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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HUNGRY GHOSTS

As the end of the year approaches many of us prepare to celebrate.  If we are fortunate we will enjoy a good meal in the company of our loved ones.  We might even have a thought for those going hungry and say a little prayer for them.

There is a Buddhist custom to offer the first morsel of food to the hungry ghosts, the spirits that can never get what they want and wander aimlessly in search of satisfaction for thousands of years.  Their mouths are like the eye of a needle; their throats are thin as a hair; and their stomachs are like mountains. Their mouths belch fire and turn the tinniest morsel into flames and their glances make trees barren and rivers dry up.

As the Paris Climate Change talks come to an end images of melting ice caps, barren deserts and deforestation come to mind.  I think of the suffering experienced already by many displaced peoples and extinct animals and the dramatic description of the hungry ghost realm does not seem so literal or far-fetched. Hungry ghosts are  psychological projections created by deeply rooted habits of greed and avarice. And we are all a bit hungry ghosts when we do not seem to ever have enough, when we are never fully satisfied and content, when we keep always searching for that elusive object, relationship,  teaching or guru.

Generosity is the anti-dote to a hungry ghost’s karma.  Seva, karma yoga, altruistic giving and love are all practices to alleviate and eventually eradicate desires. This is the agenda not just for the Paris accords but for all of us: reducing, compromising, sharing and respecting.  It’s a tall order but what is the alternative? Till when this endless wandering among barren forests and dried up rivers?

When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten and the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money.   Cree prophecy

 

 

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LIKES AND DISLIKES

tilopa_th_400_622For a long time I have tried to clean up my life, my diet, my relationships, my habits.  I have done my best to be good and do good.  I have kept inspiring company with gurus, protectors and guiding angels. So how come I don’t feel at ease, complete and content? Why do I still “try”, “aim” and “hope”?

Hope is supposed to be good as well as positive thinking and wishing well. And yet, when I hope for something I am selective and I reject an opposite something else. Ah! here I am caught in duality: the desirable and the avoidable, the clean and the unclean.  The aim of Hatha Yoga is the union of opposites, the Sun and Moon energies, the Ida and Pingala, the right and left psychic channels.  And many teachings remind us of the dangers of clinging to opposites,  the likes and dislikes, the desires and aversions,  the hopes and fears. But what to do when presented with continuous choices in everyday life?

Tilopa, the Bengali mahasiddha who developed the mahamudra method around 1000 BC, gave his students the following “Six Words of Advice”:

Don’t recall, let go of what has passed; don’t imagine, let go of what may come; don’t think, let go of what’s happening now; don’t examine, don’t try to figure anything out; rest and relax, right now!

Scary? A lot! What do I hold on then? Will my idea of who I am disappear? It takes heroes and heroines to let go the hold on the branch even though that branch might not be a beautiful one. The fear of the unknown is in our DNA.  No easy task to defeat it. And yet, when we come to the end of the rope there are no more choices to make, only the letting go.

When free falling in the precipice below, the Buddha exclaimed “Wonder of wonders! we are all endowed with the Buddha nature, luminous and empty, perfect and complete!”

So how do we free fall? Perhaps by simply opening our hands but because it takes a lot of courage to do just that we can also look at the motivation behind everything we think, say and think. Is the motive gain for this entity or avoidance? In other words, what’s in it for me or my family. This process of self-inquiry can go on every moment I make the slightest choice: why do I want to eat this food and not that one, why do I want to live here and not there, why do I look for your company and not another’s, etc… Just doing what needs to be done with no expectations, impeccably and wholeheartedly. It is a fine line that requires full attention but the reward is immense: no disappointments, no suffering and no fear.

So let’s live like Tilopa, the madman, in awe, present, available and totally exposed.

 

 

 

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YOUNG FOR EVER

the beauiful crone“Young for ever” is the new anthem of my generation.  As a baby boomer I have had it pretty easy so who would not like to keep the good times going? Every time someone remarks I don’t look my age I join my generation’s belief that I can defy the passage of time and remain young forever.  We all know that today’s 70’s are yesterday’s 50’s! It’s a fashion that I join almost unconsciously when choosing clothes and hair style. Medicine and cosmetics also promise ever lasting youth through many pills, supplements and procedures. We are a generation intensely hyperactive, on a permanent quest to learn and better ourselves.  I have friends in their eighties that are hard to reach as they are always taking courses, learning new languages and travelling to the “1000 places that must be seen in one’s lifetime”. By the way, I am also trying to learn Japanese. Of course it’s all wonderful but I question sometimes the motivation behind that flurry of projects, the urgency not to miss the next activity or product.  It is said that boredom is the worst enemy of old age, after fear of sickness and death.  Boredom, that old demon hidden easily during our active years, now sticks its ugly head.

In our quest to remain forever young could we be missing a very important stage in our life?  The Greeks called it the “great age”.  So how do I become old gracefully? I think honesty has a lot to do with it.  Nobody likes a fool old woman hanging on obsessively to old memories.  Letting go, that pending subject, becomes at this stage a necessity if I want to remain sane.  But once I let go of much of the running around that kept me busy in the past I find myself with… time.  Bertrand Russell said that idleness  is one of the privileges of old age. Indeed, it is a privilege to play with time. I can stretch it in the pleasant company of good friends, for example, or I can transcend it when I watch in awe a beautiful landscape. When I was young I fought constantly against nature rhythms which I always found much slower than my schedules but now because I have time I can slow down and be. The result is that I am more present, it’s better for my health and I am more aesthetically graceful, yes, more beautiful! Real idleness of course needs patience, another of those virtues that used to escape me and patience is at the heart of compassion. So who said something was lost?

Epicurus was convinced that the great age was the zenith of life, its best moment. This quote is attributed to him: “It is not the young man who is happy but rather the old man who has lived well.  The young man, full of vigor, makes many mistakes while the old man has safely reached the harbor and anchored his goods with the means of gratitude.”  I can see myself sitting in a small cafe in Greece looking of my anchored ship in the harbor, enjoying gratefully the sun and a coffee and feeling perfectly content, something I was not able to do till recently. Plato also was convinced that the great age is the ideal time to study philosophy.  Interestingly enough, a study from U. of California in San Diego* says that, neurologically, a slower brain is a wiser brain because those parts of the brain connected with abstract and philosophical thinking are free from the disturbing effects of the neurotransmitter dopamine, therefore someone older is less impulsive and subject to emotions. It’s good to know that I am not hooked on dopamine any longer. The truth is that now I think differently and, honestly, I don’t feel short-changed.  It’s all good.

the crone*Quote from Daniel Klein in Balade avec Epicure

 

 

 

 

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OUR DAILY DOSE OF GRATITUDE

harvest1

This next week-end is Thanksgiving in Canada. It’s a bit too early for my friends living in lower latitudes but here the wild geese have already flown to Florida. Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude and celebration although that celebration comes traditionally at the expense of many innocent birds.  In an agricultural society the feeling of gratitude at harvest time was probably spontaneous and sincere. Today, we are so removed from Mother Earth and its cycles that expressing gratitude at this time might feel a bit artificial. Nevertheless, cultivating gratitude has always been praised by all religions and now medical science confirms that it makes us happier and healthier. It is always good to hear what we already know because who has not experienced the positive effects of gratefulness?

When I am grateful my heart expands and I feel love, my nervous system relaxes and for a moment I have peace of body and mind. I briefly forget about my desires and fears and I trust.  It’s a bit like jumping into the abyss because what will happen if my expression of gratefulness is not acknowledged or returned or if I am denying reality?  Actually gratitude only works when we are grateful for something real and denial is not the answer. But it is true that it takes some courage to let go of our doubts, fears, worries and, in general, our negative baggage which we carry with us most of the time.

By practicing gratefulness I have slowly come to trust its amazing results.  The feelings of relaxation, peace and contentment do not take long to manifest. Gratitude is indeed a very valuable antidote to anxiety, alienation and sadness.  In the after-glow of gratitude it is even possible to glimpse that we are whole and complete just as we are, lacking nothing.

Gratitude should be practiced all the time. Just as we take a life-saving medication every day we should get our daily dose of gratitude. There is always something to feel grateful for: a sunny day, a rainy day, a roof over our heads, a beautiful flower, an Autumn leaf, our walking feet, our listening ears, the next breath, etc, etc…

Gratitude, like everything else, can be learned.  Here are some guidelines to start with until gratitude becomes a habit, a way of thinking and being:

  • When waking up and before going to sleep think about 3 objects of gratitude
  • Every day tell a spouse, friend, etc… something you appreciate about them.
  • Look at yourself in the mirror and say something you like about yourself.

And when you see some dark clouds approaching, quickly make a long list of things you are grateful for.  I have also re-published below my audio recording on love and gratitude and the chakras. Enjoy it!

 

 

 

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