Flying with Sadhguru

Flying with Sadhguru

Sadhguru is on a motorcycle tour of the North America to explore the mystical energy that dwells on this land. He’s visiting Native American lands and reservations. Today marks the third day of his exploration, and during his Sunday morning Darshan he shared that he has covered 1,872 miles so far from Isha Institute in Tennessee to Cahokia lands of Missouri. The location of his Darshan was a prairie and corn field. Here is a link to more images of Cahokia lands.

He opened his darshan the same way he has been these past six months with talking about the virus. “We ourselves have been like a virus on this planet.” He reminded us that from 1970 to 2016, the birds, amphibian, fish, and mammal populations have declined to near extinction. At this rate, in 50 years time, 70 percent of significant life on this planet will be gone for no other reason than certain reckless human behaviors, values, and ways of being. We need biodiversity for human survival. Recklessly killing off biodiversity is killing human beings.

He suggested that the best thing for us to do now is to please become aware of this and see where we stand. This is not something to correct overnight. Make long-term plans to achieve behaviors, values, and ways of being that are more in alignment with preserving biodiversity. Plan over the next 25, 50, and 100 years, and see to it that we meet these plans.

Why are elected officials not doing what needs to be done for the people? Sadhguru says it’s because people have not made it clear what people want. People are too busy being consumed by competitions and one-up-man-ship. This is so true. Also, I would add that I have personally experienced that the political process these days has amounted to candidates and movements and institutions asking me for money. But collecting money from me is not a real political process, it’s a business exchange. The way I see it, a real political process that is needed right now is for us to go outside together and plant trees and see to it that those trees grow to maturity and maintain enough sap inside them so that wildfires will not burn them down like they are matchsticks. With enough sap inside them, trees can fend off wildfire. If need be, worship those trees. Worship tree sap. Plant and love trees!

Looks like instead of making more human babies, it’s time now for humans to aspire to grow forests. Give birth to trees. Forget about your family tree; make families of trees.

The way Sadhguru says it is that “One of the simplest ways to change, given present conditions, is to put back 45% of the land under tree cover. We need biodiversity to flourish and keep the microorganisms going if we want human existence to continue.” Sadhguru said that the planet is not in peril. The planet can continue without human beings. It is human beings that are in peril. I would add that the fate of trees is the fate of human beings. We are so deeply related to trees. Look at the design of our respiratory system and look at trees respiratory system. They’re linked. When trees die, we die and vice versa. It’s a conscious connection, the way E.T. and Elliot connected. Whatever one felt, so felt the other.

Also, please critically view this photo below to see how the message to promote ecological sustainability might be refined in order to show how urgent that we pay attention to tree life:

The message might be more effective if we say, Forests are the Lungs of human beings, too. Save Trees, Save Humans. Can’t we understand yet how irrevocably linked our existence is to the existence of trees, birds, bees, or frogs? Please, it’s urgent. Environmentalists may have been posing as the benevolent protectors of the planet. Sure, but don’t we all need to better understand have to be less human-centric? We’ve been patronizing this planet even when we try to help. We need to humbly serve and touch and tread softly, softly rather than parade around with human-centric ways of seeing.

“Either we come out of this consciously, or a disaster will bring us back to our senses, it is up to us.” Sadhguru reminds us that we have a choice.

Humans have wielded an immense amount of suffering on so many species. We need tree cover. Human population needs to be reduced. Reduce human consumption. Reduce human aspirations. It is important that we understand that this does not mean we plan a genocide. “Postpone birth” is the phrase Sadhguru used. I say, “give birth to trees.” Make trees your new babies. Sadhguru criticized those who might worry about a depleted workforce or consumer force. He says, “You have become a marketplace in your head. Don’t be concerned about where are the consumers and workers. This is not the way to look at life.” Sure, I also wish Sadhguru would have said, Go out and instead of throwing a mother-to-be a baby shower, you have a tree-planting party (without all the plastic decorations, of course).

Regarding this motorcycle ride across the U.S. Sadhguru pointed out that he is accused of being an adventure addict. But he argued that addiction is repetitiveness. He shared a new poem he wrote called, “Adventure.” One of the lines of the poem said, “Adventure is not a conquest, but something that has no return on investment.” He added, “When life has come to you as a gift, what return do need on your investments?” We can see life as a gift that keeps giving and share our gift of life. Be exuberant!

He took a question from Abimanu who wondered if he could ride with Sadhguru because it looks exciting to be on an adventure rather than being forced to stay home and not even able to go to school. Looks like Sadhguru is having an adventure while a second grade boy needs to be stuck bored at home. Sadhguru said that adventure is not about exciting activity; adventure is about make every little activity you do exciting. How? When you exceed your expectations, perceptions, when you go beyond your limits of mind, body, emotions, perception, that is adventure and that is something you can do without moving from your seat or by taking a simple walk around the block or doing some good yoga stretch or meditative process.

Exceed perception by paying attention. Make paying attention into a big adventure. This is what yoga means. Adventure is about doing all the tiny things we do in an exciting manner. Stretch your emotional limitations. For example, whoever is around you, try to look at all of them with the same fondness as you look upon your mother.

Just using your faculties of mind, body, and sense perception, you can go beyond where you are. “You will cross rivers beyond bridges. You will cross oceans beyond ships. You will form friendships beyond relationships.” He said, and see how to stretch your physical, mental, emotional, and perceptive limitations.

He gave the second grade boy a practice, told him to go to the nearby Isha center, learn a certain practice or learn and work up to 54 Surya Namaskars each day for four months; plus, walk around and to whomever you meet on the street, look at everyone you see with the same love you look upon your own mother. Then Sadhguru will give him a motorcycle ride. He warned that the boy’s arms had better be strong because as fast as Sadhguru goes, the boy will be flying.

Sadhguru is painfully aware that the land where Tennessee’s Isha Institute stands was Cherokee Nation at one time. Then there was the Trail of Tears and Indian Removal Act, which has left pain and misery. Burial mounds exist across this nation; it’s important to reflect on those mounds that may be up to 5000 years old. Native nations practiced elaborate spiritual processes and rituals and nourished economic systems and towns of their own. It’s wonderful and refreshing to travel with Sadhguru and be amongst the Cahokiya burial mounds of Missouri.

Keep in mind, I am here at home in San Diego, California, watching Sadhguru on YouTube (thanks to Isha volunteers). But my own personal adventure involves a self-study of yoga and Celtic Magical tradition. So, when I saw Sadguru sitting amongst corn stalks, I imagined turning into an ear of corn. Why? In the Celtic Magical tradition there is a story of the poet Taliesan. Before he was a radiant poet, he was TK who served Cerridwen but Gwion Boch accidently imbibed the potent potion that was meant for Cerridwen’s son. In one part of the story, to escape her, Gwion Boch turned himself into an ear of corn. So, I playfully imagined myself as an ear of corn in that field, experiencing Sadhguru’s darshan as an ear of corn, listening to Sadhguru and beholding his presence as if I am that ear of corn sitting right by him. Blissful! Like this, I couldn’t care less if Cerridwen came to eat me; let me be born again as a radiant poet, like Taliesin, who can sing of the beauty of worshiping land, waters, sky, the elements, and the four directions.

The way I am exceeding my limits is to mix yoga and witchcraft. I would love for Sadhguru to touch on other fringe spiritual movements like Wicca, Voodoo, and the spiritual songs of the slaves of the American South. The American spiritual traditions are so vast and fascinating. I’ll continue to follow Sadhguru’s progress on his journey. Next, I’ll transform into the feathers of a hawk. Because if we want to try to keep up with speedy Sadhguru, we had better have wings to fly.

Infinite blessings on Sadguru’s motorcycle journey across spiritual America.

May God bless America!

Namaskaram!

My Belly, a Cauldron

My Belly, a Cauldron

I enjoyed a beautiful seminar with Judith Blackstone yesterday. She guided us through a subtle meditative process that allowed us to take time to be each part of our bodies AND engage the unified field of consciousness.

I’ve been meditating for years, and I have always heard the guidance, for example, to “be aware of your feet.” But Judith guided us to “go inside your feet.” So, with my entire consciousness, I occupied my feet. Then she guided us up the entire body, part by part, inviting us to go within each part of the body and BE inside that part of the body.

This was a nuanced way to focus for me.

Because someone at the seminar asked Judith, “what is the difference?” I would like to try to describe my sense of the difference between being aware of a certain part of the body and actually going inside that part of the body.

In the process of being aware of my feet, my mind sees my feet and my sensitivity feels my feet. But in the process of going inside my feet, I do not just see and feel my feet; I AM my feet. This made me subtly engage with my feet, investing my whole state of being inside my feet.

I wept during the process because it was as if my feet were sweetly singing to me, oh, thank you for being here, finally.

Being inside various parts of my body and actually dwelling inside those parts was a way for me to access total embodiment. I liked it.

Then Judith guided us to merge the content of our whole being with the infinite space surrounding us and within us. We connected deeply within before and while connecting to the unified field of consciousness.

According to Judith, and I agree with her, if we do not engage our entire body and bodily experience in its entire here and now existence–with all the garbage and all the bliss–but we just try to go straight to meditating on and connecting to the unified field of consciousness, that is when we experience spiritual bypassing.

Recently I walked away from practicing Kundalini Yoga as Taught by Yogi Bhajan because Yogi Bhajan is a known sex offender. Many people who are hurting in that community are calling out the elders, the legacy teachers, and the KRI / 3HO establishment and pointing out the ways they are spiritual bypassing.

Because the term is being thrown around a lot, it has became a term that needs defining, analysis, critical inquiry, and play. Where KYATBYB is concerned, many people who stake their livelihood on teaching Kundalini Yoga are now scrambling to disassociate with Yogi Bhajan. They’re working to separate the teacher from the teachings. They are attempting to rebrand. They are removing the old “master teacher’s” image from their books and altars and t-shirts and mugs and whatever swag shit they sold to make money. They are doing this without telling the story honestly about how and why they are doing this. They are doing this without clearly coming clean about their intentions for doing this.

So it feels like we need to be careful out there, anything that is being sold as “kundalini yoga” should probably most accurately be branded as “kundalini yoga that was once taught by yogi bhajan who abused women and children.” But I guess that is too long of a brand name to fit on Instagram posts. Maybe a better brand would be “kundalini yoga as taught with a heavy dose of organizational spiritual bypassing.” Because just as it is dangerous to go straight to unified consciousness without going through the body, it is also impossible to apply, share, and spread teachings without attempting to know and engage with that practice’s history and thus its teacher.

What I have found most helpful in moving away from kundalini yoga is embracing Celtic Magic. I am reading The Book of Celtic Magic by Kristoffer Hughes. At the same time, I am also enrolled in Embodied Philosophy’s year-long Yoga Philosophy certificate program. I don’t need another certificate; I just adore the community and the critical inquiry that I have found here. Feels like home.

My morning Sadhana includes practice of Surya Namaskar, Chandra Namaskar, Shiva Namaskar, Nadi Shodhana, fluttering the breath, and watching the breath. It’s simple. Not rocket science. I chant to the Dark Goddess of Celtic lore, and I chant the Tantoktam Devi Suktam. It’s a powerful practice that calls my power back to me and fills me with joy. I don’t need whatever program so many folks are trying to sell to me.

That said, I do like this yoga philosophy certificate program that I have enrolled in for this year. This year, I will complete a self-study project that engages me with both Yoga tradition and the Celtic Magical tradition. I will not do this as an objective study but as a quirky scholar / practitioner of both traditions. I’ve found a community of like minds who value critical inquiry. This is the best way I have found to move forward and to heal from the seven years during which I now feel like I was being duped by institutions that claimed to teach yoga (the Kundalini Research Institute, Happy, Healthy, Holy Organization, Sikh Dharma International, and Making of a Yogi). To me personally, I see these organizations are flawed at the core.

Ultimately, I don’t even like institutions. I like a small group, intimate experience, that welcomes creative thinking, integrity, transparency, zero tolerance for abuse, and is genuine and playful.

If you like that too, please join me this Saturday (12:30 – 1:30 PM) for Meditate and Write Flash. This class benefits the Writers Ink community so this community arts center can stay open (online) during these times.

As I am growing in my love for the Cauldron and all that it symbolizes (the womb). I have become more and more excited about inhabiting my belly during my meditation. The gut is a wonderous place to dwell. All the conjuring and brewing and digesting that happens there! Wow! Besides, I need a heavy pot to melt the huge mix of contemplative practices I have engaged (plus, all the bull shit I have been forced to digest) over the years. Though I may be accused of spiritual window-shopping, I don’t care. I am a creative writer. I shall humbly study the Celtic Magical tradition and the yogic tradition as a way to move through life with clarity, balance, and exuberance. If you have read this far, thank you for being with me. May this expression of longing be my way of bowing to your consciousness. I bow to the cauldron within you. Peace!

Be Dark, Soft Earth

Be Dark, Soft Earth

Yogi Ma

The poet Frank Watson has given humanity a gift, a collection of poems entitled In the Dark, Soft Earth: Poetry of Love, Nature, Spirituality, and Dreams.

weeping woods

Book One is called “Within the Weeping Woods.” Each poem, very short, conjures the spirit of the nature haiku. Here, we are offered a chance to forest bathe the mind. Reading these poems is a wilderness adventure that tangles up desire, and I feel myself hearing my heart beat inside the forest and beneath its soil. This inner forest is dense with secret glades in which a reader can hide within forest Silence. There is intimacy but also distance that soothes. Though many scenes revealed here are absolutely terrifying, the language is so stunning that terror is totally erased by beauty. We become like the fool who, “entranced / by the beauty of a rose / he falls off a cliff…

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Ferocious Rudra Kriya

Ferocious Rudra Kriya

If there is anything that I have learned from Mahatma Ghandi, Baba Lokenath, Sri Datatreya, Shakaracharya, Baba Siri Chand, Udasi Monks, Aghori Yogis, Lord Shiva, Kali Ma, and my own warped yoga teacher training, it is that yogic power DESTROYS ignorance.

When necessary, a yogi must use a CURSE. A curse is necessary right now!

The United States of America is a sick nation that was built on racial inequalities and barbaric law enforcement. No real progress exists here. No real union exists here. The leaders are depraved. Fraud and corruption invade every humble effort to make a living. There is no humility. The outer shit show stinks so badly no one can breathe.

The way forward is an illusion. The only way to go is within.

Go within, for real. Time to practice austerities. It’s critical.

Invitation to Practice

Sit with a tall spine in a cross-legged position (Sukhasana) or in Full Lotus Position (Padmasana).

Tune In

Tune in means to consciously settle into sitting in meditation. There is always a choice here to tune in by simply listening to your breath for a few minutes. Or tune in with any mantra that serves you. For now, I will tune in with my own Pran Sutra that my goddess teacher gave to me. I tune in chanting three times:

Aum Aim Hrim Klim Chamundayai Viche

Mudra

Interlace the fingers and cross the thumbs. Index fingers point straight up. This mudra is held above the head, upper arms hug the ears, elbows lock straight, shoulders remain relaxed (not lifted). Heart and rib cage remain lifted. Chin is pulled back toward the spine to be sure the vertebrae in the neck are long and tall (not squashed).

Mantra

Aum Namo Bhagavate Rudraya

Repeat the mantra 108 times.

Seal the Practice.

Seal the practice: Inhal deeply, and pull, squeeze, and hold the internal body locks (these are the internal locks: tighten the anal sphincter, urethral sphincter, and pull the navel in and up; curl and press the tongue to the roof of the mouth; roll the eyes to the crown of the head.) Exhale completely and pull, squeeze and hold the Mahabandh, or Great Lock, with the breath held out (squeeze and pull up the anal sphincter, urethral sphincter, navel plexus, solar plexus and diaphragm in and up to move the energy up the spine and out the crown of the head).

Relax.

Sri Matre Namaha!

Curses on all racial disparity, inequality, injustice, and ignorance.

May all racial disparity, inequality, injustice, and ignorance be destroyed.

May the benefits of this practice be received by all beings.

Video Invitation

Writing ~ Sacred Geometry

Writing ~ Sacred Geometry

On Saturdays, I facilitate a contemplative experience that is called “Meditations for Writers.” We are an intimate group of writers from here and there. We breathe, we practice a meditation, and we write from a prompt.

This time we will play with this prompt: Draw a sacred shape, any shape, a sacred geometry. Write names, rhymes, stories, and phrases on the lines and in the spaces of your shape. Behold your creation!

We will also breathe deeply, and in our mind’s eyes we will visualize drawing sacred geometry around people we love, homes, buildings, houses of worship , playgrounds, shopping malls, schools, theaters, insects, trees, flowers, etc. Any person, place, or thing that we hold sacred, we shall slowly surround with an imaginary sacred shape. We draw sacred geometry around Mother Earth. We draw sacred geometry in the cosmic infinity. Our imagination gets an excellent workout. We remain in this meditative internal visualization for as long as comfortable. It’s fun!

We give ourselves play time, stillness, space, and permission to behold every creation.

© Rebecca Jane / Yogi Ma, 2020

Lingam Meditation

Lingam Meditation

This is a simple meditation that anyone can do.

Go to YouTube and search for “Nadha Aradhana Live”

from Isha Yoga Center

While you sit, keep your eyes open

lovingly gaze upon Dyana Linga.

Remain silent.

Remain Still.

For ever and Beyond

Remember, essentially you are still.

Feel your gaze bathed in rosewater and milk.

Sense your whole being gives the fragrance of jasmine flowers.

Enjoy your secret experience within you, and let it stay with you

unto eternity.

Grave Meditation

Grave Meditation

This is an easy meditation for anyone to enjoy, quietly.

Go outside to a secluded space.

Put your bare feet into dirt.

Close your eyes and speak lovingly to yourself

with your voice within:

“Beloved One,

Keep light in your heart. Feel the heart light.

Feel relief — you don’t even need to Breathe.

You don’t even need to

Be.

Done with all,

Visualize

your toes

slowly catching fire — one by one.

Slowly burning.

The flame, slowly rising.

Gradually consuming

toes and bones and body.

See yourself as a pile of Ash that

Blows and scatters in the next slight wind.

Sssssssssaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh

hhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuuu

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

As you blow about and settle on Light and Breeze,

you dust the world. You dance with the light of dawn,

A ring, a ring of roses.

Ashes. Ashes.

We All Fall Down.

Now, Inhale Deeply.

Wiggle your toes. Spread your toes. Laugh at your funny feet.

Behold the connection feet kissing Earth here now.

Feel grateful for these toes and for this breath,

and every breath.

Bow to the Breath and bow to the Death within you.

Be Dark, Soft Earth

Be Dark, Soft Earth

The poet Frank Watson has given humanity a gift, a collection of poems entitled In the Dark, Soft Earth: Poetry of Love, Nature, Spirituality, and Dreams.

weeping woods

Book One is called “Within the Weeping Woods.” Each poem, very short, conjures the spirit of the nature haiku. Here, we are offered a chance to forest bathe the mind. Reading these poems is a wilderness adventure that tangles up desire, and I feel myself hearing my heart beat inside the forest and beneath its soil. This inner forest is dense with secret glades in which a reader can hide within forest Silence. There is intimacy but also distance that soothes. Though many scenes revealed here are absolutely terrifying, the language is so stunning that terror is totally erased by beauty. We become like the fool who, “entranced / by the beauty of a rose / he falls off a cliff / blown only by the gentle breeze.” Here, terrifying things are delivered gently. Also, it’s remarkable the way each stanza feels natural and not crafted, as if words simply blew in through the poet’s heart on the breeze. Effortless poetry! Ah!

dust

The poems in this collection can also create a sense of being a speck of dust, traveling free upon the wind and upon the wind’s whims; can I be so quiet, content, and unnoticed, even as I am thrust upon violent storms, even as I am settled home, longing we meet in a crowded jazz club? I read the collection while sitting under this tree in my front yard. I hear jazz music through the kitchen’s open window. Crows laugh. Dogs bark. Insects crawl nearby, and the wind is moving the trees. I notice nature with nuanced perception while I am reading Watson’s poems. This is reason enough to give this book a read and to read it again. I love the mood each poem evokes in me, like I am making love to the Mystery. It reminds me also of time I have spent sitting in dark temples, and one distant memory of practicing “Grave Meditation” with yogis in the Himalayas.

Grateful to Frank Watson and Plum White Press for the ARC
from In the Dark, Soft Earth by Frank Watson

eons

This particular poem welcomes the reader to witness a moment where the she of the poem confronts a secret she has been keeping from herself. She realizes an ugly truth, an inner truth that she had tried to ignore or suppress; yet, she had also stored it away in her treasure box. What a provocative juxtaposition! Then, an image arises in a simple phrase that hints at mischief, but it’s the sound of the words that is more important than their meaning: “sunlight broken / into a thousand little sins.” Then, the best part of the poem, is that the speaker, the I, the narrator of the poem, is but an invisible speck, some kind of micro-organism, somehow bewitched and floating “between the eons of her eyelashes.” This is an incredible shift in perspective. As a reader proceeding through a few short phrases, I have even forgotten to wonder what is the secret in the treasure box because I am now enraptured by the wonder about myself as dwelling between the eons of her eyelashes, contemplating myself as a floating micro-organism. Whoever “she” is in this poem, she is of goddess dimensions, and I am filled with awe.

This is just one poem from this collection. Every poem takes the reader on vast journeys through perception. Yet, the poems are immaculately short, distilled moments that trigger ancient contemplation. Spiritual awakening gets slammed together with lots of kissing of the Earth, kissing of moonlit waters, even kissing of the dead. The whole experience satisfies Spirit and sense perception all at once. And the Spirit world and the sensual world can be one, and this is absolutely OKAY, dear yogi! Plus, for viewing pleasure, the book contains artwork by a variety of masters, ranging from Keido Fukushima to Wassily Kandinsky, alongside the poems these works inspired in Watson.

butterfly

The collection is divided into ten “Books.” Each book has its own title, such as “Between Time and Space,” “The Percussion Mind,” and “Stories Before I Sleep.” The ideas and moods that these titles provoke invite me into contemplative space. I sit quietly, and I am content. That’s it!

While there are weeping woods, there is also jazz. And these haiku-like poems create a sense that the primal cries before humanity, with Earth always expressing herself in infinite variety, are not separate from the contemporary moans of urban music. We enter a consciousness where desire is a dream state, and I find myself longing to reunite with my Lover and give him the world’s last drop of rain, or the raven moon, or a road he may travel that will never end. I imagine the I of the poem to be my happy lover telling me that he lives his life in a butterfly’s dream. He reminds me of the Taoist adept, Zhuangze: keep life weightless. I wish I could say this to someone: if I am in your butterfly dream, may I be perceived as the nectar?

kiss

Finally, with this book, I find myself retreating again to the yogi cave within me and welcoming a gang of midnight philosophers to help me light the One Heart Fire at the hour when all across the globe, each has agreed to light his own lamp. If we build up enough nerve, we’ll all whisper: “We know how to guide the stranded souls. Look, over here! See how there is so very little distinction between what is a human form and what is Earth form? Be guided by the rhyme in twilight! See poems pouring tea for the Haiku that breaks the rules. Understand that which feels familiar is a bridge to mischief! Let’s cross together!”

In the poem “apparition,” there is a broken violin and some shapeless wonder that is rolling from one end of the world to another. Is it the poet that kisses Earth and moonlit waters and sunflowers? Or is it that the poet has become the foot or the lightbeam or the raindrop that touches the forest floor, the lake’s surface, or the flower’s petal? I have got to remember to be grateful for these poems that give me a fleeting chance to release my attachment to this human body. Be a drop of rain. Be a moon beam. Be a bear paw. And once I become these things, what does it feel like to touch flowers, lakes, and dirt?

who am I?

Who is the poet? He is “neither man / nor phantom / between the worlds.” Who am I? I ask again as I re-emerge from the dream of reading this collection. I stand up from sitting beneath this tree, and standing up after having read this book is the realization that this was not a dream. This deep peace within me is the real deal.

Frank Watson’s In the Dark, Soft Earth is a beautiful book. I hope you will read it, and allow it to guide you to enjoy your Self, thoroughly.

Appreciate Transitions

Appreciate Transitions

What does it look like to remember we are mortal and still live joyfully? When we say yes to life and reach for our fullest potential in any moment, how do we let it all go at the end, easily? When we allow Life its full expression through us, how does this Life eventually wish to greet Death? How shall we die consciously?

These are central questions to play around with while reading Sadhguru’s book Death: An Inside Story. He likes to say that this book is only for those who shall die. Then he laughs at his own joke. Today (3/31/2020), during his live YouTube talk, he mentioned that this is a book one should read alone and in one sitting. Then the reader can slowly digest this inside story so the consciousness may learn to be with all the dimensions of the reality of mortality. Reading this book, I felt like I was sitting on a park bench next to a wise grandfather and listening to him ruminate about death.

Read Death Alone

I read this book, not in one sitting as I am a slow reader. Also, because my children and the family dog must be nearby while we shelter from this pandemic, I took the advice from the book and held my connection to my current environment very loosely around me. Sure, I am alert to my family’s needs and provide all necessary care and attention; but it does feel good to hold my connection to this life loosely. Sadhguru says this is one reason to wear loose-fitting clothes–it’s a way to feel the elements interact with the skin. But also, wear loose clothes as a reminder to wear Life loosely, like a loose-fitting garment that is easy to discard. Allow lots of room in these flowing clothes. If and when it is my time, I’d like to gently dissolve away. I’d like to turn myself into air and leave on the breeze.

Be Aware Through Transitions

In my humble opinion, the best advice this book gives is to practice being aware—when dozing off to sleep—of the moment that consciousness shifts from being awake to being asleep. To take it a step further, humbly attempt to be aware of shifting from being asleep to dreaming. Be aware of shifting from dreaming to deep sleep. The teachings say that if we can remain in a state of awareness during these shifts in consciousness, this will be helpful for us to remain conscious during the death process. This awareness is the Ultimate Witness to every state of consciousness, and the yogis call this state Turiya. This blog posts explores awareness during various kinds of shifts. And once we become aware of transitions, the Hathors encourage us to appreciate those transitions.  

See This Page Blank

Sadhguru’s Death book does not offer much detail as to techniques used for remaining awake while sleeping and remaining asleep while awake, but he gives assurance that if we have a daily meditation practice, we can refine this witnessing consciousness. The way I have been remembering this observation is to just tell myself: Stay awake while falling asleep. Be totally aware when the shift happens. Awake and asleep are just another set of polarities that a yogi learns to bring into total balance and total unity inside. Why not enjoy merging opposites that can continue throughout the day and night, now and then, here and there, before and after, within and without. Eventually, there is little to no distinction between opposites. It’s funny being infinity and being finite at once. There are words on this page, and the page is also blank. There is this inhale at the top that changes into an exhale but before it changes it is neither inhale nor exhale. That’s where I can be. Listen to music. Listen with each note when it is not yet the next note. Be aware in that space.

Shambho!

Inside this body, I lovingly wrap awareness around the central subtle nerve channel of the spine, the Sushmana Nadi. I focus on the energy moving there until I sense its up and down flow. Then I gently coax its upward flow to touch the Brahmarandara and blow it out to merge with the Infinite. Easy! I have made a promise to myself to live this life as a yogi because I want to die consciously. See, I am complete. All future and past turns around and through all cycles cease when I hold my awareness in any space in between and whisper Shambho. For lifetimes already, my personal imagination has rolled around joyous feats of creating internal parties for mystics, lawyers, novelists, poets, sages, green grocers, trash collectors, criminals, failures, judges, sex offenders, bus drivers, doctors, and musicians. My inner world is an artists’ retreat with all of these beings running around in total freedom, joyous abandon, and naked wonder. So, what more is there? Goodbye Life and Hello again. Each time I take leave, I joyfully whisper: Shambho!

Are You Going to Scarborough Fair?

As I write this, my daughter is working hard to learn the song “Scarborough Fair” on the piano. She slowly works through each note. She will practice and practice until she receives a sticker to indicate she has completed her time with this song. Then, with dispassion, she will turn the page and move on to learn a new song. I will witness her turning the page and be sure to offer my awareness to the moment when the page is mid-turn; again, I will internally utter Shambho!

Conscious Handwashing

Conscious Handwashing

In uncertain times, what can we do? While we are staying at home, we can certainly wash our hands, consciously! And there is a way to get really into washing our hands without becoming obsessive-compulsive germaphobes.

I appreciate the World Health Organization’s short video tutorial on the proper way to wash our hands. Washing every surface of the hands is proven to be an effective way to reduce the spread of viruses. So let us hope that if we have the resources, we have started to pay much closer attention to washing our hands with these precious resources: soap, water, and mindfulness.

Columbia University School of Nursing’s Handwashing expert, Elaine Larson says, “quality handwashing matters just as much as quantity. Count to twenty seconds, sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song twice — heck, blow through a whole aria — but it will be for naught if you are not washing every surface of your hand.”

Good advice. Wash every surface. But let’s also contemplate beyond the surface.

As a yogi, I would like to take the handwashing protocol a step further, if I may. From a yogic perspective, the whole routine of washing every surface of the hands will be for naught if we do not bring our most expanded awareness to our actions. Yes, wash every surface of the physical hands; but also, involve every layer of being in the action of washing hands.

Health professionals tell us that washing hands is the most cost-effective way to reduce the spread of respiratory infections. Good news. When we are deeply mindful, there is also a deeper effect than monetary savings. To yogis, any activity that involves our attention on the subtle levels of being can and does impact our physical well-being. If we make it a practice not only to concentrate on the act but also to personally consecrate the action of washing our hands, this subtle level sacred offering can be a simple way to achieve collective upliftment in the collective human subconscious. Bringing consciousness of the subtle realms during this time of social, physical “isolation” can help mitigate the stress we may experience from isolation. Also, bringing more sacredness and consciousness to the action of washing our hands can prevent the routine from becoming a boring, mindless chore. Instead, washing our hands will be a sadhana (a consciousness practice). Plus, making it sacred helps avoid making handwashing an obsessive-compulsive habit done out of fear.

This blog post offers a way to make handwashing into a yoga kriya that will activate multiple layers of experience. We will slow down, bring new consciousness to handwashing; plus, during this time when yoga studios are closed, washing your hands can be your yoga practice (please remember, yoga is not only asana / postural practice).

What is a Yoga Kriya?

A yoga kriya is a series of connected movements that infuse a certain kind of energy and consciousness into these movements. Yoga kriya gets us involved in our actions beyond physical experience. So, not only do the exercises engage the physical body, but they coordinate the physical body to harmonize with the mental body, the breath, the intuition, and non-physical dimension that, once we touch it, makes us blissful.

Why Practice a Yoga Kriya?

Yogis make it a practice to bring a certain frequency of consciousness to every movement, every action of every day. One way to do this is to internally chant a mantra while going about the day. This means that for a yogi, the advice to “slowly count to 20 or sing happy birthday while you wash your hands” seems frivolous or mindless in a way that risks not bringing multi-dimensional, slowed, calibrated attention to the task. When we wash our hands as a yoga kriya, we create an opportunity to bring more dimensional quality to our attention, and perhaps even give a sacred sense to our handwashing.

This yoga kriya involves all that we are in a slowed down moments when we are washing our hands. Please note, this practice is not coming from any yoga lineage, culture, or institution. This handwashing yoga kriya emerged due to our shared experience, and it is a kriya that invites you into the moment washing your hands to play and just be you here.

Handwashing Yoga Kriya Instructions (video is below)

  • Stand before a wash basin with hands in prayer mudra. Breathe long and deep for three long, slow, deep breaths. Be present with this moment as if you are in the presence of someone or something that you hold dear. In other words, bring a sense of endearment, or even sacredness, to this present moment.
  • Now open the palms and face the palms forward at the level of the shoulders. Continue to breathe deeply, and visualize a warm, white light beaming out from the centers of your palms. Greet the air around your hands with gratitude. Feel gratitude towards the air, the hands, and the breath. Dwell in gratitude with deep awareness of the element air.
  • Turn the water on and allow water to flow over the hands. Greet the water with gratitude.
  • Turn off the water (conserve water), and soap the hands.
  • Chant the Yoga Yoga Yogeshwaraya chant (or any mantra you like) with the movements:

Yoga Yoga Yogeshwaraya

( Move palms together in circles, circle in one direction then circle back. )

Bhuta Bhuta Bhuteshwaraya

( Touch all fingertips of one hand to opposite palms then move in circles,

left then right )

Kala Kal Kaleshwaraya

( Wring fingers within fisted palms, like wringing water out of a wet cloth, left on top then right on top. )

Shiva Shiva Sarveshwaraya

( Rub or massage interlaced fingers extended, right over left then left over right. )

Shambho Shambho Mahadevaya

( Rub or massage left thumb with right hand;

rub right thumb with left hand. )

  • Repeat the chant with movements, at least three times with soap.
  • If possible, use elbow to turn on the faucet and rinse the hands in a conscious set of hand positions: 1. Cup the hands to receive the water. 2. Turn fingers toward the drain, and let the water run off the hands. 3. Press palms together and rub in a circular motion under the water stream.
  • Use elbow to turn faucet off. Shake hands. Feel the air and water interacting. Feel the drops falling off the skin. Be so present with the elements of air and water that you identify with them. Gently towel dry with a clean towel.
  • Bring palms facing up just in front of shoulders and breathe long and deep for a few moments.
  • Inhale and bring hands up to the sky arms at 60 degree angle. Lift your heart closer to the sky. Feel lift in the rib cage. Feel more length in the spine. Feel the hands lifting up. Feel weightless.
  • Inhale, hold, engage the internal locks (the bandhas) from the root lock to the Jiva Bhanda. Close the eyes and roll the eyeballs as if to look through the top of the head. Engage all the locks, not in a forced way, in a gentle way. Root lock means tightening the muscles in the anus, sex organs and navel point. Feel the vertebra in the neck are lengthened not crushed. Apply Jiva Banda, which means press the tongue against the roof of the mouth. Just be sure you are concentrating on this internal muscle squeeze and pull up at the end of washing your hands. This internal pressure is what creates the difference between handwashing being a yoga kriya and handwashing being a mindless routine. The idea is to pull internal energy up the spine using these locks. (Note: the chin does not pull down to the chest as in Hatha Yoga style Jalandahara Bandha; the idea here is to keep the neck tall and pull energy all the way to the crown by rolling the eyes upward.)
Where the banhas are located, engage them gently. No need to pull the bandhas as intensely as you might during asana practice.
This image is more like Kechari Mudra where the tongue is curled and pulled back. That is not necessary here. Simply pressing the tongue to the roof is Jiva Bandha. Jiva Bandha is sufficient for our purposes here in handwashing kriya.
  • With the breath held in and the locks applied, hold. Visualize the rays of the sun stretching into the palms of the hands. Feel absolute union with all that is. Feel palpable silence here, and dwell in that silence for as long as is comfortable.
  • Remain in this position and visualization with the exhale, gently throw all the breath out as you release the locks. When all the breath is out, engage all those locks inside the body again. On the exhale, include the diaphragm lock (called Uddiyana Bandha) in which muscles pull the diaphragm up into the rib cage (again, engage it gently, probably no need to do it full on). Again dwell in the palpable silence as long as possible while in a state of being absolutely empty.
  • Inhale and exhale powerfully and lower the arms to bring the hands back into palms pressed together at the heart canter. Send out an intention for health, union, peace, restoration, any creative intention…

May we treasure the unity the world is experiencing now because we are all facing the same challenge. The virus recognizes no national borders, but, hey, neither does human consciousness. The virus is a spiritual teacher in a sense that it is making us appreciate those things we take for granted and making us slow down and go within (plus it is a cruel teacher and often times spiritual teachers get cruel with us). May anyone who feels comforted by this know that I am here, consecrating my handwashing routine, and dedicating my clean hands and my clean heart to the health and wellness of all beings everywhere. Sat Nam! Namaskaram! Amen!

Instructional Video

Please view this instructional video if you prefer video over the text.

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