceptions of our own self and love of others, and bring us closer to true Health, Peace and Self realization.
Self Healing success is when we are able to break through the chain of karma. In other words, success is being able to retrain ourselves not to repeat the same pattern of conditioned behavior which binds us. The reason why we are not happy comes from the fluctuations of the mind and the constant replaying of its unhealthy patterns. The mind keeps projecting thoughts and emotions that were gained through past experience and reacts to them, thus keeping us bound in the mirage of its own creation. We experience the roller coaster of our mind and emotions and miss out on the rewarding and fulfilling experience of being our own peaceful, loving, happy, present, blissful Self.
2. The foundations of Yoga: the yamas (restrictions) and niyamas (observances).
The yoga masters have given us guidelines for conscious self-development that go to the root cause of our suffering by consciously correcting the course of our actions. We train ourselves in two ways: on one side guarding ourselves not to misbehave, thus repeating our patterns leading to suffering (these are the yamas); and on the other side, actively cultivating positive attitudes and helpful conducts (these are the niyamas). Thus we straighten out our mind, squeezing the impurities out of our mind from both sides, the “not to do’s” and the “to do’s”.
The mind in its pure state is capable of reflecting our beautiful Self or Atman in all situations, in ourselves and others. By purifying the mind, we alleviate our ups and downs, our inner turmoil and conflicts, and we feel free. Otherwise we struggle to remember ourselves and spend our energies in distractions and forgetfulness. The ideal is reached when there is no more forgetfulness of Self and one relaxes in the Peaceful Being.
The Yamas and Niyamas are universal guidelines that if followed will improve our lives in the long term and help remove obstacles stemming from our karmic tendencies, character defects, and bad habits. These guidelines address the fundamental egoistic and desiring nature of ourselves. One might find a character defect more dominant than another but working with one will bring light to the others as well. No one can be exempt from working on oneself. In the same manner, we expect everyone to follow the rules of traffic, driving on the proper side of the road and observing traffic signals. The Yamas (restrictions) and Niyamas (observances) are to be consciously practiced in thought, word and deed. However, it is important to realize that these self healing guidelines do not turn into judgment to be interpreted as rigid moral rules. In Truth, the Selfis One. The bottom line is that we are one Universal Spirit in myriad expressions.
3. What are the principles to follow and certain behaviors to abstain from in order to address the root causes of our physical-mental spiritual ill health?
Yamas: Restraints (The Things Not to Do)
1/ – Ahimsa: Ahimsa is the practice of controlling the emotion of anger. Anger comes from selfish desires or expectations unfulfilled. Selfish desire comes from our failure to recognize our fulfillment in the True Self, and our looking for happiness in external objects or situations. Ahimsa means restraining oneself from the reactive tendency to be angry when one’s desires are not met, or the tendency to abuse others and enter into conflicts or wars.
Raja yoga methods to deal with anger: The antidote of anger is contentment or letting go of expectation, accepting that, “It is not my will, but God’s will”. The practice of Non violence requires calmness, courage, self control, self restraint and the practice of serenity. Practice of ahimsa leads one to develop good quality of the heart and leads one to develop mercy, kindness, unselfishness, patience, forgiveness, pure Cosmic Love, compassion, perseverance and peace. If we practice ahimsa, we will be able to maintain durable, positive and loving relationships. To note that one can act out of dharma-righteousness in the spirit of selflessness without being violent or selfish.
Karma Yoga methods: Do service to others to develop love and equal vision instead of basing one’s life on one’s needs, desires and egoism.
Bhakti Yoga methods: Connect with the secure and fulfilled Divine Love. Trust that the Divine has a plan for each person and surrender to the Divine Plan. Contemplate and glorify the Divine Mother, God, Nature, the Universe. Find acceptance. Practice of listening, giving, serving, humility, remove pride, cultivate devotion and practice friendship with all.
Jnana Yoga methods: Do self enquiry. Remind of the SatchitAnanda Atman beyond desires. Discriminate and detach from situation that causes irritations. Seeing the big picture.
2/. – Satya: Satya means truthfulness– It deals with our fear of not meeting our goals, in the eyes of ourselves or others. Fear comes from attachment. We will not be afraid if we do not have any attachment. In truth, we can not gain nor lose anything externally – either name, fame, prestige, position or love because we are already perfect in ourselves and we can not be greater or smaller then what we already are. Applying Satya, we refrain from the tendency to exaggerate, to manipulate others, or to tell lies in order to achieve an egoistic goal. Sincerity, honesty and straightforwardness will help to simplify and clear the mind, thus achieving inner peace. Purity, Peace and Truth are synonymous terms. Truth comes in the form of righteousness, justice, harmony, ahimsa, harmlessness, forgiveness, impartiality, transparency, desirelessness, modesty, goodness, renunciation magnanimity, nobility, devotion, compassion.
The opposite of truth is deception, falsehood, dishonesty, exaggeration, twisting, egoism, lies, crookedness, manipulation, meanness, dissimulation, cowardice, fear, lack of courage.
Benefits of truthfulness: Health, fearlessness, freedom, clarity, wisdom, strong faith and absence of anxiety. Lies and fearful living create blockages t the flow of prana.
Raja Yoga methods: Calm and clarify the mind through the 8 limbs to discern the truth within that is beyond all concepts of the mind.
Bhakti Yoga methods: Be transparent and humble. Surrender to God’s will. Keep love and faith while cultivating Satsanga with truthful and virtuous people. We count on God to give us what we deserve or need and not what we desire. Making amends, atonements, confessions asking for forgiveness and humble attempts to come closer to the source of Being that is Truth.
Karma Yoga methods: Surrendering of doership and offering of the results of one’s actions, staying even in success or failures will remove fears and anxieties which can lead to lies. The motivation is being kept pure.
Jnana yoga methods: enquire into the nature of ephemeral gains. Examine the attachments and the tendencies of the mind of likes and dislikes. Contemplate and discriminate between the truth and untruth, the real and the illusory, the Self and the Not self. It is the beginning of Healing.
3/ – Brahmacharya:
Brahmacharya is control or sublimation of the sensual and sexual drive and deals with the emotion of Desire and Lust. Through practicing brahmacharya, we can restrain the tendency to seek sensual pleasures as the goal of life, and to misuse our sexual energy–which is be converted into spiritual energy. This guideline advises us to avoid sexual misconduct and to regulate our impulses, question our motives, and help bring clarity to our human interaction. Applying Brahmacharya in our dealings with others, we will be able to transform our emotional and desirous nature into a fulfilling relationship with the Divine, based on devotion and pure love.
The sexual instinct is the strongest instinct in us, stemming from the instinct of reproduction. It involuntarily prompts a person to the sexual act for the preservation of his species. It is in reality, the creative force in man. It comes from Rajas; Sexual energy can be transmuted into spiritual energy by pure thought. The practice of Brahmacharya is the practice of Purity, to be practiced along with ahimsa, and satya. It is a dynamic conversion process, not a matter of suppression or repression. The reproductive energy is transmuted and transformed into Ojas Shakti or spiritual power.
Truth can not dwell where passion lives. The Atman is sexless.
Raja Yoga methods: By right diet, asana, pranayama, turning inwards of the senses, concentration on sublime thoughts, meditation, japa, worship, the sexual energy is converted into Ojas Shakti.
Bhakti Yoga methods: By intense devotion to one’s pure ideal, the energy of desire for union can be sublimated into pure love.
Karma Yoga methods: By dedicating oneself to the service of the ideal divine beloved, one can elevate this instinctive self-serving energy of desire into the selfless impulse to do good for a larger whole.
Jnana Yoga methods: By seeing the other as one’s own Self, one can disassociate with the idea of a desirable mate. Through the sophisticated development of pure intelligence, we can discriminate between the mental habits of accumulated instinctual lifetimes and the Atman. The practice of Purity allows us to aspire to taste the super sensual Atmic bliss. Healing of the Mind and the emotions that leads to the recovery of the True Self often starts with the calming of passion.
4/. Asteya: non stealing, not taking what doesn’t belong to you.
It is alsonon-covetousness. It deals with our tendency towards jealousy and envy. Observing this guideline will counteract our tendency to give in to our desires, or think that satisfying material desires is the goal of life. It will help us to be content, knowing that what is supposed to come to us by our own karmas and merits will come naturally, without our manipulation or intervention.
Raja Yoga methods: be content with simple life, count your blessings, practice of giving instead of taking or stealing.
Bhakti Yoga methods: See someone’s happiness as your own. Keep good relationships and pure love. Surrender the ego.
Karma Yoga methods: Accept our karmas, and do our duty, let go of results. Understand that it is better to work through one’s own karma rather than someone else’s karma.
Jnana Yoga methods: Know that all is impermanent and desires are illusory and changing.
Aparigraha means non-accumulation or non-acceptance of bribes. It deals with our tendency towards greed. Observing this guideline counteracts our tendency to think that the more we attain or possess, the more we will be safe and secure. It further guides us not to forfeit our soul to the material life, and to cultivate an attitude of detachment towards material possessions. Leading a simple life allows the spirit to remain light, detached and self-reliant. It also helps us in our dealings with others to be strong and free as others can manipulate our weakness by bribery.
Raja Yoga methods: The opposite of greed is charity, austerity, sacrifice, simplicity and renunciation. Avoiding distractions, keeping discipline and focus will help avert the tendency towards indulgence in what one’s likes.
Bhakti Yoga methods: connect with the secure and fulfilled divine love. The sublimation method is to give in charity to spiritual or humanitarian institutions.
Karma Yoga methods: Actively helping the downtrodden, the poor, lonely and forgotten.
Jnana Yoga methods: Patanjali said that the conquest of greed leads to one’s true meaning of life and the knowledge of the purpose of birth. The purpose of birth is Self Realization, to see Spirit in Matter. Accumulation of matter and negligence of Spirit lead us away from this truth.
What are the behaviors to adopt in order to improve our energy and our body-mind-spirit health?
5 Niyamas: Observances (The Things to Observe or to Do)
1, – Saucha: Saucha is purity. This observance will help us to counteract impurities in our bodies, minds, and outer environments, and help us come into deeper contact with our true selves. By purifying the emotions and thoughts, which are like coverings over our eyes, we can begin to see more clearly and gain a truer perspective.
Raja Yoga methods: The practice of the 5 points Yoga life(asana, pranayama, relaxation, diet, positive thinking, meditation) nurtures sattva and purify the mind and heart.
Bhakti Yoga Methods: Devotion and humility purify the heart and bring pure love. Devotion and love help one to overcome hatred, guilt and grief.
Karma Yoga methods: Selflessness purifies the ego and its likes and dislikes, its attachments and aversions. By helping people with the same problems as yours, one gains perspective and regains the sense of Self Worth.
Jnana Yoga methods: We can be lost in the feelings of guilt, shame or grief. However, difficult it might be, remember the pure, the brilliant, the limitless, the stainless atman, untouched by any happenings and impurities. Try to forgive the past and feel strong in the present. Remember that the mind is a distorted, imperfect instrument for seeing the true Self and reality. Remember the false self, the ego, that is attached to its own impurities. Remember not to forget ourselves, to turn within and to remember ourselves. This will dispel darkness and brings about light.
2/. Santosha: Santosha is contentment. This practice will help us counteract the tendency to look externally for happiness and become dissatisfied with our lots in life, rather than counting our blessings. Through practicing Santosha, we begin to realize that God’s grace is always with us.
Raja Yoga methods: The 5 points Yoga Life helps to calm the restless mind and turns it inwards. Concentration and meditation thin out the mind activities.
Bhakti Yoga methods: Praise the wisdom of the Supreme and know that all is taken care of. Surrender to God’s will and accept all as Prasad.
Karma Yoga methods: Serve others less fortunate then yourself, think of others who are more sick then you, this will keep the mind contented.
Jnana Yoga methods: See the whole world as your own home, and the wealth of Nature as your own wealth. Remove the I and mine and you will be contented.
3.- Tapas: Tapas means austerity. This practice will help us to counteract the belief that comforts of the body and mind are the goals of life. It will help us avoid imprisonment in the sensual, limited life that is governed by the mind and the senses. Tapas will help us to assert our supremacy over the mind and emotions, freeing us and give the power back to the spirit. All practice of self restraint to turn the mind inwards is tapas. The world under lock down is practicing tapas. There are many forms of tapas. Bear insults, injury persecution, discomfort and fatigue are all forms of tapas.
Raja Yoga methods: all 8 limbs of Raja Yoga can be considered as training tapas. Meditation is the highest form of tapas.
Bhakti Yoga methods: Keeping the emotions controlled for the sake of Pure Love is emotional tapas. Keeping faith and loyalty instead of doubts and changing loyalty are mental tapas. Listening to scriptures, mantra chanting are tapas.
Karma Yoga: Serving all, willingly, at any time, all the time is tapas. Adapting oneself to the needs of service is tapas. Doing any kind of service whether one likes it or not is tapas.
Jnana Yoga methods: Keeping vigilance in Self Enquiry is tapas. Keeping discrimination, detachment, self remembrance are all forms of tapas.
4. – Swadhyaya and Ishwara Pranidhana: Self Study and Self Surrender: Swadhyaya is the study of scriptures. Doing this will help us to counteract the idea that only what we can see and what people tell us about ourselves is true. The scriptures, on the contrary, tell us of a reality beyond the normal perceptions and glorify the true Self; they will inspire us in our search for Truth.
– Ishwara-pranidhana: Ishwara-pranidhana means self-surrender to God or a higher power. Self-surrender counteracts our tendency to think that we are the best and the top, that we have all the powers and that we are controlling our lives. With this egoistic bend of our mind, we do not have to adjust or accept something that is not to our liking, so we blame and resent instead of trying to see the big picture. Practicing self-surrender will help us work through our karmas by practicing acceptance and knowing that everything happens for a reason.
How do we apply these principles to the environment? What is the relationship between self healing and healing of the Earth? Examples of restrictions and observances when come to the environment.
The prana that we bring through Yoga practice has a healing effect upon our environment as well as ourselves. Self healing and healing of the Earth happen simultaneously. Yoga framework, the Yamas and niyamas, can become the spiritual guidelines for the ecological movement. Yoga can contribute an integrate way of working with the forces of life to aid in the process of purification (Saucha) of the planet, as people become more still and content (santosha) , less indulgent and weak, being able to cooperate with Nature (Tapas), becoming more and more aware of the interdependence of things ( through study of sacred scriptures) and last but not least, by being able to surrender to the Supreme Being, thus not thinking that we as specie is the Master of the Universe (ishwara pranidhana).
As we elevate ourselves, and align ourselves with yogic principles, we as a collective can act responsibly and respectfully, abstaining from creating harm to the environment and others (ahimsa), we come close to the truth of Oneness of all Beings (satya), we control our desires and passions (brahmacharya) , we become content and respectful, not taking what doesn’t come to us naturally (asteya) and most importantly we are refraining from greed (aparigraha) which is at the root of so many environmental harmful activities . By bringing in these higher sattvic energies, and staying away from rajasic and tamasic energies, Yoga has the potential to help the world. The most remarkable things I have seen being reported during these days of global lockdown are the diminishing of city pollution (Himalayas ranges are being seen from Delhi!), the appearance of wild animals even though apparently the dancing dolphins in the canals of Venice was fake news, they were being spotted nearby in the waters but not in the canals of Venice.
Yoga movement hopefully is moving from just simply self concerned exercises to conscious improvement of our lifestyle, our way of eating, sleeping, entertaining ourselves and consumption. Yoga and Ayurveda lifestyle automatically connect all with Natural methods of self healing by elevating our consciousness how to increase our supply of prana through the elements and how to balance ourselves. Automatically Yoga and Ayurveda lifestyle will reduce the impact upon the environment when people follow vegetarian diet and stop the cruelty to animals and exploitation of our natural environment. Yogic lifestyle value simplicity and self restraint and automatically affect the way we consume and the excesses that come from a consumer society. Hopefully, the days and months under locked down, help us to curb our desires and needs for more stuff and help us realize that we can survive on the bare minimum and be healthy and happy. We need to contemplate on the meaning of what is “essential” need and what is “non essential”.
Classical Yoga teachers and Ayurveda lifestyle counsellors can promote the distancing from artificial living, the returning back to nature and to Earth as well, the simple living and high thinking in ashrams and retreats out of town, in beautiful nature, the self sufficiency on the land, the gardening and producing of our own food from our organic garden.
Examples of what we can do to observe Yamas and niyamas and positively influence our environment:
Ahimsa: avoid injuring the environment, adopt a vegetarian lifestyle, driving, flying and traveling less; buying local organic food or producing our own, reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle, compost, buying bulk, avoiding packaging.
Satya: follow up as much as possible in thoughts, words and deeds the ecological considerations by examining daily our choices.
Brahmacharya – do not indulge in the senses and sexual abstinence.
At the base of our desires for consumption is our instinct of reproduction. The problem is we never have enough reproductive success as we are never satisfied with our reproductive success. People desire limitless wealth, status, and power because those instincts helped our ancestors survive & achieve reproductive success. We can’t depend on how we feel (by doing what comes naturally) to achieve satisfaction. Modern society innovations intensify competition for wealth, status and power causing greed, crime, grief, hatred, disappointment, depression, and environmental destruction.
Asteya- do not steal: Simply taking what we think we need, without thinking about how it arrives to us, what may be destroyed as a result, how we may be taking from others, including future generations, is stealing. Try to find healthy, green products, ethical products according to scientific ratings. Example www.goodguide.com Each product is given health, environment and society scores 1-10
Aparigraha – do not be greedy: Live simply, avoid accumulating things, de-clutter, recycle what you do not use, live beneath your means.
NIYAMAS (OBSERVANCES) APPLIED TO THE ENVIRONMENT:
Saucha – cleanliness and purity, both inner and outer. We are what we eat, so we are encouraged to only eating fresh, organic food, preferably grown ourselves or nearby. Working to clean up the oceans, the lands, and our environment, reduce production of trash, abstain from non recyclable trash.
Santosha- be contented: Avoid over consumption.Avoid falling for illusory differences between products. Accept and appreciate that which is provided by nature, eat local seasonal food; Know your local herbs; Wait for the sun to shine to clean clothes so it will be possible to line dry them; Appreciate abundance of power on sunny days and avoid activities that require power on overcast days, use a solar oven to cook food on sunny days.
Tapas – perform austerities: Austerity means curtailing the insatiable demands of the senses. Fasting. Only eating local seasonal food. Adjusting to seasonal temperature changes instead of using air conditioning. Avoid bottled water which is convenient but bad for the environment.
Swadhyaya: self study and study of scriptures: Become more and more aware of our collective wrong doings and our karmic imprints: learn how things are produced, merchandized and consumed, trashed or recycled, and try to find alternatives.
Ishwara Pranidhana: keep being humble and realize the interconnectivity of things in nature. Surrender to God’s will for us in everything and live respectfully and in harmony with the powers of the divine mother in Nature, instead of willfully create for ourselves a discarded, isolated, egoistic, unaware, sensual, lack of devotion, artificial life. Realize higher powers of consciousness present in all things. Keep connection with it and find peace and contentment is the key to yogic ecological living.
Vedanta for Ecological living:
Remember unity of life. -Unity in diversity. – Remember our mental habits to repeat our tendencies (in this regard, yamas and niyamas help to rebuild our course of actions). Remember the illusory nature of our perceptions which keep us in the same cycle of reactions (story of seeing the snake instead of seeing the rope). Remember that we are Satchitananda Atman, not a victim, not a consumer, not separated and alien, but the peaceful, powerful, supported at all times by Divine consciousness, self reliant and self delight Self. Vedanta philosophy applied to the environment is sustainable bridging our well being with the well being of Nature and others. There is no difference between the inner and outer reality. If we elevate one, we elevate the other. If we become self conscious, we will elevate the environment and heal the Earth. If the Earth is taken care of, we will also be taken care of. Individual efforts influence the collective energy and collective awareness influences our personal effort. Vedanta philosophy by addressing the root cause of our individual and collective suffering and recognizing our spiritual ignorance the source of it, solve the problems of division, separation and lack of unity between groups and nations. The root cause of our suffering is our false identification with our culture, national boundaries, political leaderships, gender and race and forget our common oneness.
Bringing out the ecological and planetary importance of Yoga and Ayurveda is the real mission we need to undertake. This will benefit all of us now – our societies in stand still under lock down, but also will benefit our future generations. At this poignant time, let’s practice the yamas and niyamas as guidelines of high thinking and high living and not as dogma and moral rules which bring divisiveness, arrogance, judgment and holier than thou attitude. Let’s become compassionate and forgiving. Let’s teach more Yoga, Ayurveda and Vedanta to the masses. And let’s bow in gratitude for favors and support received from the Divine Mother seeing each other and all beings as brothers and sisters sharing the same earth, same sky, same water. Let’s celebrate our unity in diversity!
Let’s pray to the forces of Nature… This is the classical vedic mantra:
Om sham no mitrah sham Varunah ̣(may the sun be good to us)
Sham no bhavaturyamà (may the God of the Waters be good to us)
… you are indeed the visible Brahman. I shall call Thee just. I shall call thee Truth. May that protect me. May That protect the teacher. Om Peace, peace, peace.
Happy Easter! On this meaningful day symbolizing renewal, awakening and eternal life, we are being reminded of our infinite potential, infinite inner resources and perfect love which always wins. This holiday celebrates the meaning of life and this is the time for us to remember the beauty and sacredness of our lives. Swami Sivananda said that the true goal of life is to get back to the source from which we came. Just as rivers flow restlessly till they join the ocean, the ultimate source from which they got their supply of water, so too, we would be restless here till we become one with the Peace in the True Self deep within.
In this constant flowing journey of life towards Self realization, there are transitions and challenges that we need to face graciously, taking these as opportunities for growth.
So we will be talking about:
1.how life is constant transition
2. how life has a positive direction, going in and up (and not going out and down).
3. In this journey, we are struggling but we are always progressing. The more the struggle, the stronger we become.
4. We have the power of choice, we are not victims to circumstances. In any given circumstances we still have the choice to move forward in life. We need to exercise our power of choice.
5. Seven stages of conscious self transformation and renewal. How to renew yourself consciously.
6. When our egos are rigid, we have difficulty making choices and making decisions, paralyzed by fears and anxieties. We can learn to make our life easier for ourselves by learning faith, trust and detachment. Mistakes are only stepping stones to success for a person who is aware and working on himself.
7. Adversity is a perception. You can return to your untouched self. You are the master of your destiny. The Self is supreme. Nobody did this to you. Learn to become strong and accept the game of life. You and your experience are one. “There is no world out there besides you”.
8. Everything is an opportunity for practice.
We are constantly in transition
Life is a journey. There is a direction to life. We are always in transition, between stages of life. There is a lesson to be learned at every step. Try to not get lost in the appearances and illusions of life. Our destination is to realize our inner peace that always has been here.
Different times of transition:
Between life times (this life is only a chapter in the book of your life. Everything is not permanent.). Step back from your life and recognize the theme of this life.
Between stages of life. According to our age and our maturity, we move through 4 stages of life, we learn our duties at different stages: student stage, householder stage, retirement stage, renunciation stage. Our struggles often reflect the lessons we need to learn at every stage. We also learn that our psychology and needs evolve with each stage of life.
Between occupations: Our ideal occupation is the one reflecting our inner state of being, from being unconscious with no self awareness, instinctive living, survival thinking and living only for enjoyment, to the idea of a self centered self, making the best out of separated life, to being more responsible of our fellow beings and our actions, and last, to becoming selfless, understanding our oneness and acting out of the vision of oneness.
Between gunas, moving from tamas (darkness), to rajas (activity) , to sattwa ( purity, balance, wisdom) . Our journey is the journey of purification where we unveil ourselves from our own veils and recognize the light and knowledge within.
Between periods of our karmas . Our lessons are learnt in time and following sequences. According to vedic astrology, our lives revolve from one karmic expression to another, from dasha period to another where we have to learn : self confidence (sun); psychology and emotions (moon), action and energy (mars) , intelligence and reasoning (mercury) , righteousness and wisdom (Jupiter) , devotion and enjoyment (venus) ,
Self discipline and forbearance (Saturn), desires and compulsion (rahu) , detachment and renunciation (ketu). Everything is set up by heavenly energies for us to learn. The lesson of enjoyment is 20 years, the lesson of self discipline is 19 years, the lesson about desires is 18 years, the lesson of intelligence is (16 years) , the lesson of wisdom is 16 years, the lesson about the mind and emotions is 10 years , of energy and action is 7 years, detachment is 7 years, ego self is 6 years.
Between seasons and weathers: Like the season revolving, winter gives rise to spring, spring to summer, summer to fall and return to winter. Life is cyclical. We just have to step back and enjoy the seasons changing and revolving. The changes of temperatures and weathers affect the moods, and our health. This contemplation helps us to accept change.
Between hours of the day: the changes we feel might reflect not only the changes of seasons, but also the changes of energies between periods of the day, the sunrises, sunsets, the middays. Doing things in the right timing
would influence the outcomes.
Between waking, dreaming, deep sleep. Our daily landscape also keeps revolving between our different states of consciousness, the waking, the dreaming and the deep sleep state. The idea is to learn to become the observer, the witness to all these changing phenomena inside and outside of us.
In fact, we are always transitioning and we indeed never stay still. We renew ourselves constantly. According to Master Sivananda, “Life is a school, in which every sorrow, every pain, every heart break brings a precious lesson. The world is your best teacher, there is lesson in each experience. The world is the best training ground.” Learn to be in the world and be untouched by the world like the lotus flower growing out of mud.
The journey of life is going in and up,not out and down
“In” means inwards towards our peace within and “out” means loosing ourselves in external concerns. “Up” means feeling light and content, “down” means feeling restless and dissatisfied. Recognize your path and renew yourself!
– from impurity to purity: learning to accept challenges and pains as growing pains, we are cleansing ourselves from our impurities , allowing the light and peace to shine from within when we learn better behavior .
– from hatred to cosmic love: learn to hate less and love more every day then we will be moving in the right direction.
– from death to immortality: If we think that we are the mortal body, we will be gripped by the fear of death. By changing consciousness and by going deeper within ourselves through Yoga and meditation, we become more detached from the body and can feel the freedom and lightness coming from our eternal spirit.
– from imperfection to perfection: we might be disappointed at ourselves for not being perfect or judging other people to be less then perfect. Eventually, we mature and know that perfection can not be attained in this world. We do the best we can in this relative life, and at the same time realize a level of ourselves and of life that is perfect. Ultimately, we realize that all is at all times perfect. We stop to try to make a better past, and live solidly in the present where perfection can be found.
– from slavery to freedom: we might think that we are victim and that we are bound in our lives to do things we do not like. We might have a wrong sense of what is true freedom. Swami Sivananda said that freedom does not mean eating anywhere you like, going anywhere you like, speaking anything you like …it is found in self discipline. We are in fact slave to our desires and senses. Yoga helps to slowly turn our bad habits to positive habits and realize our true inner freedom.
– from diversity to unity: wegrow when we learn to see the unity in the apparent differences. Example: seeing the suffering of the whole humanity and not just one nation over the other. The test we are going through now as a global community brings us closer together. We are moving from the sense of separation to the sense of interdependence. Open our minds and hearts to accept differences. Become less judgmental.
– from ignorance to eternal wisdom: we are learning to control our mind and emotions and become wise amidst chaos and controversies. We learn to see the bigger picture of our life and learn to avoid to repeat the same mistake and to create new karma.
– from pain to eternal bliss: we learn from our pains and know that we have somehow have forgotten ourselves looking for happiness in a wrong place. We eventually learned that happiness is within and the answer lies within. We breathe, relax, reconcile and forgive ourselves and others in order to be free from our pains.
– from weaknesses to infinite strength: Due to our weaknesses, we have fears and attachments, and we create pain to ourselves and others. Life journey teaches us to be stronger and stronger to face more and more demanding challenges. Everything is a test of your strength and faith.
We have the Power of choice
We need to exercise wisely our conscious intelligence over our instincts and emotions
In that journey towards more awareness, we exercise our intellect but often times we are being pulled in the opposite direction by our habitual lower mind. We want to learn and to grow but we are caught in our habits and attachments. Our emotions pulled us to the past and to the future but resist the guidance of our intellect. We forget ourselves in the past and the future unable to live fully the present. We find ourselves unfulfilled and stuck because we wanted to return to the secure past and have difficulty to venture into the unknown. We are missing out our present which is the key to our freedom.
We need help to make changes. People with higher mind, who have been where we have been can support us in our journey. Our conscious choice can be backed up by our higher mind or the higher mind of somebody.
The seven steps of conscious change
Seven steps to transform our impressions in the mind.How to renew ourselves. How to work with our mind’s tendency to repeat itself. When we leave an old pattern for a new one, we enter the transitional ground that can be unsettling. We often resist new patterns for fear of losing identities we have carefully constructed. It is like a more evolved version of the old self, eventually leading to our true nature. We keep refining and purifying our mind patterns into healthier designs. It will become easier and easier.
1. -set intention
2.- commitment to “work” on the unhelpful habit. Conscious will to resist falling back on old habits, in crease in awareness, bringing inner wisdom and light.
3.- slowing down to observe the mind, allowing greater reflection and insight. Yoga practice helps you to slow down.
4.- awareness of unseen force that can hold us captive in old samskara.
5.- fearlessness: tolerate unpleasant sensation – like grief or fear of loneliness.
6. – envision new pattern. Visualize the new discovered self when you do Yoga practice, when the mind slows down and relaxes.
7.- Practice. Understand what can trigger a relapse.
Difficulty to make decisions and to make choices come from fears
Mistakes are stepping stones to success.
When our egos are rigid, and when we have inner conflicts, we have difficulty making choices and making decisions, paralyzed by fears and anxieties. We can learn to make our life easier for ourselves by learning faith, trust and detachment. Mistakes are only stepping stones to success for a person who is aware and working on himself. There is no such thing as mistake for a seeker, there is only lesson.
Adversity is a perception
Return to your untouched self. There is no others. There is no world besides you. You are the master. It is easier to say then done. In this time of adversity for many, it would be difficult to resort to wisdom of the Self and try to see the “rope” instead of the scary “snake” – to use the famous vedantic analogy. However, equip with this spiritual strength, knowing that all is well in reality, we can find courage to face the snake, face the worst imaginary outcome. Adversity can be a good trainer.
we need to train ourselves to be strong, no matter what. In adversity, we need to get mentally ready for what’s coming. We are not catastrophizing, only facing hardships in order to do the right thing and not running away in fears.
By negative visualization, we can mentally prepare for the hardships in life.
We must face the hardship by imagining the worst outcome. Seeing the worst doesn’t mean you are resigning your fate to it. In fact, it is the opposite. By seeing the worst, you won’t bury your head in the sand and run from it in fear. So visualize the details of the possible negative scenario: Imagine you lose your mother, or your son. Imagine, you lose your job or your business is bankrupt. Let’s face the bad news and let’s come up with the positive way to think about them. Let’s get ready “there is no way out, there is only through”.
Confinement: This is the time to turn inwards. Do inner practice. Meditate, become aware of your thoughts that you have neglected when busy.
Overwhelm: Tasks changed, parenting duties are overwhelming when schools closed. This is the time to get to know your kids better. And be creative in terms of tutoring them and keeping them structured.
Life plans changed: Events cancelled or postponed. It is OK. We will appreciate the event better when the time comes. It is not the worst thing.
Sickness and disease: I might get sick. I might even die. It is OK. Death is not the end of life anyway. But if Karma is the reason why I am in this body, I am not sure that I have completed my karma I am in now, so I ask myself, am I ready to die or not? The prospect of death will give meaning to this life. Death is not the only problem, there is death when I am sedated with the ventilator machine that will take away my capacity to be aware and to pray. And I know the last thought determine the next birth. I rather be conscious, breathe the yogic way, light and slow and deep as much as I can and die ready with the mantras and prayers on my lips. If I survive, I might have to face being sick for weeks. It is OK. There must be meaning for me being alive. I will fulfill my mission sooner or later.
People around me will get sick and may be will die. Estimates are 40-60% of americans will be sick and the US will have more than a million death. It is OK, it is not my will, it is God’s will.
There will be riots when people get desperate. It will happen but, it will not be that common so I do not need to worry about it now. More often we will see people coming out of their comfort zone to help. This is the opportunity for me to help others.
There will be scarcity of commodities as there will be disruption in the supply chain. It will be short term shortage. We will be fine with simple living. In Yoga and Ayurveda, you can live very simple of kitcheree (rice and mung bean) and some vegetables. We have had too much food, too much variety that come from all over the world. We can return to the garden. Our health and appreciation of life will increase.
Economy will enter a recession. Consumer spending habits will fundamentally change. It is OK. We do not need more stuff and this situation makes that very clear. We do not have to consume and consume.
Borders will close. We will not be able to travel the way we did. It is OK, by turning inwards and controlling our desire and imagination we learn to be content with ourselves, with nature and people around us. We can connect to people around the world more than ever by Internet.
There will be tension between countries. It is OK , the nations will work their alliance with each other out. It is a game that changes all the time
anger, blaming, judgmental attitude, rigidity , procrastination, blaming, lack of will, intolerance, lack of self control , failures in turning the mind and senses inwards, lack of self awareness , practice of being here and now, practice of doing little by little .
Keep flowing with life with faith and fortitude. If you practice acceptance, awareness and detachment, you will enjoy life for what it is: a school and a play. You will become better and better at it. You can lose everything, but the main thing is you are not losing yourself! Swami Sivananda said : “Any amount of zeroes have no value, unless you add the 1 before them”.
The topic of today is a complex topic, we will try our best to talk about how to bring meaning to our lives no matter what circumstances we found ourselves in. The two words of Karma and Dharma are charged with meaning. Considering we do not know if everyone in the audience has the same understanding about this, we will go a little bit in details, about karma and dharma to describe the cause of our existence – according to ancient Yogic philosophy- and what we are supposed to do to make the best out of our life. We need to see “the big picture” to become wise resulting from this expanded vision.
During the threat of a pandemic Covid 19 upsetting life all round us, during this crisis situation, where we have to fall back to survival mode, it seems futile to ask such question. Yet it is precisely during these times, that we need to focus on finding new grounds, new ways and to realign ourselves differently and discover new territories and possibilities about ourselves and our potentials.
What is karma and How karma works?
Karma comes from Desires. Karma means Action and the results of action. Thinking is action. Any thought will bring about a reaction. You experience the present life as a result of the past coming into the present. Karma is law of cause and effect. Some karmas (or karmic situations) seem to be good and some are appearing to be negative. The theory on Karma, explains that “We reap the fruits of the seeds we grow. Good actions bring its own results and bad actions bring its own consequences. There is no accident or haphazard things in this world.” I know this seems cruel and some of you might rise objections as to why some people would have to die from Corona virus now, alone in hospital grasping for air, some people would have to perish while helping others on the front line, some people have no shelter to shelter under and some others can afford have all the medical care to fight off the disease.
The Root Causes of Life’s Struggles
Life doesn’t end with death, according to Yogic philosophy. We need to look deeper into the cause of our struggles or luck which might come from beyond this life. The law of cause and effect, when applied can be very simple: If we enjoy peace and health now, it is because we have contributed to peace and health of someone sometime.
If we suffer from loneliness, it is we have created isolation in somebody. If we face a situation that seems like a choice between being selfish and survive or being compassionate and humble and risking our lives, it is because in the past when confronted with these situations we have always chosen the former. We are being given this same choice again in order to choose differently. Similarly, if we feel that lying or manipulating a situation will be to our advantage, we need to choose honesty and straightforwardness and find strength in having good character, of doing the ethical thing. Genuinely helping another person to attain more material comforts in their life will manifest in yours as a boon of good fortune.
Take Responsibility of your life and choices.
Karma does not work differently at work, in private life. There is also a group collective karma. You are born in a certain era, certain society, certain level of technological development. Everything is interrelated. By improving your character at work you improve your happiness at home. By improving your relationships at home you improve your business as your energy will flow better.
Cultivating contentment with what you have already been given releases you from the karma of constant restlessness of desiring more. Giving freely and charitably results in greater wealth coming your way. Stinginess, in the contrary, brings with it a sense of lack, of never having enough. Maintaining pure intentions, which come from your heart, brings lasting peace of mind; whereas, sometimes following the head and other times the heart brings confusion, fragmentation, and problems in the future. Seeking inspiration from the wise people while avoiding back-biting and gossiping attracts supportive people that will be key to your success. In the same manner, negativity, divisiveness, and bringing your competitors or coworkers down will return to you in the form of stress and fear. Inflexibility and desire for control bring you more situations that you can never control. But, letting go of the need for control and realizing that you may not be aware of subtler forces at work gives insight into the interconnectivity and self-regulating nature of creation. Everything is, in fact, perfect; we just often fail to see it. Cultivating belief in this truth brings great peace and relaxation.
The twelve areas of Karma in this life.
The more you identify with your karma, the more your karma becomes real.To be free from it you have to know it, so you don’t identify with it. These are 12 areas of karma, intertwined with each other.
The body is said to be a battlefield where the karmic lessons are learnt. From the seed of karma, sprout out the body and mind.
With the body you inherit certain psychology pertaining to the gender.
When you are born you are born in a body belonging to a certain race and culture. The collective karma will come with it. You are born white, yellow or black. The karmic condition comes with it, depending on the era you are born in.
You also inherit from the moment you are born a certain amount of life force. Some are born healthy with lots of life force.
Some are born weak, not so healthy. Some are born with fire element constitution, prone to action. Some are born with water element, prone to emotions. The karma with the body is already there, male, female, strong, weak.
The family, relatives and resources.
Then you have the karma of the family, the relatives, people that you live with in your early life. You might be supported or not supported. You have karma of having money or not having money no matter what you do.
Your karma relating to your abilities in communication and your self will or not. Your relationship with siblings.
Relationship karma with your emotional heart and happiness, your mother, and your home, house and property.
Then you have the karma with your children, your physical children or your creativity, which is your children in an abstract manner.
This is the karma about your health and diseases and challenges.
You have karma with your partner either easy or difficult.
You also have difficult invisible karmas, hidden. This relates to the energy within the psyche, the area of spiritual insight or death.
You have karma with your Guru, your spiritual teacher, your father and also your dharma, your faith.
Your karma with work, career, your name and fame, place in society, in some cases frustrating, some cases fulfilling.
You also have karma with your friends, your community, your gains
In these different karmas, you would have to detach and find yourself.
In relationships and in work, in gains, or losses, at home or in society, in your creative intelligence or in your emotions, you would have to observe the plays of karmas and find your Atman Self through it.
You would have to find Your Self in Others in these different areas of your life.
Karma, Destiny and Self effort
In life, we always have free choice even though these choices are limited. It is said that the present life and its circumstances is the result of past lives thoughts and actions. What happens today is already predetermined even though we do not know from when and and how things will manifest. However, this is not a fatalistic view. In the contrary, we remember that challenges in this life are opportunities for growth and for success in the future.
We might have freedom will but we need to think well about our choices so that what we do leads us to peace and happiness and not to suffering. When we are acting out of past habits and are powerless to change our character and attitudes, we are actually bound and not free. Yoga teaches us Self effort to control the mind and realize the True Self and be conscious and wise about our choices, thus eventually free us from the tendency to produce the same mistakes.
Managing karma implies that:
1. We care about our present duty,
2. We keep our eyes on our total and ultimate self-development,
3. We accept all tests and challenges in life as only temporary.
There is no Good karma and bad karma. Try to be free from all karma
Life is not only challenges but there will be some good things happening and some bad. Life is a combination of both good and bad karma. That means certain conditions that we are born in are easy, things that we didn’t have to do anything and yet they came to you.
There will be favorable conditions according to what we wish and desire and there will be the unfavorable conditions that we have to struggle with.
Keep even mind in all conditions, in fact, good or bad karma is just karma. In reality there is no good or bad. There is no good life, no bad life, no superior life, no lucky life, no unlucky life. It is just specifically your life and then you have to learn from it in order for you to be free from all karmas.
Life is a series of pluses and minuses. You have to see the condition from the inside, to understand the plus and minus in the karmic bank balance of your life, not from the outside. From the inside means from your level of consciousness. Your journey is the journey of Self Realization, towards absolute consciousness of Oneness.
In this journey, you can record your debts as the things that you yet have to learn, and credits as the things you have learned.
Credit giving (+) Selfless actions, study, introspection, meditation. Anything that helps us bring awareness will give us credit; Follow dharmic rules of conduct is accumulating credits. Any action that will make us wake up is credit.
Debits adding (-) : anything the makes us become more ignorant will give us debt. Any action that will make us become thicker in our ego separation and illusion is debt.
The balance of pluses and minuses shows your progress and the accumulation of pluses can bring about a total payment of all debts i.e. liberation from karma.
What means working out karma and paying karmic debts?
It means experiencing the difficulties and slowly learning who the Self is and who it is not. For example, regarding relationship karma, you have to go through the different flavors or aspects of these relationships in order for you to learn the real lesson of Pure Unconditional Love that is your Self. You would be selfless. You would learn Self Love that also includes the other.
Suffering means learning.
Is suffering a must when you are learning from karmas? Suffering is subjective and is related to your reaction towards your karmas, therefore it will be there as an incentive for you to learn.
Sometimes you want to escape from suffering and not learn, for example you would escape in addiction, in disease, in self pity and in blaming. Then you are not learning your karmic lessons and you are diving deeper in the same way of seeing yourself and others. However, life is a school and there is some kind of progress even though different situations seem to be very different, but there is progress.
Paying debt, alleviation of karma is gradual:
Karmas are being understood slowly. You change roles so you will learn. You suffer, so you will learn.
Alleviation of karma means that you will refine your ideas about how you think about things. You will become selfless and detached, and you would turn karma to dharma. You would take a distance and will not to take yourself too seriously, be detached and remember that the True Self is the Self and nothing can touch it, hurt it or taking anything away from it. You will keep your peace of mind. You will forgive and offer everything up in karma Yoga.
Your life is a result of karmas from past but you have choices in the present.
In the present time, when you are aware, you can do something about alleviating your karma. You would have the choice, either reproduce the same situation as the one you inherit from past karma, or become wise about karma and not reproduce again another karmic situation in the future.
Sometimes the lessons are intense and lots of issues come up at the same time. The intense purification the world is going through during the corona virus pandemic is an example when the karma is accelerating and we have no choice but to face it. Try to see all these challenging situations under the view of karma and try to be more aware of the consequences of our actions and rise to the task.
You learn something but you create new debts.
The process of paying up your karmic debts goes very deep. It takes a long term training to control the mind and to stop reacting to the karmas, and create new karmas. For example, you are locked up and you do not understand why you can not move about and do what you desire. You fail to understand the universe’s lesson to you and others to turn inwards and to change consciousness. You got depressed or upset and do wrong actions.
Life is like a circle, the wheel of karma, you learn something but you create new debts. It just goes on and on and on. You learn something. You don’t learn something. You learn something. You don’t learn something. You just go on and on and on, classroom to classroom, from lifetime to lifetime learning.
What is Karma Yoga?
Karma Yoga is the way to work through karma by changing your sense of your self and the identification with your actions.
In Karma Yoga your motivation needs to be pure. Motivation stems from the heart, the true inner feeling.
Develop the attitude of being an instrument only, be detached.
Offer the results: In praises or censures, in success or failures, keep the mind even. It’s not about me, it’s not about them. It’s not about whether I like them or they like me, it has nothing to do with this. You offer the results of your action, that means you offer this karma up in order for you to continue to progress.
Do the best you can: Make effort but learn to let go.
Do your duty and persevere, this too shall pass. Your karma dictates to you your specific duty. There is no accident, no duty is an accident. If you follow your duty you learn even though it is difficult. At every station in life, you have specific duty. Follow the discipline of your duty and you will be learning greatly. Many doctors and nurses actually now are going through intense karma doing their duty, even risking their lives to save others. They are on the front line, like in a war.
This reminds us of the sublime teaching long ago of Arjuna, the warrior-disciple in conflict who receives on the battle field the revelation about the immortality of the soul, the teaching on karma yoga and duty and the self knowledge in action.
Every karma is unique
You can only understand your own karma; you cannot understand another person’s karma. You can look at someone else’ s life so that you can learn from them. The scriptures say it is much better that you focus on your own karma and not someone else’ s, even though it is easier for you.
Let’s say you have a situation that is really difficult for you to deal with, but a friend will look at you and say,” I don’t know why you have such big problem about this. If I am you, I’ll do this, I’ll do that.” In karmic difficulty, it is as if you are blind while another person can see your problem easily. It is said that you can take people’s advice, you can hear other people, but you yourself have to deal with it. So don’t compare, it is not necessary to compare.
Turning karma to Karma yoga and find your life mission:
Dharma is right living, right action.
Karma Yoga attitude helps you to turn your karma to Dharma.
You can turn your karma to karma yoga by being selfless and dedicating your service without expectation. Your selfless service is unique to you. For you, it turns your whole attitude around and touches your soul. It opens your life up to new horizons.
Then, you turn your selfless service into your life mission when you understand that this sublime attitude has to be kept throughout life.
You cannot solve the problem on the same level of consciousness that created the problem at the first place, so your life mission is to go back to this place of selflessness that will set you free.
A homeless abandoned woman opens shelter for homeless women and teach the women self esteem and self confidence.
A grieving wife due to lost of beloved husband to disease, speaks out about the virtue of love beyond death, and becomes selfless worker to help people with disease.
A person becoming jobless and bankrupt due to economy crisis turns into a founder of a company helping people to express creativity and improve earning through wise capital ventures.
A scientist who lost family due to virus now dedicates life work to study viruses and to find cures and vaccines
A political critical activist wanting always things to change now dedicating oneself to nourish and care for ecology, relying on the grace of the Mother Nature.
Take care of your duty in the present and the future will be taken care of:
Dharma is duty. It is transforming your karma into an unselfish duty. It means putting the ego at the service of others and the greater good. Not thinking of ourselves first and only, but sharing in everyone’s happiness, being an honorable contributor to the betterment of society, and opening oneself to the whole of creation will turn karma into dharma. It will improve life in all aspects. The result is not necessarily immediate, however; patience and knowledge of how karma works will see you through to the benefits.
Yoga teaching says try to be good and to do good all of the time no matter what the situation is.
Karma can be understood and released. Growing spiritually requires that we turn our karma into dharma.
Dharmic Life Brings Happiness
Happiness comes from Peace of mind and unhappiness comes from a restless mind.
Yoga teaches the practice of restraint of thought waves to find contentment and break through the karmic accumulation.
In the pursuit of happiness, we made many mistakes, and created endless karmas. In our feverish world of competition, where everybody is looking for answers outside, we believe that our happiness is in material possessions and sensual comforts. We think that our happiness has to be at the expense of someone else happiness so we compete and make sure we get the best place, the best part of the cake. We fear that someone else happiness is at our expense, and become jealous and envious. We do not see the intangible, the spiritual, the sublime and divine. We believe in external success and not in internal peace as success, thus we are being pulled in all directions by our ambitions and desires and the disappointments, angers that follow desires.
Yogis affirm that in order to find happiness, we need to achieve peace of mind first. This means that we need to eventually recognize that there is no end to desires, that the objects desired in fact are our own projections of our own illusions externally. We eventually learn to turn within, avoid the love and hate, the ups and downs, the dual tendency of attraction and repulsion, always running towards something and running away from something.
This is when Yoga and meditation come in our life, as we catch the taste of peace and understand finally that it comes from within, and decide to consciously make an effort to be calm and focused within.
How Yoga helps?
Classical yoga attributes equal value to self-effort and relaxation. In Sivananda Yoga class, students learn to come into a posture with control, hold it while breathing into any discomfort or tension, and slowly come out of a posture with control. There is relaxation and breathing in between the postures and accent on self-awareness throughout. Postures lead to Meditation. So, practicing these teachings regularly will help to slow down and realize that seeking happiness outside of ourselves leads us nowhere. Yoga shows us a way out. By practicing regularly, your life mission will be revealed to you.
In this webinar, we will address the question of how to be with ourselves and be happy no matter the outside interpersonal conditions and collective conditions (social distancing, be in isolation or working with groups, living with families and community, in intimate relationship, being alone or in search of close relationships). We will discuss strategies how to transform our negative emotional patterns into selfless love through the practice of Yoga applied in daily life. We will also discuss the Yogic way of how to uplift and spiritualize our relationships.
Why we need to practice Yoga of Relationships?
In all our relationships, we aspire to be loved and to love all the time and 100% but we fail to feel the 100% all the time. We suffer from needs unmet, separation, losses, anxiety, disappointments, inner and outer conflicts, difficulty in communications, lack of empathy and compassion, resentments and anger, attraction– repulsion, emotional swings and also suffer from the paradox of wanting to lose oneself in love and yet wanting to be in control. The problem is between Self and Others and how to find ourselves through relationships?
What is Love?
Swami Sivananda said that “Love is the goal of life. Love is the law of life. God is Love and Love is God. To love is to fulfill the law. We live so that we may learn to love in the eternal”.
My teacher, Swami Vishnudevananda said about love: “Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Arabs, white and black–we can live together. Educated people, uneducated people, contractors and businessmen, ordinary Swamis and Yogis–we can all live together, eat together, and speak together. We can live our life in a very universal way. This is love, universal love.”
Peace of mind leads to Love.
Happiness comes from love. However true happiness is not temporary and emotional and is not the satisfaction of desire but the fulfillment of our soul longing to be united with the Supreme. We need to have peace of mind and have Self Knowledge in order to experience love. By finding Peace within ourselves, we find Love. Yoga is the science to find peace.
Love is oneness, union, unity, yoga.
All humanitarians in all countries talk about our shared humanity. In time of crisis, we united in our efforts and prayers. In these times, we looked at the World Health Organization statistics and we cringed, no matter from which country we are from, infected or not. ( to-date 413,467 people infected from Corona virus, spread in 197 countries, with a death toll of 18,433 ). Someone said” The virus reminds us that we are all connected, that something that affects one person has an effect on another, that our false borders can not stop the virus that doesn’t need a passport”. This is the situation demonstrated by Swami Vishnudevananda in his boundary breaking peace missions, long ago. We are one, regardless of our culture, religion, occupation and financial situation.
Our human condition is separation. We suffer from separation in all different levels, in our interpersonal relationships and globally, between nation and nation. And we all long for union. We need each other and yet we constantly have conflicts with each other either in our families or in our trade laws and national identities and borders.
Yoga teaches us that we are far more than our ego and we are happier when we can get out of our egoism. We all know that great feeling when we are one with somebody or a group, when we can let go of our individuality and feel oneness and not separateness. Separateness leads to a feeling of isolation, of not being supported or loved. Our suffering is based on the mistake to think that this separate personality is the one to be loved but we forget that to get love we have to offer love, and to love is to cease to be a separate personality.
Our personal stories of love and split and our collective history of war and peace represent the ever-present drama of our Karmic lessons unfolding, experienced as an individual or as a group. Karmic lessons mean learning from our mistakes and slowly coming closer to the Truth of who we are. Nothing is by accident. People we encounter or circumstances that we find ourselves in are only opportunities for us to serve and to love. We receive the same lesson, either from the point of view of the individual or from the point of view of a nation. We all evolve and come closer to the Truth of who we are. Vedanta philosophy teaches unity of consciousness, how to realize that we are like waves of the ocean but the waves are not different from one another and the waves and the ocean are one. Yoga philosophy helps to free us from the suffering coming from this apparent duality and this split we feel between Self and Others.
Selfless love is to be learned
Our relationships are opportunities to learn selfless love. Selfless love means to see the Self in others and see divinity in others as well as in one’s self. It means not seeing the differences, but seeing the essence, the commonness that is One, realizing Unity in Diversity. It is our belief in our separateness and individuality that makes us function in a selfish manner. We believe in a separate life and our idea of freedom in doing actions only out of our own will. We believe that our perception of who we are based on our personality is real and we believe that the characteristics of our ego is our real value.
Unconditionnal love is selfless.
To achieve peace and unity, to heal ourselves and our humanity, we all need to learn that level of Love that is selfless and unconditional. We need to cease to identify with our ego-self which can only leads us to conditional love, egoistic, selfish relationships. We need to learn to transform our emotions to pure love. Emotions come from our lower mind and our subconscious mind which carries impressions of habitual limited love of the past. Yoga teaches us to purify the lower mind and to activate our higher mind. Yoga methods teach how to transform our emotions into devotion or pure love
Emotion is not love
Love is at the root of every emotion. If we have a lot of emotions, we find that it is difficult to express and at the same time to repress. People of emotional nature, would need to do more Bhakti Yoga to transform emotions. Transformation of emotions is not what commonly being taught. We are taught either to express or to repress. Both lead to emotional problems. Yoga says that we need to develop our higher mind, our self aware mind in order to guide our lower emotions and to pay attention to justification using our intelligence to justify our basic desires and emotions.
Emotions are a form of love but distorted. Conditioned love and egoistic love lead to negative emotions instead of bliss.
Let’s recognize our common negative emotions experienced in relationships. Let us bear witness to the spiritual darkness and the egoism and abuse seen time and time again, in families, couples, races, cultural, religious groups and nations.
Negative emotions need to be converted to positive emotions and from there to pure love. Let’s go to the root of the negative emotions and learn ways how to be free from the sufferings come from them. Apply this to your personal situation as well as to your relationship with a group or a nation.
Anger comes from unfulfilled expectation or desire.
Let go of expectation
Be grateful of what you have
Surrender and accept our differences
Let go of control
Practice patience towards self and others.
Mitigate, calm down, slow down our desire
Remember the Self that is fulfilled and content.
Fear come from attachment and can be paralyzing in our forgetfulness of Self. Forms of fear: Fear of death, fear of being alone, fear of public criticism, fear of loosing, fear of pass trauma and pain, fear of separation….
Courage to face our fears and be free of them.
Faith in oneself and in the universal intelligence and the universal love and protection
Detachment (opposite of attachment) and remaining in oneself.
Self-Enquiry to remove habitual false identification and past wrong impressions
Self-confidence based on inner strength not on ego
Self-reliance – be able to count on oneself and live self sufficiently with oneself
True love is not attached but detached. Attachment comes with fears and anxieties. Attachment comes with identification with some external traits of oneself which we recognized in our friends and loved ones. Attachment makes us falsely feel stronger in our relationships. People can be attached with each other and nations can have alliances with each other. Attachment separates and fails to see unity. From attachment, comes our defensive mechanism and stress. Individually we are stressed and as nations, we are stressed. We defend our way of life, we defend our borders, we defend our space, our opinions. Attachment leads to suffering under the disguise of binding relationships.
True love is warm, free, liberating, selfless, and yet detached. Detachment does not mean rejecting or not loving, or not being strong, not knowing oneself. It means learning to see the higher Truth about the Reality which encompasses Oneself and Others. We do not have to loose for someone to be happy. No-one has to loose for us to be successful. Individually, we need to open to this True Self and collectively we need to see Oneness. The reality of the pandemic teaches us our unavoidable interdependence.
comes from love turning in the wrong direction.It isthe opposite of love. Again the same logic applies, we hate what we think that is not ourselves and we limit ourselves to certain idea we have about ourselves. Yoga philosophy acknowledges the root causes of our afflictions, the fact that our minds swing from love to hate, from attractions to repulsions, all due to our lack of higher understanding. We tend to blame externally for our miseries and project our blames and hatred to someone or to a country different than ours. We tend to not look inwards, to realize the necessity to grow out of our limitations and intolerances. Antidote:
See the self in others
Do Selfless service
Practice Love in action
Cease the blaming and the victim attitude.
Share responsibility for caring about our environment, either our home or planet.
This will open the knots of the heart based on egoism and prejudices that corrupt love into hatred.
Desires and passions as obstacles to love and unity.
To find peace and love in our relationships and in the world, we need to control our desires and passions ingrained as our instinctive habits. In the current situation in the world, we witness groups of people pleading to others to observe social distancing and not to go out to parties, games, entertainments in order to save lives and help the health workers. What a perfect illustration of interdependence. We all have to control our desires and passions and we are forced to be calm, to go inwards and to find higher form of enjoyment within ourselves.
Antidote to desires
Devotion to the Divine seen in others.
Be aware of our passions stemming from reproductive instincts. Keep pure motives.
Identify less with the body and with the separate self. See yourself be part of a larger body.
Transform outward lustful instincts into selfless love for humanity and respect of all, men and women.
The virus doesn’t spare young or old, for young people, more restless and passionate, they need to practice Yoga daily to sublimate sexual energy and restlessness.
Eat calm food to control desires, animal flesh will reinforce this passionate tendency
Lead a harmless life, respectful of all creatures.
Greed comes from our desire for safety and fulfillment twisted into insatiable illusory desire for material objects. Remove greed to find safety and fullness inside. Greed destroys compassion, generosity, charity, altruism and make us commit crimes against humanity.
Charity and giving
Practice of gratitude
There is plenty for everyone’s needs but never enough for anyone’s greed.
Envy comes from lack of acceptance of our karma and what comes to us by God’s will. A person can envy the other and compete with the other, becoming unhappy when the other is happy. Such competition exists also in the level of a group or nation.
Acceptance, turning inward, not comparing.
Reminding yourself that everything is due to our own karma. All is perfect
Forbearance and humility and learn our own unique lessons
Remember that God’s love is abundant for all.
Jealousy comes from sense of entitlement, possession and exclusiveness in love relationship. Jealousy is experienced when the beloved changes loyalty.
Evolve your relationship into a more inclusive relationship
Remember passion and attachment is not love.
How to heal emotional wounds and free ourselves from negative mental patterns and suffering coming from past habits of conditional and selfish love?
To heal from emotional scars and patterns we need to learn Self-love and Love of God. Self-love brings acceptance and makes the mind turn inwards to find Happiness but not outwards towards somebody or an external condition. Self-love or turning inwards to find one’s Self will make you stronger to be able to realize the love within that has always been there.
Self-love is not egoistic. It is the lack of self-love and awareness that creates the patterns of need and dependency leading away from peace and love. Self- love brings about self-respect and self- discipline.
Love of the Supreme seen in all
Devotion to the Supreme or to Humanity as Divine manifestation helps us to relax, to self-surrender, to become humble, to break through our egoistic limitations, our emotional patterns and our identifications. It helps us to surrender the ego, to accept and heal our emotions. The current global crisis is a perfect opportunity for people and nations to become humble and to behave not individualistically but humanistic ally, globally.
Love is personal and starts from within
In ourfast paced, materialistic life, we need to learn to develop love and fulfillment. We need to practice love in all our affairs daily, in all our interactions. We can start with Love of our chosen ideal, our chosen Beloved, in the cave of our own heart. It brings back the presence of love in our heart which is blocked by our identifications with our separate self. Love of our chosen ideal is a most intimate sacred feeling and not a display or social conformity. Love of that chosen ideal transcends religious conventions and rituals. It comes from within and cannot be imposed from the outside. It is our own inner aspiration and longing for union. Attachment to external form or religious symbols is just a help and not a goal in itself. Through practicing unconditional love towards our ideal form, we learn to self-surrender and to transcend the external forms and come closer to God or pure love itself.
Our chosen ideal of love is the quality we seek in ourselves:
Our chosen ideal of love can have the quality we seek: purity, eternity, knowledge, true inner power, beauty, perfection, bliss, righteousness. One can choose the chosen ideal according to our own temperament or according to which aspect of the divine you feel the closest with. We all have the desire for Perfection.
Healing through respect and love of the Divine Mother in Nature
We can recognize the Divine manifestation in all names and forms, underlying life. We can see Humanity as Her form. We can see her everywhere as the energy of intelligence, of knowledge, creativity, wisdom. She is also the energy sustaining life and health, energy of peace, love, harmony, virtue, righteousness, beauty, prosperity, and wealth. In another form she is the core of your inner strength and fearlessness and will protect you from harm. This is the time to together pray for her grace.
Her forms are countless. Therefore, respect others ways to truth. Names are many but God is One. Paths are many but truth is One.
Yoga of relationships is to be practiced daily with all
Learn to see God in our daily interactions and relationships and cultivate selfless love, thus growing in closeness to what we long for and growing in oneness to our ideal of pure love.
There is no other
All relationships are truly relationships with your own Self. There is no separation in reality. We are all learning love through being aware of mental habits. Ourmind reproduces impressions of past relationships and we carry with us patterns learned in childhood and past lives. These conditionings can be very deep and our relationship karma difficult to resolve.
Yogic teachings on karma say that we choose our father /mother and life circumstances to learn our relationship lessons. We are learning to see the One Self beyond our egos interacting with each other.
Discipline of mind and heart
We are all perfect inside but our minds need to be molded in order for us to be able to reflect the perfection and the love that is within us.
Self Enquiry and Self Love
We need to do self-inquiry to become free from past impressions and correct the pattern of reproducing past relationships. We need to find our core relationship with love itself beyond names and forms. Turn within and find ourselves and start with Self Love. At the same time, cultivate Divine love in relationships to free us and achieve lasting happiness.
Nine traditional ways to cultivate selfless love in dailylife. Apply the the nine traditional ways to sublimate emotions into devotion and overcome egoism according to the teachings of Bhakti Yoga.
Listen to inspiring Divine stories – Develop the capacity to listen to others without judgment. Be honest in what you say about yourself.
Sing God’s glory – Learn to praise others and look for their positive qualities and one’s own positive qualities.
Remembrance of His name and presence in prayers – Learn to hold people you love in your heart in a prayerful mood, feel the sacredness of relationships by being detached and forgiving. Be grateful for all people whom you interact with in your life.
Service with humility – Learn to actively serve everyone as God whether you like them or not.
Worship – Learn to see God in your relationships, offer your time and presence and beautiful gifts as if they are being offered to God.
Prostrations – Learn to give the utmost respect to people you encounter or people surrounding you no matter who they are.
Cultivate the feeling of being a servant of God – Learn to develop an attitude of self-sacrifice.
Cultivate feelings of friendship of God – Learn to open your heart equally to all, without ulterior motives and discriminating who is higher or lower than you.
Complete self-surrender – Learn to accept all things happening to you with equanimity and overcome your own expectations or judgment about anything done by yourself or others.
May we endeavor to maintain our remembrance of our true purpose, which is to return to a place of no suffering through strength, wisdom, through trust and faith, in other words, a place of fulfillment without desires, of love without selfishness.
Through Selfless Service and Selfless Love may we liberate ourselves from desires and greed, and find our True Self. May we live in the spirit of Karma Yoga, doing our duty and yet learning the basic duty of finding Love of Self and Love of Others as One.
May we improve in all our relationships, taking this opportunity of turning inwards and rethinking our values and priorities. In our network of relationships, may we become all great father, mother, daughter, son, teacher, student, husband, wife, friend, lover, beloved, care taker, neighbor, boss, consumer, statesman, leaders, servants of humanity and of the planet!
All is at all times perfect
May the whole world attain Peace and Harmony!
Asato Ma Satgamaya Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya – Mrityor Ma Amritam Gamaya
Om Purnam Adam, Purnam Idam Purnat, Purnamudachyate
Happiness, Health and knowledge requires energy. Lack of prana brings depression, stress and darkness. In this time of pandemic , it is critical to know how to increase prana, how to not loose prana and to prevent infection and diseases and how to heal.
What is Prana?
Prana is life force, vital energy that allows you to be alive and function in this world.
When prana departs from the physical body, death comes.
Prana is necessary to live and to progress in life. It is prana that you are attracted to in a person. Everything is alive at different degrees. There is more prana in a real flower compared to a plastic flower. There is more prana in live food fresh food than in canned food or old food.
It is prana that makes you feel enjoyment and feel fulfilled. Your quality of life improves through improving the quality of prana.
What is important to know is Prana is all-pervading in Nature.
So if prana is everywhere and abundant, then why at times, do you feel dead or deprived? why some people got disease and some did not ? People says that it is age, that some age group people are more subject to disease but may be it is the condition of their immunity and the level of their prana?
May be because they do not know how to plug-in to the universal source of prana and recharge. And may be because there are blockages in the flow of prana through thoughts and lifestyles.
5 things everyone needs to learn to do with prana:
1 & 2 How to increase and conserve your prana.
You need to know that it is not sufficient to increase prana but also you need to conserve and limit the expenditure or wastage of prana to be healthy happy. It is the same as with money, you can make money but you spend it all and is always with no money or with debts.
Time to look at our lifestyle now more than ever, how do we use our senses and what do we do.
Learn that You can get prana from the senses or deplete prana from the senses .
You can get prana from your actions and deplete prana from your actions.
From the knowledge of Yoga and Ayurveda , please see the table showing the correlations between the elements of nature, the sense organs and their functions and the organs of action and their functions
Smell Nose EARTH Anus Elimination
Taste Tongue WATER Genitals Reproduction
Sight Eyes FIRE Feet Moving
Touch Skin AIR Grasping Hands
Hearing Ear ETHER Tongue Speaking
Increase prana through the earth element.
Do: Live in Nature, live in natural houses, respect nature, do gardening.
Walk on earth, touch earth, hug trees, look at mountains, forests.
Make sure that you eat prana food, fresh products from earth.
Limit: Spending too much time in cities, concrete buildings, sidewalks, cars, high rises, plastic materials, environmentally harmful products, trash.
Action to avoid: too much eating . Make sure that you eliminate well.
Increase prana through the water element.
Do: Drink clean pure water. Our body is made of 70% water. Our body is sensitive See research of Dr. Emoto. Eat sweet fruits, honey, pure milk. Avoid dry food.
Wash with clean water; Bathe in oceans, rivers, springs.
Limit: Beverages such as sodas, coffee, alcohol
Know that you spend prana in sexual activities.
Increase prana through the fire element.
Spend time daily outdoors in the sunshine. Open doors and windows to let sunlight in. Drink warm water. Eat warm food. Good digestion requires the fire of digestion being strong.
Avoid cold food, being exposed to cold.
Avoid too much looking at computer screen and get artificial energy from eyes.
Avoid too much moving (quarantine and not travel is actually very good for health)
Increase prana through the air element.
Live in clean fresh air as much as you can.
Ventilate rooms, houses.
Stay away from pollutants like traffic smoke, cigarette smoke.
Breathe deep. Do pranayama breathing exercises daily.
Avoid artificial air like in airplanes, air conditioned rooms.
Touching baby to give prana to baby. Therapeutic touching is giving prana. Careful of sensual touching to conserve prana.
Avoid grasping, hoarding, shopping, as these depletes you from prana. In the contrary, giving gives you prana.
Increase prana through the ether element.
This is the subtlest element and the most powerful .
Yoga taught that Prana is in our subtle body and is connected to thought.
Positive thinking gives prana, negative thinking or emotions drain your prana
Chant kirtan, repeat mantras, exercise positive thinking, indulge in prayers, search company of the wise, visit of temples, places of pilgrimage (of course now in quarantine you might not be able to visit your church, temple, places of worship)
Avoid loud music, bars, clubs, crowds, undesirable company. (Amazing, many countries start first with closing unessential places like bars and clubs.)
Avoid negative thinking, selfish thoughts, base thoughts (try not to blame and have racists thougths in this time)
Pay attention to what you say. Try to say helpful words in writing or verbally.
Repeat mantras is the best action.
IMPORTANT to remember:
Prana deficiency seeks stimulation.
Beware of the spiral downward movement when you are lacking prana. Many diseases, addictions and bad habits start with prana deficiency
Prana debt brings stress.
Stress makes you reach out for instant gratification through self-medication or compensation which lead to Pains.
Stress is the cause of many diseases.
3. Prana needs to be balanced, not just increased
The main focus in Yoga practice either in asanas practice or breathing practice is balance. We can also exercise balance through changing our attitude and our way of functioning. The goal is to attain a state of integration, called equanimity.
To be healthy and happy, we need to learn to balance our energies individually and also collectively. The world is imbalanced and stressed.
When we are imbalanced, it is like we see reality lopsided because we have a lopsided vision. The imbalance is often times between the emotions and the intellect, that means a person would be left brain dominant or right brain dominant. Our modern western dominant societies are left brain dominant.
What to do?
First we need to recognize that our unhappiness comes from our imbalanced state or split state and not coming from anyone else. Grief and blame come from our lack of recognition that this difficulty comes from our own outlook . Classical holistic Yoga practice gives you a little bit of reprieve because it balances the two hemispheres of the brain and awakens the Self Knowledge . Yoga practice by helping you to recognize your strength and weakness, by regulating your energy , acts as a pain preventative measure and a self renewal tonic. Start to practice balance trying to reinforce your weakness .
Hatha is balance between Sun energy and Moon energy.
Right brain functioning /Left brain functionning
Yin energy/Yang energy
Female energy/ Male energy
passive, receptive/active controlling side of our personality
Para sympathetic nervous system and Sympathetic nervous system
Relaxation response and defensive Fight and flight response to stress
Decrease heart rate/ increase heart rate
Imbalance of prana creates personality problems and stress.
4. Prana needs to be channeled.
In the same manner with your choice to waste money or investing money in order to give you more money , You can gain more prana by using it wisely and you can also deplete yourself from prana by being fearful to use it or by wrong investment. Right use : Use prana for meditation and Selfless service. The more you apply your energy correctly, the more prana you will get.
Wrong use: You waste energy through selfish endeavors, sensual pursuits and laziness. Gossips, blaming, back biting are waste of energy.
5. Prana needs to be purified.
Prana moves through the subtle channels (nadis) in the subtle energetic body.
Yoga science knows the art of purification of nadis to allow higher energy to flow and induces higher wavelengths of thought and feeling.
Proper diet and lifestyle purify nadis
To get prana and be able to retain it in the system, it is important, not only to keep pure thought and a pure environment, but also make sure to take proper food. Avoid substances like drugs, intoxicants which clog the nadis and create damage to the pranic system.
Conclusion: Now is the time to Re-charge your battery.
When you spend time in retreat, limit your outgoing senses and your worldly activities, do regular Yoga practices, you recharge your battery. You can re-charge your prana like re-charging a battery. Excess Prana is stored in the solar plexus of the body.
What to do:
1. Join a Yoga class daily, if you can not go out, join a class online. Practice of Yoga Asanas unblocks harmful blocked energy and moves prana.
To do so, the sequence of the asanas needs to be respected and proper concentration, and relaxation in between postures be observed.
2. Do daily Pranayama:
Pranayama is controlling prana through breathing exercises. There are many types of pranayama or control of prana through breathing exercises. You need to join a class with a teacher. It is better not to smoke and take drugs if you intend to do pranayama.
The regular pranayamas to be done daily recommended by the Sivananda organization are: Kapalabhati and Anuloma Viloma.
3. Concentration gathers prana and changes wavelength
A distracted mind is weak and has low prana. Practice of concentration of mind helps gather the dispersed prana and brings health, vitality and peace of mind. A concentrated mind feels stronger and is more effective and gives satisfaction and contentment. Keep yourself busy on doing positive things.
4. Meditation is merging your personal prana and universal prana
Meditation is like a pranic tonic, it recharges powerfully the whole system. A meditator is shining with new prana. Join a satsang or a meditation course on line to know what to do.
5. Pranic Healing. Become a healer !
Yoga heals through holistic practice integrating Mind-Body-Spirit and includes the 5 points of health (asanas, breathing, relaxation, vegetarianism, positive thinking and meditation). It is the most important system of preventative medicine.
Many modalities such as therapeutic massage, acupressure, acupuncture, energy medicine are working on restoring the helpful flow of energy. However, Yogis go to the cause of disease and impart prana with their consciousness, thoughts and prayers. They connect to the Supreme Healer.
You can do it too, by recognizing that the primary cause of disease, according to ancient yogic and ayurvedic scriptures, is the forgetting of our true nature as Spirit, thus bringing blockages of energy, mistakes in lifestyle choices, indulgences in the senses and feelings of being lost.
When a person regains their sense of purpose they feel stronger and the life force flows. When a person is forgetting one’s Self and when the ego propensities become uncontrollable, the disease process happens.
By remembering the Inner Healer, you will radiate helpful prana around and bringing comfort, joy, solace and peace to all. May you become great healers in this time and send your healing energy to the whole world.
OM TAT SAT.
“The laws of health are the laws of Nature” Sivananda “ Health is Wealth, Peace of Mind is Happiness, Yoga shows the way “ Swami Vishnudevananda.
The important thing here is that we are uniting together as yoga teachers, Sivananda Yoga teachers. We have a mission to be leaders in time of need and to help people. Which way we can help people is the topic of today. So I hope that you have seen my video and my article. If you have not, please do read it, “self-quarantine or yogic turning inward: how to live with yourself and be happy and healthy”. There is an article about this and it’s been also translated. So in this article there’s already a lot of teaching that is there that you need to communicate with people in your own way. If you have difficulty communicating with people, then please write to me so that I can explain in a few words what to say and do. For example, if you want to help people convert from fear to self-confidence and faith, you can write to me. The idea is as a yoga teacher you need to feel that you have a responsibility. Sometimes we sit in our corner and we do not really know what to do. The meeting is for that reason, for you to know what you can do.
Thought Power: Time to Spread positive thoughts
The first thing you need to know is that this is a pandemic, but also this is a situation that touches the whole world, and it changes the vibration of the whole world. The whole world is in a panic, in the worrying and questioning mode. It is very important that yogic teaching is known at this time so people will turn from negative thoughts to positive thoughts and know the cumulative action of thoughts. This is what the yoga teacher needs to know, that his or her thinking is not only relating to him or her, or the people that are in the same room or house with him or her. The thinking together as a collective consciousness, the positive thinking, affects the whole world. Now more than ever we need to be aware of that. We need to be aware that our positive thinking or positive talk affects the world and the way we can help the world to heal and to uplift their consciousness is to more consciously practice our sadhana or yoga. It is so important that you see everything collapsing, changing and the whole world is in lockdown. What that means is people will stay at home and they have a lot of time, things stop, what are all of these people going to do? This is a moment of transition, a moment of choice, either we are going to be depressed and you will go down with everybody or we are going to rise up. That is why the teachers need to play a leading role.
Raise vibrations with mantras
Most importantly what a yoga teacher needs is to know that his / her thoughts are important. It is very important that you raise your thought vibration by continuing to do your practice. Even though you might think that you are alone in your house doing your practice, you need to do it for the sake of the world. When you do your practice, yoga and meditation, it is not only improving your life but also improving the vibration of the whole world. So the easiest way to increase your vibration and help the world is repeating Mantras. Those who have been Sivananda yoga teachers know what is a Mantra. There are a few Mantras that you can do, now more than ever, and gather people together to repeat the Mantras because of the collective effect. It’s like adding the energy together and you know that, when you add energy, you don’t just add energy to your country but you add energy to the whole world. We need to create this positive vibration to balance out all the negative vibration. It is a question of knowledge, not just of blind faith. That means that you know that vibration or thought or Mantra thoughts have effect. You need to repeat a few Mantras and teach people to repeat Mantras as well. Sit together to repeat Mantras. It helps them to have a strong mind, but also it is radiating out.
Good mantras to use in this time:
Take the mantra “Om Namo Narayanaya”. With your heart, you send the Mantra out. You know that it helps people to bring them to peace, to calm. The Mantra of Lord Shiva can remove poison, protects you and brings you to high consciousness: “Om Namah Sivaya!” You can record this Mantra and play so people can hear all day long and they can learn also how to pronounce it correctly. The next mantra is a mantra of protection and strength. Goddess Durga is very powerful and she can calm down all fears and all delusions. People are completely crazy and you let them hear this mantra and also not only hearing but seeing the picture.
I have seen many times people with panic attacks. I made them repeat the mantra of Durga and I made them see the picture of Goddess Durga, and it calmed them down. Goddess Durga is very powerful because she can fight with all the demons and the negative forces within your self and outside of your self. The mantra is like this: “Om Sri Durgayai Namah”. Swami Vishnudevananda allowed us to use the strong form of the mantra of Durga with the bija mantra “Dum”. You repeat it like this “Om Dum Durgayai Namah!” Please record this mantra and give it to people to listen and broadcast it. Now is the time for us to broadcast mantras. Usually we don’t broadcast mantras because people need to be initiated into a Mantra, but now in this time of need, you can work on the mantra “Om Namo Narayanaya”, which is the mantra that Swami Vishnudevananda decided to broadcast a long time ago to help the world. The Mantra “Om Namah Sivaya” is very good because of the virus. The Mantra “Om Sri Durgayai Namaha” or “Om Dum Durgayai Namaha” is excellent because the world is in panic mode.
Mantra for healing:
There is another mantra that you can use, record, broadcast and play which is the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra, an excellent mantra for healing and for liberation. If you know people that are sick or very upset mentally because they lost their loved ones, the people that have died, or they are afraid of sickness, you can use this Mantra “Om Tryambakam Yajamahe Sugandhim Pushthivardhanam. Urvaarukamiva Bandhanaan Mrityormuksheeya Maamritaat”. Please record this mantra and play if you have in your household and your community people that are very anxious. The best thing is to record this mantra and play it at low volume all the time, 24 hours, so they can hear it. Even though they might not understand it but it brings peace to their mind. For the people that just died or they’re on the sick bed, the best thing is to play mantras for them. Every yoga teacher needs to use his / her consciousness. You cannot really repeat the Mantra with only your lips, but rather you have to repeat the mantra with your heart, because consciousness or God is dwelling in your own heart.
Chant mantras with heart and consciousness:
It is now the time for you to connect to your heart. When you want to send the mantra to somebody, in order for you the assure the healing power, physical healing and mental healing and also spiritual healing, then you need to do it with your own consciousness and with your heart addressing to the community or to the country or to the person that is in need. Everything really happens in the psychic world – the spiritual world. As a yoga teacher, this is the best time for you to apply. You need to focus your mind and it’s like a prayer so you can deliver these masses of energy. Basically you have to imagine like this, that you are delivering masses of energy to an area of the world. You don’t need to run there and bring some water and some supplies but you are using this very powerful method of sending positive energy. In the psychic world, everyone receives it. They might be confused at that time because their senses and their mind are switching their consciousness to another level but in between there will be times when they will be calm and they will be praying then they will receive your prayers. That’s the first action that all yoga teachers need to do, to spread positivity, by Mantra and also please read my article on how there’s a connection between Prana and thought.
Connection between Prana, Thought and Immunity:
The more that you do things to increase prana, the more that you are strong and your immune system will be strong to prevent disease. You need to explain that to your students and to your family, the link between Prana and thought. Prana is that which you can find in nature. There will be a talk later about how you can get prana in nature, so you need to explain to them the link between prana, thoughts, emotions and immunity. The best thing to prevent the world from being sick is to increase immunity, which is the fighting mechanism that nature has given us in order for us to prevent diseases. The prana needs to be high, so you need to increase the prana by absorbing the prana from nature by having a proper lifestyle, eating the right food and also by not spending the prana through negative thinking, worries and actions that are mindless.
Decrease expenditure of Prana through negative thinking:
Train your mind. Concentrate your mind, doing mindfulness, mindful actions, the more the prana will be high, the more that you prevent disease, and you will have high immunity. Increase the prana intake from nature, decrease the lost a prana through the senses and through your thoughts, your worries and your negative emotions. It is a very simple mathematic formula: increase prana, decrease energy waste. We will talk more in detail how you can lose prana and how you can increase prana. I repeat, number one: increase the spreading of positive energy by mantra and positive thoughts. Number two: increase prana, decrease the expenditure of prana through worries and negative thoughts and through too much information that you cannot digest. When you get too much information that you cannot digest, automatically you would be stressed. Gather the information that you can digest. It’s like food. If you eat too much, you cannot digest then you have toxins. If you eat the food that is not fitting to you, then you also have toxins. You need to do that.
Comforting people, be humble, learn to listen:
The other thing that you need to keep in mind is that, in this time people need comfort. Not merely calmness but they need a comforting kind of presence and comforting words. Of course you cannot meet each other like before, you are in quarantine but you can call people on the phone and talk. You know that your presence is important. Sometimes you have some kind of feeling with people and relationship and you don’t want to talk to them, but now it’s a good time that you transcend this kind of limitation that comes from ego, relationship dynamics. It’s good for you to call people, your friends and relatives, and reach out to your neighbors maybe by phone or email so that you can give comforting words. It’s very easy to give comforting words: “how are you, how are you doing, we are concerned about you, is everything okay, we love you “- these kind of comforting words, and offer empathy. Empathy means we understand why you lost your job, you are at home and you don’t know what to do and you’re depressed, you’re worrying. We understand. Just offer empathy by listening. People need to be able to talk out their worry, so then at that time you have to just listen but without trying to give an answer because really truly nobody has an answer. Be humble and just try to listen, not only engaging people when you feel that you have an answer. Nobody is having an answer but it’s very helpful to just listen to people. Listen to their voicing out whatever they’re worried and concerned about. That’s enough to help them to feel comforted and to calm down. So know that it is a need to be listened to.
The next point is you need to help people to increase relaxation because this is a time of stress. Know that there are three levels of relaxation. The first level is physical relaxation, because when your mind is tense, your body will be tense. By asana and simple stretch, you let the prana move, you are more relaxed. Savasana or tensing and releasing with attention are a very good exercise. Maybe your family members or your neighbors are not ready to practice yoga; maybe they still have some kind of prejudice against yoga. It doesn’t matter if you just tell them to lie down and to do some stretch, tense and release, and use their mind to relax their body. It’s called Savasana or physical relaxation, releasing the tension from the body by stretching. Mental relaxation:
The second level of relaxation is mental. What that means you need to understand clearly. When the mind is distracted, it is not calm. When the mind is distracted, the mind has a tendency to worry. It needs to be concentrated. The best thing is that people concentrate on repeating Mantras, singing kirtan, reading books, and studying, but they need to keep their mind focused on something positive. That is called mental relaxation, when they focus on something positive. It is wrong to think that mental relaxation means your mind is empty. It is wrong because when the mind is empty, it is time to worry. Even though you might not be aware, but thoughts of worry and all kinds of imagination can come into the mind when it is idle. Make sure that people understand that.
The third level of relaxation is called spiritual relaxation. Spiritual relaxation is when you know who you are. Most of us are in the dark. This is not only virus crisis, is not only a mental-emotional crisis in the world, but also it is a spiritual crisis because we go on and denying the spirit. We got lost in the consumer world and technological world, and we can go on living our life very rajasic or very externally oriented. We don’t take time to sit down, to think, to study, to introspect, to make wise choices, because we’re being pushed here and there by the senses, by the pressure of advertising, by consumer society. Now is the time also to spiritually rethink. Spiritual relaxation comes when you have more knowledge of the truth, of this life, when you have more knowledge of yourself, (called self-knowledge). That comes only when you are able to meditate or you have faith. We can talk about faith another time. Try to get people to relax, physically relax, mentally relax and spiritually relax. The more they are calm and positive, they are spiritually relaxed.
Nature helps people to relax:
Being in nature is helping people to relax. Maybe you have to be quarantined in your house and you cannot go out but you can look at your plants and take care of your plants or flowers. Look through the window and look at the trees. Anything natural will help you to relax. You have to do it, focus on nature. Yesterday I had people doing an exercise in our advanced TTC class here, an exercise of contemplating nature. Nobody has to go anywhere. Actually we sat in one place and we just looked at the tree and we looked at the water in the pond, looked at the dog that is passing. We were just contemplating. By being still, learning how to contemplate, everyone experiences a state of calmness, and not just calmness, but a state of joy and unity. This is exactly what we mean when we talk about spiritual relaxation. There are a lot of techniques of yoga that can bring you to that state. We will have a subsequent other kind of teaching so you can make use of all these. Yoga is the wealth of information that you can apply. The more you apply and the more you see that it works, the more that it encourages you to use it more. Before yoga was regarded as marginal, but now you can see the world is collapsing the way it is, so now is the time for yoga and yoga teachers to bring the secret techniques and methods out and serve the world. There’s no time to lose. This is the time. I talked about relaxation and you need to explain to people that the way they can take care of their fear and anxiety is through increasing relaxation, physically, mentally and spiritually.
Yoga for overcoming anxiety:
Now I just give to the yoga teacher a few tips. Actually we study all this in the yoga health education course that is very handy now because we train people to become a health educators, basically in a time of disease, what to do. Here are a few pointers. How do you teach yoga for overcoming anxiety? The first point is that you need to help people to improve the breath, body and mind awareness. Improve breath, body and mind awareness with rhythmical breathing. Just breathe with the diaphragm to get more oxygen, but also use rhythmical breathing, and then it will help. When you do asana, make sure that people coordinate their breath with their movement and do pranayama. People are afraid sometime to breathe because they are afraid of bringing in the virus. It’s a kind of wrong thinking because it creates more tension. Unless you are already a yogi that you can hold your breath and survive but you are not an advanced yogi so you need to breathe. Now the best thing is to find nature to practice breathing. You might not be able to go out in the street but you can open your window. You need to ventilate your room and your house. Don’t just close the windows. You need to sit near to the window and you need to breathe. Do pranayama. In general for yoga teachers, you need to know that now is not the time to do intense variations, intense yoga asanas. It’s the time to do gentle yoga to slow down so that you allow more mindfulness, more awareness in your breathing and in your movement. It will counteract the fear and anxiety. You need to do restorative yoga. If you don’t know what is restorative yoga then you can learn. Basically it is be in very relaxing postures and put some kind of props like blankets and pillows on different parts of your body, on your chest primarily, but also on different parts of your body. It feels like weighed down and comforted. The focus is on mindfulness, awareness, slowing down and be comforted.
Asanas for stress resilience:
The second point is to increase the prana, which I said already, by moving the body in order for the prana to move. If you feel that you are stuck and if you feel that you are panicking, then the prana is blocked. At that time your thought goes down more. You need to just keep moving, but in the yoga postures in order to move the prana and to balance the flow of prana. It is very important at this time because it will help you for your stress resilience. People will increase in their capacity to deal with stress if the prana is balanced. Simple moving of the body, stretching but moving the body in the way of yoga, right and left, backward and forward, in a balanced manner with awareness. At that time the mind will be balanced and you increase your stress resilience.
Improve Mental-Emotional Balance:
The third point is to improve the mental-emotional balance. The mental and emotional balance is most effectively accomplished by regulating the breath. If you feel tension, you need to learn to exhale, calmly and as slow as possible, so it releases the tension. Let’s say you are talking to the neighbor and the neighbor is panicking, you can say on the phone to the neighbor: “OK, calm down now, just exhale slowly. Inhale and exhale to the count of six. Inhale and exhale to the count of ten. Go very slowly and they will calm down. Then the breath needs to go with the movement and the concentration of the mind. The awareness and the concentration need to be there. People cannot do yoga when they are stressed. Why? Because their mind is obsessed with something external and they cannot do yoga. At that time, you tell them to lie down, to stretch, to breathe, and then to concentrate on the breath.
Learn Ayurveda: Increase Ojas Shakti to avoid burnt out:
The forth point is that for yoga teachers you need to know that you get burned out and the virus can attack you. One Ayurvedic teacher stated the virus is a pitta disease, which means too much heat in your body. That’s why more relaxation is important. And if you have too much heat and too much anger and too much thinking and too much stress, what you are doing is burning out your ojas, which means the helpful energy to sustain your life. So you are burned out. What you need to do is to increase the ojas shakti, which means the power of sustenance of you own body that would bring you contentment, gratitude and the sense of relaxation. The key is increase ojas. This is the subtle energy that is taught by Ayurveda. This is a good time to learn Ayurveda and apply the Ayurvedic principle in your diet and your lifestyle to increase ojas, by sleeping well. When you see people that are anxious, they cannot sleep well. You need to apply some warm oil on your body, on your head. You can use warm sesame oil. Heat it up and anything warm, even warm water can be put on the body. With warm water, you can rub your body. It is okay if you don’t have oil, but anything warm. You can eat properly. When you are stressed, you are going to do nervous eating. You are at home and you have the canned food that you have stored. You don’t know what to do, so you eat the canned food and sugar so it calms you down artificially. This is the worst thing to do. You need to eat very nutritious food, simple food. The essence of the food will feed you, feed the ojas and it helps you to calm down. If you have ghee, you can take one or two spoons of ghee in your food, and then you will be nourished. Almond drink is also very good for increasing ojas. You need to have a positive feeling and connection to the Divine. That will also give you the direct connection to the source of life, and that will sustain you as well and increase your ojas Shakti. In this time of virus threat, you need to increase your ojas Shakti, which means increasing your quality of life, and not to destroy your life by wrong habits. It’s a time to be much more careful of what you eat, think and feel.
Increase the sense of safety:
So now the fifth point we have already talked about. It is to create the sense of security, of warmth, of quiet and of support so that people feel safe. Okay, the key word is feeling safe. To let go of the worries and the defense mechanism because if you feel worried and your fight-or-flight response is increased, then your defense mechanism will wear you out. So it is important that you relax, that you activate your parasympathetic nervous system by many different means, yoga asana in a conscious manner, rhythmical breath, all this is helping or increasing your parasympathetic nervous system activation and also the faith that I talked about. So use the right brain, increase the faith. If you have some kind of spiritual practice you need to do it now. Do not waste your time in worry but use your time in prayer. Decrease the defense mechanism in the mind.
Increase the detachment attitude:
The sixth point is what I talked about a little bit already, the relaxation, but I add on now you need to change your attitude towards life. The attitude before we have is the attitude of being passionate about life, passionate about enjoyment of the senses, rajasic attitude, running here there so your life feels like more meaningful because you are experiencing everything and you are enjoying everything. So that is called rajasic kind of activity. And you need to decrease these kinds of rajasic activity and you need to increase the detachment attitude that means a meditative contemplative attitude towards life. You step back and then you find the fullness within yourself and you detach about what is going on. We must think about this more and there is more teaching that needs to be involved in this matter because even though it is not that easy but basically I just give you a taste of this. You need to be detached towards your actions and the result of action, that means your work, your money and your life. Be detached from it. If you attach to it then you have more worry, so try to be detached from the result of your effort and the result of your action. I know it is difficult but still that is the way to go. Either you worry about it and you cannot do anything about it, and then you will make yourself worse and then you get disease because your immune system is low or you can just basically take the stand of being detached and to be in the present. Then you will be more recharging yourself and things are not that bad. So basically change your attitude towards your whole life should be more detached be more centered.
The best person who can supports you is your Own Self:
Point number 7 is you need to experience the connection with your own self and to others so the sense of connection is very important for mental health. People talk about social distancing; everyone needs to stay away from each other, not moving. But then people don’t know what to do. So they stay home and they are depressed. They miss their friends. They miss their social activities, so they are depressed, angry and worried. This will make things worse. You might help in not spreading the virus, but you are increasing the spreading of the negative virus of the mind. When people are worrying and they send the negative thoughts out to the atmosphere. You need to be aware of that. You need to help people feel the connection to their own Self. These yoga techniques of asana, pranayama and meditation are helping at this time for people to feel the connection with their own Self. We are having the bad habit to always think of something external or somebody external to ourselves is supporting ourselves. And these relationships are very essential for our well being. Fine and good. You have your supportive network, your friends and people that you trust and love. This is very good. I don’t say anything against this. But what I am saying is that you need to have your own support system in your own Self. And you need to turn you mind inward in order for you to find that support system within your own Self. And that would help you because even if you have your loved ones, they cannot be there with you 24 hours 7 days a week. They cannot be there for you all the time. And then you feel let down, worried and anxious when they are not there. So the best person who can support you is yourself. Turn inward, feel the strength from within.
Do Self Affirmation:
Do Self-affirmation. Let’s say you never think about this kind of thought before. And now it is the time for you to do Self-affirmation. Right down the sentence and repeat yourself many times. “I am content and happy with myself.” You say something like this. Day by day, everything is improving, everything is better in every way. So say things like that: “I am happy with the present moment”. Do Self-affirmation, something that you feel is good. The positive thought that helps you, and at that time you keep repeating that thought, because that thought will gain more momentum and more power in the psychic world and then at that time it helps you because when you are panicking, this thought will come up to the surface of the mind and will help you. You have to do Self-affirmation as a habit. Create a gratitude list. So your heart keeps opening, your worries and negative emotions, anger and frustration come only when you have your heart closed. Your heart becomes limited and closed, then you have the tendency to blame and to be negative. This is not the time to blame, to be negative, you should not blame anybody, and try to cooperate and not blaming. Everyone is trying to do their best. If you blame people to lie, to cheat, to not do the right thing, you are sending more negativity in the world. Try to send positive energy. Try to focus on the positive, not on the negative and the blaming.
Teach a gentler Yoga class:
So now the last point, in the yoga class, when you teach the yoga class, I said already, teach a gentler yoga class. It is encouraging and calming. That is the best that you can do. Of course in the time of social distancing and we advise that yoga teachers should not correct the students. You can teach people online. You can use Zoom, video conferencing, in order to teach people online. But only if you have people at a room in your house, it is advisable that you have them sit at a separate distance from each other and you are not touching them, correcting them. So with your voice, that is what you can do. You can use the voice, the verbal cue with people and correct them. It is very important for yoga teachers to remember is to wash your hands with soap in the beginning and at the end of the class. If you do teach people, everyone needs to wash their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, with awareness, as much as you can. That is the only way right now to not to spread the virus. We said a few tips for yoga teachers already.
Restoring Faith, faith gives you stronger immunity:
The last point that I have before you ask questions is restoring faith. The idea is the virus comes from nature, and then we become suspicious of nature. We become afraid of nature that can be also, you can say, nature is God or Goddess, is the universal presence around us we call nature. So we need to reconnect with Mother Nature instead of being fearful and blameful of Mother Nature. You need to recognize that you have mistreated Mother Nature, not be as aware of her presence as you could. You maybe have acted like a spoiled kid and think that mother will always be there for you. And when mother is upset, and she spanks you, you get angry. But you need not be angry with Mother Nature. That is my point. You need to rely on her, even though something is manifesting which you perceive to be negative and it comes out of the blue and it is mysterious, and you don’t understand but still you need to have you heart open toward Mother Nature. You know that she is there to take care of you, that she loves you and she gives you everything that you need. But stop acting like a spoiled kid and remember her. So restore your faith in nature. Those who have faith toward your particular god, prophet, religion, name and form of your faith, it is very good because you have your faith. In time of need, we usually turn toward our faith. We learn how to pray. So what I am saying is you need to restore your faith. It is not the time to doubt even though the tendency is more to doubt at this time, to be anxious and doubting. It is the opposite of what you need to do. And you need to reconnect and to be appreciative and to pray. Why? Because faith keeps you going. In time you want to control but you cannot control. You want to understand but you cannot understand. At that time, faith is what you’ve got. Faith keeps you going and faith gives you stronger immunity. Faith gives you strength. This is the time to relate to our faith, not the time of doubt. Of course you have to do the thing that is needed. There are practical things that you need to do to not spread the virus, not to be sick yourself, increase your immune system as we talked about ealier. But you need to take care of your own spiritual Self, or your God. Try to find the connection with God. For some of you, it might be not something that you are used to, but it is never too late for you to understand that you are never alone, that you are not in control. It is some intelligence that takes care of things, in a bigger scale than you can currently see. For a yoga teacher, it is very important to have strong faith, because you have to be positive and guide the students.
Vedanta philosophy about the Self and the Not Self:
For a Vedanta student, Vedanta is Yoga philosophy, then we talk about the Self, and about the detachment toward the things that are transient and changing, and to discriminate, to know the difference between what is permanent, and that which is changing, which is the Self and that which is the not-Self. You need to have some basic education in Vedanta philosophy, which is Yoga philosophy in order for you to understand how to do this. But in general you need to remember that there is some presence within you, consciousness within you that is there, no matter what. You need to tune to that. That consciousness can be seen outside as hands of God or the Divine, or can be seen inside as your own inner deeper presence.
Yoga Teachers and Health Educators need to be patient:
That’s enough talk and we need to keep rehearsing because one time you hear, one time you practice is not enough. I’ve been doing this for almost 40 years basically, just rehearsing and rehearsing, hearing it again and again. For yoga teachers and health educators, just know that it is not one time that you need to say to your student to calm down. You need to be very patient, to repeat again and again. Be available to the students and people because people hearing one time is not enough. Your presence needs to be there steady and constant, and you need to be repeating. Don’t be afraid of repeating yourself. It is not the question of information here but it is the question of self-transformation and to help people to go more deeply within themselves.
In these times we are hearing some unusual phrases and receiving some unusual advice, such as “social distancing!” “use pranams, namaste instead of hugs and embraces!”, “do not travel” “stay at home, work from home!”, “public health responsibility”.
If we are not going shopping, entertaining ourselves outside, not rushing about, what are we going to do? Can we live with ourselves? Can we really follow the Yogic lifestyle “simple living, high thinking” that we have talked about? How do we rethink our priorities? How can we go on appreciating life in face of this changing world around us?
How do we face the Virus outbreak positively and healthily, as yogis and yoginis, as healthy members of our society, helping to maintain a healthy environment?
Here are a few reminders from the Yogic teachings:
1. The connection between breath and prana.
The more we breathe, the more prana (life energy) we have. Prana is stored up and used when needed. We should not stop breathing practices out of fear of the virus. Kapalabhati cleanses your lungs. Choose places in nature to do your breathing exercises.
2. Besides breathing, you can increase your prana (life force) many ways. You can live a pranic-debt-free life, accumulate prana instead of spending.
The key is to turn to Mother Nature and reconnect with Her. Live in nature, get prana from:
the earth (walking on earth instead of driving, contemplating the mountains and trees, doing “forest bathing”, gardening),
water (bathing in the ocean and streams, natural ponds, drinking fresh water),
fire (being in sunshine a little daily, drinking warm water, eating warm food),
air (do abdominal breathing to get double intake of oxygen and expel tension and fatigue through long exhalation) and
ether (be in good space and good environment to support you. Pay attention to feeling of negativity in isolation as it leads to depression and addiction.)
3. Prana is connected with the mind, the emotions and thoughts.
Positive thinking makes you feel strong and energetic. Cultivate joy, appreciation, gratitude. Convert fears, anxieties to courage, faith, self-confidence and contentment. Write down and share five points of gratitude each day for mental health. For example, ”I am grateful for my health”, “I am grateful today for the fresh air I can breathe”, “I am grateful for the good food I have today”, “I am grateful for friends and family”, “I am grateful for this life at this time”.
4. Concentration of mind brings strength of mind and boost the immune system.
Keep yourself busy at home if you are not working. Catch up on the household chores or organization or cleaning. An idle mind is a devil’s workshop. Pay attention to obsession on negative thoughts. This is not proper practice of concentration which needs to be on positive thoughts.
5. Concentrate on positive and uplifting thoughts
Concentrate on sacred mantras such as OM, or uplifting objects like flowers, trees, blue sky, the movement of the breath in and out of our lungs. Stay away from distractions. Distractions bring viruses to the mind. Keep your mind strong and elevated. This supports your immune system.
6. Remedial measures and healing by specific mantras
Consciously repeat the sacred mantra “Om namah sivaya” . Lord Siva can drink poison and deal with the virus. The more you repeat a mantra, the better it is, as mantras work cumulatively, by repetition. Also download and play at low volume in your house, even at night, the well known “maha mrityunjaya” mantra for protection, healing and liberation Om Tryambakam… This will give you a positive and reassuring background of thought. If you know of someone who is sick, address the prayer to the person in your mind and send them the healing powers of the mantras by your chanting of this mantra, either 3 times, 9 times, 27 times, 54 times or 108 times.
7. Conquer your fears by affirming your inner strength
“Om Sri Durgayai Namah” or “Om Dum Durgayai Namah”. You can use a strong form of the mantra of Goddess Durga who is our own inner strength dwelling within us. This will remove the effect of Rahu in our confusing times (which brings fear and delusion). This continuous mantra repetition for at least 108 times, also seeing the form of the Goddess riding the lion with her 8 arms will bring calm and courage.
8. Remember “What you think is what you become”
Think of strength, you will become strong. Think of weakness, you will become weak. Think of disease, you will invite the disease. The reality you live in is the reality of your thoughts. You are the master of your destiny. If you cannot come up with positive thoughts yourself at this time, read books from the Masters. They will inspire you. Stop feeding yourself with social media news and stop feeding yourself with negative thoughts of others. Even if others are negative or anxious, remaining calm and strong will help them.
9. Remember the Vedantic teaching on Truth and Reality
Detach from your own feelings of worries and assert your true nature as powerful spirit, the disease-less Atman. Ultimately the world as we see it is unreal, because it is only what our mind is thinking and projecting out, a habit reinforced by countless repetition. You have had countless fears and traumas before and you will see now many reasons to be afraid again (you will a see snake when there is only an innocent rope because the idea of the snake and the fear of the snake is in your mind).
Wake up, bring the light of wisdom and see things as they are. Things are not so bad. The virus is not so terrible. Our own weakness and readiness to let go of our self-confidence and mastery is the problem. Do not waste energy in drama and worries. This is just a test how strong you are. Apply the yogic principles and be victorious!
10. Assert your healthy Self and know that you are the master of your body and mind. The internet world is not the only reality
The internet amplifies and distorts. There are a lot of “verbal delusions” and “likes and dislikes” surrounding you. These are the types of thoughts (vrittis) that will bring you pain. Fewer of these is better. If you want to keep yourself informed, browse the news from authoritative sources quickly and get back to your grounded self. Your body and mind are your instruments. Your health is in your hands. You are not a victim. Do what is necessary (Wash your hands, be prudent, limit desires and needs) and take care of your health with self-confidence.
11. This is a great opportunity for us to rethink our priorities
This is an opportunity to focus and change our lives by adopting new and good habits. You do not need much to be happy. Happiness is within when you calm down the mind. Let go of attachment to things the way they were.
12. Change our stressful lives by the practice of contentment
This is a great opportunity for you to spend time with yourself. Do more Yoga, not less. Do more meditation. Turn the mind inwards. Yoga helps you to be with yourself and have clarity. “Social distancing” is a great concept promoted by Yogis long ago. In the yogic context, it means not to depend on outside relationships for your happiness. Not to be needy and searching outside for happiness or support. Less social life, more inner life. Less thoughts, more peace. “Yoga chitta vritti nirodhah”
Namaste to yourself and others and find your strength within your own true Self. Love yourself! You will then find others as your heart opens. You are never alone. You are the essence of all. Connect to your wisdom heart. This is a good time to do it. The Universe is giving you this precious opportunity to do this.
This is a blessing in disguise. Turn inwards. Less travel, less movement. More opportunity to practice. More clarity. Instead of seeing this as depressing, see it as an opportunity to turn within and go straight to our own goal of happiness. Indeed, it is a blessing in disguise.
Practice the above step by step. If you need more guidance, we are here to support you.
In this webinar we will be talking about Yogic classical meditation. This is the system of 8 limbs Yoga of Patanjali Maharishi, where meditation is limb number 7, and Samadhi- the state of superconscious is limb number 8. Classical Yoga (Raja Yoga) includes ethical behavior , (1) the behavior to avoid (Yamas) and (2) the behaviors to adopt (niyamas) (3) the yoga postures (asanas), (4) breathing exercises to control prana (pranayama) (5) and the turning inwards (pratyahara) as the outer steps of Yoga practice. The inner steps are (6) concentration (dharana) and (7) finally meditation (dhyana).
It is not the purpose of this seminar to talk in details about each of those steps or limbs but to focus on the understand what is meditation is and what meditation is not in order to (1) remove false preconceptions of meditation bringing confusion, fears and short term attempts and (2) to clarify what is the yogic meditation practice. It is a known fact that people associate yoga with physical exercises and not as meditation practice to calm the mind, release stress and achieve peace . In fact Yogic exercises are part of the meditation practice.
In this time of uncertainty and stress due to collective effort to try to suppress the spread of the virus, governments and nations put their whole country, states, cities , under lock down modes . Normal activities are interrupted and people stay home with more time in their hands and consumed by worries and anxieties. In this time, meditation practice or the turning inwards of the mind to find recharge and new perspective about one’s life and one’s self become imperative. In this context, learning correctly meditation is necessary and removing of prejudices and preconceived ideas about meditation is helpful.
The purpose of meditation is to find inner peace.
Inner peace will lead to strength of mind and character and bring about increase capacity to remain calm under challenges .
From the capacity to remain calm , the individual will not loose him or herself in fears and panic and thus leading to wrong reactions which bring the individuals down further more and perpetuate one’s already habitual negative vision.
To know more about the mechanism of fear and anxiety and how they make you loose your capacity to be your happy and creative self , see my past talks on
Inner peace can not happen if the mind is constantly turning outwards and keep
ruminating about the past regrets or the projected fears about the future.
Inner peace can not happen if one is worrying about our material survival only.
Inner peace can not happen if one is lack of self confidence and is dependent of everything external to be happy and to find meaning.
Inner peace can not happen if we do not have good relationships with self and with others, if our heart is closed and we are blaming others, judging others, if we are full of negative emotions such as anger, grief, guilt, hatred, greed, jealousy, lack of contentment.
Inner peace can not happen if we are swayed by our insatiable desires, and in the situation like this one, when our desires and expectations can not be fulfilled, our inner peace is replaced with frustrations, resentments.
Inner peace will not happen if one is distracted and restless, lack of concentration, when the habitual goal and motivation are being questioned ( for example when one finds oneself jobless ) and one’s schedule and habits are being changed.
Inner peace can not happen if one is sick and lack of vitality.
Inner peace can not happen if one is desperate, have no faith and connection with the supreme intelligence.
Meditation technique :
Conditionning the mind, give instructions to be here and now. What is the mind? A lake, a drunken monkey, a wild horse, a shy lady, music record, a fast fan , a needle with petals, relationship mind and body, relationship mind and breath, relationship mind and senses. One thought at a time. Mind works with names and forms, works with association.
Preparation: space time.
Posture- erect and comfortable.
Breath – deep and long
Breath rhythmical and calmer and calmer till breathe becomes imperceptible.
Point of focus- 2 places of focus to choose from
object of focus- mantras. Learning about mantras
detachment attitude. Not fighting with the mind.
Return to focus, to the breath, let go
Become silence and peace. Meditation is like an elixir or tonic renewing oneself.
Meditator, object of meditation and act of meditation become one.
What meditation is not
Meditation is not imagination, meditation is not relaxation, meditation is not dreaming, meditation is not seeking for experiences. Meditation is not a quick fix. Meditation is not wandering in the psychic world. Meditation is not seeking for extra sensorial experiences.
Meditation is not just sitting closed eyes without caring for one’s responsibilities. Meditation is not escaping from reality. Meditation is not achieving a goal. Meditation is not selfish endeavor. Meditation is not just technical and dry. Meditation is not religious even though one might have spiritual experiences. Meditation is not seeking for spiritual experiences. It is important that the meditator follows guidance from a teacher and practice step by step all the spiritual instructions.
What meditation is practicing the 5 points Yoga life.
Meditation is not just sitting half hour a day closed eyes and expect something extraordinary to happen. It is part of a meditation lifestyle, called Yogic lifestyle or integral Yoga life. The 5 points of Yoga Life as per swami Vishnudevananda are: Yoga asanas, breathing, relaxation, vegetarianism, positive thinking and meditation are part of this meditation life.
Asanas practice help to still the mind, remove blockages, allowing prana to flow.
Pranayama practice purifies the nadis and balances the mind, and helps to bring the mind to higher dimension. Conscious relaxation either done separately or along with the asanas practice basically helps awareness and teaches us detachment, ultimately detachment towards our body and mind itself. Proper diet in particular the practice of vegetarianism gives us life force as we consume food that is high in prana and is alive , also helps us to alleviate our mind through the practice of non violence and respect of animals. Positive thinking practice allows our mind to keep going with meditation and keep seeking higher truths. The ultimate positive thinking is in fact the assertion of our true nature. I am not the body, I am not the mind, I am not this separated identity … I am existence absolute, knowledge absolute, bliss absolute. I am pure consciousness. There is always a positive perspective in all happenings. Positive thinking practice allows the meditator to turn things around and to detach from the thoughts and the emotions. Meditation life is practice little by little but everyday all of these 5 points so that the mind becomes pure, transparent, strong and stable ready for self enquiry and ultimately realization. Perfecting oneself in these 5 points Yoga life in fact is meditation practice in itself. You become aware, centered and clear . In fact, meditation life is not separated from the dedicated sitting meditation practice. There are infinite ways how you can improve in the 5 points. That is why it is difficult to give up meditation once you understand the intricate relationship between the different practices, all under the banner of “meditation”. In reality,
the quality of the sitting meditation will influence your waking life and the quality of your waking life will influence the quality of your silent meditation.
Meditation is practicing the classical 4 paths of Yoga.
Meditation life includes all the 4 paths of yoga. It means perfecting oneself in these practices or qualities:
1. Karma Yoga – a selfless attitude towards life and towards meditation, the offering of one’s actions so we renounce being in control and avoid to tie ourselves further into the chain of karma.
2. Bhakti Yoga – a humble attitude towards life and towards relationships, seeing them as opportunities to learn to curve our ego self and join each other in love. Also practicing Bhakti Yoga means purifying the lower emotions, sublimating the lower desires and returning to pure love and respect for all. This devotion and faith to the Supreme will make you calm in all situations and help one to self surrender one’s limited view to embrace the unknown. The meditator leans to be very flexible and soft in his meditation practice.
3. Raja Yoga: – an awareness of the mind and a constant practice of one pointed concentration which eventually will remove the separateness and duality to become one with all. In daily life, if the meditator is aware of the mind and constantly endeavors to keep the mind focused on positive goals, the meditator builds up strength and forbearance necessary for advanced stages of meditation. Awareness of the mind ‘s behavior and constant coaching it back to the center, can be a tedious and at the same time rewarding practice. The ethical foundations of Raja Yoga , the yamas and niyamas, prescribe numerous virtues to do and vices not to do that can keep the meditator busy for a long time. As Hatha Yoga is considered to be part of Raja Yoga, one can start to control the body, the breath and the senses to improve concentration and reach meditation. These practices in themselves are rich and interesting, so the meditator can actually be creative with his /her life daily routine without the feeling of wanting to give up due to boredom or false conception that one knows it all already.
4. Jnana Yoga: – a sense of knowing of what is real and true and what is changing and illusory. A general attitude of detachment and wise attitude coupled with the self confidence and self affirmation of who am I truly from inside. A vision of oneness and unity in diversity.
Integrate meditation in daily life
Obstacles to meditation:
Cessation of practice
Health and diet
Laziness and sleep
Complications of daily life –undesirable company
Lack of preceptor
Mental obstacles: anger, depression, doubt, memory, fear, greed, hatred, Loss of vital energy.
Experiences in meditation
Stay detached from experiences of cosmic mystic Sounds, lights, forms , feelings of separation, cosmic consciousness.
Today’s topic is a very appropriate topic. It’s about stress relief counseling. The International Sivananda Yoga Centers are offering a service of stress relief counseling for all, in 12 languages. So if you see the announcement, please share with as many people as possible. Because the situation of suffering and stress due to the epidemic is a global situation. So we want people to be able to access the counselors who may be able to support them through this period of stress.
You can imagine the situation. There are all kinds of situations but you can summarize everything under the name of stress. From the person that is a frontline worker in the hospital, trying to save people’s lives; to a person caught up in their apartment living with a few people, with their children and unable to move; to a person who worries about the future, about their livelihood; to a person that is sick and struggling, that is doubting himself and in fear of death; to a person that is separated from the family member, because that family member is in isolation. So many difficult situations that the world is going through. A very very stressful situation that the world is going through.
So we’d like to have more and more people understand stress so that you can help yourself and you can help others as well. Because if you don’t understand the stress phenomenon then you might aggravate your situation through a wrong kind of stress response. The problem is also that you have adapted to stress. This means that your body and your mind may take that as the real thing and lead to chronic stress. And if you are in that stressful situation you don’t really know how to get out of it. The body, the mind will adapt to that kind of stressful situation and response that is physiological, neurological, and that also affects your immunity. At that time, it is just a matter of time that the wrong stress response will perpetuate. Because we are not just talking about now only, but we are talking about the mind. When the mind learns something, it would keep keep repeating the patterns.
The topic is so relevant because it is not just addressing the problems now, but can also help prevent problems that could occur in the future. When the stress has become numbing, and is not something that you can balance out, it can become a mental health issues. As you know in yoga, we want people to become balanced and clear, because that is how they connect with themselves.
Most of the reason for doctor’s visits are caused by stress. Even before the health crisis was here, more and more people are suffering from stress. We can trace many of our diseases back to stress. Our immune system is weakened by stress. So we are more susceptible to diseases and viruses of different kinds, and we have less capacity to fight them.
Often we are not eating properly. Either we are eating too much or not eating at all or eating anything. We are not aware of our eating and diet. We are not sleeping properly. So many people suffer from insomnia or from nightmares or even agitated sleep. We are not breathing properly. Either we hold our breath in tension, or we are trying to gasp air. The reason is that we have become fixated on the idea that disease causes breathing difficulty. It is said that if we gasp for air, it’s because we don’t know how to breathe or how to use our diaphragm to breathe deeply, calmly, slowly and in a relaxed way. Thus we aggravate our problems. Let’s say you feel panicky because you feel that you have some kind of disease and you start to breathe wrongly. At that time it’s very important for you to get in touch with a yoga teacher who can teach you how to breathe through the diaphragm and breathe slowly and deeply in order for you to relax. We are stressed and we want to relax. However, we breathe wrongly, so it makes us experience even more stress.
The situation of stress causes us to have difficulties in relationships with people., resulting in all the symptoms, including fear, anxiety, if we can recognize them, also irritability, grief, sadness or even depression. We have talked about this before, so please refer back to some of the teachings in the blog that talk about fear, anxiety and another one that talks about yoga of relationships, and how we can take the opportunity of this time to improve our relationships. We need this help so that we know how to deal with stress and how to help others.
The other point in this talk is about learning how to observe ourselves and the environment and have a strategy to know how to lift ourselves up and to change the environment for the better. That means how to move from darkness to light. We have to understand the theories about the three Gunas- the very fundamental theory of yoga philosophy. How to move from darkness to light then eventually to a place of transcendence or understanding. You cannot really understand anything if you are in darkness. That is the topic of today.
What is stress?
First we will talk very briefly about stress, What is stress? Our stress response is something that is built-in. It’s in our system. In our psychology, nervous system, and in our immune system. All these are all connected together. It’s a mechanism that responds to the perceived threat to our survival. So the stress response is there so that we can protect ourselves in some way. Later on we will talk about a little more how we can protect ourselves and what the cause of stress really is.
The mind and the body is very tightly connected. Whatever that we perceive in our mind will affect our body and the body organs and their functions. So we can develop so-called psychosomatic disease due to stress.
There are three different types of stress response, fight, flight and freeze. It depends on the personality. Fight, flight or freeze, but it’s all the same. It depends on the temperament of the person. Some people may have more tendencies to fight when they feel stressed or to control. Some people might have the tendencies to escape the problems. And the other person might have the tendency to try to disappear so that nobody notice. They freeze, become paralyzed, becoming smaller and smaller.These are the three typical types of response to stressful situations depending upon your constitution and personality.
You can say that according to ayurveda there are three kinds of personality, the fiery personality (pita), the airy personality (vata), and the more water and earth personality (kapha). So you can say the fight response is for the pitta, the fiery nature. The flight response is more for the vata kind of nature, namely running away. The kapha people will have the tendencies to become inert. it’s just a very rough explanation.
If the stress response is prolonged then it will lead to chronic stress and eventually to disease and break-down. Normally we have the relaxation response built into our system. It’s alternate. You can be stressed and you relax. Stressed and relaxed. Sometimes it is impaired, because sometimes you are stressed, stressed, stressed, keep holding the stress and responding to stress and you can never relax. So very important that you learn to relax.
The most important thing to understand about stress is that stress is subjective. Something that might stress somebody else might not stress you, or vice versa. It’s subjective, it depends on your mind. An objective stressor, is something that causes your stress, but your personal reaction is due to the habitual thoughts and emotions in your mind depending on your perceptions. It’s your personal way and habitual way.
So the teaching of yoga will help you change your perception. People think wrongly that your ego self is always the same. That is denying the fundamental essence of life, that we are constantly evolving and constantly changing. Every challenge is an opportunity for us to evolve a little. That means to let go the preconceived ideas about ourselves and about others and to get ourselves out to the light a little more.
The more we are rigid the more stressed we are. The more we are open and flexible, the less we are stressed. The general guideline is to try to be open and to be more relaxed. Most people believe it’s an external stressful situation that causes stress. But you can see now you are in quarantine, some people think it’s very stressful because they cannot do what they like. But some people will be welcoming it because they have time to do what they like and to do what they need to do. Because normally they can not. We think that everyone will be reacting in the same way as us but it’s not true. Everyone reacts differently. The outside environment is the same but the reaction is different.
How we perceive an event place a significant role in whether the stressor triggers our stress response or not.
5 causes of stress and how yoga helps:
1. Lack of prana (vital energy) from nature:
People are more stressed when they don’t have prana to deal with the challenge. To think or to understand we need prana, the vital energy. But when the lifestyle is too artificial we tend to spend prana. We are in the economy of debt, so that we all the time spend but we don’t take time to recharge. At that time we won’t be able to deal with stress or challenges because we are already in debt. At that time we might go into bankruptcy. We might feel sick when a thought comes. Like I’ve said, it’s a perceived threat. A thought just comes and suddenly you collapse, because you do not have enough prana due to your lifestyle from before. So the pressure builds up and we cannot handle it, our immune system is compromised. We can imagine that our modern world is very much so. It’s making us more in debt. It doesn’t enrich us. We live in high-rise buildings. We are all the time in the car or in the traffic. We are subject all the time to noise, to pollution and our mind is also very much full of thoughts and desires, so we call it the rajastic lifestyle. We overuse the computer, the cellphone. We don’t eat food properly, we don’t take time to eat, we eat out and we eat frozen food. Of course in the situation that we are now in, we can’t really find our proper supply and that can also add to the question of prana. We have to do the best we can in the current situation. Try to understand that we can supply our prana in certain different ways. From foods and also from our proper thinking. The idea is you need to live in alignment with nature to have more prana, so be in the sun and eat the food that is closer to the sun. We don’t go too much into this part about prana because we have a separate talk about that. Just know that when you counsel people about stress or when you feel stressful you can recognize right away that you are lacking prana. So you are not responding correctly, and you will have to build up prana. There are many different ways to build up the prana according to yoga.
2. Negative emotions create stress:
There are some negative emotions within you or within the person that you counsel or people that are around you that are stressful. You can tell right away there are some negative emotions. Any unhealthy relationships and expectations will create stress. We have a lot stress due to relationships. Our relationships are not necessary healthy or loving, so we have to understand or help people to understand the emotions and the antidote of the emotions. There is some training possible we can learn and other people can learn. So don’t take the emotions as yourself. The first thing is recognizing and developing the awareness of our emotions. The awareness itself helps. The moment that you know that I’m angry, because I feel let down I don’t get what I want. The moment you know that and automatically by being aware of that, you do not become attached to that thinking or that scenario, and can be yourself. Awareness allows detachment. That awareness already helps to alleviate the problems, so when you are counseling people, you help people to be aware. You don’t have to solve their problems, but just because they become aware of it, automatically, their mind will think correctly and the problems will be solved by themselves. Negative emotions will also drain the prana. So that’s why people go down and down. The negative emotions can also be how people think they are. Because they have been building the personality for a very long time. Like I said, different stress responses vary according to different personalities. A person may be very fiery or might be all the time controlling. The person might be all the time not facing situations and not facing themselves. They distract themselves. They escape. A person might be acting as if they don’t know and not doing anything, because they are used to being fearful and stressed. Sometimes you can live in an abusive family relationship, for example, that makes you feel all the time, since your childhood, maybe unworthy, victimized and powerless. It’s not that simple to help a person to get out of stressful situations. Because the roots can be very deep in the psyche of a person. Yoga helps you to open the heart so then you can become more in touch with the love within you. Everyone has love, but the habitual negative emotions might be veiling you from the love that is true and within you. Yoga makes us open our heart and withhold our judgement of others. We are very quick to judge others and close our heart. But by practicing yoga, we can keep our heart open. Yoga also helps you deal with your emotions by reminding you of your true Self that is untouched and unhurt; that is fulfilled; that is perfect; that is independent; that is transcendent; that is free and joyous; that is non-competitive; that is one without a second. Beautifully said. One without a second. That means when you don’t feel separated from the others, at that time you can go to the essence of yourself that is one. And automatically all your negative emotions vanish. Of course it’s easy to say but it’s something we have to keep working on. We need to identify the negative emotions and use yoga techniques to take care of them.
3. Adaptation problem:
The third cause of stress, which is very relevant now is the adaptability question. We said already, the more you are open and flexible the less stress you will experience. The more you are rigid the more stress you will have. We need to adapt. We need to let go of ownership. Ownership means you identify very much with something, either objects or accomplishments. You have difficulties to adapt because you falsely identify with something that is impermanent. It’s a very big thing. Swami Sivananda says, ”Adapt, adjust, accommodate. Bear insult, bear injury, highest yoga.” That’s how Swami Sivananda talks. We need to step back. When you feel something is difficult, you need to step back. Practice detachment. Stepping back from whom? From our own selves. Our own ideas and identification about whatever we feel, whatever we identify with as the problems, or whatever we identify to be the cause of our miseries. So we need to detach. Step back. Stress happens when there’s a failure of adaptation. When we fail to adapt, it’s because we are attached. Instead of detachment, we attach to something. We attach to who and what we think we are. We attach to our problems or how things should be in relation to who you think you are. The attachment problem is the misidentification. We think or experience something and we might be attached to it. We attach to our past. We attach to our stories. We attach to our dramas. That creates stress. Or when things change we become stressed. You see nowadays things change so quickly, and we are stressed. That’s everybody. Unless you are really trained for a very long time, and you have to be really flexible. When things change we become stressed. When we cannot adapt to new situations and when we are constantly expecting things to be in conformity to our expectations, we are not able to adapt ourselves to them. So yoga says, “ A flexible spine, a flexible mind. “ All the time we are training ourselves to be more flexible in our body and also in the mind.
4. Uncertainty and existential anxiety:
How Yoga helps to alleviate stress by giving us flexibility in outlook about Self and others: The common problem for our time that causes stress, and the reason why so many people are stressed now, is the idea of uncertainty. Uncertainty and existential anxiety resulting from the fact that you see many people dying around and the disease may come to your door at any time by any body, and in that it’s invisible. At that time you have anxiety. It comes from the fear of death and from disease. When you are there and your life depends on the government that decides if you can move or go back to work or so on, that creates stress. Then we face something we call uncertainty. That creates stress. When you study yoga you have to go deeper. It’s not only about yoga exercise, but you have to go deeper into the philosophy of yoga. Because it helps you to alleviate the stress and give you flexibility of outlook about ourselves and others. Uncertainty has always been there, it’s not a new situation. We don’t really know what can happen. We don’t know when we are going to die. We don’t know. Anything can happen. Earthquakes can happen. Tsunamis can happen. Accidents can happen. So nobody really can predict or control life. We have an illusion that we can control until something happens and we realize that we are not at all in control. So we need to learn how to live this life which is constantly changing. Changing day by day. Even the body is constantly changing. My white hair did not come overnight. It came little by little. The body is constantly changing and we are facing the transition. That creates a lot of anxiety. Because we see people dying and we see more and more which reminds us how fragile life is. We can be taken very very quickly. We turn around and somebody can be taken very quickly. You look at the statistic today, so many people are dying. It’s not like before people didn’t die but now it becomes very clear. So we have to think more about it. Existential anxiety exists all the time, and we have to resort to some kind of deep realization, deep understanding or deep thinking, in order for us to be able to be stable in ourselves.
We have to learn to see the absolute. The level of ourselves which is untouched. At the same time we have to be able to live in this world of relativity, at the same time remembering a level of ourselves is immortal and untouched. The yogi develops the capacity to be flexible and to be able to change perspective about him or herself, and to avoid obsession and stubbornness. To try to depersonalize things. Don’t think it only happened to you and dramatize it, but try to understand the reason, that can be quite involved, for any kind of stressful situation. We can very quickly deal with our existential anxiety if we have some kind of faith. You know in a correct manner it’s not blind faith but faith in a correct manner, faith in your true Self and in the supreme intelligence. The more we have faith the more we can deal with our existential anxiety and our uncertainty. Because we don’t know, and we cannot control. But everything is always happening for the best. So you can relax. We know we are supported at all time by the invisible hands of the divine. That is also something we can train ourselves into thinking. The practice of yoga helps to connect to the Divine. And if you remember there’s that level of the soul that is sat-cit-ananda, the Atman. That is free, that is not hurt, and is untouched by anybody and that whatever people think about you, you are perfect. So there’s that level of ourselves that we need to get in touch with. Otherwise we will be very anxious and fearful. You see there’s already many reasons why we are stressed and we can’t escape it. We have to think about it. The challenging situation is that we have to think about it more. Now we say okay when we have time we will think about it, when everything comes back to normal we can think about philosophy. But that’s not correct. It’s in the challenging time that you need to take the opportunity for wisdom.
5. How Yoga helps redeeming karma:
It’s more or less the same idea that nothing happens for nothing. Something happens always for us to have the opportunity to learn something. What we are experiencing now is the results of our past actions. And what we need to do now to redeem our karma is to see it, accept it and redeem it and not repeat the same wrong thinking again. It is said that we are born to experience the results of our past karma, past thoughts, past desires and these are our lessons. So this is why to some level, our problems and our challenges are inevitable. What does that mean, inevitable for us? That means that whatever happens to us is specific for us. We need to learn our lessons and cannot escape from it. You can blame people and try to deny it. But unless you do some soul searching, and see your own weakness and your repetitive patterns, you would not be able to learn that karmic lessons. It’s said that we are born and our life is set up. It’s all set up. So that we can experience it. And sometimes we think think that somebody set that up. You look at the recent events and you can see. Some people get stuck in some countries they cannot move they cannot go, suddenly they cannot. You see all these are all karma. You step back and see why is it so. You step back and see this is why you need to accept. It’s not that you are fatalistic about it, but you need to face it and make the best out of it. Because it has in it something, a lesson about ourselves. Not the neighbor not the others not our family members but exactly something we need to learn. The same situations and a group of people will experience things differently, will react differently. Because of their patterns. And they need to learn from their patterns. That is called the deep level of karma. That’s why it’s very annoying. When something that we think should not be there is there again, right in front of us, and we think it’s very stressful. So the deeper level of stress is that situation. Everyone has to go through their karma. The karma can be collective karma as well. So we are all together on the planet of earth in this time. So whatever we do to the environment whatever we think it’s civilization and we develop dependency towards technology and our life changes quickly. It’s karma. I myself don’t want to deal with any of these. The cellphone, the internet. But now I found myself on the internet, have meetings on the internet and all these things you know. I studied it’s difficult for the eyes burn your eyes and it drains your prana. I remember the first time I talked in the meeting on the internet or something I feel very drained. Because my world was different I didn’t know the internet I didn’t want to use the internet before. I never used these things. But the whole community the whole life everything the whole world is moving towards that level. And now I have got used to it. So now it’s not so draining. Because somehow we develop a different kind of nervous system. So the whole world is evolving very quickly and who knows what the situation now is preparing us for. We go back to the question of karma and stress. We can share together the collective situation and bear together the results of our collective actions.
So to summarize, stress is an indicator and a teacher that we need to think about a given situation to rethink who we are, about our expectations and our motivation and to remember this is not the real Self. We need to try to lift our consciousness through teaching, through training so that we go to the root cause of the stress. So as a yoga teacher you have to be humble, knowing that you do not know and surrender your will to God’s will. And Yoga life teaches you the different practices that combine the four paths of yoga to destroy the root of karma that comes from wrong thinking and wrong doing, and to give us the positive and sattvic life, that’s the teaching of the Sivananda system, “ Serve, love, give, purify, meditate, realize. “ the four paths of yoga. That’s the first part of the talk today about stress and the cause of stress. So that you can counsel yourself and counsel the people around you.
The 3 Gunas ( 3 qualities of nature)
Another theory that comes from the yoga philosophy that will help you is the theory of the three gunas. Now we are talking about the theory of the three gunas as the guideline for us to move from darkness to light or to help people move from darkness to light. Regarding the the topic of stress, there are three types of reaction, depending on the gunas. The gunas are tamas, rajas and sattva. These are the Sanskrit terms that explain how the whole universe and nature can be seen and characterized through all these qualities. There is the quality of darkness, tamas; the quality of action and movement is rajas; and the quality of purity and balance is sattva. If you yourself can try to recognize within yourself the qualities and try to recognize the qualities in the person that you counsel as well, if you can really master the way of seeing then you will know how to do, how to counsel a person. The guideline is that people will respond to stress depending on the gunas, so they can have a tamasic response to stress, a rajasic response to stress and a sattvic response to stress. The counselor yourself has to help the other person to move from tamas to rajas and to sattva.That is the key, the main guideline to whatever problems we find in ourselves or we find in others. You will have to break through the tamas, the darkness; calm down the rajas, the agitation and the projection. You would have to cultivate the sattva which is nourishing the quality of balance harmony nourish and balance. That is the main guideline.
But before that we can just try to see a little bit the concrete manners how a tamasic stress response can look like.
Tamasic stress response:
When a person is lazy, slothful, they don’t care. They don’t take baths and even throw the clothings all over, and the room, the house is completely disorganized. They don’t clean and they don’t organize, that is called the tamasic response. That can also come as a stress response. “I don’t see anything, I don’t find a way out, I don’t understand anything anyway, so I don’t care.” So you fall into that idea that ”I don’t care”. And then you become indulgent in food, eating anything. “Why do I care about my life and health, it can be taken away anytime anyway so I don’t care.” You indulge in too much eating, too much sleeping, and being passive. You spend too much time watching movies or watching news. You become passive and no longer participate actively or become aware in your life anymore. You give up your life and you go into watching movies and news. You cannot grasp reality anymore. When people are so much in virtual reality, then they can become depressed. That’s also an expression of tamas. You become depressed and you become fearful. Fear and anxiety is an expression of tamas which make you lose yourself.Then you can become complacent, therefore, you hide and go into denial. You feel you cannot do anything, you deny your happiness as well as your abilities and you live in darkness.
You also notice the tamas when people complain about others. They know something has to be done but they don’t do it.“Why don’t you wash the dishes?” But they themselves don’t wash the dishes.They complain that people around me are this and that. That is the tamastic attitude. The victim attitude means always somebody is doing something to me. So I’m not responsible for what is happening to me.
Living in the past is also an expression of tamas. All the time you talk about the past, you know, living in the past, so that’s is the tamasic attitude. Some people cannot stick to any routine, any schedule. For example now they have to create their own schedule and routine but they cannot do it. They cannot discipline themselves or turn inwards. It’s impossible for them to do yoga or to do meditation, because they cannot follow any kind of routine. They can be suicidal. They can be escape into drugs, these are all tamasic experiences. They think taking marijuana can solve their problems. They become relaxed and think that there is no problem. So it’s also a tamasic attitude. I also see nowadays people drinking bleach. They are afraid of the virus and so they drink bleach to prevent the virus and they kill themselves. These are the tamasic stress responses. You want something quick and you don’t work on yourself but want something external.
Rajasic stress response :
The idea is the ego is very strong when you are rajasic. When you are the victim of the rajasic view then you separate yourself from the rest of the world. So you become angry because the way things go is not the way you want. So you can become angry. Anger is the rajasic response. If a person is depressed and they are not moving or not doing anything, ie. no eating no anything, then it’s better that you encourage them to be stronger in their opinion about things so they can become angry. But somehow it’s better and afterwards they can calm down. So the idea is to get away from the tamas and calm down the rajas. The rajas is somehow easier because you can calm them down through yoga.
The rajasic expression is they can become angry, and people can become violent. When the situation stays the same and there’s no change, people may start to become angry with the government; become angry with the neighbor and they can even become violent. So that’s the rajasic response of the stress. I learned something that is very disheartening, that many shops are closed in LA but the gun shops are open. They are allowed to open. This is quite disheartening, it means people feel insecure and uncertain. We will talk about insecurity and uncertainty. How they are going to make themselves safe and secure is by buying guns to protect themselves from the neighbors. This is the rajasic response to stress.
There is also the blaming attitude. The blaming attitude is rajasic. You never really look at yourself and always blame somebody that creates the problem to you. Accusing, pointing fingers.
The hoarding tendency is also the rajasic expression. You want more and more. The greediness, the hoarding of the material stuff. You think it gives you more security.
Also you see that there are some people that don’t hesitate to break rules. They don’t like the rules.
The me and mine attitude. Anything that is about me and mine can cause the rajasic attitude. Try to temper down the rajasic. Any selfish kind of idea, that I enjoy myself and I get what I want. The rest of the world can suffer but I don’t care. This is the rajasic attitude.
Regarding disease, some people may try different kind of medicine that is called the rajasic way. They will try this and that and they will get a cocktail of medicine. The more medicine they get the better it is for the disease. They don’t look into the holistic natural healing that comes from themselves, but for something external.
Now regarding the social distancing. Many don’t think a lot of the whole, which means they only think about themselves. Some people still go and party on the beach while people are struggling in the hospitals. Rajasic means like you cannot refrain from movement and excitement, sensual pleasures and egoism. That’s the rajasic attitude. And constantly you are just enjoying your life with the senses.
Spreading misinformation is also a rajasic way to try to solve about the problem. You blame, and you create a whole theory about the problem, or you try to control completely control. You try to make money when other people suffer. For example you try to boost the price of masks when other people are suffering. You boost the price very high so then you can sell this. You try to take advantage of others to gain name and fame and wealth. This is the rajasic attitude. So try to temper this down.
Sattvic stress response :
This is what we like to cultivate in ourselves and in others. This life in peace, in harmony, in health that would remove us from fear, from reaction so that immediately we gain peace is the sattvic response. So the sattvic response is that we are seeing the bigger picture. Not only seeing the picture that you feel yourself but seeing the bigger picture that everyone is going through. To have clarity and to have knowledge because it’s based on openness of the heart, and so you need to be able to be selfless, to be able to be helpful to the situation. Be charitable. I see that in Las Vegas people are sleeping in a small square that is painted on the ground. They are doing social distancing by staying in their square. It’s shocking to the eyes to see that. At the sametime you know in Las Vegas right now, there must be thousands and thousands of empty rooms in the hotels right now and at the same time you see people sleeping in the parking lot in their little square. So that is called rajasic, it’s not sattvic, it’s not charitable. So we also hear some news of some landlords completely forgiving people for their rent at this time. So these are charitable understanding kinds of attitude, we call it sattvic attitudes, we need to cultivate. So whatever we have we need to share. You might have to sacrifice today not to eat your favorite food, so that you can share in the suffering of so many people. And then you stay at home instead of not caring and going out to buy your specific favourite food. If you don’t care about consequences this is called the rajasic, tamasic attitude and not a sattvic attitude. In the sattvic attitude, you are charitable and you see the bigger picture. You are prayerful because you recognize there is something that is bigger than anybody and you pray to that. This is sattvic. You are forgiving. People make mistakes and you know it’s because they don’t know or they are stressed. So you forgive them. You surrender to God’s will to see the big picture and accept it. You practice yoga. You practice deep breathing. You practice relaxation. You practice mindfulness, awareness. You practice meditation. You try to get information from authorized sources and not to seeing different kind of news that is going on that can excite your mind. These are all examples of the sattvic attitude. You keep in general a positive attitude about things. You accept that there are events that you cannot control. You exercise regularly. You eat balanced meals, these are all part of sattva. You learn to manage your time more effectively. You set limits and learn to say no to the requests that would create excessive stress. You have to learn to say yes when you can, and that is the balanced attitude. You make time for your relaxation and for your hobbies. Now you can learn to do yantra painting. You can learn how to sew some masks for other people so you can give out for free. You do something helpful and useful. You use your hobby to balance yourself. You can be assertive, it’s sattvic, but not aggressive. Aggressive is rajasic. Assertive, being yourself is sattvic. You assert your feelings, your opinions and your belief, but not becoming angry, offensive, and passive, for example, not saying anything but turning everything inside and getting angry. Everything in this universe is operating through the three gunas. We need to start to see things this way. The gunas operates in the physical and the mental and the emotional level and obscure our true nature. So beyond our true nature, beyond the gunas, beyond the things happening, there is a consciousness of the reality that is beyond denial, beyond the darkness, beyond actions and beyond even the harmony of the balance, which is completely pure, which is ideal. But right now what we want is to nurture at least the sattva. Because in that sattva, in that harmony, we‘re be able to perceive the light within. The consciousness or what we call the Atman is always there. We seeing things as if through crystal. Like the crystal, when you put it by the colors it will take all the colors. It looks like the Self is lost in what is happening, but we need to be able to distinguish that the Self is always there. It can never be lost. The mind is colored by the darkness and by passion so that we cannot see or recognize ourselves.
That is the ultimate counseling for yourself and the others how to recognize the Self. Yoga teaches that you are not the body, you are not the mind because it’s changing, you cannot depend on it. Even our body you cannot depend on. Ultimately, if you can talk to yourself or talk to others the higher level of philosophy, then it’s great. But at least you can move people from tamas to rajas to sattva. From darkness to some level of harmony. Have them have a little bit detachment towards their thoughts and feelings. Because know that thoughts and feelings are always veiling. Like today,the sun is there but the clouds are veiling, so you cannot see the sun.You get a little depressed and think that the sun is not there, The sun is the Self. The sun is always there.
Tamas is the resistance to change, Tamas is the veiling. Rajas is the forceful change. it’s external-oriented and ego-driven. It’s extreme control. It makes us attached. When we attach, we become fearful. Then at that time you know that you need to calm down. Tamas, you need to move it, shake it up, get out of it. Rajas, you need to calm down. And sattva, you need to nurture. So that’s always the key. You need to do it. Often rajas and tamas are together. When you see fear is there, you become more attached. Fear, is tamasic you won’t be able to see that your Self is there, and you become more attached to things. You think that if I have this thing I will be secure myself. So tamas and rajas go together. From fear comes attachment and from that come defensiveness and then stress. Because the more you have that “me and mine attitude” the more stressed you are. The more relaxed you are the more you are resting in your own Self, and the more you won’t be subject to stress and will not become fearful because of the change. People are also attached to the actions thinking that this is my way. People say, “My way, or the highway. “ If you become dutiful, there’s a different story. Sometimes you know there’s a rigid action, that’s rajas. So we need to calm down. It’s not like you can become a saint or liberated or become free from any of these. But you need to calm down. If you feel that the rajas is going on in your relationship and so on, you need to calm down. Relax is the key. Relax. And if you feel like you are hiding away or getting out of this, you need to do some action, get out of it. You take a walk, you take a shower, you do something. That’s the guideline. I hope so far now you get the guideline. How to deal with tamas, how to deal with rajas, and how to constantly nurture the sattva. The sattva is the wisdom the acceptance. The acceptance in whatever you cannot change and change whatever you can change. Do whatever you can do and accept what you cannot change. That is the sattva. The sattva allows you to be peaceful. Whatever has happened, you can be peaceful in any circumstances and you can make wise choices. And then you become selfless. You carry on becoming devotional. Some people lose their faith because of rajas. Some people who don’t have faith at all, that is tamas. Then some are rajasic. They say that God is doing this doing that and then they are very happy when it happens. But when something changes they blame God. Why did you did this why did you do that. You see that is because they are rajasic, they are attached to their own view of God or what God can do. We use the word God but really, we don’t know. Our ego cannot know God. So if we surrender ourselves we would be able to see the bigger picture. So that’s why the cultivating the sattvic faith is important. Because we cannot control all that we know. There is something that is taking care of things. Keeping the devotion, keeping the discipline to control the mind. Keeping meditation and detachment. Keeping the self inquiry. If you do self inquiry you will never be bored, it will keep you busy and get you out of your habitual way of thinking.
Our journey is to transform ourselves from negative to positive; from restlessness to peace; from darkness to light. Peace of mind is happiness, but peace is difficult to attain, because our mind is always changing. We have to be steady, regular. We always go and look for the happiness outside. Remember the story of the lady looking for her needle outside when she dropped the needle inside. So the remembrance of the tendencies is sattva. We always look for happiness outside, and blame others for our problems. It’s been our tendency for a very long time. So we have to keep remembering ourselves, keep practising. (Abhyasa Yoga) Know that the truth lies within, so turn inwards.
There’s a quote from Swami Sivananda, “Fear not. Grieve not. Worry not. Your essential nature is peace. Thou art an embodiment of peace. Know this. Feel this. Realize this.”
You will know your own tendencies and know how to guide others and bring a different perspective.
In this talk, we will try to understand, in the context of the global epidemic, how fear and anxiety create havoc and take away your well-being and mental health, and how faith is so important in dispelling fear.
We will address the question step by step in 4 points keeping in mind the need for prevention of disease due to poor immune system impacted by negative emotions, and the need for healing emotionally in order to heal physically.
First we need to understand all facets of FEAR, STRESS, and ANXIETY.
What are the causes of fear?
Some Yogic methods for dealing with fear.
Cultivating faith to dispel fear and anxiety.
What is Fear?
Fear is a very strong primitive emotion, present in animals, as it serves a very basic purpose: It helps us to survive. It is at the base of our stress response: fight, flight or freeze.
Things that appear unfamiliar to us, or situations beyond our immediate comprehension, cause us fear. Fear creates imagination of darkness, of falling and distorts the mind. Fear is therefore based in unreality.
When we are fearful, we become paralyzed and lose our faculties. We freeze, unable to do anything to solve our problem.
Fear is of two kinds, normal fear and imaginary fear.
According to Swami Sivananda, the percentage of normal fear will only be five percent whereas imaginary fear will come to ninety-five percent. Normal fear is healthy. It paves the way for one’s progress; it preserves life. So in the context of the possible virus infection, we wash our hands, clean our handrails, stay put and avoid socializing, etc.
Imaginary fear causes diseases, as it depletes all energy and produces uneasiness, discomfort and disharmony, etc. Examples of imaginary fear: You might be afraid that you will get infected and there is no cure, you might be afraid that your business will collapse and you will be destitute, that you will lose your job as the companies downsize themselves, that your kids will not be able to study, that your husband’s staying at home will lead to change of the relationship dynamic causing frustration and divorce, etc.
Some behaviors due to fear and panic:
isolation, hatred of others, blameful attitude
shame and guilt
constant tension, hyper vigilance
addictions, drink our sorrow away.
“ enjoy life while you still can”
“ I do not care! “
What is Stress?
Stress is the cause of many forms of diseases, especially chronic stress. We have a built-in stress response in our nervous system in the form of the fight or flight mechanism in response to situations of danger to our survival. However, our stress response might not be adequate. Remember that Stress is subjective and can be changed once an understanding of the causes of our stress is obtained.
5 CAUSES OF STRESS:
Low prana: Refer to our previous talk about the relationship between low prana and negative thoughts. We can alleviate our stress by increasing the prana through Yoga practice and positive lifestyle.
Negative emotions: Not only fear and anxiety, but also anger, which comes from expectations and desires unfulfilled, can create stress. Grief is another negative emotion creating stress.
Lack of adaptability: If we develop flexibility in mind and behavior, it helps to tackle the cause of our stress.
Existential anxiety: The imminent danger of the virus epidemic might trigger our fundamental anxiety of existence which can be calmed down only by a broader picture about life and death and our sense of meaning.
Karma: We cannot help but ask the question why, and we have to accept our collective karma at this time. The pandemic situation is not sparing any place on earth. We need to ponder over our collective responsibilities.
In short, to build stress resilience in this time we need to increase prana (next talk), spend less prana, convert negative emotions into positive ones, be ready to adapt to new situations, have more faith to deal with our existential anxiety and understand our collective and individual karma.
What is Anxiety?
Disruption in life activity might create anxiety. Anxiety is even worse than fear, because unlike fear, we cannot identify its source. Anxiety is fear that has no name. With anxiety, there is no creativity, no productivity, we are depressed and our minds lose the capacity to think clearly. Anxiety is an emotion like fear is an emotion. It is usually associated with autonomic hyperarousal and attentive hypervigilance, in which the internal and external environments are monitored intensely for information relevant to the sense of threat.
It is an expression of the life-preserving fight or flight response and is an essential biological mechanism for motivating the organism for action in response to danger. It prepares us to deal with varied and challenging life situations. It is the reaction to the perception of an external or internal danger. Under the spell of anxiety, you might find it difficult to maintain normal day-to day activities and you keep feeling anxious in anticipation of calamity or disaster, which might afflict you sometime in the future. Parents and spouses need to be aware that the children or spouses might be subject to tension, guilt, stress, anxiety, nervousness and worry. They might be replaying the separation anxiety suffered in childhood. In general, try to leave space, be available but less demanding and perfectionistic, stay calm and empathetic instead of responding with more tension and projected fear. It is a cause for concern if this feeling affects your normal day-to-day activity. Try to establish a routine in daily life and adapt to the situation. Routine, schedule, normalcy as much as possible, daily discipline serve all to cope with stress. Know that what stresses you might not be what stresses your spouse or children. Know that anxiety is difficult to pin down. It may give rise to vague emotions of discomfort coming from diverse persistent thoughts combined together. This feeling of discomfort creates an anxious mood, but no one knows the underlying cause. Everyone is able to endure a certain threshold level of anxiety, but please take note that this threshold is different for each person.
The impending sudden rise of the epidemic attack while your daily routine has changed, and the fabric of the society surrounding you changes drastically, makes people suffer from impaired concentration and with all the time now on their hands, people staying home might find it difficult to perform even simple routine tasks.
Anxiety may be non-specific and arise spontaneously with no apparent relationship to any obvious event. This type of anxiety becomes all pervading in the everyday life of the one suffering, which may result in both psychic and somatic symptoms. This non-specific and excessive anxiety is pathological and needs to be helped with Yoga and relaxation techniques.
Look for symptoms of avoidance behavior. Watch out for this avoidance behavior. Also, become aware of the practice of sending warm reassuring words, explaining to family and friends the concept of “social distancing”, be sensitive to children perceiving this as rejection, and keep engaging family in positive community activities while in quarantine.
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder
Excessive anxiety or worry for long period of time can turn into anxiety disorder, involving worry about possible misfortune to one’s child (who is in no danger) and worry about finances (for no good reason). In children and adolescents, this may take the form of anxiety and worry about academic, athletic and social performance. When the person is anxious, there are many signs of motor tension, autonomic hyper-activity (muscle aches or soreness, restlessness and easy tiredness, shortness of breath, palpitations, sweating, dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, flushes or chills and frequent urination). Other signs are symptoms of vigilance or scanning including feeling on edge, exaggerated startle response, difficulty concentrating or mind going blank because of anxiety, trouble falling or staying asleep and irritability.
Symptoms ofPanic Attacks
Symptoms last a few minutes. Unexpected, intense terror, shortness of breath, dizziness or vertigo, shaky feeling, palpitations, sweating, abdominal distress, numbness, chest pain discomfort and fear of going mad can be triggered by situations of being outside of home alone, being in a crowd, standing in line or travelling in a vehicle.
Symptoms ofCompulsive Obsessive Disorder
Obsessions are persistent ideas, thoughts, impulses or images that are experienced as intrusive, distressful and senseless. Compulsions are repetitive, purposeful and intentional behaviors that are performed in response to or to relieve oneself from a tension. Example: handwashing, counting, checking and touching.
Causes of Fear
From the perspective of classical Yoga philosophy, the cause of fear is attachment, our grasping on to illusory things and beliefs. Being attached means we are stuck or bogged down. Fear is the opposite of letting go.
The first cause of fear is the attachment to the body and the ensuing fear of death.
The Nature of Our Illusions creates Fears. There are two classical analogies to help us understand the nature of our illusions. The first is called the “Snake and the Rope”. A man is walking in the darkness and sees a snake in the path. He is frightened and immediately runs and gets his friend who has a lamp. When they shine the light on the snake it is seen for what it is, a rope.
When we react to situations with fear, we operate out of a limited consciousness. We have forgotten that the sun is shining beyond the clouds. Yet the clouds of fear obscure the light of the sun. We must have faith to seek out the sun when the mind experiences darkness. Whether we are dealing with specific fear or general anxiety, we need to cultivate the courage to face our illusions and be who we really are. We need to have the courage to remove our wrong beliefs and identifications, our thinking that we are a certain thing, when really all those beliefs and identifications are simply attachments and not the one we really are, the eternal strong presence within.
Mechanism of Fear
Fear feeds on past experiences that have no independent reality in the present. Through superimposition we are creating our reality. We attach our meanings, ideas and conditions to people, situations and objects. Our practice is to separate ourselves from these illusions and realize the true nature of REALITY, of our own SELF. Fear and worry cause us to feel overwhelmed or limited. As a result, we identify ourselves as a victim. We have become powerless to express our potential. Remember the POWER OF NOW. In the Now we can experience the POWER of BEING.
Often times we grow attached to ideas about ourselves, other people and the world around us. We get attached to things the way they were.
We need to introspect and think, because in so doing we come back to the present, feel strong in the present, become creative in the present. This means we are letting go of our ideas how things should be, and we are ready for positive and creative changes:
Change of the way we make a living (class on line, work at home)
Change the way we eat (simpler food, cooking our own)
Change the way we socialize (read books instead of using the internet, relax in nature).
Change the way we do spiritual practices (more mantras, more prayers, more meditation)
Classical Yogic methods to deal with fears
Depends on your temperament, you can apply the following 4 classical methods, separately or together. Try to see which one is fitting you more at the moment.
A. Karma Yoga methods (active practical temperament) : Think of how to be helpful for others in this situation. Avoid thinking only about yourself. This will open your heart and alleviate anxiety that comes from attachment.
B. Bhakti Yoga Methods (emotional temperament): Surrender to the Divine plan. Trust that all will be well. Learn to relax. Transform fear to faith. We will talk about this more at the end.
C. Raja Yoga and Hatha Yoga methods (analytical temperament , people already having a practice of Hatha Yoga)
Improve breath-body-awareness with rhythmical breathing exercises and pranayama. Slow down, do restorative Yoga.
Increase and balance the flow of prana for greater energy and stress resilience. Balance the right- and left- brain activities. This is the key. Another class on prana is upcoming.
Improve mental and emotional balance by the regulation of breath, movements and concentration of mind. Awareness is important, not to force.
Increase ojas, the energy of sustenance, of immunity, that comes from your deep heart. Make sure to improve the quality food, not quantity (nervous eating). Also you can increase your mental attitude of trust and devotion. This subtle Ojas will increase your contentment, gratitude and relaxation.
Increase calm, reduce fear: Use props (blankets, pillows) when doing Yoga practice or when relaxing to create a sense of security, warmth, quiet and support so you and your family members or students will feel safe to let go of defences, to calm the senses and mind. Do only comfortable postures.
Experience physical, mental and emotional relaxation. Increase the right attitude for life – detachment.
Experience connection with one’s Self and others through deep relaxation, slow deep exhalation. Detachment from body, mind and emotions.
Teachers need to be gentle, encouraging and calming. The same as in trauma sensitive yoga guidelines.
D. Jnana Yoga methods (for intellectual philosophical temperament): Remember the True Self, the Atman, the Soul untouched by diseases and separation. Assert your Healthy Self. Do Self-enquiry, you are not the body nor the mind. Remove the veils of fear by exercising your thinking and discrimination and by detachment.
REPLACING FEARS AND ANXIETIES WITH FAITH. WHAT IS FAITH ?
We need to cultivate faith, which will replace Knowledge and help us to be calm in the face of calamity or diseases. We need to not only to rekindle our own faith, but also help others to develop faith.
WHAT TO DO: We need to nurture the 3 types of faith:
1. Faith in OWN SELF (reconnect with ONE’S CORE SELF): Self-reliance, which may be the same as faith in one’s Self, means we must rely on our own inner strength, dwelling within us as opposed to relying on an ego self. Fear exists when we don’t know the Truth about the Self (the Atman). Until we have such knowledge of the Self from our own direct experience, we must rely on faith, in order to progress in our life. Ultimately faith is replaced by direct experience of the Self. Truth or Knowledge can be glimpsed intuitively, even if we do not have a name for it. SO CALM DOWN AND TRUST YOURSELF. One student approached me very worried because she had a cough and she just travelled back from England and wondered if she should go to the hospital and be tested. I told her: “Look within, ask yourself the question, “Am I going to die soon? Am I healthy?“, to which she nodded.
I sent her to the hospital and the doctor said it is a common flu and she should just rest. There is no COVID-19 test available anyway unless she is ready to travel to another city. She did not go, but I believe that she regained confidence and overcame her fears by being asked to find the answer from within.
The Truth that will set us free from all fears, resides inside of us, but it is a long, hard journey to find it. However, we must start to walk on that journey with humility and sincerity. We lack experience in the beginning, as we do not really have a clue where to look when trying to look within. In that journey faith keeps us going.
2. Faith in NATURE and the SUPREME INTELLIGENCE (i.e. cooperate with Natural Laws for healthy living and improve immunity). Meditate, shift consciousness from the past to the present. Try to see a bigger picture and channel the emotions into devotion and the courage to face our illusions. Faith in God springs from an inner feeling that there is something greater than you, a supreme being that indwells one’s essential spirit. When one is enriched with abiding faith, one is able to recognize God’s grace operating in all things. We are on a journey of self-discovery to uncover the truth of whom it is that we are, a journey guided by faith. We can think of faith as the bridge that carries us from one experience of grace to the next.
3. Faith in the teachings and the practices. The sacred teachings say that you are like the Shining Sun untouched by fears and diseases. There are days when clouds fill the sky and we can’t see the sun. But you know the Sun is there. To regain vision of the Inner sun, we must learn to clear away the impurities of the mind by theobservance of the Niyamas (1. ethical guidelines of conduct to purify: Practice of asanas, pranayama, for example) 2. contentment (turning mind inwards) 3. austerity (renunciation, discipline, endurance, simple life) 4. self study (introspection) and 5. self-surrender. Self-surrender means accepting what is; letting go and letting God’s will prevail. Let it be. Bear the consequences of past actions coming in the present. Have faith that eventually everything will pass. We must also practice endurance and know that the journey is not going to happen overnight. The challenge of enduring past karma is learning not to react or retaliate. Forgive and forget.
GUIDANCE ON WHAT NOT TO DO:
1) Avoid negative company with those who believe in the wrong things. This is the surest way to kill your faith and increase your fear. Therefore, avoid negative people. This includes media as negative company, as well as internet gossip sites.
2) Following the Yamas: Practice patience with Self and others. Do not beangry or violent. Do not lie. Do not steal. Try to turn inward beyond the senses. Let go of our greedy tendency. Live a simple life; the more one depends on material objects the more fear one will have.
Everything is a test of faith: we have the choice to spiral down or spiral up. We need to learn how to overcome doubts and fears, how to renew our faith and not to lose faith, which makes us weak and move in the wrong direction.
Often disease brings doubt and guilt, feelings of rejection, of not having self-worth, or loss of faith.What we must keep in mind is that any kind of faith will make us feel strong, even when we have faith in the wrong thing. So we might have faith in the doctor or in the medicine, in the type of treatments we follow.
The opposite of faith is doubt. Doubt will make us feel weak. Doubt comes when we lose faith. We become doubtful in the underlying order of the Universe or of Nature. This is because our expectations are not being met. When something happens that fails to meet our expectations, we lose faith in God, the Universal law and ourselves. But remember, our journey towards fearlessness implies renewing ourselves. Keep your mind and heart open. When temporarily losing faith, try to find out the cause of our doubt,which is always a certain aspect of our ego, and embrace again your truth in the form of faith. Company with those who have no doubt is very powerful in removing doubts.
DO SOME RESEARCH ABOUT THE BEHAVIOUR OF THE VIRUS AND GET OVER YOUR IMAGINED FEAR. KNOWLEDGE WILL HELP YOU TO REGAIN CONFIDENCE AND FAITH IN THE INTELLIGENCE OF THE BODY AND OF NATURE. THERE IS AN INNER HEALER DOCTOR WITHIN YOU. CONSULT THAT DOCTOR. MOTHER NATURE IS HEALING AND IS THE HEALER. SHE IS THE PROVIDER AND THE SUSTAINER OF YOUR LIFE. DO NOT MISTRUST HER BECAUSE OF THE VIRUS WHICH IS ALSO SENT BY HER. TAKE HEED OF HER ADVICE BY STARTING TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEALTH (PHYSICAL, MENTAL AND SPIRITUAL) AND TRUST HER TO TAKE CARE OF THE REST.