The breath never lies.
She is our constant companion. She is easy, full, natural, deep and flowing in times of joy.
She is hitched, caught, stuck, staccato like, when fear reigns.
How do we access her more fully? Ride on her wings?
Even in times of sadness or sorrow we are reminded to take a deep breath.
We are enjoined to ‘catch her’ when challenged.
The breath is ever free we cannot stop her as any 4 year old knows, without detriment to our physical self.
SS # 3.43 Naisargikah Prana-Sambandah
Connection to the life force the universal potency of prana is both natural and spontaneous. It arises out of the great potency of svatantrya sakti and is effortless and grace saturated.
What does it mean to be effortless in a life that demands so much attention, awareness, presence? How does one move gracefully, with grace, no matter the circumstance?
We go back to the breath, we look to the breath for signs of present condition and experience. She is full, always there, ready to be completely supportive in times of effort and joy.
Let the breath lead the way.
She supplies nutrients for the body.
She calms the mind.
She sweeps away debris and darkness on so many levels.
She is the bridge between mind and body.
She is life.
How do we support something so profound, precious and free?
The breath is source and end point as well as the beginning
Resting awareness at her terminus in the space before her inward journey begins, we expand.
Let the breath lead the way. Take her hand, constant companion.
We increase our capacity to invite the breath, we make room, expand with her even as it is she who is expanding. And we attune to her subtle, soft presence, barely perceptible yet always available, always supportive. Welcome her, clear the way.
Saraswati, goddess of language, song and wisdom articulated is carried on the breath.
Sweetly go inside and let the breath lead the way.
Each breath is a wave on the vast ocean of consciousness. We seek to be the wave, even as our yearning to merge with the ocean roars in our hearts. Swelling upwards, increasing amplitude as manifestation outward solidifies; then sweetly, naturally awareness pulled back to source, melting, resting as each offering, day, breath ends. In that space steep. Expand that space.
It has been said that in the west we are guided by heart beats, by the number of beats we have in our life. In the east they are governed by the number of breaths.
The breath is of the universal, she is the first principle of life. When we open to her vastness we connect to the profound source of every creative impulse.
The mind is of the Individual. When mind leads, action is constricted by individual limitation.
When we let the breath lead the way, we cultivate awareness and patience. Moving with what is universal we individually gain access to the profound creative source of life. Clearing the mind, settling the body, we calm and simultaneously energize both. We light the path to the heart.
It is a dance, a beautiful tango between the impulse of the divine as breath and our individual manifestation as mind.
We must use our knowledge, our mind in service of this force, indeed it is made up of the very same, but when we only allow the mind to lead, it is by its very nature, limited by our intelligence, our present state of awareness.
When we pause, cultivate patience, invite a fuller breath we are inviting life, Grace herself. When she leads and the mind follows, spontaneous fullness from the inside out occurs.
Cultivate patience in life through deeper connection to the breath. Soothing, calming, energizing and fully aware, be present to what is, to what is needed and how to apply. As the Bhagavad Gita says, Yoga Is Skill In Action. We practice the art of yoga to live a more skillful and joyful life.
Without awareness, patience risks becoming complacency and veering into laziness.
With awareness patience is readiness, watchful, poised to act in the proper manner when the time is right or as right as it can be under the present circumstances.
Let the breath lead the way. Invite her to move, support, sustain and expand. Experience the power of your very own self. Meditation is the doorway to breath’s source, to self. Come Home.
Moment by Moment #07 September 18, 2017
It takes so much courage to be human. How do we take another step? And yet we do, again and again and again. Courage is such a beautiful complicated word. We often bind it close with heroic and yes, it does take a kind of heroism to live life well. Some say the word itself is derived from two french words: couer, heart and sage, wisdom. So courage is wisdom of the heart. A knowledge that is needed in real time, moment by moment. Not just for the celebrated heroes but for every heroic human, all of us. The courageous ones who look to live the best life possible no matter the circumstance.
There is such a wide deep gulf between moments yet we jump over them carelessly, with a certain nonchalance. Until the moment when we fall between, a moment ago healthy, now diagnosed; a moment ago carefree, now frightened, a moment ago free now imprisoned. But it flows in the other direction too. A moment ago alone, now beloved; a moment ago cursed, now blessed. A moment ago imprisoned, now free, truly utterly free to choose.
This means we must have the capacity, the sense, as in knowledge and heightened senses to see, to hear, to taste, to feel possibility in all its guises. Where is that moment? Between the breath, between the eyes, between stillness and movement, in the cave of the heart exists all the moments of eternity.
Expand this space says the Shaivite tradition. Meditate.
You don’t know, then you do. We do not miss what is unknown but swoon in delight or howl in despair at what is now known. Between these two is a wide, terrifying, unbelievable chasm. No belief is needed though, once known there is no unknowing.
Amnesia is never really kind, only temporary. And if numb we cannot feel. We cannot catch ourself. How many priors would I love to get lost in, to hold close like the beat of my heart? How many afters would I wish to ignore but cannot and so am imprisoned.
You don’t know and then you do. Now what will you make of it? Take another step. Now step closer and closer to your heart. Like the child learns to walk, we learn to move toward the heart in deep meditation.
Safari Njema. Swahili. May you follow your heart. May you find what you seek.
Knowledge and experience is the mutual feedback loop. How to invite both, authenticity, ever deepening knowledge and expansion of knowledge in profound experience? The capacity to be present to the truth moment by moment, to expand the space between each moment so that we may hear and gather resources and act in the most loving way possible no matter the circumstance. May we joyfully, deeply celebrate each moment and be steady as it rocks our world.
It takes so much courage to be human. We need every resource, every ounce of every sort of intelligence to bring light to life. Meditate.
Mother Earth seems agitated, upset, angry— hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, suffering of unimaginable depths. We send our prays and do what we can. And I can’t help but think, is it us that is causing this or is it just nature?
Just Nature. Hmm, we are part of nature, in relationship with her so no matter your beliefs or scientific stance, we are effected. Doesn’t it make sense to do all we can to listen? Not just on the surface of life, listening to the experts or various pundits, though indeed there are things we can choose to do or not do.
There is a deeper listening necessary, a listening that requires subtly and heightened senses, increased intelligence of every sort. This listening is found deep inside. It is the inner voice we hear when we say, “after researching this and thinking about it, THIS feels right.” Where is that place of knowing? How do we nurture it?
Certainty September 11, 2017
Who of us does not yearn for certainty? Proof that our actions are correct, our thoughts refined, our beliefs the truest? Yet doubt is a good thing, a healthy thing. On the surface it drives us deeper, it encourages expansion. Where may I have missed something? It pushes light into corners and dares us to see. Still we search for certainty. But there is a kind of danger in stopping, in believing we have found “it” as that is what causes calcification and hardening of the most frightening sort, killing the very seed of knowing that drives the search.
All of this plays out on the surface of life. The journey of meditation is one to a deeper knowing, a certainty born of authentic experience, experience that the expansive light of knowing, of all and every conceivable form of knowing, of the means to that knowing, is the source of our very own self. In deep meditation this spark, the light of consciousness, curves back moving inward and comes to face the light of source, Self. This certainty is not something that can be intellectual given or earned, though indeed it supports every intellectual, emotional and physical manifestation. What is the truth, the certainty we seek?
We are told when we begin to meditate that in time “wild horses will not be able to pull us” from our daily practice. We hear this and think OK, prove it? But it is not for the teacher or any other to prove certainty to us. This can only be done in the laboratory of our own experience taking place in each individual body-mind. So we commit to the experiment. Life in a sense is an experiment itself, it’s outcome dependent upon tools and conditions. How do we get the most effective tools, create the most welcoming environment for growth to occur? How do we know what action is best to take?
We enter into meditation and commit for this time. Add this one thing and see what happens. For years I sat, and yes there was sweetness, repose right away, but my awareness, so close to the surface was easily captured like a child with a bright shiny object. But I am an adult, I choose to commit, to go deeper and in that knowing, my ability to go deep into anything and everything is made spontaneously and naturally possible. Now I have a certainty that I will not abandon my daily bath in the waters of consciousness because I have proof, experience of the most authentic sort. I live a more steady, efficacious life. I am more skillful in my movement and thus more joyful in engagement. How this is made possible is the platform for understanding the benefits of meditation. On the simplest level, space has been made, a “ledge of freedom” that I stand on to use my senses, my intellect to determine how I will act instead of react to my present circumstances. I am better able to access what knowledge and skill I have and know more easily where to go to get what I need. This is huge.
It is always our choice. And choice, where and how we spend our energy be it time, money or effort is our greatest expression of freedom in this world. To feel we have no choice is to be in a prison of our own making and in a sense, the perversion of time. Go deep into the unbounded dynamic stillness of your own sweet consciousness. Then come out into life and go deep into everything. Be in a healthy relationship with nature, with Self, with everyone and every thing.
Life is too precious, too finite to permit decisions to be made on a surface level. Go deep and connect to the place where decisions are made and actions taken once those experts have spoken. Listen to your heart. Render this place clean clear and optimal because ultimately the decision rests with us. Certainty of the deepest most expansive sort resides in the Heart.
Surrender and Engagement September 04, 2017
Surrender and engagement is not synonymous with complacency and will.
Paradox is rampant throughout yoga, throughout life: go/stay, expand/contract, surrender/engage, stillness/movement, silence/roar. Please make up your mind! There is something about commitment to what is, the ability to firmly root while still seeking the refinement necessary to move in ever increased expansion; the desire to dance skillfully between the two, that calls to the human heart and mind.
Moving From The Surface To the Depths.
Tradition says to truly know we must experience. First we go in, melting the restricted limited sense of identity we hold so close, surrender. As we turn inward, awareness traverses ever more subtle bands of reality, coming to rest in the silent, yet dynamically alive source space of deep meditative absorption spoken of in the Yoga Sutras. The inner source of self moving in the cave of the Heart. Here the ordinary triad of awareness: knower, known object and means of knowledge, collapses in the introversive state of deep meditation and the individual consciousness faces absolute Consciousness alone, unmitigated. We are truly ourselves, temporarily released of all persona facing Self.
The fire of meditation burns and all objects, held in tight, limited composition and understanding, are devoured as prakriti (mind-body) is purified and alchemically transformed. This fire is not destructive in nature but rather extractive, and what is extracted is the nectar of light that permits the yogin to taste bliss, the truth of her own consciousness. We are truly, deeply, madly, loved. And we are always transformed and expanded by love.
This alchemic transformation, which is the hallmark of Śaivite-Tantra, permits a second phase to be set in motion. Now awareness, full and brimming over, brings this light of knowing back out into the world, and as it streams through the transmuted senses, life is expanded and we are moved at the deepest level. We bring the light of love out with us and it momentarily reveals the truth: every thing, every where, is this Supreme Light.
The yogin sees with softened eyes, a sort of double vision. Perhaps this is the ‘look of love’ spoken of in poetry? Ever more stabilized in this introversive state, as she moves through the world, she knows, sees with an unprecedented clarity, in her moment by moment experience what the object/person/circumstance is, what it represents, AND the Supreme light that is its true essence. Light that is nothing but love.
Enlightenment is not an on/off switch. As in all things there are stages and states. We do not love someone once but again and again as their true essence opens to us and ours is known to them. We are, as my teacher says, naturally “heart attracted.”
We welcome our Self as we do those we love, with open arms, ready to embrace the totality of humanity; our eyes soften, every fiber of our being opens as we surrender, not with complacency but the willing desire to merge. Naturally we embrace, we know how to engage efficaciously, lovingly, without over extending, while we settle and acknowledge the truth of what is and in that, become more present to its possibilities, and gifts.
We move through the world not from some brittle stubbornness borne of a limited will, but in perfect unison with the highest Self. To partner as one, engagement and surrender is paramount. This is the wild dance of life, the ‘ananda-tandava’ depicted by Natarja. We mirror his cosmic dance on an individual level, moment by moment, and the efficacy and beauty we so yearn to display is made ever more skillful in daily practice.
In order to bring the light we must first know the light.
Bring The Light!