MY QUEST FOR FREEDOM

When I left my parents’ home in my early twenties my mother called me an ‘adventurer’.  That word in the fascist Spain of the sixties meant many things, all of them unbecoming for a young lady. At that time in Spain freedom was the enemy of the regime and education was in the hands of the Church.  Yet, in spite of that state of affairs my father decided to send me to a French private school where I received a very liberal education.

My first escape from Spain was to work as an “au pair” in London taking care of a lovely family of four children.  The excuse was to perfect my English but the real reason was to enjoy the freedom that London had to offer me. But after one year of glorious independence I received my parents’ ultimatum that it was time to go back home.  I remember I cried the day I left.

Back in Spain I found a job with an airline and so again my thirst for freedom and travel was somewhat quenched. It was inevitable then meeting my husband in a far away country, Canada, which is now my adoptive country.  There I had the good fortune of meeting very special beings, first my Zen teacher Roshi Philip Kapleau and then Swami Vishnudevananda, the founder of the Sivananda organization.  I took my meditation and yoga practices very seriously attending numerous retreats while at the same time taking care of my family and a successful career in an international bank. It was a very hectic time and the traveling I did for the bank kept my illusion of freedom alive.  As I visited many countries I struggled with the ethics of the banking system and the high interests that were being charged. These practices came into full collision with one of the precepts of the Buddha: right livelihood.  I finally resolved my moral dilemma by resigning from my job.  Now I was free to live in accord with the higher values I was learning from my teachers.

Although I went back to work as a part-teacher my lifestyle changed considerably.  There was a lot of reducing, simplifying and slowing down as well as more time to be with my young daughter and pursue my spiritual practice. I was starting to realize that running here and there and making more money was not giving me the freedom I was looking for.

Now in my seventies I even have more time and no pressing business to attend but I am freer than ever to move in any direction.  How wonderful! To finally slow down and yet to fully enjoy what presents itself. In my search for freedom I had forgotten that I had always been free and what looked like a search for freedom was none other than an inner call for liberation, a call to go back home.  Now as I go about my life I know that every move I make is an answer to that call.  So what need is there to go here and there? I am always home playing the game of searching for my true home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ON FOOLING OURSELVES

For the last week Tulku Sheldor of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition has been giving powerful teachings at the Yoga Retreat.  Yesterday he asked the question, ‘what is distraction in meditation?’ The first thing that came to my mind is something to avoid, a sign that I am not meditating properly.  And yet, when that thought that I call distracted appears where does it arise from? Where does it go to? Has my innate nature been diminished or modified because of that distracted thought? My attention has changed from an object to another but the source of that attention has remained untouched.

Pointing to the source of our awareness is what teachers in their compassion keep bringing to our attention. Distraction is forgetting that all thoughts, words and actions arise from that source or ground of being. Some of us suffer from deep amnesia and live in a state of confusion, of false identification.  And so when I forget that innate awareness I fool myself and take a false identity.

Every time I lose myself in anger, greed or fear, I fool myself.  Every time I become attached to goodness and happiness, I fool myself.  Every time I discriminate between good and bad, I fool myself.  And every time I close my heart, I fool myself. How to stop this foolishness and constant forgetfulness? It is like taking reality for an ongoing dream or the shadows for the real thing.

Fortunately, there are wise and kind teachers that keep reminding us to remember and acknowledge our birthright and encourage us to take our seat on the throne as wise kings or queens that cannot be fooled by their subjects.

The meditation technique that Tulku Sheldor introduced is an open unfocused eye meditation where ears, heart and the entire being is receptive, relaxed and awake. Not rejecting anything, not hanging on to anything. This technique, once mastered, allows us to remain in that meditative state even in the middle of activity but even more important to open the door to unimagined possibilities. Continue reading

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UNITING HEAVEN AND EARTH

How to be in this world but not of this world?  This question has been pondered through the ages in many spiritual traditions. How to reconcile the absolute with the relative or as the Tao puts it, how to unite heaven and earth. We become immersed in worldly affairs and we lose touch with our divinity or we lead a spiritual life and forget our humanity.

We live immersed in paradoxes. Our mind leans towards the right when our heart yearns towards the left. How to integrate the best of both worlds? This is what yoga is all about. In the Bhagavat Gita Krishna presents to Arjuna different paths to arrive at that union but all of them require awareness,  clarity of purpose and commitment. Then when we stop making noise, inner and outer, we come in contact with our true face or as a Zen koan puts it, ‘our face before our parents were born’. And in that silence wisdom and compassion manifest and the integration of apparent opposites is clear and spontaneous. Daily we are presented with situations that require the union of our ‘little mind’, our thinking relative mind, and ‘big mind’, the spacious empty pool of infinite potentialities, the consciousness of Vedanta.  For example, how to set limits for others while remaining kind and loving, how to enjoy life fully while not getting lost in pleasure, how to become fully involved in our life’s circumstances and yet not to forget our immortality.

There is a story I heard from my Zen teacher about a couple that goes to see a Master about their marital problems.  First the woman complains about how her husband is treating her badly and the Master says: “Yes, yes, you are right”. Then the husband has his turn and complains about his wife, and the Master says: “Yes, yes, you are right”.  The confused couple asks: ” how come you agree with both of us?  We cannot be both right.” And the Master answers: “You are right, you are right”. The Master out of his kindness had to give an answer to both of them without taking sides and he succeeded beautifully.

The practice of integration, of reconciling duality is constant and requires alertness, intelligence, discriminating wisdom and compassion, these last two called the two wings of the Buddha, and as we become more skillful at this balancing act we can soar higher and higher while keeping our feet firmly on the ground.

 

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AUDIO – PRANAYAMA SESSION

poster_pranayama_d

This session lasts about 25 min. and we do 2 pranayama exercises:

1. Three rounds of Kapalabhati with 40, 50 and 60 pumpings with retentions of 40, 50 and 60 seconds.

2. Six rounds of Anuloma Viloma, alternate nostril breathing. Inhale 4 sec., retention 16 sec. and exhale 8 sec. If you find this pace too fast you can try inhale 3 sec., retention 12 sec. and exhale 6 sec.

https://soundcloud.com/surya-43/surya-pranayama

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AUDIO: YOGA NIDRA OR DEEP RELAXATION

YOGA NIDRAI am very happy to share with you this recording of a Yoga Nidra session I gave at the Sivananda Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas.  It lasts 40 min.  I hope it is of benefit to you.

Om Bolo Sadguru Sivananda Maharaja Ki – Jai! Om Bolo Sadguru Vishnudevananda Maharaja Ki- Jai!

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AUDIO CHAKRA VISUALIZATION ON LOVE AND GRATITUDE

chakras

In Yoga the emotional body is also known as the energetic, astral or psychic body.  It is made up of prana or life energy and is composed of 72,000 nadis or psychic nerves.  The main three nadis run along the spine and are called the Sushumna, the Ida and the Pingala. Along the spine are the chakras or energy centers described as lotuses with different number of petals or nerves.  These astral centers have a close relationship with the physical body, therefore the vibrations that are produced in the physical centers by prescribed methods such as visualisation have the desired effects in the astral centers. Also each chakra represents a state of consciousness with an awareness of a specific vibration through color, feeling, tone, bliss or joy. The seven principal chakras correspond to the seven lokas, astral or mental planes.

Muladhara or root chakra located at the lower end of the spinal column. Make a vibrant ruby red jewel spin clockwise at the base of the spine. This is the root of physical existence.  It activates the strength to stand for yourself giving you a sense of security, of being at home. Breathe in… and let it go…  Feeling secure and grounded physically and emotionally. Accepting yourself in a loving way. Breathe in love and gratitude and let it go… This chakra connects you with your lower back, tail bone, colon, bladder, adrenal glands, feet, legs and immune system.  Ruby red spinning faster and faster…  Take a moment now to connect with the limiting beliefs that have been held in the root chakra , those patterns of separation from family and society that do not serve you anymore.  Breathe in… and let it go… Awakening the highest potential of who you are. Trusting the power of transformation within you and being proud of who you are, your ancestry and your family tradition. Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go.

Swadhistana at the navel. Bright orange spinning in a clockwise motion.  Here we discover a new level of pleasure surrounding intimacy, recreation and eating.  Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go… Your belly is filled with the color orange.  You feel the physical and mental enjoyment of life and you become aware of your power but also of your control. Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go… Letting go guilt and blame and moving into a new understanding of how you honor the highest integrity in relationships. Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go… Your second chakra gives expression to your sexual organs, your pelvic cavity, large intestine, hips.  Letting go the control on others, the fears of losing relationships or money.  Letting go unresolved sexual issues.  Breathe in… and let it go… Letting go the fear of becoming authentic as you express your sexuality.   Respecting yourself as well as the other. Coming in touch with a new understanding of your creative forces.  Raising your second chakra to the highest vibration, that of integrity and respect.  Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go…

Manipura, the solar plexus.  A bright yellow disk spinning faster and faster right in the center of your gut expanding inwardly and outwardly. Here is the expression of energy, of your individual power and self-esteem. Know that within you is the ability of making decisions in your life, of self-mastery and personal honor. Know that you have the ability to transform criticisms into nourishment to become one with your intuitive voice. Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go…  The third chakra gives physical expression to the abdominal cavity, the digestive organs, kidneys, pancreas, liver, spleen, gall blader, the middle back and spine, the upper intestines.  All these organs are being raised  to the highest vibration. Breathe in love and gratitude.. and let it go… As you become awaken to the power of this chakra you take charge of your responsibilities and decisions and you let go of limiting beliefs about your potential.  Taking pride in who you are, your body, your work, your family.  Trusting your intuition, your gut feelings.  Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go…

The first three chakras deal with survival and security, reproduction or creativity  and personal power.  The next three chakras put us in contact with our own divinity.

Anahata, heart center, brilliant emerald green, opening and expanding in a rotating clockwise motion. This chakra makes us feel at one with others, letting go patterns of alienation, grief, hate, anger, resentment and bitterness.  Your heart chakra is being raised to the highest vibration manifesting compassion, forgiveness and trust. Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go…  Your circulatory system, chest, breasts, rib cage, lungs, thymus gland are all being activated and regenerated. Feeling healthy and whole.Breathe in love and gratitude…. and let it go… The energy of this fourth chakra empowers you to know that love is divine and that by cherishing us first we express a new level of caring for others. Transcending trauma and the judgement of others and ourselves.  Breathe in love and gratitude…. and let it go….   The patterns that you are right now letting go are the past experiences that have been limiting your potential for love.  The holding on of resentments have resulted in not allowing others to love you.  Your heart chakra is being awakened to love others unconditionally by loving yourself unconditionally.  Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go…

Vishuda, at the throat, a blue safire spinning brilliantly. Breathe in love and gratitude…. and let it go…. Surrendering your personal will to the divine will and accepting the expression of your truest self.  In the physical body this chakra empowers your vocal cords, the mouth and the thyroid gland. Know that you have the power to express the truth and that you can put it in your own words. Breathe in love and gratitude…. and let it go…. This chakra allows you to define your needs with clarity leaving behind patterns of lying and of shame. The power of the fifth chakra is being raised to the highest vibration by speaking words of wisdom and compassion that bring heart and mind together.  Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go…

Ajna, the third eye, indigo in color.  The vibration of Om resides here.  At this level of consciousness you only seek the truth.  This chakra empowers you with a balanced state of mind, seeing the divine perfection on all things.  Breathe in love ad gratitude….and let it go… This chakra rules the highest brain centers, the pituitary gland, eyes, nose and ears. Here you reach a new level of intuition and emotional intelligence. Genius intellectual abilities are awakened as you open your mind to new ideas.  Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go….  Releasing the grief that caused you to close your mind in the past, the limiting beliefs that have caused you to insist on logical explanations.  Raising your vibration to the highest degree where you are now able to take emotional risks with grace and ease. Your mind is now open to new possibilities as you follow your hunches leading you to a clearer vision of your authentic self. Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go….

Sahasrarathe thousand petals chakra at the crown of the head. Vibrant violet color. The highest expression of your seventh chakra is to empower you right now to live in the present moment, allowing your spiritual doorway to remain open as you experience a new level of connection and relationship with the Divine. Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go… The top of your head is ignited and your highest mind centers are fully activated in the pineal gland. In the center of your brain a blinding white light moves spinning inwardly filling your eyes, nose, ears, mouth and tongue. This white wisdom light expands into your throat, shoulders, arms and hands. Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go… Sensing oneness with all creation, the white light expands into your chest and heart.  Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go…  Trusting this divine energy as it expands into your belly, pelvis, legs and feet. Gratitude is your natural state of thought knowing that your body and mind are a vehicle for spiritual expression.  Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go… As the bright white light of the divine is activated in all the water molecules that make up all the cells in your body, it refracts and reflects a rainbow giving light and life to all the chakras as  you become a radiant rainbow body.  Infinite love and gratitude…

Take a moment to reflect on who you are and where you are. Breathe in… and let it go… Know that this moment is perfect as it is and that you are where you need to be.  May your inner light guide you on the path of infinite love and gratitude.

 

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THE DIVINE MISTRESS

dakini

There is a story told in the Tri-Pura-Rahasya* in which Hemalekha saw that her beloved  while in deep meditation had attained the desired supreme State.  Not wanting to disturb him she awaited till he opened his eyes.  But as he saw her and the surroundings he desired to rest in that Condition once more and closed his eyes again.

Quickly grasping his hands she sweetly asked, “Tell me, what have you found to be the benefit by closing your eyes or the loss by keeping them open? Tell me, my dearest, what happens when they are closed? What happens when they are left open?”

Reluctantly, as if he were drunk on wine he said, “My dear, I have at last found complete repose. I find no rest in external things, which are filled with suffering. He who lies outside himself does not know true joy within. Just as someone goes begging for food ignorant of the ocean of joy within himself, again and again I go after pleasures obtained from transient things.  Enough of such efforts which merely increase the experience of suffering! My dear, I beg of you, let me find repose in my Self’s innate joy again.  Oh! you are unfortunate because you abandon that repose and instead engage in useless activity leading to suffering.”

Hemalekha smiled and said, “It is you who does not know the supreme holy State.  That State is far removed from you. You know next to nothing. Realizing that State does not depend on closing or opening one’s eyes! Nor is it even attained by doing or not doing something. Nor is that State realized by any coming or going.”

“How can the Whole possibly be attained by doing anything, going anywhere or closing one’s eyes? If it were located inside oneself, then how could that State be the Whole? Myriads upon myriads of universes exist in one corner alone. How can there be made to disappear by the mere opening or closing of an eyelid? Oh, what can I say about the amazing magnitude of your delusion?”

“Listen, my Prince! I will tell you what is the essential truth. So long as the knots of ignorance are not cut, true joy will escape you.  Uproot the very tight knot of ‘I am not this, I am not that’ and everywhere behold the undivided, blissful, expansive Self.  Behold the whole world in the Self, as if it were reflected in a mirror. Do not think that there is more than the Self that is everywhere and everything.  Entering everything, abide as that which is also within.”

Thus listening, Hemalekha’s beloved was rid of his misconception and understood that the Self is the Whole, which is everywhere.  Gradually he stably realized this by becoming absorbed into the Whole itself and lived happily ever after with Hemalekha and a host of other dakinis.

 

*The Tri-Pura-Rahasya is a scripture of the Shri-Vidya tradition of Southern India  (Quoted from Georg Feuerstein’s TANTRA, the Path of Ecstasy)

 

 

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