The Art of Listening

Listen

It’s hard to speak and listen at the same time. In Luminous Soul, we cultivate the art of listening. We learn to focus on pulling inward and listen to: The mind, the thoughts, the body, the heartbeat, and the inner sound known as nadam.

There is something about listening that links us with our highest wisdom. It’s as if the capacity to listen means we are not already full with thoughts and ideas. In effect, we have space to take in what we are hearing.

To truly listen let the commentator in your head take rest and feel what is being said without any preconceived idea, without judgment … listen.

In Yoga, listening is connected with feeling. Not feeling on an emotional level, but feeling on a pure experiencing level.

I recently spoke with a friend who was quite upset about something. Rather than give her an answer to her difficulty, I decided to do what I call really listen. Listening itself became a kind of answer that day. In other words, I stayed present, I didn’t move away from what she was expressing in any way, I stayed with her words and their import without preconceived ideas or ready-made responses, without judgment, and in so doing I modeled a way she could possibly find resolution.

Each of us has innate knowing, but we don’t often activate it. Listening deeply to others is a gift and listening to your self on a regular basis supports the sincere connection with self and the development of innate knowing.

Listening and Meditation:

The first step in the meditative process is to sit quietly with your mind and body and listen. Students often find this to be challenging. For many, the simple act of being still and listening can feel hard. The capacity to hear means you have internal room. In a society where distraction is prized, listening needs to be consciously cultivated.

That day that I spoke with my friend she was talking very fast, her voice was filled with anxiety about her circumstance. I noticed it, but rather than judge the pressure I perceived or push it away, I simply softened and moved closer to it. By listening to her I found that in a short time her voice became less tinny and her energy became calmer. She clicked in, so to speak, and began to listen to her self more. As she started to self-listen her reactionary self slowed down and her innate connected wisdom started to rise.

Here are three simple steps to develop your listening skills:

  1. Be Present and Notice: Three times this week practice being present and listening to a friend or loved one. You are not practicing agreeing or disagreeing just listen. Note what this gives you access to. Here are two dictionary definitions of ‘to listen:’ To give attention to a sound or to take notice of what someone says.
  2. Work with Your Fear: Work with the fear that may rise in you as you listen. You may find that a loneliness, sadness or anger becomes more visible, or you might discover a part of you that wants to problem solve, or that by listening to someone you may find that you notice judgment rising in you. Work to release these aspects and simply shift back to present listening. Think of listening as a muscle that you are developing to access greater clarity.
  3. Listen to the Sound Itself: Sometimes the sound itself has information on a feeling level. Two times this week, practice listening to the sound itself. You don’t have to disappear to the meaning of the words, just give presence to the quality of the sound. Notice how it feels, let your body and even your skin listen to the meaning.

Work with these suggestions everyone. I look forward to reading your comments in the section below. Enjoy your Luminous Soul Listening exploration month.

If you want to go deeper into this topic and the Luminous Soul practice join me in the next module of The Inner Landscape of Meditation teleclass: The Art of Listening starting March 20th.

 

© 2014 Luminous Soul/Sanskrit Studies & Manorama

You’re Born, You Live, You Die….. Not really

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You’re born you live, you die, not really. Western society avoids the topic of death. I find this odd since we all at some point are affected by the passing of loved ones and ultimately we ourselves will pass beyond our forms.

When someone close to us passes, we become curious and through our suffering muster the courage to bring up the topic of death with our family and friends. In an attempt to soothe our pain they may tell us to put it out of our minds or they may look at us worried that we could be slipping down the rabbit hole. It’s as if there is something wrong with us for even thinking about death. We are quietly instructed that death is something no one really knows about and definitely should not dwell on let alone speak about. Others suggest that people who put attention on considering what death is may have a death wish or are overly morbid. “Live life! Enjoy!” They’ll shout, feeling as though they are championing life itself. In our lives we may be told directly that it’s not good to focus on death. Some parents try reassure their children and give them a sense of safety by saying, “I will never die” or they’ll say “if I die” as if it is not a fact of their existence … but I ask you how can you avoid the reality of death?

My first experience with death had a great impact on me. It happened when I was 11 years old. My paternal grandfather, whom we called Pop came to visit me. Everyone loved Pop, he was Italian, tall, dashing, old world, and possessed the kind of energy and charm that made people notice him whenever he entered a room. He was debonair with white hair and had a handsome stature. I remember that he had kind eyes. That night we met, I recall noticing that he was preoccupied and seemed tired in a way I’d never seen before. Pop had just retired from being a judge and an attorney after almost 40 years. He was basically in fine health. That night together we headed to books and records to buy some routine last minute Christmas presents. I recall my grandfather, and I doing ordinary things together like comparing the nearby Shop Rite for a better price on wrapping paper. We chatted as we shopped and spoke of every day matters. Pop was old world Italian meets the American dream. He was like those old houses in small towns that you see where everything is made stable by the material that made it. In retrospect, in those days, I felt like he was just like one of those homes that he could never crumble and yet the very next afternoon as I returned home from school I was told that that morning Pop never woke up.

During that time, I would ask people where Pop had gone and each one would say, “He died and if there was a heaven he surely was in it.” It signified to me the depth of their respect and love for him, but did not inspire a sense of confidence in their understanding of what death was. This and other responses of theirs indicated to me moreover that the notion of death scared them profoundly. So I stopped asking them and began my quest to understand death and its process on my own. This journey led me to my guru, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati at a very young age. Guru ji taught me how to understand the meaning of life and to be curious about the journey of death.

I do not believe that studying or being curious about the process of death will make you, morbid, death obsessed, suicidal, or a downer. Being curious about your next stage of evolution is wise and interesting. The process of discovery is both intense and fun to work to understand. Instead of you’re born, you live, you die what if it looks like this: You incarnate into form, you grow your self on a variety of levels and when the time is ripe you shift beyond your physical form. This and much more is what Guru ji and yoga taught me…

  • Want to learn how to approach death with a sense of understanding and grounding?
  • Want to see death in a whole new way?
  • Want to learn healing tools that support you working with the deaths that you have experienced in your life?

Join me for this once a year event where I share Luminous Soul’s Nine Principles of Living & Dying… http://sanskritstudies.org/classes/nine-principals-living-dying

© 2014 Luminous Soul/Sanskrit Studies & Manorama

The Cooking Lesson

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Everyday Guruji had us cook with him. This is how the lessons began. First there was silent meditation on the I-AM for an hour then he would shift to teaching Sanskrit. He taught mantras, grammar and etymology. His devotion and enthusiasm for Sanskrit excited us all. It was his love of the subject which gave us an entry point to delve deeper into the meaning of the mantras. Ah Sanskrit! No matter whether we were chanting verb endings, sutras or Devi verses, her eternally resonant sounds cascaded in the mind and harmonized the atmosphere.

Around noon Sanskrit class finished so Guruji would return to his modest cottage to begin cooking the afternoon meal. As always when you were in Guruji’s presence you found you learned so much about life. Studying under him was like engaging life as a lila (divine play). In order to understand one lesson that he taught one had to grasp many other surrounding lessons. Guruji’s teachings worked much as sutras do.

Sutra as a Metaphor

In order to comprehend a single sutra generally one will need to understand nine other sutras to grasp the one in focus at the time. Furthermore, to understand the surrounding nine sutras, the student will need to understand nine more for each of those and so on and so on into infinity…Sutra study shows us much about how Guruji’s life and teachings unfolded. In this way, each teaching was subtle and rich.

The Simple Act of Cooking

Guruji imparted his Shakti (energy) in the simple act of cooking. Just as a scientist carefully adds the needed items to his concoction, so Guruji prepared the meals in this way. As we added different items to the particular dahl or potato dish i.e., tumeric, ghee, salt, pepper, chilies and hing powder, I was always amazed to see how the ingredients came together. I had no idea what the particular dish would taste like. It was all a great mystery, but when the time came and he felt that enough fire, water, ingredients and attention had been added to the particular dish he would ask me to taste it and see how it was. With one bite a nourished feeling came over me…he stood looking at me waiting, with his eyes bright…as if asking Did I like it? I would return the glance with a kind of look that said, My lord, this is incredibly delicious. He would smile and I knew for him the lesson was passed.

It was not until after several months of helping him cook that I decided one Saturday to try to cook Indian food for my family on my own. After I returned to the ashram the following Sunday Guruji asked me excitedly, “So how did it go? How did your family like your meal?” I looked less than enthused and said somewhat hesitantly, “Oh yeah…well they thought it was OK, but I know it wasn’t that good. I added all the spices the way you taught me and I carefully cut everything placing all the ingredients in at the appropriate time, yet it didn’t turn out like yours.” I continued, “I don’t know how you do it Guruji? How you always make the most amazing meals.” He listened intently and then as was his custom he took his opportunity to share the lesson of the hour. He said, “I never talk socially when I cook. I always chant mantras and you do not. This is the difference. Food takes on the mind of the one that is cooking. Mantras quiet the mind and that tranquility is absorbed by the food.” Here it was, Guruji’s secret to creating an incredible meal.

Luminous Soul Lesson

In order to make a delicious meal one needs the skill of how and when to combine the food elements, and most importantly one needs an attentive and quiet mind to guide that cooking process. When we chant or listen to mantras while we cook, our mind becomes focused, energized and peaceful.

To understand Guruji’s teaching, think of the sutra metaphor – to grasp a single sutra one needs to see its application play out in many other sutras and vice versa. Our sutra here is a yummy dahl or potato dish and the fulfillment of its aim is found when we properly engage the simple act of cooking. Through cooking a meal Guruji was able not only to teach us how to prepare food and nourish ourselves, but also that any action we take will absorb the vibration of the mind of the one who performs it. When the mind is thoughtless and quiet then your real nature shines. This quiet is aided through chanting or listening to mantras. When the mind is quiet and attentive then all the meals of your life will bring great nourishment to you and to others.

Sanskrit Studies Mantra & Meditation Exercise

A. Close your eyes and sit quietly for a few minutes in silence. Afterwards open your eyes and note in a journal the quality of your mind.

B. Then begin again after sitting for a moment, start chanting the Mangala Mantra (see below). Chant the mantra with the conscious intent that all beings everywhere be happy and free – Repeat the mantra successively for two minutes. Then sit quietly for five minutes in thoughtless motionless contemplation.
Afterwards open your eyes and note in a journal the quality of your mind and the vibration in the space within and around you. Ask yourself does chanting a mantra affect my meditation practice. If so how? Describe.

Mangala Mantra
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

May all beings everywhere be happy and free.

Note: Invoke this mantra to quiet the mind and heart. Chant this mantra while cooking in order to bring a tranquil vibration into the food.

© 2014 Luminous Soul/Sanskrit Studies & Manorama

Sustain & Grow Yourself with Vishnu

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Language is symbolic. We use words to suggest meaning about the thoughts we want to convey. Your inner dialog also moves in a similar and powerful way. What your inner language tells you, will affect how you live.

In Yoga, we look at the gods not as deities apart from us rather as representations of us. They are you when you live from your highest potential. By studying their iconography, you get clues about how to live in your highest Self.

In his book, “The Universal Search for Peace”, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati says, “Man communicates with symbols all the time. Language and imagery are the realm of symbols. You move about in the world with your (thinking) mind, which is full of symbol. It is your connection with the mind that causes you to live in the world of symbols.”

Lord Vishnu acts as a foundational element in both Hindu mythology and Yoga philosophy. We find references to Lord Vishnu as early as the Rg Veda. His mythology, when understood from a Yogic perspective, unveils deeper layers of the symbolic aspects of OM, life and spiritual light.

The Symbolism of Vishnu

How can you work with the symbolism of Vishnu?

Water and Growth

When you see Vishnu’s iconography, you are receiving important visual clues that teach you about your highest Self.

Vishnu lives in water. In the iconography, he is associated with water. Water is life giving. In Sanskrit, there are many words for water. The Sanskrit root jiv means to be alive and the word Jivanam means life, but it also means water. Water is both life and growth and Lord Vishnu’s association with it signifies that he is life sustaining and a part of growth, as well.

The OM Cycle

Vishnu possesses four arms. Three of them represent the vocal aspect A – U – M. They represent all things in manifestation. For example, anything that is born (A) must grow (U) and eventually complete its cycle of manifestation (M). Vishnu’s last last arm represents the fourth state, which is yogic silence.

According to the Rishis, this cycle continues again and again: Create, Sustain, Complete. Create, Sustain, Complete. By chanting OM, you integrate the understanding that underlying everything is this cycle. It’s here that you come to the fourth arm of Vishnu, the soundless sound, vibration and yogic silence.

Vishnu: Light, Meditation and Clarity:

If you want to understand, then you have to be ready to get jiggy, so to speak because when looking at symbolism among the gods, terms over lap and merge. For example, while Vishnu’s arms signify OM, the word Vishnu in Sanskrit, means protection, order, light and knowledge. He is the incarnation of God (highest aspect of us all). He restores order and grants protection. The more you focus on Lord Vishnu through imagery and mantra, the more his principles merge in you. Vishnu is truth; he is light as knowledge, protection and right perception. In Yoga, you learn that real knowledge, which is understanding of your true Self, protects you from suffering.

Powerful knowledge that lays hidden in the principles and iconography of Vishnu reveals itself to you the more you meditate. It is through this focus on Vishnu, whether it be through mantra, attention of his iconography or by meditating on his principles, that you feel connected with what he ultimately symbolizes, eternality and freedom.

Luminous Soul Meditation on Yoga Sutra:
Pre-Meditation Ritual

• Sit in a comfortable position
• Take three deep breaths…
• Withdraw your attention from the outer universe
• Feel a connection with Lord Vishnu, the energy of life, growth, and the OM cycle.
• Repeat Patanjali’s sutra: Tasya Vacakah Pranavah 1.27 P.Y.S
• Allow this sutra to permeate your consciousness. Feel the light in your heart region.
• Close your eyes… begin your daily practice using Manorama’s guided Meditation on the Yoga Sutra

Use this Pre-Meditation Ritual and Manorama’s Luminous Soul guided meditation 3 times each week this month. Watch your practice blossom…

Copyright 2014 Luminous Soul/Sanskrit Studies & Manorama

The Gift of Your Life

Gift

We are all energy moving through form, we just don’t know it yet. ~ Manorama

 What is the gift of your life? …

The people I admire the most always live in an awareness of the blessing of their lives. Guru ji, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, was aware of the gift of his life. My mother, Marlene, was aware of the gift of her life.

To understand the gift of something you need to understand its value. When something has great value in your life you recognize it as your gift.

I sat down this month and energized on what makes up this gift.

1. The gift of embodiment is growth

This whole realm of body mind reality is about growth. When times are easy or hard you experience joy or suffering. But within each experience lies a key for your next stage of growth. Whatever the experience, embodiment offers you the gift of growth.

2. The gift of energy is being connected with reality

In reality, you are not the body and mind, the real you is what animates the body and what moves the mind. You are energy moving through form. Think of the body as a tool that you are working through. It is borrowed, so to speak, and one day you will have to give it back to the universal source. When you finish your time in your body the body finishes. The energy that is you then disconnects from your body and exits your form.

Recognizing that you are energy is one thing; however integrating an understanding of this is something else. In order to live in this understanding you must practice regular yogic meditation.

3. The gift of meditation; integration of reality

Meditation is the key to living a happy life. It is not the next chore you need to do. It is a gift. It’s not the next thing to add to your list to feel bad about because you should do it, but you don’t. Meditation is the experience of being with your self/Self. And it is the natural discovery that emerges when you are in genuine connection with your self/Self.
As a practice: Meditation exercises build greater awareness.
As an experience: Meditation emerges when you immerse in the experience of awareness.

As yogis-in-training, we have the opportunity to consciously decide how we want to spend our lives, what we want to watch on TV, what we want to read, who we want to see and where we want to place our focus.

You have the capacity to consider your life, your being and experience what you are beyond that.

Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati put it this way, “To be happy, you must meditate.”

This December, as we all give and receive gifts, spend some time contemplating the gift of your life.

© 2013 Luminous Shabda/Sanskrit Studies & Manorama

Agni: The First Word in Sanskrit

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Agni literally means fire and is the first word laid down in the Rg Veda, the oldest extant of Sanskrit writings.

There is a sacred fire practice that yogis engage each day at the dawn and dusk. This vedic fire practice supports the practitioner by cultivating connection with eternal light. It is said by Rishis that Agni is the best representation of light on earth.

When I was travelling in India, I noticed many repetitions of things. Sanskrit taught me to look for this. Each day I saw fires; in homes, by the side of a road, at parties, for sacred ceremonies or modern usage… It struck me how connected the Indian culture was with the fire element and therefore to the light.

I recall something Guru ji said years earlier: He used to ask students to pay attention to the fact that the flame, no matter where you pushed it, would always find an upward movement. In the same way, he said, our consciousness always seeks an upward movement as well. What he meant was that we come here to grow and expand. Essentially, we are like fire. Our journey is to understand that fire more.

The months I spent in India taught me how woven into the fabric of ordinary life the fire was. I don’t recall how many fires I actually saw, but whenever I remember my time there I still recall the sacred feeling that rose in me each time I glimpsed the rising flames and the dancing light of those Indian fires. They lifted with the dust amidst the crashing of modernity and the sacred ancient.

Luminous Soul ‘21 day Fire Blessing Exercise’:
By Manorama

For 21 days …
1. Start each day by offering your practice in honor of a specific person both morning & evening.
2. Work with the Awaken Fire CD
3. Each morning and evening, with the sunrise and sunset, practice chanting each fire mantra one time.
4. After chanting, sit silently and practice Luminous Soul Meditation on the Fire for 15 minutes.
5. After sitting silently, watch the natural flow of your breathing for 4 minutes.
6. Finish with a sacred prayer to the person you are dedicating these mantras to.

Luminous Soul Notes from Manorama regarding the prayer section:
Each day dedicate your fire practice to someone in your life that you want to receive the healing light of this energy. At the beginning and end of your practice
hold the person’s name and image in your mind for one minute while directing your love and prayers towards them. Afterwards, feel for two minutes the peace and healing that this practice gives both you and the person you make the dedication to.

© 2013 Luminous Shabda/Sanskrit Studies & Manorama

Patience: The Language of Nature

Sun beams and green leaves

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Patience is an awesome thing to have.
~ Manorama

I was reflecting today about how in my mid twenties I realized that I possessed very little patience. I don’t know the exact moment I realized, but I recall feeling impatient and cognizing that I needed more in life overall. It occurred to me at the time that I might need to actively cultivate patience. This realization of patience being a practice led me to explore the value of it in my life and how to work with it.

During the year my precious mother was sick I recall sitting by her bed at Sloan Kettering. The light was streaming through the oversized hospital window. It overlooked an uninspiring expansive industrial landscape that told the story of man’s attempt to move forward. I noticed there was not a drop of nature visible. At the time, it made me smile inside. Somehow it was fitting and matched our circumstances. My mother’s problem seemed linked with man’s similar attempts. There was nothing alternative or natural about her care at that stage and therefore there was a palpable lack of inspiration surrounding the circumstance.

Anyhow that particular day was one of our ‘good days’ at Sloan where you not only felt like your loved one may actually experience healing, but you somehow felt that whatever was happening was just as it should be. I sat there open and receptive and decided to take in that good feeling. Then I began to laugh… every experience with the hospital from the initial emergent care to the administering of medicines, to the interaction with the various people that work there from the technicians, to the nurses, to the doctors, the whole experience was filled with lots of waiting. It was a kind of ‘hurry up and wait’ experience. Wait for the doctors. Definitely. Wait for the nurses to administer medicines. Yes. Wait for the technicians to help bathe and clean the bed, the physical therapists to exercise and build strength in the muscles. Wait for the next test. Wait to be admitted and wait to be released. It was clear that the entire experience was built around the notion of needing to cultivate patience.

I turned to my mother that day after we had gone through another round of waiting: Waiting for scans, lab results, doctors etc. and said to her, “Well now I know why they call us patients because to undergo this process you need to have a lot of patience.” She agreed and we both chuckled together. I started to consider … did illness start in the body from a kind of impatience with one’s self or one’s body… since we were sharing a kind of crash course in patience, what was the value of it and was there a way that we somehow lost contact with it that led us to need it so much at that time.

I discovered that there was great value in developing patience and that patience was a key factor in the happiness code. Here are a few things I realized in the cultivation of patience:

  • Patience requires attention to breath.
  • When patience is active I feel internal space.
  • It feels good to offer this to others and to receive it from them.
  • In an active state of patience, I experience clarity in my thoughts and openness in my heart.
  • Patience allows me to be open to the moment and to receive it more fully.
  • Patience requires that I sit with the energy that is moving through me.
  • Study a flower growing, the sun rising or setting, a frog leaping: Patience puts you in accord with nature.
  • Having patience allows me to stay grounded and connected with my self.

Luminous Shabda Cultivate Patience Exercise:

This month, cultivate patience in your life. Work to be patient in all that you do and observe the results on an inner and outer level.

Write in your journal all that you discover.

© 2013 Luminous Shabda/Sanskrit Studies & Manorama

Nadam: Mystical Sound of Light

Energy

Rishis of old, speak of the mystical sound that lies within every manifest being. In Sanskrit, this sound is called OM or Nadam. It is the sound of silence and is linked with pulsation, light and essential rhythm. A yogi-in-training must practice listening to this inner sound during meditation, in order to develop his/her practice and to connect more deeply with his or her Self.

Nada Intoxicated:

When you focus your attention uninterruptedly on the inner OM, you enter the meditative space within, beyond thought known as nada intoxication. Your whole being becomes energized and filled with the pulsation of light and sound. Here, you perceive inner sound, but do not move in any way to translate it. Instead, let the thought waves dissolve by withdrawing your attention from them and work to simply be with the sound through what I call the pure feeling mode.

Manifest and Unmanifest:

Connection to mystical inner sound is extremely healing and energizing. It refines your capacity as a yogi-in-training in both the manifest and unmanifest sense.

In the manifest sense, paying attention to nadam develops your capacity to listen more deeply to the sounds around you. Regularly connecting with nadam trains you to be more grounded and present to all of life’s experiences because by being with it, you learn to be with energy overall, energy that both rises within you and around you. This is an important skill for the budding yogi and creates much needed inner space for profound teachings to land.

In the unmanifest sense, focusing on nadam builds a real relationship with witness consciousness. In order to hear the inner OM, you must focus on it. When you stay with the inner sound continuously it shifts you from a mental level of knowing to a vibrational understanding where you transcend thought. Regular practice illuminates the connection that exists between consciousness and energy.

How to Work with The Practice:

One way to work with nadam is to simply sit each morning and hear the sounds that are in your vicinity. Listen to the sounds that exist in your everyday life: The cars whooshing by, the refrigerator, the creaking of the house, the ambient sounds outside. Pay close attention, not in a serious manner, or in a way that is filled with tension. Simply listen in a way that is open, easeful and attentive.

After you have worked with being aware of outer sound in this way shift your focus and work with the inner aspect of OM. To do this start by allowing the daily awareness of outer sound to expand in you as you shift into a more meditative place of listening. Listen to the sound within. As the sound grows or dims in intensity do not move to make meaning, instead work to allow the process to lift you into witnessing the sound thereby allowing the OM to reveal its meaning to you.

Copyright 2013 Luminous Shabda, Sanskrit Studies & Manorama

Essential Tools: Safety & Un-Safety

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Trust creates peace.
~Yogi Tea

Tea Fortune:

My tea fortune instructed my contemplation this morning. It said: ‘Trust creates peace.’ After reading it, I started thinking how in yogic practice I’ve learned to ground in both safety and un-safety. I know it sounds funny, but as I sat there considering it I realized that both aspects were important for my yogic development. To establish safety, I had to work with concepts and teachings that made sense to me. One way I did this was to engage movements or sounds that were familiar to me.

The word ‘Yoga’ means union with Self. And the relationship you have with your self is of primary importance within yogic practice. Remember yogic teachings are not only aimed at unifying you with your individual self, they are interested in our complete understanding, transformation and union with our universal Self. The question is always ultimately the same: How do I do this?

How do I understand my Self?

Sometimes I linger on statements that I’ve heard repeated. One that comes to mind in the context of the tea fortune is “All Relationships are built on trust.” Relationships… I’ve certainly experienced the blessings associated with trust within a relationship and the sadness, fear and dissolution associated with its absence. In yogic practice we begin by developing a true and real relationship with our self/Self.

Here is the process:

When we engage the familiar through yogic practice, we are building a foundation of trust with our self. Trust builds closeness in any relationship. Having a close and trusting relationship with your self provides a sense of inner peace and ease. Inner peace and ease, offers us a kind of space and grounding that we will need in order to be open enough to connect with our cosmic Self.

For example, in the practice of asana, if I move my leg then root down into it as I fold forward in such a way that I may have done before, or in a way that is not wholly foreign to me, I gain greater awareness of my leg, torso and breath, through that movement. With repetition of the movement, this awareness I experience starts to become a familiar concept. The more we bring our self to this experience as we repeat it the more it builds resonance and connection between our physical and mental bodies.

Connection offers us ease and from ease a sense of spacious awareness rises. It is kind of inner strength, born of practice, which blossoms into trust between the body and self. As the fortune above aptly says, trust creates peace. I define peace as being content in beingness. Asana is a practice for building trust between one’s body and spirit. When we build trust, over time, the feeling of contentment arises within. Feeling content or peaceful prepares you to experience the mysterious unknown Self.

Hi-Ya! Bruce Lee Weigh’s In:

John Little, in his book called The Warrior Within, talks about Bruce Lee and his philosophical understanding of gung fu as a way of life, says:

“There is a strong impulse in the Western mind to instantly identify or compartmentalize everything we encounter by placing things into convenient categories. Typically these categories come down to just two subheadings, Safe and Unsafe. Those things which we are, to a certain degree, familiar with are placed under the former heading, and the different, unknown, or foreign are instantly placed under the later. The end result of such a practice is that we often find ourselves far too busy labeling and standing outside of life to actually take part in it or, at least, to enjoy it to any great degree. In short, we lack the grander perspective that is gung fu.”

We could supplant the word Yoga for gung fu here and arrive at the same meaning.

Little goes on to say, that it was the essence of philosophy that Bruce sought and the martial arts were simply the route he chose to express it.

Martial arts was Bruce Lee’s vehicle much like the asanas, meditation, breath awareness are the vehicle for the Indian yogis. But the vehicle for what? These practices are the conduit for a genuine entry to the mystical life.

The Value of Unsafety:

Once we build trust, safety and resonance with our self, we are ready to work more deeply with un-safety. What I mean by ‘un-safety’ is similar to what John Little spoke about above with regards to Bruce Lee’s philosophy. Un-safety means things we have never thought of coming in contact with concepts that are wholly unfamiliar to us. The notion of a vast limitless Self is not something most of us regularly relate with. But that is what we want to do, evolve our capacity to be with the notion of the vast limitless, pure Self, or what feels un-safe or unfamiliar. We want to work to expand our threshold for what is unfamiliar and thereby grow our capacity to be with Self. We can do this by reminding our self that it won’t be familiar, or feel normal but that it is safe to connect with what we are beyond the body and mind.

Story:

One time, a student came for her lesson and said to me, “I did what you said in our last lesson. I practiced feeling what I am beyond the mind. But… (she leaned in looking over her shoulder as if to whisper in my ear) what is beyond the mind?” I smiled, knowing full well my answer would produce more questions. ‘What is beyond the mind?” I repeated so she could hear her own question, “You are beyond the mind.” She heard my words and though she wasn’t able to fully integrate them yet she felt their import. We both sat there together quietly.

What I am saying is: Our experience of wholeness lies within our own grasp. We will realize it by being with both what feels safe and the unsafe. The more we work with the two the more we will ferry ourselves to the shores of real wholeness. Our capacity to be open and develop intimacy with self, while also connecting with our Supreme Self and unifying into the state called Yoga becomes our living reality.

©2013 Luminous Shabda, Sanskrit Studies & Manorama

Luminous Shabda ‘Nada Connect’ Exercise

  1. Pause and consider the principle of Nadam.
  2. Read from the book ‘Nada Yoga’, by Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati**
  3. 3 x’s each week Meditate for 8 minutes. Watch your body and mind. Listen to the subtle sound of Nadam within you.
  4. Don’t try to make meaning of the sound. Simply listen to it and let the sound fill your consciousness.
  5. Remind yourself to feel beyond your mind and body.
  6. Each time you practice, let the healing sound of your essence fill your awareness more and more.

Nada Connect Weekly Contemplations

Each week, contemplate one of the statements below from Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati:

Week 1: All forms of energy have the potential ability to transfer into one another. Light and sound energy frequently travel together.

Week 2: Meditate on nada with dharana, dhyana and samadhi and gradually the once seemingly mechanical sound will become the living pulsation of awareness.

Week 3: Nada is the manifestation of akasha, ether or space.

Week 4: In reality, nada is present, everywhere, because it is beyond time and space. The frequency of nada and our perception of its center of manifestation shifts when our mind is silent.

**Nada Yoga is available through Sanskrit Studies. Click here.

© 2013 Luminous Shabda, Sanskrit Studies & Manorama