Thursday, 28 January 2016

Contemplations from the 4th lesson on the Shiva Sutra

Sutra 3: Yonivargah kalashariram

‘This body is a living piece of art, composed of the five elements of nature and borne from the womb of the universe’

In a world obsessed with body image, that has given rise to a collective insanity of insecurity and paranoia around our own forms, this sutra is a shot in the arm and a slap across the face.

Shiva says, “Wake up and say thank you for the gift you have been given!”  This show of gratitude alone will be enough to send a new wave of vital energy through your veins. Take what you have been given, honour its uniqueness, don’t worry about what anyone else was given and make the absolute most of what you have!  This body is a rare gift of nature, borne from the womb of the universal mother; it is hardwired for ecstasy and programmed to take you to the highest knowledge of the Self.

"This body that you so often complain about and wish was a little taller or shorter, fatter or thinner, is in truth the most sophisticated and beautiful piece of technology ever invented; and you are wearing it. All that you need to do now is pick up the yoga user manual, apply the techniques, and realise its awesome potential."

You see, the only reason we can ever feel bad about our bodies or compare them with other peoples’ bodies is because we haven’t explored our own deeply enough. We look at our bodies too much from the outside rather than feeling them from the inside. Once we have felt the ecstatic flow of life energy flowing within us, whether we have a pimple on the chin or not will be of little relevance.

So the secret to transcending all limited and negative ideas about our own bodies is to get on the mat and connect with the fathomless beauty and radiant light that is coursing through it and so forget to reference ourselves externally. True beauty does indeed shine from within.

As we practice this ‘inner yoga’ more and more we will find that from time to time we forget to care what others think. And as we continue to climb out of our own body image we may start to see the deep beauty underlying the bodies of all those around us and value the unique art of each and everyone.

Our work in this lesson is to say ‘thank you’ to our body more often, and each time we catch ourselves thinking negatively of it or comparing it with others, to say, ‘sorry, please forgive me, I forgot what you are.”

Here are some parting thoughts;

The more we value our body – the more powerful it becomes.
The more we unite with our body – the less personal it becomes.
The more we get into our body – the more we will go beyond it.
The more we accept our body – the more beautiful it becomes.
The more we care to discipline our body – the more freedom it offers us.
The more we connect our body to the earth – the more it wants to fly.
The more we relax the tensions of our body – the more blissful it becomes.
The more we see our body’s uniqueness  - the more authentic it becomes.
The more we move in our body – the more still it will become.

This body is not in our way – it is our way,
This body is a doorway to the infinite.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Contemplations from the 3rd Lesson on the Shiva Sutras

Sutra 2:  Jnanam bandhah

‘Knowledge held on to, becomes bondage.’

The nature of your original mind is boundless empty openness. It contains, at all times, every possibility that ever was and will ever be, it is the source of all knowledge. It’s your BIG MIND, something like the Internet. Your personal mind or little mind is akin to a ‘PC’. On its own it can input, store and process information, which is useful but desperately limited. Yet, how would it be if you are able to connect the ‘PC’ of your little mind, into the Internet of the BIG MIND and download what you need when you need it!

In this second sutra, Shiva is urging us forward, saying: “Forget what you think you know, for there is so much more if you are willing to let go. Your old knowledge is like a graveyard, stop resurrecting corpses of the past and come live in the aliveness of the present. Don’t let your mind hold onto knowledge and build a temple of it. Use it and move on, keep opening your mind, however painful, to new possibilities.”

Our personal mind is limited and if we depend on its stored knowledge, over time this knowledge will become a prison for us.  What we know does not make us who we are. Who we are is who we are and what we know is what we know. Don’t confuse the two. We are not what we think ourselves to be, we are what we are when we stop thinking! What is the good of gaining all the knowledge of the world if we have no idea who we are? Shiva says  ‘Any knowledge without knowledge of the Self is not only limited, its bondage’.

If you want to grow in wisdom, put down what you know, empty yourself and listen, for there is an intelligence available to you that cannot be learned, only tuned into, but this station never plays the same music twice.

How would it be if you saw an ex-lover? How many slides of the past would come before your eyes to colour your perception and distort your reality? Maybe it has been seven years since you saw him, not a single cell in his body is the same. He is a completely new person; yet, all you can see is the man from seven years before. Shiva says, ‘knowledge is bondage’.

You are a conscious being, how much has your understanding of life changed in the past year? The knowledge and understanding you had a year ago was fine for then but not for now.  What you saw as truth then, is not your truth now. So is it not so that the understanding you have now will also seem limited in a year from now?

It is only through the force of this realization that we will be prompted to check ourselves when we become aware we’ve formed fixed ideas, opinions and beliefs, or pass judgment on others.

This self-watching is our work for the week in this 3rd lesson of the Shiva Sutras.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

2nd Lesson on the Shiva Sutras

      Sutra 1:  Chaitanyamatma

‘We can realise our true nature to the extent that we raise our energy.’

The thoughts we have about the world and ourselves are nowhere near as personal as we might like to think.

Thought is actually universally rooted. We become subject to certain qualities of thought according the level of consciousness we are currently functioning at.

If our energy is low we become subject to all kinds of thoughts that we would simply not have or at least be less affected by if our energy was higher.

The fears, anxieties, worries, judgments and insecurities we feel when our energy is low will either not happen or at least have less effect on us when we are vibrating on a higher frequency of energy.

So you see, the level of energy we are vibrating at will attract to us certain kinds of thought.

Even more importantly, when we are functioning on a high level of energy not only are we less at the mercy of low flying thought waves but we are also more open and receptive to high flying inspired thought waves, that endow us with higher knowledge and greater levels of understanding.

Further still, as we raise our energy and gain access to higher realisations, those realisations themselves will release still further energy into our systems, enabling us to reach higher again, and so in this way we experience a perpetual state of growth and evolution.

Chaitanyamatma – Raise your energy and realise that pure, all embracing, boundless and causelessly blissful reality that you are, have always been and will always be.

In this noble endeavour to raise our energy, everything starts to matter. All our everyday activities become an important part of our overall spiritual process;

What we eat and drink matters, what we think matters, what we read matters, what we watch matters, the company we keep matters, the time we go to bed and the time we get up matters and above all our yoga sadhana matters. Our whole life becomes part of the greater process of raising our level of energy and consciousness so that we can live a truly great life.

~ Prem.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

In our weekly Living Wisdom Sessions at the Yoga Sanctuary we are currently exploring the all-powerful Shiva Sutras. Each week Prem will post here on the Blog some inspirations from our explorations...

1st Lesson of the Shiva Sutras:   

Thought is not a problem, but the way we think can be. The way we think greatly determines the direction and quality of our lives. It matters how we think!

A sutra is a thread. If we attach that thread to a rocket then the thread goes up but if we attach it to a rock it goes down.  Same with our thinking!

Any thought we actively participate in thinking has the potential to take us up or down, elevate or crush us, liberate or bind us, nourish or poison us, open our heart or turn them to stone.

The question is: what sutra am I carrying in my mind and how does that sutra make me feel?

It’s not a case of driving out negative thoughts from our minds, no, this could be a full-time and fruitless occupation. It is enough to simply and patiently give favour to the sutras of thought that nourish our mind. It is no different to giving healthy food to the body.

The Shiva sutras are threads of thought that move us towards our innate goodness (Shiva). They are sutras that have a positive effect on our chemistry, making our eyes shine, skin brighten, hearts open and our minds expand.

A Shiva sutra is a way of thinking that gives us the power to see beneath the surface of events to the inherent underlying goodness in everything that is happening. To look deeply enough into our lives and the lives of others to see that every event and experience that has ever happened and will ever happen, even the most traumatic, has and will ultimately give rise to a greater good. A Shiva sutra creates a shift in our way of thinking, allowing us to see the good in the bad, the positive hiding within the negative and the potential for growth within the struggle. This is way beyond 'positive thinking' this is 'liberating thinking'.

So, our work in this 1st lesson of the Shiva Sutras is to:

     1.  Naturally notice in our daily lives what sutra we are carrying in our minds and the effect it is having on us and if necessary make a change,

     2.  At the end of our daily meditation, or at any other time, remind ourselves of the following sutra; Each of us are unique manifestations of one divine energy called life and at the core of us there is nothing but goodness, beauty and light (Shiva).

Next week we will move on to the first of the classical Shiva Sutras.

~ Prem