ENERGIZING THE RAINBOW BODY

Please chant these beautiful seed mantras and visualize at the same time the colours of the chakras displayed by Shiva: rubi red at the root chakra, orange at the navel, yellow at the solar plexus, emerald green at the heart, blue at the throat, indigo between the eyebrows and violet at the crown.

The vibrations produced by these sacred sounds together with our mental focus have the power to transform and raise our vibratory level. Taking care of our chakras is most important for the health of our energetic, physical and spiritual bodies. The top chakra, the thousand-petal lotus, is specially important.  Besides being our gateway to heaven and infinitude it is connected to the heart which inflames it with love and gratitude and makes it vibrate. In turn the crown chakra inspires the Ajna chakra, its “lieutenant”, to action through will, intention and growth.

In the physical body the crown chakra coincides with the pineal gland, the control center of the endocrine system.  The pineal gland is the size of an almond, located inside the mid-brain and resembling a pine cone. The pine cone is a very ancient symbol used in Egypt and appearing, interestingly enough, in the ceremonial staff  of the Pope and in some Vatican monuments. The pineal gland is a photoreceptive organ in some species and although in humans it is hidden in the recesses of the brain it is called in the esoteric traditions the ‘third eye’, the eye of inner vision and luminosity, the site of “hunches” and intuition.

It was not until the 1960’s that scientists became interested in the function of the pineal gland as they discovered that it produces melatonin, the sleep hormone secreted in the dark. They also discovered that the pineal gland produces the molecule dimethyltryptamine (DMT)  found in many living organisms and considered a most potent psychedelic. DMT is the active ingredient in some plants like ayahuasca, the sacred vine of the Amazon used by shamans to reach altered states of consciousness.  See  Rick Strassman, M.D. (DMT, the Spirit Molecule).

The pineal gland is also considered by yogis the seat of consciousness.  Graham Hancock, a prolific author and consciousness researcher (talks available in YouTube), believes that consciousness enters the embryo on the 49th day of gestation which is the moment science believes the sex of the embryo is determined. Hancock remarks that according to the Tibetan Book of the Dead the soul, after the death of the physical body, also takes 49 days to reincarnate (7 x 7). Also in this very sacred text of the Tibetans there are instructions and practices to eject our consciousness through the top of the head, the fontanelle, at the moment of taking our last breath.  To exit through this opening is considered very auspicious because it facilitates the possibility of reaching enlightenment at this most crucial time.

In meditation we also focus on the Ajna chakra or the Anahata chakra as we chant or recite silently Om, Hum or our personal mantra and as the sacred sounds resound within our heart and mind our crown chakra vibrates and accesses higher states of consciousness, bliss and clarity.

The practices of meditation, chanting and visualization all help to increase the vibratory level of the crown chakra as well as all the other chakras, however there is an infallible way to energize our rainbow body which can be practised anywhere and whenever and that is to attune ourselves to the highest energies of our most honored guests: the budhas, bodhisatvas, gods, angels,  saints, realized masters, guides and protectors.  They are our guests because we have to invite them.  Then we can receive their blessings and become empowered to live in truth, to be good, to do good, to be just, to be pure and to be compassionate. This is the best way to take care of ourselves.

So please join Snatam Kaur’s chant.  May “amrita”, the precious elixir of the Gods, descend upon you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ONLY FIVE MINUTES LEFT

heart on fire 2

 

When in meditation  I fall in a state of reverie or sleepiness I imagine what I would do if, all of a sudden, I found out I had only five more minutes to live.  Even though I’m only imagining that possibility my brain gets a real jolt, my heart starts beating faster, my eyes open up and I breathe harder.  I feel a sense of urgency and become present and awake.

There is a story about the Buddha who compared our human predicament to children at play in a house that is on fire. Someone outside calls the children urgently to get out of the house but they keep on playing. The mindlessness of the children in this story could be applied to the way we do so many things in  our life, including meditation. We want to meditate or we have been meditating for a long time but we feel that our practice is stale and uninspiring.  The repetition of the mantra lacks “bav” or devotion or the following of the breath is monotonous and it is easy to get lost in thoughts, imaginings and sleep, specially if it is late at night and we are tired..

The Raja Yoga system, also called Ashtanga Yoga, is one of the four main paths of yoga.  It is a gradual 8-step system where slowly we prepare for meditation which does not come until the 7th step. It is good to remember that there is a preparation process and that it takes time for the body and mind to be ready for meditation. According to Raja Yoga we first work on observing an ethical and healthy lifestyle, then we purify our physical and energy bodies by doing asanas and pranayama and unblocking energy knots in muscles, organs, psychic nerves and chakras.   By this time our body and mind have quieted down, the energy has increased and we are able to withdraw the senses and be still and in silence.  At this point we are ready to start concentrating on a specific point or object and keeping our attention there for a while without being distracted by a fidgeting body and a scattered mind.

This does not mean that we have to excel at all these stages before attempting to meditate but we have to be aware that the body/mind needs time to get strong and stable.   This also applies to the breath as we cannot slow down our breath as long as our body is uneasy and our mind preoccupied with many worldly thoughts. Finally when we find the strength, time and  motivation to sit on a cushion we can start concentration.  Many of the practices that we call meditation are in fact concentration.  We try to keep our attention on a focus (breath, image, mantra) and when our mind wanders away we bring it back to the object of concentration.

As we all know concentration requires effort and the sharper the concentration, the more clarity and focus we get. A Zen teacher used to say: “Big effort, big result; little effort, little result”. I would like to add that it is not so much a question of quantity of time on the cushion but rather of quality and intensity.  This is why I suggest keeping the sessions SHORT but INTENSE, applying yourself 100%.  Throw yourself into the practice you have chosen for 5 or 10 minutes like if those were your last minutes left to live, or like if your house was on fire.  That is a lot of intensity, I agree, but you already know that if you apply yourself halfheartedly nothing much happens. If in spite of applying yourself fully you still feel drowsy or distracted, break the session, stretch your legs, drink some water and even splash your face with cold water if you feel sleepy.  Then resume with your practice. This may sound extreme but we need to approach our practice in a radical manner to move out of our comfort zone.  Keep this plan for a few weeks and then increase the duration of the session little by little as you feel that you want to meditate longer.  The trick is to always get up from the cushion on a positive note feeling that you could have stayed longer.

Have you ever become involved in an activity, perhaps writing or playing music, when you totally forgot about yourself?   It is an amazing experience to realize suddenly that one or two hours have evaporated.  Maybe you even forgot that you were hungry or that you needed to stretch your legs.  That intense concentration is what we need when we sit on our cushion and then, eventually, we may find ourselves moving into a state beyond form and time while at the same time remaining intensely aware.  This is meditation, the 7th step of Raja Yoga.  The next and last step is samadhi, a super conscious state with many  levels of depth.

Finally, Swami Vishnu’s main recommendation for meditators in his excellent book Meditation and Mantras is regularity as through repetition we learn and create new habits.  In this case we are trying to establish the habit of meditation to the point that if you don’t do it one day you will miss it.

To summarize, concentration or meditation is not drifting into a placid state that can lead us quickly into distraction and sleepiness. Concentration requires effort and until we can reach one-pointedness of mind, it is work. Because it is difficult to sustain a sharp focus for a long time it is important not to strain ourselves, so short bouts of intensity and periods of rest are very important. After you have followed this strategy for some time, try once in a while to meditate for the fun of it, forgetting about the time limitation, the effort or the goal.

And speaking of goals, why do we put ourselves through this training? It is good once in a while to refocus our intention.  We want to increase our concentration to be able to meditate.  And we want to meditate because we want to rest, to disconnect from the body/mind tyranny that keeps us bonded to our preoccupations, imaginings, anxieties and fears. When we are able to let go of our story, even for a brief moment, the energy can finally flow through us unimpeded and the result is an intense experience of belonging, love, clarity and bliss, that which we are.  And the reverberations of that surge of energy can last more than a brief moment, they can actually transform deeply the way we think, move, see, talk and approach life.  That is why we practice.

May you all apply yourselves wholeheartedly and may you all drop body and mind!  This is my wish.

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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 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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AGING WELL WITH YOGA

On the link below you will find an article published in the Sivananda Retreat blog on January 30 and written by Donna Nebenzahl, a Montreal journalist visiting the Retreat.

The next workshop on Aging Beautifully is March 1-3. I hope I can see many of you here on those dates.

http://www.sivanandabahamas.org/blog

blog-surya-jan2015

 

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HEALING THE EMOTIONAL BODY

I will be offering a 5-day course on Healing the Emotional Body on February 8-12 at the Sivananda Yoga Retreat, Bahamas. Here is a small introduction I published on this blog on Sept. 2013.

You may have asked yourselves, as I have, where the emotions come from. When I feel the heat of anger or the heaviness of sadness the energy of these emotions can be so overwhelming that they seem to have a power of their own. According to Yoga, just as we have a physical body, we have an astral body (Pranamaya kosha) and within this energetic body made of prana there is a mental/emotional sheath that experiences thinking, anger, exhilaration, depression, doubts and delusions. But the emotions or the thinking do not limit themselves to this sheath, instead their energy affects the physical body as well. When these mental and emotional patterns are very deep and have been with us since birth they are called ‘samskaras’, deep ingrained patterns that we have brought with us into this incarnation.

Emotions have often had a bad ‘rap’. For example, women even today are described as ’emotional creatures’, unstable and not to be trusted. Emotionality is seen as opposed to rationality. But psychologists now tell us that emotions have a positive side; they are the basis of creativity, of art, of self-protection and they help determine social behavior by reading other’s signs. So the emphasis is not so much on suppressing emotions but on managing them in an intelligent way (emotional intelligence). How to act wisely in relationships and society, how to develop empathy and how to motivate emotions towards a goal. From this perspective all emotions are ‘good’ and we can even say sacred because they are lessons for re-integration and healing. They are clues that cannot be ignored.

Is it possible then to see an emotion not as positive or negative, but just as an emotion? First we have to acknowledge it. Repressing or ignoring it will not work. Then we have two options: re-act or respond. Re-acting will only exacerbate the situation as in the case of returning anger with anger. This situation will keep us emotionally unhealed. The option of responding, however, can offer the possibility of healing through transformation and change. Motivation then is the key to wanting to change our old emotional ways. So why do we want to change? There can be many reasons but mainly it is because we want to free ourselves from negativity, suffering and dis-ease. It comes a point when we are tired of our own stories and we want to make room for new possibilities. So far so good, but now comes the pain of letting go the old to make room for the new.

This is when our Yoga practice has a lot to offer and I emphasize ‘practice’ because as we slowly walk on this road new possibilities and vistas appear. But how to take the first steps on this uncertain path? When we are totally present on our mat or meditation cushion, one breath at the time, at that moment we discover that there is no past or future and even for an instant we are freed from our emotional baggage and are able to experience presence and fullness.

Most of the time our energy is spent in thoughts about the past, re-hashing past words and deeds, and the future, worrying about our security. Of course we have to take care of ourselves and Yoga shows us beautifully how to look after our body and mind, but there is a difference between obsessing and taking action when the time comes to make decisions. To live in the future is actually to fear death but by not accepting death we cannot fully live in the present. I do not mean by death the end of the physical body which is inevitable, but the death of habit, mental and emotional, the constant letting go of patterns that keep us trapped in the realm of the six enemies of the heart, the ‘klesas': desire, greed, anger, envy, delusion and sloth. Yoga again shows us the way reminding us to always come back to the breath, to the present, and also to let go at the end of the exhale, experiencing over and over a mini-death and the space that it creates: silent, luminous and mysterious. Swami Vishnudevananda’s instructions come to my mind: ‘Hear the silence, see the silence, taste the silence, be the silence!’

This letting go is practiced in the laboratory of our daily practice (asanas, pranayama, meditation,) but it is eventually maintained, moment by moment, during our busy day, continuously checking and re-checking our emotional reactions triggered by our relation to others and the circumstances of our life. In this manner we can ultimately find release from desire and fear (raga and dvesha), the two movements of energy that keep us in bondage. On the other hand, if we insist on clinging to our old re-active patterns, the old familiar ways, we perpetuate a state of disappointment, attachment, addiction and suffering.

 

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ON AGELESSNESS

longevity

‘The secret of longevity* To eat half, to walk double and to laugh triple’

Have you ever thought about the relevance of your age while in a deep state of relaxation? When you are enjoying the calmness and well-being of a good relaxation it does not matter whether you are in  your twenties or your eighties.  In both cases you feel just as peaceful and content. Yet, as soon as you return to your habitual mental state you become trapped in time, the past and future dominate your attention and you accumulate time in your psyche and the cells of your body.

The aim of yoga is to live in a state of relaxed awareness; relaxed because through relaxation we can get in touch with our sense of being, beyond time and space, and aware because through awareness we become conscious of being. So the yogi at all times keeps a state of presence by being  (1) relaxed and (2) mindful of all movements, internal and external.  This is how he or she is able to conserve, store or direct energy resulting in a slowing down of the aging process. And even when her physical body grows old her  awareness of her timeless being can shine through her outer form.

The benefit of this practice affects the physical body by strengthening, among others, our immune system. Most illnesses appear when our energy body is discordant whether through blockages or imbalances of energy/prana in thousands of psychic channels. In Yoga we know that wherever we put our attention there the energy flows. So when we are present and focused on whatever we are doing, thinking or saying we are able to utilize vast amounts of energy with a maximum of efficiency. At the same time our mental and emotional health is also strengthened as awareness is the first step towards healing from lower frequency states such as fear, anxiety or depression.

But beyond our concern with the physical or emotional body a constant practice of relaxed awareness is what puts us in contact with our inner being, changeless through time.  This is the timeless realm where God dwells. And when we forget to access that inner Guru or we need to boost our moment-to-moment practice of mindfulness take a few minutes and do the following exercise:

Close your eyes, lie down on your back if you can. Ground yourself by focusing on the different parts of your body starting with the feet, the legs, the abdomen, the chest, the head and so on.  Stay 10 sec. in each part feeling the energy inside those parts. Be intensely present.  Don’t be concerned with thoughts and return your attention to the body.  If you find it hard to be in touch with the inner energy, focus on your breath.  Conscious breathing will gradually put you in touch with a sensation of expansion and luminosity.

Thus become identified with your ageless inner being, the immortal Self that Swami Sivananda exhorts us to discover:

“You are not the body! You are not the mind! You are Satchitananda, (existence, knowledge and bliss absolute) and immortality is your birthright!”

 

 

 

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