7 November 2008

Lost Buddha and Paschimottanasana

Saturday 8th November 2008

The Lost Buddhas
A colleague of mine was lucky enough to be in Sydney recently and visited The Lost Buddhas exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. She lent me the exhibition catalogue last week which I’ve been reading over the last few days.

Although the images in the catalogue are beautifully photographed and presented, they of course don’t compare to seeing the real thing. And yet, gazing deeply at some of the stone images, I’ve been overcome by an extraordinary sense of deep peace. In the deepest moments of gazing at a figure I seem to merge with it, taking on it’s qualities of poise, serenity, fortitude…all personality drops out of my face and it softens into Buddha-like radiance.

Divinely sweet moments imbued with grace.

"Stone is the visible history of time feeding us through a calm and radiant presence" Isamo Noguchi

From Charlotte Joko Beck (occasionally paraphrased):
"All good (spiritual) practice aims to make our false dreams conscious. Let us notice that our efforts (spiritual practice) are to perfect ourselves: we want to be enlightened, we want to be clear, we want to be calm, we want to be wise.
But as our practice leads us more and more to just being fully present, up comes resistance…"Forget reality, I’m here to be enlightened!”
In good practice we are always transforming from being personally centred to being more and more a channel for universal energy.

A major obstacle is our unawareness that all practice has a strong element of resistance. It is bound to have this unwillingness until our personal self is completely dead, and until we die, we always have some personal resistance that has to be acknowledged.
A second major obstacle is a lack of honesty about who we are at each moment. It’s very hard to admit, “I’m being vengeful”, or “I’m being self-righteous”. That kind of honesty is hard.

A third obstacle is being impressed and sidetracked by our little openings as they occur. They’re just the fruit; they have no importance unless we use them in our lives.

A fourth obstacle is having little understanding of the magnitude of the task that we have embarked upon. The task is not impossible, it’s not too difficult; but it is unending.

A fifth obstacle is substituting talk and discussion and reading for persistent practice itself. The less we say about our spiritual practice, the better. Why talk about it? Your job is to notice how you violate it."

On The Mat - foundations
Tuesday, Friday and Saturday: three early morning yoga sessions this week – over 2 hours each - all of them deeply challenging, INternal and Eternal.

I’ve been making quite an effort in all the seated poses to consciously ground the thighbone of the extended leg and draw the inner legs up towards the inner groin. These two actions increase the internal dynamic of the pose immediately. Grounding the foundation of any pose is where it all begins - you can’t build anything substantial without a strong foundation. The base is the key.

In all the standing poses, it starts with pressing the feet down into the floor; it continues with the drawing up of all the leg muscles to activate the gross energy, the legs are the engine room of the standing poses. By drawing up the inner legs, a more subtle energy is activated in the perineum and then mula bandha and uddiyana bandha will take over and direct the energy upwards to stimulate the opening of the upper chakras and facilitate a natural lengthening of the spine (to create an open pathway for the upward flow of prana).

The same principal applies to the seated poses. For example Paschimottanasana:
the feet must be flexed and the leg muscles fully engaged so the heels are actually off the floor (if they don’t you know your base energy is weak).

Both legs must be rolling inwards so the inner ankles are slightly apart. Once that is established, apply the two key actions: pressing the back of the thighbones to the ground and subtly drawing up the inner legs.

It’s not easy to maintain all these actions to keep the base of the pose steady and strong so the earth energy is drawn up, especially when the mind is scatty, but by applying the intention and noticing when the leg actions fall away, you can catch the mind’s tendency to wander and then reactivate the focus. That is how we train and strengthen and transform the mind from within a pose.

In meditation the anchor is often the breath – that is what we come back to when the mind wanders. In a yoga pose, it’s the sensations of body, breath and energy. As the mind wanders away from its engagement in a pose, the pose becomes weak; we lose focus and miss all the subtle nuances and adjustments happening in the body. That’s when asana becomes a boring repetition of making shapes.
The purpose of both yoga and meditation is to develop mindfulness and to become fully present.

Do not bother chasing enlightenment, just be completely and utterly present with whatever is happening in your life right now and all is coming.


greenfrog said...


The task is not impossible, it’s not too difficult; but it is unending.

helps make sense of my experience, and it allows me to relax my insistence that there's somewhere I need to "get to."

Monica said...

I hope everything is well with you and I hope you will return to your blog. Miss your writings..

nobodhi said...

Thanks for your kind words Monika, yes all is well.
Both my personal and work life have been in upheaval over the past two months and I haven't had the motivation to put anything in words.
Silence is sometimes more therapeutic.
But I do intend to update my blog/journal soon.

Monica said...

Nobodhi, it's so good to hear that life is treating you well. And you are so right - to withdraw oneself can sometimes be good theraphy. Take you'r time!

greenfrog said...

thinking of you

JYog said...

I love your blog and I don't see your email so I'm writing you here. I'm a yogi, surfer, and a frequent Yoga Journal writer. I thought you might be interested in doing a little blog on my upcoming surfing/yoga/zen memoir, Saltwater Buddha: a surfer's quest to find Zen on the sea. The book comes out this May from Wisdom Pubs and you can read some advanced praise, as well as see some of my other writings, at www.jaimalyogis.com or below. Lemme know if you'd like a press copy.
Thanks for your time!

Best wishes,
Jaimal Yogis

Advanced Praise

“It’s the perfect read for those who love the ocean as much as their yoga mats, or for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of the spiritual practice that is surfing.”
Karen Macklin, Yoga Journal

"Jaimal Yogis has done, in this terrific first book, what every artist
and writer strives to do: he has made something beautiful and
universal from the particulars of his own life. He writes well about
surfing; he writes well about Buddhism; he writes well about what it feels like to be a person; but mostly, he just writes well. Yogis’s
sentence are clean, clear, and disciplined, and his story-telling
instincts are strong, so strong that this book will surely find the
audience it deserves–among surfers, among seekers, and among those
who enjoy being swept along on a curious ride.”
Daniel Duane, author of Caught Inside: a surfer’s year on the California Coast

“Jaimal Yogis starts off as an Everyteen with two deep hungers—to learn surfing and to calm his mind—and his simple, amused, deadly serious report on how he tries to satisfy those desires may ultimately launch an entirely new breed of memoir: the coming-of-sage story. Yogis’ prose is etched yet effortless, a conversation with a friend who pretends to be na├»ve, but has clearly drunk up so much life experience that you trust his authority as a truth-telling more than you know. He rocked me happily for chapters as he recounted his journey from Atlantic island to California suburb to a series of beach towns (including, memorably, Brooklyn). But each time I was lulled, I always was also on edge, wondering if bigger surf may be coming. Indeed, it was: several moving, sharp-edged episodes—sets, really—that will stay vivid in my mind for a long, long time.”
Bruce Kelley, editor-in-chief, San Francisco Magazine

“…lighthearted and natural and unafraid…a beautiful coming of age story.”
Abby Gruen, New York Times contributing writer

“Saltwater Buddha is a wryly told, compelling nonfiction saga of a young
man’s apprenticeship in breaking waves and the deep, still waters of
Buddhism. A pilgrim’s progress, this attractively self-deprecating narrative
makes no grandiose claims for either the teller’s surfing or for his soul.
Still, we perceive, finally, that surfing becomes him–as does writing.
Saltwater Buddha will be rich reading for both surfers and spiritual
seekers, who are, we learn here, sometimes one and the same.”
Thomas Farber, author of The Face of the Deep

“At sixteen, Jaimal Yogis ran way on a spiritual journey of a magnitude few of us even dream of, to learn to ride the waves of the world’s oceans, and the bigger surf within his own mind. As Jaimal gains hard-won spiritual lessons with a teenager’s eagerness and a surfer’s passion, we cannot help but see our own spiritual life with fresh, beginner’s eyes. His journey started in nothingness–at least in a material sense. But it ends in deep riches of spiritual insight, human warmth and humor. The pages kept turning. I couldn’t put this book down.”
Michael Ellsberg, author of The Power of Eye Contact (HarperCollins, forthcoming)

“The quality of Yogis writing is up there with, amongst others, Daniel Duane, Allan Weisbecker, Kem Nunn, Tim Winton etc. Surfers and searchers alike will love it. Out in May 2009….reserve a copy!”
Matt Strathern, extremehorizon.blogspot.com

“A personal Odyssey in which the writer has followed his dreams and listened to the quiet whispers of his soul as if they were carried on a gentle offshore wind. It’s an inspiring and thought-provoking book which may well have you returning to it again and again.”
Tim Kevan, author of Why Lawyers Should Surf

“…heartfelt, honest and self-deprecating, enabling the reader to empathise with Yogis at every stage of his journey, whether he’s fleeing home to learn to surf in Hawaii, immersed in Buddhist ritual in a French monastery, grappling with surf Nazis in Santa Cruz or suffering for his art while aboard a commercial fishing boat…great stuff with the words ‘cult classic’ stamped all over it.”
Alex Wade, author of Surf Nation

“I’m just not in to spirituality, or so I thought. Turns out I read it in two sittings. As will you.”

“In a time when the world seems to be ready to self destruct a little, this book brings with it a message of fun, wisdom, inner exploration and a way to find and lose yourself in the most prevalent element on the planet, water…will make a timeless addition to anyone’s collection whether you are a surfer or not.”
South West Surf Review

“Anyone who has a love of the ocean, the beach and the waves and is overwhelmingly drawn to them will truly enjoy this book!”
Rob Nixon, blogger and founding Member of the South Texas Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation

“I am not a surfer; still Jaimal openly welcomes me into his world of passion for surfing, both the actual wet, cold, hard-rock bottom of the sport and the mistiness of the analogy for life.”
Ross Anthony, Hollywood Report Card

“I have always had an interest in things Zen since reading Zen and the Art of motorcycle maintenance as a young man. Now thirty years on Jaimal Yogis has written his version, all be it from a more youthful point of view, founded in the surf of Hawaii, California and New York.”
Tony Foster, surfr.blogspot.com

“Great book to put on the book shelf between ‘i am that’ and ‘The mindless ferocity of sharks”

“…captures the spirit of zen in a savory broth of water metaphors.”
Jack Ricchiuto, Jackzen.com

“The author has a mind born with spiritual habits and a brain able to write prose pictorially vivid and spiritually telling. I found it a pleasure to go along on this man’s adventure.”

nobodhi said...

thanks Jaimal Yogis
Your book looks like a really interesting read…combining all that has inspired my soul: yoga, Buddhist practice and meditation, surfing, nature. I’m so looking forward to reading it (would love a press copy) and would be happy to write some personal feedback.
Congratulations on all the rave reviews.
PS. My email address is in my blog header under the image: nobodhishome@yahoo.com.au

Anonymous said...

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Kathy said...


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