Thursday, 28 January 2016

The Elongated Blink - the gem in human connection.

Human connection.  Its a phenomenon that is becoming rare and prized as an anomaly as our lives get sucked through the flat screens of our phones.  We talk too much,  while saying very little.  Its all fluff and extremely draining.   Even the standard "hi, how are you" as you rush around the supermarket to the person you see 4 times a year, usually in the supermarket, can be translated into,  "i know who you are and therefore should converse with you to be polite, so you don't think i'm a horrible person,  but i don't actually want to know really how you are,  i'm in a hurry, so are you, and lets face it, you don't really want to tell me.  and by the way,  in not a horrible person. i just have forgotten how to connect"   "hi, how are you?"   All speed,  No substance.  Our lives have become superficial.  Sometimes even with the ones closest to us.

But in Rikhiapeeth, the ashram in India we go to every year to deepen our experience of karma yoga,  there is very little "chat".  Its not that we don't chat with each other at times,  but its the caboose in the train of human interaction.  Not the engine.  The engine is the souls venerability.  Once this has been expressed,  we have something to chat about.

Otherwise,  in the ashram, we often don't talk to people unless its task/karma yoga orientated.  However, even though we don't run around asking each other how we are all the time,  the place is full of connections...  real, human, connection.  We have this unspoken gesture which i call "the elongated blink".   Ive never heard anyone mention it before,  but its real, and I experience it every time I go there.  It makes my heart soar.  It is a wonderful way to connect with another human without a single word,  and with tremendous amounts of substance. Its the start button in the trains engine and it goes like this.   You look at someone,  you make eye contact,  you blink once in slow motion while thinking 'hi,  i see you, how are you? i see how you are'.  then as you open your eyes you make a small smile,  to acknowledge you see they are ok,  a slight roll of the eye to acknowledge you can see they are in the craziness of all thats going on around them,  or a slight frown to show that you see they are sad, or upset.    See what that is?  everything you do, is to communicate what you see in them.  NOT what is coming from you...  to be seen all you do is humbly open your heart and they,  in turn, see you...

So the connection is not a handing off of information about how you are,  but a receiving about the other person.  In turn they do the same for you.  Acknowledging this,  you both feel seen.  Which is, after-all, what most of us really crave isn't it?  To be really seen?    This is connection.

While in truth, this exchange takes mere moments to complete... in reality,  it seems like its done in slow motion.  The hearts connect in honestly, venerability.  Seeing, and being seen in a mutual transaction.  It sounds too simple,  maybe even idiotic.  But i promise you,  true, honest, human connection is seated in the essence of joy.

Can we stop talking to each other and can we start seeing each other instead?   Allowing those moments to add together into a day filled with morsels of soul connected  Love.

So,  my mission to you,  is to try it... try the elongated blink with someone and write blow what your experience is...

with love.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Speak Up or Shut Up - The Five Stages of Using "The Human Story" for Personal Development.

There are teachings in yoga that often feel, contradictory.  One teacher will tell you the importance of speaking your truth,  of sharing your experience,  another will tell you that we have to let go of our stories,  stop giving them power, stop identifying with them.  It gets confusing,  and you go home not knowing if you need to speak up, or shut up.

Like many of the teachings though,  there is many stages, appropriate steps of unfolding and unravelling of the Soul from the story. We need to do this without disassociating from the experiences you came to Earth to have.

The Vedic texts and sutras are starting to be more widly studied by the western yogi.  But sometimes we fail to recognize that they are guidelines are for the end stages of the teachings,  assuming that your commitment as a Sadhak (student) has already worked through the Yamas, Niyamas and had done extensive Karma yoga at the foot of a Master.  So by the time we read these teachings, they are what you are ultimately aiming for.  These are not teachings that can be jumped to,  they must be journeyed to, embodied.

Stage One:  Frozen Fear - can't speak.
So often in our lives we find ourselves unable to express to someone what we are REALLY feeling, or what our experience has actually been.  We are frozen in fear,  plagued by shame and terror that "if you really knew what happened,  you would look at me differently"  fear that somehow love would be withdrawn,  you would be ostracized.  Or worse,  the trauma that you feel to be a victim from,  would somehow be seen as your fault.  It renders you immovable,  and eventually volatile.    Its this stagnation of emotion that creates dis-ease in the body over time.   From here we need to be able to find the safety and the courage to speak our truth,  often finding, that the outcome of such a leap of faith is wholly different to what we imagined.  Which leads us to stage two.

Stage Two:  Letting the words and waters flow.
When we finally find the safe space and courage to speak,  we cry.  Sometimes emotion has been held for so long that the tears burst like a dam.    This is the stagnant emotions being released and liquified through our words.  There is a mirror between the Swadhisthana Chakra at the sacrum (water element)  and Vishuddhi Chakra at the throat,(1) our words.  When one is stagnant,  so is the other,  therefore to get the emotions to run, as liquified water should,  it is important for us to speak.  At this stage the quality of language doesn't really matter,  and often it is language that is very identified with a disempowered view of the experience.  This is OK!  just keep talking.  Its necessary,  and is a very important part to evolving past trauma and the past, thus allowing all our life force energy to be utilized in the present.    Often,  the response from the person listening is one of understanding, sympathy,  love,  caring and connection.  Sometimes this is one of the very few times the person who is expressing themselves has felt this from another person.  Its liberating, and addictive.

 And so we talk,  we tell anyone who will listen about all the hard things we have gone through.  Each time, often unconsciously, looking for that feeling of acceptance, sympathy, of love to come from the person listening.    If we get it,  great!  we take that high into our next experience.  If the person does not express the level of understanding of sympathy we are looking for,  Boom!  back to stage one we go.  We feel victimized all over again because our needs weren't met when we shared (again) our story.

Its at this stage that most people get into a loop.  They relate their experiences from a place of identification, of personal doership ("This happened to me",  "you made me feel", "I did this...")  and investment in the dynamic between players. They relate their story with the expectation of emotional gratification from the other person.  This is a root of co-dependancy and a very slippery slope.

However,  we can break the cycle by moving on to stage three.

Stage Three:  Learning to let language change our reality. 
Once the initial dam has burst and the waters have calmed, it is a good time to start to "work the program".  To learn how the words we choose when we talk about the experience that has held so much power in our bodies for so long can either hold us back OR, it can catapult us forward in our evolution.  Its ALL in the language.  Im not talking about speaking about the experience as though it was not painful,  or traumatizing,  but speaking about the experience, not as the victim of life,  but as the Soul experiencing a very deep and profound lesson through its human experience.  Even changing a single word can make a difference from "i struggle with..." to "i'm challenged by... "  This one little change can make a huge difference in the lens/perspective we experience the samskaras (Unconscious memory that also comes through Swadhisthana chakra)

A teacher or coach is a really great person to have at this stage,  for they can literally intercept your low vibrational words as you say them,  and help you to see how unconscious the "story" flows through you.  Consciously changing the words,  means you have to slow down your thought process and realign yourself into a new experience of the "story".  Its clear to understand that we are not changing the story, or modifying the facts of the story,  we are changing the perspective to which the story is seen and shared.

If this stage is done successfully there will be a softening, an expansion of energy to our perception of events and moving on to stage 4 will bring forth more closure and empowerment to the present moment rather than lugging the past around.  If this stage is not done successfully, and there is residue emotions unresolved and stuck in the old "story"  then stepping into stage four will actually be a reverting back to stage one.   To move onto stage four,  one must fully shift the flow of language from victim,  and doership, to experiencer, student and witness.

Stage Four:  Stop Talking... 
Now hang on,  first i dont talk, and you tell me to talk,  now i talk, and your telling me to stop.  See how if you skip a step how you can get into trouble?  It is a process.  When you find your voice,  and you are happy to share your human experience with anyone who will listen,  its time to start to see the "emotional pay off" as noted in stage two... and start to reign in that "need to feel loved" every time you open up.  It can be very empowering to not need another approval, or sympathy when speaking YOUR truth.

At this stage, we need to stop telling our stories.  Stop identifying with the stories as who you are,  and allow the present moment to create a current you.  For the more you talk about the past,  the more you carry it with you into this moment. Positive or Negative,  its exhausting...

So this is where we dis-empower the story.  Let it go.  It was an blimp of experience in time,  out of multiple lifetimes you have had.  It has served its purpose, it no longer defines who you are, you have learnt its lesson,  you have graduated.  The story no longer serves you,  but it can serve others.

Stage Five:  What we are here for.  
Connection.  When a story,  be it a positive or negative, no longer has any emotional hold over you. When you stop crying when you tell it, when you stop looking for a certain response from another to emotionally satisfy you.    It becomes a tool.  You can tell it,  you can not tell it. You are indifferent. For you,  it has no power, no emotion, no identification.  But it has been your experience,  and therefore,  is there for you to use it as a tool to create connection.

Then, you tell the story only in service.  For others to feel not so alone,  for others to feel safe,  for others to feel the courage to bare their soul.  (supporting someone else in stage one.)  THIS is when you tell your stories...  To comfort.  To inspire.  To give.  To connect.

Namo Narayana

In service.


(1)  This mirror can be shown in the symbology of the Yantras,  as both of these chakras depict the Moon in them.  Both of these chakras are portals to states of reality.  Swadhisthana is the portal to out 3D reality,  while Vishuddhi Chakra is the portal to a 5D reality.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

But i'm a Mother!

Below is Sw. Sivananda's 50 Guidlines for Sadhaks.  An amazing list of clear guidelines that a yogi embodies to be able to hold the frequencies needed to progress on the path.  Below this list, is a short blog to answer a question regarding #47 from the perspective of being a Mother.   in service...  Shiv.

1. Reduce your wants to the minimum.
2. Adapt yourself to circumstances.
3. Never be attached to anything or anybody.
4. Share what you have with others.
5. Be ever ready to serve. Serve with affection. Lose no
6. Entertain akarta and sakshi bhava, non-doership and the
witnessing attitude.
7. Speak measured, proper and correct words.
8.Have great patience and perseverance.
9. Never leave the abhyasa, practice, even for a day.
10. The guru will only guide you. You should yourself tread
the path.
11. Maintain a spiritual diary and correctly record your
progress and failures. Stick to resolves.
12. Do not complain that there is no time for sadhana. Reduce
sleep and tall talks.
13. Forget the feeling that you are so and so – a male or a
female – by vigorous Brahma-chintana.
14. Never postpone a thing for tomorrow if it is possible for
you to do it today.
15. Do not boast or make a show of your abilities. Be simple
and humble.
16. Be cheerful always. Give up worries.
17. Be indifferent to things that do not concern you.
18. Fly away from negative company and negative discussion.
19. Be alone for a few hours daily.
20. Give up greediness, jealousy and hoarding.
21. Control your emotions by discrimination and detachment.
22. Always maintain equilibrium of mind.
23. Think twice before you speak and thrice before you act.
24.Give up backbiting, criticizing and fault finding..
25. Find out your own faults and weaknesses. See only good
in others.
26. Forgive and forget the harm done by others. Do good to
those who hate you.
27. Shun lust, anger, egoism, infatuation and greed as a
venomous cobra.
28. Be prepared to suffer any amount of pain.
29.Have a set of maxims always with you to induce vairagya.
30. See good in every face, in everything.
31. Take to sankirtan, satsang and prayer when the mind is
overpowered by lower instincts.
32. Face obstacles coolly and boldly.
33. Care not for criticism when you are on the path. Yield not
to flattery
34. Admit your faults.
35. Do not neglect daily asanas and exercises.
36. Be active and nimble always.
37. Develop your heart by giving. Be extraordinarily charitable.
Give more than one’s expectations.
38. Desires multiply misery. Develop contentment.
39. Control the senses one by one.
40.Have a check on all your thoughts. Keep them pure and
41. Do not lose temper when anybody insults, taunts or
rebukes you. It is a mere play of words and a variety of
42. Rest your mind in God and live in Truth.
43. Be up and doing in the path of perfection.
44. Have a definite aim in your life and proceed carefully.
45. Benefits of mouna, silence, are incalculable. Never give up
this practice.
46. Four important gates for passion to enter the mind are
sound, touch, sight and thoughts. Be vigilant!
47.Have intimate connections with none but God. Minimize connections with others.
48. Be moderate in everything. Extremes are always
49. Everyday practise self-analysis and introspection. Know
the amount of your growth.
50. Give up curiosities on the spiritual path. Conserve your
energy and concentrate. Think of atman.

Now i don't know about you,  but when i read this list,  the first thing that came to mind was,  Yes...
It sings to my soul,  gives me something concrete to aim for,  gives me guidance in things that sometimes my mind gets into turmoil about,  eg. 25 & 26.

But when it comes to #47, context, especially when your a Mother, must come into play.  You see,  traditionally,  Sadhaks (spiritual seekers on the Yogic path) were, if not aspiring to be, Sannyasins.   Usually,  the Sannyasins were people who had played out their role in the world with work, children, marriages, and when all was exhausted, they would retreat to the forest (usually an ashram) and fully pursue the spiritual life of renunciation.  

However,  as the world has been changing,  a new wave of consciousness has been born into this lila (divine play),  and there are many people, who,  although have not yet finished their household karma,  feel a incredible pull to the life of sannyas values and aspirations.  To this,  Paramahansiji Satyananda Saraswati responded in what i consider to be a revolutionary way.  He started to initiate "karma sannyasins",  both men AND woman...   people,  who live out in the world,  are married, have kids,  mortgages, cars... but aspire to live by the guidelines as listed above as a way of supporting them in their path of evolution.

Now,  there are numbers on this list that are seemingly contradictory, or hard to fathom, while still being engaged in the the household reality.  #47. "Have intimate connections with none but God. Minimize connections with others."  is a great example.

Firstly,  there is a time for everything,  and in the time of having young children and a husband, is not the time to renounce intimate connections.  More,  a reorientation of those connections.  There is a middle ground between the western "i cant live without my children,  they complete me!" and the above guided "have an intimate relationship with non but God."

Kahlil Gibran so eloquently puts it

"Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you."
Our children,  are the children of God.  We are their earthly guardians,  with karma to keep them, to the best of our ability, safe.  To nourish them,  to Love them.  But they are not your children,  nor are you their only guardians.  They, like you, have a whole team of guides in multiple dimensions helping their human experience be shaped into the perfect learning experience for them as souls.   YOU, have a very small part to play in this,  even though in the 3D it seems you are their world, and they yours.  We must widen our perspectives, for this is the way to full love, connect, and treasure your experience with them, without being attached to the experience, or them.    God giveth,  and God taketh away...

It is extremely important for a parent to be physically loving towards a child, hugs, cuddles, kisses, holding hands, snuggles in bed in the first 7 years of their life.  It helps them to ground into their bodies so they can play out the rest of their life with a foundation of safety and a sense of belonging.  For the first 7 years,  the mother is their Guru.   However,  awareness is needed to if you are cuddling, kissing, holding hands for their development,  or your emotional needs.  This, I believe, is where the awareness and teaching comes in.    We are here to nourish them,  so that they may fly,  not so that we can use out children to fill our emotional cups.    As karma sannyas  it is to God, that we look to fill ourselves emotionally - and let this flow over to our children and husbands unconditionally. 

Now,  in our youth (and I use the term "youth" liberally),  having a husband usually means you have an "intimate" relationship.  And there is nothing wrong with this.  Its part of married life.  But its HOW, WHY, WHEN that are the important parts.  This is where awareness,  clear communication and intention come in.  Be honest,  are you intimate for pleasure?  for conception of another child? or to experience frequencies of the Divine that lead to experiences of God? Insert the Karma Sutra.  None of these are wrong, or dirty, or shameful on the path.  However,  we often say our intention is one thing,  when really it is another, and I believe this is where we get in trouble.

God, is in every face,  every leaf, every action, if you are walking the path of the witness, non doership and non attachment.  That doesn't mean that you do not have families, houses and worldly bill paying work.  Its about your perspective of these things.  We are mothers, for God,  we are wives, for God,  we work to Serve the lila of God... 

And when the karmas have burnt,  the body gets older,  the children have grown,  a natural peeling away of these things will occur.  And we too, will retreat to the forest.  

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Nourish YourSelf - A Smoothy for 2016.

Its been a while,  yeah i know... but another wave of writing is on the horizon,  i can feel it... things have been brewing here at Niwas, and some very deep and transformative things have been moving on my inside also.  Its delicious, thats my word for 2016,  create a life that is delicious.

Food,  thats something that has been on my mind allot recently,  my digestive system, is changing, following a crazy dream with Sw Niranjan while i was in Rikhia,  alas,  i digress,  but our relationship to food says so much about where we are at as people,  as a species.  there is no better test monkey, than yourself.  Thats what life is after all,  for me at least,  its an experiment in embodying my highest potential as a human,  to embody Love.    Sounds airy fairy,  but the reality is down and dirty most days.  Atmabhav - to see all as one.  yeah,  thats right,  to great each person, each being with humility, love, respect, regardless of their actions, regardless of who they are, yeah, that includes the Hitlers of the world...

But,  you are what you eat...   and right now,  im all about the Tumeric or/and Coconut.  So here is a smoothy recipe that is rocking the Howe reality of late... if you try it let me know what you think.

1 Can Coconut milk lite
1 Banana
1 Can of Pinapple pieces (incl juice)  (fresh if in season)
4 Medjool Dates. (take out the pips)
1 teaspoon of Tumeric
2 pinches of black pepper (this helps the body to absorb the benefits of the Tumeric)

optional - a little mint if you have it... but no biggy if you dont.

Not only does it taste like summer,  (never a bad thing), but its really nourishing as well.  In the west its really important to up our Tumeric intake... and this smoothy is a great way to do that.

Next time,  i might even let you in on my personal take on Golden (Tumeric milk) taht i like to have at night if i can...

heres to a year of quiet contemplation, and exuberating Love.