5 January 2016

Light of Consciousness

Sitting in meditation is a waste of time after half a coffee. Instead I do some domestics, take the dog for a walk, then settle into a solid mid morning yoga practice which lasts 1 ½ hours.

Yoga practice focussed on Backbends (again)
Meditation practice focussed on Consciousness.  I managed 4 hours of meditation today, some guided by Anadi’s audio recordings and some self guided practice.

The entry point into authentic inner work according to Anadi is to locate and abide in one’s own conscious self, strengthening its presence.
Not an easy nut to crack when you’ve been indoctrinated into Buddhist mindfulness practices like observing the breath, thoughts and sensations.
The practice of mindfulness and observing/witnessing separates the observer who watches from a distance and the subject that is being observed (breath, thoughts, sensations, presence, whatever).  By its very nature, observing implies a split of subject and object.

Anadi wants us to turn the focus around onto the subject.
So the question to ask is: WHO or WHAT is observing?
WHO or WHAT is aware and checking when we have drifted off the subject or task?

Our consciousness is such an integral part of who we are, yet there are no spiritual traditions or practices that teach how to meet it, become familiar and intimate with it.
Meeting one’s own consciousness takes us down the rabbit hole towards the Absolute and abiding in one’s own pure consciousness naturally transcends all constructed notions of the observer and observed.

I am once again a beginner wrestling with the mind, and although this is the last day of my personal meditation retreat at home, it feels like the starting point of an amazing inner journey with Anadi. 

1 January 2016

Backbend lessons

In today’s yoga practice, I visited the scary places - places which challenge my psychological blocks.

Backbends have been challenging my physical body for a couple of years now. They no longer come easily - and a subtle dread accompanies even the thought of them. 
Dread is a deeply scary emotion, it's an imaginary monster.
I dread the possibility of spinal injury; I dread the possible discomfort of bones scraping, ligaments and tendons stretching within the joints; I dread the emotional pain of having lost the ease of backbending.
And yet, I know I can approach all backbends with caution, modification and intelligence.  
So I do.
Afterwards the dread turns to relief and I'm rewarded with a deep satisfaction of meeting the scary thing head on.

After sun salutes and all the standing poses, I went straight to the backbends:  Salabhasana, Dhanurasana, Ustrasana, then another Ustrasana, this time with a deeper thoracic lift while reaching up and back to put hands against the wall for a minute.  Some variations of Urdhva Dhanurasana followed: first with feet on two blocks, then with hands on two blocks, then with a strap around my bent elbows to straighten and support them, all of these modifications to ease my body into the backbend.  Funny, the full unmodified pose was easier than the modified versions so I did it twice.
My greatest backbend impediment these days is in the mid shoulder area, not in the lumbar.  There's surely a psychosomatic cause behind the shoulder tension.  It needs to be investigated and gently transformed.

After backbends, I did the full finishing sequence as if it was a delicious chocolate dessert.

This is Day 3 of silence and solitude, yoga and meditation.
Outside the heatwaves continue to scorch the city of Adelaide.
Inside, all is calm, cool and quiet.

Yesterday’s yoga practice (Thursday) was gentle and supportive, with some quiet forward bends and twists to counter the long hours of sitting.
Friday’s practice consisted of the full Ashtanga Vinyasa sequence without the backbends.

The new year has begun with an unexpected discovery: Anadi.
I sense that a renewed meditation practice and deep internal work will change ‘me’.
I sense it will be the year when I yield to the pull of the calling and consciously choose the difficult path of inner transformation above all else in my life.

31 December 2015

Longing for Light

When the inner call is recognized, it naturally gives rise to spiritual longing. To evolve to the point where we can identify our longing for the self is itself a sign of awakening, because it indicates that we have matured enough to rebel against our fundamental unconsciousness. A profound thirst for spiritual fulfillment has been activated — a thirst not of the earth-plane, but of the beyond.

This dimension has been designed to veil the true reality and seduce the soul into a state of forgetfulness. All our thoughts, concerns, disturbed emotions and infinite desires are actually the tentacles of lower intelligence holding us captive in the plane of ignorance. We begin our spiritual journey in this darkness and gradually move towards light. Even though our inner longing initially lacks clarity, it sets in motion our future split from the realm of forgetfulness.

The light of the self has a magnetic force that naturally pulls all souls to its source; however, it is our yearning and our yielding to that light that make the miracle of illumination possible. In its nascent stages, our inner yearning is vague and fragile, and can easily be disturbed, if not obliterated, by the forces of ignorance. Only with practice, guidance and the passage of time, can this spark of spiritual intuition be transformed into the light of clarity, true understanding and unbroken certainty.

From 'Book of Enlightenment' by Anadi

25 December 2015

The necessity of practice

'Without committed practice, even real experiences of awakening cannot bring us to a stable place within the inner realm.  Only by seeing this clearly does our attitude towards practice become more humble and open.'

'Practice manifests out of a deep command within the soul to use all means available to accelerate our spiritual enlightenment - it is an expression of our innermost collaboration with the divine will.  If we fail to actively participate in our own evolution, how can we expect the divine to assist us?  Waiting indolently for grace to do the inner work for us is an arrogant approach.  It is no different than expecting water to spring form the ground without first digging a well.  One needs to be ready to receive grace, and through conscious cooperation with one's evolution, to increasingly mature into that readiness."

From 'Book of Enlightenment' by Anadi

20 October 2015

The Power of No

Three days of solitude over the weekend was heaven.
There was nowhere to go, no reason to do and no commitments to anyone.
I made sure that my children and partner knew I’d be uncontactable.  They were generous in complying.

It took 2 full days before my mind settled and the quiet descended.  Watching this evolve (or devolve) was fascinating.
I did a little yoga, a few hours of sitting, drank a lot of water and fresh juice, ate kitchiri, finished planting out veggies in my garden, went for a hike in the mountains, and just allowed peace to come about of its own accord.  No formal practice was necessary.  Unwinding happened by simply not HAVING to DO anything, except what I felt like in the moment.

By sheer coincidence (if there is such a thing) I came across a book in the local library on Saturday, ‘The Power of No’ by Claudia and James.  Having followed Claudia’s yoga blog for many years, I felt as if I knew her!  The book is written with great wit and wisdom.
It described what I was attempting to do (or not do) over the weekend – saying no to over-burdensome commitments, taking a break from the frenzy, carving out time to myself, prioritising what is most important in my life (simplicity and purity) and nourishing my spirit to regain balance and equilibrium.
The book is simply a memory jog, but its written with endearingly odd humour that makes it hard to put down.

I got up at 6am this morning to do a yoga practice before starting work.  After 5 minutes my body rebelled.  Movement in the early hours (before coffee) is a shock.  This aging body, starved of yoga, is stiff and unforgiving after the overnight confinement of bed.  But I’m chipping away at the hard bits.
I've noticed my body goes from one extreme to another...some days it is light strong and flexible, other days it's as stubborn and stiff as a board.
Getting out of bed is often physically and mentally painful, but most days, this passes quickly.

Ageing gracefully will take some practice!

So I took the opportunity to practice this evening instead, and it was one full hour of joy: The 10 surya namaskars, all the standing poses, a 15 minute interruption (phone call from my daughter), then fast forward to all the finishing inversions from Shoulderstand to Uth Pluthi with long stays in each.
Chipping away…

My verandah

I seem to be growing a nursery on my front verandah.

12 October 2015

Dark night of the soul

4 weeks have now passed without any yoga.
Not acceptable.  I must start again…

I went to my first yoga class at the age of 14.
That was in 1974.  It lit a spark and I bought my first copy of Iyengar’s Light on Yoga very soon after.
Using that book, I practiced at home for 20 years before committing to regular classes in 1998.  I began teaching yoga in 2001 and ran my own yoga school for a while.
Somewhere in the mid 1990’s I began Tibetan Buddhist meditation, then moved into the Theravadan practice attending yearly Vipassana retreats.  From here, I look back and see years of self analysis, introspection, mysticism, ego dissolution, and letting go, letting go, and more letting go.

Spiritual practice has been a lifelong focus.
But not without anguish.

Over the past year, my yoga practice has hit hard times because another love has entered my life – gardening. 
Well, vegetable gardening to be precise.
Yoga and meditation have been dislodged, relegated to the back seat.

Every morning, instead of being on the mat, I’m on my verandah checking the progress of my little seeds in the hothouse, the baby seedlings on the verandah, the adolescent plants on the shelves.
My grand old verandah has become a rather messy plant nursery.
All my spare time is spent cultivating seedlings, watering and attending to my own food garden, tending my children’s gardens which I’ve just planted out for spring/summer, or reading up on other people’s food growing experiences.

Have I suddenly moved into old age?

I’ve had a few vegie patches at various stages in my life, but this current passion for organic/biodynamic food gardening got fired up when I started work with VitalVeggies almost one year ago, and I’ve allowed it grow and burn out of control.

Meanwhile my spiritual practice, my true love, is waiting for me to come to my senses, and come back home.

Those moments when I am still, I feel the desperation.  It's a deep longing for the quietness of contemplative inner work.
How is it that one can be so happy with one’s outer life, yet feel such desperation and disconnection with one’s inner life.

Work is wonderful, fulfilling, fun, challenging, and richly rewarding. I get to work outdoors, in gardens, helping people to grow their own organic food.  I am learning so much new and useful knowledge and practical skills every day.

But I’ve allowed the work to encroach on personal time.
My life, and my life focus, are so out of balance that I no longer even recognise that work is actually part of spiritual practice, that there is no separation.
I have split life into fragments and compartments.
Internal and external are not in harmony or union.

So much of my non-work time is spent growing and tending seedlings, researching and absorbing new information, planning out gardens and trying to do it all better that I have lost sight of the ‘big’ picture and lost my connection to it.
The result?  I wake up crying in the mornings.  
My head is often fuzzy and spinning with vertigo.  I am happy and contented one minute, then confused and distraught the next.

Preoccupation is dangerous.

Getting caught up in anything narrows our broad vision down to tunnel vision.  It whisks us away on the crest of a wave, and distracts us from what’s really going on in the deeper psyche.

I have lost touch with the Source.
I have forgotten that I am not this person. 
That there is no ‘I’.
That all is one.

It’s time to step back, untangle my thoughts from the whirlwind of work, enter the expanse of the void, reconnect with the Source.
Spiritual practice is the key to help this process along, to start dissolving the entanglement. 
Yoga and meditation refocus the mind away from the transient external world, towards the infinite, internal universe.
But dammit, it’s not easy to break the mind’s habitual landing platforms, to redirect thoughts onto something other than the frenzy of daily activities.
Neural pathways have formed and hardened, they don’t just break and reroute themselves.  It takes determination, commitment, focus and practice to change those mind patterns.

To break free from the clinging mind I have to deliberately set up some time for solid, solitary introspection, where there will be no external interruptions to divert my focus.

This weekend, I’ll be saying no to all my commitments, no to everyone, This weekend I’ll attempt to rewire the hard drive, change direction and start again.