11 April 2008

On the mat and more 2012

Saturday 12th April 2008

On the mat

I had a fantastic practice at Kosta’s studio this morning. Not that I whizzed through the 2 hours easily, more like I practiced with an absolute honesty and willingness to be present that is both confrontingly painful and deeply fulfilling.
It was the first time in weeks that I’d done a full primary practice from beginning to end, so it was heartening to realize I’m still capable of it; everything was in its proper place, bandhas, ujjiya breath, drishti, awareness and precision.

The studio was really warm, and because it was an 8 o’clock start I decided to have a teeny weeny coffee when I got up. Probably the reason why my breath occasionally got very ragged during practice - as if I was doing that pranayama exercise when the inhalation gets broken up into sections (inhale a quarter breath, short retention, inhale again to half capacity, short retention, inhale to three-quarters capacity, short retention, then inhale the last bit of breath, short retention, then long, slow exhalation).
Occasionally during an intense practice, or during a particularly difficult pose, my inhalation will turn into a succession of short sips. Seems to be a gripping response to great stress (like when I probe too close into the dark hole in my lower back). When it happened in Marichy D today there wasn’t anything I could do to calm it down so I just stayed deep in the pose, held on to what I had and watched the pose stab my breath to pieces. When the breath got ragged in a couple of other poses, it was a very different scenario...I was able to consciously calm the breath until it became round and smooth again, but not Marichy D today.

Maintaining a consistent Ujjiya breath in this practice makes you very aware of how the breath reflects our state of mind instantaneously. If a pose takes me to my absolute edge (and I often go there), my breath sometimes quickens into a frenzy of short bursts. But who hasn’t experienced that powerfully deep sonorous breath that saturates every layer of your being in the intense forward bend following Urdhva Dhanurasana/dropbacks. Untying the body from the intense backbending is a process of edging it gently in the opposite direction, bit by bit, breath by breath, leading it into the quietness of outer space where the breath resonates and echoes like wind through the long tunnel of the body.
I must admit that when I’m in an Iyengar class trying to keep my Ujjiya breath barely audible, I’m actually grateful that I can turn the volume to zero when I feel it getting ragged…neither the person next to me nor the teacher gets to know that I’m stressing in a pose. It's my secret, the silent breath doesn't give it away.

Speaking of Iyengar classes, I missed Darren’s led Friday class yesterday. I got up early enough but felt like I didn’t want to be around any other people. More and more I’m isolating myself these days, much preferring my own space and company. So I did my own practice at home yesterday, a shorter session that’s been an almost daily ritual of late because of a pulled calf muscle and a tortured lower back.

My short version goes something like this:
5 Surya Namaskar A
3 Surya Namaskar B
All Ashtanga standing poses in their correct sequence (but occasionally without the Virabhadrasanas if I’m short of time)
Forward bends – usually Paschimottanasana, Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana and Janu Sirsasana
Backbends: Dhanurasana and Ustrasana before 2 or 3 Urdhva Dhanurasanas
Paschimottanasana again
The finishing inversion sequence from Shoulderstand through to Padmasana.

But today was full primary so I’m not yet on the downhill slide to senior citizen’s yoga.

The Mystery of 2012: Predictions, Prophecies and Possibilities
Here are some more excerpts from the book 2012 that I’ve pulled out because when I read them I thought “YES!”
Might post some more excerpts if they feel important enough to type up and keep.

"Never before have we been able to access so much spiritual wisdom. A century ago, the only spiritual tradition available to most people was the one that was indigenous to their own culture. Moreover, with rare exceptions, they did not have the benefit of learning from a truly enlightened being. Today we can access teachings from many different traditions and cultures, discover their common underlying truths, and translate that perennial philosophy into the language and terms of our own time. Something completely new is emerging: a single spiritual teaching that is a distillation of the world’s wisdom traditions. This is coalescing and being disseminated globally through a variety of information technologies: books, tapes, Web pages, online forums, and Internet broadcasts.

At the same time, a growing number of people are becoming fully awake and proving themselves to be excellent teachers. Many are using the Internet to share their wisdom and help awaken others. Instruction in practices that facilitate awakening are already online and could become much more sophisticated. It may even turn out that darshan, the Indian word for a direct transfer of higher consciousness, can be transmitted via the net.

Awakening is often a sudden event. Once a person is ready – the necessary groundwork done, the circumstances propitious – the shift can happen more or less instantaneously. It’s possible that research into the neurological correlates of spiritual awakening will lead us to methods of promoting the process directly. There will likely be other unforeseen discoveries or developments that will help us free our minds. Whatever they may be, the more we learn how to facilitate a shift in consciousness, the faster it will happen.

As this becomes a mainstream phenomenon, humanity will relate to the world in wiser, more compassionate ways. Problems would still exist. Global warming would not suddenly cease; pollution would not evaporate; extinct species would not suddenly return. On the other hand, we might then have at our disposal new technologies that could help us solve the problems we have created. We can only guess at the ways in which this marriage of high technology and higher consciousness would play out. We have not been there before.

When we look at what is happening in the world today, it is understandable that we might scoff at the very idea of a collective spiritual breakthrough. The daily news may well lead us to believe that we are heading ever more rapidly toward breakdown rather than breakthrough.
That is, indeed, one likely possibility. I do not want to downplay the dire urgency of the world situation. If we don’t make some radical changes, we are surely headed for disaster of one kind or another.

I also believe that positive change is possible. If we can develop the wisdom needed to navigate our way through these turbulent times safely, the potentials are staggering and unimaginable in scope. Let’s put our hearts and minds to proving that we can pass Buckminster Fuller’s final evolutionary exam and become a truly magnificent species. We are, after all, our only hope.”

-Peter Russell
A Singularity in Time

“Personally, I don’t believe that anything dramatic will unfold in December 2012 (although those who fear Armageddon might create their own private doomsday). Yet, when we look back, we will see a sweeping change in human consciousness over the past decade, as if we had collectively awakened form a dream.

As we move toward the great shift, countless people are letting go of old habits, patterns, relationships, and situations, often being apparently forced to release whatever holds them in the past, or keeps them stuck. We can no longer pretend that we are happy if we are not. We have to face up to whatever is not working or falls short of our dreams and desires. This means we must become accustomed to rapid change, personally and globally. If we can learn to ride this tidal wave of change, then our global awakening will be relatively easy and even exhilarating. The more we resist change or close down, the tougher it gets. We have to be willing to let go, to make unexpected changes in our lives. We have to be willing to open our hearts, to follow our bliss, to trust and go with the flow. We also have to be willing to put down roots and make commitments when that is where our hearts lead us. As Paulo Coehlo suggests, freedom is not the absence of commitment, but the ability to commit to whatever is right for you. That kind of commitment – unlike one that comes from duty or obligation or promises – always feels joyful and liberating and expansive. If it feels heavy or restrictive, it invariably means we are “trying to be good” and so are splitting, or dividing our energy.

-Gill Edwards Wild Love Sets Us Free

"Did you know that at this very moment a new world is emerging right through the cracks and crevices of the old world? It’s alive, growing, and vibrant, in stark contrast to the old world which is running on fear, anger and greed. By 2012, this new world, born out of the creative minds and compassionate hearts of self-empowered visionaries everywhere, will be even more visible and influential, affecting every aspect of life.

These practical visionaries, whom I call “the builders of the dawn,” are found in all fields of life an din all nations. They’re bringing new ideas and solutions to our problems – from war and terrorism to poverty and environmental destruction. These visionaries often seem like they are glowing form within, as if they are filled with light and passion."

-Corinne McLaughlin 2012 Socially Responsible Business and Nonadversarial Politics

"We have entered a time of global crises. We live surrounded, almost suffocated, by the debris of our dying civilization. The last centuries’ belief in dualism and separation with its focus on rational thought brought great scientific and material progress, but it also created a life-denying split between spirit and matter. It banished God to heaven, and stripped the Earth of its sacredness. Now, all reverence for our own bodies and the body of the Earth lost, we are systematically plundering and polluting our world, destroying the very ecosystem we depend upon for survival. Steeped in materialism, we have forgotten why we are here. We have created a physical and spiritual wasteland, and our own souls and the soul of the world are starving.
Life is one, has always been one.

The world is a single, living, organic wholeness and everything in creation is a part of it, as vitally and inseparably related to the whole of life as an individual cell or organ is related to the larger organism of which it is a part. Life is alive with its own intelligence and purpose. That purpose, which is our own purpose because we are not separate from life, is one of revelation. In its multitude of forms, creation reveals the hidden face of God.

But we have forgotten this. Our present world bears witness not to the divine but to our own hubris, our greed, and our delusions of power. In our obsessive desire for material comforts, for more and more things, we have plundered the Earth as if it was a mere commodity to be exploited, and we have desecrated our world. We live as if life were something apart from ourselves – something we can master and control – rather than part of our very being. We have lost all sight of life’s real nature and purpose and our relationship to this purpose. And life has allowed this to happen. Until now, life has, for the most part, remained receptive, waiting, watching us follow our desires, and saying very little, even as it has felt the sorrow of a people who deny its divine nature.

Now, something deep within life is changing; an era is ending and at the core of creation, something is coming alive in a new way. A light at the center of the world that has been dormant for millennia has been rekindled. This is the light of life itself, waking up, remembering its own real nature and divine purpose. With this awakening, the living being that is our world is undergoing a transformation in its very essence.

There is a growing awareness of a shift in consciousness toward global oneness. With regard to ecology, we have been forced to recognize that we are one planet, one interconnected living ecosystem. Internet and cell phone technology has given us the tools of global communication and commerce and finance also have a global dimension. Few, however, have recognized the depths of this change, the signs that the world is awakening. Most are too busy, caught up in their own affairs to notice something so new. Those who are fixed on the image of an Earth that has no soul will not recognize its new light, will not allow it into their lives. It would be too threatening. Yet this awakening light is beginning to affect human consciousness. It is sending message of hope into a collective despair, a collective soullessness. And it is attracting those who want to work with it.

Our true light comes from the divine spark within us. It carries the deepest purpose of our life, which belongs to the divine purpose of creation. We are born with this spark; it is quite visible in children, in their eyes, their laughter and joy. But as we grow older, it “fades into the common light of day”. Then, we must reclaim and reignite it through the sometimes painful process of remembrance and reawakening that spiritual practices and inner work provide.

Now we are being asked to wake up to our light and assume our real co creative role in the evolution of the world. The light of the world is waking up and our consciousness is needed to help bring its hidden meaning into the consciousness of the world and of humanity. We can help the world come alive again. And we can help to shape the next stage in its evolution.
There are no books, schools, or traditions that will tell us exactly how to do this work. Only in the meeting of our consciousness with the awakening consciousness within life – our own awakened consciousness as we bring it to life in each moment – will we find the information we need. For at its core, life knows everything it needs to sustain itself; it knows how to evolve and how to recreate itself anew, and because it is a continual response to the divine moment, it knows precisely what is needed in each moment.

When we open ourselves fully to life as it really is, we will experience again that life is alive and that it can communicate with us directly and interact with us in may different dimensions – not just the physical dimension we now take to the world, but also in the symbolic realms and the realm of pure consciousness and light – dimensions of magic, wonder and awe that have not been manifest in our world for a long time.

There are primal changes taking place within life, and they are farther-reaching than we dare to imagine. One thing is certain: the world as we know it is ending. Our drama of greed and materialism, our hubristic belief that we re the lords of the world, which we can exploit at will, has created a nightmare that is draining the very lifeblood of the planet. But in the midst of this dying dream, another dream is being born, one based upon the consciousness of oneness, the knowing that we are one living ecosystem, one global community. And within this dream of oneness are signs that the world is awakening.

Perhaps the prophecies of the year 2012 point to this possibility, a moment in cosmic time when, with an outpouring of energy, the world will awaken to its divine nature and throw off the debris of materialism. Those identified with the dying dream would experience this as a cataclysm, a global disaster. But others might recognize it as what we have unknowingly been waiting for, a new Golden Age in which we can return to the simplicity and joy that belong to life in its essence, life as it really is – a time when we will no longer need to distract ourselves with our toys and addictions, because the simple wonder and joy of being alive will nourish us and our world, when the song of the soul of the world will sing to us and to all of creation, and we will discover that the magic inherent in life is healing and beneficial, and that in it wisdom and oneness the world knows how to support itself and its inhabitants.

Our light is a part of the light of the world awakening to its divine nature. Working with it, we can become co creators of the next era. This is the choice we are being given: not to wait for the future but to help bring it into being.

-Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee An Awakening World

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