Mindfulness, Kindfulness: What’s in a Name?

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By Melissa O’Shea- Yoga Alliance Australia RYT 500 hour Gold Designation

 

There is nothing new about mindfulness: 2500 years ago Buddha taught people how to meditate sitting, lying, standing and walking, and then how to bring this focused attention to the rest of life. Mindfulness has become the preferred modern term thanks to the popularity of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s MinYoga Cow Posedfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. Some people prefer the term mindfulness as they believe it to be connected to clear physical and psychological benefits while distancing itself from the religious and spiritual aspects of meditation. Enlightenment and Nirvana aside, whether we call it mindfulness or meditation, the goal of sitting meditation is to get up and live mindfully.

Mindfulness is simple. It is doing one thing at a time with focused attention. It could be as simple as eating breakfast slowly, tasting every bite. It could be walking the dog, feeling every step beneath your feet, inhaling the scents of nature (be selective with this one). It could be showering, or gardening, or even washing dishes, stopping the car at a stoplight and taking three deep breaths. Mindfulness is the antithesis of multi-tasking: it is not texting while driving, walking while eating, or cleaning the kitchen, supervising homework and clocking up kms on the pedometer while you talk on the phone. Which begs the question, who has time for mindfulness, let alone meditation?

Apparently, about 300 people do on a Friday night in suburban Perth. Dhammaloka Buddhist Centre features a 3 metre tall golden Buddha and a monk in brown robes: Ajahn Brahn. Recently back from retreat and in full humorous form, Ajahn Brahn leads a 30 minute meditation followed by a 45 minute talk. Referring to the recent Time Magazine cover article, ‘The Mindful Revolution’ Brahn says, “If you want to know about mindfulness, you’ve come to the source.”. The audience laugh but then sit at attention as Ajahn Brahn explains what is missing from mindfulness as taught by psychologists and corporate gurus, and the term he would like to replace it with.

Meditation in western culture began as a spiritual practice but popular culture has now unhooked it from religious tradition and embraced as a way to reduce stress, promote health and sharpen the mind. Happiness is often touted as one of the outcomes of mindfulness/meditation. “Living in the moment” and “Be here now” is a prescription for how to live well. But what happens when the moment doesn’t feel particularly liveable? When we’re in pain physically or emotionally, or someone else is? When we have too much to do, our job is boring or underpaid or we work for the boss from hell? This is where compassion, or as Ajahn Brahn suggests, “kindfulness” comes in. Through compassion for our self and others we can infuse any moment with kindness, making the tough times more bearable and the pleasures more exquisite.

There is a story in the Buddhist tradition about a monk who went on retreat in a cave for 7 years. Upon finishing his retreat and heading to town for sustenance the monk tripped over a dog, kicked the dog and swore. Making meditation a separate pursuit is a good way to practice and hone the skill, but without compassion for yourself and those around you it can become just one more thing to do in your busy schedule, one more pressure to feel stressed about. What good is seven years (or ten days, or an hour, or even 20 minutes) of meditation if you yell at your kids or your partner when you emerge?

Practicing compassion can in itself be a form of mindfulness. Be kindful when your child tracks dirt onto the newly vacuumed carpet and gently help him to clean it up. Wait kindfully when you are stuck in traffic, focusing on some music or the blue of the sky. Listen kindfully to your colleague’s account of her latest illness. You could even kindfully take out the rubbish or scrub the toilet or make the coffee (especially when it’s not your turn).

With practice and a little effort, living mindfully and kindly can become a regular part of your day. At first, think of it like tea breaks or bathroom breaks, something you will do every few hours. Over time you will find favorite mindful activities, and you can experiment with more challenging situations (lunch with a prospective client, reading The Cat in the Hat to your child for the 40th time). Mindfulness with kindness is the whole package: it can promote good health, reduce stress, and make you a happier person, all at the same time. Through kindness you might even find yourself improving someone else’s life and, with each small act, potentially changing the world. How’s that for multi-tasking?

 

The Lady of Yoga

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THE LADY OF YOGA: INDRA DEVI AND HER LEGACY!

Indra Devi Lady of Yoga

1988- Indra Devi and Yogacharya Dr Fernando Estevez Griego (Swami Maitreyananda Dharmachari)

For over 60 years, Indra Devi was Yoga’s most prominent female force. She pursued the practice of Yoga in an era when women were normally not accepted as students. Of European descent, she not only brought Yoga to her native Russia, she taught Yoga to the Hindus themselves. In America she taught Yoga to celebrities. Even after she reached the very advanced age of 100, she continued a yoga practice which included Ardha Sirsasana, Janu Sirsasana, Ardha Matsyendrasana and, of course, Padmasana. Indra Devi’s followers called her Mataji, a rare and well-deserved honour for a woman who exemplified Yoga’s principles with her love, light, and a liveliness that lasted nearly all of her 102 years.

The woman who would become Indra Devi was born Eugenie Peterson on May 12, 1899, in Riga, Russia. Her father was Swedish and her mother was a member of the Russian nobility. Although Eugenie had been drawn to India’s spiritual ways at a very young age, she first pursued a career with the theater. In 1920, while Russia was still in the midst of revolution, Eugenie and her mother relocated to Germany. She became part of a renowned Russian theatrical troupe that toured all over Europe. It was during this period of her life that she met Jiddu Krishnamurti.

Finally, in 1927, Eugenie was able to visit her beloved India for the first time. She wound up living there for 12 years, during which she married a Czechoslovakian diplomat, became an movie star in Indian films and befriended Jawaharlal Nehru. In 1937 she became a student of Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, a Yoga master whose other students included a couple of kids named B.K.S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois and his son T.K. Desikashar . After a year Krishnamacharya urged Eugenie to teach, and when her husband relocated to Shanghai in 1939, she opened her first school of Yoga.

After the end of World War II, Indra Devi continued studying Yoga in the Himalayas and after the death of her husband, her travels took her to the United States. She founded a Yoga studio in Hollywood where she taught stars of the day such as Gloria Swanson, Jennifer Jones, Ramon Novarro and Olivia de Haviland. In 1953 she married a renowned doctor and humanitarian, Sigfrid Knauer and continued spreading Yoga throughout the United States and Mexico via conferences, radio and television.

For the next several decades, Indra Devi took Yoga worldwide. She went to the Soviet Union in 1960 and became known as “the woman who brought Yoga to the Kremlin.” She conducted a meditation in Viet Nam in 1966 and traveled frequently to India. In 1985 she moved to Argentina, where she set up the Indra Devi Foundation (the URL of its website, which is in Spanish, is http://fundacion-indra-devi.org/). She spread Yoga throughout South America, along with holding seminars and classes in the U.S. and Europe. Over the years she has published a number of books, including Forever Young, Forever Healthy, Yoga for Americans (which has a forward by Gloria Swanson), and Yoga, the Technique of Health and Happiness.

Indra Devi practiced all that she taught, and as a result she remained active and vital well into her 90s, and even after she passed the century mark, her energy was amazing. After 102 remarkable years, however, it was time for her to move on. Indra Devi viewed death as fearlessly as she lived her life, and the world she left is very much richer for the gift of her presence.In the 1960s and 70s, Indra Devi was very much a presence in Los Angeles and Mexico, and was very close to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Traveling from LA (and her retreat in Mexico) to Bangalore and Puttaparthi, she was greatly honored by Him.

In 1982 she moved to Argentina. In 1987 she was elected President of honor of the International Yoga Federation http://www.internationalyogafederation.net/ (former International Yoga Teachers Federation) and Latin American Union of Yoga under the Presidenceship of Swami Maitreyananda in Montevideo, Uruguay. She died in Buenos Aires.

Yogachraya Fernando  Estevez-Griego  and Swamini Lakshmi

Yogachraya Fernando
Estevez-Griego and Swamini Lakshmi (first left)

Yoga Luminaries:

Yogacharya Dr Fernando Estevez Griego (Swami Maitreyananda Dharmachari) direct disciple of Swami Vishnu-Devananda- Yogacharya Master Fernando Estevez Griego studied with him at the Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas, Canada and United States).

Swamini Lakshmi (Yogacharini Eugenia Salas) six-time winner of the World Yoga Championship www.worldyogachampionship.com in Artistic Yoga Pair and Rhythmic Yoga Pair, disciple of Swami Maitreyananda creator of Artistic Yoga ®.  She is director of International Yoga School of Aurobindo Sivananda Ashram.  President of the International Federation of Yoga Sports 2010 – 2014 

The  International Yoga Federation is a non-profit tax-exempt organization founded in 1987, it is the largest yoga organization in the world and is open to all yogis and yoga organizations. IYF supports the minimum international standards for yoga teachers from 1987. Below is  the honourable Swamini Gauri.

Swamini Gauri IYF President

Swamini Gauri President of International
Yoga Federation 2010-2014

 

Marisa Cheloni -Swamini Gauri is the world-wide  President of International Yoga  Federation (2012-2016)

 

 

 

 

 

B.K.S Iyengar

Great Grand Master and Father of Modern Yoga: IyengarIyengar, the Father of Modern Yoga

 

Iyengar, the Father of Modern Yoga

B.K.S. Iyengar has systematised over 200 classical yoga poses and 14 different types of Pranayama (with variations of many of them) ranging from the basic to advanced. This helps ensure that students progress gradually by moving from simple poses to more complex ones and develop their mind, body and spirit step-by-step.

 

 

 

Father of Modern Yoga

Acharya Sri T.K. Sribhashyam- the third son of Sri T. Krishnamacharya (Father of Modern Yoga), was born in Mysore in 1940.

Acharya Sri T.K. Sribhashyam

Sri T.K. Sribhashyam, the third son of Sri T. Krishnamacharya, was born in Mysore in 1940. He obtained his Master’s Degree in Accountancy as well as in Hindu philosophy in Chennai. Right from his childhood Sri T. Krishnamacharya initiated him to Yajur Veda and taught him in the traditional way all major Upanishads, Brahma Sūtra and Bhagavad Gīta. Sri T. Krishnamacharya trained him in Yoga practice and teaching. Apart from this, he also received intensive lessons on Yoga Philosophy and Indian Psychology. Āyurveda, the Indian Medical Science, was another subject of study under his father.

Registered or Certified Yoga Teacher?

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WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A REGISTERED AND CERTIFIED YOGA TEACHER

Yoga Alliance Australia Registered Teacher

Marina Brooking in Yoga Prayer Pose-Yoga Alliance Australia Registered Teacher

Many aspiring Yoga teachers, are left confused as to the purpose and difference between certification and registration of Yoga teachers.

The purpose of the Yoga teacher certification is to make sure that instructors have an excellent knowledge of all Yogic aspects and safety issues. Yoga teachers should be certified for their own protection. With liability law suits being so popular these days, it is wise to have a Yoga teacher’s diploma on the wall. Yoga is not considered to be as dangerous as some of the other activities in health clubs, but some Yoga classes can be surprisingly vigorous, to say the least.

The purpose of being a registered yoga instructor is to make sure that individual/s have met the requirements set out by the Yoga Registering Body through an educational program with a yoga teacher training school. A minimum of 200 hour contact (face-to-face training) and 500 hour teaching experience is required by most reputable Yoga Organisations in the world to be considered a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT).

On the National and international levels, Yoga is a self-regulated practice. Many certifying bodies such as  Yoga Alliance Australia (also known as Yoga Alliance International)  the Yoga Alliances around the world, The International Yoga Federation (recognised as the supreme Yoga Organisation in the World)  work toward a standard of excellence in teacher knowledge, ethics and, student’s safety.

Liability insurance companies look favourably upon policy holders who are qualified in the field in which they provide services, and Yoga is not an exception. The general perception is that a credentialed policy holder, is professional, experienced, mature and the odds of claims are reduced.

What about established Yoga teachers who don’t have a diploma? They should seek advice from Yoga Certifying bodies on how to gain recognition, based on their studies, practice and teaching experience.

The majority of studios now require you to be a registered Yoga teacher. In North America, South America, Australia, Asia, and most of Europe, Yoga teachers although Certified (qualified) are not required to be registered but if you are, the chances of finding employment are much higher. Over recent years Yoga organisations have worked together to ensure that Standards are continuously revised and that Teacher and School can demonstrate they meet those standards.

NOTE: Although some Countries offer government accredited training courses, there is no such thing as a government-accredited Yoga teacher.

 

Breath of Fire (Agni-Prasana)

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hero-poseBreath of Fire is without a doubt the most sophisticated Pranayama (breath control) used in yoga. It is an amazing tool that fights against anxiety, nerves, fears, pain, and depression.

Master Yogis said that a person has been granted a predetermined number of breaths from birth till his death, and breath of fire is ONE (from the moment you start until you end). This means that you can prolong your life span by doing Breath of Fire!

The way we feel is directly related to the way we breathe. When dealing with challenging or stressful life situations, our body has an unconscious tendency to pull the diaphragm in. This is the area of the Solar Plexus, where the body keeps all of its emotions.

There are seventy-two thousand nerves in our body. Out of the entire seventy-two thousand , seventy-two are the most important. Out of these seventy-two, ten are vital. In India, they say that if the third Chakra (one of the focal points where all the seventy-two thousand nerves meet), is not in balance, a person cannot be healthy no matter how much medicine he/her is taking. A way to balance this out is by doing Breath of Fire in “lotus pose or hero pose”.

Breath of Fire is done through the nose (further down the page are the basic instructions) and the inhalation and exhalation are of equal duration. The body stays relatively still and relaxed, only the naval point is vigorously working.

In BOF it is essential that the navel point is pulled in only on the exhalation. Some people have developed the habit of pulling in their stomachs on the inhalation. This is called “reversed” breathing.

To check your breathing to make sure that your BOF is not reversed, lie on your back with your hand just below your belly button. As you exhale, be sure that your belly moves inward (your hand should ink toward the floor).

As you relax your naval to inhale, your hand will rise. Be aware of the movement of your hand: it rides toward your spine on the exhalation and away from your spine on the inhalation. Once you became comfortable that your breath is correct while lying down, sit up and again use your hand to make sure that you are using your naval point correctly.

Benefits:

  • Releases all of the built up anxiety and nervousness. Breath of Fire forces the diaphragm in and out and this has a direct impact on the Navel centre, releasing the emotions as well.
  • Readjusts and strengthens the nervous system.
  • Helps to regain control over stressful mental states.
  • Helps the heart and circulation by flushing the toxins out of the blood stream.
  • Massages the internal organs.
  • Releases toxins and deposits from the lungs, mucous lining, and blood vessels.
  • Expands the lungs capacity

 How to do it

Breathe in and out through the nose (or mouth). Pull the abdomen in towards the diaphragm during the exhalation and out during inhalation. This is very fast, as fast as 2 or 3 times per second, and also very loud. The people next to you should be able to hear you. When perfected, the rate should be 120 to 180 times per minute!!

Contraindications

Seek medical approval before practising breath of fire if you suffer from any of the issues below

  • breathing problems such as asthma
  • dizzy spells
  • epilepsy
  • heart conditions
  • digestive problems such as ulcers or colitis
  • regular headaches

 How many times should be done?

From 5 to 15 minutes every day, it is the best way to keep the blood purified. (start with 3 minutes and work up)31 minutes of Breath of Fire every day will regulate the pituitary. Pituitary will regulate the entire glandular system. Glandular system will change the nervous system. BOF is a breath which burns away all disease and karma. It is a conscious voluntary breath.

Quickly oxygenates your blood, thus helping the body detoxify itself and remove waste more effectively. Builds lung capacity and helps purify the respiratory system.

Generates heat and increases your level of energy by activating the energy flows in your body.

Synchronizes your entire system under one rhythm, thus promoting greater internal harmony and health. Balances and strengthens the Nervous System.

Magnifies the benefits of exercises done in conjunction with this breath.

When done forcefully, the pulsating of the diaphragm massages the internal organs, thus improving the digestive system.

 

 

Vibrational Healing

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MEDITATION THE MOST PRECIOUS TOOL IN VIBRATIONAL HEALING

holistic-meditation

 

In this article we will explore some of the various aspects of healing that correspond to the teaching of the east and the metaphysical ideology of the west. Both these approaches rest on the foundation that all of material creation is ruled by an invisible substance that animates the physical level. This is the Prana of the yogis, the Chi of traditional Chinese medicine and the vital force of the metaphysicians.

In one of his modern-day fables, The Little Prince, the French philosopher Antoine De St. Exupery states that “what is essential is invisible to the eyes.”

At the subatomic level of reality, material nature loses all its solid reality to reveal a constant dance of particles and waves that fluctuates in a swirling field of light and Electro-magnetic energy. Most spiritual seers of different traditions, from the druids to African shamans, pranic healers to twenty-first century Reiki practitioners have attested to this other dimension where they can feel, manipulate and work with the light and energy. Today this level is being acknowledged as vibrational medicine.

The quantum theory teaches us to respect the non-material aspect of nature and the dynamic quality of the invisible realm, which has been considered as empty space. According to quantum physicists, this is an invisible matrix of interaction between elements that are so small, we need very powerful microscopes to see. In fact, some of these particles, with fancy new names like quarks, bosons, leptons etc are so small that we cannot even see them.However, they leave a trail of light which is characteristic of their presence. How amazing is such a concept, that at the microcosmic level of reality we appear as fairy dust.

Indeed, research into the properties of natural remedies brings a new dynamic to the forefront of our perception. Many of these modalities deal with this substratum of reality, where matter takes a back seat to the vibrational level, where all the changes in body and mind really happen. Let us take homoeopathy as an example, in which the remedies used are so diluted that the active chemical elements can be considered inoperative, yet this is when the remedy becomes effective. The homoeopathic principle claims that the more the physical component gets reduced, the more the energetic aspect becomes potent. In the past there has been confusion and downright cynicism, but today the evidence of quantum physics helps us understand the dynamic nature of the invisible force field that underlies, interacts and sometimes overrules the material realm.

Healing modalities like homoeopathy are therefore using the vibrational level, which is fast becoming the new frontier of scientific exploration. It is indeed a great leap forward in medicine that science is now able to interpret this concept in a way that our modern, rational intellect can understand. The whole folklore, mythology and mystical teachings of humanity throughout the ages have been about such a non-material level, and light and vibration have been the characteristics described by seers, healers and prophets. These new scientific paradigms will enable us to validate and feel confident in using therapies that were perceived as useless superstitious relics from the past.

It is also this subatomic, quantum level of reality that is the whole basis for the teaching of meditation. The main teaching of esoteric, mystical circles is that the essence of the material world is non-material. Therefore to know the real nature of reality we have to look deeper than the surface appearances. Indeed, most meditation techniques help us distance and detach from the external environment, then, when we start to move inwards, to focus and face our inner being. Those who have taken that inner journey have left mountains of descriptions and explanations, yet such things can only be perceived by oneself.

This is because the whole experience is subjective and personal. The poet Kahlihl Gibran puts it this way:

“ THE VISION OF ONE MAN DOES NOT LEND ITS WINGS TO ANOTHER.”

Paramahansa Satyananda, the leader of the modern yogic renaissance explains, “there is nothing to be understood, everything has to felt and experienced”. Therefore we go back to the motto for this course, “an ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory”, which by now is permanently imprinted on your brain tissue and mind circuits – well at least that’s our intention.

Most natural therapies have up to now been rather misunderstood because they often mention the aspect of synergy of their potions and lotions. This is based on the principle that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. For example, we all know that the body is so much more than a mass of flesh, blood, bones and chemicals. This understanding was a very real foundation in the making of remedies, being very much apart from the chemical constituents of the actual herbs, oils, metals or other medicinal agents that were used.

So, apart from these there was also an inherent acknowledging of the inner, mystical or magical properties, imparted by the healer’s own intuitive awareness, which led to the knowledge of achieving the right balance and combination of formulas, blends and concoctions. Many healers and wise men considered their role as a sacred duty; they spent time in quiet contemplation, during which their power to heal and help was enhanced.

Tibetan priests bless the herbal preparations to impart added energetic potency, Pranic healers chant healing mantras on and for the people that ask for their help, Ayurvedic medicines were revealed to sages in states of deep meditation, and metaphysical healers such as Edgar Cayce placed themselves into trance states before giving healing sessions to many patients who attest to his cures.

Underlying this unknown or X-factor in healing is the energy, or Prana, or Chi that is imparted by the healer to the remedy and the person. Of course this would have been dismissed as pure superstition, but in the twenty-first century the research and study in quantum physics have revealed the amazing fact that the observer interacts with the observed at a subliminal, subconscious level.

This has overthrown the whole idea of scientific objectivity and has made us more aware of the powerful invisible forces that form the substratum of reality. As a modern race relying on technology, we accept the existence of electro-magnetic rays, cosmic rays, x-rays, gamma rays, infra and ultra-violet rays, which we cannot perceive with the human eye. Before the age of microscopes and other gadgets that helped us peep into the inner levels of matter and space, only seers gifted with insight and inner wisdom interpreted what our outer senses could not detect, and in the light of modern discoveries their accuracy in some fields of knowledge is quite amazing.

Vibrational medicine today comprises those modalities that are far from purely physical in their effect. It is the premise of such therapies that the person needs to heal on an inner level as well for the benefits to be long lasting. Many of these remedies also act on the psycho-emotional nature. These therapies are based on the fact that the vital energy in the body can be accessed in many different ways, and therefore we can tonify, pacify or balance, according to how the energetic system presents itself. Some of these modalities that act on the subtle vibrational level of the body are:

  • Aromatherapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Kinesiology
  • Homoeopathy
  • Reiki
  • Herbalism
  • N.L.P.
  • Yoga
  • Tai-chi
  • Chi-gung
  • Bach flower remedies
  • Crystal Healing
  • Colour therapy

There are of course many more that we may not have mentioned here. Indeed, our aim is not to get into any details on these subjects. We only want to point out their relevance in the field of healing, especially on an inner and subtle level.

Meditation is one of the most precious tools in vibrational medicine, and is at the forefront of mind/body medicine today because it puts us in touch with our own self-healing mechanisms.

Psycho neuro immunology, or mind/body medicine, tells us that our body produces all the chemicals it needs to balance and heal itself under ideal conditions. The research into transcendental meditation shows that the perfect operating conditions for body and mind are the meditative, contemplative states. The physiological changes that happen during meditation are indicative of optimum health. The body is always performing thousands of chemical reactions, involving complex inter-reaction between hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters to achieve homeostasis (the condition in which the body’s internal environment remains relatively constant, within physiological limits).

Doctor HIROSHI MOTOYAMA, a Shinto priest and healer, explains in his book Karma and Reincarnation that the evolution of man is being limited by spiritual ignorance, and meditation is a way of awakening the deeper layers of consciousness. One very simple method, which is recommended for daily routine to keep the mind calm and clear, the emotions stable and the spirit attuned to higher wisdom, is the practice of observing the breath. When our whole attention is on the breathing process, the constant restless wanderings of the conscious mind or beta level gradually settle down, and this silence and stillness brings the mind inwards.

This type of meditative exercise has been taught in many disciplines. In yogic Pranayama, there is this typical breathing routine:

The practice consists of deep, slow, breaths, inhaling for a count of four, holding for a count of eight and exhaling for a count of four. During the breathing process the centre of attention is on the abdomen. Abdominal breathing calms both the body and the mind. It also increases the Prana or vital energy, its circulation within the meridian pathways and its storage. Such energy is needed for the intense state of inner concentration as conscious awareness is turned within. The ancient Taoist teaching also recommends abdominal breathing to its adepts to still the fragmented manifestations of the mind. Some Christian texts, such as the “method of holy prayer and attention”, describe a similar Pranayama concept of focusing attention on the belly and the flowing of breath. Meditators in all times and conditions have found this an invaluable practice to get in touch with the source of peace, joy and equanimity.

Meditation has been used for centuries to find inner clarity and peace of mind. Druids often use it to achieve greater heights of focus and concentration, and to correct inner unbalances. For the best effect, one should meditate regularly in order to get the mind set to a proper level, after long years of practice, the meditative state can be reached without effort.

Mind can recollect past experiences, keeps thinking about the future and experiences the present with all its might and we do not have any control over our minds journey.
‘Dhyan'(meditation) is the study of deep concentration, calmness and tranquility of the mind. It is the study of attaining complete control over ones mind. Meditation takes the consciousness beyond conscious, sub conscious & unconscious states to super consciousness.

So, always keep this simple practice as a regular meditation exercise, whatever else you are exploring with. By itself or as a way to prepare you for more intense and longer practice sessions, abdominal breathing can be an easy way to get into a meditative state of mind.